'Generations: Ms. Marvel' #1 Review: Critical Theories… And Punching

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Cover to Generations: Ms. Marvel #1 by Nelson Blake II and Rachelle Rosenberg
Generations: Ms. Marvel #1

I've yet to give my opinion of Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel, in my time on Bleeding Cool. Well, it's time to do that.

I think she's great. She is among the most charming and inspiring heroes in modern comics. She maintains that sense of altruism and dedication to what's right that most people call naïve. I disagree; this kind of altruism and dedication should be what comic book superheroes are all about.

Though I've never found myself motivated to follow her solo comic book, even this issue was mostly purchased for the presence of Carol Danvers, I've always been happy to see her present in a comic like this or the Champions.

With Generations: Ms. Marvel, we see Kamala Khan dropped into the past, when Carol Danvers was still Ms. Marvel and the editor-in-chief of the Daily Bugle spin-off, "Women's Magazine." The magazine is on the downturn, as it mostly focused on women's liberation and social issues. Worse yet, a mysterious woman is interested in buying out the publication and running it herself.

Thankfully, the new intern (Kamala Khan) has some ideas on how to help the magazine and may even be able to help with that mysterious woman (who just so happens to be a Shi'ar).

This comic is both entertaining and interesting for many reasons. In addition to Kamala's spunk and charm, it actually spotlights two different approaches to feminist activism.

Carol and Kamala have two different approaches to the idea of feminist activism and writing. Carol is all about idealizing women and only concerns herself with the preaching moralism and what women should be.

By contrast, Kamala approaches feminism from the understanding that people do things in their lives outside of activism and looks at women for what they are.

She calls this "protesting stuff and unicorns." She also has a lengthier speech on this in the latter half of the comic, "People want equal rights, but they also want permission to have fun and be frivolous sometimes."

On the whole, I personally agree with Kamala, and the comic by no means demonizes Carol's approach to women's liberation.

At the same time, the comic highlights how Kamala's approach is far more marketable, as it helps Women's Magazine sales to increase.

As the Marxist, brain-washed, regressive demon that I am, I do find myself becoming uncomfortable at the thought of lionizing consumerism and buying things. At the same time, I buy toys, videogames, movies, and comics all the time. I'm a consumer, too. Consumerism does generally make ideas more digestible. But is that selling out the cause?

Here, we have myself, as well as many academics, reaching the pinko-commie-mangina feedback loop until we finally admit that we don't know and go play Horizon Zero Dawn, because that game is freaking amazing.

All this brain-flexing aside, this is still a really fun comic, and its narrative is actually far more tightly bound than most of the Generations titles I've read, with the possible exceptions of Hawkeye and Wolverine. It doesn't meander like Hulk, and it doesn't try to cram a large story in a small space like Captain Marvel.

As I said, Kamala is a very charismatic character, and I could be amused by G. Willow Wilson having Kamala make observations about things for hours on end.

However, there are a couple of epic battles between the Ms. Marvels and the Shi'ar Nightscream. They are pretty awesome, and, despite how the two narratives of the magazine and Nightscream are linked is a little under-explained and contrived, it totally jives with the non-superhero narrative of the comic.

The fact that this is also a means of convincing Kamala that she needs to reconnect with her former idol and namesake adds a heartwarming element on par with the likes of Generations: Wolverine and Hawkeye.

Interior art from Generations: Ms. Marvel by Paolo Villanelli
Art from Generations: Ms. Marvel by Paolo Villanelli

Paolo Villanelli's artwork is rock solid here. The anime-esque qualities may turn some people off, and that is an issue I've had with some artists in the past. However, here, it's blended enough with Western art-styles that it creates its own unique style. That's not to bash anime art style; it's just not my thing. Also, whenever I see it recycled in American comics, it usually looks a bit washed-out and uninspired.

The pale and retro-sepia look of Ian Herring's color work gives the comic a unique atmosphere.

That, as well as some of the women's lib issues they highlight here as well as the fact that they call it "women's lib," makes me wonder what time period we are placing Carol Danvers in here. It sometimes seems 1960s-ish, and then, other times, it infers that this is later than that. It's a little confusing.

Despite that, this is a damn good comic, and it comes out being my favorite of the Generations one-shots. I highly recommend it, even if you're not a commie feminist like myself.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.