Comics

Idols, Ideals, and Reminders in 'Generations: Captain Marvel & Ms. Marvel #1'

(Marvel)

Ms. Marvel reconnects with her idol, but a choppy narrative limits the impact.


Paolo Villanelli

Generations: Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel

Publisher: Marvel
Price: $4.99
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Publication date: 2017-09-20
Amazon

Whenever a fan meets their icon, there's usually an unpleasant moment when the fan has a stunning realization: their idol, for all the hopes and dreams they embody, is still human. They make mistakes, they get hurt, and they become corrupted by a situation. It's often a harsh lesson in the real world, which tends to crush idealism the same way the Hulk crushes compact cars.

Since her inception, one appealing aspect of Kamala Khan is that she's an unapologetic superhero fangirl. She sees superheroes through the same rosy prism as kids and fans. To her, they are icons who embody certain ideals. Before she gets her powers and dons the title of Ms. Marvel, that perspective is pure and untainted by the harsh circumstances of life. Then, she gets her powers and Civil War II happens. Suddenly, her idol isn't very heroic anymore. If anything, she's too human to wield that title.

Kamala's world is shaken, but not broken. She still calls herself Ms. Marvel. She still tries to be the kind of hero she idolizes. In both her solo series and books like Champions, those efforts tends to yield mixed results most of the time. It seems every battle she faces brings her that much closer to losing that sense of idealism that defines her character.

That's what makes Generations: Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel #1 so timely and relevant. It gives G. Willow Wilson a chance to reconnect Kamala with a younger, less compromised version of Carol Danvers. She gets to interact with a version of her idol that is not compromised by the events of Civil War II. It's her chance to re-learn and possibly re-define her understanding of a hero.

Wilson puts her in a position to do that and then some. Kamala, whose perspective acts as both necessary narration and witty banter, finds herself in a similar position as other characters who have taken part in Marvel Generations. Through the Vanishing Point, she ends up in the past during a time when Carol Danvers is on nobody's list to headline a major crossover event. She's still Ms. Marvel, a hero who is still trying to prove that she belongs on the same level as Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and everyone else who goes onto be part of a billion-dollar movie franchise.

Whether by chance or McGuffin-style workings of the Vanishing Point, Kamala finds herself joining Carol in this effort and not just in terms of fighting alien invaders. Through a setup that doesn't entirely make sense, but still works, she becomes an intern at Woman Magazine where Carol works. It's a unique period in Carol's story it's a time when she tries to build more of a civilian life, like the Peter Parkers of the world. While it may be a doomed effort to anyone with alien DNA, it's an important context for both Kamala and the story of Ms. Marvel, as a whole.

In a sense, it shows Carol trying to do what female superheroes and real women alike struggle to do. She's trying to have it all, being both Ms. Marvel and Carol Danvers. It's a struggle Kamala herself deals with every other issue and Wilson rarely lets her catch her breath. It's also a struggle that Carol doesn't really deal with as Captain Marvel, but that struggle still shapes her story. Making Kamala, the future Ms. Marvel, a part of that story gives it even greater meaning.

Unlike some of the other stories that unfold in Marvel Generations, Wilson takes a more personal approach to Generations: Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel #1. It's not just about Kamala Khan and Carol Danvers fighting alien invaders and working with J. Jonah Jameson without going insane. The story of Kamala sharing her perspective with Carol and seeing her idol outside the context of Civil War II makes the story feel personal. It effectively circumvents the tension between the two characters in the present and shows that they both share a legacy.

In terms of Kamala's personal story, it's a critical insight. It doesn't necessarily re-define her understanding of what it means to be Ms. Marvel as it does remind her of why that title matters to her. Throughout the story, her thoughts reveal her various sentiments towards Carol Danvers. She's still an icon in her eyes, but she doesn't ignore how she has been functioning without her idol since Civil War II. That doesn't stop her from joining her struggle.

Being part of that struggle helps Kamala overlook some of the things that shattered her idealistic view of Carol Danvers. In a sense, that's a major oversight and a missed opportunity. By not digging deeper into the reasons why Kamala distances herself from her idol, the story in Generations: Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel #1 doesn't accomplish as much as it could have. It also mutes the potential drama that helped make other iterations of Marvel Generations so meaningful.

In addition, it doesn't help that the flow of the narrative is a bit messy at times. There are a couple of instances where there are no obvious transitions from one scene to another. On one panel, Kamala walking the streets of Midtown Manhattan. The next, she's at the Daily Bugle being yelled at by J. Jonah Jameson. Granted, Jameson rarely needs a transition to yell at someone, but it makes the story feel choppy at times. Even with Paolo Villanelli's vibrant art that highlights Ms. Marvel's distinct style, the story never comes off as very concise.

It still manages to accomplish something important for Kamala Khan and Carol Danvers' story. It effectively ties their ongoing struggles with one another. Carol is trying to have it all as both Carol Danvers and Ms. Marvel. Kamala is doing the same thing in her time. It's an ongoing struggle for both, but working together in Generations: Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel #1 gives them both some needed perspective. They even earn praise from J. Jonah Jameson along the way and in the context of the greater Marvel universe, such an accomplishment ranks right up there with beating Thanos.

6

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image