What I love about MS. MARVEL is how closely the writers keep their “ear to the ground,” so to speak. The creators really understand the anxieties of the political climate and use thinly veiled allegories to strengthen the content of their comic book. While this might make MS. MARVEL #20 age poorly down the road, the topical discussions of immigration status and targeted policy-making don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. This recent installment, by G. Willow Wilson and Marco Failla, highlights just how effective graphic novels can be at conveying a message to a wider audience while still remaining centered in its fantasy universe.

LISTEN: Want more of Marvel’s Muslim superheroes? There’s a whole podcast episode on that! Check it out here!

MS. MARVEL #20 Creates a New William Stryker

The issue picks up right where the last one left off: with Kamala’s brother abducted. He’s brought to an interrogation room where, at first, he thinks he’s being accused of terrorist activity. It’s a very understandable confusion, yet it leads to him speaking directly to the assumed audience about the social conditions that lead to terrorism. It’s a direct approach to a very serious topic, but I feel a necessary one. I actually found myself giving a similar speech just a few weeks back on July 4th. So while it can read as preachy, I cannot deny its importance.

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

While Aamir defends himself as an unregistered person with super-powered status, Kamala tries to see if she can somehow convince those in Jersey City that she only wants to protect them. This is her home, and while those with super powers have caused damage, overall they mean them no harm. Though it’s been quite difficult for her to do so with the new villain Discord working with Becky St. Jude and new mayor Chuck Worthy.

READ: MS. MARVEL has her own fan film! Check out our discussion of how it embodies the spirit of the character! 

MS. MARVEL #20 attempts to break ground with topical writing and engaging characters. It addresses the effects of gentrification like the previous issues did while including the social anxiety of communities with mixed backgrounds. The people of Jersey City appear to want those with super powers out of their neighborhoods, and recent violence against American Muslims harkens to the rhetoric used by the non-super members of society. Even the phrase “Chuck them out” eerily mirrors the rambunctious chanting of Donald Trump’s campaign rallies calling out “lock her up” in reference to Hillary Clinton. It seems the author took to heart the concept that art mirrors society.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

The art itself appears about the same from the first arcs of its original run. Not only does it evoke Adrian Alphona’s style before, it seems to mirror it exactly. Which is by no means a bad thing. It’s clear Marco Failla understands the particular vibe this comic is supposed to give off and does that splendidly. I do want to give a quick shout out to Aamir’s interrogation sequence, however. The choice of the pale green lighting made the entire sequence feel awash in a sickly, anxiety-fueled fear. Even Aamir’s expressions illustrate how he already knew what he’d say when this happened to him, as though he expected the government to accuse him of terrorism despite being a harmless citizen.

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

MS. MARVEL #20 once again forces this timely character to address the public’s concerns through allegory. How this fear of unknown individuals leads to unfounded paranoia, based on these supposedly hidden people wanting to cause harm to an average citizen even though all they really wish to do is live their lives. While this dystopian scenario seems only possible in a comic book, it exists in our world today. These comics matter, if only to show the young people of the world what’s going on around them, and that they should not fear what adults might tell them to. Martial law won’t solve crime; only understanding one another and working together towards a brighter future will.

Kamala Khan once again shows she's the hero her city deserves. That even when everyone seems against her, she'll fight for their rights and for her family.
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