Created by editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artists Adrian Alphona and Jamie McKelvie, Kamala was just an average Pakistani American kid from New Jersey when the Terrigan Mist activate her dormant inhuman cells and turn her into a polymorph, with the ability to lengthen her arms and legs and change size. Inspired by Captain Marvel, she takes on the name Ms. Marvel and starts fighting crime…and destroys a lot of property. And it’s obvious, especially to some senior, more established super heroes that these younger ones need some serious training.
Kamala is ecstatic to be recruited into the Avengers Academy after school program by none other than her hero and fanfic favorite, Captain Marvel. At the academy she is put on a team with Miles Morales (Spiderman) and Squirrel Girl (Doreen Green), and they are taught superhero skills by Beast, liability and other legal responsibilities by She-Hulk. Kamala even takes special classes on controlling her size powers from Ant Man. The bond between the three young supers is lovely, especially when Miles and Doreen find out that Kamala is the author of their much beloved fanfic, and the conversations between the mentor superheroes, like Peter Parker and Miles, is adorable and a lovely revisit for fans from Into the Spider-verse. And though she keeps her identity secret from her family (at least in this iteration) readers will also meet Kamala’s parents and her brother, her friends, including Muslim friend Nakia, and the imam at Kamala’s masjid, Sheikh Abdullah. There are references to hadith, Qur’an and Islamic traditions in how Kamala receives advice and guides her actions as a super hero.
The ultimate test of their powers and ability to work together as a team will be the academic decathlon where student teams will compete and complete a set of challenges. Of course, there are some characters with ill intentions and it’s up to our team to stop them. Chhibber and Lancett’s narrative told in comic form, illustrated text messages, blog posts, newspaper clippings, journal entries, and more, make the reading experience differentiated, but in a way that is appealing to young readers and familiar for fans of comics and comic-like books. Kamala’s friends and family are also mentioned, and Sheik Abdullah even gives Kamala some sound advice for her predicaments. Kid or adult, if you are a Marvel fan (particularly if you are one who enjoys cute, slapstick tumblr blogs, memes, and fanfic of our heroes) you need to check out this fun read for all.
Stay tuned for volume 2 featuring Squirrel Girl as the main lead in April!
Part of this review was originally published in a 2020 post on the Hijabi Librarians Instagram account.