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Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel
by yo go re

Change is nothing to be afraid of.

Kamala Khan is 16 years old, good at school, and bad at fitting in. But when she unexpectedly develops super-powers, she'll learn that what makes her different makes her powerful.

There's no small dose of historical irony surrounding Kamala Khan. In the comics, she was originally planned to be a mutant: Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson developed the character together around 2012/2013, and she was going to have the X-gene; but Marvel was looking for characters they could promote strongly without giving free advertising to 20th Century Fox, so she became an Inhuman instead. It was fine, since the source of her powers was the least important thing about her, and it also gave her a stronger link to Carol Danvers (since the Inhumans were initially created by Kree genetic engineering). But now that everybody's back to not caring about Inhumans, the MCU has made her their first acknowledged mutant, simply returning her to what she was meant to be all along.

Kamala was played by Iman Vellani, possibly the most on-the-nose casting since Chris Evans as Steve Rogers: she's upbeat, packed with personality, and a huge fan of Marvel's heroes. The toy looks just like her, with just a hint of a smile on her lips, and large eyes to make her look like one of the universe's younger heroes. Add her to the Young Avengers lineup, I guess!

One of the challenges the show faced was explaining her costume. In the comics, her look was inspired by Carol's black swimsuit, but that doesn't exist in the MCU, so where is it going to come from? Well, the mask was given to her by her friend Bruno, the long scarf from her vacation crush Kareem, and the lightning bolt from the broken necklace that used to spell out her full name: کمالہ becoming just ک. Like Thor, she wears her initial on her chest! One thing that's different from her comic incarnation? She wears sneakers, not superhero boots.

The figure wears the bangle that unlocks her powers. Just like in the comics, it's a family heirloom, but there it's just a fancy piece of jewelry, not one of the Kree Nega-Bands. For some reason it's a separate (non-removable) piece on the left arm - maybe that was easier than trying to paint it?

Sadly, we don't get any pieces to represent Kamala's powers. Rather than the stretchiness of her comic counterpart, MCU Kamala has energy constructs similar to Hisako "Armor" Ichiki from the X-Men. a jagged purple fist or some stumps to stand on would have done it, but no. The articulation is average, though the hips are limited by her dress, and having long hair means the head can only move so much, even if it is PVC. She has fists or holding hands, though with nothing to hold, just the fists probably would have been fine.

As is tradition, the smallest figure in the series gets the biggest Build-A-Figure part: Infinity Ultron's entire trunk.

Ms. Marvel was a lot zippier and more visually dynamic than most Marvel projects, absolutely suiting the outlook and style of its main character. That may be why it managed to overcome its initial (and sadly unsurprising) review-bombing to become Rotten Tomatoes' highest-rated MCU project to date. More of their shows and movies should show that level of creativity! There was already a comic Ms. Marvel and a nigh-identical videogame version, but if you don't have either of those, the MCU version can take her place in the collection... as long as you don't mind not having any representation of her powers.

-- 01/11/23

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