Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.
This post was sparked by my reading of Ms. Marvel: Last Days which resulted in me choking up multiple times while I was reading it. But this isn’t a review as such, although it will probably include spoilers so tread carefully if that’s something you’re avoiding!
What Last Days is doing is wonderful and noteworthy for a couple of reasons. From a purely personal point of view, Kamala’s story has been my entry into superhero comics. I love what G. Willow Wilson and the other creators involved have done with the story, the art, and especially the characters. Last Days is everything I love about this Ms. Marvel series, ramped up to 11. It’s also full of tension which (uh, spoiler) is not resolved at the end of this volume.
First, it’s a story which foregrounds Kamala and all the influential girls & women in her life, and MY HEART. We’ve seen Kamala have important relationships with other women throughout the series, but here a sizeable portion of the volume pulls together these threads all at once. This centering of female relationships is still all too rare, and it’s still making me choke up thinking about it. (The scene with her mom is just perfect, and Nakia, and CAROL. Everything hurts, but in a good way.)
Moreover, it’s a story where once again Kamala uses her faith as a touchstone for her own responses and beliefs. I’m not Muslim, but I am religious and this rang really true to me. It’s how I hope I would respond in similar circumstances, and at the same time it’s entirely born out of Kamala’s personal cultural and religious background.
Most of all, I loved the fact that this is a story about the end of the world which doesn’t simply posit that humanity is going down in flames. Yes: people freak out and do silly things and tear things apart. But not all of them. Not all the time. This is a book about the end of the world in which not only Kamala, but multiple other characters, react by reaching out, by doing their best to meet whatever’s coming with warmth and dignity.
This is the kind of apocalypse story I want more of. The kind that reminds us that humanity has grace in it as well as evil. Maybe some people can afford stories where everything and everyone is terrible. I can’t; I need stories that face the world and yet still have hope. This one does exactly that, and I want to read more that have this same realistic-yet-hopeful take.
In the end, this is a story which is generous to its characters, to us. Like the rest of Kamala’s stories, it’s full of determination and heart and humor. That the situation she’s facing now is one that she may not be able to solve, but that only makes the courage and kindness with which she faces it more powerful.