Writer: Eve L. Ewing
Artist: Kim Jacinto
Colorist: Espen Grundetjern
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Pepe Larraz, David Curiel
Editor: Alanna Smith
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Kamala Khan and Miles Morales are some of Marvel’s most popular characters, but they face their worst adversary yet in this week’s Outlawed #1: Bureaucracy.
When Kamala’s high school is wrecked after a mission gone wrong, she and her allies are blamed for the destruction, leading to the government passing an act that forbids minors from operating as vigilantes. If this sounds like a familiar plot to you, it’s because the premise of Outlawed is very reminiscent of the original Civil War storyline. It’s actually surprising that it’s not literally called Civil War 3 (bet you forgot there was a sequel a few years ago?), but I’m guessing they don’t want to overshoot its intended scale and impact moving forward (this year’s actual mega-event, Empyre, starts in mere weeks). But that’s not to say Outlawed isn’t being treated like an event; this is Marvel we’re talking about. Following this oversized one-shot are a slew of tie-ins and spinoffs (including new volumes of Power Pack and New Warriors) slated for the immediate future. But how does this singular one-shot fare on its own merit?
Previewed in last December’s Incoming!, Outlawed #1 is deceivingly dense — in both script and visuals — for what is essentially an extended battle sequence. The bulk of the page count is dedicated to the event that prompts the creation of “Kamala’s Law,” which is framed by a court scene wherein the Champions and several other (adult) superheroes are brought in for questioning. But despite the able work here by writer Eve L. Ewing and artist Kim Jacinto, they can’t totally overcome the feeling that this would work better as the opening chapter of a trade paperback than a $4.99 issue of its own.
To Ewing’s credit, it’s encouraging to see her back with a major new project at Marvel, following the conclusion of her lauded Ironheart run (she is the writer of the upcoming Champions relaunch spinning out of this issue, which will presumably do this storyline’s heavy lifting). Traditionally a novelist and non-fiction writer, she acquitted herself in the form of comics with admirable ease, so it’s not her fault that this feels like setup for things to come rather than a standalone story. By the issue’s end, our stakes are made very clear, and we know what to expect in the coming installments — something a surprising amount of event alphas don’t quite pull off. She’s also very clearly approaching this story from a real-world standpoint of generational conflict (Outlawed is catchier than Boomers vs. Zoomers: Dawn of Justice) that most company crossovers lack, which should make for a more satisfying reader experience than these usually have.
The art by Kim Jacinto is similarly up to snuff, even if his pages tend to be distractingly busy because of the action happening in them. There’s a lot to look at. Almost too much. But at the same time, it’s pretty astounding how much detail Jacinto puts into scene backgrounds; at the very least it’s impressive.