Fan fiction has been a staple of hardcore fandom for decades, but it’s only been acknowledged in some of the properties that inspired it within the last few years. This week’s All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1 offers up Marvel’s take on fanfic, with several big name creators contributing short stories. This issue also has the perfect character to dive into that world: Ms. Marvel. Kamala Khan lives and breathes superheroes like few other characters. So, of course she’d be reading and writing fan-fiction even after she became a hero herself. This issue is all about the humorous downside of that.
Kamala’s co-creator, G. Willow Wilson, wrote the framing sequence for the issue with regular All-New, All-Different Avengers artist, Mahmud Asrar, who turns in his regularly fantastic artwork. We’re really gonna miss him on the main book! But the funniest story in the Annual is the first tale by Mark Waid and artist Chip Zdarsky, which finds Ms. Marvel teaming up with Captain Marvel and assuming her identity in a world where everyone speaks fluent exposition and narrates every action. It’s very amusing, but it’s not all that different from actual comics in earlier eras. What really makes this one work is the way that the real Kamala remained present in the story with her eyes reacting to each new development at the bottom of the page. She was hilariously angry about this page in particular.
The oddest story in the annual was Natasha Allegri‘s The Adventures of She-Hulk, which is also the only tale here that doesn’t feature Ms. Marvel at all. Instead, it gave She-Hulk the fourth-wall awareness that she’s had in her own comic titles as she criticized the poor creative choices of the writer and teamed up with the “drawn-with-the-non-dominant-hand Avengers!” It was adorably weird, and we kind of loved the idea of She-Hulk’s haunted glasses.
Faith Erin Hicks‘ Squirrel Girl vs. Ms. Marvel short felt like it could have actually been in the real Squirrel Girl comic. There was over-the-top zaniness in their battle, but it really didn’t feel like a fanfic in the way that the other stories did. It was almost too well-drawn and well-written to be passed off as even an imitation of the genre.
Scott Kurtz put Kamala in a story that was more about the fictional writer inserting himself into his own fanfic and forming a relationship with her. That’s more common than you might think, and this Gary Stu received one of the funniest reactions from the “real” Kamala. It was a good payoff, and the Watcher joke was also a lot of fun. But this story still felt a little stretched out even though it was only five pages.
The remaining story touched on a potential romance between Kamala and her teammate Spider-Man, Miles Morales. Zac Gorman and Jay Fosgitt’s “Up Close and Fursonal” envisioned a world in which Kamala was an anthropomorphic snake and Miles was a Spider-Mole. Fosgitt’s art was a particular highlight in this short, and Gorman seemed to have a good take on the Kamala and Miles dynamic while intentionally keeping them just slightly out of character.
This issue’s biggest crime is that it doesn’t let us read the story that pissed off Kamala in the first place: “Ms. Marvel and the Teenage Love Triangle from Space.” We do get to see who wrote the offending tale, and now we really want to know what was in it! But that didn’t detract too much from a very enjoyable issue.
RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
What did you think about All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1? Let’s discuss in the comment section below!
Images: Marvel Comics