“Ms. Marvel” #13 kicks off the second year of storylines for Kamala and company, and G. Willow Wilson and guest artist Takeshi Miyazawa do so on a good note. This issue both circles back around to an element that’s been lurking in the background of “Ms. Marvel” and brings in some new surprises, and it’s as good a place as any for new readers to jump on board.
The star of “Ms. Marvel” #13 is, unsurprisingly, Kamala. I don’t mean that she’s simply the protagonist (although she is) but, rather, she’s the main draw. Her personality continues to feel realistic even as it sparkles; a prime example of this is her resistance to meeting Kamran. Her memories of him at 5 years old are unfair even as they’re believable; you can easily see yourself shying away from someone at her age, desperate to get away from the person that your parents are foisting on you. Likewise, her geeking out over everything from Bollywood DVDs to the Marvel Universe’s version of World of Warcraft is great; it’s not just that she has actual interests, but that her passion for them comes across as believable. Kamala is that rare comic book teenager who actually feels like a real teenager.
Wilson also reminds us that Kamala’s powers are due to her Inhuman heritage and does so in an interesting way that works far better than anything else we’ve seen in Marvel’s big push for the Inhumans over the past year. From the training sequence on New Attilan to Kamala’s encounter with several different Inhumans who each clearly have a different approach to their powers, Wilson not only makes them an interesting aspect of the series that’s back in the foreground — allowing Kamala to compare herself to some peers — but she also avoids the obvious trap of making all Inhumans fairly similar. We’re already getting a nice variety here, and I’m genuinely interested to see where Wilson is taking these plotlines.
Miyazawa’s art is cute, both in how he draws Kamala as well as the rest of the cast. Sometimes it works but, other times, it’s actually a little too cute. For the former, the scene where Kamala runs away from the “legendary” training program is a great example. She’s clearly working hard and the monsters and lasers are attacking, but there’s something disarming about it that her feel as though she’s never in any sort of mortal danger. The four-eyed monsters are strong but they’re also a little adorable. For the latter, when we first see Kamala in her full Ms. Marvel outfit (as she explains that “Jersey City is off-limits to whackos”), the cuteness factor makes her look like an eight-year-old, not a teenager. She’s a little too precious. On the whole, the book looks good with Ian Herring and Irma Kniivila providing some very soft, gentle colors but, every time the art skews a little too cute and young, it doesn’t feel quite right.
The additions to “Ms. Marvel” this month all have a lot of promise and, based on the previous twelve issues, I’m eager to see what’s going to happen next. “Ms. Marvel” already had a good supporting cast, but there’s definitely room for Kamran to stick around, with any luck. With the Inhuman presence in the title also picking up, here’s hoping that more writers will follow Wilson’s lead on how to handle them. So far, so good.