Review: MS. MARVEL #13


Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Takeshi Miyazawa
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 11, 2015

Kamala Khan’s rite of teenage passages continues. Now she’s going from first parties and taking down criminal masterminds, to falling in love.

Once again G. Willow Wilson, in an unapologetic fashion, dives head first into emotionally real and rough terrain. The initial opening of the story uses the central theme of the whole series: family. Family is used question ideas such as free will and doing your duty. Whether Kamala is aware of it or not, these are things that are constantly being debated by Kamala’s Inhuman “mother,” Medusa. Kamala spends some humorous moments training at New Attilan. Medusa continues to wax on about Kamala having a right to choose her actions, as she has in previous issues, despite other Inhumans who have not chosen wisely.

On the flip side, Kamala knowingly faces her daily struggles with her immediate family. It can be seen as just a one page set up of parents forcing family friends upon an unenthusiastic and moody teen. However, as a parent, reading panels like this, there is a feeling that Kamala’s parents keep returning to central ideas every time they try to persuade her into specific actions: responsibility, respect and honor. They are the themes many parents want to instill in their children, but do not always succeed.

Currently, when Kamala does follow through, in typical teen fashion, it is begrudgingly. In the case of this issue, it’s to entertain family friends, which includes their teenage son. What Kamala finds is the make-up of a nerdy teen-girl’s fantasy. This whole issue reveals this boy, Kamran, being the stuff made of dreams. All without any kisses, hugs or overt declarations of feelings being made. It is a subtlety that can be hard to pull off. However, it is done through the amazing art of Takeshi Miyazawa. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because of his amazing work from Mary Jane, Runaways,  as well as several other comics.

The Canadian artist’s manga influences are apparent. However, they are very purposefully worked in at key points, while avoided in others. For example, when drawing Medusa talking to Lockjaw, it feels as if the work could very easily be that of regular artist Adrian Alphona. All of the characters stay very true their original designs from the story’s first arc, last year. It is a comforting familiarity that “our” family is intact.

However, when Kamala has moments of surprise, embarrassment, excitement, these are all moments where Miyazawa makes a point of using the more traditional wide eyes, small pupil, thick pointed eyelashes found in manga. The panel layouts and body positions of a fight scene that come about after Kamran, Kamala, and of course her brother, go out for a walk also show these influences.

Miyazawa clearly uses character position and action to clear up any potential panel confusion. The pages when Kamala and Kamran are interacting the story slows and lingers. The characters are purposefully aligned creating horizontal  images. The action sequences against a power hungry Inhuman, who tries to claim New Jersey, are sped up with right to left angles, bold movement lines; as well as character’s arms, legs, and feet crossing the gutter.

It not only controls the speed of the fight, but allows the eye to naturally understand where it should go next. Facial expressions, body language and ample room for lettering help to create an organic whole instead of competing parts. For the purposes of the story, the super-powered Inhuman that Kamala fights is very two dimensional and clearly only serves the purpose of dropping exposition, before Kamala drops her.

These fluctuations in pacing feel very determined and driven. The plot and the character development are hand in hand with each step of the story. By the time you reach the final three pages character monologue, facial expression and movement all provide an overwhelming sense of anxiety. Kamala is in a state of absolute dread with each tiny revelation. Which makes the final page reveal provide you with an opportunity to release your feelings in the best way you see fit. What’s even better? It’s a cliffhanger that can provide readers a multitude of emotional reactions. It can provide a sense of relief, or doubt, confusion, suspicion, infatuation.

This being the first issue of a brand new arc, Wilson has made a point of lacing in some key plot threads that could potentially turn character’s heads in any direction, at any point. For now we are given the idea that Kamala has finally found someone she can relate to, confide in and crush on. However, if you look close, and think too long, you might immediately become paranoid about his intentions. When you’re not sure where things are going, aren’t those the most fun comics to read?

The Verdict: 9.0/10 



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