Look, I know I was tough on Ms. Marvel last month. It was a so-so issue, a fact that surprised me greatly considering it guest starred the Norse god of trickery. The thing is, even then I wasn’t worried that it was some sort of herald of less-great things to come, and the latest installment of Kamala Khan’s adventures is one of the best yet.
Everything that was missing from the Valentine’s issue is present here. Inhumans? Check. Genuine hero vs. villain throwdowns? Check. An exploration of the life hyphenated-American youth live, AKA the cornerstone of immigrant literature? Ch-ch-ch-check.
That last point is what truly made me love this comic, because the rest of the Khans get some quality pagetime after being out of the spotlight for so long. Take the following panel-
It takes place after we see Kamala training in the Inhuman version of the X-Men’s Danger Room, and while seeing Medusa worry about her subject [she is queen of the Inhumans, after all] is intriguing all I could think of was: “older Pakistani people would probably not be down with the skin-tight leggings she has on.” Lo and behold we have her ammi chiding her for her indecency.
Another detail that Western readers may not pick up on was that the Khans’ guests are “Bushra Aunty and Irfan Uncle”, which would lead them to believe that their son Kamran is Kamala’s cousin. In the Philippines it’s common to refer to your elders as “tita” and “tito” [“aunt” and “uncle”, respectively] despite their being of no relation to you. While I’ve seen others on the internet scratch their heads at this it wasn’t difficult for me to understand at all.
Can I also say how on point the details in the art are? The first time we see Kamran he’s standing in the Khans’ living room in his socks. Asian people don’t wear shoes indoors, and I’m being perfectly honest when I say that when I found out a lot of Americans do it blew my mind. For real, though, the details really do matter.
To sort of finish off my gushing over G. Willow Wilson’s writing on the experience of second-generation minorities, here’s Kamala bonding with Kamran over their love of old Bollywood movies--and it’s great. Really, it’s the greatest.
In other happenings, we’re also charging full steam ahead after the shenanigans that took place with the Inventor. A new supervillain makes her debut on the streets of Jersey City, and while her very existence as a new villain is notable [bad guys are more often recycled then created] it’s the fact that she’s a fellow Inhuman that causes Ms. Marvel to pause. See, Kaboom [I sure wish she’d been named Kilowatt] believes she’s a greater being, and as such has the right to rule over the lesser ones.
It prompts a speech that is, well, it’s not subtle. I mentioned in my review of Issue #10 that the medium isn’t known for that particular trait, but the additional truth is that neither are high schoolers. Kamala comes out and delivers two lines, the double-meaning behind of which is as clear as Susan Storm when she doesn’t want to be seen [that is: very]:
“There’s always one group of people who think they have special permission to terrorize anybody who disagrees with them.
And then everyone who looks like them suffers.”
And honestly, I’m not even going to explain that. The issue ends with Kamran revealing that he too is an Inhuman, and we are off to the races [in this case “races” refers to “the possibility of an Inhuman civil war, the middle of which Kamala is sure to be embroiled in”]. It’s only the first part of “Crushed”, an arc which promises three installments, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.
Fights, Panelling, Action!: Seeing as how Takeshi Miyazawa is pencilling this entire arc, this is yet another new feature that we’ll be getting more of. Now while the top left and right panels are great examples of art that draws your eye in a particular direction [using the lightning attack and Ms. Marvel’s fist, respectively], what I’m really all about is the bottom left panel.
Miyazawa has both Kaboom’s and Kamala’s feet extend past the borders of the panel, adding movement to the heroine’s kick and the villain’s fall. The same technique is used elsewhere to great effect, and I’m sure upcoming issues will have a lot to offer this feature.
Ms. Marvel #13
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Takeshi Miyazawa
Colours by Ian Herring with Irma Knivila
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Edited by Sana Amanat