Magnificent Ms. Marvel #13 Review

by Charles Martin on March 04, 2020

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #13 Review
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Penciller: Joey Vazquez
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colourist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Kamala gets a little cool-down time before the start of the big Outlawed event, and she spends it at the Sussex County Fair with Zoe and Nakia. This being a comic book, of course the cool-down is interrupted by a demon invasion. Ms. Marvel is tired out after being put through the wringer in the last arc, and she's hard-pressed to deal with the demons on her own. 

Good thing new hero Amulet also happens to be at the fair this evening!

Introducing Amulet is this issue's top priority, and it does a good job of it. He already makes an interesting companion to Kamala: Arabic ancestry, freshly moved to Jersey from Michigan, and it's hinted that he has tight family connections just like her.

On the superhero front, his bag is force-fields and magical aptitude, like a young cross between Sue Storm and Doctor Strange. It's awfully well-suited to fighting the demonic crisis du jour. 

He's also a big, girthy fella. Joey Vazquez and Juan Vlasco do a good job integrating him into the title's cast. His physique definitely stands out, but not in a "clashing styles" way. 

The visuals throughout this issue are solid, with expressive faces and dynamic action speeding the story along. Colourist Ian Herring draws from the whole palette to represent flashy carnival action. (Though I wonder why he never pulls out any purple to depict the bestial demons that Kamala specifically says are purple.)

Mr. Vazquez also deserves an extra attaboy for loading a lot of detail into the carnival crowd scenes, especially at the start of the comic. Real effort is spent on the background characters, producing lively panels that sell the idea of the main characters being enveloped in a crowd of people just as real as they are.

When it comes to the script, I fell pretty far down a rabbit-hole of overthinking when considering Amulet's potential future. He makes a great match with Kamala -- but this comes at a delicate time with her newly-romanticized relationship with Bruno. 

Early on in #13, things take a turn for the worse on that score. Bruno was supposed to be along for the carnival fun, but he leaves in a huff when Kamala is hesitant to reveal their relationship upgrade to their friends.

Anyway, the overthinking! My concern is that Ms. Marvel has gone to the "Kamala, Bruno, and a less-white boy-hero" love triangle well repeatedly. There was Red Dagger, and back before Secret Wars, there was her secretly-a-villain friend Kamran. (And any potential romance between Kamala and her Champions co-founders, Miles Morales and Sam Alexander, would also fit that triangular mould.)

This issue even suggests Yusuf Khan might weigh in on a hypothetical love triangle in interesting ways. The first and last scenes feature Kamala with her Abu, and he's reacting to his near-death experience in the last arc by evolving his relationship with her daughter. If we do wind up with Bruno and Amulet as competing would-be suitors and Yusuf is aware of the contest, he just might, against all odds, come down in favour of Bruno.

But the "overthinking" part of this is that I'm going way, way out on a limb to talk about romantic potential. Saladin Ahmed doesn't really light many romantic sparks around Amulet in this issue, and it's probably more reasonable to forecast a platonic future for him and Ms. Marvel.

While I think this title has struggled to land its big arcs and big plot developments, what it's consistently done well is embroider Kamala's life as a rich tapestry with interesting characters and stories beyond her own adventures. This issue certainly scores on that front, embellishing her supporting cast with lots of love. 

Some of these developments are momentous, like Yusuf starting to trust his daughter more, or Bruno chafing at Kamala's "take it slow" approach to romance. But the cast shines in less-consequential ways, too, like Nakia struggling to ascertain if anything at the fair's corn dog stand qualifies as halal.

Ms. Marvel #13 is a fine one-off story that uses the last moment before the "Outlawed" crossover to make an interesting addition to Kamala's supporting cast. What's on full display is the creative attention lavished on that cast. This issue is a potent reminder that Kamala has never been the only lovable part of the Ms. Marvel experience; she's surrounded by equally-admirable secondary characters. The new teen wizard-hero Amulet will be in rarified company if he can stick around.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I love the quiet background way Mr. Ahmed has developed Zoe into New Jersey's foremost young getaway driver.