It can't be easy to take over a title from another writer, especially when that writer left so much unanswered and half-formed, but Brian Wood has found a logical way of handling the transition as he takes the helm of Ultimate Comics X-Men from Nick Spencer. Basically, this issue is Wood's mission statement for the series, and as the title switches focus and direction, so, too, does its main character, Kitty Pryde. Wood has Kitty literally shed her old costume and name (in an, admittedly, bizarre and, I think, needless scene) and announce to the reader and her teammates in no uncertain terms that she has a new goal, a new purpose in life. Kitty stands in for Wood, and her change in attitude represents a similar change in the series as a whole.
Unfortunately, that's about all this issue has room for before it comes to a close. Because of the twelve previous chapters with Kitty and crew largely dragging their feet, it takes a fair amount of space before they can fully switch gears. We get insight into Kitty's thought process, watch her make her bold transformation, and then she explains it to her friends and they set out in a brave new direction, but exactly what that direction will look like remains, for now, unclear. Also, Johnny chooses to stay behind with the younger mutants, which was maybe my favorite moment in the whole issue and definitely a thread I'm eager to see developed. Essentially that's how I feel about the whole of Ultimate Comics X-Men #13: while the present-tense of the story is relatively interesting, mostly all it does is make me excited for the title's future.
Paco Medina's art was actually better here than it often is in this book, with no truly awkward or unpleasant panels. I do wish his work was more reliable---he fluctuates from very grounded characters to broader, more cartoony figures frequently and arbitrarily, which can be jarring and take the reader out of the story. Even if it's just for a moment, the damage is done, and I think Medina would benefit from locking in a steadier style. Still, his storytelling is clear and his characters, while inconsistent in their appearance, are always expressive and alive.
Not a failure by any means, but not exactly a great success either, Ultimate Comics X-Men #13 has, at the very least, set the stage for faster-paced and more interesting issues than what has come before. The first page asks us if we've been holding our breath this whole time, and the implied promise in that question is that the wait, at long last, is over. Kitty is coming into her own as a hero/terrorist, and I'm anxious to see where it takes her and her companions.