With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.
Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!
Artist: Adriana Melo, Paulo Siqueira
Issues: Ms. Marvel (2006) #25-34, Ms. Marvel Annual, Ms. Marvel Storyteller
Ms. Marvel (that’s the Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel 2006-10 comic) has skirted along my reading schedule by often remaining just good enough to keep me reading regularly. The light but enjoyable tone from writer Brian Reed and decent art has kept me invested even when the series dips a little too far into typical silly comic plots and drama.
She definitely finds her groove in her fifth and sixth volumes, as we dive into her one-woman army approach to the Secret Invasion, followed by a surprisingly fun, intrigue-laden turn as we explore Carol Danvers as an Air Force Espionage Agent before she became a superhero.
Ms. Marvel’s last major tie-in with Civil War was a disappointment, but Volume 5’s Secret Invasion issues are, to use so many back-of-the-box pull quotes, an action-packed thrill ride. The Skrulls’ preliminary plan of attack was to kidnap and replace many superheroes, but in Carol’s case they did the latter before doing the former. This leads to that classic moment when she’s trying to tell a friend to be careful on the phone, and that friend happens to have Ms. Marvel already at his place! Dun dun dunnn!
Thankfully that double Ms. Marvel plot is solved rather quickly, though not before the impostor destroys her entire Lighting Storm operation, bringing a swift end to her SHIELD shenanigans. In the wake of the destruction (and being the only hero to return from the Savage Land during the first few issues of Secret Invasion) she flies to New York to fight the entire invading skrull army by herself.
I especially enjoyed that she spends a good portion of the fight rescuing and helping people, something the Marvel films capture well but often gets lost in the chaotic fights of the comics themselves. The five issue arc doesn’t advance Carol’s or the Secret Invasion story at all, but it is a lot of fun. In the end, that’s all I really ask for a tie-in.
Volume 6, “Ascension” (#31-34) takes a pleasantly surprising turn as we explore Carol Danvers’ interesting past with the Air Force. Issue #31 is an especially fascinating character study as Carol returns home to her confront her troubled home life – a mother that resents her, a father that drunk himself to death after losing their son. Frankly I didn’t think this level of serious drama was in Brian Reed’s wheelhouse, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a gripping issue of family drama.
Carol flies an experimental plane (developed by Tony Stark) but is shot down in Afghanistan. There she’s brutally tortured for information, though thankfully Reed avoids going all Game of Thrones-style sexual abuse. In the end she outwits her captor, forcing him into a rage as he shatters her arm. She seizes the opportunity to then stab him with her broken arm. Holy shit. I knew Carol was tough before but damn.
It’s really great seeing her unflinching resolve even before she became borderline invulnerable when she gained her powers. She reminds me a lot of Captain America with her military background, no nonsense attitude, and uncompromising heroism.
The arc peters out a bit at the end as we get mired in her lame Annual issue, involving a dumb crossover with Spider-Man. Though it does lead Carol to swiftly kicking Spider-Man in the nuts, which is pretty great. Likewise her Ms. Marvel Storyteller one-shot returns the titular teenage character who can create whatever he wants. There’s some fun moments but it’s ultimately unfulfilling, and I wanted to return to either more of her super-spy backstory greatness, or the tease at the end of Issue #31 when she vowed to kill Norman Osborn as we’re now in Dark Reign territory.
Before I thought Ms. Marvel’s solo series was just okay, but Volumes Five and Six have really proven that Brian Reed has a good handle on the character and the stories he wants to tell. The art has remained consistently okay, never particularly great but never a drawback either. I’m glad I’ve stuck with the series and she’s nicely filling the heroic void left by the then-dead Captain America.