Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Ms. Marvel (2006), Vol. 7-9

Ms. Marvel’s last three volumes features the best Dark Reign story I’ve read, as Carol Danvers battles the Dark Avengers’ Moonstone.

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!

marvelWriter: Brian Reed

Artists: Patrick Olliffe, Sana Takeda, Sergio Ariño, Philippe Briones, Mike McKone

Issues: Ms. Marvel (2006) #35-50

 

Ms. Marvel‘s 2006-2010 run represents one of the few series I’ve read every issue of (so far), and only the second one to reach 50 issues (the first being Cable & Deadpool). Not really knowing anything about Carol Danvers, I certainly didn’t plan on reading them all when I started. Brian Reed’s classic comic style kept me engaged, while his relatable and excellent portrayal of Carol continued through all 50 issues.

As the former leader of the Mighty Avengers, Carol Danvers was a prime target for recruitment by Norman Osborn when he took over during Dark Reign. Ms. Marvel would have none of it, of course, and suddenly found herself on the wrong side of the law – ironic since she was hunting down heroes during the Civil War. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Ms. Marvel (2006), Vol. 7-9”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Ms. Marvel (2006), Vol. 5-6

Vol. 5-6 represent Carol’s best work as she fights off the skrulls in the Secret Invasion, then explores her past with the Air Force.

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!

Ms Marvel vol 6Writer: Brian Reed

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.  Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Ms. Marvel (2006), Vol. 5-6”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Ms. Marvel (2006), Vol. 3-4

Ms. Marvel puts together her own strike force to hunt down bad guys, and the series hits its stride thanks to a fun supporting cast, numerous action-movie set-pieces and the wonderful art of Aaron Lopresti.

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!

Ms Marvel vol 3Writer: Brian Reed

Artists: Aaron Lopresti, Robert De La Torre (#11-12)

Issues: Ms. Marvel (2006) #11-24

Around the time of the Superhero Civil War in 2006, Carol Danvers was enjoying a successful revival. She had her own solo series (not exactly common for any female superhero at the time) and in 2007 was hand-picked by Tony Stark to lead the new Mighty Avengers team.

The first 10 issues (Volumes 1-2) of Ms. Marvel were a mixed bag as the series struggled to find its footing while dealing with the Civil War event. In volumes three and four we get a more proactive Carol as she puts together her own strike force to hunt down bad guys, and the series hits its stride thanks to a fun supporting cast, numerous action-movie set-pieces and the wonderful art of Aaron Lopresti.

Most of Volume Three includes the subtitling of The Initiative – referring to the period directly following the Civil War. Tony Stark wants Carol Danvers to lead his new official Avengers team. Carol agrees on one condition: that she be given her own special SHIELD taskforce. Carol’s a natural born leader but she’s also full of self-doubt and constantly pushing herself to be better, creating an interesting dynamic between her dialogue and her inner monologue.

Ms. Marvel’s desire to hunt bad guys before they become a threat stems from the first two issues, which revives old Avengers, AIM-baddie Doomsday Man. It mostly involves a lot of straightforward fighting, including against a bunch of zombified agents as well as the giant mech-body of Doomsday Man, and it’s fun as hell. Unfortunately Ms. Marvel’s spunky teenage sidekick that we met back during the Civil War issues in Volume Two (Araña) loses her fight and gets her carapace brutally torn off. Carol vows to hunt down villains before they can become major threats.

ms marvel #17 punch

Her first task is actually a selfish one, but it does tie up the loose end that is Arachne (Julia Carpenter), the superhero Spider-Woman that she apprehended during her Civil War tie-ins. Julia agrees to register and is released from the Negative Zone prison, and Carol helps her find her daughter. It’s fairly boring and unnecessary – I had enough of Arachne’s woes in the previous volume, but the side plot involving AIM and a DNA bomb nicely sets up the next exciting arc, and the first real test of Operation Lightning Storm.

In “Ready, A.I.M., Fire!” (#15-17) Ms. Marvel and her crew of SHIELD agents (and her frequent ally and co-star, the incredibly lame Wonder Man) go after a leader-less AIM group. Some of them are trying to protect and restore a dying MODOK, while others want to bring AIM into a new era. We’re introduced to some interesting inner workings of AIM and MODOK is always a fun, old-school mustache-twirling villain, but the real antagonist comes in the surprise form of MODOK’s son, the usurper of AIM.

ms marvel #17Ms. Marvel is able to defeat MODOK though she’s blasted with the DNA bomb, and once again we see her turn blue and miraculously heal, just as she did did while fighting zombies in the earlier story. She begins to suspect that something fishy may have happened in her encounter with the powerful blue alien named Cru in the very first volume. Brian Reed has a knack for rewarding his readers, weaving in numerous previous plot threads, characters, and events.

Volume Four, “Monster Smash,” includes two action-packed and fun stories that effectively showcase Ms. Marvel’s team and their globe-trotting agenda. “Puppets” (#18-20) trots out a very old Fantastic Four villain, Puppet Master.

He’s currently living out his retirement in a South American country doing what he does best – enslaving people using his clay voodoo statues. Though it’s not explicitly explained, it’s heavily implied that he’s keeping an inordinate amount of enslaved women for human trafficking. This doesn’t sit too well with Ms. Marvel, and she lets loose with an awesome fury, though first she has to battle through a few of Puppet Master’s enslaved superheroines.

The real treat is the introduction to Ms. Marvel’s new team additions. Since her run-in with AIM put one of her field agents in the hospital (and she’s still not comfortable with Araña joining her), she’s requested some super-powered help and receives the snarky android Machine Man and alien Sleepwalker. Sleepwalker is an alien host that lives in the dreams of Rick Sheridan (meaning he can only come out when Rick’s asleep or passed out) while Machine Man is basically Bender from Futurama. They’re both fantastic and entertaining and along with Agent Sum, Araña, and even Wonder Man create quite the motley crew.

ms marvel #20In a dark twist, Ms. Marvel defeats Puppet Master by actually letting him commit suicide via explosion (Dear villains: You can’t kill Ms. Marvel with explosions, she absorbs energy). She’s incredibly angry about what he did to those women and she ends up lying about what went down in her report. It’s a fascinating moment that makes her character all the more human, and I can’t help but continue to root for her every step of the way.

Her blue healing powers finally get explained in the incredibly action-packed second arc, “Monster and Marvel” (#21-24). The blue alien Cru from way back in her first issue had been partially absorbed, and she (it’s a she apparently) spends a lot of time inside Carol’s mind. She shows her destruction of her homeworld by the Brood and Ms. Marvel is taken to Monster Island where the two team-up to defeat the Brood that have made a nest there.

Once again Ms. Marvel is separated from her team, as she and Cru do a bunch of mind-melding stuff while they hunt the Brood Queen while the rest of the team plays catch-up only to fight a swarm of Brood. Brian Reed does his best Aliens impression with the Brood Queen, and Cru unlocks Carol’s cosmic-level powers, temporarily turning her into her goddess-like Binary persona.

ms marvel #24

The action is satisfyingly large-scale and epic, and a wonderful finale to Ms. Marvel’s Operation Lighting Storm adventures (assuming they come to an end – the next volume are her Secret Invasion tie-ins). I generally enjoyed Reed’s story-telling and characterization of Carol Danvers. She’s a very public and powerful hero but she’s also extremely relatable and grounded. Her strike force helps give her something to do rather than just fall into a random series of adventures and I liked the large variety in locations and villains.

It also helps that I adore Aaron Lopresti’s art, who seems particularly well-suited to drawing aliens like the Brood (I loved his work on Planet Hulk). The same can’t be said of Greg Horn’s sexy Barbie-doll cover art, however. Thankfully it’s just the cover art but it also gives off the wrong impression both to the comic’s style and tone. If you enjoy Avengers-style action and want to see more of Ms. Marvel at her highest and lowest points, her solo series has proven more than satisfactory.

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Ms. Marvel (2006), Vol. 1-2

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!


Ms. Marvel #1Writer:
Brian Reed

Artists: Robert de la Torre, Mike Wieringo

Issues: Ms. Marvel (2006) #1-10, Giant-Size Ms. Marvel #1, Ms. Marvel Special #1

Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel, aka Captain Marvel, aka Warbird, aka Binary, has had a fairly complicated and confusing history, most of which I know absolutely nothing about. Thankfully her solo series, launched in 2006, doesn’t bother with all the hand-wringing and complex backstory, and instead focuses on the confident woman that earnestly strives to be the best damn superhero she can be.

As an Air Force pilot, Danvers was given her powers from a Kree DNA-altering blast with Captain Marvel in the 70s, and her buxom blonde looks and can-do, all-American attitude definitely reflect that Silver Age of comics she was born into.

My only real knowledge of Ms. Marvel came from Rogue’s famous encounter, where she permanently stole her powers of flight and super strength – leaving Carol Danvers in a coma, and creating the Rogue character most recognizable in the 80s/90s and the animated series. At some point Professor X restores Ms. Marvel’s mind and she ends up gaining cosmic-level powers and becoming Binary, then joining the Avengers in the late 90s as Warbird.

Carol’s had a rocky road but with a new Marvel movie coming out in a few years I wanted to know more about her. Thankfully this solo series (her first since the 70s) was launched a few months after House of M. “Best of the Best” introduces us to the stalwart superhero who’s just come off the high of that alternate world. She was the world’s most popular and beloved superhero, and that’s given her motivation to actually try and achieve that goal. She turns down Captain America’s official offer when recruiting for the New Avengers and strikes out on her own, though her numerous Avengers contacts certainly help.

Her first adventure has her responding to a crashed alien ship full of Brood that have unleashed hell on a small town. She battles them off in spectacularly cool fashion, and we quickly learn that Ms. Marvel is easily powerful enough to take on most foes by herself. A new player to the field, weird blue alien Cru arrives and steals a crystal from a military base, which also gets destroyed – Ms. Marvel is a day light and a dollar short throughout this story.

ms marvel #3

She ends up absorbing the crystal blast and sends him reeling into space, and it’s all over in three quick issues. The next two deal with a returning villain – the Traveler (apparently UK’s answer to Dr. Strange) a mystic wielding time-traveling sorcerer. He’s a bit more interesting, and his previous run in with Ms. Marvel is pretty funny (she threw a cat at him, sending them hurling across space and time). They spend the two issues hopping through alternate dimensions and getting help from Dr. Strange, and it’s mostly a confusing mess.

Things get back to normal in the second collected Volume, which includes her Civil War tie-ins. Ms. Marvel famously sides with Tony Stark and the pro-Registration team as she strongly desires to set an example to other superheroes. She’s even hired a professional publicist to help her with her image, not exactly an endearing quality. “Battle Lines”  is one of the weaker Civil War tie-ins and a pretty easy throw away story. Carol and Simon (the incredibly boring Wonder Man) team up to bring in unregistered heroes, and set their sights on Arachne and her boyfriend Shroud.

There’s some solid action scenes, including a high speed chase with doors being ripped open and people being flung out, and the art stays consistently solid and high quality throughout. Eventually Carol is forced to arrest Julia Carpenter before she can flee with her daughter to the Canadian border, and attempt to reconcile the horror of separating a mom from her daughter. From my experience with Civil War and beyond into Mighty Avengers and The Initiative, it’s easy to hate on Ms. Marvel as she’s such a strong believer in the Superhero Registration Act. These events do help paint her as more of a human being with remorse and uncertainty for the things she’s had to do to uphold the law.

ms marvel #8

The last two issues of the second volume were my favorite, involving a confrontation with Rogue and an alternate universe-hopping version of Ms. Marvel (as Warbird). Inthat universe she felt sorry for herself, drinking constantly and letting her world be destroyed while she moped and didn’t answer the call from the Avengers. She ends up spinning through various Earths, always hunting down and killing Rogue for revenge, and later reveals that she’s had to kill the alternate Ms. Marvel each time as well, for forgiving Rogue.

Granted it’s a pretty ham-fisted way to represent Ms. Marvel’s fears and repressed demons so literally but it makes for some great dialogue and action-scenes, as the two Carols blast energy at each other and fling each other into various destructible objects. Both Rogue and Beast are fun and effective guest-stars. I can’t say the same for the art however, as guest artist Mike Wieringo’s style is a bit goofier than I would have liked (and his Beast is straight-up terrible).

ms marvel #10These first two volumes of Ms. Marvel end up as a pretty mixed bag. They also include the Giant-Size Ms. Marvel issue which acts as the launching point of the series and includes the first Traveler attack, as well as an interesting one-shot Ms. Marvel Special, including a clever way of retelling her Binary/Cosmic adventures through a mutant (or something) that can manifest stories.

I appreciated how Brian Reed grounds Carol Danvers as a real person with hopes, desires and flaws. She gets a date with the cute owner of a restaurant she wrecks! She’s best buds with Jessica Drew, New Avengers‘ Spider-Woman (well until Civil War I guess). Robert de la Torre’s art is also really fantastic, evoking a modernized look of a Silver Age heroine. I’m definitely hoping for some steady improvement in Carol’s solo adventures, as the series would go on to last an impressive 50 issues and four years.