Anyone complaining that Marvel doesn’t seem to do traditional superhero books any more need look no further that Ms. Marvel, one of the company’s underrated gems. Reed’s work at Marvel has been consistently good, and this title is no exception. Closely focusing on Carol and the personal issues surrounding her life as a superhero, Reed has created an engaging soap-opera storyline with Ms. Marvel at the center. For the first time, though, he might have gotten the balance a little wrong…
The current storyline started off as something as a minor tie-in to Secret Invasion (under the “infiltration” banner) though with this issue it becomes a fairly direct crossover that leads straight into the events of “Secret Invasion” #1. It’s likely that subsequent issues will show Carol deep in the superheroic side of things — undoubtedly her strength as a character — and thankfully, Reed has shown himself more than capable of tying in the title’s regular plot threads in with crossovers while making it seem like an organic development.
Unfortunately, this issue sees the soap opera elements taking a little too much focus, as Carol starts coming across as a little too self-centred and erratic, veering between emotional extremes as the plot demands — the aftermath of a Skrull attack is glossed over in favor of showing Carol wrestling with her lack of confidence, meaning that the reader’s chance to see the hero in action is also truncated in favour of some moping that’s hard to sympathise with. While her burgeoning relationship with Wonder Man is an interesting sub-plot, the focus on her actual “boyfriend” William is hard to get too excited about despite the promise of future revelations about his potentially alien heritage.
It also seems that this issue might well mark the end of the “Operation: Lightning Storm” team when the minicarrier is destroyed. While it does serve to place Carol alongside a cast of characters that Reed can keep isolated from the wider MU and treat as he pleases, it often feels like an unnecessary addition to the book’s status quo and it wouldn’t be entirely upsetting to see it gone for good.
Andre Coelho is more than capable guesting on pencils. His dynamic figures give the book a slightly different look than usual, but it’s not an unwelcome change. He does seem to struggle a little with the subtler elements of Reed’s character work, and is at his best drawing the action. The one really distracting element of the art, though, is the thick, heavy inked outlines around the characters and scenery. It’d be nice to see that element of the artwork toned down in future.
As a whole, it’s a weak ending to an otherwise entertaining storyline. Ms. Marvel is well-positioned to cherry pick the best elements of Secret Invasion and utilize them as necessary, so as long as the next few months are weighted towards superheroics instead of soap opera, it should provide a decent, Secret Invasion-inspired story that doesn’t require you to read every other title.