With “War of the Marvels” behind us and Carol now definitively back in the land of the living, writer Brian Reed takes the opportunity to… well, I don’t want to say “pay off a long-running sub-plot” since it hasn’t been mentioned in the comic since its inception, but certainly, he ties up a dangling thread by having Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel go on the date she promised him in return for his help back in issue #34.
After the increasingly epic and impersonal events of the previous storyline, it’s a sensible decision for Reed to go back to the simplicity and straight-forwardness of Carol’s personal life and her identity as a superhero. “War of the Marvels” was, to its detriment, very plot driven, and its lack of clarity is acknowledged (arguably even apologized for) in this issue with an in-story recap that comes over more than a little begrudging. It’s all in marked contrast to this character-drive piece that shows what happens when two superheroes go on a date. The story is more interesting, and the focus on finer details over broad strokes plays up to the book’s strengths as much as Reed’s.
Reed has shown in the past that he’s got a handle on Spider-Man, so it’s particularly good that in this story, Peter Parker takes the spotlight a little more than his secret identity does. Reed is also less eager to treat the issue as an audition to write Spider-Man, which is what usually happens when he guest stars, and as a result the issue can spend more time with Ms. Marvel specifically.
It’s a testament to the quality of the story that the apparently rushed art — three pencilers on one book — doesn’t hurt it in any noticeable way. It’s not quite seamless, but all three of the artists have their own strengths and a similar style, and any of them would make a comfortable addition to the regular creative team. Assuming, of course, there still is one. As you may have seen, “Ms. Marvel” is apparently cancelled in a few issues.
When the solicits revealed this, it seemed like a sane decision. Aside from three or four decent Moonstone-led issues, the book had been faltering in quality for a long time. But coming off the back of this issue it’s hard not to be a little upset about what could’ve been accomplished. If Reed was consistently as good as this issue — which he was in the first year of the title, at least — it might have people trying to save the series rather than acknowledging that the time is right. There’s still a chance that “Ms. Marvel” is going to get a stunt relaunch instead of an outright cancellation, in which case, let’s hope Reed concentrates more on this type of story, and realizes the series’ potential more often.