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INFILTRATED? Reed talks “Ms. Marvel”

by  in Comic News Comment
INFILTRATED? Reed talks “Ms. Marvel”
“Ms. Marvel” #25 on sale March 26

When Ms. Marvel isn’t tackling the world’s most dangerous adversaries in the pages of “Mighty Avengers,” she’s still not relaxing.  Instead, Carol Danvers is dealing with all the excitement, perils, mystery, intrigue and emotional turmoil in her own ongoing series, “Ms. Marvel.” Things aren’t going to get any easier for her when March’s milestone issue #25 ties into “Secret Invasion: The Infiltration.” CBR News spoke with writer Brian Reed about his plans for the Marvel Comics title and got an exclusive first look at artwork from issue #25 by new series artist Adriana Melo.

“Ms. Marvel” is a solo title, but recent issues have seen Carol Danvers forming her own S.H.I.E.L.D. strike team, Operation Lightning Storm, composed of both super powered and human operatives.  She’s also worked closely with supporting characters like Wonder Man and Arana, and it’s developments like these that have turned the series into a sort of ensemble book. “It’s partially because as a kid growing up, Spider-Man was my favorite book,” Brian Reed told CBR News. “Spider-Man was as much about Peter Parker as it was about Aunt May, Mary Jane, Betty Brant, J. Jonah Jameson and Harry Osborne. I always loved that when you read a Spider-Man book, there was this whole cast beyond him. You might get three issues of just him and the Green Goblin trading punches, but then your next issue would be something like, ‘Oh I’ve got this bad date!’ Or this or that is happening. And that’s what I wanted to get going in ‘Ms. Marvel.’ And over the last twenty-some issues, I’ve finally managed to do it.”

First look: Adriana Melo pages from “Ms. Marvel” #25

Not all of the supporting cast of “Ms. Marvel” are who they appear to be. Machine Man, an operative of the Lightning Storm strike team, would seem to be an eccentric and amusing member of the team, but he’s actually dangerous and quite mad. “I think people have thought he was just this weird, funny guy. But no, he’s a freaking sociopath!” Reed laughed. “There’s a scene in issue #25 where he’s got this speech, and it became one of those things writers talk about that sometimes does legitimately happen. He just started talking and I just started typing the stuff he was saying. I got a little creeped out by it and almost took it back out. I left it in and I never got a note on it.  It was the moment where I went, ‘Okay, he is a sociopath! I was right.”

The mysterious Agent Sum, another member of Lightning Storm, appears to be a seemingly normal S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, but the way he regenerated his entire upper body after it was destroyed by a blast from an alien ray gun in “Ms. Marvel” #21 showed he was anything but normal. Reed promises there will be some definite answers about Sum coming soon. “In the issue where Sum was introduced, we had some narration from Ms. Marvel that said she had to ask twice to read Sum’s top secret file — and she’s got the same clearance as Nick Fury,” said Reed. “So there’s certainly been hints dropped along the way that there’s something special going on with Sum. And the opening three or four pages of issue #26 tell you almost everything you wanted to know about him.”

First look: Adriana Melo pages from “Ms. Marvel” #25

Sum isn’t the only character in “Ms. Marvel” exhibiting unexplained powers. In “Ms. Marvel” #23, the alien known as Cru somehow reactivated the cosmic powers Carol Danvers possessed in her identity as the heroine Binary. The return of these powers came with a cryptic warning from Cru: “What seems like a gift is in fact a curse.” “That was a big thing from Cru and that’s going to sit there for awhile,” Reed said. “Probably just long enough for Carol to forget Cru said it. It’s unclear just exactly what Cru meant but I’ll tell you it’s not good.”

It’s also not entirely clear if Ms. Marvel still possesses her Binary powers. She seemed to lose them at the end of issue #24, but it’s still not certain if the loss was temporary or permanent. One thing that is for certain, though, the Binary abilities affected Carol Danvers’ state of mind. While using the powers in a battle with an alien Brood Queen, Ms. Marvel boasted her slaughter of the Queen’s children. “That’s almost a preview of where Carol is going during ‘Secret Invasion’ and of the attitude she’s developing,” Reed confirmed. “She doesn’t realize it right ther,e but she picks it up in issue #28. She suddenly goes, ‘Oh, wait a minute!’ and is back in that mind set again.”

First look: Adriana Melo pages from “Ms. Marvel” #25

The end of “Ms. Marvel” #24 didn’t bode well for Carol Danvers. In the issue’s final scene, S.H.I.E.L.D. director Tony Stark takes Agent Sum aside and tells him Carol Danvers has been replaced by an agent of the shape shifting aliens known as the Skrulls. One could view the scene as Tony being honest with Sum, and trusting him implicitly. Another perspective is Tony believes Sum is a Skrull, and is telling him a lie. “Or there’s Option C, Tony is a Skrull and is setting up Ms. Marvel,” Reed remarked. “That’s been the most fun thing about writing the stuff which ss up ‘Secret Invasion.’ You can etwrite a scene and think you’re being totally clear and just setting up one thing. But when people read it they’re like, ‘Oh my god! Does it mean this? Or this?’ And you’ll have seven other versions of what that scene could mean coming back to you. I love the total paranoia it’s put into all of Marvel fandom.”

Issue #25 picks up right from #24. “Is Carol a Skrull? The cover of issue #25 seems to want to tell you things,” Reed said. “Issues #25-30 are all about us settling our debts from the last two years and wrapping up stories. The way I pitched it to my editor Steve Wacker was, ‘I’m going to grab the table and I’m going to flip it over. Then I’m going to set it on fire!’ That’s what we’re seeing through a lot of the ‘Secret Invasion’ stuff. We’re planting the seeds of the big table clearing.”

First look: Adriana Melo pages from “Ms. Marvel” #25

“Ms. Marvel” #24 depicted Carol Danvers as very morose and feeling very down on herself, and upcoming issues will send her to an even darker emotional place, with her S.H.I.E.L.D. strike team turning against her in the belief that she’s a Skrull. “Issues #25-27 all happen in one night and it’s the worst night of Carol’s life,” Reed stated. “At the end of issue #27, she does something she normally wouldn’t do. In fact, her line of dialogue at that moment is ‘I just want to not feel anything for awhile.’ That gives you the mindset she’s in at that moment.  That leads directly into issue #28, which is the morning of ‘Secret Invasion’s’ start.”

Ms. Marvel may feel alone but she won’t be completely on her own. Simon Williams AKA Wonder Man harbors romantic feelings for Carol Danvers, and will have a strong reaction to S.H.I.E.L.D. agents hunting her down. “Issue #27, I believe, has something which makes Simon and Carol’s relationship even more interesting,” Reed remarked. “Due to a little continuity shuffle, things have got pushed around publishing-schedule-wise. But there is a relationship and it is budding. Things were supposed to happen in a different order than they did but all of the things have happened. It all works out, just maybe not on a really hardcore nerd time line.”

First look: Adriana Melo pages from “Ms. Marvel” #25

“Ms. Marvel” #25 marks the debut of new series artist Adriana Melo. Reed is still learning the strengths of his new collaborator, but has been highly impressed by her work so far. “She’s incredible,” Reed stated. “She did a one-shot during the ‘Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War.’ It was a Parallax issue with Kyle Rayner and it was great. Most of that issue wasn’t inked; it was like it was happening inside a painting. So I got the Agent Sum flashback in the book quickly so we could feature some of her stuff without inks and cater to her strengths.

“She’s very interesting in that she does action very well and she also does this incredible background detail,” Reed continued. “I try to put things on city streets because the first piece I saw of hers was of this women walking down the street talking on the phone and you could just study the detail in the background forever. Everything had detail it wasn’t just sketched; from the little garbage on the ground to license plates.”

The Skrulls’ “Secret Invasion” is the most immediate obstacle in Ms. Marvel’s way, but Reed’s long term plans for the book call for Carol Danvers to confront her biggest enemy: herself. “Ms. Marvel has had her mission for two years and as we’re entering into Year Three we really want to give her a new mission,” Reed said. “She’s been this superhero for two years. She’s leading the Avengers. She’s got her own strike force. Yet she’s 100% down on herself! She seems to have no faith in herself.  There’s a scene in issue #27 where Simon calls her out on this. We kind of get inside her head and see why she’s down on herself so often.

“We are going to get into some of Carol’s family history later,” Reed continued. “That’s something I haven’t touched at all and I’ve wanted to. She had a really lousy relationship with her father and had these brothers she really liked. There’s a lot of fun to be had with her background.”

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