There was already one seemingly impossible occurance this week from Marvel, with Shanna the She-Devil #1 being a good comic book, but this week’s Ms. Marvel ups the ante, by writer Brian Reed actually writing Aaron Stack (from Warren Ellis’ brilliant Nextwave) well!
I don’t say that because I think Brian Reed is a poor writer or anything, I just mean that it’d be very hard for me to believe that most comic writers would be able to take Aaron Stack or The Captain and make them work as characters in a regular Marvel Universe comic, so the fact that Reed actually pulls it off is a very strong sign that Reed has some real skills (I was going to go with the “z” at the end of skills, but I just could not bring myself to do it).
It’s a shame, then, when the issue Stack appears in is mostly just set-up, and set-up for a pretty weird storyline involving the Puppet Master selling various Marvel superheroines and villainesses as slaves. Not since Bruce Jones just absolutely mauled the Absorbing Man’s characterization has a villain changed so dramatically, and so creepily. Reed has been quoted as saying “you can’t make a character unrecognizable to old readers just to keep from doing the same things with him as every writer before you.” While I wouldn’t say that Puppet Master is unrecognizable here, he’s pretty close. I could totally be blanking, though, and this could have been used by some previous writer (Puppet Master willing to sell women as slaves). Seems weird, though.
That weirdness aside, that’s not my main complaint about the issue, which is mostly just that the issue was so filled with set-up, that the character work and the dialogue had better be SO good that it is still worth it, and really, Reed makes a strong push for that being the case, as he does nice work with Arana in a subplot, J. Jonah Jameson in a subplot and Carol interacting with Beast of the X-Men regarding some problems she had in a recent issue with her powers.
And, of course, this issue featured Carol getting two new additions to her special SHIELD strikeforce, namely Sleepwalker and Machine Man. Sleepwalker doesn’t do much, just a funny line by Rick Sheridan explaining his “powers” to Carol. Machine Man (Aaron Stack), though, is just hilarious. Reed manages to nail Ellis’ take on Stack quite well. Other writers trying to write funny characters can sometimes be brutal (like when people tried to write Giffen/DeMatteis characters as doing funny things), but here, Reed pulls it off.
And that, alone, almost gets him a recommended, but in the end, while he does some good work here, it is just not enough, I don’t think, to recommend the issue. It was just too much set-up for a story that doesn’t seem very good in and of itself.
Nice Aaron Lopresti artwork, though!
Slightly Not Recommended.
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