Ever since she was given a glimpse of the hero she could be in "House of M," Carol Danvers has struggled to be a better person and superhero. Operating as Ms. Marvel, Danvers sometimes makes bad decisions and experiences failure, but she's never given up her quest. With Norman Osborn's Dark Reign over the Marvel Universe in full effect, Ms. Marvel's mission to fight the good fight has suddenly become much more dangerous -- so much so that it will lead to her death and replacement by a new amoral Ms. Marvel who receives her marching orders directly from Osborn.
CBR News spoke with "Ms. Marvel" writer Brian Reed about what's next for Carol Danvers, and what readers can expect from the new Ms. Marvel, Karla Sofen, the villain formerly known as Moonstone.
Issues #28-30 of "Ms. Marvel" chronicled the character's direct involvement in Secret Invasion, but since then, the heroine's story has jumped back and forth at various points in Carol Danvers's past and present. "What we're going to see is that there's a chunk of time during Secret Invasion where Ms. Marvel's whereabouts are not accounted for," Brian Reed told CBR. "Her tie-in issues took place during just the first few hours of the Invasion. Then we don't see her in the 'Secret Invasion' miniseries again until the end, when she's in the climatic Central Park fight. Where was she in between? That's a big part of the order we've been seeing things in and what we've been seeing since then.
"We're also going to see why she hasn't been using her powers. All of these things come together in the next issue or so."
After Secret Invasion, Norman Osborn was elevated to the position of the U.S. Government's top superhuman law enforcement official, a position which allowed him to assemble a new team of Avengers. In the recent "Dark Avengers" #1, Osborn approached Ms. Marvel about joining his team and she vehemently rejected his offer. "I don't think Norman takes well to that kind of thing," Reed laughed. "And Norman is nothing if not a little crazy. I look at Carol's rejection of his offer as her deciding she had to take him down for what he was doing to the world and the Avengers. And at the same time she decided she was going after him, he was already coming after her.
"Again in issues #36-37, we'll see these threads coming together. You'll get that this hasn't just been a story about Carol Danvers's past. This has been a story about her present and Norman Osborn has been very involved with everything that's been happening with her. We just haven't seen how all these pieces come together yet."
In "Ms. Marvel" #35 in stores now, Carol Danvers came face to face with one of the members of Osborn's Avengers team, the Kree youth known as Noh-Varr, who has taken up the mantle of the fallen Kree hero, Captain Marvel. The original Captain Marvel meant a great deal to Ms. Marvel, and this complicates her relationship with the newest incarnation of the hero. "I had one of those great moments writing where I was surprised by the scene," Reed remarked. "My outline said, 'And then they fight and I have my wrap-up for the issue.' But I ended up having Noh-Varr grab her and go, 'Look, you threw all the punches. I just came here to talk.' And to me that was a very interesting thing. It was having her do the thing we expected him to do. So that made all of their future encounters something I'm looking forward to."
Norman Osborn hasn't been Carol Danvers's only enemy in recent issues. After she rejected his offer to join the Avengers, Osborn looked into Carol Danvers's past and found a man with a long and very personal grudge against her. His name is Ghazi Rashid, and thanks to Osborn's effort,s he's now armed with some formidable super abilities. In "Ms. Marvel" #35, readers saw Rashid detonate a powerful suitcase bomb and walk away unscathed from ground zero of the explosion.
"For me Rashid's her first bad guy because she met him before she was a hero or a spy," Reed explained. "She was a pilot and he was the guy that almost killed her. She took him down and now he's back and, judging by the things we've seen, he's maybe not psychologically done so well. So he's coming after her. He sees her as a person he needs to destroy to feel like he's whole again. I think he's a very dangerous person."
Ghazi Rashid would be a difficult adversary for Carol Danvers if she was operating at the top of her game, but she's not, so he's even more dangerous. "Carol is not even remotely prepared emotionally to face Rashid and that figures into it," Reed agreed. "She has not got all the pieces she needs for this and once you see the time that wasn't accounted for in 'Secret Invasion' you'll understand why she's not ready for this."
Ms. Marvel's ultimate confrontation with Rashid will take place in "Ms. Marvel" #36-37, and unfold on the streets of Hong Kong. "When I started this arc, I wanted to get a more international flair; that kind of James Blond globetrotting feel," Reed explained. "Hong Kong was one of the first places I picked. We've see adventures in Afghanistan, Germany, and America and we wanted to travel the globe. That's why Hong Kong ended up on the list."
Reed couldn't give away too many plot details about Rashid and Ms. Marvel's final battle, but readers were given a clue by the cover of issue #37, which clearly shows Carol Danvers wielding the powers she possessed as the heroine known as Binary. "Again, it all ties back into Secret Invasion stuff," Reed stated. "We see why the Binary powers are showing up, and at the end of issue #37, Carol Danvers is quite dead and we see that Moonstone becomes the new Ms. Marvel. Everything with Binary and all of issue #37 leading right up to Carol's death actually ties directly back into Cru saying, 'I'm going to heal you and give you your Binary powers. This is not a good thing.'"
Cru was an alien hunter who issued this warning in "Ms. Marvel" #23.
"When that happened, Carol was like, 'This is a great thing! Let's go!' but you'll see Cru wasn't lying. There was a problem," Reed continued.
Carol's friends in the C.I.A. recently provided her with a new identity, that of a journalist named Catherine Donovan. "She's got an alias now," Reed said. "What use that will be put to is still to be seen." Some readers may think that it's only the Carol Danvers identity that will "die," and that Danvers herself will in fact live on as Catherine Donovan. It looks like those readers are mistaken. "At this time, I've written two issues and there's no mention of Catherine Donovan. It's the Karla Sofen show from here on out."
However, "Ms. Marvel" isn't the only book Carol Danvers appears in. She recently joined the cast of "New Avengers," but the news of her impending death has some fans wondering what role she'll be playing in that book -- if any. "There's going to be some head scratching amongst the readership for a little bit," Reed laughed. "But it will all make sense."
Karla Sofen officially becomes the title character of "Ms. Marvel" with April's issue #38, and Brian Reed finds his new protagonist's lack of morals to be very compelling. "This was a woman who was a psychiatrist and talked some of her patients into killing themselves. Once you wrap your head around that, you go, 'Oh, I'm going to have fun with her." Reed said. "With Carol, you can have her make missteps, question herself, and then win the fight and be proud of herself. Karla is not like that. She walks into a room and if there's a problem, she kills it.
"We saw some of that coming out with Carol. She's got a soldier side that we saw most recently during Secret Invasion, but behind it there was a sense of honor and doing the right thing," Reed continued. "It was like, 'Yes, I just slaughtered 400 Skrulls but I saved all these human lives.' I think if Karla was fighting Skrulls in a building she might just knock the building down and not care about all the people in it because the Skrulls have been taken care of."
Reed sees Sofen's journey as Ms. Marvel as one of discovering what she wants now that she's out in the world playing a big time superhero. "Norman Osborn's offer to her was, basically, 'Come join the Avengers or stay here in prison.' So at first she'd go, 'That's an obvious choice. I'll go join the Avengers.' But what do you do once you're there? Who are you now that you've taken this other person's name? What does this mean? I think the big thing to do with her first is let her figure out what it means now that she's pretending to be a superhero. Where does that pretending stop and really being the part start? And what does that mean to someone who never really saw themselves in that role even when they were pretending to be one before? Because pretending to be a Thunderbolt [Karla Sofen was part of the original line up of Thunderbolts that debuted back in "Thunderbolts" #1] was one thing, but now you're Ms. Marvel. You're on the Avengers. It's the major leagues!"
Karla Sofen's first issue as "Ms. Marvel" is a done-in-one story. "I thought it would be fun to have Karla sit down with another psychiatrist and have him pick through her mind and give the readers a glimpse of who this person is," Reed explained. "After that we get three issues full of Dark Avengers and craziness."
Sofen's Dark Avengers teammates will become supporting players in "Ms. Marvel" when she takes over the title. "I'm still sort of figuring out who fits what role in the story I want to tell, but yes the Dark Avengers are going to be on hand," Reed confirmed. "We'll also probably see some of the supporting cast of 'Ms. Marvel' show up to try and figure out what's going on with the new Ms. Marvel."
The new protagonist of "Ms. Marvel" may be a supervillain playing at being a hero, but Brian Reed says readers shouldn't expect the title to undergo a drastic change when Karla Sofen becomes its star. "I plan on just having fun with a supervillain being the lead of the book and I think to do that it can't be 'all evil all of the time,'" he said. "Because the best way to write a villain is to never write them knowing that they're the villain, and having them think they're doing the good thing whatever that may be. Plus, I do want to get a bit of humor in the series and not just turn everything into a super dark time."
Artist Pat Olliffe became the regular penciller on "Ms. Marvel" with issue #35, and Reed has been thrilled by the work his collaborator is producing. "His character acting is so good. There's a page of script in an upcoming issue where Carol Danvers falls down on her knees and has this realization and it's about facial expressions. If you can make the facial expression work, then all of my silly words will be great. And he comes in and just knocks it out of the park. Steve Wacker, my editor, sent me the pages and I went, 'Oh thank you!'"
Brian Reed knows "Ms. Marvel" fans might be a little upset by the news that the book will be taken over by an unrepentant villain like Karla Sofen. But the writer advises readers to "just relax" and have fun with the book's new protagonist and direction. "I've gotten a few e-mails and I've been like, 'It will all be fine!' If you studied your comic book history, you should know that everything will be fine!" he laughed.
"Ms. Marvel" #36 is on sale this week from Marvel Comics.