The world is going to know the name Carol Danvers in a very real way less than a year from now when Captain Marvel gets a major motion picture. Hardcore fans are going to read up on the character and the recently released volume 2 in a series reprinting Ms. Marvel should be right up their alley; it’s a collection that has Carol fighting aliens, Skrulls, and attempting to lead a team.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The adventures of Carol Danvers continue! Ms. Marvel drafts two new recruits from the Avengers Initiative: Machine Man and Sleepwalker! And when the young hero Araña is kidnapped, it’s time for Carol to use her newly expanded Lightning Strike Force to squash an evil that hits too close to home! Then, when the Skrull Secret Invasion is revealed, is Ms. Marvel on the front lines – or part of the infiltration herself? Outgunned and on the run, with S.H.I.E.L.D. convinced that she’s a Skrull impostor, Carol must fight for her identity and her life against her very own squad – but they have a Ms. Marvel of their own! Plus, Carol faces a death in the family, fights to rebuild after the Skrull ordeal – and has a run-in with the ever-Amazing Spider-Man!
Why does this matter?
This collection details a time in the characters life when she was a heavy hitter for the Mighty Avengers and then a covert-ops S.H.I.E.L.D. agent fighting threats before they become big enough to kill the world. It’s a time when Carol was on her own apart from most of the major heroes. That allows series writer Brian Reed to dig deep into the character.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is a good collection if you want a complete read from beginning to end. It may contain Ms. Marvel issues from #18 to #34, but it has a bookended feel due to a Spider-Man encounter to start and end the collection. It also contains three conflicts for Carol to take on and a bit of soul searching along the way. The bookended pieces are quite good as Reed writes a strong Spider-Man. Mark Robinson draws one heck of a Spider-Man too with a thin and lanky look that adds a limber, spidery feel to his movements. He clearly saw potential in the hard-hitting Carol vs. the slapstick Spidey and it works wonderfully. The fact that the final issue in this collection calls back to their adventure gives the book a purposeful finish.
The first main story brings in Machine Man, who is a riot and possibly as funny as he was during Nextwave. It involves a caper in South America as Carol attempts to resolve a Puppet Master uprising. There is also the addition of Sleepwalker who may seem random, but he’s going to be getting more attention in the Marvel universe very soon so his inclusion serves as a nice primer on the character.
The second story has Carol fighting against the Brood while also losing and regaining her powers. Reed unveils a connection Carol has that gets trippy very fast. I was impressed how well Aaron Lopresti drew the weird world Carol inhibits which isn’t actually real but in her mind. There’s also some clever cutting that helps confuse and disorient the reader putting you inside Carol’s head.
The final story involves a Skrull that’s like the Super Skrull but X-Men tied. This story is a bit more of an unabashed “Secret Invasion” tie-in though it does play around with Carol’s identity coming into questions. There’s lots of smashing and big-time fighting which is limited in the previous stories.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Without a doubt, there’s cheesecake in this collection that’ll make you roll your eyes. Carol does a lot of bending over, particularly in the Skrull story, and it can be distasteful and take away from any character building being done.
As a character study, I wasn’t certain what the book was going for. Mostly she’s reflecting on being incredibly powerful and, early on, indestructible. She deals with a semi-conflicted love story at one point, but overall she’s never dealing with much beyond losing her powers and freaking out over it. As an action first sort of story, the book does a good job, but I was left wanting when it came to character writing.
Is it good?
A good collection that details a time when Carol Danvers was sporting the black costume and carving out her place in the Marvel universe. She doesn’t quite have her feet on the ground yet, she’s mostly a heavy hitter hero who does a lot of punching, but some characters require journeys like this one to find their footing.