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Ms. Marvel #5

Posted: Friday, July 14, 2006
By: Shawn Hill



“Time and Time Again”

Writer: Brian Reed
Artists: Roberto de la Torre (p), Jimmy Palmiotti (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Plot: Last issue Carol sought out Dr. Strange for assistance in facing her mortal foe, Warren Traveler. This month it’s Dr. Strange who needs her help, in a nice turn of events.

I like what Reed is doing with this series. Not every issue has been a winner, but the general tone has been right on. Carol wants to be A-list. There’s no reason she can’t be A-list. Some people already consider her A-list. But she’s had more than her share of screwups and setbacks along the way. An alien abduction turned her into Binary for a while. A mutant attack stripped her of her memories, feelings and powers for a time. She was date-raped by a psycho from another dimension with the Avengers blessing. To top it off, her father never loved her and she has had a few bouts with the bottle.

In other words, she’s lived. Reed isn’t writing the calculating editor of Woman Magazine that was Carol’s day job (working for none other than J. Jonah Jameson) in her first solo series. Instead he’s writing a professional super hero, albeit one that hasn’t quite figured out how to reconcile her storied, military and adventurer past with her present as a powerful, reliable heroine with the potential for great success.

To achieve that, she’s hired a media consultant, but her anxiety about the public spotlight is clear in the opening dream sequence, where reporters accost her in her bath. Her helpful cat sends her off to rescue Dr. Strange, and this is really the playing field where Carol works best: somewhere that she can throw a punch, absorb some energy, and defeat a foe with her physical gifts and her cunning. Of course with her physical-based power, a magic foe is a
slippery challenge for her.

Carol is also, when at her best, a team player. She and Dr. Strange combine their might to deal with the Traveler, and that’s a very wise move on both parts.

Reed also has fun with the Traveler’s affliction. Without certain mystical implements, he loses focus and begins babbling in surreal non-sequitors. Funny stuff. Not quite enough to justify the character; he has a striking presence, but his beef with Carol in particular is rather murky. He’s not bad as a first attempt at building a new Rogue’s Gallery. Her old one has long since been co-opted by the X-Men and other players (her most memorable foes back in the day were Deathbird, Mystique and MODOK). But while charismatic, Traveler is still a bit of a blank insofar as his hatred of Carol seems purely circumstantial.

Next issue marks the intrusion of Civil War into the title, which will probably do wonders for sales but is unlikely to please this dissenter. Carol at least doesn’t seem an unlikely candidate for Pro-Registration; she’s a military gal and long-time government liaison already. She’s always been someone who believes in a chain of command. Cap’s perspective, however, is going to have to challenge her values to some extent.

I have faith in Reed to reflect that complexity, just as I have developed a respect for De La Torre’s art. His Carol’s a bit slender, but she’s more than just boobs and butt, and she looks amazing streaking like a comet through the night sky. This title is on an uphill climb.



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