Ms. Marvel #44
Written by: Brian Reed
Art by: Sana Takeda
From: Marvel Comics
Review By: Brian Andersen
Dear Ms. Marvel,
You know that I love ya, girl. Right? I mean, how can any self respecting fanboy/girl worth his/her mylar bag not have a soft spot for you? You’re the ultimate survivor! You’ve had two solo starring series, been a member of the Avengers, an unofficial part of the X-Men, had various different power sets, numerous code names, got pregnant by your otherworldly boyfriend and than gave birth to the same otherworldly boyfriend (something you, nor your writers/editors talk about much), and had your entire identity and powers stolen. What a storied life. Yet somehow, despite all the odds, you’re still here, still fighting for relevance. If you ask me, that’s something to be admired.
So let me get to the point of this letter. It concerns your latest adventure, Ms. Marvel #44. The whole “War of the Marvels” multi-part, mega-story pitting you (I think?) against the current usurper of your Ms. Marvel title - the villain formerly knows as Moonstone. Honestly, I don’t much care for the Moonstone-y Ms. Marvel, and, I hate to say, I have a very difficult time finding the energy to care about you nowadays. Despite my earlier assurance that I love you and your character, the honest truth is, I don’t much like you. I love you but I’m not in love with you. I love the concept of you but not so much the current execution of who you are in your current book. And I really and truly want to love your book. I want nothing more than to see you, and it, succeed. To do something few (none?) Marvel heroines have accomplished - big time sales success. Alas, I don’t see top selling status in the cards for you with this issue.
Here’s why: I have no idea what the frack is going on. And I have read every issue of your book and frankly I’m not sure that I care to know. From what I’ve gathered there’s now two versions of you, one superpowered and one, boringly, not. So after you supposedly died a few issues back - which was met with zero response from the Marvel readers (which I think speaks volumes about the status of your current book) - you came back split into two separate beings? A heroically crazy version and a mild-mannered writer? I get it that having these various versions of you running around is supposed to be all mysterious and stuff, the storyline is supposed to be filled with oodles of twists and turns and intrigue, but all I find myself thinking is – blah. This book should be a nail-biter, there are lots of great elements in it; like a sociopathic co-star, all those Dark Avengers running around (to help sell books), the whole Dark Reign emblem on your front cover (to boost sales); so on paper it all sounds totally fab! But in reality everything just falls flat.
For me it’s the lack of characterization. Who is Carol Danvers anymore? Why should I still love you much as I used too? Where’s the spice and the excitement in your character that I used to enjoy so much? Your book has bounced around from one Marvel event to the next, with subplots getting tossed to the wayside along the way, leaving me feeling confused and empty. There’s no emotional weight to your stories anymore. It’s just “Charge” all the time. Charge headlong into the fray here, spring boarding from one event story arch to the next there, with no time sit back and develop your character. I want to know more about you. Not the Ms. Marvel side but the beautiful, confident, person behind the mask. Peter Parker is a much-loved character because the readers get to know him outside his Spider-Man costume. We care because he has a supporting cast we get to know and love, he has a job, he has romantic problems, money problems, he’s identifiably human. Peter Parker is someone people can relate too. Ms. Marvel? Not so much. I don’t know anything about your personal life anymore. I just see the empty, endless, hero battles, and I get none of the nutritional interpersonal stories I so crave and depend on to keep me interested in you and your book.
So please, Ms. Marvel, Carol, or whatever your two selves wants to call themselves, please take the time to develop who you are. The non-super-sash side of you. That is something I want to read about. That is something that will help rekindle my dying love. After all, great solo books have a rich supporting cast; they have terrific quite moments, everyday human interactions, everyday trails and tribulations, on top of their cosmic battles and costume adventures. I believe in you, girl. You haven’t come this far to fail now! So get it together!