In 2006, a fairly new comics writer named Brian Reed launched a new series about female superhero Ms. Marvel.
Although she wasn't exactly one of Marvel's more popular characters -- and a few recent name changes didn't help -- Reed ended up keeping the series interesting and relevant enough to the Marvel Universe to keep Ms. Marvel going for more than three years.
Interior Page From Ms. Marvel #48And earlier this year, the title saw the lead character facing death and being replaced as part Dark Reign, with Karla Sofen taking the title for several months before the return of Carol Danvers.
Now the ongoing title will come to an end in an oversized issue in February with Ms. Marvel #50. Newsarama talked about the end of the series and why Reed chose to spend the final chapter of the title on exploring Ms. Marvel's relationship with Mystique.
Newsarama: Brian, how long have you known about the fact that the series was ending? Have you had to scramble, or was it a case of you being given time to prepare?
Brian Reed: Like any writer, I half expected it to be canceled way back on Issue #6 or something. I feel lucky that I've gotten to write a single superhero in her own comic for 50 issues. But they told me, I think, around Issue #40 that the end of the series was coming with Issue #50.
Nrama: You know, it's a good point that this series is a single hero, because outside Spider-Man, Daredevil, Punisher, and maybe two or three other heroes, it's rare for a Marvel hero to get this long of a run. Particularly a female hero. Why do you think this run caught on so well with readers?
Reed: Well, I think that's what attracted some people to the series is what you mentioned, that she's a female hero, because I've heard a lot of people mention this is a comic they get for their girlfriend. But you know, what fans seem to have responded to the most is that she's trying to be the best she can be, and she doesn't always succeed. I think that's something everyone can understand.
I know there was one time I had this reader say he was going to drop out of college, but he read Ms. Marvel and how she strives to always do her best, and he ended up going back to college. And he said, "and now I'm doing great." And I thought, "Holy God! What have I done?" [laughs] I hope that's what that person needed!
Interior Page From Ms. Marvel #48But that's really amazing, to know people are reading this thing and taking that kind of message away from it, when at the end of the day, I'm just having fun writing about superheroes punching each other.
Nrama: We've talked about this before, but looking back at Ms. Marvel's growth since issue #1, and there has been a lot of growth for this character through all her ordeals during Civil War and Secret Invasion and everything, do you think you grew as a writer along with her?
Reed: Oh yeah. I stumbled backwards into getting Ms. Marvel, and I thank Andy Schmidt for that to no end. And with every issue, I've learned something else about my job. I'm to the point where, when I write other series, everything I'm putting in those books, I learned from Carol Danvers. Those first half dozen to a dozen issues were just, how do you write a script and get it out the door on time every month? Then, once I got that down, it was how to make that story work better visually and structurally. It was on-the-job training, and I couldn't be more thankful that Marvel paid me for it. But yeah, it's a much better book now than it was then.
Nrama: What's your favorite scene you wrote in Ms. Marvel over these 50 issues?
Reed: My favorite beat in the series to write was when Carol stood up at the start of 25 and decided being a super hero wasn't going to cut it with the Skrulls. She needed to be a soldier if she, and the Earth, were going to survive. That was where the series had been heading--Carol waking up and realizing the power and the potential she had, and not doubting herself. Since that moment in the series she's been surprised, she hasn't known what to do, but she's never doubted she could save the day.
Nrama: This ending of Ms. Marvel doesn't tie into Siege, does it?
Interior Page From Ms. Marvel #48Reed: No. This is a story about Carol and her oldest enemy, Mystique. There was so much to play with there, that there wasn't any need to tie it into Siege as well. What we get are two women who have been at one another's throats for years having one more go round--and we're given one more look at what makes Carol a hero.
Nrama: Most Marvel readers know the history between those characters, but just to kind of give us a refresher course, what emotions exist between these characters? And how will you be exploring with those?
Reed: It's just like how nowadays, people see Kingpin as being a Punisher character or a Daredevil character, he was a Spider-Man character originally and showed up first as a Spider-Man nemesis. Mystique is the same way. Everyone thinks of Mystique as an X-Men character, but she showed up in the pages of Ms. Marvel first.
When she showed up, she was trying to get Rogue to kill Carol. And this set in motion 20 years of Rogue and Carol and the relationship of the X-Men and everything.
And that's something we haven't really had a chance to go back and look at yet. Mystique and Carol don't bump into each other that often, and what happens if they do now, with Carol being the person she is, and Mystique doing the things she's doing? And that's what we get to do.
Interior Page From Ms. Marvel #48Nrama: I remember about a year ago when I got a really surprising "yes" to this question, so I have to ask it again. Is Ms. Marvel going to die?
Reed: Let’s just say the series ends with something important to the story of Carol Danvers.
Nrama: And the reason this series is ending is just a matter of sales, right?
Reed: Yeah. But you know, we sure had a good run, like I said, for a single hero to go 50 issues.
Nrama: Where are you going next? What are we going to see from you once Ms. Marvel is no longer on your plate?
Reed: First up is Siege: Imbedded, which is the Frontline-type series for Siege, but it's not the traditional Frontline, and we didn't want to keep using that name but changing the theme every time. So we realized "Imbedded" is really what this one is about. Imbedded journalists, and how they're used not just by the news organizations but by the government, to get the story out that the government wants, which is something that happens even in our country that we don't necessarily acknowledge all the time.
Interior Page From Ms. Marvel #49And what happens when you put Ben Urich in that situation when someone wants a particular story out, and he knows that's not the real story?
That's going to be a mini-series that starts the same time as Siege.
There's also something Spider-Man approved that I can't talk about that should start up in summer or fall. And there are a few other things bubbling that I can't talk about yet because of Siege.
Nrama: Anything else you want to say to fans who have been around for your 50-issue run on Ms. Marvel?
Reed: I thank them to no end. They will never know how thankful I am to have had the opportunity to tell them those stories, and to learn that craft, and to get into the industry with that book the way I did. And those are the people I owe for it.