Editor's Note: Ms. Marvel #39 arrives in stores Thursday, May 28.
Plot: It's Ms. Marvel vs. Applied Idea Mechanics again, only Karla Sofen treads all too easily in places where Carol Danvers feared to go. Better put your shields up, A.I.M.
Comments: Reed is two issues into this unexpected new chapter in Ms. Marvel's run. He plays the hand he's been dealt by Dark Reign and fully embraces storytelling with Carol out of the picture (fatally compromised by her own powers and their misuse in a vendetta a few issues back), and Moonstone now donning her colors publically.
But Reed plays this change wisely. On the one hand, he knows Karla, who's always been a take-charge sort of gal. Despite however short the leash Osborn keeps her on, Karla's own agendas will gain prominence, and here the ball-in-play is the Dark Avengers' agenda of allying themselves with A.I.M. If A.I.M. will play ball that is.
Karla, as Iron Patriot's agent, investigates that avenue in an amusing sequence where her expurgated report to Norman belies her own ruthless tactics in the field. A.I.M., unsurprisingly, has no interest in becoming Osborn's henchmen (as henchmen go, they've been pursuing a maverick path for some time, as Danvers learned on several occasions), and the ensuing demonstration of that independence results in things like the issue's opening sequence, a meteor dropped on Atlanta from space, aimed by Sofen.
That opposition puts Karla into much the same adversarial relationship with A.I.M. that Carol had, and that's an interesting dilemma worthy of exploration in a solo title. Not for Reed the power-mad gibbering that is all Bendis has offered Karla in the team book so far.
But on the other hand, Reed doesn't expect us to forget that this isn't Carol under the mask. In a press conference sequence, one of Carol's former teammates (from when she was operating as a S.H.I.E.L.D. field leader) puts Karla on the defensive about her identity, and when A.I.M. reveals a secret cargo of sentient experiments in two locations, she acts unselfishly for the first time since she's taken on the seemingly heroic role.
Oh, and there's also an energy being that appears mysteriously in Saudi Arabia, and who by the end of the issue comes into direct conflict with Karla over that precious human cargo. This subplot seems to be rather standard issue, but I have confidence Reed will take it in surprisingly nuanced directions. After all, he's just completely changed main characters and managed to keep the book squarely focused on Carol Danvers' ongoing issues regardless. As it was in Civil War and Secret Invasion, this book promises to be one of the more entertaining fronts of Dark Reign.
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