Editor's Note: Ms. Marvel #42 arrives in stores tomorrow, July 22.
Plot: It's Ms. Marvel vs. Ms. Marvel, as the war of principals becomes a war of fists between two battling blondes. The war with A.I.M. takes a back seat.
Comments: While not a complete return to normality, this is the issue we've been waiting for in the sense that it's finally Carol vs. Karla. Carol never really abdicated her fighting togs, she just refused to play house with Norman Osborn and then got killed fighting someone else. So when Karla usurped her role, she had no real opposition.
Now she does, as Brian Reed has pulled out that old discorporeal energy form survival mechanism (a superhero staple, just ask Superman) and reassembled Carol from her blasted atoms … or has he? The cliffhanger this issue implies there's even a little bit more to the story, which is interesting. But until we get to it, this issue provides aerial fisticuffs from two (more or less) evenly matched opponents.
If the battle doesn't make a lot of sense, it's because neither woman is playing at the top of her game. In shock at Carol's revival, Karla resorts to bludgeoning, forgetting for a moment her energy or physical mass and density powers. And the newly revived Carol is still a bit foggy about where she is and what just happened, though she identifies Karla fairly quickly.
Reed has a few techniques in hand to make the battle more than just a blow-by-blow. First, he starts each scene in the real world, in a different setting that their battle interrupts or endgangers. So we see a movie premiere, the La Brea Tar Pits, an airplane flight, etc., all taking on damage from the super-warriors from the sky.
He also intersperses a running commentary of news media coverage, as the LA press tries to figure out what they're seeing on camera. There are funny comments about the competing costumes from different eras, and about the high profile the Avengers (but which ones?) have maintained since the Invasion.
Furthermore, we get a series of verbal smackdowns from the opposing women, as Karla tries to psych Carol out, and Carol delivers her assessment of Karla's abilities and potential as the hero she's once again pretending to be. For what are Osborn's Avengers but the Thunderbolts all over again, this time not only pretending to be heroes but in fact impersonating recognizable ones who've gone underground?
It's a fun issue, made more poignant by Takeda's expressive artwork. Takeda manages to differentiate the two women, and gives an emotional sense of both Karla's exasperation (the master manipulator has really lost her self-control) and Carol's experience and confidence. It's a little strange that the guest stars from last issue (Wolverine and Spider-man) and the MODOK babies have all gone away, but the main event seems to have eclipsed the subplots this month.
It's almost a shame when the Sentry shows up to save LA from the fallout, but that's just one more complication in this unpredictable tale Reed is unfolding.
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