Spider-Man is swinging around New York, thinking expository thoughts when, out of the blue, Ms Marvel attacks, him being an unregistered superhero in this post-Mephisto world. They fight awhile before being forced to team up against a new threat to the city, giant robots. Problem resolved, Spidey escapes and Ms Marvel remains angry.
That’s not new for Ms Marvel these days. Angry isn’t so much her default setting as her only one. Ever since the book was relaunched, writer Brian Reed has been making Carol Danvers angrier and more self-righteous, with Civil War’s Superhero Registration Act being the peg on which to hang her current level of hate. I was hoping she’d be revealed as a Skrull during the current Secret Invasion shenanigans, but apparently that’s not going to happen.
So here she is, in Ms Marvel Annual 1, the character you won’t be rooting for. It wasn’t just a matter of wanting Spidey to clean her clock, I’d have been happy for a random giant robot to squish her. For while she has the law on her side, Ms Marvel is such an unlovable character that even Dr Doom would look good by comparison. She attacks Spidey before he can respond to her threats, totally ignoring their years of friendship. She barks orders at police. She gets her knickers in a twist over Spidey’s concluding joke . . . Ms Marvel is so angry (if she were the Hulk she’d redefine green) that it impedes her supposedly great strategic thinking, so Spidey runs rings around her.
Mind, despite her writer being in charge, I’m not convinced this was envisioned as a Ms Marvel book at all; it begins and ends with Spidey and is told completely from his perspective, right down to the Brand New Day narrative boxes. I suspect it was decided to brand this a Ms Marvel issue to give her a boost, as the readers Marvel have hooked into almost-weekly Spidey will buy it anyway.
There were one or two bits of the script I liked, such as Spidey’s comment that a villainous acronymn was ‘the most cumbersome thing i’ve heard since whatever SHIELD stands for this week’ and his closing comments to Ms Marvel, via the head android, about power and responsibility. But I could have lived without the villain being housed at DC Comics’ pad, which was childish, and Peter’s thoughts being as light-heartedly off-hand as his comments as Spidey was basic mischaracterisation.
The art by Mark A Robinson and Mark Irwin was not my cup of tea at all. I know we’re supposed to accept work like this as Manga-influenced or something, but to my eyes it was just plain ugly, full of spiky stick figures posed at angles impossible even for Spidey. There was a nice energy to the giant robots spreads and splashes, but this team’s people just don’t work for me.
So there you go, another week, another issue in which it’s not just a case of ‘this female fights back’ as ‘this female fights first’. Can we have our superheroine back please?