Ms Marvel 31 review

The Secret Invasion apparently over, Carol Danvers visits her family for the first time in years. Her father is dying and a letter from her brother Joe prompts her to visit. Thing is, though, she’s never regained the emotional connection to her family that was stolen by then-evil mutant Rogue, years ago.

It’s a simple tale, but one which restores some sympathy to the character of Carol Danvers. It helps, of course, that she’s away from her current status quo as Tony Stark’s enforcer, but there’s more to it than that. Brian Reed’s scenario motivates a recap of Carol’s early life, her reasons for leaving home for the USAF and sets up where she’s going next. The scenes with her mother are heartbreaking; she echoes Carol’s plight in that she knows why Carol isn’t the daughter she was, but can’t empathise enough to ‘forgive’ her for something that wasn’t actually her fault. Of course, the TV has shown her Carol the hard-nosed avenger for so long that it’s tough to see her as human at all.

A slight lack in the script is that having got the story up and running, brother Joe barely appears. Hopefully we’ll see more of him, and Mrs Danvers – who I believe hasn’t been seen since the book’s first run, back in the Seventies – as time goes by. Because while to Carol they’re ciphers (‘These people . . . I know them the same way you know a character on television’), just being around them humanises her. After several issues as an unstoppable killing machine, Carol is confronted with a problem she can’t punch her way out of. She’s forced to think about life, examine her character. And as she does so, we see something of the heroine I cared for for so many years. I hope she’s back for good before too long.

The artwork here is just beautiful. Guest artist Marco Marz and colourist Chris Sotomayor complement one another perfectly. The scene setter for Bar Harbor, Maine, is a lovely pastoral image, while the rest of the issue – the emotional stuff and very occasional action flashbacks – are thoughtfully rendered. Carol is foxy here, but not too gorgeous to live, and her mother actually looks related without having the same face plus two wrinkles. In a sequence showing Carol signing up, she actually looks shorter and has puppy fat! And the facial expressions and body language both convey and add to the script. Marcos Marz is an artist to watch, and the sooner I can watch him somewhere regularly, the better.

Greg Horn takes a month off from cover duties, allowing one Frank Martin Jr to offer a stunning portrait of Ms Marvel. It’s less your photo-realist fantasy and more actual comic book art – rather great, actually. I’d like more of this guy too, please.

All in all, the best issue since this book was in single digits – let’s hope next month’s hinted confrontation with one of the best-characterised villains at Marvel keeps the standard up.

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