Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Comic Review Wednesdays - Ms. Marvel #37

Ms. Marvel #37
Written by Brian Reed
Pencils by Patrick Ouiffe

Ms. Marvel has been holding back her powers for some time because of the destructive effect they have begun to have on her. Face to face with the super-powered Ghazi Rashid, and enraged by her returning memories Carol lets loose despite herself. The result is the final issue of the three part "Death of Ms. Marvel" story arc. Note: This review does contain spoilers as it would be impossible to address several problems without them. 

The death of Ms. Marvel has been something of an interesting beast. Particularly because I've been reading this title since its first year, and I'm also a follower of Reed's message board and website. Even without the "insider" kind of information that I've found on Reed's board, it seems like it would be blatantly apparent that Reed didn't intend for Carol to die until Dark Reign was panned out. Though, he does try very hard to tie up as many of his plot lines as possible in this story, it seems rather forced and used more as a means to end. Reed has been notoriously bad about following things through, because after all, the upcoming protagonist change is the titles third direction change since the titles inception less than forty issues ago. Reed's waning attention span has been something of a problem for the comic as whole, and his attempt to unify several events in Carol's final stand off is hard to swallow because it was never intended to end here. 

The forced nature of the story aside, the crux of it should, naturally, be the promised death of the title's protagonist. One of the biggest problems surrounding this is a lack of belief in Carol's actual death. It was publicized before its occurrence which tends not to be the case when a character is actually intended to bite the dust for good (see Captain America and Wasp). There is also a generally transitory feel to Dark Reign because it seems clear that the status quo is bound to change within three years. Moonstone certainly won't be carrying the title of Ms. Marvel when she's not employed by Osborn to do so-- so naturally, the real Ms. Marvel seems destined to return. 

The argument is further enforced by the uneventful nature of Ms. Marvel's death. Instead of giving her a "best of the best" moment to highlight how the character has changed, and to take her out on a high note, Reed chooses instead to have her barely obtain victory, fly into the sky and seemingly explode. The ambiguity of the death certainly seems to show that she will be back, and soon. The question then becomes why not give her a significant moment regardless? It seems as a writer, Reed should be interested in covering his trail not only in interviews where he asserts Ms. Mavel's death, but also in the actual comic. If her death was befitting of the character, which it certainly is not in this issue, than readers would be further thrown into doubt as to the possibility of her return-- with or without an ambiguous death. Perhaps Reed has a reason why he neglected to infuse her death with emotional impact but it seems that if he did it wouldn't be good enough to justify her final goodbye. An emotional scene that did Carol justice, and proved her to be the best of the best, would have suited both her return or non-return better than what Reed has written. 

The remainder of the issue deals with tying up Rick Mason and Rossi's story, as well as the actual plot line of the comic. Both Rossi and Mason seem to suffer from the same problems-- huge questions of why and how. Without getting into it extensively, the motivations of both characters are dubious, and it's insulting given how much of a factor Rossi is in this story. This scene also has very bad action film kind of tone to it by asking the reader to accept huge unexplained, and unexplored ideas. 

Finally, a quick mention of Ouiffe's pencils. The art in Ms. Marvel has been a mixed bag since the beginning of the series-- but sadly in this issue, arguably the most important in the series thus far, the pencils are absolutely awful. Ouiffe's characters tend to be oddly elongated, and his binary is simply strange looking-- very unfortunate as her appearance throws the reader out of the story a mere two pages or so from Ms. Marvel's supposed death. There is likely good reason that his name hasn't come to my attention before. It's also difficult to distinguish Mason from Rossi, which makes the first few pages very hard to read.

It's not without regret that Carol Danvers slips into the cold dark night. Ms. Marvel has been an uneven but overall enjoyable read, and it's with reluctance that I continue to read with Karla as the protagonist. Reed only has a few months to win me over. Sadly, goodbye must be said to the one true marvelous Ms. Marvel. All I have managed to do is shake my head sadly as think about the undeserving end the character received. 

RATING: 4 out of 10
With little emotional resonance, and bad artwork it's very difficult to appreciate the issue-- although the very end does seem to have some promise. If you're interested in Ms. Marvel, or Dark Reign the next issue is the primere time to hop on board as Osborn's Ms. Marvel, the former Moonstone will be taking up the title. 

Side-note: Both Battle for the Cowl: Commissioner Gordon and Mighty Avengers #23 were wonderful this week. I would have liked to review a good book this week but Ms. Marvel's death seemed to warrant the week. 

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