Ms. Marvel was originally conceived as a series where the character would transform her heroic aspirations into reality, attempting to become the best hero around. It wasn’t long before the series faltered from that path, and though an extended detour as head of a SHIELD unit gave the character an entertaining supporting cast, but left Carol herself neglected. Eventually, when the book started a long arc based on her espionage history, I decided to drop the book. Then something happened: Carol died, and was replaced by the new Ms. Marvel: Moonstone, formerly of the Thunderbolts, now of the Dark Avengers.
As regular readers will know, I’m a BIG Thunderbolts fan – so when one of the characters gets their own spin-off, I’m definitely going to give it a shot. The results are encouraging, if not perfect.
Reed’s hand is evident in the tone of the book, which even 7 issues since I last read it, feels identical. The issue is a stand-alone piece designed, one assumes, to introduce Karla to the title’s regular readers, and in doing so it successfully highlights the wilful disregard for life that a character like Moonstone has. It’s a little over the top at times – one can scarcely imagine people cheering Moonstone as she admits killing the criminals she just attacked, nor does it seem likely she’d kill them in the first place – although Karla has murdered before, she would be unlikely to do so in public in a way that might jeapordise her cover. After all, she’s played the hero before, so she knows how to do it.
Beyond that, Reed has a good grip on her psychology. As a psychologist, the character is difficult to rattle and always scheming, so it’s encouraging to see that she manages to deal with an apparent blindside rather convincingly, and her anger at being caught out is well-portrayed. The artwork in the title comes from relative newcomer Rebekah Isaacs, and it’s the best the title has looked in some time. Ms. Marvel has been plagued by rotating artists over its short lifespan, so it’d be nice to see Isaacs stick around for a while – there’s a touch of McNiven in the design and composition, and Isaacs does particularly well with expressions. The natural trend for books featuring the Thunderbolts and related characters has been to ape Deodato’s shadowy, realistic approach, so it’s nice to see Ms. Marvel featuring clear, bright storytelling instead.
Ultimately, it’s a nice use of the Dark Reign idea – having Moonstone appropriate Ms. Marvel’s title as well as her identity – and the results are pleasing too. I’ll stick around the title as long as Moonstone’s starring in it, though my only concern is whether Reed will be able to keep me interested after that. Either way, I’m willing to give him a second chance.