Comics : Ms. Marvel (Vol. 2) #14

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This story is part of an Arc: "The Deal"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

Civil War required Ms. Marvel to fight her friends over the legality of the Superhuman Registration Act (SHRA). One of these friends was Julia Carpenter, aka Arachne/Spider-Woman. Julia Carpenter was eventually arrested by Ms. Marvel in a showdown in front of her parents and daughter.

In the present, Carol has command of an elite S.H.I.E.L.D. strikeforce dubbed "Operation Lightning Storm" to track down the world's most dangerous supervillains before they become a threat to humanity.

In Detail...

Ms. Marvel (Vol. 2) #14
Jun 2007 : SM Spin-Off App
Summary: Spider-Woman (Carpenter) & Arana appear
Arc: Part 2 of "The Deal"
Editor:  Bill Rosemann
Writer:  Brian Reed
Pencils:  Aaron Lopresti
Inker:  Matt Ryan
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Review

Our issue begins with a flashback to the day Julia Carpenter was arrested by Ms. Marvel, Wonder Man, and S.H.I.E.L.D. Carol displays deep regret about her action in arresting Julia, even though she believed herself justified. Her biggest regret is arresting Julia in front of her daughter. It is revealed that Julia refused the chance to be pardoned after the events of Civil War #7. Carol relays all of this information to Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Carol humbly asks Tony that if she confronts Julia again that he will offer her a special pardon.

Meanwhile, Julia's confrontation of Anya continues from the cliffhanger in Ms. Marvel (Vol. 2) #13. Spider-Woman believes Anya is lying to her about her daughter's whereabouts. 5,000 feet above the escalating argument Ms. Marvel briefs her team on Julia Carpenter. Wonder Man is present at the meeting. Carol and Simon decide to confront Julia in a non-threatening civilian guise. Carol shockingly comes to the conclusion that Anya is danger from Arachne's wrath. Carol's worst fears are not realized as they see Anya standing over an unconscious Arachne.

Bad things are still happening in Anderson, Indiana. Two bored S.H.I.E.L.D. agents ruminate over Ms. Marvel's involvement in the investigation of the DNA bomb. Without warning two A.I.M. troops knock out the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. They have been sent to retrieve something for their unrevealed boss.

Ms. Marvel has taken Julia to her mini- helicarrier. Julia wakes up none too pleased to see Carol at her bedside. Julia professes disgust at Carol's insistence that she help her. There is still a lot of animosity between the two over what happened in Ms. Marvel #'s 6-8. Carol refutes Julia by stating she has no idea what happened to her daughter. Julia recalls that when she returned to her parents house that everyone, including her daughter, were gone. She had mistakenly assumed that Carol had taken them away. They go out to search for Julia's daughter. Wonder Man and Anya meet up with the two superheroines in the hallway. Anya is determined to help despite the wishes of her father.

Ms. Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have found the location of Arachne's daughter in Ohio by tracing credit card records. At the Ohio location, Arachne sneaks into her daughter's room for a long overdue reconciliation. However, Julia's parents are not pleased to see her reenter her daughter's life. They resent that Julia has put them all in danger over her refusal to become a part of the Initiative and register with the federal government. Julia's parents categorically refuse to have Julia regain custody of her daughter. Arachne flies out of her parent's house with her daughter in tow. She informs the shocked Ms. Marvel that they need to leave before the cops arrive. Carol reluctantly agrees to Julia's reasoning and flies off to the mini-helicarrier because it is the right thing to do.

Despite Julia's brash actions, she will be granted a full pardon. Custody of her daughter will be worked out in the courts. In exchange, Julia must go to Canada and become a part of the new Omega Flight program. However, Julia warns Carol that what has happened between them will never be forgotten nor forgiven.

Finally, A.I.M. troops are seen recovering the hidden DNA bomb. They report their success to their leader, M.O.D.O.K.

In General...

Let me start by saying this was a good issue, with one huge caveat. The plot developments were logical and the panel arrangements were a nice variety. Splash pages were used sparingly. The wrap-up of Julia's arc was satisfying and well thought out by Reed. Julia's pardon shows the Initiative's rarely displayed human side. They are not the glorified villains that they've been stereotyped as in other books.

It was nice to see Wonder Man and Anya again. After her brief role in Issue #13, Anya is given more of a voice. We see her as a rebellious but strong teenager. She recognizes that Ms. Marvel has been put in a tough spot of training her while simultaneously trying not to baby her.

Julia's role was a nice juxtaposition to Carol's guilty feelings that have remained a permanent fixture of the book since issue #1. No matter how much Carol tries to do her best, her demons always come out and create self-doubt. Ms. Marvel's dilemma harkens back to the best stories of Marvel's Silver Age where self-doubt assumed central prominence for characters such as Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, and the Thing.

In this vein, Carol remains an interesting character. On the one hand she is supposed to be a confident and independent leader. However, she is also filled with guilt over real and perceived injustices she has inflicted upon people. These are all elements that contribute to a good issue of Ms. Marvel.

However, the imposition of the resolution of Julia's arc is forced upon our throats and interrupts completely the A.I.M. DNA bomb subplot. Were we really that anxious to see Arachne again so quickly? In reality, I suspect Reed was forced by Marvel editorial to interrupt the flow of his story to explain Julia's involvement in the new Omega Flight mini-series. This is quite a shame because Reed easily could've resolved A.I.M's evil deeds in this arc and then gone with a stand-alone arc featuring Julia. The A.I.M elements feel shoehorned into this issue, much like the Arachne elements felt tacked on last issue. There is only so much story to tell in a standard 22 page comic book!

The art remains solid. I even saw improvement in Ms. Marvel's hairstyle. It did not look like mashed potatoes. Instead, Ms. Marvel was properly depicted as a sexy, independent superheroine. A highlight of the issue's art was the coloring on Ms. Marvel's lightning bolt when she goes to find Anya. The scenes inside the mini-helicarrier allow Lopresti to draw some brilliant panels harkening back to old sci-fi conventions. On the minus side, Arachne's face looks like a red-haired variant of Ms. Marvel.

Overall Rating...

Apart from the dueling plot threads that integrate unsuccessfully, this issue deserved four webs. I am marking off half a web for the delaying of the A.I.M./M.O.D.O.K. plot. I look forward to a return to normal as the last issue's cliffhanger indicates.