The Civil War between superheroes is over. Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel, is once again trying to become the nest superheroine possible as a part of Iron Man's initiative and co-leader of the Mighty Avengers. As a part of her heroic quest, Carol has requested to lead an elite S.H.I.E.L.D. unit, dubbed Operation Lightning Storm, to track down the worst of the worst supervillains before they cause problems.
Our issue begins with Iron Man and Ms. Marvel investigating a terrorist attack in Indianapolis. Bodies have been horrifically contaminated. Ms. Marvel wonders why Iron Man called her to the scene. As the pair go through the decontamination tunnel the revelation that the terrorist attack was a DNA bomb points to A.I.M's involvement. Carol has been waiting for a chance to nail the terrorist organization and this new attack brings added incentive. Carol and Tony then get into an escalated argument about the neglected opportunities they had to cripple A.I.M. due to the Civil War's interruption. Carol ends the argument by slugging Tony in his armored jaw.
Later, Carol meets with her publicist Sarah Day to discuss her violent outburst on Iron Man and the effect it will have on her public image. Carol describes how she came to be recruited by Tony to lead the Mighty Avengers. She has doubts about the decision she has made to join the newest incarnation of the Avengers. Carol then concludes she doesn't need Sarah's services anymore because she feels neglected. Day refutes Carol's position by stating that she does nothing to distinguish herself. Ms. Marvel only saves the world from danger. Day concludes by stating that Carol needs to rededicate herself and find a new goal.
Carol decides to call William Wagner for a date to get her mind off recent developments. They make the decision to meet on Friday night. After the call ends, Anya appears at Carol's apartment. She informs Carol that she is healing from the attack by Doomsday Man (Ms. Marvel #12). Before Carol can apologize to Anya for putting her in harm's way, Anya cuts her off. She states it was not Carol's fault, no matter what her dad says. However, Anya gets discouraged and leaves hurriedly.
At Avengers Tower, Ms. Marvel and Iron Man convene to discuss recent events. Iron Man reassures Carol that her punch made her human and the perfect woman to lead the Mighty Avengers. Her firm convictions and resolute nature impressed Tony. This is also why Iron Man wanted Ms. Marvel to investigate the case in Indiana. The conversation leads to Ms. Marvel questioning whether she is making a difference. Iron Man responds that she is but Ms. Marvel remains unconvinced. Further discussion leads to Tony agreeing to have Carol lead an elite S.H.I.E.L.D. strike team, later dubbed Operation Lightning Storm. Carol gets command of her own mini- helicarrier as part of the deal in exchange for leading the Mighty Avengers.
Maria Hill does not like Tony's acquiescence to Carol's terms. Sarah Day reports on Ms. Marvel's break-up of an A.I.M. terrorist cell with her team in support. Ms. Marvel is taking the offensive against the bad guys. On the mini-helicarrier, Carol meets with Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man. They all have a meeting with some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents discussing the movements of the fugitive Arachne, aka Julia Carpenter (last seen breaking out of the Negative Zone prison in Civil War #6 after personally being arrested by Ms. Marvel - Ms. Marvel #8).
Meanwhile, Anya gets her old job back at the burger joint in Brooklyn, NY. Anya gets fed up with her boss and quits forcefully. Unfortunately, Arachne drops in on the beleaguered teenager and demands to know where her daughter is.
Ms. Marvel has always been a B-hero in the Marvel universe. With issue #13, Marvel editorial and writer Brian Reed are making a concerted effort to change that. We get two major revelations in this issue - both good plot developments which create some interesting dilemmas for our superheroine. First, Ms. Marvel is leading the Mighty Avengers, albeit somewhat unwillingly. I think her response to Tony's offer is in keeping with Carol's established character. Reed does not want to make Carol a lapdog of Tony's new Initiative program. She remains an independent woman and I applaud Reed for keeping Ms. Marvel's independent streak alive.
The second development keeps with the independent spirit of the character - Ms. Marvel now leading her own strike force to preemptively attack supervillains and terrorist organizations. I like that Reed is trying to make A.I.M. a permanent thorn in Ms. Marvel's side. Building up her rogue's gallery is a difficult task for a character with a weaker tradition of strong villains (in contrast to Spider- Man or Batman). By using a neglected entity such as A.I.M., Reed is proverbially "killing two birds with one stone." Reading a Ms. Marvel comic book truly feels like you are experiencing a slice of the Marvel universe.
All signs point to M.O.D.O.K. confronting Ms. Marvel. However, our cliffhanger in this issue has nothing to do with a story largely focused on A.I.M. I felt that the cliffhanger's revelation was the only blemish in this otherwise entertaining issue. In fact, the cliffhanger with Arachne cheapened the entire story that was told. In my opinion, Reed is biting off more than he can chew. He already has enough interesting plot threads that he can address.
Anya's involvement in this issue was brief and was a mixed bag. Her first conversation with Carol over her involvement with Doomsday Man was effective. Once again, Reed establishes that Carol is human and that her relationships aren't perfect. However, Anya's second appearance is a weak ploy to get Arachne in by the end of the second issue.
A note about the chaotic art direction of the title: Lopresti seems to have settled on a style that melds the cartoony and more realistic depictions of Ms. Marvel. At least in this issue, Lopresti's approach works. His pencils are concise without being too simple. My only complaint is that Ms. Marvel's hair still looks like a plate of mashed potatoes. The cover art by Greg Horn shows how to do Ms. Marvel's long blonde locks right.
This was another generally solid effort by Reed and Co. In my opinion, the cliffhanger came out of left field - and not the good kind of surprise. The entire issue had me anticipating the face-off with A.I.M. and M.O.D.O.K. Instead, we can look forward to more "post Civil War angst" in the next issue.