Ms. Marvel # 20
Writer: Brian Reed
Pencils: Greg Tocchini
Inker: Roland Paris
Ms. Marvel, as explained last month, is quite good. It’s got Machine Man Aaron Stack in full NEXTWAVE mode played against Sleepwalker’s alter ego, who makes for a great straight man. Ms. Marvel is strangely tongue in cheek, as she’s as much a commentary on a normal person being a superhero as a hero in her own right, but it all works. Right now, she’s captured by Puppet Master and her teammates must save her… sort of, I get the feeling she won’t be much of a damsel in distress.
Well, the Puppet Master plot is resolved early. The danger never seemed terrible anyway, so it being handled with so quickly isn’t an issue. We get some interesting character development on Ms. Marvel in terms of collateral damage and what her responsibilities as a hero are. She isn’t a cookie cutter character and (besides Aaron Stack) is really the best thing about this book. What happens is important, but the whole story is really about Ms. Marvel, her actions and reactions, which make her among the more interesting leads in comics, female or otherwise.
Machine Man is, as always, hilarious. He’s just a little force unto himself in the corner of this issue and still manages to steal at least two scenes. Sleepwalker is mostly left out here, but that’s fine, Machine Man more than handles the supporting cast duties.
There is a major plot advancement about Ms. Marvel’s newly developing powers. This is mostly set up through a conversation with Beast and is left as a cliffhanger. I don’t especially care where her new powers are from, but in just two issues I care enough about the character to want to know how the new powers will affect her as a person and what they will lead her to do. That’s impressive.
The art is asked to pull off a ton of impressive visuals like thrown houses and giant fights. It succeeds in spades as even the relatively simple fights here come off as epic and impressive. Even better are the facial expressions and use of color to convey mood. The writing is top notch, but the art makes it need to carry less weight.
This is a book you should be reading, with a very strong lead, interesting and clear plotlines and a strong supporting cast; this book does everything right. The mix of comedy, drama, and action is perfect. If you like superheroes at all, give this a try.