Look at that cover by Greg Horn (devoid of background on my copy). It may look like nothing more than a cheesecake shot of a ragged Ms Marvel, but it's rather clever. Notice, she's worn out, pissed off, abused and - no ankles - hobbled! Just as this supposed solo series has been hobbled by more than two years of being locked into one Marvel crossover after another.
The title was born out oh House of M, whose fantasy of a respected, go-getting Ms Marvel made Carol Danvers decide to be the best she could be. Since then, the best she could do be is, apparently, get embroiled in Civil War, the Initiative and now Secret Sodding Invasion. She spends about two minutes a week having a private life, the rest hanging out with a dubious crew of Shield agents meant to be a proactive strike force. This consists of one Agent Sum, Sleepwalker (who puts the zzzzz in Z-lister) and the admittedly entertaining Machine Man (Warren Ellis model). When they're not panel hogging we have regular cameos by Wonder Man and, Because No One Demanded It, annoying teen spider girl Arana.
It's tiring stuff, and not what I want in a Ms Marvel book. In fact, why do Marvel even call this book Ms Marvel? It's Ms Marvel and her Amazing Friends. But we already see her at the heart of the Marvel Universe in the Avengers titles, is it too much to ask that a solo title be just that?
So what does this issue bring? Yet more Skrulls, the mystery of Carol's possibly Kree almost-boyfriend, some ill-advised sex with Wonder Man and Carol moaning about her responsibilities. Could it be that writer Brian Reed is sending a message to readers that he's also tired of this comic's bad case of event-itis? Probably not, as he's been writing this book since the start, so he's the one who put Carol at the centre of the Marvel U.
I'm very close to dropping this comic. I stick with it because I've been a Carol Danvers fan for so long, but the fraught, ratty woman I see in these pages isn't the strong, smart heroine I grew up with. Even the art this issue isn't up to the usual standard, with Andres Coelho not bad, but way too thick on the character keylines.
The original run on this book lasted 23 issues, latterly by the superb team of an on-form Chris Claremont and a pitch-perfect Dave Cockrum, then Mike Vosburg. That was great stuff, so why is this less entertaining book still going? Could the constant tie-ins be the only thing keeping it alive? I hope not, but how are we to know? The current Ms Marvel book has never had a chance to succeed as a solo act. How about giving it a try, Marvel?