By WhitOro 6 Comments
Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel. I love this character.
Despite many faults, Ms. Marvel Volume 2 by Brian Reed is one of my all time favorite comics. Well, at least up until issue 32. After that I believe the book had a tragic decline in quality, and Dark Reign completely killed my interest for it, so much that I didn’t even bothered following the story up until the end in issue #50. Maybe someday I’ll go back and read it (I already did in a few instances)… Still, Carol Danvers is Marvel’s top lady as far as I’m concerned, with a stable role in the Avengers books as well as in the House of Idea mythos. Following, my take on another series for her, with focus on some plot points, character behavior and relationships, and story arcs.
The Book: Genre & Plot Elements
Done in One
Some superheroes are just “there”. You know, you have characters that have a clear motifs that you can use to write story around: Captain America is tangled with the military and war world 2, Batman is a detective, Wolverine is practically a samurai, Wonder Woman and Thor have mythology etc etc. But some superheroes are just standard in powers and characterization that is difficult to make them work solo. I find Ms. Marvel that, because of her powers: aside from the fact that she can absorb energy, her power set is pretty generic. She’s a classic flying brick. Character like her work great in team books were you always need the eclectic hero who can multitask with strength, invulnerability, flight… but in a solo book, those character tend to be too generic to work with long extended story arcs.
They are better with “simple” stories. Short adventures, lot of fun, lot of action, some character development throw in there. Quick tales connected to each other that help the character grow but still manage to remain self-contained. In my Ms. Marvel, the majority of stories would be Done in One adventures, one issue, one problem, climax, resolution. Most writers today tend to shy away from done in one, because they know there’s a bigger chance the trade is going to sell and they know a single issue story is much easier to f**k up. But I’m arrogant, and I think I can pull it off.
Single issue stories also allow attracting more readerships. Maybe somebody doesn’t buy issue 3, but they can buy issue 4 and just enjoy it as much. A lot of readers also tend to ignore a series when they have long story arcs, thinking “Well, I’ll just buy the trade”.
I said Carol was basically a flying brick, but that’s unfair. She had connection with space and the spy world. One of my favorite writers is Warren Ellis. I loved the Authority, I loved Global Frequency, and I’ve loved his short but incredible run on Secret Avengers. All these series have in common the same extra-world, ultra-secret, transhumanism, horror elements. Big ideas, high concepts, oddity and monstrosity: that’s the route I would take with a Ms. Marvel series. With her ties in spies and space she can be pull in any sort of crazy insane situation that would allow for that sort of work. While the classic superhero elements can’t be removed (and shouldn’t) Ms. Marvel is a character that would work perfectly in the world of the unknown and the disturbing.
Of course, you can’t make an entire run of one shots, and a plot must be building up, character must meet, talk, develop, greater stories must be told…
Like I said in my personal version of the Revengers, I don’t like the way Bendis made Simon a villain, but I like the idea, and so I would roll with it.
Simon and Carol go back a long way. We are talking about two characters that authors tried to pair up since 1978. They had their stories in the middle, with other men and women, but you could always feel a connection between the two of them. This relationship became almost central in Reed’s Ms. Marvel and Bendis’ Mighty Avengers, with differences. In Reed they weren’t actually together, and slept once, with Bendis they were a couple in all regards. I think the first case is the one more interesting to keep using. A romance between the two can still be built, but it will be much darker, something based on the past, something without future. He attacks Carol and offers her a position in a new team of Revengers he’s building up. She, of course, refuses.
“Dumped” by Carol, Simon still has an alternative, plan B: Warbird. Introduced during Brian Reed run, she’s an aggressive and bloodthirsty version of Carol from a different universe. Defeated by Carol she was take under custody by SHIELD agents and never seen again. I would bring her back. Simon finds her in a prison of the government. During the battle with Carol, Warbird underwent serious burns: her face is deeply scarred, her hair grown randomly. Kept locked for years, alone, she’s now suicidal, barely on the edge of sanity, almost psychotic. Simons makes her his second in command. Her mind almost shattered, she’s start idolizing him from freeing her. It’s a tragic love story as Warbird falls for Simon, but he’s attracted to her only because of the real Carol. Realizing this, she makes her mission to kill Ms. Marvel so that she can be the only in Simon’s heart.
To survive, a hero needs a decent rogue gallery. I find the one Carol got astonishingly lacking. Aside from Warbird, Reed also introduced the terrorist Ghazi Rashid and Warren Traveler, a former sorcerer supreme from the House of M reality… both went MIA after their first confrontation, both were pretty boring characters. I see room for improvement in Warren, as a magician he can be tangled in the new “weird adventures” style of the narration. Ghazi is nothing more than an indestructible human-weapon. He only deserves limbo.
That being said, Carol needs big enemies, world shattering threats and reality warping multidimensional nightmares: in my stories expect cosmic abominations, shadow omniscient groups and other craziness on the same line. The fourth of Reed’s creation is the Storyteller, a little kid that can creates everything he wants and change reality how he pleases. He appeared only in annuals and specials. Now this one is a threatening individual, with a few updates I’ll make him come back. At his return he’s aged and desires to reshape a world similar to the one of M, so that Ms. Marvel could be the greatest existing hero once more.
Keeping on the “Ms. Marvel needs big enemies”, two guys are especially big and free for the taking:
*After the end of Exiles, King Hyperion is a character who desperately needs a place in the Marvel Universe. That place is Ms. Marvel’s enemies. The two have a loose connection: during the Exiles, when first introduced, KHyperion had as lover a psycho version of Carol from another universe. So, I see him searching for her to use Carol as a new bride for him, in a new quest to take over our world.
*The Mark Millar’s character known as Marquis of Death (from Fantastic Four) is another tragically underused baddie. Another one in the line of “absurdly overpowered beings who lack any true personality”, the Marquis has on his side a cool design that makes him a visually compelling threat. He was indeed killed during a story that most writers simply ignored afterwards, but that’s hardly something that stops writers. This man has a strong presence, a distinguish figure and scary powers.
Monsters of this caliber are what Carol needs to prove again and again how much she’s worth. As for her “archenemy”, Mystique, I have no interest in her, as a villain or as a character. Really, zero interest. She’s not gonna be seen.
During the course of the story, Ms. Marvel is “forced” to absorb a weird non-earthly energy. This factor would later bring her body to produce enhance her powers in a way similar to her Binary capabilities. She’s sporadically capable of tapping into this energy, but her body is affected by the use, causing her nosebleeds and nausea. This powers play a larger role on the long run and by the end she posses full control over them with no side effects. Much like Binary, when using these new abilities, her hair produce fire, her eyes become empty and her skin slightly reddish.
The Characters: Personality & Roles
Mopping and angst-ridden superheroes are the focus of a lot of books. It creates drama, drama makes for interesting characters, interesting characters make for good books. But it is also true for the opposite. During Reed’s run, Carol was often questioning herself, her motivations, her actions. Her life was a train wreck and she was derailing with it, often on the breaking point. A different approach would be nice. While still maintaining her hard nail personality, I see Carol as a more optimistic fun-loving character. Even in difficult situations, after great tragedies, I see her as the woman strong enough to keep smiling and caring on, without letting the sadness get her.
Since she was young, she always wanted to fly. So she’s someone who enjoys her powers and her abilities… I imagine her wasting time, as a hobby, swimming in the clouds, letting herself go down the sky, stop flying to let gravity pull her down, her mind empty, without stress, preoccupations, nothing to disturb her in the world. Then sitting on the top of buildings, let the wind flow through her, take deep breaths of fresh hair. She’s a free spirit, she’s pure, she loves her life and she’s without fears.
Carol has military experience, she’s a thinker and always tries to come up with a plan to deal with the dangers she faces. Yet, I would see her at times short tempered and just a little unwise: she isn’t shy or modest. Carol knows perfectly what she’s capable of, what incredible powers she has, and it’s not afraid on jumping straight forward in a risky situation if she thinks she can handle it. In combat, I’ll treat her pretty much like Geoff Johns handles Hal Jordan… they’re both fighting jets pilots, so I think the similarity in their acts shouldn’t be a surprise: a little cocky, a little brash, sometimes arrogant, always sure of her ideas.
Carol’s official best friend, her greatest support and confident… they’ll go together in bars and nightclubs, have fun, dance, sing karaoke, all the good stuff. In their friendship I’d put a gentle Sapphic vibe. They share a history of rocky and confusing relationships with various individuals, and spending time talking, confessing each other, helping, supporting the other, ends up creating a certain tension between the two of them. Nothing too controversial, gratuitous or explicit, but it’s there, they flirt with the idea and even joke about it… that’s the moment were things get awkward, and instead of word they share an embarrassing silence.
He’s Carol’s second closest friend, another connection with the Simon’s tragedy and a scientific counselor for the sci-fi stuff that is going to happen to her.
Old friend and companion in the New Avengers, Strange is a valuable ally for our protagonist in a series concentrated on the mysterious and the unexpected. They had a casual flirtatious attitude toward each other in the few Reed’s issue he appeared, and that’s another component that can be played with, thought making them an official couple is a big no. Still, a dinner date wouldn’t be a bad idea, would it?
Carol’s Persian cat. Where the hell did he end up? Well, doesn’t matter, he’s back.
The Story: Arcs & Projects
The “Lost Moments” are special issues that change the focus and stop following the main storyline. Every once in a while a LM issue comes and shows us Carol in a different light or situation. We can have different worlds, different universe, or still the main one, focusing on Carol’s past life, her first experiences as a superhero, flash out her role in big events, expanding scenes in canon that were skimmed away. Call them “What If” call them “Elseworlds”, the Lost Moments purpose is to explore Carol personality and role in different contests and to flash out more of her in the current world. Some ideas floating my head would be:
*LM/House of M: a quick look at Carol’s life in the House of M reality, where she was the greatest hero ever existed.
*LM/Youth: child-Carol shows her first signs of heroism.
*LM/Old Lady Carol: a tale of an aging but still powerful Ms. Marvel in the Old Man Logan reality, traveling around the country. Long silver hairs, some wrinkles, a more restrained costume, same mission: helping those in need.
*LM/After Siege: Carol’s learns that Wonder Man doesn’t want to join the new Avengers and confronts him on this decision.
*LM/The Fire: a look at a world where Ms. Marvel is a supervillain and one of the Avengers most lethal enemies. We follow her in a last battle to the death against the team.
The Unmarked Saga
The enigma about Carol’s new powers forms a big non-continuous storyline that starts the moment she absorb part of a mysterious energy cloud. A secret council of hooded individuals follows her movements and spies her action, to study how she learns to control this new force and how it evolves inside of her.
Quest of the Marvels
Lost Moments serves also as a build up to a bigger storyline. A group of Ms. Marvels from around the Multiverse is gathered by a mystical force, as soldier in a conflict that could save or doom all reality. Against them, there’s another squad of Marvels. But it’s not a good vs evil confrontation, as in the groups there’re both heroic and villainous Carols. Something much more sinister is playing in the shadow, and they might be just puppets of a bigger enemy. Quest & The Unmarked are slightly related.
Practically the sequel to the Revengers story arc by Bendis. Climax of my run, is the final confrontation between the Avengers and the New Revengers, this time much bigger in number and stronger in members. But the real conflict is the one not only physical but also psychological between Carol and Simon, with Warbird as the variable. Lessons must be given and learned, blood will be spilled together with tears, and somebody could not make it out ok…
And now: A Year of Ms. Marvel
Issue#1 The Best once More: Carol is restarting her life. New apartment, new neighbors, new way of looking at things… the morning after, she finds Simon Williams in her kitchen cooking eggs for her breakfast, as he needs to talk to her about a “proposal”. The two end up in a brutal conflict. Wonder Man is able to break Carol left arm, “winning” the fight. He then proposes her to be second in command of the New Revengers. At her refusal, he leaves.
Issue #2 Love Hurts: In the Aftermath of the battle with Wonder Man, Carol has to stay in a hospital. Hank McCoy visits her for a friendly chat and in the meantime, Simon frees Warbird from a SHIELD’s prison. The two of them share a kiss.
Issue #3 Unmarked: Carol fully recovers just in time: an “interference” forms around New York City. It’s a shapeless, highly energetic construct that appeared out of nowhere. The energy output was strong enough to destroy every machinery sent inside the thing to observe it, and since she’s able of absorbing energy, Carol offers herself for the investigation. Her journey inside the construct is anything but quiet. The energy she absorbs during her mission is the base of her new powers, the beginning of the Unmarked Saga and the first step towards Quest of Marvels.
Issue #4 Imperial Wedding: Carol has to confront another crazy “ex”, as King Hyperion appears to break havoc in New York. They battle their way across the city up to New York Harbor where he tries to kill her by throwing a ship full of people at her. She manages to save everybody but Hyperion escapes her.
Issue #5 Blessed by Fire: A residential building catches fire. Ms. Marvel, on patrolling, notes the flames and intervenes to help. At this point, a man with fire-based superpowers inside the building tries to stop her. He claims that the inhabitants of the place are a sacrifice, and the fire is a ceremony to attract the savior, Nihiah. She beats the crap out of him and saves most of the people in danger. As the crazy pyromaniac is taken by the authorities, we cut into deep space, where something gigantic and monstrous awakes.
Issue #6 Lost Moments/Youth: Thirteen years old Carol is involved in a robbery in a store and she’s taken hostage. The situation won’t end well (for the burglar).
Issue #7 White & Black: In the opening monologue Carol declares that she’s enjoying a “me day”. In page two, a vortex made of a black liquid attacks her and traps her inside of a world where there’re no colors (the entire issue is in black and white). In this world, she fights Mud monsters, spider-like creatures, and finds a gigantic empty city. She’s confronted by a human like being who calls himself “God”.
Issue #8 Black & White: The fight with “God” proceeds, as the monster tries to obtain control of Carol body and soul. She manages to fight him back as the new Binary-like powers emerge from her body. The sudden outburst of energy causes the B&W dimensions to crumble in pieces. God disappears and she finds herself in her apartment once more. This story isn’t over yet.
Issue #9 NIHIAH: The monster introduced in issue 5 makes his presence know. He’s an immense tentacle lovecraftian creature that attacks New York. The Avengers responds, and Ms. Marvel is the one delivering the final blow. As the creature literally dissolves, we see that something of it, a strange worm, survived. The being escapes in a sewer. It will be back.
Issue #10 The Amazing Spider-Date II: Jessica Drew comes to Carol apartment, inviting her to spend the night together, having fun. Supervillains try to ruin the festivities and they deal with them without many problems. It’s a friendship/romance building issue. They end up back at Carol’s place and fall asleep on her bed together.
Issue #11 Blood Box: Carol and Jessica wake up from their crazy night afraid that they might have done something stupid. They can’t talk about it too much: an unidentified object appears in Central Park, a house-sized cubic box. A group of Avengers already tried to approach it and disappeared in thin air. Together with Doctor Strange, Carol and Jessica try to go to the rescue. The same happens to them, but Ms. Marvel finds the responsible for this: the Marquis of Death.
Issue #12 Blood Box Conclusion: The Box is a lifeless pocket universe that the Marquis created to contain a duplicate of himself that would be keep causing pain across the worlds in case he, the original, was killed. The powered up Ms. Marvel fights the Marquis across space and time and she’s able to defeat him, causing the destruction of the Box. The heroes trapped inside of it are safe, but maybe the Marquis isn’t gone forever.