Ms. Marvel (Vol. 2) #8

Background

Ms. Marvel and Wonder Man have attempted to apprehend Arachne and Shroud. While they have captured Shroud, Arachne remains at large. Meanwhile, Arana's training under the provisions of the Superhuman Registration Act continues. The events that allowed Julia Carpenter to regain the ability to walk and resume her crime-fighting activities as Arachne remain a mystery to Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel's History: The mutant X-Man Rogue remains a significant character in Ms. Marvel's history. In Avengers Annual #10, Rogue steals Ms. Marvel's powers through her energy absorption mutant ability. The trauma inflicted by Rogue leaves Carol a shell of her former self, having lost her memories to Rogue as well. She remains a cold, emotionally distant person in the following years. This led to the controversial "The Rape of Ms. Marvel" essay in a fan-magazine (1981) which decried the total loss of the feminist qualities which had made Ms. Marvel such a strong character to many of her readers.

Story 'For the Best'

  Ms. Marvel (Vol. 2) #8
Summary: Spider-Woman (Carpenter) & Arana appear
Editor: Andy Schmidt
Writer: Brian Reed
Pencils: Roberto De La Torre
Inker: Jon Sibal

The issue begins with the interrogation of Arachne's boyfriend, the Shroud. Ms. Marvel questions him as to how Arachne regained the ability to walk in just a few months. Shroud goes into a back-story explaining how his lab was able to synthesize the formula which gave Julia her spider-powers. After a brief period of inactivity, the formula reinvigorated Julia's powers. With this done, Julia rigorously re-trained herself to walk. Shroud's attention to Julia paid off in romance between the two.

Shroud condemns Ms. Marvel for turning against a friend and for blindly following a wrongful law. Araña questions why the Shroud would hate a true hero like Ms. Marvel. Ms. Marvel gets into a further debate with Shroud about the legality of superhuman registration. Ms. Marvel bitterly retorts that Julia is now a fugitive for knowingly breaking the law and has disgraced the name of the Avengers and put innocent people in severe danger.

In Denver, Ms. Marvel and Wonder Man prepare to drop down on the home where Julia Carpenter's daughter is located. Arana observes from a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopter. The owner of the home, Julia's father, run in fear of the two heroes. It is then revealed that Julia is secretly sequestered in the home with her mother and daughter. She goes out to confront Ms. Marvel and Wonder Man.

Julia tries to bargain with the two heroes. However, Ms. Marvel refuses to let Julia run off to Canada even for the sake of her daughter. Arana comforts Julia's daughter as the battles rages on. Eventually, Ms. Marvel defeats Arachne as mother and daughter are tearfully separated from one another. Arana begins to seriously doubt that her side is in the right.

Later on the rooftop of Stark Tower, Anya expresses her doubts to Carol. She doesn't want to help participate in separating families. Carol comforts Anya and even begins to doubt her position. Carol confides her misgivings to Simon. Simon reassures Carol that she is a hero and what she did was what anyone would have done in her place. The scene is interspersed with some panels of Julia in prison crying herself to sleep at the loss of her daughter.

The issue ends one week later with Carol coming home to her apartment. She hears noises emanating from the kitchen and transforms into Ms. Marvel. A splash page ends with the cliffhanger that Rogue needs to have a frank discussion with Carol. They have a problem...

General Comments

Ms. Marvel's contribution to Civil War ends on a satisfying note. Each supporting character's story is resolved by the end of the issue. I liked how Arana served as a moral compass for Ms. Marvel. She is obviously younger and less worldly than Carol but she brings out Carol's human side. The scene on the rooftop at the end was really thought-provoking with strong writing by Brian Reed.

Wonder Man's role in this arc was somewhat muted. He's mainly used here as a support fighter for Ms. Marvel. However, Reed manages to squeeze out some moxie for him by story's end. He never allows Carol to sink to depressive lows and always maintains a heroic spirit.

The battle scene which takes place in Denver was almost anti-climactic. There was nothing particularly wrong with the throw-down between Ms. Marvel and Arachne. It's just that the more emotional and character-driven moments in this issue took center stage. I even liked the resolution of Julia Carpenter/Arachne. In the previous issues, I've complained that her relationship with Shroud seemed to unrealistic and self-serving to the story. The explanation we are given for the pair's relationship is satisfying and hints at the bitter tragedy awaiting Arachne by issue's end.

Reed gets brownie points for managing to provide a cliff-hanger for next month's issue, always a hard thing to do in a Civil War crossover arc.

Overall Rating

I'm giving this particular issue four webs. The arc has improved ever since the less than stellar issue #6. Readers who purchased this for the Civil War tag should stick around. Reed shows that Ms. Marvel can do more than patched together action scenes. He has taken the flaws from the initial issue and largely improved upon them. By the issue's conclusion, Reed has laid the seeds of a solid supporting cast for Ms. Marvel.

Footnote

For those interested in learning more about Ms. Marvel's story here is some essential reading:

Avengers #200 - Carol's pregnancy and introduction of Marcus

Avengers Annual #10 - Rogue steals Ms. Marvel's powers and memories

Uncanny X-Men #164 - First appearance of Binary

Uncanny X-Men #246 - Carol's memories of her brothers through the eyes of Rogue

Several appearances in New Avengers