By Brian Reed (Writer), Mark A. Robinson (Artist), Mark Irwin (Inker), and Antonio Fabela (Colorist)
Anyone out there read the Marvel Adventures books? My son gets them and I read them when he’s not looking (which is pretty easy since he just leaves them all over the house). They’re actually pretty fun. Easy to read, plots aren’t too complicated, nicely if simply drawn, and when you’re done reading, you’re done. No waiting for the next issue or worrying about picking up other crossover issues.
Ms. Marvel Annual #1 is kind of like that. Here’s the set-up: an eccentric billionaire genius named Stuart Cavenger has somehow divvied up the aspects of his personality and downloaded them into a few dozen androids. The “ambition” part of his personality has decided they ought to travel the galaxy, and has sent out some sort of techno-virus that dismantles cars in midtown Manhattan, transforming them into robots, which will then assemble themselves into a giant spaceship which the Stuarts will ride to the stars. Ms. Marvel is trying to apprehend Spider-Man for being unregistered (again) when they encounter the chaos being caused by the scavenger robots and try to set things right.
I can tell you all this without spoiler alerts because what really makes this book worth reading has almost nothing to do with the plot. The banter between Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel, and between Spider-Man and the Stuart clones, is fast, witty, and hilarious. For the most part, poor Ms. Marvel actually takes back seat in her own book, playing Abbott to Spidey’s Costello. (Ms. Marvel: “Do you ever shut up?” Spider-Man: “You know, it’s really weird how often I get asked that question.” Also, there’s a lot of back-and-forth over which team is better, the “New” Avengers or the “Mighty” Avengers. And then there’s a whole routine about whether or not Ms. Marvel wears socks under her thigh-high boots.)
The balance that Reed strikes here is to be funny without losing the drama of the action. Any writer will tell you: it’s not easy, but Reed does it. Robinson’s art is appropriately whacky, if awkward at times. I would have thought it would be impossible to draw Ms. Marvel in her French-cut black leather costume and not have her look hot, but somehow Robinson and Irwin have managed.
Anyway, such stories always end with a wink, or in this case a mischievous smile, which is close enough. Even if you don’t normally pick up Ms. Marvel’s books, get this one. (Grade: A-)
- Andrew C. Murphy