By Brian Reed (Writer), Paulo Siqueira & Adriana Melo (Pencils), Amilton Santos & Mariah Benes (Inks), and Chris Sotomayor (Colors)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: In all honesty, the current Ms. Marvel arc is quickly becoming tough to review on a monthly basis. While I’m enjoying it quite a bit, the storytelling structure being used by Brian Reed makes it difficult to really judge the quality of each issue in relation to the overall plot. He is only offering up pieces of a bigger picture, one month at a time, without any clear resolution in sight. It makes Ms. Marvel difficult to grade knowing that it is entirely possible that some key element revealed in a future issue could totally change my feelings about a previous chapter or event in the arc’s timeline.

The Story: Serving almost as a sequel of sorts to the recent Annual featuring Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel #34 is about Carol Danvers’ interest in something known as “Essential,” an extremely powerful information consumer. She attempts to locate “Essential” at a place heavily protected by the government and the ensuing commotion brings Spidey around to investigate. The two inevitably work together to deal with the chaos caused by many guards with many guns, trade witty comments, and form a shaky alliance that Carol knows will help her get to “Essential.”

What’s Good: The highlight of the issue is how Brian Reed handles the interesting relationship between Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man (though Carol’s interaction with Machine-Man is almost as good). It makes for some very fun, very entertaining reading that brings some interesting elements into Reed’s twisting plot. Couple that with some great looking, dynamic artwork by both regular teams and you have one of the strongest issues of Ms. Marvel in quite some time. Except…

What’s Not So Good: Remember how I said it was difficult to really judge the storytelling of each individual issue of Ms. Marvel? Well this one only furthers that sentiment. I think I like where the story is headed and I think I like the use of “Essential,” but without a bit more to chew on, I really can’t be certain of my thoughts concerning the overall plot of the arc. The main problem is that Reed is giving me very little reason to feel truly confident in his storytelling prowess. I like the ideas, but the way this issue feels so detached from the last few makes me wonder whether everything can successfully come together in a way that makes it worth all the hassle inherent in a story that tries to juggle a timeline (did that make sense?).

Conclusion: As an almost stand-alone story or as a sequel to the Annual, Ms. Marvel #34 works extremely well. But as a part in a much bigger story, it feels quite disconnected from the chapters that came before it and somewhat unsatisfying. I recommend it based on the strength of the character work and the art, but hesitate to call it a good piece of the current Ms. Marvel puzzle. See why it is so hard to grade?! I think I’ll go with…

Grade:  B-

-Kyle Posluszny