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Ms. Marvel Vol. 6: Civil War II Paperback – December 27, 2016
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I take it that Marvel had another big crossover event, Civil War II, that was a sequel to the original Civil War that provided the inspiration for the latest Captain America movie. The overall storyline of this volume isn’t made confusing by the crossover. Rather, I think the problem is that it prevented the volume from telling a single integrated story. Instead we get distinct storylines that Wilson struggles to tie together.
Ok, first issue. This is a fun, fan fiction-y side-story about an interstate/metro science competition. It’s entertaining, allows for digs against Connecticut for being full of lawyers (I would have gone with a hedge fund manager joke, but my desires are…conventional), features a grinning Skyshark, and gives an excuse to get Ms. Marvel together with the new Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Nova. That’s all well and good, but you kind of get the impression that this was all to the end of putting the three on the cover to sell comics, not in service of the story. We won’t see them again this volume.
Moving on, the story moves more directly into what I understand to be the bigger Civil War II storyline, although only issue #7 is listed on Wikipedia as officially being part. Captain Marvel gives Ms. Marvel a team and tasks her with stopping future-crimes on the basis of the precognitions of the Inhuman Ulysses. Pre-crime! Famously introduced by Philip K. Dick in 1956, it has proven fertile ground for speculative fiction ever since (although arguably Orwell was there first with thoughtcrime). Here? Nope. Wilson does not stick the landing. Bellyflops it, really. How so?
A bad guy steals a tank. Ms. Marvel stops him, explaining that now she can stop the bad guys BEFORE they commit a crime.
Wait, WHAT? Hold your hands, times for a little LAWSPLAINING. I understand she isn’t a lawyer, but has it escaped Wilson’s awareness all these years that theft is illegal? I’m not a tank lawyer, but I have to think that driving a tank through Jersey City would violate a law or three as well. Not to mention, I have it on good authority that taking a substantial step can be sufficient to commit an attempted crime. And don’t even get me started on conspiracy.
Kamala’s brilliant plan at the end is pretty nonsensical too. This is egregious. And unforgiveable. Even setting aside the lack of basic knowledge about criminal law, Wilson just doesn’t do anything interesting with the concept. Too often it seems like modern writers lack the analytical framework to really grapple with moral issues. It leaves the characters saying and doing almost entirely groan-worthy things.
But unlike Luke Cage, at least Kamala is smart enough to attack the weakness of power armor.
Issue #8 also introduces a series of flashbacks that run through the rest of the volume. The flashbacks are the best part of the volume and benefit from being all Alphona’s art. But they’re a little disjointed themselves, and a game attempt to tie them to the present day events is only partially effective.
The pre-crime storyline eats up issues #8-11. The final issue sees Kamala traveling back to Pakistan for the first time since she was an unborn child. The family stuff is very good. That has always been what Ms. Marvel does best. But Kamala gets the superhero itch while she’s there in response to water cartels blowing hydrants. As soon as she confronts the water bandits, though, she confronted in turn by a local superhero, who chastises her that the situation is complicated and that she should check with her local superheroes first. Yes! Things are complicated! And intelligence is vital to any operation. With a better storyteller, this is where things would start getting good. Maybe the water cartels are acting at the behest of some shadowy villain. Maybe they’re countering some shadowy villain. Maybe the local superhero is no hero at all, but a villain. There are lots of thing that Wilson could have done. She doesn’t do any of them. Kamala just goes home. Maybe there was a point in there about water cartels, but I have no idea what it is because I didn’t learn anything about water cartels. Again, it looks like Wilson wants to make a point, but can’t manage to do so in any intelligent way.
7 - Kamala and Miles Morales are in competing schools in a high school science fair. Baboom happens, so Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, and Nova deal with the situation.
8-11 - Civil War II crossover - Captain Marvel gives Ms. Marvel a job to do for the Captain's Minority-Report-style pre-crime-fighting: she puts her in charge of her own pre-crime task force. At first, she's overjoyed to be helping her idol, but then she starts seeing the results. Her path is parallel to Peter Parker's in the first Civil War.
12 - Kamala spends an issue in Pakistan to re-think her life.
You don't have to read Civil War II to understand what's going on in this book (my favorite type of crossover!) In my opinion, you should start reading Ms. Marvel from the beginning, though Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal (Ms. Marvel Graphic Novels)
Do trade paperbacks have variant covers? Mine is a modified version of this:
Ms Marvel #9 Comic Book
Not this: Ms Marvel #7 Volume 4 Cover A
Sometimes an event can temporarily derail a series, but I think G.W. Wilson did a good job of incorporating the event into the story she was already telling.
As noted by another reviewer, Kamala doesn't interact with Spider-Man and Nova in the actual Civil War II story, at least not in this book