Just in time for her film debut, Marvel is releasing a collection of Carol Danvers’ earliest adventures as Ms. Marvel!
Ms. Marvel Epic Collection: This Woman, This Warrior is the first Epic Collection centered around Carol Danvers, and collects the first fourteen issues of Ms. Marvel along with Marvel Team-Up #61 and 62, as well as Defenders #57. While it does mean that Carol’s first appearance in the comics (which came nearly a decade before these stories in 1968’s Marvel Super-Heroes #13) is omitted, it allows the collection to get straight to the point.
The collection begins with two issues penned by Gerry Conway, who sets Carol’s adventures as Ms. Marvel in motion. The debut issue starts with Ms. Marvel swooping down from the skies to stop a bank robbery led by Scorpion. The cover of the issue declares, “At Last! A bold new Super-Heroine in the senses-stunning tradition of Spider-Man!” and in many ways, that holds true.
As the issue progresses, we learn that Carol Danvers is given the job of editor at Woman Magazine published by the Daily Bugle. This in turn allows for J. Jonah Jameson, Peter Parker, and Mary Jane Watson to interact with Carol, helping to solidify her place in the Marvel Universe.
John Buscema handles the artwork in these earlier issues, and while Carol’s initial costume (designed by John Romita Sr.) definitely feels out of place with the bare stomach and back, Buscema gives Carol a sense of physical power that was missing from many of Marvel’s earlier superheroines.
When Chris Claremont takes over in issue 3, we start to see Carol’s own supporting cast begin to take shape. Claremont’s writing here carries much of the same melodrama of his more famed work with the X-Men, though the reduced size of cast means there are less electric moments.
Where the book makes up for that, however, is with the villains. Ms. Marvel battles with A.I.M., Death-Bird, and the Super-Skrull. But perhaps her most interesting of battles is with the subterranean Grotesk, who seeks to destroy the surface world for killing his race. Claremont subtly plays into Grotesk’s sympathetic side, making him a great antagonist for Carol to face off against. Later, M.O.D.O.K. also plays a great foil for Carol, and his desire to control her and her image contrasts nicely with Carol’s ongoing struggles with random blackouts.
A number of Marvel’s more prolific artists have work in this volume. While John Buscema handles the initial issues, the bulk of the volume features the work of Jim Mooney with inker Joe Sinnott. Mooney’s artwork features some great angles in the fight. At one point, Carol punches her way through an army of A.I.M. soldiers and Mooney’s staging along with colorist Don Warfield’s choice to have the A.I.M. soldiers a bluish-grey to contrast with Carol’s bright costume make it clear just who is in charge of the fight.
Thanks to the inclusion of the Marvel Team-Up issues, readers will also get to see some of John Byrne’s stunning artwork. And Ms. Marvel #14 is illustrated by Carmine Infantino, whose art style is unlike anything else in the volume. The tight framing, the detailed linework, and the heavy use of shadow by inker Steve Leialoha make this issue unique, displaying many of the artistic sensibilities that would become more dominant in the ’80s.
Potential buyers should also be aware of the size of the volume and the price point. Most Epic Collections run between 380 and 480 pages of story content for $39.99. This volume is a bit shorter, running at about 309 pages for the smaller price of $34.99. The slim size makes for easier handling of the volume, but it also makes one wonder why Marvel didn’t include Carol’s publishing debut.
Is it good?
What we do get though is another beautiful addition to the Epic Collection line. While the character making her film debut in March will be quite a bit different than the Carol we see here (I don’t think anyone is expecting to see Brie Larson in a magazine editing room), it’s still nice to see her honored in an entertaining package featuring the work of some of Marvel’s most prolific creators.