Marvel’s Secret Wars event is in full swing… in some comics. Due to publishing schedules, however, a few stragglers, identifiable from the “LAST DAYS OF” appended to their titles, are still putting out stories leading up to the grand collision of multiverses. These “Last Days” series generally follow their protagonist as they try to prevent the collision, or at least rescue or protect as many people as they can. They also try to wrap up whatever storyline was happening, because once they catch up to the Secret Wars event, that comic is essentially over. A new book with the same or a similar title may crop up in a month or two when the apocalyptic event has blown over, but creative teams will likely have changed, and it’s also generally bad form to leave readers hanging. Anyway, while most Last Days have come to a close, Ms. Marvel is still stuck in the midst of them, leaving Kamala bearing witness to a cataclysmic planet-to-planet collision while just trying to take care of Jersey City and protect her family. Don’t worry, though, there’s good news.
In Ms. Marvel #16, as the comic drew to a close, the team-up we’ve been hoping for since issue #1 finally was born: Carol goddamn Danvers showed up in Jersey City.
The above panel was pretty much it for #16—had to leave it hanging to keep us hooked, right? Well, the team-upping gets into full swing in #17, and it’s everything we’ve been hoping for all this time.
Carol has apparently only showed up to warn Kamala that Avengers-type help is not going to be forthcoming for Jersey City. Kamala begs her help anyway—not forever, but just for an hour, so that she can at least rescue her brother Aamir, who’s been kidnapped by her evil ex-crush, before the world ends. Carol agrees with reasonably good humor, and they set off to punch some bad guys. On the way, Carol’s impressed with Kamala’s ability to resolve tense situations, as well as with how at home she is in her relatively new powers. Kamala, meanwhile, is blown away that she’s on the radar of plenty of heroes and related organizations—and that they all think she’s pretty great. Kamala’s fangirl personality shines through in an adorable way. She is kind of awkward, but not in a creepy way; she’s just over-excited and enthusiastic, and she actually does a pretty stellar job of keeping her cool. Unfortunately, by the time they finally track down where Aamir’s being kept, it’s too late. Kamran the evil ex-crush has set off the Terrigen Mists in the room where Aamir’s being kept, and there’s no telling what will happen to them when the Mist kicks in.
Carol and Kamala are a cool team, both because Carol is great at in-the-moment coaching Kamala to the best course of action without it seeming preachy or like she’s trying to smush seventeen issues of mentoring into one, and because Kamala is super-receptive to said advice. The saddest scene in the issue is one of these situations—in fact, it’s quite literally about doomed kittens. While hunting for Aamir, she and Carol stumble into the abandoned apartment of someone who had… far too many cats, and who, in light of the impending doom, has left them with everything they need to be comfortable for as long as possible. Kamala wants to try to rescue them, but Carol warns her that sometimes heroes “have to choose between a bad thing and a worse thing”. If she takes the time to save the cats she’ll probably doom her brother, and it sucks, but that’s how it is. It’s a bit of a darker message than we’ve seen so far in Ms. Marvel, but it’s also something that Kamala will need to take to heart if she keeps on heroing.
The artists (Adrian Alphona on lineart and Ian Herring on colors) made a really interesting choice for this particular book, making Carol’s uniform almost monochrome rather than equally as bright and primary-colored as our protagonist’s. It’s still very faintly red, blue, and gold, but the colors have a ton of grey in them. It had a double effect for me. Firstly, it kept the focus on Ms. Marvel. Captain Marvel may be guest-starring, but she isn’t the protagonist any more than Wolverine or Medusa or Loki were when they were around. Secondly, it made Carol look more serious and grown-up, which, well, she obviously is, but it helped hammer home the “yeah, I’m actually a pretty decent role model and generally responsible person” thing that the story was also giving us.
There’s two more issues to the Last Days of Ms. Marvel before this series goes the way of the Marvel multiverse, and it’s going to be hard to say goodbye. While other books’ quality has fluctuated dramatically; while other creative teams have come and gone and other titles have been canceled, Ms. Marvel has, since its first issue, been a delight to read and a feast for the eyes. I hope that whatever happens post-Secret Wars, the character and the comic book continue to be around and get the love and respect they so rightly deserve.