By Marc Strom
After all the work Ms. Marvel put into building her reputation as a hero, you might consider it fortunate that she didn't live long enough to see Moonstone potentially tear it all down.
With Carol Danvers dead, Karla Sofen—formerly the Thunderbolt known as Moonstone—has taken up the title of Ms. Marvel as part of Norman Osborn's Dark Reign. And beginning with MS. MARVEL #38, on sale April 29, Sofen's taking over Carol's ongoing series as well, courtesy of writer Brian Reed and artist Rebekkrah Isaacs.
"The world thinks Karla is Ms. Marvel, so obviously the book needed to reflect that as well," Reed explains of the series' shift in protagonists. "But I didn't want to just do another villain-of-the-month and have Carol dealing with Karla. I wanted to move Karla front and center on the book, and it turned out I had a lot of plot threads going that, if slightly tweaked, would give her the spotlight."
Part of that "tweak" came with Carol Danvers' untimely demise in MS. MARVEL #37, the conclusion to a number of plotlines that Reed had developed over the past year or so.
"Her death was something that came together as I was writing the Ascension story," Reed reveals. "Cru's warning to Carol about bad things to come was something I'd always had planned out, but the plan had always been just to de-power Carol for a bit. When the opportunity arose for Karla to take over the book as the lead, the idea cropped up of getting Carol completely out of the way."
Given Karla's more villainous past, many fans might question how she'll uphold Ms. Marvel's heroic legacy. But according to Reed, Karla doesn't see her new role as all that heroic in the first place.
"She sees the title, and the perks it brings, as a power thing," Reed suggests. "She's selfish and is using this to advance herself in life. There's no interest in being a hero or doing good or turning her life around. Karla isn't wired up in the way that would allow her to realize she needs to turn her life around."
At the same time, however, don't expect Karla to completely revert to her villainous past self—though shades of it may come out nonetheless.
"The game has changed," touts Reed. "Karla knows she's got a good deal going now, and she doesn't want to mess that up. At the same time, she's not a mentally balanced human being and by the second issue of her starring in the title, she's throwing a meteor at Atlanta!"
Comparing the two Ms. Marvels some more, Reed finds that more differences exist between the two than similarities.
"Carol's out there to help, and Karla is out there to help herself," the writer relates. "As far as similarities go, I think it really ends at the power set, and the fact that they both fill out the costume quite nicely. Carol has only ever killed because it served a greater good. Karla will kill just to make her own life easier."
Looking back on Carol's death, Reed feels that even though he could have potentially saved her, it felt too natural of a conclusion to the storyline for him to change it.
"It's always odd to end your time with a character you've gotten used to being with, and you always have that 'you know, you don't have to do this' moment," Reed reflects. "I felt like I'd set things up with the Secret Invasion fight, with her powers on the fritz, and with the idea of her body having this terrible meltdown, so I was able to write the scene without feeling too much like we cheated getting there."
And as Karla continues to settle into her new starring role, Reed hints that some Marvel-ous troubles loom on her horizon.
"[MS. MARVEL] #37 was just the beginning. Starting in issue #42: 'War of the Marvels.' What that title means, we can't talk about just yet, but it's going to be big."
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