Ms. Marvel (2nd series) #21

Issue Date: 
January 2008
Story Title: 
Monster and Marvel – Part 1

Brian Reed (writer), Aaron Lopresti (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), Thomas Brennan (asst. editors), Steve Wacker (editors), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Greg Horn (cover art)

Brief Description: 

Ms. Marvel battles Cru and is defeated! When Agent Sum and Machine Man try to help, they end up taking some serious hits as well! Sum miraculously recovers from having his entire upper body vaporized, while Machine Man mounts his head atop an LMD body in Monica Rambeau’s likeness. Anya and Simon are on hand to help in trying to find Ms. Marvel. Carol meets Cru and sees her true alien form. The two share a rapport due to pieces of Cru’s “repair protocols” that latched onto Carol during their initial encounter. Cru has taken them to Monster Island to try and separate them once and for all. Carol resists and finds herself alone and powerless on the island filled with creatures. She survives with a little help from Cru and after a further explanation, agrees to work with Cru to end their conjoined existence. However, they are not alone on Monster Island which has been claimed by the Brood!

Full Summary: 

Carol finds herself on the ground after being taken from her Minicarrier by the alien called Cru. She transforms into her Ms. Marvel costume as she wonders how Cru survived their last encounter.
Cru fires a laser blast at Ms. Marvel but she manages to dodge it. As they fight, Carol’s cell phone rings. The message is from William Wagner who has finally called Carol back. He admits to dodging her calls and tells her that it’s a long story. He tells Carol about his meeting with Sarah Day and mentions the “Daily Bugle” thing. Carol doesn’t know exactly what he’s referring to. He ends the message by saying that he doesn’t want to do this on the phone so he’ll call back.
As she listens to the message, Carol punches Cru and then hits it with a blast of energy. As she pummels it with a blazing sofa, the phone rings again. She thinks it must be William but it’s actually Wonder Man.
He acknowledges that she asked him for some space but tells her that he misses her. He asks her to give him a call and also notes that they have some “Daily Bugle stuff” to talk about. Carol still doesn’t know what the Daily Bugle has to do with all this. She dodges yet another blast from Cru but is caught by one of its tentacles. Cru pulls Ms. Marvel close and “speaks” to her, “You have something of mine.” Carol is surprised to realize that Cru speaks telepathically… with a woman’s voice!
Agent Sum emerges from the Minicarrier and races towards Carol. Carol herself cannot move and can only hear her phone ringing once again. This time the call is from her publicist, Sarah Day who gripes that she can never reach Carol when she needs to.
She leaves a message regarding J. Jonah Jameson’s recent headlines targeting her. She let’s Carol know that they are headed into “one hell of a storm” and they need to meet to prepare for it. She asks Carol to call her as soon as possible. Agent Sum charges Cru who forms a gun from her arm and fires on him. The blast hits him in the face and vaporizes him from the waist up! Machine Man arrives just in time to see Agent Sum fall. He tells Cru that it’s “Time to die.”
Cru fires at Aaron who deftly dodges it. He then manifests a gun from his own arm and shoots Cru, telling her that while she is impressive he is more impressive. Cru recovers quickly and forms a blade with one of her arms. She uses it to cut Aaron in half! Cru then gathers up Carol and flies away.
Agent Sum miraculously re-grows the upper half of his body! Machine Man asks how it’s possible he is still alive and Sum does not answer. Instead, he asks Machine Man if he is okay. Machine Man reminds him that his name is Aaron and comments that he has suffered worse indignities than this. He tells Sum that there is clearly something that he has not shared with them about himself.
Sum changes the subject quickly and tells Aaron that Cru has taken Ms. Marvel. He lifts Aaron’s torso and heads to the ship to assess the damage. Aaron tells him to get his head onto a new body so he can help. Sum tells him that they don’t have any spare robot bodies and Aaron suggests they use the LMD that he was given as a “signing bonus” as an incentive to join Operation: Lightning Storm. Sum races down the corridor with Aaron’s severed torso.
Carol is floating unconscious in orbit around an alien planet surrounded by strange vessels. She begins to plummet towards the surface as a voice makes contact, identifies her and orders her to wake. She rouses and tries to figure out where she is. She realizes she is falling and tries to change into her costume only to find that she can’t! She also cannot fly.
The voice tells her that she is being shown what happened and that this is for Carol Danvers not Ms. Marvel. Carol tells the voice that she is Ms. Marvel and that it’s simply a costume. The voice asks how she leads the life she does and believes that to be true. Carol lands unceremoniously in an alien river. She comes up coughing up water and mud.
The voice urges her to relax. Carol makes her way to the banks of the river where he is greeted by a blue female alien with silvery dreadlocks and tentacles forming her lower body from the waist down. The alien woman welcomes her to her world in broken English. She introduces herself as Cru! Carol is shocked to find that this is the same being that attacked her. Cru tries to explain that there has been some miscommunication. Carol raises her arms and tries to fire a blast of energy at Cru with no effect at all.
She asks Cru what she has done to her powers. In her limited language, Cru replies that several things have been “taken offline” while their bodies are being repaired. She shares with Carol that their “constructs” were intertwined in more ways than she anticipated and that removing them is impossible without damage to both of them. She assures Carol that she will be stronger than before when this process is complete but questions if this is a good thing given her questionable decisions in recent weeks.
Carol complains that listening to Cru is making her head hurt but Cru persists. Cur explains that her speech patterns are off because of Carol’s own knowledge of various languages. She makes further analyzes the available information in Carol’s mind and adjusts her linguistic output accordingly. Carol realizes that Cru is in her head and Carol is incensed by this. She tells Cru that she tried to kill her in their initial encounter and nearly destroyed the planet! Cru tries to explain that she made some mistakes but Carol simply demands that she get out of her head. Cru tries to explain the danger of breaking their link but Carol insists.
She wakes up in a jungle and wonders how she got there from New York. Her wounds from her most recent tussle with Cru have healed. Cru is lying next to her in her more alien form. In the distance, Carol hears a roar and tries to transform into her Ms. Marvel costume. There is no effect and she realizes that she doesn’t have access to her powers. She hears heavy footsteps heading her way. At that moment, the trees above her part to reveal an enormous, rocky monster! She immediately realizes where she is: Monster Island! However, she has no clue how she came to be there.
On the Minicarrier, Araña is looking for Carol’s cat Chewie in the wake of Cru’s assault on the Minicarrier. She has no luck finding Chewie and is dismayed that both Carol and her cat are missing. She makes her way to the bridge where Agent Sum is assisting Machine Man in connecting with his new body. She is shocked to see Aaron’s head attached to the body of a female LMD that’s wearing Monica Rambeau’s original Captain Marvel costume!
Anya is shocked by his appearance and asks if it’s a joke. He tells her that it is not and that someday, when she is a woman he will have valuable female wisdom to impart. Anya is confused by all this and Agent Sum tells her that it is a long story. Sum looks at a view screen where a SHIELD agent informs him that Director Stark is unavailable. Sum confirms that he provided the Avengers emergency codes and the female agent reiterates that Tony Stark is unavailable. Sum gets angry and repeats that they have been attacked by an alien life form and that Ms. Marvel is missing and they need Iron Man’s help.
From behind Sum, a voice says “I can help”. It’s Wonder Man! He tells them he came as soon as he heard about the attack. Araña gives him a big hug and he asks where Carol is. Anya tells him that they don’t know. Agent Sum asks if any other Avengers will be responding and Simon explains that something is going on at the moment and all the Avengers’ emergency codes have been changed. He adds that if Agent Sum used an older code it may have made SHIELD a bit edgy. Sum asks why and Wonder Man avoids answering and tells him that it’s top secret. Sum is none too happy to hear this. Simon reminds him that finding Carol is their priority right now.
Carol is fighting for her life on Monster Island against a big, red monster with four arms and very, very sharp claws. She is managing to hold her own using only her fighting skills since her powers are still not working. She thinks to herself that she never thought she’d die like this. She gets a good kick in and makes a run for it. The creature pursues and as she looks back, she doesn’t realize that she’s about to run down a steep hill. She loses her balance and tumbles down it, crying out “Ow! Ow! Ow!” as she goes. The monster lunges at her and she uses her feet and its momentum to propel it into a nearby tree where it is impaled on a sharp branch.
No sooner has she defeated this thing than another monster lumbers out of the jungle. This one is large and grey and wearing some sort of armored costume. It groans “Zrreeeeg!” as it moves to attack. Just as he moves forward, Cru arrives and calls out to Carol. She pushes Cru away and cru slices the approaching monster in half with a bladed tentacle. Cru tells Carol that if she separates the parts of them that are intertwined they will both be stronger but if she does not, they will remain as they are: Carol powerless and Cru unable to alter her form. Cru reaches out to Carol and says that they can die together or join forces and survive. She leaves the decision to Carol who hesitates a moment before reaching out for Cru’s hand.
As they touch, there is a spark of light. Carol finds herself inside Cru’s mind. They are in a memory of Cru’s homeworld as it looked before the brood attacked. Cru tells Carol that it is good that she realizes their link is mutual and that this will help facilitate the repairs to their bodies. Carol comments that part of Cru was inside her.
Cru confirms that some of her repair and rebuild protocols were left with Carol after their first encounter. Carol notes how technological the word “protocol” sounds and asks if most of Cru is organic. Cru explains that to her people there is no real distinction between organic and technological as they are both. The sky lights up with a meteor shower and Carol tells Cru that it’s beautiful. Cru tells her that this is the end of her world… the coming of the Brood.
She explains that this is the same fate that awaits Earth and that she came there to try and prevent it. Carol says that she nearly destroyed the planet to stop those few Brood. Cru clarifies that there was a second pod that night and that she had to choose which to pursue. She chose the wrong one and took more drastic measures when she realized her mistake.
Carol makes the connection and figures out that the second pod is here with them on Monster Island. Cru tells her that it was not just any pod but that it carried a brood Queen who is determined to spread the Brood across the cosmos once more. Cru had planned to have their bodies repaired before she found them but that Carol’s initial resistance has cost them precious time. Cru hopes that she has time to do what needs to be done to their bodies before the Brood finds them. As she says this to Carol, their bodies sit unprotected in a trance-like state. Their arms are joined at the forearms as their bodies work to separate fully from each other. Unbeknownst to them, they are not alone or safe. They are surrounded by a swarm of Brood!

Characters Involved: 

Ms. Marvel
Aaron Stack/Machine Man, Sleepwalker, Agent Sum and other unnamed operatives (All Operation: Lightning Storm)
Wonder Man
Monsters on Monster Island
Via computer screen:

Unnamed SHIELD agent

Story Notes: 

Ms. Marvel first encountered Cru in MS. MARVEL (2nd series) #2. During their fight, Cru sliced through Carol’s arm. It was this injury that inadvertently led to a transfer of Cru’s repair protocols to Carol’s body. These repair protocols have been actively healing Carol ever since. Most notably, they helped save her from infection by the Targoths in MS. MARVEL (2nd series) #12, from the mutagenic effects of the G-TAC Scrambler in MS. MARVEL (2nd series) #17 and from the Puppet Master’s control in MS. MARVEL (2nd series) #20.
Monica Rambeau is the former Avenger known as Captain Marvel, Photon and most recently Pulsar. Rambeau served as the field leader of the Nextwave team that Aaron was most recently affiliated with. Exactly why Machine Man would request a simulacrum of his former team leader as a sign-on bonus is probably best left to the imaginations of the individual reader.
The first monster that Carol encounters on Monster Island is similar to many of the monsters designed by Jack Kirby in the early days of his career at Marvel. This is likely a deliberate homage to Kirby whose earliest depictions of Monster Island date back to FANTASTIC FOUR #1!

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