Ms. Marvel (2nd series) #26

Issue Date: 
June 2008
Story Title: 

Brian Reed (writer), Adriana Melo (penciler), Mariah Benes (inkers), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), Joe Sabino (production), Thomas Brennan (asst. editor), Stephen Wacker (editors), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Greg Horn (cover art)

Brief Description: 

Agent Sum’s history is ancient China is revealed, deepening the mystery of Carol’s right-hand man. Sum tries to bring Carol in, thinking she is a Skrull agent. Ms. Marvel evades his attacks which are bolstered by the rest of Carol’s team: Machine Man and Sleepwalker. Carol defeats them all and is prepared to flee when her Skrull impersonator arrives. They are both captured which gives Carol a chance to sort things out. When Agent Sum questions her, she realizes that something is fishy and questions him about his true identity. She realizes he is a Skrull as well and attacks. The real Agent Sum arrives and together, he and Ms. Marvel battle the impostor who is revealed to be the Super-Skrull Ms. Marvel fought earlier. She and her team kill Rl’nnd in front of the Skrull impersonating Ms. Marvel. The Skrull reveals her true form and bargains for her life by offering to help Carol find her boyfriend, William Wagner who is truly a Kree agent captured by the Skrull invasion force.

Full Summary: 

Nanjing, China – 1368:

A pair of Mongolian warriors rides through a Chinese town on horseback. One of the men calls to the villagers to be gone and clear out “my streets”. A defiant voice tells him “These streets will not be yours for long, Mongolian dog!” The Mongolian soldier turns and says “Someone seeks a quick death”, a menacing smile on his lips. The voice replies “Indeed. I seek yours!” A huge spear pierces the Mongol warrior’s chestplate and knocks him from his horse. Before the other warrior can react, the unseen man kicks him across the face and recovers his spear. His defiant Chinese attacker is revealed to be Agent Sum. He tells the Mongolian to return to Kublai Khan and inform him that Zhu Yuanzhang has declared that his time in China is at an end. The battered Mongolian asks “Agent Sum” if he is Zhu Yuanzhang. Sum replies that he is but the sword that Zhu Yuanzhang wields, the sword that will pierce Kublai Khan’s heart.
The Present:

As Agent Sum approaches her with his gun drawn, Ms. Marvel thinks to herself that she is one of only three people who know the truth about him, where he’s from and how dangerous he can be. She begins to tell him that he doesn’t understand and he repeats his order to her: “Put your hands in the air”. Carol adds that he also just insinuated that she was a Skrull. He ignores her comment and begins counting down from three. She yells at him to “stand down this instant” and ignites her fists with cascading energy but he continues to count. She shouts that this is a murder scene as he reaches “one” and fires on her. She dodges the shot and blasts him into a wall. She takes a second to wonder why he would think she’s a Skrull and then remembers that her boyfriend William Wagner is lying dead on his bed.
She has no time to mourn as Agent Sum recovers quickly. He fires several rounds at Ms. Marvel as she flies about the room. Her whole world has been turned upside down and she tries to think it all through while escaping from Agent Sum. She thinks back on her discovery of a Super-Skrull with the powers of several X-Men. Then finding William Wagner murdered in his own apartment followed by Agent Sum’s attack. She bursts through a wall and is hit hard from above by Machine Man, driving her into the floor. He grins and says “Job ssssssatisfaction!”
Carol is surprised to be attacked by yet another member of her team and calls out “Aaron!?!” as she blasts him away. Carol evades his return fire and flies away, only to run into Sleepwalker down the hall. He employs his warp gaze to encase Ms. Marvel in metal and wires. She tries to tell him to back off and that they have the wrong idea about everything. Carol bursts free from her bonds and realizes that he only way that Agent Sum could have mobilized her Lightning Storm team without her authorization is if Tony Stark himself approved this action. As Sum and Aaron catch up to her, it dawns on her that if Tony thinks she’s a Skrull, then no where will be safe. Sum orders her to surrender and Machine Man voices his hope that she doesn’t so he can shoot at her some more. Carol smashes through a wall and flies away. Aaron tells Agent Sum that he can chase her and Sum tells him to go.
Carol lands on a rooftop where she lands to take a moment to think. She is instantly overwhelmed by all that has transpired over the last few minutes. She thinks about the gravity of Tony Stark believing she’s a Skrull. She considers phoning Tony and then remembers William and the revelation that he may have been a Kree. As she’s weighing all this, Aaron catches up to her. He asks Carol if she knows why he agreed to join Operation: Lightning Storm. He tells her that he did it in exchange for a Life Model Decoy of Monica Rambeau, leader of the last team he served on. Aaron asked that the LMD be programmed to cry all the time because he found it amusing. However, he’s just decided that hearing a Skrull scream would be even funnier. Whirling blades spring from his chest and he smiles sadistically. “So scream, little Skrull thing. Scream.” he says as he approaches her.
Carol dodges the blades and tells him emphatically “I’m not a Skrull!” He replies that this is “Exactly what a Skrull would say!” after which Ms. Marvel punches him so hard his head pops off. He says drolly “Uncalled for” as his body continues to attack. Ms. Marvel asks why anyone would think that she was a Skrull. Aaron replies that he didn’t ask as that might have “stopped the violence from happening”. He reattaches his head as Ms. Marvel grabs him and pulls him close. She tells him to take a message to Tony Stark: “I am not a Skrull! If there is a Skrull on Earth impersonating me, I will find it and kill it.” She then asks that while she is doing that that he try to find out who killed William Wagner. She reveals that she fought a Skrull with the powers of the X-Men earlier that day and that is claimed to have smelled a Kree and she thinks it meant William. She rips Aaron’s head off and kicks him with such force that it snaps his body in half. She screams at him “Tell Stark! Tell him!”
At that moment, A voice from behind asks “And why would Aaron tell Stark you were the real Ms. Marvel?” Carol turns as an exact duplicate of her attacks screaming “You’re nothing but a dirty Skrull!” The second Ms. Marvel punches the first and tells her to “Stay down!” as the Minicarrier arrives with a battalion of armored SHIELD “cape-killers”. Carol thinks to herself that she’d like nothing better than to slug this one out until the bitter end. However, she realizes that if she lets the situation play itself out it may straighten this mess up completely. Agent Sum emerges and orders his team of troops to secure them both. The newly arrived duplicate smiles and says “Good to see you, Agent Sum” to which Carol replies “Shut the $#@* up, ya Skrull!” Both Ms. Marvels raise their hands to surrender.
The Skrull Ms. Marvel begins to offer her full cooperation to Sum who curtly orders them both to remain silent. Sum turns to Machine Man, whose body is knitting itself back together but whose head is still detached and asks if he’s okay. Aaron dryly replies “Of course, why do you ask?” As they make their way onto the Minicarrier, Carol thinks to herself that her Skrull impersonator is playing it cool and doing just the right things to keep the others off-guard.
Agent Sum lifts Machine Man’s head so he can look the two Ms. Marvels over and asks which one he was fighting. He indicates the real Ms. Marvel and Agent Sum removes her sash to help in keeping the two distinct. He then orders them taken to the brig and kept under constant “eyes on” observation. As the troops usher into the Minicarrier, no one notices a large Skrull join them on the rooftop and assumes the form of a SHIELD cape-killer. Carol herself is relieved at the situation. The way she sees it, she’ll be able to prove the veracity of her identity and they’ll have a Skrull in custody. Even better, this means she won’t have to escape and live as a fugitive while trying to prove her innocence.
Carol is kept imprisoned with the Skrull for over an hour. At that time, agents come and escort her away. The Skrull Ms. Marvel smiles and waves daintily. Carol thinks to herself that she’d die of shame if she ever did that. She is taken to her living quarters which are in shambles from the Minicarrier’s recent attack by Cru followed by the Brood… an apt metaphor for the state of Carol’s life at the moment. Agent Sum is there waiting and tells her that she and her double are identical to all possible medical scans, yet one of them is definitely a Skrull. Carol asks if this is why he’s hanging out in her trashed bedroom. He tells her that he needed to see her away from the other Ms. Marvel so that they can talk. Carol tells him she’s eager to prove her identity and get on with things.
He begins with simple questions like her name, then she asks what his name is. Carol asks if he means the name everyone knows him by or his true name. Sum seems a bit surprised and says “Excuse me?” Carol goes on to tell him his real name and that he was born in 1320 in China. He brushes this level of detail off and suggests that the Skrulls must have hacked SHIELD’s files. Carol tosses back at him that his records are so sensitive that they exist only on paper and questions how a Skrull would have accessed those.
Sum changes direction and asks for Carol’s command code to the Minicarrier’s computers. Carol stays on track in questioning him and proceeds to tell him more of his ancient history. Sum glares at her and again asks for her command code. She shoots back a question of her own “Who gave you that scar?” Again, Sum demands her command codes. Ms. Marvel replies “You don’t know my command code to be able to verify it.” He replies “Is that a fact? You might be surprised at what I know.” Carol glares at him and asks “How many are on my ship?” Sum says “Excuse me?” and she continues “Skrulls. There’s the one on the brig that looks like me. And there’s you.”
Ms. Marvel moves quickly, using the power draining gauntlets around her wrists as a blunt weapon to clock “Agent Sum”. She calls to the guards to remove her restraints and tells them that Agent Sum has been replaced by a Skrull. “Sum” rubs his chin and orders that Carol be taken back to the cell and that the guards bring him the other Ms. Marvel immediately. As the guards pull Carol away she hesitates and wonders if she was wrong about Sum, thinking that if he were a Skrull he’d have retaliated. But as she’s being led out, Agent Sum walks in the door. As Carol realizes that there are two Agent Sums, the Skrull reveals his true identity: Rl’nnd…the Super-Skrull possessing the powers of the X-Men! Rl’nnd declares “Glory to the Empire!” and Carol feels vindicated now that she knows she was correct. She demands that they remove her power restraints before another alien destroys her home.
Elsewhere on the Minicarrier, Aaron is reconnecting with his Life Model Decoy of Monica Rambeau, which recently served as a temporary body for him after his original form sustained massive damage at the hands of Cru. He puts her head back on and she begins to whine and carry on as she was programmed to. “I used to the lead the Avengers! And now I’m trapped here with you! Trapped forever! ... WAAAAAA!” Aaron smiles and says that it feels like home again. He then demands that she tell him “how hard it is to resist my sexy robot body“ but he is cut off as Carol slams Rl’nnd through the wall.
In his quarters, Rick Sheridan awakes and is disoriented from having “overslept” thanks to the device that sedates him so that Sleepwalker can remain active when needed. Rick realizes that Sleepwalker hardly tells him anything these days and he’s feeling out of the loop on his alter ego’s activities. He hears a rumble that precedes Ms. Marvel and Rl’nnd smashing into the room from below. The impact knocks Rick against a wall.
In the brig, the Skrull Ms. Marvel tries to convince the guards to release her. The battle makes its way there and Ms. Marvel, Sleepwalker, Agent Sum and Aaron all converge on Rl’nnd at once. Carol orders them to use lethal force. As Rl’nnd is killed, the Skrull impersonating Carol calls out his name and transforms into her Skrull form. The genuine Ms. Marvel turns on her angrily and says “I’m sorry. Did I kill your boyfriend? I can’t imagine what that like.” The Skrull female is surprised and asks if she was the Kree man’s lover. Carol asks her if the man she killed tonight was truly a Kree. The Skrull assumes William’s face and confirms that he was a Kree but informs Carol that he is not dead. She confesses that she posed as him to convince Ms. Marvel that he had been killed. The Skrull tells her that they have imprisoned him and that she will tell her where if she agrees to spare her life.

Characters Involved: 

Ms. Marvel
Agent Sum, Machine Man, Rick Sheridan, Sleepwalker (all Operation: Lightning Storm)
Rl’nnd and the unnamed Skrull impersonating Ms. Marvel
SHIELD “Cape-killers”
In flashback:

Hui Lin (Agent Sum)
Mongol warriors

Story Notes: 

Rl’nnd appears to have the powers of Colossus, Cyclops, Wolverine and Nightcrawler. He is the son of Rm’twr, a Skrull agent who was killed and dishonored by Carol Danvers shortly before she became Ms. Marvel. Both Skrulls first appeared in MS. MARVEL (2nd series) #25.
Machine Man’s fixation with Monica Rambeau developed when they served together on the Nextwave team. Monica had a habit of reminding her teammates that she once led the Avengers, which she did from AVENGERS #279 through AVENGERS #293. She was forced to end her stint as the Avengers’ chairwoman after she nearly died battling Prince Namor’s alien wife, Marrina who had transformed into a gigantic and rampaging Leviathan.
Carol found William Wagner dead in his apartment in MS. MARVEL (2nd series) #25. She did not learn until the final page of this issue that he is alive and that the corpse she discovered was truly a Skrull impersonator.

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