krisis's Ms. Marvel #20 - Puppets, Part 3 review

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Full of flaws and flat characters

An awful issue full of plot holes, bad dialog, and helpless women. Per usual, Arana is the only character that can fend for herself.

Story & Script
The writing in this issue is inexcusably terrible

Yes, Puppet Master is a one-note villain, but his retirement plan of selling woman (and the incidental man) into human slavery is disgusting without any redeeming narrative depth. Also, he contradicts himself – first claiming he's not at fault for anything, but later intimating he planned the whole ordeal just so he could blow up some superheroes. Sure, he's delusional, but I think that's just bad writing.

Ms. Marvel is as useless as ever – twice letting the unpowered Puppet Master slip from her grasp, and twice needing her Smurf-colored invulnerability to survive a fight. Par for the course, Reed writes her an an improviser with no plan other than swinging hard and hoping for the best.

Meanwhile, scripting goofs abound. Machine Man has Arana in his grip, so when Sleepwalker evaporates why is she suddenly freed? Moments later, Arana is equipped with a machete - from where? 
 
And why should we suddenly believe Arana thinks of Carol as a mother? Maybe a cool aunt or older sister, but Reed hasn't played up the maternal vibe in the slightest over the past twenty issues.  At the end of the issue, how does Carol go from being incredulous about her personal transmission to knowing that the return pings are coming from low earth orbit?
 
Most egregious, was Carol really confident enough that all of the dozens of puppet people escaped that she'd let Masters destroy the compound?

Reed even fails on the previously delightful Machine Man – both quips he gets in are more hateful and shallow than bitingly funny.

Artwork
Greg Horn's cover is pretty cool – though Ms. Marvel looks like she's traced out of a Britney Spears video, the execution of the Puppet Master's puppet box is superior. He's incredibly evocative of A Clockwork Orange, all the creepier for clenching a photo-realistic set of teeth.

Fill-in penciler Greg Tocchini wasn't ready for prime time. There's no remarkable art inside this issue aside from a single page of Ms. Marvel emerging from the fiery remains of Puppet Master's house. Otherwise, Ms. Marvel only looks like herself a handful of times, which take over half the issue to arrive. Several panels lack fine detail. At the end Beast is distorted and out of scale.

Also, most of the story errors above could have easily been artistic errors. 

Bottom Line
This issue is awful. You would do better to leave the resolution of the Puppet Master plot up to your imagination.

Brian Reed has presented a balanced female title character to this point, but it's going to be hard to trust him after this stupidly-exploitative and full-of-holes plot.

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