Here’s one of the best things about G. Willow Wilson’s MS. MARVEL: she’s a legitimate newcomer to the superhero game who manages to know all about the culture and fangirlism that would naturally exist in a universe where superheroes are not just real, but a part of daily life. So when Kamala Khan delightedly declares that she’s in a Spider-Man Team-Up, it seems like an organic, natural reaction for her to have, rather than the nostalgia-pandering, meta reaction it could have come off as. This team-up emerges after Christos Gage (with a plot credit from Dan Slott) has Ana-Maria do something I always love when Spidey’s supporting cast does: call out his intense martyr complex. “Great responsibility doesn’t mean ALL responsibility” is an excellent sentiment and she even, gently, calls out the fact that Parker’s insistence on stopping every little crime he comes across is a different, certainly more nobly intentioned, version of Doc Ock’s ego. Of course, a real crime begins to interrupt their musings and here’s where Ms. Marvel steps in. I’m often worried about an established character appearing in someone else’s title, especially when it’s a new character with relatively few appearances, but Gage nails Kamala’s boundless enthusiasm as well as her courage. The nods to the Carol Corps are also very welcome. The backup, written by Slott, introduces us to Billy Braddock, both a Spider totem AND Captain Britain and gives us a glimpse of what awaits in Spider-Verse with a tongue-in-cheek look at Morlun’s assault on a kinder, gentler universe. It goes poorly for the denizens of said universe.
Giuseppe Camuncoli provides the pencils for both stories and, as a veteran of Spider-Titles, does a generally great job at displaying the acrobatics and incredible impact that these characters, across the board, are capable of producing. I’m also a big fan of Spider-UK’s design and am always happy to see a new character, even if it’s an extra-dimensional take on two pre-existing ones. Cam Smith handles the inks, drawing the reader’s eye and ensuring that the fine details of the characters and their expressions come to the fore. The first story gives us Antonio Fabela on colors and the brightness of the characters is often effectively highlighted, giving the story a very energetic tone while in the backup, we get Edgar Delgado sharper, darker colors, matching the more disturbing tone of that story.
As much as I enjoy the backup with its new character and check-in with Spider-Verse’s antagonists, I’m of two minds on it: one is that I do take a particularly gleeful delight in seeing things with generally whimsical tones brought into darkness (though the reversal of that trope is equally, if not more, delightful) but at the end of the day, I’m not sure I needed to see an adorable animalverse or Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends get massacred. It somehow manages to be both extremely silly (especially with the association to Marvel UK) and NEEDLESSLY brutal.
The colors in the main story, while being extremely bright, aren’t terribly crisp, which ultimately detracts from the brightness. At first I thought it was a printing error, but if it is, it’s happening across multiple titles and it mutes the issue in a way that doesn’t suit the tone.
It’s refreshing, after a large build-up and delivery of new supervillain(s) to get a nice, quick story with a relatively small cast and an extremely welcome teamup from Ms. Marvel. The two characters work amazingly (pun intended) well together, and I honestly hope this isn’t the last we see of her and Spidey’s adventures. What I’m also hoping for is more followup on what Ana-Maria was saying to Peter as I think it’d be a great, subtle development to his character. We don’t need a total system overhaul (though SUPERIOR SPIDEY was fun while it lasted), but a small change here and there would go a long way. Oh and the acknowledgement of Spidey and Carol Danvers' odd, abbreviated romance was another thing I truly appreciated.