By: Kelly Sue DeConnick (story), Emma Rios (art), Àlvaro López (inks), Jordie Bellaire (colors)

The Story: Three may be company, but three Captain Marvels are disaster.

The Review: I admired DeConnick’s decision in last month’s issue to throw caution to the wind and allow Carol the freedom to meddle with the past as needed, without too much hand-wringing over it.  What I failed to think of at the time was the consequences of all that interference.  Here you have DeConnick not only using her powers to help Helen out of a jam, but dragging her through the time-stream with her.  Surely that’s got to have a major impact down the line?

As it turns out, the integrity of time-space must be made of fairly stern stuff because once all the flashy sci-fi effects die down, we find ourselves and Carol returned to the status quo she left behind.  I guess it’d be too much to think that DeConnick would actually depower our heroine early on in her own book, but to have Carol sidle back into her life, with absolutely nothing amiss after everything she did to muck with the past?  That feels a bit like a cop-out, frankly.

This particular choice of ending also short-changes the fate of Helen and her personal storyline.  Once she makes her final appearance, you’re left with a long moment of uncertainty about what exactly happened to her.  Are we to assume that she’s been abandoned to the outer reaches of time and space, never to return to her hold life of being a lady flyer?  The note left for Carol in the plane doesn’t provide answers, and ultimately, Helen’s life post-time travel stays a mystery.

I’m willing to give DeConnick the benefit of the doubt and chalk whatever confusion I have to my jumping onto this series midway.  I will say, however, that unlike a lot of titles, where I’ve had no problem getting up to speed and figuring out what’s what despite late entry, there are quite a few things completely lost on me in this issue.

Obviously, Carol has some undoubtedly and deeply touching connection to the frail but sassy (“Oh, hell.  [The doctors] don’t know their asses from their elbows.”) Tracy Burke, but I have no idea what it is.  That same sassiness actually made me mistake Tracy for Helen for a short while, but even after figuring that mix-up out, I still have no idea what her relevance to the plot is.  In the end, I just had to accept Tracy’s appearance for the sentimental side-event it is.

I was also surprised to discover at this late stage of the arc that Carol has had an intense internal conflict all this time.  Did anyone else know that Carol suffered from too much power?  Me neither.  But Helen calls attention to Carol’s constant repression, hinting there’s a part of our hero that wants nothing more to just be who she is, “[o]n your own merits, no powers, no pressure, no time travel…you get to live your life same as anybody else.  Just you.”

Above all else, I found least convincing the message DeConnick thinks we should get out of all this.  Helen’s validation of Carol means to validate her in our eyes also, but you remain a bit doubtful that all this time-traveling business has proven anything about Captain Marvel other than she’s a competent, well-intentioned hero.  For her to remark cockily, “I’m the best,” seems a bit of a stretch that makes you less inclined to feel the same.

Rios again delivers strong, suitable art.  It has a wonderful old-school quality that fits the Silver Age setting of Carol’s origins to a tee.  At the same time, the loose and graceful way lines bend and swerve under Rios’ hand gives the art a fresh, contemporary feel instead of just being pure homage, in addition to just looking more dynamic across the board.  Rios makes good use of hatching to indicate force and impact, giving Carol’s punches more…punch.  Bellaire layers all the time-travel scenes with a golden tint that recalls the brighter era in which they take place, while Mount Sinai receives a sterile blue wash that emphasizes the bleak hospital atmosphere.

Conclusion: There are a lot of assumptions going on here and the satisfaction Captain Marvel feels at the end is mostly unearned, but otherwise a well-written and well-rendered issue.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Okay, this is going to be cheap and gross, but the panel of Captain Marvel, nose bleeding, exclaiming with pained expression, “It throbs with heat…light…as if to explode!”—well, I think that speaks for itself, doesn’t it?