CAPTAIN MARVEL #8

By: Kelly Sue DeConnick & Christopher Sebela (story), Dexter Soy (art), Veronica Gandini (colors)

The Story: Two cosmic heroes versus a walking pile of rusting wreckage.  Overkill, no?

The Review: If you want to know the truth, I don’t much like the obligatory battle sequences in superhero comics.  At the end of the day, they make a limited contribution to the actual story and for a reviewer, you can’t really say anything about them except whether they’re exciting or not.  They tend to be more of a showcase for artists than for the writing.  But of all battle sequences, the ones I most particularly dislike are those involving giant robots.

Blasphemy—I know!  In my defense, I do love those scenes a whole lot more in a big, splashy film with tons of CGI and where the sequence can last for as much as five mind-blowing minutes.  In a comic, it mostly boils down to the heroes fruitlessly blasting away at the mindless automaton until they figure out some way to either (a) shut down its operating system or (b) blow it up all at once.  And that’s pretty much how Carol and Monica spend most of this issue.

I don’t know about anyone else, but watching our heroines alternating between attacking the robot and getting smacked around by it grows a trifle dull after a while.  DeConnick-Sebela try to spice things up with some lively chatter (“Is robotomy a word?  It really oughta be.”), but it just becomes white noise after a while, the comic-book answer to a heart-thumping soundtrack—and it’s not much of an answer, really.

Another problem with these robot scenes is they often fail to produce any real suspense.  You never once believe Monica and Carol’s lives are in peril.  What—do Deconnick-Sebela truly think they can convince us that either one of the women may die in this issue by the hands of a massive golem made of sunken planes and boats? There’s just too much inherent comedy in that to allow for a proper superhero’s death, as Monica recognizes: “Getting smooshed by a robot.  That’s just an undignified way to go.”

I’m also not moved by Monica apparently getting her groove back in this issue, partly because I barely know her enough to care that she ever had such a fear of water, partly because she seems to get over her hang-up instantaneously and painlessly (“I am back, baby!  Monica is back!”).  Good for her and all that, but color me nonplussed.

Unfortunately, the big robot issue fails to accomplish the one thing that would’ve made the whole experience worth it: bump off Frank Gianelli in some way.  As much as I like the gender-reversal of the usual hero-journalist relationship, Frank doesn’t have much personality to speak of, other than shrill bossiness in a crisis (“Don’t let go!”  “Put me down and get back in the fight!”  “Hey, Carol—one more thing…kick its ass.”).  His own use in the battle is simply as a handy cipher providing the key to defeating the robot.  Frankly—heh heh—I don’t care for him, and I hope Carol finds a better object of affection, Monica’s insinuations notwithstanding.

Soy does a fine job on the issue, making everyone and everything look as attractive as can be, especially once Gandini’s literally sparkling colors splash onto the page.  I don’t suppose these big robot sequences lend themselves to much artistic riskiness, but that’s exactly what such sequences need to not be generic and bland, and Soy does not provide this.  Overall, it’s an entirely inoffensive-looking issue, but not a dynamic one.

Conclusion: A filler arc if I’ve ever seen one, and one without much fun, given the lameness of the enemy, the lackluster interaction of the characters, and one very annoying love interest.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – This just tells you how out-of-the-loop I am where Marvel continuity is concerned.  I was somewhat taken aback by the ad for Wolverine and the X-Men #24, as I thought Storm was still hitched to Black Panther.  Honestly, her and Wolverine would be the real Power Couple of the Marvel U.

Grade

Conclusion