CAPTAIN MARVEL #9

By: Kelly Sue DeConnick (story), Filipe Andrade (art), Jordie Bellaire (colors)

The Story: It’s getting harder for a superhero to find good cat-care in this town.

The Review: Though I don’t often engage in the “Who does what better, Marvel or DC?” debate, I have to say that one thing Marvel writers tend to do consistently well as compared to their DC counterparts is play up the superheroes’ core personalities and their civilian lives.  Granted, DC’s actually in the middle of rediscovering their heroes’ inner lives right now, but I’d say even before the relaunch, they’ve had this general shortcoming.

Case in point: I don’t remember the last time I read a DC comic that opened on its title character drinking coffee in their PJs in their apartment.  I think this kind of thing is extremely important for the superhero genre.  If we ever want to take these people seriously beyond their costumes and powers, writers need to humanize them, so when they react to the craziness in their lives, we can appreciate those reactions.

It helps that like her husband, Matt Fraction, DeConnick has a great knack for contemporary dialogue that sounds both natural and quirky, revealing the contours of the speaker’s personality.  Tony Stark calls up Carol and informs her he’s taken the liberty of having Pepper Potts making some changes to Carol’s schedule: “…I took the liberty of sending your revised schedule for the day to print.  Should be waiting for you now.”

“Blargh.”

This exchange also reveals another Marvel strength: the clearly established relationships among the characters.  In contrast to DC, where many heroes are still developing their relationships with each other (and many have yet even to meet), you know exactly the dynamic between Tony and Carol versus that between Tony and Jessica Drew.  You can easily believe there’s a real and substantial history among them, and that’s another way of making them seem more human.

That’s particularly important when the plot itself gets on the edges of superhero ridiculousness, as it must whenever dinosaurs are inexplicably thrown into the story.  Strangely enough, I find these moments far easier to process than the random lines that DeConnick will suddenly turn into a big deal, like Carol’s headache turning out to be—spoiler alert—“a lesion in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of your brain” which makes all flight (superpowered or otherwise) a big no-no.  It’s very sudden and soapy, and not very well set up.  It really does feel like one of those out-of-nowhere cliffhanger revelations you get in the last two seconds of Korean dramas.

I really question the appropriateness of putting Andrade’s art to work on this title.  If you look at previous issues of Captain Marvel, Carol’s been portrayed as well-built, athletic, and strong, with a very clear military bent.  So Andrade’s attempts to make Carol out as a glam-girl with doe eyes, ample lips, and flowing hair very much feels out of place.  Frankly, much as his anime style suits the rampaging dinos part of the story, it looks rather ridiculous everywhere else, even with Bellaire’s lively colors.

Conclusion: An entertaining piece of filler that gets derailed at the last minute by a plot twist that no one saw coming, in a not-so-great way—much like an actual train derailment.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: - As a feminist response to the typical damsel-in-distress archetype, Frank Gianelli is sort of interesting from a fictional criticism perspective, but really, he’s about as dull and annoying as any damsel in distress: a cypher to drag our hero into trouble and to deliver some exposition by turns.  He might as well wear a pillbox hat and tell the villains they’ll be sorry just before Carol shows up to beat them all to a pulp.

Grade

Conclusion


6 Responses

  1. Paladin King says:

    I am firmly in the “that art is so, so bad” camp. People can make the “style” defence all they want: Andrade’s morphing and often sub-human faces and his gumby-like anatomy are unforgivable. Bellaire’s amazing colours try their damndest, but there’s no salvaging this visual turd.

    • Minhquan Nguyen says:

      Yeah, I was not a fan. I gave it a slight pass just because this is a lighter issue, but even in those circumstances, I didn’t think Andrade’s art worked very well.

  2. xmenxpert says:

    I loved Andrade’s art. I get that it won’t appeal to everyone, but it definitely appealed to me. It reminded me a lot of Emma Rios, actually, if not quite up to her level – very stylized and kinetic. But it was a fun art style for what was, until the last page, a very fun story.

    As for the lesion, I disagree with that coming out of nowhere. #8 had her mention a headache, which she said was just being tired. This issue had several references to her having a headache, building up that something was wrong. The lesion was foreshadowed. DeConnick was clearly building up to it.

    • Minhquan Nguyen says:

      I agree that Andrade’s art is intended for a more fun sort of story, which is why it sort of worked here, but I still am really turned off by the actual figures of the characters. They just look ridiculous and silly.

      And yeah, I see your point about the multiple references to a headache, but I still think the revelation that it’s this crazy medical condition was not very well executed and even if it was, it still would come across as something you’d get in a soap opera finale.

  3. Matt Sargeson says:

    “I don’t remember the last time I read a DC comic that opened on its title character drinking coffee in their PJs in their apartment.”

    I reckon the last time was Gray, Palmiotti and Conner’s ‘Power Girl’ (whose magic Marvel were surely hoping to capture here). What a great Goddamn series that was!

    • Minhquan Nguyen says:

      Oh, yeah–that was a great series. And very suited to Palmiotti and Gray’s strengths, too: sheer, ridiculous, boisterous superheroic nonsense.

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