By: Kelly Sue DeConnick (story), Filipe Andrade (art), Jordie Bellaire (colors)
The Story: Does Avengers health insurance cover inoperable, potentially alien brain lesions?
The Review: It’s a given that superheroes, like fictional characters in general, don’t tend to act like the rest of us, to say the least. The fact that they confront disasters of the magnitude that they do and don’t run away screaming in ten directions at once is already proof positive that we don’t have much in common. But that’s okay. We’d be pretty bored of comics if superheroes got too recognizable anyway.
Every now and then, though, their exaggerated personalities become a little too hard to ignore. Carol’s headstrong (read: childish) ways has gotten to that point. We get that she loves to fly—or, rather, that she loves the rush of suffocating herself to the point of cardiac arrest and then jump-starting her heart with freefall energy—but the lengths to which she goes to resist the idea that she can’t fly anymore, even temporarily, makes her seem petulant and simple.
Nowhere does that come across more unflatteringly than when she rejects the advice and concern of all her friends, even the good Captain America himself, who goes as far as to offer his flying motorcycle as a compromise between being permanently grounded and self-sustained flight. Denial, of course, is one step on the road to acceptance, but Carol proves that it may be the most difficult step—for herself and for everyone else. Even Frank Gianelli seems downright tolerable preaching reason to her as quickly as she can toss it aside.
Carol’s refusal to admit her condition gets so bad that she ignores several major red flags in the form of head pains. If I thought DeConnick might have underplayed the symptoms before, she more than makes up for it now. Carol not only gets distracted and temperamental from her “episodes” (a euphemism my friend’s grandmother likes to use in reference to various chronic health problems), but her overall power set is getting affected, forcing her to draw on extra energy to do the things that usually come easy to her.
Basically, the longer she continues to ignore her problem, the dumber she looks, because it’s pretty obvious to everyone else in the world, even villains. Deathbird immediately seizes the opportunity to attack her “sister”* and manages to hold her own, which should be the biggest wake-up call to our heroine of all. After all, how does an evil Hawkwoman spin-off get the better of one of Marvel’s A-class, cosmically empowered superheroes? Carol allowing her own pride to make her so vulnerable only gives ammunition to fellow tenant Mr. Zimmerman when he claims her presence puts her and her whole building in danger.*
Andrade is definitely a style-driven artist. What I mean by that is while all artists are unique, some really like to go outside the bounds of convention, deepening their personal touches and vision. And Andrade’s vision is one of silly putty characters, figures and faces exaggerated to occasionally unsettling degrees. If you look at that opening page of Carol in space, the way her arms and legs are stretched and her waist is tempered makes her look more like Mr. Fantastic with a hip-sash than anything else. It’s just hard to take Andrade’s work seriously. It’s like the visual equivalent of someone walking into the room with thigh-high boots. Bellaire’s the perfect colorist for him though; her bright hues play right into Andrade’s cartoony, hyper-anime style.
Conclusion: This issue will need quite a bit of the benefit of your doubt to maintain its credibility, as it’s hard to take the protagonist or the art seriously when both seem so immature.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * And if anyone cares to explain that relationship to me, I’d appreciate it.
* Now that I think of it, quite a lot of Marvel superheroes are publicly outed, aren’t they? And given what I’ve also seen on Hawkeye, there’s a reason why most superheroes maintain secret identities, poorly maintained as they can be sometimes.