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

The Story: Cheer up, Carol—learning to ride a hover-bike is hardest the first time around.

The Review: One of the hallmarks of a Marvel superhero is having one or more crippling flaws.  Iron Man and his excesses, Thor and his pride, Hawkeye and, well, pretty much everything, etc.  It’s a rock star kind of appeal they have going for them, which is quite different from the iconic, almost wholesome aura you get from DC superheroes.  For Captain Marvel, her big shortcoming is her utter self-confidence, a tunnel-visioned faith in her own judgments and actions.

This quality doesn’t make her a particularly likable or sympathetic character, but it does make her relatable.  You have to keep in mind that her captain’s title is a fairly new thing, something she’s still growing into.  As Miss Marvel, she could do as she pleased without much scrutiny, but as Captain Marvel, she has to live up to the grandeur of that name; petulance and stubbornness no longer becomes her.  And that’s why her resolution to “play the good girl” represents a significant stepping stone in her maturity.

That said, maturation takes time, so she’s perfectly right in saying that “Project ‘Good Girl’ is still a work in progress.”  She makes a valiant attempt to stay grounded (figuratively speaking), though she’s frustrated by her inexperience with her hover-bike and by Deathbird’s taunting resilience.  In the end, she succumbs to temptation and of course pays the price.  What’s a little dubious about that moment is it feels somewhat unnecessary.  If Carol’s plan is simply to chuck her bike at Deathbird—which does finish the job—why get up in the air at all?

At least she’s enough with herself now to admit it’s a mistake, though it’s a very costly one this time around.  And all for a largely forgettable antagonist.  We haven’t had a proper villain for Carol to work against since I hopped on board the series, and it’s high time for one to appear.  DeConnick-Sebela realize this as well, giving us a last-page reveal which is not only delightfully unexpected, but which ties neatly into the time-traveling arc we had a few months ago.

In fact, quite a few details from that arc have been brought back to haunt Carol, not the least of which are the circumstances of Helen Cobb’s death.  Like any good physician, Dr. Nyar* brings in a second opinion to assess her patient’s condition, and she just happens to bring one Dr. Ryland, the late Helen’s doctor.  He reveals a connection in the illness Helen suffered before her death and the problems Carol’s experiencing now, while Dr. Nyar speculates that someone, rather than something, is the cause of both women’s pain.

While I appreciate that Andrade has a very idiosyncratic style to his art, that doesn’t make it any less niche or unsuitable for the story at hand.  There’s no doubt that he has a good hand for a lively action sequence, but I rather dislike how the characters’ faces seem to melt and practically disappear during these scenes.  There are also points where it’s unclear exactly what Carol or Deathbird is doing at that moment.  For example, I had no idea that Carol had taken flight to make her deathblow until she states as much in the script; the previous panel showed her still on the ground, and from your vantage point in the scene itself, you can’t see that she’s in the air.  Bellaire can glitter Captain Marvel’s outfit all she wants, but it doesn’t make the art any more impressive, unfortunately.

Conclusion: Quite a bit of good plot-work here, with a much greater focus and direction than we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from the title.  Looking forward to our hero actually taking names next issue.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * I have a certain fondness for Dr. Nyar as she reminds me of a very sweet torts professor at my law school.

– I notice that Jessica Drew is more often than not eating something in the background of wherever she appears.  My kind of girl.