By: Kelly Sue DeConnick (story), Scott Hepburn & Gerardo Sandoval (art), Andy Troy (colors)

The Story: Yon-Rogg tries to make a metropolis sandwich—with his mind.

The Review: As we wind down on the biggest and most important arc on this series thus far, it’s become increasingly clear that Captain Marvel launched without much more of a goal than to boost the titular heroine’s profile in the Marvel U.  There’s no denying she deserves it—needs it, even.  But it takes more than an ongoing series to bolster a character’s popularity.  It takes a cohesive vision from the creators and a total love and understanding of their star.

I’m not sure we’ve really gotten that from this title, if both its steadily declining sales and shortage of critical acclaim say anything.  After ten issues, you can’t say that you’ve grown more attached to Carol, nor do you have a much better handle on what makes her tick than before.  DeConnick has established her as strong-minded, compassionate, occasionally snarky—but how does that set her apart from all other Marvel women?  Sadly, you find her second banana, the wisecracking, compulsive eater Spider-Woman, more compelling than Carol herself.

Instead of forging Carol’s appeal from scratch—which there was every opportunity to do, given what a blank slate the character was to begin with—DeConnick always seemed to be playing catch-up in the popularity game.  Nearly every issue had at least one moment where she seemed to be justifying Carol’s captaincy or position as an Avenger, always as pointedly as possible.  See our heroine reject Yon-Rogg referring to her as “Miss Danvers,” testily declaring, “It’s Captain, you little maggot.”  See Captain America emphasizing the victory as hers and hers alone: “Captain Marvel won.”  See a mother musing that her Carol-worshipping daughter “chose her hero well,” and then deliver one of the most cloying monologues about heroism this year:

“We tell her that heroes aren’t defined by their powers or their costumes…but by the content of their hearts…  We will know the light she has inside her because she showed us all today.  We will know…  She’s Captain Marvel…  She’s our hero.”

Not that Carol doesn’t earn the admiration and respect, but it does seem like this entire story arc was manufactured expressly to give her a desperate act of martyrdom, something to finally garner the readers’ attention.  The addition of the Avengers is DeConnick’s way of raising the stakes of the crisis, to cast Carol’s triumph in an even greater light, since she, of all of Earth’s mightiest heroes, prevailed when they could not.

Only, DeConnick constructs the climax of the issue in such a way that there’s an indication the Avengers could have resolved the matter as a group without Carol’s noble self-sacrifice.  After coming up with a somewhat ingenious tactic to disrupt Yon-Rogg’s vision of a new Kree capital built atop the rubble of New York City, Thor discovers that Carol foiled Yon-Rogg herself only “a moment before” he arrived.  For you see, it’s not that the Avengers’ plan couldn’t work; it’s that Carol had no faith in them: “They’ll never make it in time.”

I can’t see any reason why DeConnick would write the conclusion this way other than to give Carol her moment in the sun.  Why else would Yon-Rogg, after having owned Carol for the bulk of the issue (even bitch-slapping her at one point while derogatorily calling her “Miss Danvers”), suddenly decide to just stand there like a stick and let her fly off to destroy his plans?  It’s both and it makes Yon-Rogg look like an idiotic waste of time as a villain.

Artistically, this series has been pretty uneven as well, with stylistic highs like Emma Rios and cartoony lows like Filipe Andrade.  Hepburn’s exaggerated style falls closer to Andrade than Rios, unfortunately, rendering a cheap, all-ages look that does nothing to suggest apocalyptic conditions.  For DeConnick’s script to work as she intends, she needed a much more sophisticated, dare I say grown up, style, and what we get instead is practically playful.  There’s nothing ugly or unpleasant about Hepburn’s art; it’s just not what this series calls for.

Conclusion: Its intentions are good, but ultimately, it falls flat from trying way too hard to transform its protagonist into something she simply isn’t at the moment—a hero of iconic proportions.  Having been less than enthused for a while now, I think it’s time to Drop the series for better things.

Grade: C

-Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Don’t you love how Agent Brand’s ass is approximately twice as wide as her torso?  I’m surprised the Hawkeye Initiative hasn’t jumped on this.