By: Kelly Sue DeConnick (story), David Lopez (art), Lee Loughridge (colors)
The Story: Carol’s new job involves a killer commute, but a great view.
The Review: In most respects, I’ve found the Marvel NOW campaign to be rather brilliant, a way to rebrand and revive themselves while keeping in place all that hard-won continuity. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too. As much as this system strikes a happy medium between stasis and a linewide upheaval like DC’s, it also struggles to justify rebooting titles that didn’t really need it in the first place.
Captain Marvel definitely falls into this category since it was a pretty young series to begin with when Marvel NOW kicked off. I expect the only reason Marvel bothered to relaunch the title was to attract new and relapsed readers with a big, shiny #1 stamp. Heaven knows, Captain Marvel could use the infusion; when I Dropped it last August, it had largely failed to turn Carol Danvers into the major icon Marvel clearly wanted her to be.
The problem, of course, is becoming an icon requires both time and inspired writing, and while Carol has undeniably been around long enough to become an icon by now, no one, including DeConnick, has really been able to pin down what makes Carol distinctive and special among her more popular peers. No matter how many times writers start her anew, change her costume, or scrub her memories, they still can’t lay bare her essential personality or drive.
For that reason, I find it a little troubling that in her latest relaunch, Carol is set on a course far off-planet, where she won’t have to vie with dozens of other illustrious characters for attention. Heck, in this issue alone, we get guest appearances by Spider-Woman, Iron Man, and Iron Patriot, each more comfortable in their own skin and costume than Carol. Out in space, she’ll be the only “formal Avengers presence” amidst the Guardians of the Galaxy, Starjammers, and Nova—which is still rough competition, especially when DeConnick hasn’t established how Carol’s mission will differ from theirs.
Unfortunately, DeConnick has a hard time figuring out what exactly she wants to do with Carol, which is not great when Carol is struggling herself to figure out what to do with herself. This is not the best place to introduce a character to new readers, and indeed, this issue is not terribly friendly to strangers to DeConnick’s Captain Marvel. Her previous supporting cast isn’t very well introduced, not to mention they’re made useless once Carol decides to leave the planet. But on an even more basic level, it’s hard to understand what kind of series this issue is trying to establish. With no context whatsoever, we open on Carol doing something vaguely space-police-related with a whole gang of alien sidekicks already by her side. Before we can decide whether we particularly like what we see, DeConnick wrenches us back to Earth, where Carol and Iron Patriot discover a “rapid-aging” alien girl in a bomb-like canister. DeConnick then completely de-emphasizes this plot point favor of scenes where Carol dithers so badly with various characters that nearly everyone, including a pre-pubescent girl, seems to have their acts together better than Carol does.
It’s a pity that the script stalls so badly, since Lopez’s art is well up to the task of making Carol’s adventures look as spectacular as those of any other Marvel icon. His clean, supple lines are very much in the vein of Marcus To, with a dash of Chris Sprouse’s retro style. It’s all very pleasant, serviceable art, with a nice injection of warmth from Loughridge’s sunny colors, which make even the nighttime seem cool and friendly rather than dark and oppressive.
Conclusion: For a #1 issue, it doesn’t do much at all to recommend its star above any other Marvel hero. With little to restore the confidence lost with the previous volume of Captain Marvel, this title is pre-emptively Dropped.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – So…Carol and Rhodey. When did that happen, pray tell?