By: Kelly Sue DeConnick (Writer), David Lopez (Artist/Cover Artist), Lee Loughridge (Color Artist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

The Story: The Guardians of the Galaxy have a talking tree and a raccoon with guns on their team; Captain Marvel has an alien refugee and a cat with attitude, until she doesn’t.

The Review: Like many of the all-new Marvel NOW! books, Captain Marvel had to spend a very clunky first issue to reinvent its new status quo, in order that this issue can have focus and develop more freely.  That said, it’s a little disappointing that all the supporting cast from the last series/first issue have been summarily dropped here. There’s not even a few panels for subplot or a balloon or two of reflection. The “Previously” page? One sentence: “Captain Marvel became an Avenger in space.”

The story demands a bit more set-up then we’ve been given, however, especially when the opening caption in the first panel tells us this is taking place ” two weeks ago.” I suppose we can assume that Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel has been flying through space for two weeks straight, until coming up against some alien mercenaries.

The Haffensye are designed well enough, but aren’t necessarily memorable. Same with their spaceships, which unfortunately makes the dogfight in space more complicated to read than should be necessary. More differentiation in design/style, color, and choreography would be helpful to really make this sequence effective. For example, page three features Carol in reds and browns, and the aliens in blues in greens. Carol’s directions face forward and to the right; the aliens face backward and to the left. Once the ships start flying, however, things become a muddled mess of sameness.

What follows is a straightforward space battle, until Carol is not-exactly saved by the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Guardians remain to give some helpful exposition and (we assume) some repairs, as well as a genuinely funny interchange centered around Rocket Raccoon and Carol’s cat named, appropriately enough, Chewie. That exchange “sparks” a clever sequence of panels that results in the awakening of Carol’s cargo, a refugee she’s returning to her home in space, which has its own set of complications and results in the alien stealing Carol’s ship (and cat.)

But that’s where some of the comic’s flaws come to the fore. The emotional core to all of this comes entirely through speech balloons; that is to say, it comes off as more than a little hollow and superficial, a good example of that whole “you should show not tell” kind of thing. This includes some potential mystery to the aliens in the beginning, the fact that space has been changed significantly by the Builders from Avengers’ Infinity event, and even the motives of Tic, our refugee. For much of the same reasons, we the readers (and perhaps even Carol) are more concerned about Chewie’s fate than Tic’s, since flying off to save her cat is the biggest display of heroism we’ve seen of Captain Marvel for two issues.

Bottom Line: Captain Marvel continues to prove herself a confident player in whatever environment she’s in, helped by some snappy dialogue and expressive art. While the character itself is strong, the plot isn’t, and the apparent non-linearness of it and reliance on exposition leaves more questions than answers. Also? That cover is expressive, but also kind of creepy.

Grade: B

-Danny Wall