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

The Story: 
Captain Marvel makes herself helpful to no one.

The Review: One of the things I look for in a good sci-fi setting is a sense that I’m truly on an alien world. So now that Captain Marvel is arguably a sci-fi book nowadays, it’s good that DeConnick, Lopez, and Loughridge let me see that in a big way in this issue. They put Captain Marvel in a truly alien environment, which includes some complicated political and socio-cultural aspects along with some fun visuals.

Lopez gives us some alien ruins for a setting, but more interestingly he gives us some very playful designs in animal-like humanoids, my favorite being Eleanides with her lizard-like frills that she opens at a dramatic moment, casting a shadow on Carol’s face. What’s quite disappointing, however, is the design for Tic, who seems to be posed to be a key recurring character in this story arc. I don’t find her bland, generalized features interesting at all; she’s always in completely nondescript and de-personalized clothing; and her ugly topknot of something resembling hair is downright off-putting.

Thankfully, the expressiveness of the art makes up that last criticism. All the characters are given a range of emotion and key poses, and the colors help emphasize a sense of place and tone.

Tic is further problematic by her role of being a plot device, one that leads Captain Marvel from one clichéd situation into another. My critique for the previous issue was that I felt there was not enough emotional resonance in the storyline, and in some ways that hasn’t improved, as Tic is firmly cemented here as a “frightened child” (and is called “child” or “girl” several times), including a scene where she basically cries in fit of petulance. Yet more distance between the reader and Tic, unfortunately. In other ways, things are improving. Thanks to Captain Marvel and Eleanides’ conversation, I actually care about Eleanides and her troubles, as she’s cool, in charge, compassionate, yet strong and defiant.

However, Captain Marvel herself continues to not really be a star in her own book. Once again, she tries to do some things, but is told, as always, that she can’t, she’s in the wrong direction, etc. It’s been that way from the beginning of this series. She tries to restart her life but is told she should be an Avenger in Space instead. Accordingly, she tries to return a refugee, only to have the refugee turn on her. Now, she tries to be a diplomat and is told she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. When, exactly, will Carol be allowed to be a superhero, exactly? This, the third monthly issue, marks a quarter of year, so maybe we’ll get to see her do so before half a year is out? Let’s hope so.

The Bottom Line:
There’s some wonderful art and colors here. It not only creates a vibrant and expressive world but uses the comicbook form and pacing to affect some genuine humor and character thoughtfulness. It helps save the book from a plot that ranges from uninteresting, uninspired, or cliché, depending on how forgiving you want to be. Case in point, Captain Marvel remains going through the motions of whatever situation she finds herself in, as we await her true agency as a hero.

The Grade: B-

by Danny Wall

Two More Tidbits:
— Another mark of a sci-fi setting are the unpronounceable names of things. Any guesses on “Eleanides?”
— It was Carol’s cat who stopped Tic’s attacks in the spaceship and succeeded in calming Tic’s tantrum. Is she being set up as more effective than the title hero? I expect a spinoff for “Kitten Marvel” soon.