The team continues their jaunt in space as they come under attack by former comrade Captain Marvel. If nothing else Rick Remender at least infuses this issue with some half decent characterization for the previously deceased Captain, which keeps things slightly above mediocre. As we move towards a conclusion that can only go one way, the title seems content with delivering an average tale.
It would be unfair to dismiss this title and move onto the next chapter in the bloated Avengers vs. X-Men event as it at least tries to do something a little different as a tie-in. Clearly Remender is more concerned with his Kree story than anything to do with the actual event, but for the most part the main thrust of the narrative is the only thing dragging the title down. The connection he established between the Kree and the Phoenix last issue has become less interesting as we find out the entire population of their home world has been brainwashed into thinking a visit from the cosmic entity would be a good thing. It isn’t a bad way to go, but brainwashing in comics has been played out so often there is only really so much you can do with it. The idea of a race of aliens that had become radicalized due to their loss of purpose and power in the universe was a far more interesting angle to take, even if the Kree’s mortal enemies did it first. But instead we have the brainwashing idea, although The Vision would argue it is more sophisticated, and by the final panel we as readers will all come to the same conclusion on how the climax of this story will play out.
But as the narrative does its best to be as average as possible, the actual character work is where the book succeeds to a point. Captain Marvel is given a monologue that easily gets everyone up to speed on what he is about and how he feels. To open the issue with a brief flash back of his death allows new readers to get on board and Remender manages to bring him back and explain him away without drowning the book in exposition. For those readers who just want visceral carnage, the script makes sure it uses the full might of Captain Marvel as he tangles with the team.
The book shifts focus a bit as we get more from Ms. Marvel, The Vision and Thor. Granted these characters are the only ones conscious for a majority of the title, but it is a change from last issue. Thor comes across as that one-dimensional Asgardian type that can be found once a writer goes on autopilot with the character. Throw in enough faux “old world” speak (and the world mewling) and Thor sounds more interesting than what he is actually given to say. He is the character who is a perplexed by the good Captain’s return and his denial/rage reaction is typical of this kind of resurrection story. However he is given one scene with Captain Britain that adds very little other than reiterating Britain’s powers and problems. Ms. Marvel plays the widow that has been reunited with her love, which basically sees her navel gaze about her feelings towards Captain Marvel. Remender lays it on thick and even includes dialogue to show that Ms. Marvel’s affections have been enhanced due to the mind control device. Vision takes up the position of a sort of deus ex machina as he can somehow block the mind control signal, but only within a limited range. But this also means he is assigned the pseudo science speak and exposition which moves the plot along. Between the three of them there is not much to work with on a character level, although Ms. Marvel is at least given some sort of emotional beat.
Rento Guedes does another great job on the art front. His characters are really expressive and he manages to give them a depth that is sorely lacking in the script. The mournful Ms. Marvel, the furious Thor and the righteous Captain Marvel are the highlights of the book. In fact much like Remender’s focus on Marvel, Guedes really does wonders in bringing the character to life on the page. It is the sort of depiction that will allow new readers to instantly want to know more about the character. For want of a better phrase, Guedes make Captain Marvel bad-ass. From the subtle stars that cover his face when using his cosmic awareness to his punches, the pencils give Marvel a sense of power worthy of his name. But Guedes work doesn’t stop with Captain Marvel, each of the characters are clearly depicted and emotive and this helps raise the script and allows the reader to enjoy the book more than they should. No stand out visuals this time around, but the book is well framed with great pencils throughout.
So even though Remender’s script has problems the art manages to disguise them well. The work done on Captain Marvel is enough to keep readers interested in reading the story arc. Remender has a firm grasp on Captain Marvel’s character and makes him new reader friendly but still familiar. But Marvel easily steals the show as the rest of the characters just fill out roles for the plot. It’s a plot that is heading down a familiar path and this leads to a lack in tension. It isn’t that the issue is inherently bad; it just lacks any real interest.