CAPTAIN MARVEL #1/ Written by KELLY SUE DECONNICK/ Art by DAVID LOPEZ/ Colors by LEE LOUGHRIDGE/ Letters by VC’s JOE CARAMAGNA/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
The short of it is that part of Captain Marvel #1 is a quality book and part of it is not. The first chunk sees Carol in the midst of a new, quite literally out of this world adventure and it’s pretty fun, even without the context of the how and the why. The second half of Captain Marvel #1 winds the clock back and gives that needed explanation, and while it starts off well, it quickly falls prey to the same issues that plagued Kelly Sue DeConnick’s first run on Captain Marvel. Specifically, her tendency to make even interesting things uninteresting and her excessiveness in reminding us just how important and amazing Carol Danvers is.
What can be praised without hesitation is David Lopez’s and Lee Loughridge’s artwork. Captain Marvel’s first run suffered from wildly inconsistent art. You were likely to get something good from Dexter Soy or Scott Hepburn in one issue and then, usually, Fillipe Andrade’s way over-stylized work in the next. Lopez and Loughridge are a breath of fresh air. Lopez handles pencils and inks, and is an able colorist himself judging by his work on the cover. His Carol is just terrific! She’s expressive, powerful and dynamic. Lee Loughridge’s colors are well-paired with Lopez’s work, with smartly-chosen palettes for each scene. Please, whoever at Marvel is responsible for this, keep these two in steady work. Preferably on this title so we never have to see Andrade’s work ever again.
While the art is great, the writing is decidedly less so. The first five or so pages are undeniably fantastic. We open in media res of a space adventure: Carol has made some new alien pals and is on the run with them from secret police, also aliens. This is a neat story to jump right into: it’s intriguing, it’s new, and it’s got a pretty sweet albeit brief marketplace brawl. Then comes the flashback to explain why Carol is even in space anyway. Parts of that, too, are fine. Carol and Rhodey (squee!) make a perfect and long-overdue pair, even if they end up taking a break so she can punch secret space police for a year, and Tony Stark is always a welcomed drop-in. But aside from those guest appearances – and even with them, frankly – Captain Marvel stops being a fantastic book and becomes an important book.
And Captain Marvel is an important book. It’s become Marvel’s premiere, female-led series, and no one is going to dispute how awesome that is. The problem is that DeConnick, with increasing frequency, stops writing anything worth our time with Carol Danvers and just writes about how important and amazing and strong and awesome she is. It’s inorganic and it’s tiresome. Kit, the cute little girl/uncanny child clone who hero-worships Carol, is the worst example of this as she is less of a character and more of a device to spew to the reader how awesome Carol is. This is so irritating. Why not write an engaging story instead of relying on a little kid to scream about Carol being so amazing/inspiring/important all the time? Maybe show her being those things without using a child to tell us that she is?
There’s a lot of DeConnick explaining a thing about Carol to the reader. For example: Kit’s mother explains to her kid/us that Carol is restless – after showing it just fine, thanks – and then goes a step further and explains what restlessness is, as if the reader somehow cannot understand. C’mon. There are some kids in the reading audience, but “restlessness” is pretty self-explanatory. We don’t need every last thing about Carol Danvers spelled out for us.
It’s lazy, it’s kind of insulting, it’s poor writing, and it is so, so boring. Superhero comic books can be many things, but boring should never be one of them. Captain Marvel was a book that, despite its reputation and no matter how important it was, was all too often painfully uninteresting. The first arc dragged on too long and didn’t cover its ground in a particularly thrilling way. Monica Rambeau’s two-issue guest stint in issues 7 and 8 aside, the follow-up brain lesion arc was also boring (and borderline unreadable whenever Andrade showed up, but that’s on him and whoever keeps hiring him, not DeConnick). “The Enemy Within” was almost flawless and the best DeConnick has done with the title, but after that it was, again, boring. Issue #17 was the worst offender as the entire issue was basically an excuse to tell us, again, how amazing and inspiring and important Captain Marvel is! It is so frustrating to have a title that could and should be as amazing as we’re told Carol is instead being, month in and month out, self-important nonsense that seems to actively avoid doing anything actually good for too long.
If you are one of the many diehard Carol Corp members who loved DeConnick’s first run, then you’ll probably love this, too. But otherwise, if you were ever disatissfied with the last series or are considering jumping in, don’t.