The majority of Marvel’s titles are all knee-deep in Civil War II – only the latest event to tear apart the Marvel Universe. Much like their first Civil War, this one sees two factions of heroes squaring off in an ideological debate. In this case it’s Iron Man versus Captain Marvel, with Carol believing in the predictive justice movement – where the Inhuman, Ulysses’ power of seeing the future is used to stop crime before it happens – and Tony thinking it too risky and a breach of people’s rights. The event has proven a controversial one, which isn’t all too surprising when you pit readers favorite characters against each other – eventually, someone becomes the villain. And like many good-standing, beloved heroes before her, with Civil War II it’s Captain Marvel’s turn.
As a fan of Carol Danvers since she came back better and stronger than ever under the eye of writer Kelly Sue Deconnick, watching her abandon her own heroic principles sucks. There’s no nicer way to put it. Though her ascension into one of Marvel’s premiere heroes is recent, Carol is a veteran of the Marvel Universe, battle-tested and wise from years of service – in both a military uniform and superhero costume. To have her act so foolishly, confronting and arresting suspects before they’ve even broken any laws feels dishonest to her character. It feels wrong.
Thing is, after reading Captain Marvel #8, it’s clear this all feels wrong to Carol, too. She’s second guessing her devotion to the cause, wondering if she’s really chosen the right path, if she’s making the right calls. Tapping into Ulysses’ visions and being backed by governments the world over has given Carol an unthinkable amount of power, something she’s only all too aware of how easily it can be abused.Acting as an angel and devil on her shoulders are Black Panther and Hawkeye, each offering advice and perspective. T’Challa cautions Carol, raising many of the same concerns as Iron Man and his faction, though he remains supportive of his Ultimates teammate. Clint, on the other hand, questions if Carol is really willing to go through with all that needs done to make predictive justice work. He’s currently in prison for killing Bruce Banner, having in his mind made the right call in shooting Bruce with a special arrow before he had the opportunity to Hulk out and kill everyone. It was the final option for keeping the Hulk under control and one Bruce only trusted with Clint. Making that sort of decision, one that could ultimately mean killing a friend, is just the kind of call Carol may need to make when acting on Ulysses’s visions. Can she trust in their validity that much? Should she?
Ruth and Christos Gage are digging into some deeply philosophical debates with Captain Marvel #8, but it’s difficult watching a hero grapple with legality and red tape. Part of the fun, the escapism of superheroes is that they aren’t necessarily bound by the same restrictions as our laws and government. Operating without oversight can be dangerous, but we trust and believe in superheroes to still do the right thing. And abiding by what’s “regulation” doesn’t always jive with what feels right.
No where is that more apparent than in a scene that involves Carol and her task force barging into the home a former supervillain. It’s a scene identical to home invasions performed by law enforcement all the time; when acting on tip that something dangerous is happening, they must treat the situation with all due to caution – and sometimes that means shooting the family dog when it lashes out. But with superheroes in the room, especially those as kind as Ms. Marvel, this situation turns messy when she intervenes to protect the animal. As one of the SWAT members questions of Carol after she bends his rifle, deflecting the bullet away from Ms. Marvel and the dog, “What the hell kind of op are you running here?”
Artistically, Kris Anka and Matt Wilson are doing wonderful work on this series. In this issue they’re tasked with illustrating a lot of conversations, but Anka (with assistance from Andy Owens on inks) manages to keep characters’ faces expressive, really letting us see how they feel – especially when what they feel may not match what’s being said. Being able to read complex emotions helps immensely when tackling these morally grey topics, and Carol is saved (if only briefly) from appearing hardened and entirely remorseless. Wilson’s colors, too, work tremendously well in communicating the emotion of a scene – particularly that scene where Carol steps in between the SWAT officer and the dog, with the panel turning monochromatic, as if time itself stands still in that moment.
This Civil War II tie-in arc of Captain Marvel isn’t righting all of the event’s wrongs. Carol is still being positioned as the one going too far, the one who will regret having pushed so forcefully for the predictive justice movement. That’s a bummer, no other way around it, and it isn’t helped by how obvious it is she’ll be the villain in the end (much as Iron Man was in the first Civil War). Still, at least her solo title is adding some much needed depth to her decisions, hinting that Carol may realize the folly in predictive justice before it’s too late.