Review: Captain Marvel Issue 1

Here is everything you need to know prior to picking this book up; Carol Danvers is the best written character in the Marvel universe.

A little more detail then; Carol Danvers is a superhero, Captain Marvel. She’s also an Avenger, and a USAF Colonel. She’s also an amnesiac, having surrendered her memories at one point during the Infinity crossover. Despite this, Carol has reintegrated back into her old life very well and lives in an apartment donated to her by New York, in the Statue of Liberty.

That’s all covered in her last ongoing series, also by Kelly Sue DeConnick, also available in the store and also essential reading. The first two story alone is worth your time, cleverly combining Carol mourning the death of a friend with time travel, alien technology and an all female World War 2 fighter squadron. It’s a huge hearted, two fisted, funny as Hell book and in a fairer world more people would have read it and loved it. They didn’t, but, instead, they, and everyone who did follow the series, should read this instead.

This second series, again scripted by DeConnick picks up with Carol in space. She’s got a ship, a crew and is clearly settled and calm, even in the middle of a fight. Things go wrong (After all, trouble follows the Avengers like ticket sales) and we flash back six weeks to Carol on Earth. She’s grounded, in almost every sense, at home but not rested. She wants something more and has no idea what. Until she has a conversation…

The joy of this book, and there’s joy here believe me, is in how we see Carol plot the new flight path that she’s on as it opens. DeConnick is one of the finest observers of character in the business and she works with needlepoint precision here. We’re shown Carol’s best qualities as much through tiny moments with her friends as her massive heroic actions and the humour is always unforced, realistic and charming. A conversation/patrol with Iron Man is a standout and there’s a single line James Rhodes has here that may be the sweetest thing he’s said in years. DeConnick doesn’t short change her other characters in the slightest, but just as we see Carol’s best qualities through them, we see their best qualities through her. These people are a family, moreso than many supporting casts and in a far more convincing way than any I’ve seen before.

All of that leads to Carol’s decision and the final two pages of the issue. DeConnick excels at dialogue and internal monologue and there’s a moment here where physical action is married to psychological choice that’s breathtaking. It’s not mawkish or sentimental, just a perfect capturing of that moment of absolute joy just before you do something impossible. The book’s worth it for that alone.

The art team this time round is also on top form. The fun, but eccentric, style of the first volume has been replaced by rock solid character work from David Lopez who, like DeConnick, excels at character and little moments that make characters unique. Loughridge’s colour work is also great, especially in those final scenes and Caramagna’s lettering is as smart and versatile as ever. This is a great book by great people and there’s not a single weak link the chain.

The first volume of Captain Marvel was one of the company’s best kept secrets. This volume lives up to its titles from the first page and I’m hopeful the book will find the larger audience it richly and completely deserves. If you’ve never tried the book before then now’s the perfect time. If you have, now’s the perfect time to come back. An absolute gem, with one of the most interesting, complex, fundamentally likable characters in modern US comics front and centre. You’re cleared for launch, Colonel Danvers. Go get ‘em.

Captain Marvel Issue 1 is available now from all good comic retailers. Want some suggestions? Try Travelling Man, Mondo Comico or Page 45 in my neck of the woods, Orbital in London or if you’re in the US, I’ve never seen a better comic shop than Treasure Island in Fremont, California. Contact details are in the names. Click, and go say hi.


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