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Captain Marvel #1 Review

by Charles Martin on January 09, 2019

Captain Marvel #1 Review
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Colourist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This is, quite simply, the best Captain Marvel comic published in at least four years.

And that's about all I should say by way of comparison with what's come before. Let's concentrate on how awesome it is that we get a killer Cap'n M series starting just in time for Carol's big-screen debut in March.

We start with an "in media res" fight: It's Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman versus a Kraken. (Not a frustratingly mysterious Hydra dude but a 10-story tall pile of tentacles and teeth.) Superb first-person narration and scalpel-sharp dialogue establish two things right off the bat: This series gets Carol Danvers, and it gets the "snarky besties" relationship between Carol and Jess.

This issue also delivers Carol/Tony conversations with the perfect mix of friendly respect and "argh, you're awful." It even develops Carol/Rhodey into a believable romance for the first time in … ever.

Plus, deep in spoiler territory where I dare not get specific: An awesome new sidekick and an audaciously absurd deep-cut antagonist.

If you cruise the solicits, you can get an idea of how this arc is going to unfold. Admittedly, this #1 doesn't do much unfolding on its own. It mainly lays groundwork. That groundwork was so sorely needed and it's executed so magnificently that I have no complaints about a slow start. And this issue definitely isn't short of action.

A great script doesn't conjure up a great comic all by its lonesome. It takes passionate, talented art, too. Our luck is holding, because that's exactly what we get. I am so happy we weren't forced into an either/or situation when it comes to emotive faces and exciting action; this issue demonstrates formidable skill in both departments. 

I'm particularly delighted with the acrobatic vertical kick Carol delivers toward the end of the issue (you'll definitely know it when you see it). Not only is it beautifully executed, but it also shows real thought in conception. It's a move that employs Carol's flight abilities with subtle brilliance.

This issue is further enhanced by some busy but wisely-chosen colours. The whole palette has a strong, sunny intensity that suits a flagship hero comic. There are enough different settings and more than enough guest stars to call for colours pulled from every point on the spectrum. These all slot neatly into harmony with each other; the fact that nothing clashes is no accident and no small achievement.

Plus, we get to find out what colour Kraken guts are. Thanks, Captain Marvel!

There is one plot point I found sub-sublime: A big reason Carol and us readers react to Tony by saying, "argh, you're awful" is that he delivers the news that Captain Marvel has a PR problem.

Carol Danvers comics have been mashing the "Carol has a PR problem" button since before she took the Captain promotion. Has that point ever delivered a great story? I would humbly contend no, it has not. It's high time to lay it to rest.

Devil's advocate: The final scene integrates the PR stuff into the arc-plot in a promising way. As a whole, this arc just might tie a bow on the point and shelve it for a long time. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway - and the odds seem good enough that I'm not going to un-perfect my rating over the PR issue.

We don't read Carol Danvers comics because we're looking for biting commentary on the fickleness of fame. But this series already knows why we read Carol Danvers comics. It bullseyed the why before it even got to page three:

"Always get up. If you always get up, then it's never over." Boil the essence of Carol Danvers down to 12 words? Nobody's ever done it better than that. With art and colours that live up to the script's passionate insight, Captain Marvel #1 is a long-overdue treat for the Carol Corps. But this isn't just a reward for long-time fans. It's a welcoming demonstration - hopefully, the first of many - of just how great Carol comics can be.

Our Score:

10/10

A Look Inside

Comments

Charles Martin's picture
Believe me, I'm aware of and unhappy about the way our site formatting appears to have passed the cover through the Male-Gaze-O-Matic at the top of this page. It's automated and I regret it more than usual here.