Captain Marvel #29 Review

by Charles Martin on June 23, 2021

Captain Marvel #29 Review
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Jacopo Camagni
Colourist: Espen Grundetjern
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

As shown in the previous issue, desperation (and the meddling of one Stephen Strange) has pushed Captain Marvel into seeking magic assistance in the worst possible place: from the fugitive Amora the Enchantress.

It's a knives-out collaboration from the start, with the women swapping hilarious, stinging barbs before they can think about teaming up. But an uneasy alliance is forged, and the balance of the issue charts Carol's progress in retrieving a magic MacGuffin for Amora from an undersea ruin. 

The implication is a simple swap: Carol's going to trade the MacGuffin for magic instruction (at least until the inevitable double-crossing starts). But it's only an implication at best, which points to the one feature of this volume that I dislike: The "point A + point B = development C" plot-mathematics can get a bit fuzzy mid-story.

It's cool that Kelly Thompson trusts her readers to connect dots on their own. And I'm not saying that I want to be battered about the head and shoulders with the plot developments, Silver Age-style. But surely there's a happy middle ground where cause-and-effect relationships could be a little clearer.

But I'm picking a very minor nit, and it's a transient one at that. Ms. Thompson has proved, arc after arc, that she has a strong, planned-in-advance grasp of where she's driving Carol's story. As this volume progresses, past developments come into exquisite focus and the bigger picture looks consistently fantastic.

So I should tell myself (and all of you) to shut up and enjoy the ride. Because it's a hell of a trip.

A large part of this issue's reading pleasure comes from its impressive visuals. And the art's strength, in turn, stems from a big level-up in the artist-colourist collaboration. Espen Grundetjern takes a softer, more nuanced approach to colouring this issue compared with the last one, using blended shades to add more shape to the characters and greater depth to the settings.

Plus, he pulls off a lot of impressive "special effects" -- magic forcefields, Carol zaps, air bubbles, even focus tricks -- to make this issue's action scene look incredibly cinematic.

Colours don't exist in a vacuum, of course. These visuals are a triumph because Mr. Grundetjern's colours work in lock-step with Jacopo Camagni's art. They provide exactly the level of supplementary detail that the lines require. And I'm not implying that anything is lacking in Mr. Camagni's art on its own. His blocking is amazing, I love his facial expressions, and he adds serious heft to the fight scene with some terrifically realistic monsters.

(And thanks to the amount of time spent underwater, Mr. Camagni is challenged to draw a lot of long, floaty hair. He succeeds wildly; the hair looks great!)

The result of all this artistic hard work is a truly beautiful comic. If someone were to do a big-budget animated Captain Marvel movie, these panels are exactly what I'd want the frames to look like.

Besides being beautiful and evolving a compellingly mysterious plot, this issue is also a fantastic character study of Carol Danvers. After she and the Enchantress go their separate ways, Carol retreats into her head, narrating the balance of the book. And she's laudably self-aware for a headstrong character, hashing out her team-up with Amora and concluding correctly that neither of them is acting on good intentions here.

It's surely a challenge for an author to portray a "zap first and ask questions later" character without making them look foolhardy or stupid. (Just ask poor Johnny Storm, who's often painted, unfairly, as both.) But Kelly Thompson's intimate read on Carol Danvers gives balanced consideration to the zapping and the questions that come after; this issue features Carol coming to a subtle yet possibly critical realization as she reviews how the arc's played out so far.

Captain Marvel #29 moves the arc forward with equal servings of witty conversation and high-octane action. The story is solid, and the skill used to relate it, in words and art, is virtually flawless. This is not a comic built to stand by itself; a lot depends on the upcoming landing. But everything between the covers serves to build on prior engagement and encourage readers to lean in even closer; this creative team is all-in on the idea of making the journey at least as enjoyable as the destination. 

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Editor Sarah Brunstad drops an unexpected but welcome continuity note pointing to Strange Academy, of all places. And it stitches closed a potential plot hole quite neatly!