First Impressions – CAPTAIN MARVEL (2014) #1

Captain-Marvel-1-Cover

Fan favorite CAPTAIN MARVEL returns in her new solo series, as part of Marvel NOW! What’s Carol Danvers’ new deal? What nigh insurmountable forces will she find a way to surmount? Where is she living since she got kicked out of her apartment?

So I could go to the trouble of explaining the convoluted genesis of Captain Marvel (all of them), but luckily I already did that two years ago when I wrote my first impressions of the last Captain Marvel series.

For those too lazy to follow a link, here’s the short version: Marvel Comics made a hero called Captain Marvel in order to stick it to DC. He had a female counterpart named Carol Danvers, the original Ms. Marvel. That Captain Marvel remained in obscurity for years and ultimately died of cancer (in a story called The Death of Captain Marvel, which is still fantastic). Then Carol grew in popularity, becoming the premier Marvel superheroine. This culminated in her assuming the name of Captain Marvel.

In 2012 she received a solo series that I haven’t gotten around to writing a retrospective on, because retrospectives take a lot more work to write than basically anything else. It was pretty good, but had a lot of trouble keeping a consistent artist from one story arc to another.

CAPTAIN MARVEL (2014) #1 an indeterminate period after the end of the last series. Recovered from that brain aneurism that sort of wiped her mind, Carol Danvers settles into her new digs: the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Because Superhero Comics. Also she’s dating Rhodey No-last-name-given-in-the-comic-so-damned-if-I’m-going-to-look-it-up-myself, the new Iron Patriot. As in, the presumably heroic Iron Patriot. The last (and first) one was Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin, back when the US government of the Marvel universe thought it would be a good idea to make a supervillain into the head of SHIELD, complete with his own warped Avengers team and red/white/blue painted Iron Man armor.

That was a tangent. And a run-on sentence. I should work on both of those problems. Later.

Anyway, all this would be fine, until Iron Man comes around with an offer: for Carol to become the first of a rotating Avengers presence in Outer Space. Which of course causes drama between Carol and Rhodey, because it would mean being away for six months to a year (or whenever writers need to explain why she isn’t involved in whatever world-destroying peril comes around any given week in the Marvel universe). So glad we established the two characters were in a relationship, now that they won’t be able to see each other. So glad.

Also some female alien space refugee from the pages of that Infinity crossover event I didn’t care about falls to Earth. And now she’s Captain Marvel’s problem. Somehow. I don’t know, there’s a time skip involved.

If I sound unenthusiastic, it’s only because I kind of got burned out on Captain Marvel by the end of the last series, and now I’m expected to jump right back onto the train like it’s nothing. Except despite superhero comics generally having a bizarre time-scale, it’s very obvious significant changes happened between then and now. It’s like when one falls out of a fandom for a while, only to pick it back up a while later and everything’s different. I moved on from Captain Marvel, which is especially damning from my perspective because I read too many comic books as it is.

Like, ironically, the new Ms. Marvel series. That is something I’m genuinely enthusiastic about reading.

But let’s be fair and stop griping. What did CAPTAIN MARVEL #1 do right? Well, I thought the humor was pretty decent. I was never exactly confused about the developments in Captain Marvel’s life. Kit, the little moppet that is Captain Marvel’s number one fan and quasi-roomate, is still adorable.

But I found a few places where the writing was weak. Remember that alien refugee I mentioned earlier? Well the book properly starts with a flash forward six weeks to when the two have become friends/allies and go on space adventures. And while I don’t dislike her, “Tic” doesn’t get a good enough chance in this issue to grab me. I don’t understand her enough to get invested, which is rather troubling when one is supposed to want to keep reading about them. Another thing deficient is Captain Marvel’s relationship with the Iron Patriot. Not very good on-panel chemistry from what little there is to see.

Maybe it’s because of the art of David Lopez. Oh sure, it’s very polished and professional – leagues more structured than one particular artists work on the last series. Even if the latter got a little better after a while. But with this series, I found character expressions to often be wooden. There’s a scene when Carol and her boyfriend are having an emotional moment. And I’m prepared to go along with it, because emotions. Then Carol sheds a tear, and I swear if not for that tear, I would almost say she looked bored. The problem might be less attention to expressions, and more that the artist might not have that wide and range of faces to draw. It’s not uncommon for artists to develop their style, but only have a limited scope when it comes to the face.

It’s one of the bigger trends I’ve noticed with Hirohiko Araki in the last few years. There are no other faces like his in manga, but he sure start to run together.

Do I recommend CAPTAIN MARVEL #1? If it’s worth anything, I probably won’t keep reading. But there is a bit of spark left over from the old series. But there’s nothing wrong with skipping it in favor of any of the other new or returning ongoing series to come out this season. The preliminary storyline is titled “Higher, Further, Faster, More”. Which I guess is appropriate, given that the book from here on out will be set in space, at least for a while. Not sure what the More means though. More of the old Captain Marvel maybe?

Or maybe it’s like Buzz Lightyear, and it’s to Infinity and Beyond. I for one wish we could get beyond Infinity.

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