Review: Captain Marvel #1

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by David Lopez

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First, I am not an avid Captain Marvel reader, nor am I a Carol Corps member. I generally understand the appeal, especially to female comic readers, of a strong and de-sensualized female superhero, and I think it is something that the mainstream comic industry is working hard to correct. What I feel the comic book industry is not working hard to correct is the constant renumbering which falsely portrays this issue as an easy jumping on point for new readers.

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DeConnick is not a bad writer, and I don’t think is at the place she is in the industry due to some affirmative action type scenario or her husband’s clout. She is a very skilled writer in her element with dialogue and character relationships. By character relationships, I do not necessarily mean romance, but the inner workings of personal connections between characters. I think this, potentially above anything else, is what has made her extremely popular. That work is shown skillfully in this issue as Carroll both talks with a young child whom is living with her and as she deals with her desire to expand her superhero career in a conversation with James Rhodes, with whom she is having a romantic relationship. Both of those scenes play out well, and bring forward sides to the character which generally do not appear in the pages of Avengers where she is much more of a stoic soldier. The largest problem with this issue and its writing it that I came in thinking it was a jumping on point. While it is the start of a new arc for Captain Marvel, the finishing touches of her interpersonal relationships which DeConnick has been building since she took over the series left me feeling slightly lost at points. Who are these people living with Carol and why do they all live in the head of the Statue of Liberty? Who is the old lady who is dying and who are all these people at her party? While it would not be difficult to go back and get caught up on previous issues, honestly the issue was not so amazing that I really wanted to go back and do that. I’m still interested to see where the comic is going because it looks to potentially shift tones dramatically to an outer space adventure, but I think there may be some people who pick this up for the first time and are turned away due to the trickery of Marvel’s constant renumbering. The one piece which I do not understand at all and do not enjoy about this series (and this again may be due to the fact that I have not read much of the series at all) is the overwhelming sorrow and isolation that Captain Marvel appears to feel and place on herself. This may be something that I am generally missing, and potentially may make sense, but from jumping on this issue after only reading three to four previous issues, there is a strong pensive under current to the character which at times is somewhat of an annoyance. The final line of the issue has to do with the character no being able to find her place in the world, and while I’m sure this may have a connection to some of the younger readers, I have a difficult time imagining an air force ace pilot and one of the most powerful Avengers dealing with this problem, especially if Captain America isn’t even dealing with this anymore.

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The art by Lopez is great. While it isn’t the greatest work at Marvel, Lopez does do a fantastic job of drawing expressions and making the silence in the script matter. Being that this is a comic built very much on relationships, having an artist that is capable of handling more than just action is vital, and Lopez shows that he is extremely capable of handling a dramatic story. Yet when it turns to the few moments of action in an otherwise dialogue driven issue, Lopez show he isn’t a slouch at showing those moments either. His characters do not feel static or stiff. His work helps lift a script that I may have otherwise not enjoyed as much.

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All-in-all, I think some people will be turned away by the large amount of relationships addressed and the lack of action in the issue. I don’t necessarily think that the drama is bad, and enjoyed the issue over-all apart from the feeling that I was missing something when it came to certain character relationships and the inner struggle of the main character. This was not a book that made me want to go back and get caught up, but was one that makes me interested to see where the story is going. I’m not ready to jump on board and become a member of the Carol Corps yet, but I can see why others are so enthusiastic about this character and her story.

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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