Carol Danvers is searching for her place in the Marvel U.
At least as far back as the 2005 Ms. Marvel series, there’s been a clear desire on Marvel’s part to elevate Carol Danvers into one of the premier heroes of the Marvel Universe. In that time, we’ve seen her take up the mantle of Captain Marvel, don an iconic new costume and serve as a driving force behind major conflicts like Civil War II. But through it all, it’s never felt as though Marvel has a clear idea of who Carol is and how she should be portrayed. The constant revolving door of creative teams, relaunched books and status quo changes lately hasn’t helped one bit. Frustratingly, that sense of indecision is felt throughout the course of Captain Marvel #1.
This latest Captain Marvel relaunch unfolds in the aftermath of The Life of Captain Marvel, with Carol ending a yearlong sabbatical from Earth and grappling with the discovery of her Kree heritage. She’s eager to reconnect with old friends, resume her duties as an Avenger and generally get back into the groove of being human again. Life, as it generally does, has other plans for Carol Danvers.
That’s as good a starting point for a new series and new creative team as any. Carol’s search for purpose gives newcomers an easy point of connection with the character, an important consideration given that a whole new wave of eyes are about to be on this character. Writer Kelly Thompson makes Carol an identifiable and sympathetic protagonist. Considering how frustrating this character could be to read during the Civil War II era, that’s definitely a plus. That said, the dialogue tends to be a little clunkier and more heavy-handed than with most of Thompson’s Marvel work. Perhaps the need to to catch newcomers up to speed with all of Carol’s recent history got in the way of clean, streamlined storytelling?
The real problem is that this issue offers very little sense of where Carol’s story is headed from here. The plot remains unfocused throughout this issue, skipping from one supporting character to the next with little warning. Over the course of issue #1, the focus shifts from Carol’s friendship with Spider-Woman to her uneasy relationship with Tony Stark to her apparent desire to mentor a younger heroine to her lingering romance with James Rhodes. Basically, this issue throws a lot of ideas at the wall and never waits long enough for anything to coalesce. The opening few pages make a strong statement about Carol’s personality and worldview, but the rest of the book fails to maintain that momentum.
Visually, at least, the new series kicks off on solid footing. Carmen Carnero shows a wonderful versatility as she veers between superhero action and more introspective moments of character interaction. There’s a warmth to Carol’s scenes with Rhodey that honestly do more to showcase and celebrate their relationship than the actual dialogue between them. It helps that colorist Tamra Bonvillain is able to heighten the mood to such a strong degree in these scenes.
The good news is that the cliffhanger manages to shift the book in an unexpected and intriguing direction. There’s a sense that Thompson will be better able to establish a unique direction and find her voice with the character in the coming months. And given what the art team are able to accomplish in this issue, this shift in direction should lead to some great visuals.