Before diving into this month’s Mighty Captain Marvel, there’s a few things we want to get out of the way. Marvel wants Captain Marvel to be successful. Right? At least, it really seems like they do. There is a movie coming out someday in 2019 maybe. It recently was assigned some directors to go along with Brie Larson as the titular hero, so it looks like it’s not just a pipe dream. They’ve had a Captain Marvel solo book going since she dropped the “Ms” and took the mantle under Kelly Sue DeConnick. It really LOOKS like Marvel wants her to be one of their flagship heroes.
The question we are left with is: If that is the case, why do they keep sabotaging the Captain Marvel solo title?
Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run with the character showed moments of real brilliance (I mean, come on, this is Kelly Sue we are talking about). Both of her runs though, (and yes, she had a renumbering even though the writer was the same and same title and everything) were derailed by events and tie-ins after very strong starts. Does anyone remember Black Vortex? Probably not. How about Infinity? Nothing? Both of Kelly Sue’s runs only lasted about 15 issues, both suffered because of these two events, and both ended shortly thereafter. Both were really, really good and then petered out because of events and tie-ins.
After another huge Summer event called Secret Wars, Captain Marvel got a new solo with a shiny new team and a new mission at Alpha Flight. Her new creative team had one story arc (five whole issues) with her before Civil War II and then once again we were solidly in event comics territory, this one threatening to forever assassinate Carol’s character. Also, a second new creative team took over. That run lasted ten issues total and once again was brought down by an event.
Now here we are at issue four of a brand new Captain Marvel (five, if you count the zero issue). This time, she’s The Mighty Captain Marvel, so at least you won’t be confused looking for Captain Marvel volume 1 (of which there are three now). Margaret Stohl and company have pulled Carol out of the tailspin of Civil War II, and yet here we are again, barely through the first arc and already another event tie-in. We’re not even going to address the event itself, only the frustration that Captain Marvel can’t seem to catch a break. Three creative teams in two years have been writing her, and two ultra mega huge event comics have stolen away any and all momentum from her solo book.
If Marvel wants Captain Marvel to succeed, why do they keep shooting her in the foot?
Now, on to this month’s issue.
Things Get Splodey
We ended last month with Carol fighting to save Bean, a macguffin in the form of a Kree child that is sought after by Mim, a shapechanger, for a weapon of some kind probably. Carol saved Bean, but something is supercharging her Captain Marvel Kree powers and making her go haywire. This issue picks up right at the beginning of one of these episodes.
Carol sets Bean down and goes completely bonkers on the Alpha Flight station. She punches her teammates and blows up a ship before punching a hole through the hull and out into space. Finally she is taken down by one of her own before she can do any more harm to Alpha Flight or herself, but the damage is done. Bean has been retaken by Mim.
Carol awakens in good company. She’s tied down in a hospital bed (which is a symbolic gesture at best), and Natasha (Black Widow) and Jessica (Spider-Woman) are by her side. They are supposed to keep an eye on her, but instead, they help her escape to find Bean. It pays to have friends, and we’re glad Jess and Nat are still buds with Carol after all that Civil War II nonsense. (Also, Carol and Jess are our OTP, but that’s a discussion for another day).
It turns out that Bean is being held in the same refugee camp where Carol Picked her up. She bids farewell to her hero buds, and zooms to the rescue. Nearby the camp, hidden in the mountains, Carol finds a secret lab. This is surely where Bean is being weaponized. She dodges a few obstacles and finds her way inside, only to be attacked by… herself.
Carol and Mim fight to a standstill before the real badguy shows herself. She explains her evil plot to Carol as badguys are wont to do. Basically, a collection of Hala children, with Bean as the catalyst, have combined their energy (something called HLA 12) into what amounts to a Captain Marvel antenna. With it, the badguy in a lab coat can control Captain Marvel and make her cause even more destruction just like on Alpha Flight HQ.
Once the plan is explained, Labcoat does the supervillain thing and leaves Carol unattended. A.I. Tony reappears and advises Carol that Bean is the key, and she will have to make some sacrifices to escape this one. Carol breaks Bean out and makes her getaway, but Bean has gone critical, and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. A.I. Tony makes sure the other kids are safe, but Bean goes up in a big blue mushroom cloud.
A mourning Carol is approached by a ghostly apparition of Bean, who assures her that she is star stuff now. Who is cutting onions in here? THIS IS NOT A KITCHEN, I SWEAR TO–
Anyways, Carol says her goodbyes to Bean and then takes flight. She bursts through the clouds filled with new resolve. She may have lost the battle, but she’ll never give up the fight. A one-panel epilogue hints that this isn’t over, but has just begun.
This is the strongest issue so far under Margaret Stohl. Issues 3 and 4 run right together, and we hit the ground running. Ramon Rosanas is off on this issue, but the art team picks right up and is fairly seamless. If anything, Carol looks a bit more expressive this issue, which isn’t a criticism of Rosanas, but the difference in art is noticeable. Everything is firing on all cylinders. The issue itself is difficult to put down. Even when the action breaks for a bit, having Nat and Jess in there is wonderful. Stohl’s dialogue is top-notch (especially with Jessica Drew and A.I. Tony) Can we get that Carol and Jess team up book someday, maybe? We’ll seriously keep asking until it happens.
What we’re trying to say is that this issue finally made us feel like Carol is back. Civil War II was tough, but Stohl and Rosanas and everyone else involved have given us back the Carol we all know and love. Carol is at her best when she’s punching first and asking questions later, and that’s exactly what she does here. She’s brash and impulsive, but also, so compassionate and heroic. Seeing her daring rescue topped off with a heartwrenching ending felt so good even as we were choking back the tears. Bean’s last words about being star stuff tied back to the last issue beautifully. (Seriously, with the onions. Is someone making salsa? What gives?)
We really can’t stress enough how excited we are to see what Margaret Stohl has in store for Carol and Alpha Flight, which is what makes the next few event tie-in issues so frustrating. At least Stohl is still writing. We are cautiously optimistic that Carol will still be Carol by the end of the event, but what we wouldn’t give for Marvel to let Carol alone and let her find her footing. We’ll have to wait and see how the event plays out, but unless Marvel makes some major changes to the creative team, we are confident that our precious Princess Sparklefists will come out the other side unscathed. We’ll see you then.
The Mighty Captain Marvel #4
Writer: Margaret Stohl
Artists: Brent Schoonover, Ro Stein, & Ted Brandt
Colorist: Michael Garland
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Images Courtesy of Marvel Comics