While this volume opens with Carol Danvers, now Captain Marvel, on the planet Ursor 4 leading a crew that is decidedly not the Avengers, the story actually begins six weeks before. Captain Marvel and the Iron Patriot intercept an unidentified capsule that is falling towards Earth, only to discover that a girl has been cryogenically frozen inside.
It so happens that Tony Stark proposes the need for a revolving Avengers position in space at about the same time. This position involves keeping an eye on any hostile inhabitants of the universe and occasionally working together with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
So, with the need to return this comatose girl to her home on planet Torfa as the spark, Captain Marvel decides she will be the first Avenger to take the position. This is a very personal decision for Carol, since she gives up the life she’s been carving out for herself, and her fledgling relationship with James Rhodes, in order to go into space on what she hopes will become a journey to find Carol Danvers’ place in the world.
Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, known for her work on Avengers Assemble, Osborn: Evil Incarcerated, Ghost, and Pretty Deadly, paints this journey as one of self-discovery as Carol learns to work together with different groups of people in order to return this girl home and save the refugee planet Torfa.
In her adventures, Captain Marvel is faced with some hard truths: that good intentions often aren’t worth anything unless you can back them up with something physical, and that simply being a superhero isn’t always enough. Luckily, she is more than a superhero. She’s Carol Danvers, a human being with a human’s empathy, flaws, and stubbornness to do what’s right. Even though her offer of help is greeted by most of Torfa’s inhabitants with apathy at the best of times and enmity at the worst, she still does all in her power to help them and eventually finds acceptance and a new group of people that she can count as friends.
As someone new to reading solo Captain Marvel comics, there was one matter that caused me some concern in the initial pages of my reading, but that quickly became a non-issue due to DeConnick’s deft writing. The major conflicts of this volume are a result of the Infinity storyline, which had a tie-in in Captain Marvel #15 – 16. In that plotline, the Avengers fought against the Builders to save Earth from annihilation.
However, it is not necessary to have read this series to understand what is happening in this volume. Indeed, it’s not even necessary to know anything of its existence, really, since the writing more than makes up for any missed plot. The characters give enough back story in their conversations and interact in such a way that it is easy to follow what happened and what the consequences were for the characters. This ability to capture and inform new readers in a medium as intimidating as comics is rare and appreciated. It speaks to DeConnick’s knowledge not only of her own work but to the Marvel universe as a whole, and shows that she is capable of seamlessly giving readers the information they need without disturbing the plot or seeming forced.
As for the art, it’s great to see Jamie McKelvie’s groundbreaking Captain Marvel costume remaining an integral part of the character. I’ve personally never given much thought to superheroine costumes, since almost everyone in comics is trussed up in skin-tight bodysuits, but the skimpy bathing suit and thigh-high boots that fans have long been used to seeing Carol Danvers sport when she’s on the job were always ridiculous for someone fighting the forces of evil. Even someone with invulnerable skin needs to worry about the practicality of their fighting gear. So this change, while a couple years old, is still recent enough that it may be the first encounter with it for returning or new fans like myself. It looks like something she would wear while flying a plane, perfectly at home in a line-up of military uniforms, and lends a larger sense of credibility and seriousness to her role as Captain.
David Lopez, known for Fallen Angel, Hawkeye & Mockingbird, and multiple X-Men titles, provides an art style that is softer and more colorful than the previous incarnations of Captain Marvel. The fight scenes both large and small are excellently crafted and full of energy, and a thrill of anticipation exudes from the page whenever Captain Marvel dons her helmet.
However, the most exciting art is seen when Captain Marvel finally arrives at her destination. Torfa is a planet of refugees from all across the galaxy, so naturally there are different races of aliens coexisting there. Lopez has given each one distinctive features to separate them from the others, and even if you are not given the names of their race or home planet, this forces you to understand just how many people have been affected by the events with the Builders, and how many races are in danger of ceasing to exist if Captain Marvel cannot help them. It is one thing for a character to mention this, it is quite another to actually see it. This diversity adds a sense of anxiety as Captain Marvel and her group work to save them.
This volume delivers on its promise of going higher, further, and faster, and shows just why Carol Danvers is worthy to bear the mantle of Captain Marvel.