THE AMAZINGLY UNCANNY SFSW COMICS COLUMN VOL. 8
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK!
No, really don’t.
It’s been some time, my friends, hasn’t it? Long story short – I lost about a month of edits to my novel OF FATES CONVERGED (shameless plug!) and need to take a little hiatus from these columns to basically redo it. After that I was kinda on a roll with the novel so I took the opportunity to put some query letter together and whatnot.
But I digress.
So it’s been a couple of months since we’ve done one for these, but I’m back and ready to bring you all a glimpse into the amazing and astonishing world of comic-bookery as only Searching for Superwomen can! This initial return column will be something of a “Best of” highlighting two of my favorite issues that came out while we were away. And we’ll be back with our regularly scheduled reviews and the features coming next week! For today I’ve got my thoughts on the last two issues of CAPTAIN MARVEL and MS MARVEL – Carol Corps and Kamala Korps represent y’all.
So once again, for the first time in a long time, hang onto your butts True Believers, because here we go!
A quick warning, there will be SPOILERS for the books, so you if you fear spoilers like I fear overwriting the wrong file on Dropbox and losing a month’s worth of OH WAIT THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED, then finish up your books and come on back when you’re ready.
Then on with the show!
CAPTAIN MARVEL #4 (MARVEL)
W/ Kelly Sue Deconnick
A/ David Lopez
I don’t know about you all, but I am super super excited for Guardians of the Galaxy this summer. Like irrationally so. Like as irrational as having a talking tree and raccoon as characters in a major summer blockbuster.
I’ve never read any of their comics, however, but this CAPTAIN MARVEL series has given me a great introduction those characters and the Cosmic segment of the Marvel universe I never really experienced before. The Guardians were pretty prominent in the last couple issues (Rocket Raccoon vs. Carol’s Flarken Cat being the highlight), but now Carol is building her own ragtag squad of galactic misfits.
The issue begins with Carol trying to plead her case to refugees of a planet destroyed during the INFINITY event from earlier this year. They blame the Avengers, who actually defeat those responsible for the planet’s destruction, and Captain Marvel as their proxy for not doing enough to stop the doom of their world. There’s also a plague on the loose threatening these refugees, political scheming behind the scenes with some nefarious forces trying to take advantage of their state of turmoil, all the while Carol trying to find a way to save everyone and prove the Avengers are indeed a force for good.
To this end, Carol assembles her Corps in this issue – Tic, the green refugee girl who brought Captain Marvel to this planet in the first place, Gil, the horned and mutton-chopped bounty hunter, B-Bop, some robot thing who “loves a good game of ‘Who’s More Doomed’” (who doesn’t, really?) and Jackie the serpent haired Chief Engineer/Self Proclaimed Warlord Goddess.
The story is really starting to gel at this point – all of the players are on the board and we have a good idea what Carol and her team are really up against. As someone who’s never read a Captain Marvel book before this one, I feel like I’ve gotten to know the character and understand her motivations in just these few short issues. Carol is very much cut from the mold of a Superman or Captain America – an old school hero and champion of the downtrodden. I’d even go so far as to say (as I have before) Carol IS Marvel’s Superman.
She’s just that important.
Deconnick provides great voice to Carol and company here – each one has a distinctive personality and serves a purpose for the Corps as a whole. And even though, with the exception of Tic, they’ve only been together for less than an issue, the team’s disparate personalities have already begun to click, thanks in no small part to Deconnick’s snappy dialogue. We have a little bit more insight into the villain’s motivations here, and hopefully that will be fleshed out in the following issues as well.
There’s also a whole bunch of diversity in the group Deconnick has assembled for Carol. Each character has his of her own unique style and look – displayed with great skill by David Lopez. I’m hesitant to call his art simplistic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – no panel is too cluttered or overbearing, all the line work is crisp and neat. I think where Lopez really shines is his facial expressions, they’re cartoony, but to the point of caricature – the huge goofy smile on Carol’s face when she’s tugging on Gil’s cheeks (and the disgust on his face) are a great example of this. The art provides very effective visual storytelling and does a wonderful job of portraying the emotions of the characters, in very real way.
MS MARVEL #4 (MARVEL)
W/ G. Willow Wilson
A/ Adrian Alphona
We left Kamala in a precarious situation last issue – shot in the gut after a botched robbery-thwarting attempt. Luckily for Kamala one of her developing powers is the ability to regenerate her body, but only when she’s not transformed into someone else (and demonstrated this to pal Bruno by fishing the bullet out of her drawers). But this also means when the cops show up, she has to greet them in her regular Kamala-body, not as the old Carol Danvers Ms. Marvel. Using one of those sleeping mask thingies as disguise, Kamala declares herself the new Ms. Marvel to the befuddled authorities.
It’s up to Kamala to save their friend who’s been manipulated and now captured by the nefarious Inventor, who has been mentioned but unseen in the series thus far. Clad in a new prototype costume (plus yellow fanny pack) Kamala storms The Inventor’s lair, making quick work of his henchmen with he giganto-hands and doing some Mr. Fantastic style stretchy smashing of his creepy robo-security. She finds their friend, only to be confronted by The Inventor himself (I assume) – a dude with a red mohawk, some kind of laser gun and pink cut-off with “IMA BAD GUY” written on it. A master of subtlety, this Inventor is not.
Another strong issue here with Kamala finally taking the mantle of Ms. Marvel for herself without changing into the form of Carol Danvers. This is actually a huge moment in the series (and marked by Kamala going ceiling-tile-smashy giant and declaring she has BIG POWERS) as the whole series has been about Kamala always wanting to be someone else, but now she’s discovered she can be herself and still make a difference in the world. Donning the first draft of what will eventually be her regular costume and taking on her first real set of baddies is a pretty big deal too. It was pretty awesome to see her powers in action against The Inventor’s robo-critters, using them in inventive and impressive ways, consider that she’s still trying to figure out how to use them. The Inventor looks interesting enough – it’s a pretty cool character design (and other place where Alphona has excelled in this book) I just hope he’s more than your generic Evil Robot Maker Guy and has good backstory and moviation. I have a feeling he’ll be fleshed out more in the next couple issues.
Alphona kills on are as usual, no surprise here. Kamala’s expressions whether it be trepidation, joy, terror, trepijoyrror or whatever are perfect. I will say that some of art has gotten noticeably sketchier in the last couple of issues – not a horrible thing – but you can tell Alphona was starting to have to pick up the pace a little with these. I think he’s taking a well deserved (but very disappointing for me) break with #7, so I have no doubt he’ll be back better than ever.
Brian O’Conor is lifelong comics reader and a fantasy author. If you like what you’ve read here, there’s more semi-coherent rambling on his blog or you can follow him on Twitter for some of his bite-sized brain pickings!