Review by Frank Plowright
With the knowledge that a Captain Marvel film was in development, the character was again relaunched with young adult novelist Margaret Stohl picking up after the none too well received Civil War II that set Captain Marvel against Iron Man. Carol Danvers is still with Alpha Flight, and resident on a space station constantly monitoring for threats from space.
The single word review has to be ‘disappointing’, particularly after Kelly Sue DeConnick’s appealing work on the previous Captain Marvel run. The feeling is of Stohl trying too hard by throwing in too much, not leaving her with enough space to develop plots and ideas. There’s a big background of Earth taking in increasing numbers of alien refugees, and two humanity altering events predicted for the near future, while the plot is humanised by a shapeshifting bounty hunter targeting a Kree child. Captain Marvel herself is half Kree via circumstances skimmed over relating to her first acquiring super powers.
Bathos is the storytelling device Stohl applies consistently. Time and again Captain Marvel is limited by absurdities. The financing for the Alpha Flight space station depends on a third rate TV series about Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel is the most powerful superhero on Earth, but her powers keep going wrong. She needs some help with genetic structure, but has alienated the only person apparently able to help her. She’s also alienated her best friend, but that’s inconvenient, so instead of festering grudges and righteous anger, everything is settled extraordinarily rapidly with a hug in a coffee bar at 3 am, just the way they’d do it in Friends. The sitcom template is applied, with barely anyone in the cast short of a quipped reply or a sarcastic comment, but it’s forced, attempting to excise any emotion that might pass as real. Worse still, the references slotted into the jokey comments are so dated. Hammer Time? Really?
Neither is Alien Nation saved by the art. Ramon Rosanas has been really good elsewhere, but here his figures are posed and awkward, and Sasquatch looks like they’re renting a cheap halloween costume. Perhaps someone realised Rosanos was underachieving and removed him, but he’s gone for the finale, and three credited artists is a sure sign the departure hadn’t been planned for. Brent Schoonover, Ro Stein and Ted Brandt aren’t poor, but their styles clash with each other and clash with Rosanas. It’s a shame there wasn’t more of Emilio Laiso who begins the book.
That three artist finale is a confused mess, introducing the overarching villain of the piece, whose catspaw has never convinced as the threat they’re meant to be, and, God help us, remains free to cackle and gloat in the future.
Throughout the 21st century Carol Danvers has been on a continually upward quality curve, culminating with that very well received run by DeConnick, but just when Marvel needed to keep things on a plateau they’ve messed with success. Perhaps Band of Sisters will be an improvement.