I’m really disappointed in Captain Marvel #1. After all the potential the character showed in Avenging Spider-Man #9, I expected the inaugural issue to be equally as entertaining. Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick has a tremendous ear for dialog as well as a knack for solid pacing. Her Avenging Spider-Man was so much fun to read and I wanted the same thing out of Captain Marvel #1. Sadly, that was not to be. Instead, the mix of humor, dialog and heavy-handed “importance” stacks up against the series.
The issue opens with Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and Captain America fighting the Absorbing Man. The two heroes trade barbs and quips with their nemesis but they never get a rhythm going. In Avenging Spider-Man, Deconnick’s rhythms were perfect. The conversation between Spidey and Captain Marvel felt real and the humor landed on all the perfect points. The battle here comes off as too clever, to the point that a few of things Captain America says seem way too off character. When Captain Marvel claims that she “outranks” Cap, he says, “I’ve been trying to get you demoted for years”. I realize its supposed to be funny but it doesn’t sound like Captain America at all. By the end of the scene, the dialog reflects more of an episode of Gilmore Girls than a comic book.
From there, CM #1 takes a really heavy-handed turn. There’s this personal struggle Carol Danvers is having about taking up the mantle of Captain Marvel. Danvers has this whole vibe to her about not being deserving of the name and how it disrespects the now deceased Captain Marvel. I understand the need to have this struggle in there, but it works against type, given the confidence and almost ego that Danvers has throughout the rest of the book. She never comes off as the type who would second-guess herself, so the plot point becomes hard to get behind.
The relationship between Danvers and her dying friend Burke is another example of a great idea that belongs in issue 4 or 5, not 1. Danvers and Burke have a great rapport. It’s clear they care for each other but there’s no false sentiment between them. Burke is tough, Danvers is empathetic and between them the coffee they share says a lot more than just what’s written on the page. I want to see this relationship grow but in an introduction issue it doesn’t work.
A first issue, especially in something like the New 52, is where we get our feet wet with the character. They should be fun, exciting and full of adventure. Watching Carol Danvers walk around wracked with guilt and then attending a funeral before releasing the ashes of her friend into space is a little much for an opener. It also gave no room for the relationship between Burke and Danvers to develop so we can share in the sadness of her loss. With so many cool ways to introduce a character, Captain Marvel #1 makes the introduction a little too serious for a first issue.
Another big problem is the art, which feels wrong for the story. Artist Dexter Soy uses what looks like watercolors and they just hang on the page with no life. The shading is over-pronounced to the point that everybody looks like they suffer from a bad sunburn or a skin condition. I’m also unsure why whenever the heroes have their masks on, they have no pupils. This art style works better for fantasy art or maybe certain science fiction. Here, it weighs an already weighty story down even further.
Captain Marvel is a stumbled start but I’m hoping that the talent DeConnick showed in Avenging Spider-Man ultimately shows through. There should also be an immediate artist change.
(Story: 3, Art: 2)