Captain Marvel #14
Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Lee Garbett and Tamra Bonvillain
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
If you haven’t been keeping up with Captain Marvel lately, writer Kelly Thompson and artist Lee Garbett have been putting our hero through the wringer, as she’s been coerced into battling Earth’s Mightiest Heroes one-by-one. While there’s a little bit of sci-fi hand-waving that lessens some of the impact of this self-contained story, there’s a visceral thrill of watching Carol squaring off against her Avengers costars.
While it takes a bit for the action to come to a boil, when it finally does happen, readers are in for a treat - the way Garbett portrays Carol’s eye-catching new costume alongside the Black Panther heavily-inked suit reminds me a lot of Phil Hester’s work, in the best possible way. Five pages of the fight sequence between the two are largely silent, but Garbett’s choreography makes you feel the energy of the scene nicely. He also gets some nice expressive moment, which is no mean feat given that both characters are fully masked and in head-to-toe jumpsuits - a two-panel beat of T’Challa being momentarily surprised really pops nicely.
And despite the main cover spoiling the cliffhanger of the book, Thompson makes a strong effort to position Carol so she has to fight T’Challa at his own game. (I don’t know if I necessarily believe a photon blast would out Carol any more than a mohawked suit with a Kree star on her face, but hey, just roll with it.) Having Carol have to battle T’Challa hand-to-hand is a nice touch, and gets to show off the King of Wakanda’s battle prowess nicely, hopping from technological fix to brutal martial arts and back to a well-placed shot of invisibility. Granted, Thompson winds up having to wrap things up a bit quickly, but all in all, the back half of the book feels nice and solid.
Where the book falters, however, is in the opening pages, where Thompson has to slow down the script to provide six pages of exposition. On the one hand, I get it - obviously Carol is not going to be murdering every member of Marvel’s billion-dollar franchise, so Thompson’s got to figure out a way to hand-wave that away. However, having to info-dump the villainous Vox, not to mention hidden Singularity closets or piles of DNA-perfected Life Model Decoys doesn’t just sap the momentum of the story out of the gate, but hampers the tension of the plot long-term. If Carol can tap into these otherworldly resources, it almost feels like cheating.
But if you don’t stop to think too hard about it, the hero-on-hero fisticuffs is a longtime staple of cape comic books, one even a jaded comic book reviewer can appreciate. Thompson and Garbett deliver the goods as far as Carol Danvers’ one-woman war on the Avengers, and that more than makes up for any clunkiness along the way. As far as Thompson’s tenure on Captain Marvel, this has been a truly fun arc, and one you should definitely give a shot.