Captain Marvel by Thompson & Carnero

I want to love Captain Marvel.

Marvel wants me — and you, and your cousins, and your coworkers and your baristas and your unborn children — to love Captain Marvel. And we all probably will as soon as Brie Larson touches down in March. But I want to love Captain Marvel, the comic book. I want to be as excited about this series as I was when Kelly Sue DeConnick kicked down the “no gurls” clubhouse door and revolutionized not just the character, but the creative face of mainstream comics as well, almost five years ago. But somewhere between then and now (ironically coinciding with an editorial push to get more Carol on the shelves), I have had lukewarm reactions to her portrayal in the monthly books. Series arcs by Fazekas & Butters were okay; Margaret Stohl tried to make a mark, while Bendis missed his. Even her role on Al Ewing’s otherwise excellent Ultimates title made Carol seem distant and unsympathetic.

Thank god for Kelly Thompson.

In what is undoubtedly the most important series relaunch for Captain Marvel in years, timed as it is with her imminent big-screen debut, Thompson returns to the character she co-wrote during the DeConnick era, this time solely responsible for guiding Carol’s forthcoming adventures. In the afterword of this week’s Captain Marvel #1, Thompson discusses what this kind of pressure can do to a person.

I never imagined I’d get to return to her at a time when she’s poised to become more important than ever to more people than ever. In the midst of that dream, however, was the impending doom of what a huge responsibility it was. To get it right, to do Carol justice, to do her readers justice… well, it’s the kind of thing that can keep you up nights.

Sleepless nights aside, I can’t be happier with this relaunch. Besides, maybe she’ll need to embrace a little insomnia to keep up with all her books? Along with Thompson’s work as part of the X-Men writing team, which has given us the best batch of mutant stories in years, she has reminded me how much I love Rogue & Gambit in the pages of Mr. and Mrs. X, and revived a favorite concept in one of the best books of Marvel’s Fresh Start, the new run of West Coast Avengers.

With great power, Kelly…

This first issue manages to pack everything I love about Captain Marvel — and superhero comics in general — into one 30-page blitz. Giant monster fight, the friendship with Spider-Woman, the romantic relationship with Rhodey, the interaction with the Avengers… all beautifully paced and wonderfully interconnected. And as an added bonus, the climactic engagement with Nuclear Man (the “seven-foot-tall dystopian Russian pimp”) sets up something I didn’t know I wanted out of Carol’s experience until I saw it unfold: the obligatory alternate timeline/reality adventure. (Alternate future Jessica Drew looks dope.)

I could keep praising Thompson, but the artwork on this book is incredible as well. Carmen Carnero is a revelation: gorgeous, dynamic action sequences and expressive quiet moments in-between. Basically, exactly what Thompson needs to tell this story.

I’m going to love Captain Marvel.

Also new this week!
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 by Tom Taylor and Juann Cabal

No, we didn’t need another Spidey comic. I also don’t need a second mai tai or another order of fish tacos (I’m writing this while on vacation). But all of those things sure are delightful.

Taylor follows success on Marvel books X-23 and X-Men: Red to zero in a very specific aspect of Peter Parker’s experience. It’s right there in the title: the neighborhood. It’s a fun angle when done well, and Taylor’s knack for crisp dialogue and inventive character interactions is wonderfully suited to apartment building hijinks and Manhattan melees. Partnered with Juann Cabal (also impressive on an X-23 run), whose wonderfully clean and emotive linework gives life to an expanding supporting cast, Taylor serves up the tropical cocktail equivalent of Spider-books, refreshing and fun. We may not need it, but goddamit if we don’t deserve it.

January 2 | Weekly Buzz | January 16