Monday, 10 February 2014

Review: Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight

Kelly Sue DeConnick & Dexter Soy/Emma Rios
Marvel Comics (2012)
 Volume 1, Issues 1-6

Captain Marvel grabbed my attention for a few things;

  1. Kelly Sue Connick upgraded her from Ms to Captain (tip of the hat to that), 
  2. Katee Sackhoff, TV's Starbuck, has stated she would love the opportunity to play Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel, 
  3. she may make an appearance in The Avengers 2 and 
  4. I've heard nothing but glowing things about the newest incarnation of the character. 

Captain Marvel opens with Captain America and Carol Danvers fighting the Absorbing Man.  It's an action packed exercise in hilarity as they exchange witticisms and generally make me love them both.  Carol's adoption of the new moniker is done well and then we're thrust into the story of how this lady became a pilot.

Danvers is a leader with compassion and decisiveness a-plenty.  She has a new name, a new outfit and a new hairdo but others are more preoccupied with those aspects than she is.  In remembrance of an old friend she takes a plane out and finds herself back in World War 2 fighting alongside the Banshee Squadron (an all female band of soldiers.) Danvers has a long history of being a quality leader and this volume explores that solidly; from Spider-Man and Captain America's respect of her to her support of the Squadron - Carol's the (wo)man on top.  A solider, a leader and a superhero...who just happens to have lady bits.

The segue from fight to backstory to time travel is clunky but works due to the charm that DeConnick integrates into the narrative.  She has a nice handle on the characters, firmly depicting them as individuals and utilising humour throughout.  There's serious moments too; DeConnick's way of describing the containment of Danver's powers after creating an energy field in issue 4 is very well crafted.

There is plenty of potential but there's a lack of cohesion that is somewhat disappointing; from WW2 girl versus alien battles, the gender politics of 1960s astronaut programs, to the claiming of a male superhero's name...there's a lot to take in.  Perhaps if it had been less ambitious it would have clicked better?

The final issue sees Carol fighting for her existence and claim her place as Captain Marvel. The antagonist (no spoilers) in this phase of the narrative isn't as strong as their earlier impression with the narrative with its foot off the pedal for the final beatdown.  The finale cleverly integrates Danvers origin story but the art unfortunately doesn't ratchet the tension.

The art

In a move that is quite disconcerting the cover and interior art work changes after issue 4.  It is sadly a jarring experience and makes little sense when the storyline was only six issues.

Issues 1-4: The cover art by Ed McGuinness is bold and derivative of the propaganda posters of the past.  While this is fitting, it doesn't completely work with the art work by Dexter Soy.  Soy's work is aesthetically quite apart from anything I've previous seen in comics.  It's refreshing sometimes, confusing and swampy at other.  There is a beauty to his vision, however it doesn't cleanly convey the action which would pair more strongly with DeConnick's narrative.

Soy does make some striking calls in issue four with interesting depictions of a concussion and experiencing a white out but it's not enough to make a strong impact on the whole.

Issues 5-6: The artwork in the final two issues of the volume are completely incongruous to its predecessors.  Whereas Soy's work was muddy, EmmaRios' is languid lines and underwhelming depictions of physicality were frankly disappointing. Every character's stance looks like they're about to get knocked over by a gust of wind. Neither artist managed to clearly encapsulate the story the writer put forth.

In contrast Terry and Rachel Dodson's covers were lovely.  Much more feminine than any of the work had been throughout the volume, the matching of strength and softness of palette were striking.

Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight is an ambitious detailing of Carol Danvers and while it isn't wholeheartedly successful, I look forward to its progress.  DeConnick holds Danvers in high esteem and as such there's nobody better to write her.

No comments: