I hate big event comics. More often than not, I find their ponderous bombast difficult to hold my interest. So often it degenerates into some kind of epic battle or contrived twist. Sometimes both. Then there are the tie-in books; when some of the regular solo characters take a few months off from telling their own story to get involved in the big event (with mixed results). That is not to say that all events are bad, but when Civil War II (CW2) was announced, it had all the trappings of a big money grab by Marvel.
To this point, I have not read a single panel of any CW2 event book or tie-in. Judging by the critical reception, I am not missing out on too much
The thing is, though… I love Captain Marvel. She is my favorite Marvel hero. I love that despite how powerful she is, her writers have been good at getting her into situations that require a softer touch, or to use her brain. This isn’t her strong suit, and it often forces her out of her comfort zone, which is a good way to challenge a hero with that much power. It makes the times when she is able to cut loose and punch the heck out of a giant robot or something that much more fun.
I was sad to see Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run end the way it did. Once again, (sigh) event books broke up Kelly Sue’s arc to the point that the comic suffered (Black Vortex and Secret Wars to name a few), and it didn’t help that Marvel pulled their renumbering shenanigans halfway through Kelly Sue’s run giving us two number ones in as many years. Despite all of that, Captain Marvel has picked up a swath of loyal fans (the Carol Corps) and will presumably be Marvel’s first woman-lead movie when the Captain Marvel film finally debuts (assuming they don’t keep delaying it until super hero movies die of oversaturation).
Another Number One
The latest run started off very well. When Michelle Fazekas and Tara Butters (Television writers and showrunners for Agent Carter, among others) were announced as writers on the latest run, it looked like we were in for a treat. The first arc is a lot of fun. Carol is in charge of Alpha Flight working out in space with Abigail Brand of SWORD (basically SHIELD in space). It has some action, some mystery, some humorous moments. Basically, it’s delightful.
Then Civil War II was announced. At that point, I lost all interest in Marvel comics and stopped reading them. This may be an overreaction, but it’s tiring getting to love a character, and then have their story ruined by tying it in to some big event that you have no intention of reading. Sorry if I’m beating a dead horse here, but I just really don’t like event comics, ok?
Which Brings us to Now. Literally. Marvel is doing this whole “Now” marketing push that I don’t really understand. Captain Marvel is getting another new number one, and a new creative team. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for the new arc. I keep hoping Marvel has learned their lesson with events, and getting burned all over again, but I’ll keep doing it for Carol, because I’m a sucker for a woman in uniform.
Captain Marvel #10
I’m so much of a sucker that I went ahead and picked up the conclusion to Cap’s CW2 solo arc just to get up to speed before the new team takes over.
First thing’s first, there is a different team here. Fazekas and Butters are gone. Christos Gage and Ruth Fletcher Gage took over for Fazekas and Butters for the CW2 issues. In a way I’m glad because I didn’t miss anything cool from the original team. But also, wtf Marvel? Can we keep a team on a book for longer than one arc? (I don’t mean to bad-mouth the Gages. They have a long history with Marvel Comics, and in television writing including Netflix’s Daredevil and Dark Horse’s Buffy: Angel and Faith comic. They have pedigree and are doing a good job here.)
When I cracked this thing open, I read the recap page very carefully, since up to now I only know the bare minimum of CW2 details. The recap catches me up nicely. Basically, a bunch of bad stuff went down. Rhodey (War Machine) is dead, and Carol is fighting with her Alpha Flight buddies.
Heroes Fighting Heroes (spoilers ahead!)
One of the things I disliked about the concept of CW2 right from the get-go is heroes fighting each other. This has been done and done and done again. It’s not new or interesting. I don’t like rooting against heroes.
Carol is fighting with Alpha Flight. She gets the upper hand and they are given into custody of some guy named Philippe Beaulieu, a Canadian government representative of some kind, and lawyer for Alpha Flight. But it turns out that he framed Alpha Flight and manipulated Carol into fighting them. He’s not really Philippe Beaulieu, he’s The Master of the World, aka Joshua Lord, aka Eshu. He’s an ancient and powerful being that has died and been resurrected a bunch of times, and his plan was to discredit and eliminate Carol by turning everyone against her.
Carol has figured this out, evidently, and the fight is on. (This made me glad that her team weren’t the ones she was really fighting, she had to fight them to draw out the impostor, but I digress). The Master has stolen the weapon of a former villain named Thundersword. There is a lot of punching and monologuing here, and eventually Carol is the victor thanks to the original Thundersword taking his weapon away from The Master.
There is an overlong denouement after the fight that begins with Carol flying over swaths of Captain Marvel fans gathered around the Triskelion. She has a talk with Alpha Flight’s board chairman about how the rest of the board was fired for letting The Master into their ranks, and Carol has to lead for awhile with no execs to back her up. She has doubts about her legitimacy as a leader, but is reassured by the people gathered to see her.
Carol returns to Alpha Flight headquarters in space and her team is still a bit shaken up by what’s taken place. Trust will need to be reestablished, but her command is still respected. In the final panels, Carol swoops down over her adoring fans and ponders on her future.
And the Verdict?
I liked it. It wasn’t tough to dive into. The CW2 stuff is treated rather like a macguffin, so whatever is going on outside the Captain Marvel comic doesn’t really figure too much into the story. There are some nice crunchy character moments in here. A number of times, Carol gives voice to her own inner conflict. During the fight, she pontificates on how a leader needs to stand for what she believes in, that isolating her was the wrong move because she’s had to deal with isolation and learn to trust in herself.
In a quiet moment after the battle, she’s talking to Thundersword about how he became a villain in the first place. He talks of feeling worthless even when you think you’re doing a good job, but people call you ‘difficult’, ‘crazy’, or ‘hostile’ for standing up for yourself. (Does that in any way sound familiar to any women out there? POC’s? Queer folks? Anyone?) Carol gets it.
In the end at Alpha Flight headquarters, Carol tells Puck that being a woman in the Air Force basically made her deaf to people rooting for her to fail, even her father. Carol is her own woman, and is unapologetic for who she is. She knows she’s the one for the job because she doesn’t want it. Those who do want to be the boss are the ones that have the ‘my way or the highway’ attitude, an inflated sense of self. Her pragmatism is what makes her successful. Even so, the deaths that resulted from the events of CW2 weigh heavy on her, and she is reluctant to cheer with the crowds of people chanting her name.
It’s all a nice setup to the next run, and I’m looking forward to it now in a way that I wasn’t really before. I’m interested to go back and read the rest of Gage and Gage’s run.
The art by Thony Silas is pretty good. The action is kinetic and the interesting panel setup keeps it flowing well. There are times when some of the characters’ poses look a little bendy, but he draws Carol especially well, particularly her expressions. She has a steely look to her here that I just love. I wouldn’t mind seeing his art in future issues, but the next arc is being drawn by someone else.
All-in-all, this didn’t feel like an essential issue, but I am glad to have read it if for no other reason than some nice character moments with Carol, and a good lead-in to the next arc. Bring on Captain Marvel #0!