Sunday, June 16, 2024

Trainees Steal the Show in Captain Marvel

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Last month, the Secret Empire event tie-in bonanza got its greasy mitts all over Mighty Captain Marvel (MCM). Despite our fears, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. In fact, MCM #5 did just about everything right. Carol and Alpha Flight are in space, removed from the happenings on Earth. Shut out, in fact, by a force field that Carol helped design. That allows for Carol’s story to play out adjacent to Secret Empire without being involved directly in it. Some of Marvel’s cosmic heroes have joined the fray along with some new cadets hand-picked by Carol to train at Alpha Flight. Together they face the threat of Chitauri invasion with no help from Earth. It’s a precarious position to be sure, but we’re confident Carol can rise to the occasion.

Wearing them Down

Oh crap.

We open on Carol during a lull in the action. The Chitauri are coming in waves giving Alpha Flight precious little time to recover before the next arrives. So far they are holding up, but not without a few casualties. Carol laments the loss of one of Earth’s most virtuous heroes to the side of evil (Steve Rogers in case you didn’t know), while the rest of her crew struggles to recover and repair the station. There is no breaking through the shield. They just have to hold out hope that they can survive the Chitauri waves long enough that help will come for them.

Soon, the bad guys are back and the fight is on. With heroes like America Chavez, Monica Rambeau, and the Guardians of the Galaxy, Carol is in good company, and they are able to thwart one more wave of invaders. Carol knows they can’t last forever, so she sends Peter Quill and his crew on a mission to recruit help outside of Earth. Hope seems slim, as Quill and company aren’t exactly the most well-respected group of space-farers, but Carol remains optimistic.

Cadet’s Time to Shine

You go, Carol. F$#@ up that panel!

While Carol continues to beat herself up over not seeing Hydra Cap coming, the cadets decide to act against orders and fix Alpha Flight’s communications. These three joined the cast of MCM last issue, and though at first glance they appear to be there to tick all the diversity boxes, they have quickly endeared themselves to us as characters. They are plucky, capable, and just a little bit rebellious. (They’d have to be to be hand-picked by Carol herself). They quickly set to work on boosting the station’s radios to penetrate the planetary shield.

Believing the radio completely inoperable, Carol’s frustration gets the better of her and she has a full-blown Kylo Ren style tantrum, smashing up her control panel. Then a proximity alarm goes off. It’s the Chitauri! Nope, it’s three disobedient cadets out on a space walk. Carol heads out to wrangle them. Just then the real Chitauri show up.

Carol is ready to punch some more faces when the radio kicks on. The cadets did it! There’s no time to celebrate though, as the next wave of Chitauri are at their doorstep.

Mixed Bag

I want to like this comic. As much as I don’t care for Secret Empire, I’m a die-hard for Carol, and want her book to succeed. Last issue was very well done in spite of the event tie-in, which mostly has to do with keeping Stohl as the writer. She’s had Carol for 5 plus issues now, and made it clear pretty quickly that she was the right one for the job.

This issue, however is a little less successful than the last, and it may be because its main hero is not doing much.

Go out and punch something, would ya?

The three cadets are great characters, and their part of the book is the strongest. Carol’s half suffers a bit. Carol is in full emo mode, and it reminds us too much of Civil War II. Judging by the cover and the title of the arc “Band of Sisters” we’re being sold a book about an epic team up of powerful heroic women. What we get is one panel of them fighting together, a few panels of America and Abigail Brand bantering, and… that’s about it. Carol sends Peter for help against all odds, and she spends the rest of the issue beating herself up instead of being the proactive stand-up woman we know Carol to be. She’s mad as hell at Steve, and perhaps a bit shaken, sure, but she doesn’t do anything with it. Then again, if we’re supposed to feel her frustration, it’s working.

The Cadet Show

Look at them go.

The three cadets are carrying this issue. They are the ones coming up with the desperate plan that puts their lives on the line. Carol really chose her team well. Though why they chose to take it upon themselves with heroes like America and Monica around, we can’t figure out. Even if it was a matter of them knowing the tech, it would still help to have an armed escort what with roving gangs of Chitauri around.

Regardless if their decision was sound or not, the cadets prove themselves as valuable assets to Alpha Flight, and credits to Carol who chose to start the cadet program in the first place. These three are going to single-handedly save the base, and possibly, judging by what happens in the last few panels, save Captain Marvel as well. These three, since being introduced last issue, have quickly proven themselves, and they seem like fun characters. They banter well together, and they function well as a team. They pretty much steal the show.

My biggest complaint is where are all the other heroes? Monica Rambeau, and America Chavez and Abigail Brand are all great characters, but they don’t do anything. It’s a little disappointing that this issue has basically sidelined them. I’m willing to give Stohl and Bandini the benefit of the doubt that we will see more sisters in the next Band of Sisters, but cool cadets aside, this one was a bit of a letdown in the heroism department.

The art remains strong. Bandini and Arciniega are a good fit for this book. We love the designs of the cadets, and even though the big heroes don’t have much to do, it doesn’t hurt the story too badly when we’ve got these three to hang around with. Next month, we’ll see who will step up next as the battle to save Alpha Flight continues. Hopefully, with Captain Marvel sidelined, someone can fill her shoes.

Fandomentals Rating: 7/10 Distress Signals

The Mighty Captain Marvel #6: Band of Sisters Part 2 of 4

Writer: Margaret Stohl

Artist: Michele Bandini

Colorist: Erick Arciniega

Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Images Courtesy of Marvel Comics

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