It doesn’t seem like that long since the first issue of “Captain Marvel” left me distinctly cold, despite my interest in the character — but “Captain Marvel” #11 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Christopher Sebela and Felipe Andrade is evidence that the book has overcome its stumbling start to become a series with a strong and confident voice.
In particular, DeConnick and Sebela’s dialogue is definitely one of the issue’s strongest aspects. There are bags of personality in everyone’s lines, whether they appear for one panel or ten pages. It’s proof of the writing team’s skill that readers could probably identify who’s speaking even without the art. Plot-wise, it’s dense and fast-moving, unafraid to plough ahead and assume that readers are capable of catching up. It feels a lot like “Hawkeye” in tone, if not aesthetics, which is a comparison definitely intended as a compliment.
Speaking of aesthetics, when I last read the book it was being drawn by Dexter Soy, whose heavily-stylised visuals were a large part of what made the opener such a slog. Filipe Andrade is similarly stylised, but in a more appealing way: his exaggerations are bold and expressive, and while it’s debatable whether the space-warping visuals are necessarily appropriate for a character with a more militaristic background, they’re certainly nice to look at.
What really works about the title is that for all its effortlessly current voice and visuals, it gives a distinctly irony-free approach to solo superheroics. There’s no try-hard twist or arch wink at the readers, it’s just an honest, straightforward, well-executed superhero title. Captain Marvel is a character whose abilities are reasonably generic and her origin is a total mess, so it makes sense to press ahead with using her personality and daily life as the book’s primary hook. Readers can relate to her pressures, even if they’re not identical to our own.
The only really weak point in the title is Captain Marvel’s strange illness, which feels contrived and artificial. Obviously, it’s fiction, it’s all contrived and artificial to an extent — but here, the jeopardy just doesn’t ring true. Perhaps as time continues it’ll become a more credible threat, but at the moment it feels like an attempt to poke at the character’s powers, rather than her personality, which seems like the wrong way around.
Still, those are minor nitpicks against the book’s otherwise enjoyable story. The promise of the new Deathbird and her downright cold-blooded intimidation techniques are more than enough to bring me back next issue. If this is an average instalment, I want to be around when it really hits the high notes.