After the events of “The Enemy Within,” Kelly Sue DeConnick, Jan Van Meter and Patrick Olliffe’s “Captain Marvel” #15 finds an amnesic Carol Danvers in a unique position: allied with former enemies in a bid against the Builders for an “Infinity” tie in event. As with most tie ins, the issue retreads a lot of ground already covered by “Avengers” #18 and “Avengers Assemble” #18, only this time from Carol’s perspective. Unfortunately, this makes the issue come off as a little lackluster, especially compared to past issues of the spectacular “Captain Marvel” story so far; however, DeConnick and Van Meter manage to scrape together an exciting story through Carol’s eyes, regardless of the factors working against them.
Most of the factors working against this issue fall more on timing than the story itself. Since “The Enemy Within” just wrapped, this issue had no time to deal with the aftermath of Carol’s sacrifice before it leapt into the “Infinity” plot; as such, the extent of her memory loss comes across as confusing and inconsistent. Carol seems to remember some things but not others, so ultimately it’s unclear whether those things have been explained to her or if she can remember events up to a certain point. At times, it even feels as though her brain injury is less about memory and more about her emotions, as she reiterates, “I feel nothing” throughout the issue. Likewise, the cliffhanger at the end of the issue — the apparent return of Carol’s Binary powers — comes as no surprise. With the reveal in the solicitation and on the cover, the change doesn’t carry the same weight it could have had otherwise, as the reader anticipates it throughout.
DeConnick and Van Meter manage to save the story through Carol’s cold narration. Since a lot of the issue is a rehash of “Infinity” events, Carol’s voiceover stands out, especially since her personality remains pretty consistent with her character before “The Enemy Within” through most other Avengers’ eyes. Her tone is flat and matter-of-fact — a nice contrast from the passionate Carol of earlier issues. Other smaller changes crop up organically through the storytelling, little slipups that make it clear that Carol is different, emphasizing the alteration that she otherwise effectively covers up. Although the writers don’t get much of an opportunity to continue Carol’s personal story, they utilize every opportunity to its fullest extent.
Like Carol’s inner monologue, Olliffe’s artwork is similarly emotionless — but not in a way that necessarily benefits the issue. The art simply cannot capture the high tensions of war with its static facial expressions; the characters’ mouths only rarely move for the dialogue. Each character appears to be based off the same stock figure, in that they all stand at the same height and posses the same face shape. Its only saving grace is its fluid, colorful layout, which could only be improved by colorist Andy Troy as it stood.
“Captain Marvel” #15’s greatest misfortune was having its release synced with the “Infinity” event. With Olliffe’s stagnant art and a rigid plot formula to follow, DeConnick and Van Meter do their best nonetheless with the slack they got, using every opportunity to expand on Carol’s personal story. “Captain Marvel” has nowhere to go but up from this point forward, especially with the exciting Binary tease left at the end of the issue.