After the events of “Infinity,” Carol Danvers is back on earth to face a smaller but equally important battle in “Captain Marvel” #17: reestablishing her life in New York after losing her memories and her apartment. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Filipe Andrade bring Carol and her friends full circle in this heartfelt final issue before the title’s four month hiatus. With an incredible handle on dialogue and character building, DeConnick’s “Captain Marvel” is an example of comic book writing at its finest; unfortunately, however, Andrade’s whimsical figure work and confusing action sequences ultimately draw away from the issue as a whole.
By stripping Carol of her memories, DeConnick boils the character down to her most basic traits, effectively showing that heroism has more to do with a personality than a power set. Little victories — like mending a child’s insecurities with just a few words — highlight Carol’s inherent selflessness and drive to do good, more importantly demonstrating that there is no fight too small for a superhero. What’s more, this amnesia sets up a wonderful contrast that displays her authentic vulnerabilities, capturing her stubborn spirit by way of disparity. Through underlining Carol’s basic strengths and faults, DeConnick sets Captain Marvel up as the very definition of a hero.
Where DeConnick easily enforces all of Carol’s characteristics, she also creates a perfect foil for Captain Marvel in Grace Valentine. In the span of a single issue, Valentine develops from a sympathetic out-of-towner to a startlingly violent new villain. Where Carol represents selflessness, Valentine emanates selfishness; Carol’s appeal is effortless, while Valentine struggles too hard for recognition. For the thematic purposes of this issue, DeConnick’s choice and execution of villain is flawless.
Carol isn’t the only focus in this issue; her supporting characters are just as — if not more — important, especially her self-proclaimed “sidekick” Kit. Kit’s vital role in the story is clear from the very recap page, where her to-do list stands in for Carol’s. DeConnick genuinely captures a child’s voice in Kit’s dialogue. Every time the two share a panel, the moment feels palpably tender and heartwarming. With Kit and the people of New York coming to Carol’s aide when she is at her lowest, DeConnick emphasizes the reciprocal nature of heroism; that is, that the people inspire her just as much as she inspires them — that it is ultimately the people’s faith that motivates Carol to take on seemingly impossible feats in their name.
While DeConnick shows comics writing at its peak, Andrade ultimately weakens the issue with his art style. Where his work might fit other, less-action based stories, his whimsical figures with their spindly limbs and underdeveloped appendages just don’t seem appropriate for the “Captain Marvel” title and all its strong characterizations. Overall, his character work feels rushed and unfinished; he seems to become easily overwhelmed with the amount of characters, as background figures quickly lose shape the more crowded a panel becomes. Action sequences, like one in particular where Valentine hits her partner with a lamp, serve only to confuse with indiscernible, stiff movement. Save for some lovely backgrounds and gorgeous coloring on Jordie Bellaire’s part, his style simply cannot convey the emotional impact so inherent to DeConnick’s words.
Kelly Sue DeConnick’s “Captain Marvel” is an important chapter in comic history. With its tear-jerking seventeenth issue, DeConnick salutes her fans — her Carol Corps — in a genuine, heartfelt way that will give even her toughest critics shivers. It’s no small wonder DeConnick has gathered so many followers with her brilliant, witty, and honest style.