From the opening page of “Captain Marvel” #5, colorist Lee Loughridge makes it dynamically apparent that Carol Danvers is on a poisoned alien world. Light oranges and harsh yellows surround David Lopez’s drawings of Captain Marvel as she searches for her lost ally, Tic, in this story written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Granted, those shades could be the usual atmosphere for Torfa, but the tones are off just enough to make it look unmistakably sickly.
“Captain Marvel” #5 is the fifth part and clear turning point in “Higher, Further, Faster, More.” Carol makes a discovery on Torfa that parallels the revelation DeConnick shares with readers in an audience with J’Son, the Spartoi Emperor, as the despot renegotiates his bargain with the Haffensye space pirates. DeConnick uses the entirety of “Captain Marvel” #5 to set the table and build up a pending epic battle, but gives Carol some nice moments along the way, avoiding caption boxes and letting the characters tell the tale. Letterer Joe Caramagna helps define Carol’s voice, elevating her above her provisional comrades in one panel in particular where a quartet of characters are talking, but their word balloons are masterfully arranged to provide the reader with a hierarchy of the character’s importance.
Lopez’s art is dynamic and light, unburdened by excessive lines. This makes for a natural invitation to collaborate with Loughridge, as the two of them produce wonderful pages together. Not only does Lopez draw definitive expressions, but he also provides just the right framing to allow Loughridge to really sell the emotion. Loughridge maintains the sickly hues across the Torfa scenes, which makes the stark differences between Torfa and the Spartoi command center all the more noticeable. Throughout “Captain Marvel” #5, Lopez’s storytelling drives the tale, spicing things up with a glare from Eleanides or a frown on Carol’s face. The art team has seized the opportunity to define Captain Marvel in this volume and readers need look no further than this issue to understand why.
“Higher, Further, Faster, More” has been running for five issues now, with a sixth upcoming — quite a hefty commitment for an opening arc. DeConnick and company have managed to keep the story moving through character interaction and slowly developing plot twists. “Captain Marvel” #5 could easily have been the chapter that dragged the story out one installment too far, but there’s enough going on, despite the lack of actual battle, to slake readers’ impatience as the creative team tees up what should be one doozy of a space fight.