Captain Marvel #5

Story by
Art by
Lee Weeks, Jesse Delperdang
Colors by
Matt Milla
Letters by
Todd Klein
Cover by
Marvel Comics

In retrospect, there’s a lot about “Captain Marvel” #5’s big reveal that makes sense. I warn you now, I’m going to very definitively spoil the issue so that I can discuss it. If you’re intending to actually read the issue, then come back later. The big twist in the story, which arrives fairly early on, is that Captain Marvel actually turns out to be one of them Skrulls you’ve been hearing so much about. Seems pretty obvious, in retrospect, doesn’t it? Especially in light of a ship filled with other 70s heroes landing on Earth in “Secret Invasion” #1.and the way Marv turned up in ambiguous circumstances, smack-bang in the middle of “Civil War”.

In light of all that, the “Captain Marvel” miniseries has retrospectively become something of an odd beast. It’s really one giant “Secret Invasion” prologue story, with reveals about the Church of Hala and Marv himself being Skrulls. If this were the five opening issues of an ongoing series, I could almost understand it, but as a complete story in itself, it feels like it has under-delivered, and I say that as someone who’s been a very big fan of all of Reed’s other work.

Of course, Marv rejects his Skrull heritage, choosing instead to fully submit to the brainwashing that makes him believe he’s the real Mar-Vell. From this, it’s a possibility - a likely one - that Reed is setting up Captain Marv-skrull as a permanent fixture in the MU. If true, then he’s going to have one of the most ridiculous origin stories ever. A Skrull brainwashed to think that he’s half-human, half-Kree, all-dead superhero? As origins go, it’s no “bitten by a radioactive Spider” or “injected with super-soldier serum” is it?

While I’m trying not to be entirely negative, the last element I don’t understand was the choice of trigger image. The amount of page time given to the painting, I felt, lead me to believe that the image, itself, held the key to some mystery, and had some wider significance beyond “when you see it you’ll remember everything” (which didn’t even work properly as it was.) If there was any deeper meaning to the choice of painting, I didn’t see it explained here.

Still, now for some good points. Weeks’ art is great, and he manages to meld Marv’s fairly classic, bright super-hero look with the darker, street-level elements where some artists might struggle. Reed’s handling of the Marv/Danvers relationship is definitely one of the series more successful elements, and complements his work in “Ms. Marvel” perfectly. We also get some very pertinent information about how the Skrulls operate, including the first in-story proof that not every Skrull might realize that they are one - all crucial information for those trying to unravel the “Secret Invasion” plot.

Now completed, it seems fair to assess the “Captain Marvel” mini as more good than bad, but as a series in itself it doesn’t quite work. Given Marv’s appearance in “Secret Invasion” #1, it seems like it’ll be almost essential reading for those interested in the crossover, but if you don’t care about Skrulls at all then you can pretty much write off the entire series. Kudos to Marvel for setting this all up in advance in a way that makes total sense, but if you wanted to get a genuine Captain Marvel story out of it, well, I’m not convinced it fits the bill.

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