"Captain Marvel" #7 reads like a whacky, snappy about-face from the "Higher, Further, Faster, More" arc. Less somber and sentimental, "Captain Marvel" #7 is the sort of space adventure that starts with breakfast and ends with angry cats. Though it takes a while to get to the point, the conversations and characters are fun enough to carry the reader that far. If this issue is a sign of things to come, I'm excited for Carol to have a few more cosmic adventures before heading home.
This issue also marks Marcio Takara's first time on "Captain Marvel," and his lighter, fluid style is a perfect fit for an issue that's mostly conversations. Carol is given a much softer face, with tousled hair, a profusion of dark eyelashes and cheekbones conveyed almost entirely by Loughridge's colors. She's still very much Carol, snarky and eyebrow-raising, but it's quite a change from David Lopez's more chiseled, military look. Takara's style also interacts well with Loughridge's colors. His inks are lighter, and his panels less full, so the colors are often allowed to take control and set the mood. All told, this art works swimmingly for the tone and setting.
Plot-wise, things stall a bit. This is mostly a conversation-having, dynamic-establishing issue, and it's a real change in pace from the previous arc. DeConnick expands on Carol's rapport with both Rocket Raccoon and Tic -- one antagonistic, one protective. Carol's exasperated, reluctant mentorship of Tic makes me smile, and DeConnick puts the two on equal footing when Carol least expects it. It gives their dynamic some necessary ebb and flow.
Rocket is written as an amusing ball of opinions, and he gives Carol plenty of material to bounce off of. DeConnick mines their past disputes cleverly, and Takara's close-ups of Rocket's face made me laugh. However, his dialogue is relentlessly one-note, so it eventually grates. Now, I don't expect Rocket Raccoon to be a well of soliloquies and introspection, but going forward I'd appreciate less of a cartoon cutout.
Letterer Joe Caramagna makes much of the issue possible, as he's given some heavy lifting to do. Between Carol's voiceover, Chewie, the ship's navigation and everyone's dialogue, there are easily a half dozen lettering treatments to deal with, usually more than one per panel. Caramagna nestles them all in nicely, so that the text is organized and readable. It's only chaotic when it's meant to be.
Structurally, the issue a game of leapfrog -- except, of course, for the dramatic opener. Despite pulling the much-loathed "it was just a dream" trick, these first five pages serve as a reminder of the emotional stakes for Carol -- protecting the people she loves -- and ground the otherwise silly issue in that desire. There's also a lovely deflating contrast between her simplistic dream universe, where all her friends are hapless victims, and reality, where they're agents of their own destinies.
Aside from the dream sequence, things happen in rapid succession without much connective tissue. DeConnick gets away with it by smartly anchoring each new development around a conversation. Character-driven dialogue is perhaps her best strength as a writer, so these conversations make the plot jet by. (That said, there is one big development, and while I won't spoil the reveal, it made me grin. DeConnick makes good use of an existing joke.)
"Captain Marvel" #7 is, above all, fun. This arc might not be going higher and faster, but it's definitely looking kookier and happier, and I'm excited.