Shelby: Mistaken identities and their resulting confusion have got to be one of the more commonly used plot devices out there. I think just about every play I did in high school drama involved people being mistaken for someone else and a lot of hiding in closets/multiple door antics. It’s commonly used because it’s one small moment that can quickly telescope into an entire story; each person’s unexpected reaction based on the mistake triggers another unexpected reaction, and so on and so forth. It’s so easy when we’re outside observers to see that if everyone would just calm down and think for a second, everything would make sense. As Carol Danvers is about to learn, however, sometimes mistakes happen so fast, you don’t even have a second to spare to think about it.
Carol is heading to the planet Torfa with her comatose cargo when she’s stopped by a band of mercenaries. When they refuse to get out of her way and she refuses to back down, a space battle ensues. Carol drives them off with a handy assist from the Guardians of the Galaxy. As Rocket helps to repair her ship, he spots her adorably in-the-way cat, Chewie, and shoots at it, screaming that it’s a flerken that needs to be killed. A stray shot short-circuits Tic’s sleeping pod, and she wakes up just in time to hear Peter talk about his Spartax lineage. Apparently, a couple hundred years ago, most of the settlers on Torfa died mysteriously; despite never figuring out what caused it, the Galactic Council (headed by Peter’s father) sent the Builder refugees there. They all started getting sick (shocking no one), and the Council was trying to re-relocate everyone on the DL. Tic is therefore not a big fan of Spartaxians, so she grabs a gun and, well, you can probably guess the rest.
There are a lot of fortunate (and unfortunate, I suppose) circumstances that make this story possible. The Guardians just happen to show up as Carol is fighting the mercenaries, Rocket just happens to mistake Chewie for some apparently terrible and clearly made-up alien creature, the short-circuit just happens to wake up Tic, and so on. The whole plot is comprised of dumb luck and assumptions, which for me doesn’t make this story especially compelling. I’m intrigued by the circumstances; with a overgrown governing body responsible for the death of an entire planet’s worth of people, this is sounding more and more like Firefly as we go forward. The problem is, I don’t feel any solid connection to these characters. The Guardians seem to be fulfilling their role of popping in out of nowhere and being snarky, which is fine enough, but this book is called Captain Marvel, and I have almost no concept of who she is yet. I feel like I’ve gotten a rather superficial introduction to the character; she’s got a heart of gold and excels at sassy repartee, but that’s about all I’ve gotten so far. It’s a big step away from the first issue, wherein she was taking charge of her life and making really big decisions for herself; here she’s got very little agency, she just falls into confusing situations.
While I didn’t find this issue to be particularly compelling, I wouldn’t say it was wholly un-enjoyable. This is a popcorn flick of an issue, with big action and witty one-liners.
Artist David Lopez is a big contributor to that; he imbues that cat with so much character it makes me smile every time. He’s got a real way with drawing a cat in a snit. And like I said earlier, the situation itself is intriguing enough, what with the dirty political dealings and the helpless civilians caught in the crossfire. I just wish I felt a deeper connection to Carol herself. I’m sure this has a lot to do with the fact I haven’t read any of DeConnick’s previous run on this book, but based on what I’ve seen here, I’ve only gotten a shallow glimpse at this character so far. I recognize that it is only the second issue (kind of), and that there’s still plenty of time and opportunity to get to know Carol. Plus, I do like me some space antics, especially when they involve the Guardians. Scott, what do you think? Am I being too hard on this book and Carol herself? Do you have any idea what could be so terrible about flerkens?
Scott: I’m not sure what Rocket has against flerkens; personally, I think the fact that Carol has a furry co-pilot named Chewie is pretty darn adorable. After a pair of Star Wars references in Captain Marvel 1, it fits in with what we know about Carol. Sure, being a Star Wars fan doesn’t exactly make her unique, but it’s a little detail that helps inform my idea of who Carol is, while also making me crack a smile. Plus, while wanting to live out a Star Wars fantasy doesn’t seem like the enough reason for a superhero to head off into space, I have to think that’s actually the best motivation we have in this day and age. If I ever got to go on an intergalactic adventure, I know I’d be doing my best Han Solo impression the whole way.
Shelby, I think you’re mostly right about this issue. It relies heavily on coincidences and misunderstandings to provide conflict — a better way to generate eye-rolls than dramatic tension. Rocket mistaking a cat for an awful alien creature is good for a laugh or two, but when that one simple joke takes up a quarter of the issue, it grows pretty tiresome. That section’s saving grace is, like Shelby pointed out, Lopez’s impeccable ability to draw cat facial expressions. Lopez turns Chewie into a character in his own right — a worthy adversary for the relentlessly snarky Rocket.
Besides the cat/flerken debate, I didn’t find the story’s other events to be egregious, especially with the context provided by Captain Marvel 1. The Guardians have a knack for being in the right place at the right time, but in this case I assumed they were keeping an eye on Carol at Tony Stark’s request, rather than showing up out of sheer coincidence. Carol rendezvousing with the Guardians was part of the original plan.
Tic’s role in the opening pages of the previous issue made her appearance in this issue much more interesting. There, Carol and Tic are working together on a mission on Ursor 4. That’s two weeks after the events of this issue, meaning Carol has only two weeks to go from being held at gunpoint by Tic…
…to convincing Tic to join her team. That tells me more about Carol than anything else. She has a way with people, an ability to someone who stole her ship — and her cat — into a friend. I don’t know a whole lot about Carol at this point, but I already know I like her, and I’m anxious to learn more.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?