Review – The Life of Captain Marvel TP (Marvel Comics)

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Margaret Stohl
Artwork: Carlos Pacheco (pencils), Rafael Fonteriz (inks) and Marcio Menyz (colours)
Flashback Artwork: Marguerite Sauvage, Erica D’Urso, Marcio Menyz
Lettering: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 16th January 2019

In what is becoming something of a recurring caveat with almost every new Marvel comic I read, I have to preface this review by pointing out that I don’t think I’ve ever read a Captain Marvel comic before.  However, with the Marvel Studios movie right around the corner and all manner of buzz surrounding this particular miniseries, I figured the time was right for me to finally delve into the printed world of Miss Carol Danvers.

Perhaps what impressed me most about this series is the fact that, for the most part, Margaret Stohl’s story doesn’t feel like your usual clichéd superhero fare.  Sure, there’s no shortage of superheroics along the way, including a single-minded alien pursuer trying to track Carol down for reasons that are initially unknown, but this is very much a character-focused piece, dealing with Carol’s complicated family situation and the history she has been trying to put behind her.

I’m always more interested in superheroes – particularly insanely powerful ones like Captain Marvel – when they show a little humanity, and it’s this approach which is very much front-and-centre here.  From the opening sequence where Carol’s loss of temper leads to a crippling anxiety attack, to the conflicted and tense return to her family home in New England, to the heart-rending situation surrounding her brother, this is very much a human story, and is actually one of the better ‘big two’ stories I’ve read in quite some time.

It also doesn’t hurt things that it looks the absolute business, with a plethora of artistic talent coming together to bring Carol’s story to life.  Carlos Pacheco (pencils), Rafael Fonteriz (inks) and Marcio Menyz (colours) handle the present-day sections of the story, delivering a slick, confident style that fits smoothly into the familiar superhero comic aesthetic.  The aforementioned alien threat is brought to life well, the action is suitably dynamic, and the colours are bright and bold throughout.

What really adds to the story though is the fact that Marguerite Sauvage (one of my personal favourite artists right now) provides the bulk of the flashback art, with her soft, expressive and slightly soft-focus style adding an element of optimism and childlike wonder to these sequences.  It’s not all smiles and happy memories though, and Sauvage’s versatility enables her to tackle the more upsetting elements of Carol’s past with the requisite gravitas too.  In fact, the juxtaposition between the happy memories and the unhappy ones arguably make the latter resonate more deeply, which only underscores their significance.

For me, this series achieves a lot of different things.  Firstly, it simplifies Captain Marvel’s back story and history, and while I’m loathe to use the word “retcon” for all of its negative implications, there’s definitely an aspect of that here.  Secondly, it paints Carol Danvers as an immensely relatable and likeable protagonist, and instantly made me want to start reading more of her comics.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it manages to tell an intriguing, exciting and engaging story in a relatively self-contained fashion, something a lot of other Marvel comics seem to struggle with.

If you’re looking for a little background reading ahead of the upcoming Marvel Studios movie, I can’t recommend this series enough.  While it’s probably not going to tie into the movie itself too much (although there are some definite possibilities here), Margaret Stohl and the rest of the creative team use this story to tell you everything you need to know about Captain Marvel the hero and, just as importantly, about Carol Danvers the woman.  Get me some more Captain Marvel comics, stat!

Rating: 4.5/5.


ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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