Captain Marvel #20 (Review)

Captain Marvel #20
Marvel

Story: Kelly Thompson
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Jorge Molina

THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR EMPYRE… read at your own discretion.

Summary:

THE ACCUSER CORPS! Captain Marvel recruits some of her closest allies to unravel the mystery of the Universal Weapon – and the woman she’s meant to accuse. But is Carol splitting her power just when she’ll need it most? And how is the united Kree/Skrull Empire going to react to three more HUMAN Accusers?!

Review:

Writers like to plot out their stories. It’s kind of a thing. That way they know where their going with the characters and the story. It’s important. They layout the arcs and subplots, detailing the timing of events so they coincide to come together at just the right moment – and then your editor calls to let you know that the publisher is going to use your main character in a company wide cross-over event and there will be some major changes…

As a writer you have two options. Build the elements of the crossover into your preexsisting story.

OR

Panic and start writing off the cuff with no clear direction in mind, just get the comic out DAMMIT!

The problem with this issue of Captain Marvel is I can’t really tell what choice writer Kelly Thompson made. The issue itself reads really well. The story is self-contained and resolved within the issue and leads nicely into the next… BUT… I’m not sure where Thompson is going. I’m not sure that the writer knew that Marvel was going to take Captain Marvel and throw her into such a major role within Empyre.

It leaves a lot of questions.

None the less, Thompson takes the events of Empyre and spins the series out into an interesting direction. The hammer of the Accuser is now in four pieces and Captain Marvel has given her friends a copy of the mythical weapon. It feels like a chance to get some second tier characters some face time in this big summer event. No one at Marvel knew what else to do with War Machine, Spider-Woman, and Hazmat. (Hazmat? Really?)

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The great thing is that this rag tag team of hammer swingers is fun! Watching the team fawn over their new toys is funny. The character interplay is sharp and witty. The jokes land. It’s nice to read a comic where the characters are having a good time using their powers. Such a nice change of pace when it seems like every comic book is talking about the burden of doing what every average person would kill to do.

This comic on it’s own is a refreshing take. But when it’s forced to tie back into the events and characters of Empyre it starts to get weighed down and drag. There is little reaction or backstory here about how Carol feels about becoming the Accuser. Maybe that was addressed in the previous issue, but for readers stepping into this installment, there is no insight or information that might give a reason why she is now carrying around a cosmic sledgehammer. (It makes me wonder if Thor has hammer envy)

There is also the matter of the timing of this comic. For those that have been following the crossover this book lands after a major reveal. SPOILERS!!!!!!

Emporer Hulking isn’t who he appears to be. That happened in issue 5 of Empyre, yet he is here in this book talking with Cap and her team as the good natured teen emperor. It seems to be out of sync with the rest of the summer event. Cap should know that she is dealing with a villain and not running off into space to do his bidding.

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Which again, makes me wonder how Thompson is writing this series. How much of a head’s up was she given to prepare her own title for the fallout of Empyre?

Then there is the matter of Lauri-ell. UGH! I hate that name. I get the joke. I’m not sure how it came to be, but naming your new character after a popular make up brand is not the greatest move on a title that is constantly targeted by the macho, chest thumping members of comic fandom.

I hate the name. It’s ludicrous, but damn if I don’t like this character! I’ve always been a sucker for the foreigner in a strange land shtick. Watching Lauri try to understand Earth culture made me smile. I want to see more of this character. And with the events of Empyre taking out Jennifer Walters, I’m left wondering if perhaps this new character might be a stand in for She Hulk… or perhaps the new Accuser once the dust of Empyre has settled. Lauri has potential.

As much as I have focused on the writing and the characters, all of this was beautifully drawn by Cory Smith. He keeps the action moving at a brisk pace with art that keeps the reader’s attention. The depiction of Lauri makes her look like a lumbering massive alien, and a sizable threat while Cap is graceful. The design of the war hammers is interesting and visually appealing. This could be a fun little comic if the status quo were left right here, but as I have whined about throughout this review, this is a tie-in so the changes that happened in the last few issues will quickly be wiped away as Thompson tries to get back to the story she was originally trying to tell.

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