Marvel Team-Up #4 Review

by Charles Martin on July 31, 2019

Marvel Team-Up #4 Review
Writer: Clint McElroy
Artist: Ig Guara
Colourist: Felipe Sobreiro
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Somebody is pilfering Kree technology out of Damage Control's warehouses, including one in Jersey City. Captain Marvel asks Ms. Marvel to keep an eye on it, but Kamala's having some trouble with late-night stakeouts since her last solo adventure erased her parents' knowledge of her secret identity.

Cue the cute scene of Carol Danvers visiting the Khans to run a Spider-Man: Homecoming-esque "internship" scam. Her "organization" wants Kamala to join a team of students profiling a Pakistani astrophysicist.

*Record scratch* Okay, history lesson: Back in the 70s, when dinosaurs roamed the comics shops, Carol Danvers was a writer and magazine editor. She was also well-shielded on the secret identity front, and only a tiny handful of people suspected any connection between Carol and the OG Ms. Marvel.

That is the Carol Danvers that the creators would really like to have for this scene. But soft-shoeing around decades of character development causes a lot of its own problems. Carol's contemporary "organization" is a little outfit called the Avengers, and unless I'm deeply mistaken, she doesn't have any secret identity at all.

The Khans have always been protective. But they've never been portrayed as totally out-of-touch - until this story obliges them to be the last two people in the western hemisphere who aren't aware "Carol Danvers = Captain Marvel."

If you were so inclined, you could read this comic adversarially and jab it to death with continuity complaints like that. 

As promised in the marketing bumf, this issue adds a third Marvel to the mix with the apparent resurrection of Mar-Vell. It's not explained yet, so the betting books are open: imposter, clone, or genuine rebirth? They all seem equally unlikely, and making any explanation satisfying will be an uphill battle in future issues.

If Clint McElroy has built his script around problematic plot developments, he's injected a healthy dose of character work that saves it from being disappointing. This issue throws Kamala and Carol into a frustrating story, but it does a creditable job portraying them. Established fans won't have any problem connecting with the Marvels here.

The art provided by Ig Guara and colourist Felipe Sobreiro helps significantly on that front. The visuals establish settings well and bring a frenetic liveliness to the action scenes. And they particularly shine at expressive character work. That parent conference might be hard to swallow on continuity terms, but it looks magnificent in terms of characters reacting to each other.

Ig Guara does struggle a bit with Kamala's new uniform, particularly in its first scene. The multiple layers create a baggy look. Fortunately, a little experience goes a long way, and the problem disappears by the end of the issue.

One promising strategic point in the writing is the already-clear theme: This story is all about heritage. Not so much Kamala's Pakistani heritage, though that's the "in" this issue uses to get the theme rolling. This arc will try to unpack the mess recent retcons have made of Carol's past. It's a noble goal to tackle, but also a challenging one.

The new arc of Marvel Team-Up employs Kamala as a lens, focusing attention on Carol's labyrinthine heritage. It's a visually-appealing story and the characters sound right, but the task ahead is daunting. What are the odds that a story that opens with a "Paul Blart" gag is going to finish with a satisfying exploration of Carol's complicated Kree backstory? I would love for subsequent issues to serve me up some crow … but I don't think they will. 

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I admit my "dinosaurs in the comics shops" line is historically inaccurate; there barely even were comics shops when the first volume of Carol's Ms. Marvel was published.