Captain Marvel #17 Review

by Charles Martin on July 15, 2020

Captain Marvel #17 Review
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Guest Artist: Francesco Manna
Guest Colourist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

In between heavy developments like fake-killing the Avengers and getting turned into a Kree Accuser (Don't worry, I think it's happening in this title rather than in the Big Dumb Event that is Empyre), Carol has a precious little bit of downtime in CM #17. And she elects to spend it on a game night with her supporting cast (and Wolverine).

Fantastic! For more than a decade, Carol Danvers has had a knack for showing up in some of Marvel's greatest digressive, Seinfeld-esque comedy scenes. 

Setting Jessica Jones up with Ant-Man in Alias, BFFing around with Spider-Woman, bringing a classic Joss Whedon argument (Astronauts vs. Cavemen) into a prior Wolverine poker game -- Carol always seems to get into insanely funny trouble when she's off the clock.

This particular game night starts with poker. But the arrival of guest star Ms. Marvel throws a monkey wrench in that plan -- Kamala Khan has definite moral objections to gambling. 

(Kudos to all the characters at the table, and the author driving the script, for respecting Kamala's stance!)

Kamala provides an outstanding alternative: Take the whole game night on the road with a trip to New Jersey's most popular escape room!

Let me slide on my Back-Issue Bertram fedora and whine about originality for a brief moment. If you're a connoisseur of Marvel's cutesier comics, "heroes in an escape room" will tickle your memory. That's because Squirrel Girl used this exact premise to keep Kraven out of trouble in her solo series.

But most good premises can support more than one good story, and that's certainly the case here. 

Even before the inevitable life-threatening cape antics kick off, this comic is relentlessly terrific thanks mainly to Kelly Thompson's "Oops! Every line is quotable!" dialogue skills. So much sass, so much perfect characterization. It's a delight.

It's also a strong showing for Ms. Marvel. Ms. Thompson nails her voice here, fully living up to the way she's been portrayed in her solo comics. I don't know how important it was to the author to demonstrate respect for Kamala and her readers, but she did a formidable job of it. Result? This issue makes an excellent bridge between this series and Magnificent Ms. Marvel.

It's also a nice tide-you-over if you're jonesing for the end of MMsM's long hiatus (Kamala's back on September 9th).

Some flowing, organic art from Francesco Manna helps the story run smoothly. He does terrific things with facial expressions, is no slouch in the action scenes, and adapts very well to a cast that's mostly dressed in street clothes. His blocking does shortchange background characters a little bit, though.

Carlos Lopez's colours help things along, particularly in those action moments where the high-intensity palette shines. I appreciate some of the strategic colour choices, too, e.g., putting Hazmat in a pink sweatshirt winds up preventing a yellow overdose in certain panels.

The plot as a whole is a perfectly-proportioned one-off adventure that never feels rushed or stretched. (And anybody who appreciates this volume's intricate long-term plotting will know better than to wager that #17's new antagonist won't show up again!)

In Captain Marvel #17, the challenge of concocting an entertaining, all-ages game night leads to a life-and-death escape room struggle. A solid cape-conflict is significantly enhanced by great art, some top-shelf comedic character work, and Kamala Khan's well-rendered presence. If anything can foster crossover between the Captain Marvel and Magnificent Ms. Marvel audiences, it's this comic's perfect blend of the two series' sensibilities.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I have THOUGHTS on the Kamala-Logan relationship but instead of sharing them here, Imma send 'em to Marvel and win me a No-Prize.