Captain Marvel #22 Review

by Charles Martin on October 14, 2020

Captain Marvel #22 Review
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colourist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Kelly Thompson has a distinctive talent for sticking with her characters and turning their one-shots into opportunities for long-term plot development. She did it with the Generations: Hawkeye comic, extracting characters and concepts from the one-shot to later bedevil Kate Bishop in the last volume of Hawkeye.

Now, she's done it again. This latest arc takes contemporary Captain Marvel and throws her into the world of Captain Marvel: The End, the recent one-shot that showed Carol sacrificing herself to save a post-apocalyptic Earth by reigniting its sun.

I read CM:tE, so I can't be 100% objective, but I'm pretty sure that this issue will be comprehensible and clear even to readers who skipped the one-shot. Carol arriving as an unknowing outsider helps a great deal, allowing for plenty of catch-up exposition.

It's been a year, in-universe, since future-Carol sacrificed herself. Her New-York-based superhero friends are slowly starting to reclaim the surface of the Earth. But in doing so, they find themselves opposed by mysterious forces that might include some of their former colleagues.

Besides the future stuff, Carol also has to hold onto an ambiguous situation in the present: She's booted into the future out of a fight that threatens her current roster of supporting heroes (War Machine, Spider-Woman, and Hazmat).

On the visual side, artist Lee Garbett does a commendable job bringing it all to life. He blocks out the action scenes with a strong sense of motion, and he also brings fine emotional expression to the characters' faces as it's needed.

Tamra Bonvillain's colours lock smoothly onto the art, enhancing it in both obvious and subtle ways. The presence of Emma Frost -- stuck in her diamond form -- delivers a challenge that the artist and colourist are more than up to meeting. Emma's icy colouring manages to be both distinctive and realistic.

Back when I reviewed the one-shot that introduced this post-apocalyptic setting, I took minor issue with the vagueness of the premise. The world got destroyed in some superhero-vs-supervillain fight and the details just didn't matter.

This time around, although that vagueness is still there in the background, there's enough conflict and mystery at the front of the stage to satisfy. Kelly Thompson's script throws a lot of challenges at Captain Marvel, and watching her face them is simply enthralling.

This issue also does a lot of heavy lifting in filling up the post-apocalyptic landscape with compelling characters. Favourites from the one-shot are back, like Emma and Old Lady Jessica Drew. But Ms. Thompson doesn't hesitate to round out the cast with novelties like Sora, the daughter of Kwannon and Forge. And this issue touches on the heavy note that Rhodey's daughter is here -- and she's not Carol's daughter, suggesting some heartbreaking relationship developments.

Yes, this new arc is shaping up into a potentially confusing timey-wimey muddle. But the creators have a mortal lock on their protagonist, portraying Carol's thoughts and deeds with tremendous realism and sympathy. This makes it easy for the reader to jump aboard and take the time-travelling weirdness in stride. Thanks to Carol's authentic voice, we can believe the unbelievable and follow along with her every step.  

Captain Marvel #22 launches Carol Danvers into a new arc, revisiting the grim future of her recent "The End" one-shot. Contemporary Carol struggles to understand this new world, and the creators do a stellar job of making her struggle compelling. With strong art and fine characterization, this issue kicks off another formidable long-form story in this most impressive volume. 

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Full disclosure: Yeah, I'm the same Charles Martin that got a letter printed in this issue. I got a No-Prize now, baby!