Captain Marvel #11 Review

by Charles Martin on October 16, 2019

Captain Marvel #11 Review
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Colourist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Captain Marvel pulls her conflict with Star to an inevitable victory. The stakes are high, the action gets brutal. But the conflict of ideas between the two women is the real attraction here. Yes, there are punches and zaps and nasty injuries. 

The part that's going to stick in my memory is Star's rational, human, but deeply broken motivation for her power-draining actions. 

She was terrified (and remains terrified; this issue's script includes nice nods toward PTSD without bringing it to center stage) by what she went through on Roosevelt Island. So she's going to make herself so strong that she'll never get hurt again. And she's being very ends-justify-the-means, Nietzschean, social Darwinist about it.

Carol's stand against that hits all the right notes. Compassion, within reason. Selflessness, in taking immediate action to protect civilians. Resolve, in choosing a hard option to end the fight. 

It's a great one-on-one conflict, but it also gives Carol some excellent back-up just when she needs it. It's one last thread from the first arc brought back in and tied neatly into the tapestry.

Visually, this issue sticks productively to the moody night-time look established at the end of #10. Tamra Bonvillain's colours remain chilly but intense. She's also instrumental in cloaking the fight scenes in driving rain. That modifies the colours and reflections in interesting ways, and a terrifically subtle effect uses the rain to reveal an otherwise-invisible force bubble around Star.

Carmen Carnero's final serving of art is impressive stuff. Her character renderings have their usual, wonderful passion and emotion, though the linework is a little rougher than in past issues. That slight sketchiness is more than made up for with some exceptionally creative blocking and panel arrangement; the artist invests extra effort in framing this fight as both cinematic and intensely personal.

I'll definitely miss Carmen Carnero's visuals on future issues of this title.

As the capstone to the story arc at hand and the volume so far, this is a terrific comic. Judge it in a vacuum and it's a little less impressive. There are minor flaws, like the roughness of the lines. The important thematic work done on Carol's public image (see below) is slightly undercut by a saccharine "from the mouths of babes" presentation. 

And strategically, the shocking surprise ending (no spoilers!) sacrifices some of the issue's resolve to raise giant questions about Star's future. I think it's a little too big, a little too fast.

But the flaws are minor, and there's no reason to consider this issue in a vacuum except to be antagonistically obtuse. Kelly Thompson has done an amazing job orchestrating plot threads across an entire year, and their unification in this issue is immensely satisfying after following the whole story.

The thematic work mentioned above introduces an outstanding new idea for Carol. It's an optimistic counterpoint to this arc's public paranoia about Captain Marvel's new alien heritage. 

When a kid concludes with impeccable kid logic that having one alien parent and one human parent makes Carol both, it spurs her to bring forth the new theme: "Yes, I am. People can be lots of things at the same time, I think."

It's a simple idea, and also an incredibly resonant one. It makes a worthy addition to the crop of themes currently associated with Captain Marvel. Determination, confidence, courage, compassion -- and now plurality. It fits.

Captain Marvel #11 serves as a satisfying win by itself, but it's even better as an inclusive summation of everything this volume has done. Strong character work, passionate visuals, and outstanding long-term plotting suggest even more wonders await Carol Danvers in stories to come.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Kudos to keeping Captain Marvel's fresh surge of in-universe popularity in check by letting Carol herself express concern for the fickleness of public opinion.