Captain Marvel #12 Review

by Charles Martin on November 20, 2019

Captain Marvel #12 Review
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colourist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Whether or not you read solicits, you can tell you're in for something dark just from the cover of Captain Marvel #12. Carol in an evil new uniform, standing over a pile of KO'ed Avengers? Something's surely rotten in Denmark!

The problem with the comic inside is that it tells you little more than the cover, and what it tells is not so encouraging. 

The business of the day is, quite simply, clobbering Thor. 

It's not an easy fight by any means, and I think the whole creative term deserves credit for making the two heroes' globe-spanning knockdown fight a real barn-burner. 

A big part of that success stems from Lee Garbett's perfectly powerful character art. His clean, cartoon-esque proportions strike a Ryan Ottley chord and give this fight's titanic blows the impact they need. But Mr. Garbett's lines are tremendously organic, and he can invest an enormous amount of emotion in his faces.

It's a good thing he can, because Carol's expressions are some of our foremost clues as to what's going on!

Tamra Bonvillain's colours do a solid job of humanizing the conflict, putting considerable depth and warmth into Carol and Thor and adding the finishing nuance to those all-important facial expressions. She handles explosive superpowers well, too, and maximizes the contrast between the fiery action and the chilly settings.

Kelly Thompson embroiders a little guilty narration around the fight to make it clear Carol's breaking bad with full knowledge of the evil she's doing. She begs for trust and forgiveness, but there's a dreadful, inescapable feeling that she doesn't think she deserves them. Yet.

So, not a mind-control or evil twin situation. There must still be some terrible force compelling Carol to turn on her teammates, right? Right indeed, and this issue does reveal the "who." We're left guessing on the "why" and "how," though. 

This is such a "chapter 1" of a comic that I hesitate to draw conclusions. I simply don't know enough about the situation to know if I really like (or even understand) what's going on here. 

Hopefully, avoiding spoilers won't make me terminally vague when I say that the antagonist's previous appearances don't inspire a lot of confidence for me. I can only guess at the barest bones of the antagonist's motivation. There is already the seed of a nasty, logical connection to Carol, though. 

Let's talk about storytelling mechanics. Carol wins her fight against Thor, and the comic is relentless about showing it. But it also presents the fight's consequences while skipping over the chain of events leading from point A to point B.

Kelly Thompson is a master at this; she has a talented eye for snipping out scenes that would be too tedious or obvious or complicated to run through in the panels. 

Except here, the snip is clearly made so that there's space to circle back later and rewrite Carol's darkest act into something more forgivable. The nastiest consequence is going to be undone, and the narrative mechanism for doing it is crystal clear.

That's an unfortunate contrast when the issue is otherwise all-in on Carol as a villain and being mysterious as heck about the reasoning behind it. It limits the stakes and assures us (prematurely!) that everything's going to come out alright.

Or maybe my inferences are completely wrong and things are going to wind up as bad as they look. It is just the opening salvo in a longer story.

Captain Marvel #12 introduces Carol's non-stop bus-ride to evil-town by throwing Thor beneath the wheels. It's a mighty fight, portrayed with laudable storytelling skills. This first issue only offers the barest hints as to why Carol is breaking bad -- but the gameboard is already being set up to cushion the blows she's inflicting.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
I gotta say the creators get 10 out of 10 for the Evil Captain Marvel look. Black leather, red piping, Furiosa eyeshadow -- all impeccable fashion choices.