Captain Marvel #13 Review

by Charles Martin on December 11, 2019

Captain Marvel #13 Review
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colourist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Captain Marvel races into her next Avenger battle, bushwhacking Tony Stark in his bathroom. He gets some armour on, but Carol tears it right back off, leaving him to die in the World's Most Embarrassing Bathrobe.

Good thing for Tony, this is the point where the creators pull back the curtain and show how Carol's faking her murders! 

This issue reveals the how and why of Carol's mission. Her evil taskmaster is indeed Vox Supreme, the Inhuman-killing wad of angst from Death of the Inhumans. He holds a fearsome stick over Carol's head (metaphorically speaking) to demand her compliance, and he's constantly listening in as she obeys his Avenger-killing orders.

So Carol fights back with a hastily-assembled ruse. It relies on a surprising but welcome ally and a surprising, less-welcome source of Avengers body parts like last issue's shocking Thor-head.

And it's not a complete hand-wave on Carol's battles; she has to injure Tony in a significant way that doesn't get undone. That soothes one of my worries brought up by the previous issue; not all of the carnage Captain Marvel inflicts is going to disappear after the fights are over.

This issue supplies lots of hows and whys, but a few critical ones remain to keep the rest of the story mysterious. Most importantly, we still don't know why Vox wants the Avengers dead or what his real goal is.

The plot points we have so far create a functional framework for this fast-paced, fight-heavy story. Just. It's a rickety structure, and if you're inclined to read antagonistically, you can go into Karnak mode and left-hook the story to death with a bunch of "whattabout" questions.

But there are two big reasons I would discourage an antagonistic reading. The first is that Kelly Thompson has already demonstrated a formidable aptitude for long-term plotting in this title. Consider the way the "loose" threads from the first arc were drawn wickedly tight by the "Falling Star" arc later on.

The second reason that this arc is generating a lot of loose "why?" threads is that it's a Carol Danvers story and Carol Danvers sucks at asking why. Charging ahead into a terrible mission that's also definitely a trap is perfectly in character for Carol, and in two issues, the creators have set her on a collision course with disaster. Her plan is shaky, and there are already plenty of pitfalls that could suck her into ironic, tragic trouble.

Kelly Thompson's script also delivers superb Carol characterization on the retail level. Her fight with Tony is fast, but not so fast that she can't bullseye their relationship in a few achingly great lines: 

"I have to use his confidence against him. And his affection for me. We give each other a hard time, but we're close. We matter to each other. More than we let on. Today it's his greatest weakness."

Lee Garbett and Tamra Bonvillain deliver another high-octane visual performance that suits the speedy pace. Mr. Garbett starts right off with an eye-catching double spread of Carol smashing Tony all the way through his apartment as his armour assembles around him. It has a filmstrip layout that emphasizes the duration of the smashing (and the bigness of Tony's apartment) in a way a single splash panel never could. Mr. Garbett gives us the eye-popping splash panel immediately afterwards, and it works all the better for its unique lead-in.

Ms. Bonvillain throws a shadow over the last act of the book to emphasize that it's a flashback. It may be a little too effective, toning down what would otherwise be superb colour work. The front of the issue is magnificent, though, featuring some Binary-type action that demands -- and receives -- terrific, high-intensity colouring.

Captain Marvel #13 crosses Tony Stark off Carol's hit list while also explaining just enough of what's going on. Carol's in a dreadfully tight spot, but she's also working a counter-scheme against her antagonist. With enough structure to rationalize the story and plenty of stellar creative work in the art and words, this issue assures the reader that leaning in and enjoying this arc's ride is going to be a blast.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I formally air the suspicion that Mr. Garbett modelled Tony's Ridiculous Bathrobe on the one Cary Grant was stuck in in Bringing Up Baby.