Captain Marvel #19

by Charles Martin on August 12, 2020

Captain Marvel #19
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Penciller: Cory Smith
Inker: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colourist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Turns out, if you want to make a great Captain Marvel comic, there's more than one way to skin a flerken. (NEVER TRY TO SKIN A FLERKEN.)

For instance, Captain Marvel #19 shows that you can get excellent results by equipping Carol with a healthy stock of Thor concepts.

Hammer shenanigans? Check. Fish-out-of-water comedy? Check. Back-up squad of three outstanding warriors? Check. Cosmic warfare portrayed on a personal scale? Checkity-check-check!

"Hammer shenanigans" and the backup squad are too good to spoil here. So I'll concentrate on the fish-out-of-water element, capably provided in this issue by Carol's new Kree sister, Lauri-Ell. She's been left in Carol's apartment in a delicate caregiving balance: Chewie will take care of her, but she also wants to take care of Chewie. 

She's criticizing Carol's barren fridge, ruining her clothes, venturing boldly forth to secure worthy nourishment for the "cat," fighting Cotati tree-monsters in Central Park. And literally stopping to smell the flowers along the way -- a charming bit of characterization that adds a new dimension to the big blue amazon as well as slotting neatly into the themes of the Empyre event.

So far, Lauri-Ell is a resounding success, instantly becoming a worthy addition to this formidable volume of Captain Marvel. It's a particularly impressive bit of craftsmanship given that it builds well on the contentious retcons from The Life of Captain Marvel.

This issue's events are strongly supported by outstanding artwork from Cory Smith and Adriano Di Benedetto. Mr. Smith delivers the expressive, emotional faces that have been this volume's hallmark while also handling action with aplomb. Mr. Di Benedetto's lines are the perfect complement, picking out tons of detail in both sci-fi and mundane settings.

Colourist Tamra Bonvillain handles the outer space action perfectly well, but where her hues truly shine -- metaphorically and literally -- is on the sun-soaked streets of Manhattan. The vibrant colours stand apart from the space palette, distinguishing themselves without clashing.

The balance between Earth and space introduces one slight weakness to the story, though. Carol commutes twice between Earth and the wrecked colony planet she's investigating. It suggests either the colony is incredibly close to us, or Hulkling hooked Carol up with a seriously fast ship. 

But the fact that Carol is earning a lot of frequent flyer miles is hardly a deal-breaker.

This issue's other developments can be summed up by saying that Carol's worried (with cause) about her relationship with Ronan's hammer and that she meets a familiar face during her investigation. 

It's Walter "Wastrel" Lawson, the human scientist Marv-Ell impersonated when he first came to Earth, now performing community service with the Kree. His appearance here is inconclusive and open-ended, but Kelly Thompson has a mile of leeway in my eyes when it comes to loose plot threads. My confidence in them getting tied back into the story is bedrock-strong.

(Just a word of warning -- Wastrel's last appearance, in last year's Marvel Team-Up, is a questionable affair that only die-hard completionists need to seek out. CM #19 capably conveys everything you need to know about the character.)

Carol and her new half-sister each get an equal portion of narrative attention in this fast, funny, finely-illustrated comic. The arc still has its share of unanswered questions, big and small, but this issue is an example of a "middle act" done exceedingly well.

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Charles Martin's picture
Any Captain Marvel comic that has an organic role for Chewie to play is a good Captain Marvel comic.