Overview

Captain Marvel #1

Review

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Captain Marvel #1

Credits

  • Words: Brian Reed
  • Art: Lee Weeks
  • Inks: Stefano Gaudiano
  • Colors: Jason Keith
  • Story Title: I Am Here
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Nov 14, 2007

In what was perhaps the most transparently calculated move in all of Marvel’s hugely successful (though nonsensically lackluster) Civil War, a one-shot titled The Return hit comic store shelves.  Sporting an all-white cover with the faint impression of the yellow star-symbol that once marked Mar-Vell’s most popular red-and-blue outfit (see the cover image above), it should have been obvious what the content of the issue was.  Yet, so unprepared was I for so random a resurrection as that of one of comicdom’s great “death can mean death” deaths, that I thought the yellow star sigil on the cover meant that they were bringing back Quasar.

In this day and age of a reborn Bucky, Jason Todd, Oliver Queen, Hal Jordan, Colossus, Thor, Ra’s al Ghul, and, likely, before Final Crisis is over (mark these words), Barry Allen, I suppose it shouldn’t have taken me quite as by surprise as it did.  Weirdly (and I don’t think I’m alone here), it wasn’t outrage, or excitement, or even interest I felt at the event.  There was definitely some disbelief (“wait…really?”) but the lion’s share of my reaction was plain old unsweetened WTF.

Nothing had heralded the return, and, even more bizarrely, nothing proceeded from it.  It \\"\\"  became quickly apparent, then, that Marvel had dropped the one-shot square in the middle of an already-booming series to capitalize on the idea, but didn’t, at that time, actually have any specific story point or purpose for doing so.  Which isn’t to say they didn’t intend to do something with the character.

Enter: Brian Reed.  A Bendis-discovered new talent and sailing high on the winds of Spider-Woman: Origin, Ms. Marvel, and the New Avengers: Illuminati mini, Reed pitched an idea to the higher-ups which was rapidly approved, and so here we are, finally, with a direct continuation of The Return.  Mar-Vell’s been missing ever since the Civil War wrapped, and Iron Man wants to know why and where.  One S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sante is called upon to approach the misplaced hero in France, and try to talk him back to Stark’s side.  Meanwhile, a new religion, The Hala Brotherhood, has sprung from the very news of Mar-Vell’s “rebirth,” and investigative reporter Nathan Jefferson wants to get the skinny on this would-be cult.

It’s unclear as to what, precisely, this new mini-series wants to achieve, which is, ultimately, I think, its current strength.  Reed focuses on trying to establish a mindset for an out-of-time Mar-Vell, and introducing a number of new characters and concepts, and he does so gradually, offering a more fulsome setting and fleshed-out cast than is usually granted by a first issue alone.  Reed doesn’t always choose the best venue in which to explore every character trait or point of plot (Mar-Vell’s spontaneous monologue on Alexander the Great and the Brotherhood of Hala’s one-note psychotic behavior are both overplayed clichés), but there are moments of true-blue inventiveness to the script, and Reed tries harder than most comic professionals to imbue his story with literally everything and skimp on nothing: action, pathos, exploration of character, new ideas, old ideas, you name it, it’s deftly tossed into the final product that is Captain Marvel #1.

Granting the story a sense of sincerity and grim determination, an aesthetic the script itself seems so desperate to try and establish, is pitch-perfect artwork by Lee Weeks and Stefano Gaudiano.  Even the colors by Jason Keith are somehow subdued without lacking the hyper-real qualities expected of any superhero mag.  Lee Weeks is a master at crafting effortless layouts with detailed, realistic noir atmosphere, and while that may seem an odd choice for a Captain Marvel epic, writer Reed does indeed pen a brooding piece of near-philosophical exploration, to which Weeks' style is well-matched.  Gaudiano’s inks offer all the gently dramatic lighting and lines he's regularly offered over in Brubaker and Rucka’s Gotham Central , and Keith, as aforesaid, dolls it up with a fashionista’s unerring instinct.

\\"\\"

Captain Marvel #1 is a very, very fascinating first outing, relaxed in pace and refined in its elegant tango around the issue of this being yet another “resurrection” story, however technically not (at least, until they make this an alternate timeline Mar-Vell, at which point he’s a comic book resurrection insomuch as any).  The book carries only minor flaws to its matter, and with a treatment, direction, and visual design far from the tired old norm, this is one mini-series worth everyone’s time and money and more.  It won’t thrill, at least not yet, but it will absolutely intrigue.

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