(Special thanks to Cory Ringdahl, who helped me organize some of my thoughts for this review)

What Has Come Before: Marvel has spent the last 10 years trying to turn Carol “Ms. Marvel/Binary/Warbird” Danvers into a heroine as iconic as Wonder Woman. If Tumblr is to be believed, they are succeeding.

These two TPBs collect every issue of the current Captain Marvel series to date, which is perfect for anyone who wants to know all about the character before she takes center stage in two upcoming Marvel crossovers: “The Enemy Within” and “Infinity”.

The first TPB, “In Pursuit of Flight”, re-introduces the readers to Ms. Marvel Danvers, establishes her reason for assuming the name of Captain Marvel, and recaps/retcons her origin story (spoilers: time travel is involved). The second book, “Down”, is a little more episodic in nature and features a team up with Monica “Captain Marvel/Photon/Pulsar/I Was An Avenger” Rambeau as well as a confrontation with Ms. Marvel’s  old enemy Deathbird.

Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick incorporates some well-worn superhero tropes (time travel, fighting in World War II, being slowly killed by her powers, etc) into her scripts , but instead of feeling like tired cliches, DeConnick uses them as if they are rites of passage for Carol as she ascends into her iconic status. DeConnick also does an excellent job of establishing both Carol and Captain Marvel’s connections to the Marvel Universe through her judicious use of supporting cast and guest appearances. The exchanges with Captain America (“Technically, I outrank him.”) and Monica Rambeau  (“You DO! You Google yourself!”) were as touching as they were funny. That, and I greatly admire DeConnick’s commitment to more economic storytelling, eschewing arcs in favor of 1-2 issue stories that contribute to a larger tapestry.

As good as the writing is, the art is a mixed bag. I appreciate the philosophical desire to avoid the Hawkeye Initiative-worthy cheesecake art to appeal to a broader fanbase, but the art frequently runs in the other direction, and Carol’s appearance is sometimes off-putting.

Dexter Soy did the art for many of the issues, and while he draws fighter planes and alien mecha well, his human characters could use some improvement. That, and his choice of color palate is dark and muddy in comparison to the bold primary colors used on many of the covers. I think his talents would be better suited to a Doctor Strange or Man-Thing series. Filipe Andrade, who drew the latter chapters of the second book, is an improvement, but his quirky, highly stylized artistic choices also seem at odds with DeConnick’s unpretentious method of storytelling.

The strongest art in the two collections is produced by Emma Rios, whose warm, clean pencils strike the perfect balance of human and superheroic that is consistent with the theme of this series. Considering the amazing covers that grace these issues (by such luminaries as Terry & Rachel Dodson, Ed McGuinness, and Jamie McKelvie, the designer of Carol’s spectacular new costume), the art inside feels a little bit like false advertising.

Still, despite these flaws, this is a new reader-friendly series that has great potential and seems to be attracting more devoted followers with each issue/volume. DeConnick’s voice grows stronger and Carol’s profile in the Marvel Universe continues to rise (not only will she be front and center in the aforementioned crossovers, but she is rumored to be a character in Avengers 2). In conclusion, I recommend picking up both books, but if you can only buy one, get the first volume.

About The Author

Reads comics. Watches movies. Passable at karaoke. Kicks ass at trivia.

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