“Avenging Spider-Man” has often been a shining little example of how fun and how earnest a superhero comic can be, ranging from poignant little stories of what it means to be a hero to ones glorifying kittens. This book has got it all! Now Kelly Sue debuts the new Captain Marvel with the Dodsons in the latest “Avening Spider-Man,” and we finally get our first look at what she’s going to be like. Let’s talk about it, shall we?
Also, it should be noted: Yes, this ostensibly a Spider-Man comic and yes, Spider-Man is a great part of the book. We’re going to be talking about Captain Marvel, though. Mostly.
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Illustrated by Terry and Rachel Dodson
– Spider-Man plummets into action with the star of this month’s hottest new comic: the all new CAPTAIN MARVEL!
– 50,000 feet up and only on one of them can fly …
– Is the World’s Greatest Super Hero Ready for a ride with Earth’s Mightiest Hero?
Carol Danvers is one of the best superheroes Marvel has. That’s not a statement of opinion so much as it is a statement of fact; a strong heroine with tremendous power and a fantastic motto (developed during Brian Reed’s run: “be the best you can be”), Carol is a true hero you can look up to, one whose actions we should seek to emulate and who defines positive role model. Granted, Carol is a 44 year old character who has been super-powered for 35 whose popularity sparked only six years ago when a solo series spun out of “New Avengers” (outside of “old school” Ms. Marvel fans, obviously), but it doesn’t change much: the last time she had a book on her own, it was fantastic and she as both a character and an idea was every great thing you could imagine her being all at once.
But as the book ended shortly after “Dark Reign”, Carol had very much become a sideline character again. Sure, she was just as powerful and just as great and yeah, she certainly popped up in numerous places (a permanent home in “New Avengers,” recent appearances in “Secret” and “X-Men Legacy”) but her solo stories were sorely missed. Seeing her get into trouble and charge headfirst into action was seemingly a thing of the past. It was a shame; “Ms. Marvel” was one of those rare gemsof a book on stands, standing apart from the rest of what Marvel was offering (and, truth be told, still is offering) with a sharply written script and wonderful art that relied mostly on strong sense of character to boot. In a world where team titles and franchises reign king, what hope was there for Carol’s personal life being documented for us on a monthly basis?
Well, praise whatever cosmic Marvel deity you prefer, because she’s back and just as great as ever. (Spidey is pretty great, too.)
With “Avenging Spider-Man,” we’re essentially given a tease of what is to come next week. All of the ingredients for what you’d imagine Carol’s triumphant return are present: charming character work, sharp artwork and a fast-paced introduction to the character’s life that draws the reader in and teases them into wanting more. This isn’t a personal story to her obviously as it’s reliant on the team-up aspect with Spider-Man, and yet the inherent love from the creative team for Carol is there on every page. It’ll be a short story overall, running but two issues, and yet in the first of two parts we’re given both new characters and new takes on characters in a very welcoming setting. Interestingly enough, this is what makes Spider-Man great as a character and, in turn, what makes “Avenging Spider-Man” great as a book: they’re both pretty much open to anything, and no matter what the situation is it all ultimately works out for the best.
Really, it should be no surprise that the book is as good as it is. Kelly Sue DeConnick brings a clear and palpable passion to her work here that is visible in every piece of dialogue, in every witty remark. Kelly Sue has has spoken quite fervently about her hopes and plans for working with Carol, and all of her research shows. She wants you to love Carol just as much as she does, and that empathy shines through in the writing. Without missing a beat, Carol is back and acting just as we remember her, if not seemingly a bit less cautious and more self-assured. Her relationship with Spidey? A bit less romantic, sure, but their friendship and repertoire doesn’t miss a beat as the old way of things transitions smoothly into the new and a team-up unfurls in the most unlikely of scenarios. Nothing seems vague or oblique, nor is it jarring to those in love with continuity (outside of us still not really knowing how/when Carol got her promotion); it’s simply the next step in the logical evolution of Carol as a character, perfectly placed within the familiar, friendly, optimistic and humorous setting of Spider-Man’s vantage point in the Marvel U. A better introductory combination of things you could not ask for.Continued below
It should also be of no surprise that Terry and Rachel Dodson put out a beautiful comic to go along with the writing. The Dodsons have long since been a formidable team in comics, delivering books full of sharp and emotive characterization wrapped up in a sleek veil of style and substance. The Dodsons are illustrating characters that feel alive in a real setting, who move around the page as if their actions were their own and who seem to feel just as much as you or I. Excelling with quiet ticks in a slight smile or the impassioned fury of a woman scorned by the system, the full range of the Dodson’s abilities are shown here spread out amongst the characters (Spidey’s masked nervousness, Carol’s collected poise, Robyn’s outward charm) as well as in the details of the scenery for part one of what is sure to be a lovely finished piece.
There is but one slight detriment to what is otherwise a quite enjoyable read, and that is the odd coloring in the book. Coloring is not something most readers tend to take notice of, but with an artistic duo like the Dodsons the additional person to their team can make a world of noticeable difference. Take their work on “Defenders” with Sonia Oback for instance; the book featured rather popping colors with a nice, clean gloss over it all that gave the book a vibrant energy to it that matched the tone and execution of the comic. “Avenging Spider-Man’s” colors by Edgar Delgado, however, are much darker and cling to the edges of the inks a bit harder, replacing that gloss with somewhat of a sense of grime (although not in the strictly literal sense, obviously); it’s less vibrant, more muted. This is a high flying comic, and yet it’s very grounded and not nearly as expressive, in some cases making the Dodson’s work look a bit atypical compared to what we might assume is the “norm,” especially against things the Dodsons have colored themselves. It doesn’t make the book unreadable by any means, but it is a bit of a curiosity.
“Avenging Spider-Man” #9 makes for a good Spidey comic book, but it makes for an even better launching point for Kelly Sue and Carol Danvers. Spider-Man is certainly never treated like an after-thought, and the book does a good job of putting the team in teamwork, but if you had any curiosity and/or interest in the upcoming solo Danvers book, this comic is an absolute must buy — which will in turn probably result in “Captain Marvel” #1 being a must buy. Sharp writing, sleek art and a smart cast? Sold. Suffice it to say, if this is any indication of what Kelly Sue’s “Captain Marvel” run is going to be like it, then everyone damned well better buy the book.
Final Verdict: 9.0 – Buy
And hey, outside of the lack of Dunkin Donuts signs everywhere, it’s a pretty great little representation of Boston. Or, at the least, the Zakim Bridge (although the lack of appearances of the Boston Garden in that area is a bit suspect, says the guy who lives a ten minute drive from that location).