Back in 2016, Captain Marvel got a new #1 series and the duty of managing a space station. The Alpha Flight space program is the first line of defense of Earth and it’s a clever way to tether the hero to Earth, but keep in her in space. A lot has changed for the character since (including a new origin), but in many ways, this series set up who Carol Danvers is today.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
It’s a bold new frontier for Carol Danvers, soaring to ever greater heights as the leader of the all-new Alpha Flight space program! Yup, Alpha Flight – including classic favorites Puck, Sasquatch and Aurora! As Earth’s first line of defense, Carol and her team aim to protect the planet from extraterrestrial threats. But can Carol be both a soldier and a diplomat? Don’t ask Tony Stark! Because these two old friends are about to face off as bitter enemies in an event that will change Captain Marvel’s life forever! As Inhuman visions of the future kick off a second superhuman Civil War, Captain Marvel is at the forefront of the conflict – with Iron Man now her implacable enemy. But when tragedy hits close to home, how far will Carol go to protect what she believes in?
Why does this matter?
This is a good collection in understanding Carol Danvers the leader. She’s selfless, takes charge, and is capable of managing a crew that includes Puck and Sasquatch. It’s also a team that will have ramifications in future series like Immortal Hulk.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The first half of this collection is devoted to Captain Marvel and her crew discovering a stranded ship. This ship has many secrets and allows writer Michelle Fazekas to deliver a horror style story. This leads to Kree focused action and, of course, the imminent destruction of Earth. The story weaves in Mar-Vell lore too, and helps to carve out the resilience of the crew of Alpha Flight. It has it all too from scary discoveries, sci-fi concepts, and big action.
It’s also nice to see how Fazekas opens and closes the series using War Machine’s relationship with Carol. The two clearly love each other and it’s fun to see them flirt and progress even if their scenes are limited. Seeing as their back to flirting in Kelly Thompson’s recent take on the character it feels pertinent to the comics today.
Most of the rest of this collection ties into the Civil War II event, focusing Carol’s attention on Ulysses and attempting to save lives before they are even in danger. There’s a Minority Report vibe from the proceeding and that suits the sci-fi nature of this series.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The Civil War II tie-in issues, as well as Carol’s turn as future crime stopper, is hard to follow without reading the other series in the chain of events. It’s also attempting to walk the line of Carol doing somewhat immoral things (locking up innocent folks because a superhero says they will commit a crime) and being driven by emotion (because her boyfriend was murdered). Make no mistake, this period of Carol’s life as a hero is peppered with awkward choices that make it hard to enjoy the character. She thinks she’s doing the right thing, but it’s obvious as an outsider she is not. How can you be a hero while taking actions that are anything but? These issues are also littered with boring board room sequences of Carol talking to intergalactic leadership.
The first half of this collection is good, but there are awkward jumps in time that can throw you off. One moment Carol is in jail, yet the next she’s on the bridge making orders. In another, we find out Commander Brand is hurt and out cold, yet turn the page and there she is talking to Carol Danvers. It’s as if panels are missing. It can be jarring.
Is it good?
Overall I liked portions of this collection, especially the opening half, but due to tie-in syndrome, it’s tricky to get the full picture. Carol Danvers was dragged through the mud during Civil War II and for all the conflicting emotions and hard choices, it’s hard to see this period as a positive one for the character.