Captain Marvel #19 is an interesting beast. It’s almost the epitome of the problem that has affected Kelly Thompson’s run on Carol Danvers’ book since the beginning: it’s a good comic, unfortunately plagued with a bad premise that it has to work with.
Let’s get the necessary discussion out of the way first. In Life of Captain Marvel, it was revealed that Carol Danvers was not, in fact, just a human who was empowered by an exploding piece of Kree technology – the origin that was the story in the comics for the better part of half a century. Instead, Car-El Danvers was a half Kree, half human hybrid.
I was not a fan. Not only does it make Captain Marvel sound like Superman’s little-known cousin, it seems to undermine the themes that define Carol’s character. Now, this is just a personal dislike, and subjective, but all reviews are subjective, and it’s hard to discuss the quality of the book without making that distinction.
But even given that dislike of the premise, I have to admit that Captain Marvel #19 is just a really, really good comic; the best possible version of a premise that I rather dislike. The issue follows Ms. Danvers as she attempts to exonerate her sister from charges of war crimes, while her newfound sister, Lauri-Ell – along with Chewie the Flerken-Cat – attempts to protect New York from the invading plant men of the Cotati.
The A-plot, Carol-as-the-Accuser doing CSI in the Kree Empire, is serious and high stakes, with Carol trying to find the truth of who exactly did those war crimes, and what her role should be — what are her obligations to the Kree and the Skrulls? What is her obligation to keeping the political alliance intact – and possibly preserving more lives in the long run – versus her obligation to find out who actually did these murders? Is Hulkling’s fledgling empire worth condemning her own sister to (presumably) death? Given that Carol is a superhero, in the Avengers, I think we know the answer.
Even more entertainingly, Thompson also uses the supporting cast of superheroes that she has developed over the course of the series. By the conclusion of the issue, Hazmat, Spider-Woman, and War Machine are all doing double duty and superheroes and as Accusers, thanks to some convenient magic by Doctor Strange.
Unfortunately, the art isn’t as good as this story deserves. It’s not bad, by any means, to be clear. But it’s not quite up to par with the writing here – they should be having someone like Pepe Larazz or R. B. Silva on this. The great redeeming grace of this book is the color work by Tamra Bonvillain, who makes a book that just pops with color and brilliance.
Captain Marvel #19 is worth a purchase by any fan of Carol Danvers. Despite being saddled with a poor premise, Kelly Thompson writes a very good comic.