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Captain Marvel Vol. 8: The Trials
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Captain Marvel Vol. 8: The Trials’ is a succinct story about personal growth

Kelly Thompson is managing to do two oft-conflicting things: make a story accessible and make a story grow.

Kelly Thompson’s Captain Marvel is, invariably, a book about women supporting women. Over the course of 44 issues, Thompson has taken great care to establish an incredible pool of supporting characters for Carol Danvers, nearly all of them iconic Marvel heroines who are incredibly badass. They come out in droves at every Carol Crisis. They rule.

It has also twice been a book in which Carol Danvers and Company teach alien women how to be human by teaching them to love cats. This has happened on two separate occasions.

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Captain Marvel Vol. 8: The Trials
At least Lauri-Ell only wore Carol’s *clothes*.
Marvel Comics

It is also, mystifyingly and infuriatingly, a book in which Carol’s growing pool of best friends insist on taking their famously struggling alcoholic friend to bars and/or clubs. Which is not quite the support we love to see.

'Captain Marvel Vol. 8: The Trials' is a succinct story about personal growth
It’s not a crime to take an alcoholic to a bar, but someone should probably remind Monica that coffee shops exist.
Marvel Comics

While thankfully this volume has not been about Kelly Thompson’s major pet project of giving every woman in the Marvel universe a child (even if, as in Rogue’s case, the character has insisted she didn’t want one), this might only be because Carol’s experience with babies has not gone well.

While you can poke fun at these things, Thompson truly knows her characters, both as people and as icons. In The Trials, Carol Danvers does two things that she’s incredibly good at: she fights giant monsters while she experiences pronounced emotional growth.

Captain Marvel Vol. 8: The Trials
Pictured: Allegory For Emotional Growth
Marvel Comics

Put on magical trial after the death of the Enchantress’ future son, Ove (don’t worry, not one of Enchantress’ other two sons, for those following Strange Academy), Carol is forced to come to terms with her violent nature by slaying literal dragons. It is an epic, resonant arc, illustrated in dueling art styles by Juan Frigeri ad Alvaro Lopez—one style for the mystical trial realm and one for the real world, where Carol’s second pet alien girl is coming to understand humanity.

The mysterious Binary—an independent new being representing one of Carol’s old selves—is the focus of about half of The Trials, and she’s as equally compelling as Carol herself. Sure, there’s the “humanity via cats” thing, but there’s also a struggle with identity; is she Carol, or is she Binary? Her emotional growth mirrors Carol’s, up to and including the giant monsters, but it is in Binary’s portion of the narrative that Thompson plays with the Danvers tropes—in which she finds truth in the iconic sense of superherodom. It’s Binary that gets the supporting cast in these issues, not Carol, so we get to see that incredible support network at play within a different paradigm.

Captain Marvel Vol. 8: The Trials
Binary does all the Danvers stuff in a day.
Marvel Comics

Thompson also fully understands the self-contained story arc—The Trials, like every other collection from this volume, is a succinct read, a powerful punch of a story. Sure, Binary and Ove are established earlier than these pages, but those origins aren’t vital to the understanding of this story. This volume has ensured that no matter what, a person picking up one of these trade paperbacks can dive into Carol’s wonderful world and come to love Carol’s wonderful friends. Kelly Thompson is managing to do two oft-conflicting things: make a story accessible and make a story grow.

Captain Marvel Vol. 8: The Trials
‘Captain Marvel Vol. 8: The Trials’ is a succinct story about personal growth
Captain Marvel Vol. 8: The Trials
'The Trials' illustrates what's strongest in Thompson's run on the character while taking Carol out of her own central narrative.
Reader Rating1 Vote
8.4
Plays with a great cast of characters.
Explores two growing characters.
Captures the Big and Bold aspects of Captain Marvel action.
Seems somehow oblivious of its own tropes.
Has a selective memory of established character history.
7.5
Good
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