Monica Rambeau, aka Captain Marvel, aka Photon is getting her own series this week with Monica Rambeau: Photon. The character is long overdue for a new series, as it has been three decades since Dwayne McDuffie’s last solo series for the character. Written by Eve Ewing with art by Luca Maresca with Ivan Fiorelli, the first issue establishes the character, her powers, her history, and even her family as we discover where Monica is in her life. For a character who hasn’t gotten much play in years, it’s a good start with a story that’s bound to get even more significant as the series continues.
This issue opens with a great example of how you can cleverly build up expectations for a character and their powers. Monica is narrating via captions as we see scenes of the ocean. Her powers are built on energy, and she details how the ocean, like Monica, is a battery. Right off the bat, you can see how impressive the character’s powers are, and throughout the issue, we see her zip around the globe in half a second. It’s a seriously cool power.
Ewing doesn’t forget the roots of this character, establishing her New Orleans upbringing early on. Through dialogue, we also get the sense of Monica’s voice, and it’s spot on. By issue’s end, Monica feels more real than most superheroes thanks to casual moments like Monica pouring herself a glass of wine, or how she responds to her brother’s crisis. It’s also well-established that Monica is a team leader and even finds herself ordering Spider-Man around at one point.
As a superhero book, you get plenty of action in this issue and team-ups. Seeing Doctor Strange and Wong interact with Monica establishes she’s as respected and influential as any other superhero in the universe. The central conflict involves a mysterious character that calls back to a previous adventure, firmly establishing the stakes for the series in the future.
Because Ewing checks in with Monica’s brother and his life falling apart, her father and mother, you have a well-rounded first issue establishing Monica’s life in a complex way. It’s pretty clear these establishing elements were necessary since Monica hasn’t been in many comics of late, and it’s appreciated.
The art by Luca Maresca with Ivan Fiorelli is solid, with an impressive double-page layout at one point that stretches the action horizontally. I wouldn’t say the art blew me away, nor does it feel big or in your face like many Marvel books, but it nails the character acting. Given the best moments are scenes like an old woman insisting on calling Monica Captain Marvel, that’s key.
Photon may have been out of the spotlight for some time, but Monica Rambeau: Photon #1 does a great job catching us up to speed and establishing the character like she never left. In Monica Rambeau: Photon the creative team reminds us this is an A-list character with a complex life and an awesome power.
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