This review was originally published at InfiniteComix.com
Dating back to its previous volume, Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel has been one of the most important books Marvel has published in recent years, though it has been far from the best. Despite strong, character-focused storytelling, an infusion of humor, and a diverse cast, Captain Marvel has managed to be merely good – solid but unspectacular. That is especially true for the series’ latest volume, which saw Carol Danvers shuffle off to space, leaving most of her supporting cast behind.
The story arcs that followed entertained, but they didn’t say anything particularly interesting about Carol, nor did they provide anything to push along her character development. Each arc, Carol would come across a problem, spout off some snarky comments, pout or roll her eyes, and then punch her way to a solution. There’s noting particularly wrong with that – it makes for superhero storytelling which is, as mentioned before, solid but unspectacular. Captain Marvel #15 changes that in a big, big way.
As noted, Carol has been off having space adventures for the majority of this volume, save for a brief return for Christmas (issues #10 and #11), which has meant time apart from her friends and loved ones. That includes Jessica (Spider-Woman) and Rhody (War Machine), but it also includes her longtime friend Tracy Burke, who for the majority of Carol’s time as Captain Marvel has been worn down and bedridden by cancer. As the issue opens, Carol returns to Earth (with a nice little nod to the recent Star Wars trailer), and instead of receiving a warm welcome, she is blindsided by the news that Tracy finally succumbed to her illness. It’s a heart-wrenching reveal that sets the tone for an emotional and character-driven issue.
David Lopez has provides some wonderful artwork throughout this series, albeit inconsistent at times. However, Captain Marvel #15 might be his finest on the series. There are no big action sequences requiring splash pages and elaborate, double-page spreads. Instead, the rather quiet, introspective nature of DeConnick’s script calls for a simpler storytelling approach, with a focus on hitting specific narrative beats and conveying emotions through strong imagery. Suffice to say, Lopez delivers. Readers can feel Carol’s crushing sadness, or Steve Rogers’ empathy, or Jessica Drew’s compassion with glance at their facial expressions. His work is essential to the emotional impact on readers for not just this issue, but Carol’s entire journey going back to the first issue. The quality he provides gives draws in the audience, which makes this issue’s final pages all the more powerful.
Once again, Kelly Sue DeConnick brings Carol Danvers’ series to an end, and she absolutely sticks the landing. Though this issue may not have as much emotional resonance for readers that are just picking up this issue, it is not at all difficult to follow. In fact, readers might be encouraged to go back and revisit Danvers’ past adventures that lead up to this point. From cover to cover, DeConnick and Lopez hit the right emotional beats to make even the most jaded reader a teary-eyed. Simply put, this is a fantastic conclusion.