Comic Review: Captain Marvel #4 / Written by: Kelly Sue DeConnick / Art by: Dexter Soy and Al Barrionuevo / Publisher: Marvel / Release: Out Now
Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Dexter Soy hit another one out of the park with Captain Marvel #4. The time-bending, reality-warping adventures of Carol Danvers continue where issue #3 left off, with the eponymous hero joining forces with the World War II era Banshee Squadron, an all-woman team of ace pilots. It’s fitting that this issue is dedicated to astronaut Sally Ride as the theme of trailblazing, glass-ceiling smashing women keeps going strong.
We meet up with our temporally displaced hero as she and the Banshees face off against, in Carol’s own words, “a giant mechanical eyeball from outer space.” Though Captain Marvel and the Banshees have got enough on their plates with enemies both extraterrestrial and domestic, they find the time to share in a little cross-generational wisdom about what it means to be woman fighting for her rightful place in the world.
The most empowering stories are rarely the ones that actively set out to empower. They are empowering because they present readers with characters that are strong, brave, relatable and most importantly, multidimensional. DeConnick doesn’t make her characters’ femininity their defining trait. They are heroes that happen to be women and their gender is emphasised only when it’s relevant to the plot. It’s refreshing considering how limited mainstream comics can be when it comes to nuanced portrayals of sexual difference.
Dexter Soy’s artwork continues to be some of the best in the business, although guest artist Al Barrionuevo contributed to the issue’s final four pages. The switch isn’t particularly disruptive as it coincides with a change in both time and place as we jump ahead from 1943 to 1961, when Carol comes face to face with her own hero, Helen Cobb. DeConnick gives few clues as to how or why Captain Marvel has found herself in another decade, in a move that comes perhaps a tad too abruptly considering how tightly woven the rest of the book is.
There’s leaving readers wanting more and then there’s throwing an unexplained curveball on the last page. DeConnick walks the narrow line between the two with her final few pages, but she hasn’t let us down yet. At the rate DeConnick is going, the payoff in next month’s issue will surely be well worth the wait.