‘Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero’ Vol. 4 suffers from its place in the timeline of multiple Marvel events, making the collection a disparate collection of stories rather than one cohesive storyline.
This large trade showcases the highs and lows of the end of Kelly Sue Deconnick’s run on the character who helped launch her into the broader fan consciousness. Is it good?
The standard for trades is to collect the issues sequentially as they are released, and trying to keep story arcs contained in one trade. Unfortunately, the issues in this trade came at a strange point in the Marvel universe and it shows; we get a couple issues that finish out the main storyline, then switch over to an issue from the Black Vortex crossover event, back to them main Captain Marvel storyline, and finish with the tie-in issues to the Secret Wars event.
As far as a single narrative, this trade is a hot mess. The only stories that are connected thematically are the two that are part of the main continuity, and they aren’t part of the same arc. I’m not sure why they even bothered to include the crossover issues from the Black Vortex event. It’s only one issue, and though Warren Ellis and Deconnick do their best to bring readers up to speed with the event, since it’s only a single issue, it’s a lot of exposition and action that doesn’t make a lot of sense outside the event. There’s a similar issue with having the final two issues of the main continuity storyline at the beginning of this collection. They work in the greater context of that story, but if you haven’t read the rest, it’s an odd tag.
That all said, the rest of the included stories are great, and showcase Deconnick’s love and connection to the character, and why she engendered such a loyal following in the Carol Corps. The standout by far is the issue dealing with the death of Tracy Burke. She was an integral character for Carol Danvers’ development in the 70s, and Deconnick’s use of her over her entire run of Captain Marvel gave those stories a lot of depth and feeling. The issue does a beautiful job exploring who Tracy was and why she matters so much to Carol, especially after her memory was destroyed. There are so many lovely panels and the writing was spot on. When compared with the current run of Captain Marvel, you can see how much the book has lost without a strong creative team.
Most of the issue features art by David Lopez, who was the main artist through the second half of Deconnick’s run, with colors by Lee Loughridge. This panel is a great example of what makes his art excellent over his run – he’s not afraid of humor, his line work is strong and clear, aided by Loughridge’s warm and poppy colors.
The final issues in the collection are all the issues of Captain Marvel from the Secret Wars event. Even though there’s no explanation of what’s going on if you aren’t familiar with Secret Wars, Deconnick and Kelly Thompson did an excellent job of creating a complete story within the world of Captain Marvel. They create a cast of characters with depth, and a compelling story that shows how all the characters, especially Carol, retain their sense of self despite their world being corrupted. David Lopez did a great job creating a look that was unique for this new world, and designing a costume sense that fit with the Captain Marvel look.
Is It Good?
This collection collects a lot of issues for $19.99, but because of the fact that they are so disparate, I can see this appealing more to hardcore collectors rather than casual fans. The fact that you can get the Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps issues in their own collection (and for only $5.99), makes this a tricky sell. Though if you want the complete Kelly Sue Deconnick run of Captain Marvel, you have to have this one to finish your set.