Right off the bat, I have to express my severe frustration with comic book covers. Everyone knows that covers don’t actually spoil what’s in the comic itself, but I still get inordinately frustrated when the big thing on the cover is actually just the last page reveal. It happened recently in Gotham City Monsters with Batwoman, and now it happened again here in Captain Marvel with She-Hulk. This wouldn’t be so frustrating if we weren’t already a few issues into the arc and the entire premise wasn’t already explained. We know Carol’s fighting all the Avengers – we also know her reasons for doing so. The cover for #14 showing her fighting She-Hulk obviously implies that in this issue she’d be fighting her very good friend Jen Walters and teases a lot of really interesting character interactions, but instead we mostly get an issue of Carol interacting with men until Jen shows up on the very last page. Again, I have to stress that this doesn’t ruin the issue, but it’s a frustrating trend.
With this one (admittedly long-winded) complaint out of the way, the issue’s really good. Kelly Thompson has consistently been able to give Carol a voice that isn’t just brash overconfidence — she struggles a lot with who she is and what she has to do, and this entire arc is emblematic of that struggle. That’s not to say there isn’t a level of brash overconfidence in everything Carol does, considering it’s a part of who she’s always been, but she’s a fully realized character here in a way that hasn’t always shone through in the past few years. Watching her take charge of the Avengers she’s “defeated” while also still trying to usurp the person who’s holding her hostage is a really interesting view of the character, and it’s something Thompson has done a few times in this run so far, notably in the first arc.
Lee Garbett has really done an excellent job taking over this book’s art duties — every page, every panel of this arc has been beautiful and stylish. Tamra Bonvillain’s colors are a big part of why the book looks as good as it does, too, and with Garbett’s design sensibilities this issue is a visual treat. The one major exception is two silent pages that are just a fight scene between Carol and T’Challa. While the fight is cool and Garbett choreographs it well, it’s not laid out very interestingly and instead just feels like a bunch of still images from a fight video rather than a show of the capabilities of the medium. There are lots of artists who are able to make fistfights look really engaging and dynamic, but for now Garbett hasn’t reached that point. For the most part, the layouts of this issue are pretty standard fare, except for a deliberate breaking of the trend on the second to last page that is a lot more impactful for it.
This issue is another good one from Kelly Thompson, and the art team on the book elevates it further. While there are some weaknesses and gripes I have with some facets of the issue, ultimately it’s still a strong book and another great entry in what has been one of the best Carol Danvers books to date.