Saturday, 21 July 2012

5 Things I liked about Captain Marvel #1

My review of Captain Marvel #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy went online last week, and it's fair to say I came away with a slightly disappointed shrug. While the issue was fine, it wasn't what I had hoped it would be, and it wasn't as powerful or exciting. I didn't feel like Carol Danvers came off as dynamic as she needed to. You can read the review, really, if you want to see into it.

But! It wasn't a bad comic. It was fine, and there were some good moments. Five. I've pinpointed five of the things I liked, and here we go with the list right now HERE WE GO

1: Dexter Soy's art and colouring.

Much of the critical response to the comic has centred around Soy's work with the issue. It's very similar to Crayton Crain in terms of sheen - I believe it's painted, and the faces have the same pointy-chin elfish quality that you see in Crain's work. However it's lighter, with a brighter tone and more agility at displaying facial expression. I really enjoyed the art. When you hire someone like Soy to do a book like this, you have to expect for him to be unique, and continue to be himself. While some mourn the lack of classic-style art on the book, Soy solely achieves the art of making the comic feel unique and interesting. Without him, the book would be far less magnetic and have far less interest. His artwork is perhaps not suited to a book of this style, but that's exactly what makes the book so interesting to look at.

2: The humour

There's a style I call 'ironic one-upmanship', which is where writers and readers seemingly love something precisely because it's stupid. If you have a dinosaur, that's fine. But then you give it the ability to talk. You one-up yourself. Then you give it a jetpack. Congratulations, you just went too far and now the sole reason to like the dinosaur is because it's a ridiculous thing. It's a difficult balance to make, and is the reason why a lot of webcomics fall apart. If you only have ironic one-upmanship, you can't make the characters work. DeConnick manages to make it funny, however, in the opening sequence with Crusher Creel. Although his sexism is awkwardly inserted, his declaration that he wants MOON ROCKS because they give him MOON POWERS is brilliantly fun. Similarly, Carol's put-downs are the most entertaining lines of the issue. I want more of that.

3. Done-in-one

Possibly a dangerous move, but there was no hook for readers to stick with the book in the long-term. It told a one-and-done storyline of sorts, in which everything was ostensibly wrapped up at the end of the issue. Granted this was because there was no particular storyline here, but I did enjoy the boldness of the creative choice. The issue could've been a one-shot, but instead feels like a prologue. Readers might have picked up the issue, got to the end, and then decided not to bother with any subsequent issues. Instead, the main reaction seems to have been that this was a prologue, which will segue into the series proper, and readers will stick with it until then.

4. The supporting characters

Not the human characters, who I didn't care for and didn't provide any interest. Captain America and Spider-Man, who came across as human versions of their typical personas. Steve Rogers was inspiring but you could also sense an old-fashioned sense to him which made his jokes feel flat (and DeConnick almost certainly WAS deliberately writing his jokes as a bit flat. Meanwhile Spider-Man was slightly annoying, slightly childlike, but still absolutely himself. That human approach took the style of Brian Michael Bendis but provided decent dialogue, which you can read more than once (seriously -- TRY re-reading an issue of Powers. It's no fun at all).

5. The positioning

It was spot-on to portray Carol Danvers as an All-American, military woman. She seriously doesn't have as much charisma or appeal as you wish you could remember her having, and the cover and marketing were absolutely on the money. Make her someone to be proud of, and position her there. It's the way that Superman is typically presented, and Captain America should be. She doesn't have the clout by herself, so make the image into something which appeals to the sense of patriotism and pride.

I'll read an issue on the merits of the creative work, and not on outside factors like diversity, thanks.

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