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July 24, 2017

The Mighty Captain Marvel #6 (review)


The Mighty Captain Marvel #6
Marvel Comics, June 2017
Writer: Margaret Stohl

“The Mighty Captain Marvel” is a comic book series from American publisher Marvel Comics. The title focuses on the female super hero Captain Marvel. At the start of this series, Captain Marvel was the commander of the Alpha Flight Station, an orbital satellite situated just outside of the Earth’s atmosphere and is first line of defence against interstellar threats. (Marvel Comics has many of them.)

The current story arc running in “The Mighty Captain Marvel” series is heavily tied to Marvel’s Secret Empire crossover event. This is a controversial story, in which the flagship character Captain America has been revealed to be a Hydra (Marvel’s premiere terrorist organisation) double agent. This came about through a convoluted plot that involves a sentient cosmic cube (an all powerful cosmic artifact that can grant wishes). Part of Captain America’s plan, before his deception was revealed, was to convince the governments of the world of the necessity of an interplanetary shield, in order to protect Earth from interstellar threats. While the shield does work in terms of protecting Earth from space-faring threats, Captain America’s plan was to also isolate Earth from the many superheroes located outside of Earth that could interfere in his plans. This includes Captain Marvel and her team of superheroes, the Alpha Flight.

“The Mighty Captain Marvel” #6 details the effects of this plot. The Alpha Flight Station and its inhabitants are stranded in space, unable to resupply and constantly under attack by hostile aliens called the Chitauri. These aliens initially tried to invade Earth but turned their attention towards the Alpha Flight Station after failing to breach the planetary shield.

It is refreshing to see the heroes in the space station contend with threats that cannot be solved by straightforward fisticuffs. The Chitauri seem to be endless in number and the superheroes only get brief respites in between waves of invaders. The damage their space station suffers can no longer be repaired (something we predicted.) The satellite is running out of power and resources. It is only a matter of time before the station’s defenses are breached. The cliffhanger ending sounds out imminent doom. Captain Marvel herself is incapacitated in the latest round of attacks. She is not only one of the strongest defenders of the Alpha Flight Station, but also its commander.

Unfortunately, the tense premise of a space station full of super heroes under siege and fraying at the edges in a war of attrition is hampered by the “super plot” of the crossover event. We have always been vocal about our dislike of Marvel’s overreliance on publisher-wide continuity. Here it manifestly holds back the potential of an otherwise earnest, even captivating story.

The “Secret Empire” event places too many pieces on the chessboard. Readers need to be familiar with a multiplicity of titles and characters to get full understanding of this singular issue. Characters such as Hyperion, Quasar, the Guardians of the Galaxy, several young members of Alpha Flight, and other assorted superheroes all contribute something to the over-arching narrative. But the significance of the appearances of these characters is lost on people unfamiliar with (or those who do not care about) the respective titles of these other characters.

“The Mighty Captain Marvel” so far feels too much like a spin-off to the Secret Empire event. The crossover prevents the Captain Marvel character from fulfilling the character’s own adventures. Ironically enough, giving the character her own clean slate was the original reason why she resigned from the Avengers and joined Alpha Flight, as detailed in our review of Captain Marvel #1. To us, this is a waste of potential. Captain Marvel is the closest Marvel has to a female flagship character (in the way that Wonder Woman is for American rival DC Comics). In addition to recently being transformed into a feminist icon, the character can stand head and shoulders beside Marvel’s male flagship characters in respect of the strength of her super powers, has an extensive history of leadership roles, and more importantly from a commercial perspective, carries the publisher’s brand in her name.

“The Mighty Captain Marvel” #6 is recommended only to those people who are already heavily invested in the “Secret Empire” event. This is not the fault of the writing, as there is nothing to complain about on that front. Instead, all flaws in this issue are the fault of Marvel Comics leveraging all of their existing mainstream titles to push yet another blockbuster crossover event and increase sales in a tiresome and cynical sales strategy.

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