March 17's Captain Marvel #27 from writer Kelly Thompson and artists David Lopez and Tríona Farrell sets Carol Danvers up for her next big story – and adds a new wrinkle to her love life.
True to Lopez's promise to Newsarama that the issue's final page would "make your jaw drop," the issue's last image is sure to be burned in the brains of fans, with a twist that the issue's lead up doesn't give away.
Following an emotionally difficult beak up with James Rhodes/War Machine (Carol's longtime on-again-off-again romantic partner), Carol is stuck in a depressive funk. When she doesn't return her best pal Jessica Drew's calls, Jess crashes her apartment (literally), dragging her out to fight a group of interdimensional acid-blasting cats.
After this, Carol leans back into super-heroics in a big way, pushing herself to her limit to distract herself from her sadness.
Still concerned for Carol's well-being, Jess crashes through her window again, this time dragging her along for a 'girls' night out' along with Monica Rambeau, Hazmat, and Lauri-Ell (the new Kree Accuser). But the surprise night out turns out to be speed dating in a bar, where Carol (wearing a name tag which reads 'Susan' to keep some distance and anonymity from her matches) meets a rapid succession of, frankly, jerks, before the speed dating game is interrupted by the return of the acid cats, who Carol ditches the event to fight.
Disappointed with the turn of events, which culminate in an argument with Jessica Drew, Carol heads off alone to a bar, where she considers drinking whiskey (Carol's a sober alcoholic, like Tony Stark). But before she drinks, she's interrupted by none other than Doctor Strange, who has also had a difficult day.
Strange stops Carol from drinking, and the two heroes – who, as Strange points out, have never been very close – commiserate over the difficulties of balancing real-life concerns with super-heroics, and their connection quickly moves into flirting, followed by a kiss… followed by what might colloquially be called a 'hook up.'
On that jaw-dropping final page, Carol and Strange lay in bed together, with Carol wrapped in Strange's Cloak of Levitation. The frank (but generally still very PG-13) scene shows Carol and Strange grappling with the emotional and super-heroic ramifications of their tryst, verbally resolving to leave the incident in the past – but embracing and kissing in the final panel.
Oddly enough, Carol and Strange's budding relationship paints the solicitation of April 21's Captain Marvel #28 in a new light.
"Toil and trouble! Carol Danvers is a born soldier. Give her a field of battle and an enemy to punch, and she's unstoppable. But the Captain's Achilles' heel is about to break," it reads. "The mystic arts are Carol's one true weakness, and - haunted by her failure to stop the villain Ove - she's on a mission to correct that weakness... at any cost. A brand-new arc kicks off with artist Jacopo Camagni's supernatural talents!"
Captain Marvel skips release in May, but the mystic arts and Doctor Strange storyline will continue in June's Captain Marvel's #29.
"Haunted by a doomed future, Captain Marvel is getting desperate," reads Marvel's description. "And that desperation is showing, both in who Carol enlists to help her and the secret she keeps from them as they embark on this adventure together. But Carol's quest for magic continues, as she truly believes it's the last hope to stop a dystopian future, even if every magic user she knows disagrees!"
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