Carol Danvers' promotion as the new Kree Accuser feels like echoes of Spider-Man's own symbiotic power-up from the days of Secret Wars, and as such, Captain Marvel #18 (opens in new tab) is a solid Empyre tie-in that adds new wrinkles to Carol's history with the Kree empire. This issue is direct and to the point — much like Carol herself — and while there isn't much room for flourish in this installment, writer Kelly Thompson and artist Cory Smith get the job done with some meat-and-potatoes superhero action.
Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Cory Smith, Adriano Di Benedetto, and Tamra Bonvillain
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Given the ongoing hostilities between the Kree/Skrull Alliance and the Cotati people, it makes sense for someone as tied to the Kree as Captain Marvel to play a major role. And similar to the black suit that Peter Parker took back with him from the Beyonder's world, Thompson teases readers with the knowledge that Ronan's hammer wields a power that not even Carol Danvers fully understands. Like Carol, you can sense Thompson trying out this new weapon for a swing, and slowly starting to find new uses for the Accuser's hammer — ranging from deflecting projectiles to smashing spaceships to even jump-starting an Alliance cruiser drifting into space.(opens in new tab)
While I'll admit the soap operatics involving Carol's half-Kree parentage have never particularly engaged me as a reader, I think Thompson also dovetails that side of Carol's ongoing drama into the general Empyre conflict as a whole. (Forget the hardliner from Civil War II (opens in new tab) — if you're going to be comparing Carol's characterization across events from previous years, you're just going to make yourself upset.) Thompson gives Carol an organic and strong conflict, which fits nicely into Empyre's general themes of sacrificing your heroism and humanity for the sake of saving lives by winning a bloody war. While I do think that her take on Hulkling feels a little over-formal for the sake of exposition, it's one of the few technical missteps to the issue.
Like the storyline itself, artist Cory Smith delivers superhero action that at times evokes Mark Bagley — but also like what occasionally happens to Bagley, he's rarely able to pull off anything flashy enough to really burn itself into your mind. Smith's work is expressive and economical for sure, aided by Adriano Di Benedetto's inks, and in particular, an action sequence with Carol defending herself with Ronan's hammer is a highlight of the issue. That said, it also doesn't reinvent the wheel — nothing about the visuals of this book screams 'event,' for better or for worse, which means the tone doesn't differentiate itself much from Carol's previous adventures.
That's not to say that Captain Marvel #18 is a bad book by any stretch of the imagination — on the contrary, it fares decently well compared to plenty of other tie-in books that would be instantly forgotten. While I don't think this new arc necessarily kicks off with a bang, Thompson has seeded in enough threads of conflict that this storyline has plenty of potential, if she and Smith can come up with interesting enough moments to polish it up. The jury's still out on Carol Danvers' status quo, but Captain Marvel #18 is good enough to merit a second helping.