Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez's "Captain Marvel" #2 slows down a bit to catch readers up with the series' opening scene. Fortunately, the journey is proving to be a lot of fun, and it's okay that the destination may be a few issues away.
DeConnick wraps the Guardians of the Galaxy into this issue with ease, embracing the large cast without letting it disrupt her flow. In fact, the bit with Rocket Raccoon insisting that Carol's cat Chewie is a Flerken that must be destroyed is absolutely priceless. And seeing these characters feels like another sign we might get a taste of the Captain in the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie. One can hope!
Even though this isn't a perfect issue of "Captain Marvel" or quite as strong as the opening issue, DeConnick's pitch perfect writing of Carol remains the series' biggest strength. "Captain Marvel" will define the character moving forward for a very long time and it's fortunate for readers that DeConnick "gets" Carol on every level. In DeConnick's hands, the character is effortlessly heroic and funny, charming and entitled, powerful and flawed. In other words, truly fleshed out and three dimensional in a way that some characters never manage. Sending Carol off into space for her series is in some ways a risky move, but it already feels right for the character and the story.
Lopez is an inspired choice for "Captain Marvel." He's a capable and highly proficient superhero artist, but also excels with female characters, giving them bodies that feel real while still being superheroic. So far, his "Captain Marvel" is stunning, both unafraid of big space battles and action scenes, but revels in the little stuff: the fine expression work, comedic and otherwise. The expressions on Carol's cat Chewie alone in this issue are an object lesson in fantastic cartooning.
Lopez has also created an excellent dichotomy between Carol out of costume -- even though she's still technically in costume, but just sans helmet -- and Captain Marvel fully suited up. Without the helmet, Lopez has created a Carol that is light and charming, with her flowing blonde hair, softer body language and restrained energy. By contrast, when the helmet goes on, the change is almost Superman-esque. She immediately shifts into "work mode" (or "superhero mode"), her body language and even expressions changing. It's a wonderful distinction and the kind of choice that helps solidify the mythos for a superhero.
It's also worth noting that Lopez has seemingly solved all the silly controversy of Carol's hair in the previous series, by giving her the long hair that some fans demanded and then designing her costume to give her the pseudo-mohawk that both keeps the hair out of her face and turns her hair into part of her costume. Artists on the previous series played with these elements and tried to make it work. Some of them were more successful than others, but Lopez is utterly clear in "Captain Marvel" #2: this is what Carol looks like out of costume, and this is what she looks like in full-battle dress, end of story. That kind of confidence serves a book well and I'm excited to see it.
Lee Loughridge's colors are fantastic on the whole. Space can be tricky to light, but Loughridge makes the most of it, bathing Carol in the specific glow of her ship's lighting while choosing drastically different lighting for her foes, contrasting both with exterior shots of the cold but beautiful blues of space. Similarly, active parts of Carol's ship are toned with warm yellows and golds giving it the hum of life and activity, while someone waking up in a quiet part of the ship is bathed in lonely cool purple hues.
I thoroughly enjoyed DeConnick's first run at "Captain Marvel" despite some problems with the book, but this new series has thrown out everything that didn't work, kept everything that did, and engaged a perfect creative team to bring readers a truly exciting second run at a book that works. Too often in comics, the baby is thrown out with the bathwater for a relaunch, and I'm very glad the creative team managed to hang onto the baby in this case.