I may have shot myself in the foot with this one by reading out of order, and then again, maybe I didn’t.
Confusingly, Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More is not actually the first volume of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run with Captain Marvel. This one is. And it’s in this volume that Carol Danvers, previously Ms. Marvel, swaps out her black leotard and thigh-highs for a sensible and badass red and blue costume and a blonde mohawk-type thing that sticks out of her red helmet, taking over the name Captain Marvel from its deceased previous owner, Mar-Vell, that Kree guy who transferred his powers to her in the first place. So really, this is the place you should start with both Carol Danvers and Kelly Sue. I started with Higher, Further, Faster, More and fell in love with David López’s art. His Carol Danvers is my Carol Danvers.
The Carol Danvers to be found here is still the same character, but since I’m a visual person, she seems very different. There are actually two artists in this volume. Dexter Soy does basically the first half, and Emma Rios (who inked DeConnick’s Pretty Deadly, which I was less than impressed with) takes over for him after that. So not only was Soy’s version of the character such a jarring difference for me than what I was used to, but even within the same volume, the differences between the two styles didn’t really work for me. Soy’s artwork is pretty in its own way, but it feels really dark and cold and sterile, which is completely at odds with the Carol in my head, who is charming and goofy and vulnerable when her mask is off, and a complete badass when she wants to be. The colors in his issues were also really gloomy and made it hard to follow events. There was only one panel that I genuinely loved, but unfortunately I couldn’t find it online, so you’ll just have to take my word that it was great.
In terms of the actual story, DeConnick really nails this character from the start, I think. Her main emotional through-line here is coming to terms with being Captain Marvel, which is actually a lot more complicated than it sounds when I type it out like that. This involves reminiscing about learning to be a pilot, attending the funeral of her mentor, dealing with the fatal illness of a close friend, and the fun part: time travel!
When Emma Rios takes over, the characters become expressive and actually seem to have personalities (visually, I mean), but her characters are so thin and skeletal and have scary faces. This works in Pretty Deadly, but not here. They’re sassy at times and elegant, yes, but they’re also creepy and all have weirdly pointy faces. I LOVED this style in Pretty Deadly because it really amped up the creep factor and gave it this ethereal quality, even if I didn’t like that comic’s story very much. But again, because I’d already experienced David Lopez’s version of the character, this one didn’t really ring true for me (although the return to a brighter color palette was much welcome).
As an origin story, this comic really is a must-read, and you should probably read it first. I think I would have liked it better if I’d have read it in order, but then again, I like to think the art in this volume never would have quite matched the story for me, even if I wasn’t already enamored with this lady:
If David López would have done the art, I probably would have given this five stars.