When taking cosmic characters into the deepest reaches of space, there can still be the tendency to cling to what’s familiar and known to the reader, either casual or hardcore. This leads to cosmic titles sometimes feeling like they’re less about exploring the unknown, vast reaches of space and that space, maybe, isn’t all that massive. Kelly-Sue Deconnick is clearly aiming at going the exact opposite direction as fast and far as possible as we’ve now got all-new characters, species and a tall glass of warp-bear juice. This is a book about exploring the darkest reaches of space, places that the Guardians aren’t interested in and people like Quasar and the Silver Surfer can’t be bothered with, and about finding oneself in the sense of the cosmic. As always, Carol Danvers is written as just sly enough, witty enough, and clever enough to find her way out of any trouble she finds herself in, but still manage to be a character that really feels like she’s still a down-to-Earth person at heart. There’s a very subtle yearning to be home that can’t quite overcome the urge to know what’s beyond that final shattered horizon that permeates a lot of this book overall, and this issue certainly ends with a note of finality on at least one of those fronts.
David Lopez’s art retains that air of cuteness somehow mixed with a bracing shot of badassery that lets his cartoonish style never become too exaggerated or his characters to lose perspective. There’s a whimsical goofiness to almost every page and every panel, but it never undercuts the dramatic moments, particularly the more desperate moments of Carol’s attempts at ship repair, cracking terrible jokes with her ship’s AI. Lee Loughridge’s colors are a large part of what makes this work as well. The way darkens and tints the visual language, helping to rein in some of the sillier visuals and actually ground them, no small feat considering the issue is set in space, helps things become relatable.
There’s a problem with exploring the vast reaches of space alone: it tends to make things feel very isolated. The AI being someone to bounce off of is helpful, but Danvers just bouncing from one group to the next while retaining no one makes certain beats begin to feel emotionally withdrawn. Part of the fun various spacefaring media has always been seeing how different crew react to different things, and it’d be great if a cast of regulars began to coalesce as crew.
This issue reinforces a lot of what makes this series as a whole great, and when the biggest complaint about a series is that you just want to see more of what it does well, that’s certainly not the worst thing. There’s a ton of potential and nothing is off-limits, so Deconnick and Lopez will continue to to stretch their creativity, and with more issues like this, the rewards will be fantastic. Wherever Carol goes, she entertains and this feels like a great return to form.