So I was at my LCS on Wednesday picking up a few comics when I see a plain white cover proclaiming “The Return.” “Hmm,” thinks I. I didn’t hear anything about this comic, but why not try it out? The story sounds big and interesting. After all, Marvel wouldn’t make the return of a hero into a snoozefest, right? Even if it was as bad as the main Civil War comics have been, at least it would have been a Big Exciting Event, right?
I am so naive. Apparently Marvel’s great marketing strategy is that the best way to get people excited about a new mini-series is with a stultifying dull short story that seems to exist only to get some more juice from the Civil War cover blurb. Because this comic is plain awful. Not only does this comic easily contain the least inspiring character revival ever, but it all seems so pointless. Captain Mar-Vell was killed off 25 years ago, and I doubt that anybody has asked to see him revived in that time. He was a nice little hero who had a very satisfying death, but Mar-Vell is hardly a character who set fans’ hearts atwitter with excitement. What purpose is served by his revival, other than a reflexive masturbatory reflex to bring back any character that once had any amount of popularity? Why would any of today’s fans even care about Captain Marvel at all?
But even there the story would have been okay if Jenkins had somehow made readers care about Captain Marvel. Alan Moore was right when he claimed that there are no bad characters. There’s no reason to think that there couldn’t have been a new take on Mar-Vell that would make him interesting to modern readers. Instead, we get a portrayal of Mar as a kind of emotionally inert guy who gets stuck being warden of the Civil War extradimensional prison because he’s kind of easily manipulated into taking the job. There are bits that are touched on in the story that would have some emotional resonance if they had been actually mined for emotions. Instead, each of those moments just feels inert on the page, devoid of anything to make a reader care about it.
Bad as the Captain Marvel story is, the Sentry back-up is worse. First of all, whose bright idea was it to split this comic into two stories? If the big event of this comic is the revival of Captain Marvel, why is it only given half an issue? Maybe with a full issue to work with, the story would at least have felt more fleshed out. Secondly, why should we care about the story, anyway?
In the back-up story, Sentry decides to register with the government. Well, fine. And why should we care? There’s no sign that there’s any significance to the decision, so it just feels so unexciting. I wonder if Sentry decided to file his taxes, too.
Oh, and the artwork’s pretty rotten, too. Raney and Hanna do nothing to make either story more compelling or interesting, so their art just sits on the paper, doing its functional duty while adding nothing to the presentation. In addition, I found it amazing that Mar and Sentry had the same physiques even though Sentry is supposed to be over-muscled.
I suppose that any comic that quotes a shampoo ad can’t be expected to be great. But this comic is just wretched. Mar-Vell can’t go back to his grave soon enough for me.