Captain Marvel entered a new era after the final defeat of Vox Supreme. The big change that has taken place is that Carol Danvers’s previous Binary powers have separated from her and become their own sentient being. Binary now being a character comes at a good time as it appears as though Carol will have to deal with the consequences of her conflict with Enchantress. With Carol dealing with the world of magic that she only has brief experience in will Binary step up in Captain Marvel’s place? Let’s find out with Captain Marvel #38.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Juan Frigeri and Alvaro Lopez
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
In New York City Spider-Woman takes Binary under her wing to help fill the gap left by Captain Marvel missing. Spider-Woman and Binary first deal with stopping a kaiju attack.
Over an unknown amount of time Binary and Spider-Woman work on taking on threats such as AIM and MODOK along with teaming up with the Avengers.
After stopping a threat in the sewers Binary shows that she has taken on some personality habits from Hazmat and Spider-Woman. The three then head to get some pizza together.
On the news people around New York City have different reactions to Binary’s actions. Watching this causes Binary to wonder if she is her own person or Carol, which turns to her seeing herself as Carol in the mirror.
Elsewhere Carol Danvers is on a planet where she speaks with a friend named Ravka about another village being attacked. Carol says she will handle the threat and equips herself with a giant sword.
Carol travels to the nearby village where she takes on the monster without her powers and only her sword. After a difficult fight, Carol is able to behead the monster.
As Carol reflects on not knowing where she is she suddenly wakes up to her actual reality. That reality is her being magically restrained on a chair by Agatha Harkness, Scarlet Witch, and Enchantress. Carol demands to know what is going on. End of issue.
Captain Marvel #38 is the best start to a new story arc that this series has had. A benefit of a long-running series and creative run is that you don’t need to be re-introduced to the main characters and supporting cast every new arc. That is shown here as Kelly Thompson, Juan Frigeri, and Alvaro Lopez are immediately able to establish a life with Binary as the lead while creating a mystery around Carol Danvers’s disappearance.
Starting out with Binary as the lead of Captain Marvel #38 was a great choice. As previously presented Binary is a blank slate character as they just gained sentience. While the bases of Binary is on Carol Danvers physically it is smart to establish that she isn’t an exact copy of Carol’s personality. This opened the door for Thompson to develop Binary’s own distinct personality as she is learning from the people around her.
This is what made the team-up with Jessica Drew so much fun. Jessica was watching out for Binary without Carol around as she knows what could happen if they just left Binary on her own. It does show Jessica’s own ability as a leader and mentor that she is able to direct Binary’s skills so she can shine as a superhero and not make mistakes on that path.
At the same time, this opened the opportunity to delve more into how Binary is a blank slate that is going to be adopting traits from people around her. She was already starting to gain some traits from Carol as they hung out. But now that Carol isn’t around Binary is being influenced by Spider-Woman and Hazmat. This allowed Binary to grow as her own distinct character throughout Captain Marvel #38 as you don’t just see her as a direct Carol Danvers clone.
Which makes the question of identity for Binary an even bigger question. Because while Binary is gaining her own personality at her core she still has aspects of Carol Danvers. Once Binary is alone with their thoughts it is easy for them to wonder if they are a Carol clone. Having the news reports of their action worked well to trigger this aspect of Binary’s arc that creates a multi-layer character arc for them to go through.
On the Carol Danvers side of things seeing Carol being forced to deal with the consequences of her clash with Enchantress and her son is going to be interesting. While she has experience with dealing with magic there is nothing that could’ve prepared her to go up against whatever Agatha Harkness, Scarlet Witch, and Enchantress have planned. Given Scarlet Witch’s reaction, Carol will have an uphill battle in front of her with this trial that Enchantress has set up with the other powerful magic characters.
Splitting up the art duties so Juan Frigeri handles the Binary and Alvaro Lopez handles the Carol Danvers portion of the story in Captain Marvel #38 was the best call when using multiple artists. Frigeri’s artwork is more classic Marvel superhero styling that is fitting for the story being done to put over Binary as a solo character. Lopez also brought a more serious tone to Carol’s side of Captain Marvel #38 as she is going to deal with the consequences of her actions.
Captain Marvel #38 is a strong start to the newest story arc for this series. Kelly Thompson sets up two strong arcs for Carol Danvers and Binary to each go on. Juan Frigeri and Alvaro Lopez enhance those arcs by giving them each a distinct look that added to how invested you are in what is going on. It all comes together for a tightly paced issue that has me excited for what comes next in this “Trials” arc for Captain Marvel.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10