Kelly Thompson run on Captain Marvel has gotten better with each passing issue. Thompson has shown to be growing more and more comfortable writing Carol Danvers. Putting Carol in the position where her leadership qualities are put into the spotlight. The supporting cast of Spider-Woman and other heroes have also done a great job in helping to elevate the story. The only thing that Thompson’s first story arc, “Re-Entry,” needs improvement on is Nuclear Man as an antagonist. Up to this point Nuclear Man has been a one-dimensional villain. Maybe things can turn around on that aspect of this story arc with Captain Marvel #4. Let’s find that out now.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Captain Marvel struggles against a mind-control Rogue, who is absorbing her powers. Captain Marvel powers up enough to get Rogue off her. Even though there is distance between them Rogue continues to absorb Captain Marvel’s powers due to her recent power upgrade. (This power upgrade for Rogue happened in Mr. & Mrs. X #5)
Before Rogue absorbs all of Captain Marvel’s powers she is stopped by Nuclear Man, who knocks Rogue out by activating her shock collar.
Nuclear Man talks to Captain Marvel about how he brought Rogue to his place so she could get her revenge. He then tries to earn some of Captain Marvel’s by talking about Rogue’s recent power upgrade that allows her to absorb powers without touching people. Nuclear Man then says he is going to let Captain Marvel and Rogue fight it out in his arena so they can find out who will be his bride.
Captain Marvel tries to stay tough but is barely able to stand after having so much of her powers absorbed by Rogue. She eventually passes out from the strain of trying to just stand.
At the Rebellion’s base Spider-Woman catches the others up on what happened at Nuclear Man’s base with Captain Marvel staying behind. Som mentions he hear Nuclear Man talk about someone named Rogue. Spider-Woman reveals Captain Marvel and Rogue’s history to Som.
Hearing this Som says that they won’t be able to destroy the new Metal-Men that Nuclear Man has created without risking the lives of the men he captured. Hazmat says they need to use EMP Blasts to keep everyone safe.
She-Hulk assigns Hazmat to work with the engineers to create the EMP weapons. She then goes over how when everything is ready she and Hazmat will lead the front line team on a direct assault while Spider-Woman and Echo lead a covert team that includes Som through the underground paths.
She-Hulk then questions Som on what Nuclear Man’s true plans are. Som says that Nuclear Man desires dominion over others and wants a queen by his side who can bare him strong children. He goes on to say that Nuclear Man built an arena to have Captain Marvel prove she can be his queen.
In Nuclear Man’s arena Captain Marvel struggles to even put up a fight against Nuclear Man. As Rogue continues to absorb Captain Marvel’s powers she sees flashes of Carol’s recent experiences. Eventually Captain Marvel gets knocked out cold with Rogue having fully absorbed her powers.
Near Nuclear Man’s base She-Hulk leads her team to launch a full frontal assault. Her team is able to fight off the Metal-Men while wearing the Hulk Exoskeleton suit she developed.
Underground Spider-Woman is able to lead the covert team through the underground tunnels.
Meanwhile, inside Nuclear Man’s base, Nuclear Man compliments Rogue on her victory and how she has taken on some of Captain Marvel’s features, including her blonde hair.
Rogue suddenly takes off the shock collar, powers up and starts talking like Captain Marvel. She then knocks Nuclear Man down and orders him to deactivate the barrier. Nuclear Man laughs and says that he has his own plans in place as there is a bomb no one has found yet.
Rogue/Captain Marvel realizes they have all fallen into Nuclear Man’s trap. End of issue.
The Good: With the momentum created by the first three issues of this story arc things got out of control quickly in Captain Marvel #4. That is not a good thing in this case. Rather than building excitement for how this story will end, Captain Marvel #4 just made you hope it ended quickly so we can move on to another storyline. And all of this is because Nuclear Man continues to be a hindrance to the entire “Re-Entry” story arc.
Before getting to all the problems with Captain Marvel #4, I will compliment Kelly Thompson on continuing to do a good job in using Spider-Woman, Hazmat, Echo and She-Hulk in this storyline. They all step up big in Captain Marvel’s absence to show what makes them interesting characters. It’s not something that Thompson tried to beat us over the head with. She just made it a natural part of how the story progressed.
She-Hulk in particular had the best development as she was the one to step up to fill the leadership void left by Captain Marvel. There were no questions asked for why Jennifer Walters took over giving orders. Everyone just paid attentioned and listened to what Jennifer was saying. It shows the amount of respect she commands even when she does not have her She-Hulk powers activated.
Carmen Carnero once again provides Captain Marvel with very good artwork. Given how much more action was in Captain Marvel #4, Carnero stepped up big. Carnero did a particularly good job building on the history between Rogue and Captain Marvel to fuel how dramatic their two fights were.
The Bad: Captain Marvel #4 falling apart all comes down to the one-dimensional villain that Nuclear continues to be. His maniacal terror is nothing special. There is never a time that Thompson convinces the reader that Nuclear Man’s plot can’t be taken care of with simple force.
What makes things worse is that Thompson tries to mask how one-dimensional Nuclear Man is by making it seem as though he has an intricate plot. Though that is something she tries to pull off there is nothing distinct about his plans. Everything he says is written to make him sound like he is this big villain. While he tries to sound tough, it is only an illusion since Thompson never actually develops him to be as bad as he sounds.
The biggest problem with Nuclear Man’s entire plot is that we don’t actually get details on how he accomplished everything. At no point in these four issues in Captain Marvel has Thompson clued us into how Nuclear Man created this island. That makes all the work to get over how dangerous Nuclear Man is on the reader. We have to do the heavy lifting to think of Nuclear Man as someone that we believe could accomplish all this. This is not how you build a proper villain for a story.
It does not help that everything about the Metal-Men comes across as a big deus ex machina to further Nuclear Man’s plot. There is very little explanation to put over why these new and improved Metal-Men are different from the last. Even the added twist of the unknown men life being tied to these Metal-Men meant nothing since we can’t put a face to those who are in danger. They are just made more powerful because that is what the plot calls for to make things tough for Spider-Woman and the Rebellion.
That makes the entire reveal at the end of Captain Marvel #4 with Nuclear Man revealing there is bomb secretly planted on the island come across as completely contrived. Just like the upgraded Metal-Men, there was little to no development made to make this a hook ending that peaks the readers interest. All this secret bomb did was extend this story another issue.
All the problems with Nuclear Man’s character extended to the big fight between Captain Marvel and Rogue. Since Nuclear Man is the one that forced these two to clash it was hard to find their fights meaningful. Which is truly unfortunate because having Captain Marvel and Rogue on screen together should be a big deal given their history with each other. Thompson could’ve easily dedicated an entire story arc to just these two interacting with each other for the first time in a while.
Unfortunately that is not what happened. Instead what we get is more lack of development when it comes to actually showing us how Rogue came under Nuclear Man’s command. There were zero details on this front. Which in turn, just made it seem like Rogue could’ve been any random character and things would turn out the same for Captain Marvel.
Overall: Captain Marvel #4 is a major let down. That all falls on the failed development of Nuclear Man. At no point does Kelly Thompson make the character a compelling villain. Instead everything the character said and does comes across as incredibly forced. Which is highly unfortunate since Thompson has shown that she knows how to write a fun Captain Marvel. Hopefully this story arc ends in the next issue and this series can move on to much better adventures.
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