The latest Captain Marvel series got off to a solid start. Unfortunately for its first story arc Kelly Thompson has failed to make Nuclear Man a compelling villain. And with how much Nuclear Man has dominated this story arc thus far it has caused a lot of problems for Thompson’s first arc. The snowball effect has caused the good character development in Captain Marvel to be overshadowed. Now that we have reached the final issue of this story arc can Thompson end things on a strong note? Let’s find out with Captain Marvel #5
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: Rogue-Captain Marvel fights Nuclear Man. She ends up getting punched into the sky and hit by a missile. This causes Rogue to crash down to the ground and lose all her Captain Marvel powers, returning them to Carol in the process.
After they both recover Captain Marvel asks Rogue to keep Nuclear Man busy while she regroups with her army.
Captain Marvel rejoins the others and immediately orders Som to tell Ripley to bring in the second wave while Spider-Woman, She-Hulk and Hazmat lead the new strike against Nuclear Man’s Metal Men.
As the fighting continues Echo tells Captain Marvel she believes Som is the bomb Nuclear Man has in place to take them out.
Suddenly Som hands start glowing like Nuclear Man and he freaks out as he realizes his father (Nuclear Man) turned him into a bomb. Captain Marvel calms him down and calls for Rogue to come to her location.
Elsewhere, as the fighting continues, Jennifer and Hazmat bond over their lives as heroes and how they are ready to get back to being themselves again.
Back with Captain Marvel, Rogue uses her powers to absorb Som’s powers and sees all of his memories.
With Som knocked out everyone suddenly gets their powers back. With everyone’s powers back the heroes demolish Nuclear Man’s forces. Nuclear Man smashes the ground with his full power and sends all the heroes flying.
Captain Marvel and Rogue are the first to get back up. Nuclear Man launches another attack. Rogue covers Captain Marvel and takes the brunt of the attack.
This gives Captain Marvel an opening to land a powerful kick on Nuclear Man. She-Hulk follows up by smashing Nuclear Man into the ground.
Nuclear Man can barely stand back up. When he does he immediately teleports himself and Som to an unknown location.
Captain Marvel feels responsible for not saving Som earlier but Echo reminds her that she had a lot of people she just saved from what they went through.
A little later Captain Marvel and the other heroes help all the captured people get back to Manhattan.
Captain Marvel and Rogue step aside to talk about everything. Rogue apologizes for what happened with absorbing Captain Marvel’s powers again. Captain Marvel says she has no hard feelings for Rogue and that she trusts her as a hero who has proven herself over and over again. They shake hands and Rogue goes back home to Gambit.
Spider-Woman appears and mentions that things look to have gone well for Captain Marvel with Rogue. Captain Marvel reflects that she is worried about Som. Spider-Woman gets distracted when she sees Roger and goes to him.
As Captain America is about to talk about a debriefing Captain Marvel then finds Rhodey and kiss him. She-Hulk interrupts the kiss to also mention that they need to do a debriefing and get food.
Before doing that Captain Marvel finds Ripley to talk about how she likely has enough now to write her story.
Two days later Carol wakes up in her apartment and does not react well to Ripley’s story about her in the Daily Bugle that is titled “We’re Doomed.”
In an unknown location a mysterious figure states they are ready to move into phase two of their plan. They then take out a purple vile while a tentacle creature is chained up behind them. End of issue.
The Good: After four issues of build of “Re-Entry” ends in a way that felt completely rushed. A lot of the problems Captain Marvel #5 faced was around the lackluster antagonist Nuclear Man turned out to be. But after five issues this is not an excuse for an ending that didn’t fully payoff on what could’ve been a strong start for the new Captain Marvel series.
Kelly Thompson deserves a lot credit for continuing to write Carol Danvers as someone that has strong chemistry with everyone. Throughout Captain Marvel #5 the chemistry she shares with Spider-Woman, Hazmat, She-Hulk and Echo is the standout of this issue. Its with these relationships we get to see how as Captain Marvel Carol has stepped up as a leader others will follow. As this series continues it would be great to see Thompson spotlight these friendships for Carol in one-shot or short story arcs. By doing so Thompson can make Captain Marvel a standout series in the future.
Carmen Carnero continued to be a big part of what elevated the story going on in Nuclear Man’s island. With an action packed final chapter, Carnero was able to showcase her strong choreography throughout Captain Marvel #5. Each of the heroes came across as strong once they were let loose. It’ll be great to see what Carnero does when she is given the chance to draw big space battles in the future.
The Bad: Much like the rest of this story arc, Captain Marvel #5 could not escape the fact that Nuclear Man was a lackluster villain. It would be one thing if Nuclear Man was just a one dimensional villain. But that wasn’t the crux of the problem with him as an antagonist. The biggest problem with the character is that Thompson stretched the story far longer than it should have gone on.
“Re-Entry” should’ve been a three issue story arc. It needed to have a sense of urgency that was at times lost because there were a lot of unexplained gotcha moments that went unexplained. A big one was how Nuclear Man got in the position he did to have such an intricate plot set up. It just all sort of happened and we are supposed to believe he is a big threat. But because he is always shown to be nothing more than a somewhat powerful villain we never get an idea he is someone that can actually pull of the plan he did.
Which is the other big problem with the character. At no point did it feel like Captain Marvel and the others were in big trouble. We always knew that as soon as Captain Marvel and others could use there actual powers Nuclear Man was going to be an easy villain to take down. That is exactly what happened as one kick from Captain Marvel and a smash from She-Hulk was enough to cause him to tuck his tail between his legs and run away. So even with him escaping Thompson did not make him into a believable threat for the future appearance that was set-up at the end of Captain Marvel #5.
The other big problem with Nuclear Man’s arc was that his son, Som, was never properly developed. He was mostly a background character while Captain Marvel and the others kept him at arms length for the majority of “Re-Entry.” By the time we actually learn his full backstory in Captain Marvel #5 it came across as rushed. There was nothing that was earned from the quick flash of his life growing up that made the reader connect with Som as a character.
Speaking of unearned, the ending for Captain Marvel and Rogue’s relationship was very disappointing. There was so much potential in exploring the first story were these two have major screentime with each other. That never really happens as Thompson had to rush everything about Captain Marvel and Rogue’s time on screen with each.
It was particularly disappointing that as the writer of Mr. & Mrs. X Thompson depowers Rogue to fit this storyline. Over in Mr. & Mrs. X we saw how Rogue has to be even more careful with how she uses her absorption power after the unexpected evolution of her powers. That never really seems to be something that weighs heavily on how Rogue used her powers in Captain Marvel #5. Instead Thompson adjusts Rogue’s powers to be just a temporary absorption that once it’s done Captain Marvel immediately gets her powers back.
That was all an odd choice since it took the one interesting part of how Rogue absorbed Captain Marvel’s powers created a merger of both characters again. Thompson never explores the ramifications of Captain Marvel somehow having control over Rogue’s body when Rogue absorbed her powers. It is all resolved in one page and never plays a role in how things go. Which made the interaction between Captain Marvel and Rogue at the end of this issue much less compelling than it should have been.
On a similar level, Thompson bringing back Ripley Ryan into the fold felt unearned. Ripley stopped being a factor in this story after the beginning of the second issue of this series. After that Thompson never fully explored the dynamic between Captain Marvel and Ripley. We didn’t even see Ripley trying to document what was going on in Roosevelt Island. Which is odd given that Thompson made sure to circle back to this sub-plot with actually building up to what the story Ripley ended up writing that pissed Carol off.
All of these problems with Captain Marvel #5 made the ending with the mysterious character not hit the home run Thompson intended. The ending just came across as forced in to give the series some hook for when Thompson comes back to her plotlines after War of the Realms. And there was nothing unique to the whole silhouette character being revealed to be behind what happened. It just came across as a lame attempt to tack on a hook ending to the conclusion of a story.
Overall: Captain Marvel #5 was a disappointing end to a lackluster beginning to what should be one of Marvel’s top titles. The story around Nuclear Man completely fell apart from the beginning and it never was able to recover. The one bright spot is that Kelly Thompson showed she knows what Carol Danvers voice should be as Captain Marvel. Now that Thompson can start a new story arc she can hopefully developed a stronger plot to go along with how great of a character Captain Marvel is.
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