The Life of Captain Marvel mini-series had a decent start that quickly got off the rails in the third issue. The reveal that Carol Danvers mother is actually a member of the Kree Empire did nothing to create a eye rolling ending to The Life of Captain Marvel. The set-up to this big revelation left a lot to be desired. But now since there is no going back it is up to Margaret Stohl to show why Carol Danvers’ family direct connection to the Kree Empire is a good thing. If not that Stohl is just setting up for one big disappointing turn of events for one of Marvel’s biggest characters. Let’s see how things turn out with The Life of Captain Marvel #4.
Writer: Margaret Stohl
Artist: Carlos Pacheco (present day scenes); Erica D’Urso (flashback scenes)
Inker: Rafael Fonteriz (present day scenes)
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Sometime in the past on Planet Hala Mari-Ell (Marie Danvers’ Kree name) is the standout student in her class and through various feats becomes a captain in the Kree Empire. She is given the Amulet of Pam’a and given a mission to blend in on Earth to further the Kree Empire’s power.
In the present Mari-Ell reveals he status as Kree Captain and tells Captain Marvel her real name is Car-Ell. The Kree Kleaner continues her attack on the Danvers family. Mari-Ell tackles the Kree Kleaner and sends her flying with a massive energy blast.
Captain Marvel helps her mom recover. They then go to sit with Joe Jr. Captain Marvel asks her mom to clarify things.
Mari-Ell first reveals that the accident that Carol thought gave her powers just activated her dormant Kree powers.
Carol wants to know everything from the beginning. Mari-Ell says that when she first crash landed on Earth she acted like an innocent woman that was drowning that Joe Sr. found. From there Mari-Ell passed herself off as human while developing a relationship with Joe Sr. During this time Mari-Ell convinced her Kree superiors that her relationship with Joe Sr. was part of her cover.
She goes on to state that as time passed she couldn’t hide her real Kree-self from Joe Sr. When she revealed her Kree background Joe Sr. did not run away and they instead ended up getting married. Mari-Ell goes on to say while initially happy she and Joe Sr. realized that the latter was in love with her Kree-self not the human Marie Danvers. She then states that the letters that Carol found earlier were actually addressed to Mari-Ell.
Elsewhere the Kree Cleaner calls in her ship.
Back at the Danvers home Mari-Ell states she was conflicted with being the woman Joe Sr. fell in love with and the mother Carol needed growing up. Mari-Ell says she tried to make Carol fit in and feel human. This makes her remember Carol’s birth where it is revealed that Carol’s Kree name of Car-Ell means Champion, which Joe Sr. liked.
Mari-Ell states that after Carol was born she gave Joe Sr. her tracker to turn off as she was concerned that the Kree would try to take Carol from them. Joe Sr. promises that that the Kree won’t take either of them.
Mari-Ell goes on to say they tried to show Carol to love rather than fight but it became hard when Joe Sr. became paranoid about Kree threats, which led him to drink a lot. This caused Joe Sr. to hate the Kree part of Carol and his daughters dream about being an astronaut.
Carol can’t believe her mom let her dad talk to her like that. Mari-Ell states that Joe convinced her that hiding Carol’s Kree DNA was for the best even though she hated doing it deep down inside herself.
Mari-Ell then reveals that on the day Carol ran away she actually sold her wedding ring to pay for Carol’s college tuition when Joe Sr. didn’t want to pay for it.
Mari-Ell states that she is proud of Carol for what she has become and knows that this was all painful to take in.
As the Danvers are having their moment the Kree Kleaner suddenly shows up and takes Joe Jr. hostage. The Kree Kleaner states that Mari-Ell has been sentenced to death. End of issue.
The Good: When a story does not click into place like the writer intends it’s very clear. That is exactly what happens with The Life of Captain Marvel #4. Margaret Stohl tries her best to put over why Carol Danvers mom being a soldier of the Kree Empire is something that should be interesting. Unfortunately just about everything with how the story is execution ends up working against itself.
The one bright spot in The Life of Captain Marvel #4 story was the reaction Carol Danvers had to her mom’s backstory. At the very least Carol called her mom out on a lot of the bullshit of why things down the way they did during her childhood. Carol has been through enough in her life, especially as she has come into her own as Captain Marvel, that she can spot someone not being completely honest. In this case, Carol’s mom trying to act completely innocent in the situation with the conflicts in her marriage are not to be believed.
The artwork in The Life of Captain Marvel #4 is the other part that saves this issue. As with the previous issues Carlos Pacheco and Erica D’Urso’s artwork help prop up an otherwise disappointing issue. Pacheco and D’Urso combine to deliver the emotion on each characters face for both the present and flashback scenes. The action sequence with the Kree Kleaner did a good job with getting over how destructive it could’ve been if it didn’t end as quickly as it did.
The Bad: The intentions to put over the changes to Captain Marvel’s origin were all well and good. Unfortunately the entire execution of the actual story of this new origin left a lot to be desired. That all falls on the fact that there are so many questionable decisions that everything about Carol Danvers’ new Kree origins falls apart.
What was particularly troubling about all of the changes was that Stohl tries early on to establish Carol’s mom, Mari-Ell, as some badass Kree Captain. Unfortunately there was never an honest hint of the badass that Mari-Ell ever was. Outside of the brief fight with the Kree Kleaner we don’t really have a reason to believe this. In turn this made how Mari-Ell was presented in the flashback before she got to Earth come off as Stohl telling us she was Kree Captain material without any proof.
What else made this entire origin problematic was that Stohl does not try to put an actual danger to Mari-Ell’s decision to abandon the Kree Empire. With how she ended up not communicating with the Kree Empire after giving birth to Carol you would think that the Kree would be suspicious. Especially with the fact that Stohl emphasized the fact that Mari-Ell reached the rank of Captain in the Kree Empire her absence would be something that would’ve been noticed.
On top of that Stohl does not answer why it the Kree never actually identified Carol Danvers as the daughter of Mari-Ell. This is something that adds further holes in the plotting of Stohl’s changes to Carol’s family history. There are way to many details about this that Stohl just ends up creating more questions than actual answers for.
It does not help that at no point does Mari-Ell come off as a likeable character. Stohl makes Mari-Ell try to act like some badass but that is not how she has ever been actually presented. And given how proud of her Kree training it was hard to believe that Mari-Ell would throw everything away and never tell Carol about this at some point. Even a small piece of dialogue that the amulet that Mari-Ell received affected her mindset would’ve made this entire shift from how Stohl tried to present Mari-Ell with the opening of The Life of Captain Marvel #4.
Along with that the fact that Mari-Ell didn’t ever stand up for Carol during her childhood when she noticed Carol’s Kree powers spring up make her less likable. It was to the point that when we do learn about why Carol ran away from her family that you don’t feel bad that Mari-Ell missed her chance to repair things. It was far to late and it just makes you appreciate Carol more for standing up for herself while thinking this is what Mari-Ell created for herself.
The weak execution of Mari-Ell’s origin did nothing to make the reader understand Joe Sr. more. That is all because Stohl made it clear that Joe Sr. fell in love with and married the Mari-Ell that was trying to pass as human. There was only one instance where we saw Joe Sr. and Mari-Ell in her Kree gear interact which just made that moment now look like it was their attempt to be kinky by adding cosplay to their nights together.
It did not help that Stohl tried to change the narrative of the story by making Mari-Ell the stepmother of Joe Jr. and Steve Danvers. Up until this point we were lead to believe she was their birth mom. Making this change to being a stepmother added to how rushed this entire change has been just so we understand why Joe Jr. does not have Kree powers like Carol.
Not helping create interest in the story in The Life of Captain Marvel #4 was the lack of development for the Kree Kleaner. Stohl tries to present the Kree Kleaner as some sort of Terminator figure. But unlike a Terminator, the Kree Kleaner never gets a moment where you would think that Captain Marvel or Mari-Ell are in danger. Stohl needed to show how dominant and imposing of a presence that the Kree Kleaner has. Unfortunately so far the Kree Kleaner has been easily held back by Captain Marvel and Mari-Ell.
All of the poor storytelling with Mari-Ell made the reveal that Carol Danvers real first name is Car-Ell look like a lame Superman rip-off. The whole reveal is so heavy handed with it being stated that Car-Ell meaning champion that it became work not to roll my eyes when this was revealed. This was just another example of how unoriginal everything in The Life of Captain Marvel has been thus far. Even if every origin story has been told it would’ve been nice if Stohl tried to give the illusion of Carol’s family history as being unique through better executed plot points.
The Kree Kleaner’s presence is further hurt by the fact that she has no personality whatsoever. All its done is say one or two words, not counting random grunts. With the Kree Kleaner not being put over as an unstopable force of nature Stohl not giving her a personality just hurts how impactful the story she is trying to tell actually is.
Overall: The Life of Captain Marvel #4 was an even bigger disappointed than the previous issue. Carol Danvers’ family history completely lacked originality or even tries to create the illusion of it being unique. That failure made Margaret Stohl to give depth to the characters involve fall flat except for Captain Marvel, who does not improve or lower her status quo. The only real saving grace for The Life of Captain Marvel #4 was Carlos Pacheco and Erica D’Urso that does a lot of heavy lifting for the Stohl’s story.