In Captain Marvel #9, Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez switch gears from space opera to rock opera in space involving variations on the traditional fairy tale. DeConnick inverts gender roles, writes about 75% of the issue’s dialogue in rhyme, and reinvents the character of Lila Cheney (who I previously thought was a Dazzler knockoff while showcasing Captain Marvel’s ability to inspire heroism and self-sacrifice in other people. Artist David Lopez adds a lot of the humor to the proceedings with his penchant for expressive faces. He also spaces out his panels in a way which reflects the rhyming scheme of dialogue before bringing out creative layouts and speed lines for the big third act battle. Colorist Lee Loughridge adds to the musical flavor of Captain Marvel #9 by contrasting the colors of the musical notes with the rest of the panel. He also adds a bit of pop to the teleportation and other dramatic scenes.
Captain Marvel continues to be a place where Kelly Sue DeConnick flexes her creative muscles and places the character in wild and crazy adventures to the farthest reaches of the Marvel Universe. This time, she’s traveling with her alien refugee friend Tic and special guest star Lila Cheney to Aladna, a dimension where everyone speaks in rhyme and princes must marry to become king. (Prince Yan happens to be a member of the Carol Corps too.) DeConnick cleverly sets up this as a place where Lila teleports to when she is writer blocked so there is a point to the occasional cheesiness of its denizens. However, it’s not just a fantastical Disney princess-esque world. In keeping with the utopian vision of science fiction, DeConnick creates a world with seemingly progressive gender roles where aristocratic women can choose who their mate is and if they have to be married for political alliances, they don’t have to sleep with their husband and can travel the galaxy instead. However, there is a twist to all this that creates the conflict of the issue. DeConnick also sprinkles in a helping of Carol Danvers’ snarky humor, but offsets it when she shows both her and Tic geeking out over Lila Chaney. It is refreshing to read a comic where a character with god-like powers still freaks out a little about meeting someone they look up to.
David Lopez returns to Captain Marvel and balances the different elements (musical, fairy tale, science fiction) that DeConnick is drawing upon with his usual brilliance. His figures are at the midpoint between photorealism and cartoon so that readers can identify with them as characters as well as being immersed in the otherworldly realm of Aladna. Lopez gives the issue some of its funniest moments, which mostly involve Carol trying to look cool in front of Tic before completely melting in fangirl glee when Lila Chaney starts rocking out on her guitar. He also introduces Aladna in a lush double page spread with inset panels so DeConnick can show the cultural differences between it and Earth through dialogue. The facial expressions help here too. Lee Loughridge keeps his palette pretty even throughout the comic, but he heightens yellows and other background colors along with black when Lopez uses speed lines for violent or musical situations. Captain Marvel #9 is an entertaining blend of fairy tale and musical which subverts gender roles with expressive art from Lopez that is accessible to fans who know Lila Chaney from her appearances in New Mutants during the 1980s, or who just learned about Captain Marvel from the recent film announcement.