In general, I have very negative reactions to pop stars and singers in cape books. The bombastic, cartoonish depictions of musicians who drop into a scene to belt out a song while superheroes gush in the margins just doesn’t sit well with me, no matter how well-intentioned. Planet-hopping rock stars aside, this done-in-one romp, titled Lila Cheney’s Fantabulous Technicolor Rock Opera, tries to add some fun to Carol’s recent intergalactic adventures with a detour to an alien planet. Unfortunately, this breezy filler issue falls a bit flat in its execution.
Carol and Tic are on their way to their next undertaking when Lila Cheney teleports onto their ship, summoned by the sound of her own music playing. Lila quickly recounts her childhood adventures as an interplanetary traveler before transporting the three of them to an alien world. We learn that, during one of her youthful exploits, she became betrothed to Prince Yan of the Aladna Court, a group of flamboyant humanoids who speak only in rhyme, to establish an alliance with Earth. As an adult, however, Lila has no interest in becoming queen of the court, even if it leaves Yan’s legitimacy as heir to the throne in jeopardy.
Carol, roped into posing as Lila’s mother, tries to stop the wedding through mediation. Before she can save Lila from an unwanted marriage, a rival suitor named Marlo bursts in and demands to battle Lila for Yan’s hand. Carol steps in to fight on Lila’s behalf and easily trounces Marlo, but the king and queen still demand their son to take a wife. Tic offers to marry Yan to fulfill his royal duties and assure his ascension, so long as she remains free to travel with Carol. All’s well that ends well, until Lila gives Carol a letter “from a friend,” whose mysterious contents shock Carol in the closing panel.
To its credit, this issue does have some endearing elements. Allusions to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the Ziggy Stardust-esque costuming throughout bring a sense of fun and whimsy to the story. Furthermore, the gender role reversal that facilitates Prince Yan being married off in a society that privileges women in courtship is an interesting one. As ever DeConnick’s Carol is fun to read, and the respective contributions of artist Lopez and colorist Loughridge help to deliver another solid graphic narrative.
However, the rhyming dialogue convention quickly becomes grating to read as it persists throughout the issue. Such a device can be humorous in small doses, and in abundance, begins to read too much like a children’s book. The plot itself is decent enough but its execution is somewhat tedious, relying heavily on gimmicks and quirky alien customs to drive the story along while Carol awkwardly tries to navigate these circumstances. It’s jaunty, yes, but not memorable.
Overall, Captain Marvel #9 isn’t a terrible issue, but it certainly isn’t the best. It also isn’t my favorite kind of story. While I wouldn’t recommend this issue to readers outside of the Carol Corp., it is a lighthearted and silly adventure that some Carol fans are sure to enjoy.