Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel #1

Writer: Jim McCann
Artist: Diego Olortegui
Colorist: Derek Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Inhyuk Lee
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Review by Nico Sprezzatura

With a feature film debut in production, Carol Danvers’ star has never burned brighter. This week’s Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel one-shot places her firmly in the middle of an upcoming event series — but is it worth your time?

As a crossover event, Infinity Countdown is kinda weird. It’s technically an extended prelude to the (strategically-titled) Infinity Wars, which will be Marvel Comics’ actual summer blockbuster this year. I know what you’re thinking: Marvel using an event to promote another event? That’s… pretty on the nose for them, actually. But instead of being cynical about Marvel’s publication habits, let’s judge Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel #1 on its own merit.

Spinning out of Gerry Duggan’s Guardians of the Galaxy run, Infinity Countdown is a series of interconnected stories following different characters as they come into possession of the eponymous Infinity Stones, before Thanos can get his hands on them once again. Because solicitations are a thing, we already know their efforts are in vain, but again… let’s try not to be cynical about these things, shall we?

Aside from the core Infinity Countdown title, there’s also been a handful of tie-ins either already published (e.g. Adam Warlock, Daredevil, Darkhawk) or planned for release (e.g. Champions, Black Widow). Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel, out this week, features —you guessed it— Captain Marvel. Or rather, Captains Marvel.

One thing you should know about my superhero tastes is that I flipping love alternate universes and elseworlds. Dystopian futures? Gimme. Divergent timelines? I want them. What-ifs? Mmm, that’s the stuff. Luckily for me, Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel #1 is chock full of those delicious tropes.

In her solo series, Carol Danvers recently came into the possession of the Reality Stone, which (in theory) allows its wielder to alter reality around them. If you’ve been following the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it first appeared in Thor: The Dark World as The Aether, and more recently in Avengers: Infinity War as part of the Infinity Gauntlet. Remember when Thanos tricked the Guardians into thinking Gamora successfully eliminated him? That’s a pretty decent example of how the Reality Stone can be used.

But recently, the Reality Stone has gained a major power-up: access to the multiverse. So with the Reality Stone in tow, Carol is able to observe alternate universes and timelines, and it turns out she’s not the only Captain Marvel taking advantage of its capabilities. As we see in the issue, Carol is caught in a sticky situation, leading her to something of an identity crisis. Seeking answers, she uses the Stone to consult other Captains Marvel in the multiverse.

One major facet of Carol’s characterization is that she’s a woman who’s lived many, many live. At different points in her life, she’s answered to Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird, and (most currently) Captain Marvel. Because of this, the multiversal hook for Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel is actually super clever. Not only is Carol wrestling with her own identity issues, but she’s opening herself up to a multiverse full of alternate counterparts of herself.

We spend time with a bunch of distinct Captains Marvel, including (but not limited) to:

  • A Monica Rambeau who never stopped being Captain Marvel (and created a Captain Marvel Corps comprised entirely of herself from split-second points in the future!)
  • A divergent Civil War II Carol who nearly sacrificed herself instead of accidentally putting Tony Stark in a coma
  • A version of Rogue who became Binary instead

And that’s not even to mention the limitless number of Captains Marvel we only see glimpses of in a particular double splash spread, masterfully illustrated by Diego Olortegui. Among them? A Green Lantern-esque Mar-Vell, and a version of Carol who looks a lot like the one we’ve seen in set pictures for Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel. I spent quite a bit of time looking at just those pages.

While I greatly enjoyed this issue, I can see Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel alienating casual fans of the character, or even die-hard Carol readers who maybe aren’t so versed in the minutiae of her history. Carol’s complicated past is both a positive and negative in cases like these — very complex and depthful, but almost too complex and depthful. In any event, writer Jim McCann does an admirable job of welding all her disparate parts into a single, concise issue.

Otherwise, I actually don’t think this being an Infinity Countdown tie-in is much of a barrier to entry, since it’s very standalone in nature. Without the Infinity Countdown branding or the recap page establishing it as part of the event, you could very easily pick this up as a simple one-off without being familiar with its parent title. That’s an achievement, right?

The Verdict: Skip it.

Deceptively dense but otherwise standalone, Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel #1 is a diverting —if inessential— one-off featuring Marvel’s next big star.

Nico Sprezzatura
Nico Frank Sprezzatura, middle name optional. 24. Schrödinger's writer.

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