Well, phew, that Punisher story was pretty dark so lets indulge in some extreme mood whiplash and lighten things up a bit with the second Captain Marvel book. And we're off to a good start already with the cover, look it's raining cats (or at least things that look like cats...). You'd have to be a pretty hardcore cat hater not to crack a smile at that cover. That's Rocket Raccoon from The Guardians Of The Galaxy standing on Carol's back as he makes a guest appearance in the first couple of issues. This volume collects an initial two-parter then three done-in-ones rather than one long arc like the previous volume was. The set-up is simple, Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers is an Avenger deployed in space. In the previous book she helped out the people of a planet called Torfa (which is made up of refugees from a cosmic disaster) defy tyranny and now she is heading back to rendevous with her ship on a borrowed shuttle where Rocket Raccoon has been minding things for her. That includes her misanthropic cat Chewie who he initially tried to kill insisting it was actually a dangerous alien creature called a "Flerken". She's also picked up a stowaway, a green skinned female Torfan called Tic. The whole tone of the book is light-hearted and fun under the smart, assured pen of Kelly Sue DeConnick and while it probably helps to have some background knowledge of Carol's continuity, I didn't find it difficult to enjoy what was going on with the information given. So let us begin.
Although David Lopez is the regular artist, this first two-parter is drawn by Marco Takara. For a fill-in it's pretty good. Rougher and more cartoony than normal but I like it just fine. Anyway we start with Carol having a nightmare where she as Captain Marvel can't save all the people she cares about from The Builders. She wakes with a start and Tic brings her some unappetising looking tentacle thing as breakfast.
|Tic and Carol.|
Tic says she will be Carol's "second". Carol says she has enough drama having Spider-Woman in that role. She wants to know what happened to Tic's whole "'Torfa is my home'" stuff:
Tic: "Nothing! 'Home' isn't the place you never leave Captain. It's the place you always return to."
Carol docks with her ship and tries to communicate with Harrison her ship's computer. She gets Rocket Raccoon instead. She goes aboard and can't believe Quill left Rocket Racconn in charge. He says he promised he wouldn't hurt her "Flerken" and shows her an annoyed Chewie confined in a cat carrier.
|Rocket Raccoon and Chewie|
Just as Carol goes to zap him the ship is attacked by a giant oily space-flea looking thing. They can't access Harrison as Rocket Raccoon has it doing something. Then the computer meows at Carol. When she queries this, Rocket Raccoon says "there is a perfectly logical explanation". He had it trying to learn to speak Flerken.
|Mysterious oily space flea.|
Carol: "I am choosing to be in denial about this while there are more pressing matters at hand, Okay?"
|Chewie and her Flerken eggs.|
Carol tells Tic to get the "Fler-kittens" out of here while she flies outside and tries to get the alien to leave. Chewie and Rocket Raccoon aboard the ship have a tussle and Rocket Raccoon says he's sorry he tried to kill her:
Rocket: "But you're going to have to take my word for it that I feel a certain kinship with anything that's the last of its kind. Even murderous vermin!"
|Chewie gets a little payback.|
Combining her powers and the weapons aboard the shuttle Carol and Tic manage to pour enough firepower onto the alien hive to make it back off. However there are still black oily tentacles attacking Rocket Raccoon and Chewie on the ship. Suddenly Chewie disgorges a huge load of squirming tentacles of her own and swallows up the black oil remnants.
Rocket Raccoon: "That was the single greatest thing I have ever seen in my life."
Chewie looks demure. With all the Flerken hatched, Tic brings the shuttle back round so Chewie can be reunited with her family.
|DOCTOR OCTAGONAPUS BLAAAAARRGH|
The alien says Chewie is a bit like a hamster, she can access "bubbles of space and time" and can hide things like eggs and tentacles in them. Carol arrives at where Tic is playing with Chewie and her kittens, Carol says she is here to say goodbye. Tic can pilot the shuttle back to Torfa and Chewie can stay here where she is safe.
Carol: "I love you and because I love you, I have to leave you."
After that silliness, David Lopez returns as the artist. Onboard the ship, Carol and Tic listen to some music by Lila Cheney. Suddenly Lila teleports onto the ship. Carol is not amused and wonders how she can be there when her mutant power only lets her travel on Earth to places she has already been. But it seems the ship not being on Earth is good enough to allow her to get there. Carol and Lila briefly argue, then Lila plays her a tune and Carol relents and welcomes her aboard.
|The woman herself.|
The prince's parents greet Carol enthusiastically saying she must be Lila's mother. Carol wants to know why Lila brought them here, Lila says she's a diplomat so go do her diplomacy thing. Rhyming rather clumsily, Carol gets to speak to the prince alone.
|One hot prince.|
Prince: "A man's choice is not his own. Not even when he's grown. His parents chose for him. Give his choice or sell it on a whim."
He says she can object during the ceremony but this will result in him being married to "Marlo of Sleen", a thoroughly bad egg.
So the ceremony starts, when objection time comes, Carol uncertainly starts protesting then Marlo of Sleen bursts in, objects and challenges Lila to a "fight to the death". Lila wants to escape right there and then. But Carol takes her place and steps up to fight. There is a brief struggle and Marlo zaps Carol and knocks her down. This just makes Carol mad and she armours up and downs Marlo with a huge energy blast. The prince begs his father:
Prince: "I'll do what you say. Marry whoever this day. But I beg this concession. Do not let a woman die for our succession."
|Carol gets serious.|
After the ceremony, Carol and Lila walk and chat privately. Carol wonders how long she'll be away from New York and what to do about Tic. When she mentions New York, Lila suddenly remembers she's been given something to pass onto Carol. Turns out to be letters from home.
|The happy event finally happens.|
Kit is playing fancy dress with a couple of friends on the steps of the Statue Of Liberty which is where she lives, in Carol's home there. The rats swarm towards them and they run up the steps to escape but one friend is too slow so Kit uses her lasso to grab him then all three of them climb the rope and sit up and out of the way of the rats.
Back in the present, Jessica phones a woman called Wendy Kawasaki and tells her the are inundated with rats. Wendy knows because Grace is commanding them via ultra-sonics gathering them to attack the Statue Of Liberty. Jessica is repelling them with "Venom Blasts" but they keep coming. Wendy says she needs to find the "lead rat". Jessica finds it and must not kill it but remove its transistor.
|They might be rats, but they're pretty cute.|
Wendy tells him not to walk past her, but it's too late. He does so and Grace sticks a bomb onto his back. When Rhodey asks why?
Grace: "I want to destroy her. Erase her and everything she ever cared about, starting with you".
Rhodey says at this range the explosion will kill her as well. "Worth it" replies Grace. So Rhodey flies himself up into the stratosphere where he has a vision of Carol and this somehow helps him get the bomb off his back where it explodes harmlessly.
Rhodey: "Still saving my butt, baby. Even from a million miles away. I hope you find what you're looking for out there."
|"Carol" saves Rhodey.|
Carol transforms into a warmer outfit and Lila asks if she wants to come Christmas shopping with her. But Carol has other things to do, so they arrange to meet in this same place the next day so Lila can teleport her back. We then cut to Carol sitting by the sick woman called Tracey's bed telling her all about the friends she made on Torfa.
She nods off and wakes up to find her arms shackled with power dampening cuffs courtesy of Grace Valentine and another woman called June Covington. Carol angrily tells them to leave her friends room but she is knocked out and wakes up to find herself in a strange room hanging from the ceiling while a tatty looking "Santa" is tied up and gagged in the same place.
|The real Santa of course!|
Carol calls Jarvis at the Avengers HQ to send someone to pick up Grace and June and deal with the explosives they have concealed. But then she has a better idea and asks Santa for a favour. We then jump to the next day where Lila is waiting for her. Carol has a bag full of the bombs and flies high into the sky. The sick woman Tracey is lying facing the window and sees Carol in the midst of a huge skyhigh explosion as she lets the bombs off. "Merry Christmas" she says quietly and that brings this volume to an end.
|Christmas goes with a bang.|