The “Mightiest” of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is back! Ace pilot. Legendary Avenger. One hundred percent pure bad-^&*. Carol Danvers has a new name, a new mission — and all the power she needs to make her own life a living hell. As the new Captain Marvel, Carol is forging a new future for herself, but finds she can’t walk away from a challenge from her past! It’s a firefight in the sky as the Banshee Squadron debut — but who are the Prowlers, and where has Carol seen them before? And how does secret NASA training program Mercury 13 fit in? Witness Captain Marvel in blazing battlefield action that just may change the course of history! Avengers Time Travel Protocols: engage! Collecting CAPTAIN MARVEL (2012) #1-6.
Having a newborn means having the time to catch up on reading, watching, sitting, etc. (but not sleeping or cleaning or anything very much productive). Well, I had a few comic collections on my Kindle waiting for just such a time and the first few collections of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel were among them.
Now maybe you’ve taken a gander at my reviews and analyses of DeConnick’s series Bitch Planet, but you’ve felt like a women-in-prison exploitation satire that has to be purchased in the Mature section of the comic book store isn’t your tastes. You, perhaps, like your comics a little safer for work. Or you like your feminism a little less assaultive. Or maybe you just like to read comics about superheroes over anything else. I have good news for you. Captain Marvel is the comic you’ve been looking for.
First of all, Carol Danvers is a woman of character and strength. When the book opens with Captain America trying to convince her to take the title of Captain Marvel, rather than sticking with the Ms. Marvel she’s been using, the question is one of respect to Mar-vell, the alien who gave her her powers. In fact, opening the comic with Danvers and Steve Rogers fighting a giant named Creel offers the perfect pairing to establish her style of Marvel character. Danvers isn’t a female Steve Rogers, by any means, but she has the same sincerity and desire to do good.
Interestingly, the first issue’s interactions with Avengers Captain Marvel and Spider-Man are the most male-heavy interaction Danvers has for the opening volume. The subsequent issues, dealing with her meeting the Banshee Squadron or flying planes with her friend Helen Cobb, largely center around her relationships with women. And that’s how this book is different from just any old comic centered on a female superhero. Danvers is surrounded by women, young and old, weak and strong, reliant and influential. Like with Bitch Planet or Rat Queens, DeConnick’s Captain Marvel offers an ensemble cast of women, and it is a breath of fresh air.
I have only one complaint: the artwork makes a jarring shift mid-collection. I am a self-admitted comic art snob. And here I likewise must admit that I am a much bigger fan of the artwork by Dexter Soy (issues 1-4) than by Emma Rios (issues 5-6). Soy’s illustrations are heavily lined, with a weighty color and shadow. They look slightly like woodcuts, and they give Danvers a substance and depth that I think is crucial to establishing her character in those first four issues. Rios, on the other hand, draws with a wispy, kinetic line. It reminds me of Aeon Flux in some ways, and certain styles of manga in others. I frankly think it makes Danvers feel lightweight and flighty.