[13 September 2012]
I have a love-hate relationship with Carol Danvers. I was a fan of the character for a while (and especially after some choice panels in House of M), so when she received her own ongoing series in 2006, I was the first person at my local comic shop to add Ms. Marvel to my pull list. My excitement was tempered, unfortunately, after months of uninteresting stories and silly character development. With the onslaught of constant line-wide crossover events, one of Marvel’s only female leads became another cardboard cutout that could be molded—writer-to-writer—to suit the needs of the current Marvel Universe climate.
So it came as a refreshing surprise, to me, when Marvel decided to relaunch the series as Captain Marvel. Not only would the title of the book be changed, but so also would Carol’s outfit—from the black one-piece that left little to the imagination, to full-body Kree armor more reflective of the original Mar-Vell’s. The announcement that Kelly Sue DeConnick would be writing sealed the deal.
It might be shocking to know that comicbooks aren’t typically advertised or geared toward women! In fact, a majority of women characters in comicbooks tend to be scantily clothed, large-breasted, and generally not as effective as their male counterparts! There are exceptions, of course, but the problem persists partly because there isn’t a faction of readers large enough who demand a more realistic and relatable female superhero experience. I’m not saying it’s their fault there aren’t many great female superheroes, there just don’t seem to be enough of us out there.
DeConnick is writing Carol Danvers how she should have been depicted since her reintroduction into the Marvel mainstay in 2006. Carol is a military woman who has strong convictions, amazing powers, and an unyielding sense of duty. She finds solutions to problems even in the thick of battle, and she knows how to lead. In Captain Marvel #3, it’s these qualities that shine through as Carol helps command the all-female Banshee Squad of fighter pilots who’ve had their hands full with some unexplained Kree technology ravaging their defenses.
All three issues of Captain Marvel thus far have done a fantastic job of really giving readers a look at Carol as a person. ‘Civilian’ character development is one of the most important aspects of modern comicbooks; it’s harder to be sympathetic toward a superhero that isn’t characterized beyond a mask. Which is why this first arc of Captain Marvel (which sees Carol mysteriously stuck in 1943) is so great for building up Carol before Captain Marvel. Even though she uses her powers in battle, she’s just another soldier conversing with other soldiers in the rare peacetime between the firefights.
At first, Dexter Soy’s artwork didn’t seem to fit the mood of the book. Even now, many readers wish Ed McGuinness, who’s penciling all the amazing covers, would provide the interior artwork as well. And while I agreed for the first two months, Soy is coming into his own and finally finding a pace that works for him and this series. His lines are sharper, facial expressions are more deliberate, and the action sequences don’t feel like scribbles dancing around washed out backgrounds. All in all, Soy has stepped up his game from the previous two issues, and the art now feels like it fits the words and the story.
Captain Marvel succeeds in providing Marvel with its biggest female-led title, and also in doing so with integrity. DeConnick and Soy have found a groove that works for them, allowing Carol Danvers to grow naturally and organically instead of being put through the ringer every year or so with a new event tie-in arc that only serves the greater Marvel universe. For the first time in years, Carol Danvers is receiving the excellent treatment she deserves, and it’s fantastic.