Comics

Things Take Flight in 'Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #3'

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps is a solid addition to Marvel's big-deal Secret Wars crossover event.


Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps

Publisher: Marvel
Length: 23 pages
Author: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kelly Thompson, David Lopez
Publication Date: 2015-10
Website
Amazon

Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, is in command of the Banshee Squadron, a group of the absolutely best pilots on Battleworld: Big Mack, Knock Knock, Pancho, Blaze, and Bee. The Banshee inhabit a part of Marvel's new universe with a decidedly World War II aesthetic. The Banshees fly their planes into battle from Hala Field, where they live in barracks and wear drab uniforms all rendered in military gray and pea green by colorist Lee Loughridge.

Things are never what they seem on Battleworld, however, and a closer look reveals that Battleworld's Hala Field is remarkably different than any airfield from the '40s. First of all, these planes are pretty special. They are capable, with just a little modification, of at least attempting to leave the planet's atmosphere. Artist David Lopez renders them in a style more reminiscent of Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers than of anything that actually flew during WWII.

Even more startling than the retro-futuristic aircraft is the fact that the pilots of the Banshee Squadron are women. Fans of DeConnick's earlier work on Captain Marvel will recognize this group of women, with some changes, as the team of pilots that the superhero fought alongside during her earlier time travel adventure.

In Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #3 events unfold at breakneck pace. Marvel and her team have recently learned that all is not as it seems and that their service to Doom, creator and lord of Battleworld, is more complicated than they had first imagined. They also suspect that Captain Marvel's origins and the nature of reality itself may be different than they have been led to believe. When one of the squadron decides to jump the gun and test out some secret modifications to their aircraft, disaster happens and the team is forced to desert their posts and flee for their lives.

It's great to see DeConnick and Captain Marvel back with the Banshees, this time with co-writer Kelly Thompson along for the ride. Personalities are vibrant and believable. In just a few panels, these women already seem like more than stock characters. The action moves along without a hitch. Rockets explode. A fugitive plans his escape. Engines roar. The enemy catches on and hatches a plan. Marvel soars. Missiles launch. And then there's a dogfight. Oh, what a dogfight.

Artist David Lopez also has a history with Captain Marvel, and in this series he proves that he is just as capable with war stories as he is with outer space adventure. He also shows that he is just as capable at depicting shadowy subterfuge as he is at depicting rockets' red glare, just as good at human emotions as at high flying adventure. In this story he gets to do it all.

Set building is a necessity in nearly all of the "Secret Wars" crossover books. After all, artists and writers are not just introducing new characters but new settings, as well. After two issues of meeting this challenge, DeConnick and Thompson have kicked things up a notch in this issue. The world of Captain Marvel and the Banshee Squadron at Hala Field has been shaken up and blown to bits. Captain Marvel has really taken flight.

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps is a solid addition to Marvel's big-deal summer crossover event, "Secret Wars". This far in, it doesn’t yet feel as "out there" as some of the other books, like Planet Hulk or Ghost Racers, and it doesn’t seem as central and important as others, like Infinity Gauntlet or Guardians of Knowhere. It is, however, a lot of fun, a solid story, and an interesting ride.

Who knows, now that the place setting is all in order and the Captain and her team are on the run, maybe things will start to get even more interesting and important? After all, the last issue was full of Doom-centered blasphemy and questions about the stars. And Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers, is one of Marvel's most compelling and most cosmic characters.

"Where we goin' Cap?" Rhodey Rhodes asks as Captain Marvel rockets him into the sky in what has to be my favorite panel in the series so far.

That's just what I want to know. Where ever it is, I'll be along for the ride.

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In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

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Features

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Nonetheless, there are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. There are singers tackling deep, universal matters of the heart and mind. Artists continuing to mess around with a genre that can sometimes seem fixed, but never really is. Musicians and singers have been experimenting within the genre forever, and continue to. As Charlie Worsham sings, "let's try something new / for old time's sake." - Dave Heaton

10. Lillie Mae – Forever and Then Some (Third Man)

The first two songs on Lillie Mae's debut album are titled "Over the Hill and Through the Woods" and "Honky Tonks and Taverns". The music splits the difference between those settings, or rather bears the marks of both. Growing up in a musical family, playing fiddle in a sibling bluegrass act that once had a country radio hit, Lillie Mae roots her songs in musical traditions without relying on them as a gimmick or costume. The music feels both in touch with the past and very current. Her voice and perspective shine, carrying a singular sort of deep melancholy. This is sad, beautiful music that captures the points of view of people carrying weighty burdens and trying to find home. - Dave Heaton



9. Sunny Sweeney – Trophy (Aunt Daddy)

Sunny Sweeney is on her fourth album; each one has felt like it didn't get the attention it deserved. She's a careful singer and has a capacity for combining humor and likability with old-fashioned portrayal of deep sadness. Beginning in a bar and ending at a cemetery, Trophy projects deep sorrow more thoroughly than her past releases, as good as they were. In between, there are pills, bad ideas, heartbreak, and a clever, true-tearjerker ballad voicing a woman's longing to have children. -- Dave Heaton



8. Kip Moore – Slowheart (MCA Nashville)

The bro-country label never sat easy with Kip Moore. The man who gave us "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck" has spent the last few years trying to distance himself from the beer and tailgate crowd. Mission accomplished on the outstanding Slowheart, an album stuffed with perfectly produced hooks packaged in smoldering, synthy Risky Business guitars and a rugged vocal rasp that sheds most of the drawl from his delivery. Moore sounds determined to help redefine contemporary country music with hard nods toward both classic rock history and contemporary pop flavors. With its swirling guitar textures, meticulously catchy songcraft, and Moore's career-best performances (see the spare album-closing "Guitar Man"), Slowheart raises the bar for every would-be bro out there. -- Steve Leftridge



7. Chris Stapleton – From a Room: Volume 1 (Mercury Nashville)

If Chris Stapleton didn't really exist, we would have to invent him—a burly country singer with hair down to his nipples and a chainsaw of a soul-slinging voice who writes terrific throwback outlaw-indebted country songs and who wholesale rejects modern country trends. Stapleton's recent rise to festival headliner status is one of the biggest country music surprises in recent years, but his fans were relieved this year that his success didn't find him straying from his traditional wheelhouse. The first installment of From a Room once again finds Stapleton singing the hell out of his sturdy original songs. A Willie Nelson cover is not unwelcome either, as he unearths a semi-obscure one. The rest is made up of first-rate tales of commonality: Whether he's singing about hard-hurtin' breakups or resorting to smoking them stems, we've all been there. -- Steve Leftridge



6. Carly Pearce – Every Little Thing (Big Machine)

Many of the exciting young emerging artists in country music these days are women, yet the industry on the whole is still unwelcoming and unforgiving towards them. Look at who's getting the most radio play, for one. Carly Pearce had a radio hit with "Every Little Thing", a heartbreaking ballad about moments in time that in its pace itself tries to stop time. Every Little Thing the album is the sort of debut that deserves full attention. From start to finish it's a thoroughly riveting, rewarding work by a singer with presence and personality. There's a lot of humor, lust, blues, betrayal, beauty and sentimentality, in proper proportions. One of the best songs is a call for a lover to make her "feel something", even if it's anger or hatred. Indeed, the album doesn't shy away from a variety of emotions. Even when she treads into common tropes of mainstream country love songs, there's room for revelations and surprises. – Dave Heaton

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

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8

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

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