Calling the “Carol Corps”! Is Captain Marvel in “real” danger?

Gentle Readers,

On  a more serious note than usual this time, as a distressing news item came across my desk this week. These are still “rumours”, but rumours sometimes become fact, if only as self-fulfilling prophecy, as readers abandon books that they assume will be cancelled. On this list, I understand Winter Soldier being given “marching orders” due to Ed Brubaker’s leaving for creator-owned work, and although I’m not happy about Dark Avengers, Marvel will want to focus on their more “heavy-hitter” Thunderbolts title, despite the fact that the Jeff Parker/Neil Edwards DA is a superior book.

I am very sad to see Captain Marvel in harm’s way; I can only think that somehow the good sales numbers generated by the re-launch have fallen off, but whether through monies flowing into double and triple-shipped “A” or “X” titles, reader ennui, or sad to think, the too-usual “I don’t buy chick books” chauvinism syndrome, is immaterial. I’ve loudly championed this book as an example of what can be right about comics, no matter the gender of the lead character, so in that spirit I took “pen-to-paper” and composed the following:
 
(This was sent to mheroes@marvel.com )
 
As one of the Senior Editors at Talking Comics, I was recently sent this bit of business via e-mail:
Bleeding Cool: A Little Marvel Monday Gossip

and I feel the need to comment.
 
As a 35-year retailer, while I understand the decision-making process of any sales-oriented business is governed by the bottom line, as a comics fan and Marvel reader since Fantastic Four #5 back in 1962, I would not hesitate to point out that both the artistic merits and the diverse nature of the readership of this new iteration of Captain Marvel should grant it a stay of execution to permit its grass roots support an opportunity to continue to grow.
 
On the “numbers” side of things, while I don’t have access to the detailed sales data, I would guess that both the new/lapsed and female readership figures on Captain Marvel are higher by percentage of total than some other titles not on the firing line, and based on the interaction with our own readers and listeners, it has been one of their favorite new series on the market, and in many cases, one which brought them into comics for the first time, almost solely due to the depiction of a non-expoitative, strong female lead character under the pen of Ms. Kelly Sue DeConnick. In my opinion, Marvel is doing a fine job with its distaff characters, much in advance of the Distinguished Competition, and this particular title is emblematic of that enlightened attitude by creating a role model for readers at once young and old, female and male, in a marketplace where even some of the longest-running and popular figures have ceased to be “heroic” in the sense that their creators imagined. These new or returning readers are precisely the demographic that can help to re-grow a more diverse fan-base (and by extension, publication roster!), and one whose passions won’t be governed by the latest “Event” or gimmick cover, but will instead be the type of customer attracted to quality stories such as are presented in Captain Marvel, and if allowed to flourish, they will become the next generation of long-time Marvel fans, who will find and champion other works from the line, and much as I did with the work of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and the rest of the “Marvel Bullpen”, embrace the shared universe of an imaginative and forward-thinking publisher.
 
As a reader of, and proselytizer for, the late, lamented Spider-Girl, I saw that Marvel was willing to “go the extra mile” for a quality book trying to gain a foot-hold in an over-crowded marketplace. I believe that Captain Marvel is deserving of a similar chance to find an audience, and I would be certain that if “civilians” who don’t realize that such a character exists had a chance to meet Ms. DeConnick’s version of Carol Danvers via one of Marvel’s films, the audience reaction would be of the nature of what has come to the newly re-energized Black Widow, and a new Marvel super-star would join the firmament.
 
My thanks for your time and attention on this,
Bob Reyer
Senior Editor, Talking Comics
(and former member MMMS and FOOM!)
 
If any of you feel as strongly about the continuance of this wonderful title by Kelly Sue DeConnick and her fine collaborators, do as I did, and make your voice heard by sending a letter (not this letter of course, but your own!) and see if we can’t make a difference!
Bob
(Perhaps in lieu of that second variant of a book you were already buying, you might think about purchasing an extra copy of Captain Marvel, just to “goose” the sales figures, darlings?  Audrey)
 
 
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About The Author

Associate Editor and Podcast Co-Host

Bob was rocketed to Earth as an infant after his parents were scared by a huge bat! Landing on an island of Amazons, he was injected with the super-soldier serum and sent into space where he was bombarded with cosmic rays! This might explain his love for comics, but probably not. 'Nuff said?

4 Responses

  1. Travis McCollum

    Thanks for this Bob. As you probably know from my Top 10 list, Captain Marvel landed in the coveted #1 spot, something I stand by completely and wholeheartedly.

    I try to avoid rumors as much as possible, despite a good 90% of them ending up being true, but the news still troubled me when I first saw it. I realize Captain Marvel has dipped below Marvel’s “line of death” (20,000 units) which is almost guaranteed cancellation nowadays, but I’m hopeful that Marvel will hang on, due to the devout fanbase and critical acclaim it has. I know that’s only wishful thinking, but a guy can hope can’t he?

    I already sent my letter in and I encourage others to do the same. Thanks again Bob.

    • Bob Reyer

      Travis,

      I would say that it’s “my pleasure”, but pleasure doesn’t enter into it; to quote Bugs Bunny–this means war!

      Seriously though, as one who is constantly on about such things, when there is a title such as Captain Marvel that lives up to the Heroic Ideal, and within its pages creates a fitting role model from a character that had become the epitome of the heinious excess to which super-heroines had fallen prey to, and all whilst telling a crackling good story to boot…well, that’s a book I’ll go to the mattresses for!

      As one of those who wrote to NBC over 40 years ago in the campaign to save Star Trek, I can only say that you never know what an out-pouring of collective and positive good will can get a corporation to do!

      Bob

  2. thisjohnd

    As much as I hate to say this due to the overwhelmingly positive reception on the Internet, Captain Marvel has been at the bottom of my pile for months now and was actually on the verge of getting removed from my pull-list. It was the most recent issue #9 that temporarily turned me around on Captain Marvel and kept it from being axed…for now.

    Bob, you cited reader ennui as a possible reason for Captain Marvel’s drop-off since its relaunch and unfortunately that’s the side of the fence I fall on when it comes to my disinterest in the title. Personally I find Carol’s personality to be too similar to all the other female characters in the book (Helen, Monica, and most recently, Spider-Woman) to the point where Carol isn’t special to me. Give me a book with one quippy, funny, sarcastic, strong character and I’ll be ecstatic but fill the book with them and I’ll grow tired of it quickly. I’m not trying to knock Kelly Sue’s writing abilities; I’m merely speaking frankly about why I’m not digging the book.

    I know that it’s easy to point fingers of blame in situations like this to double-shipped titles or sexist readers being the cause for Captain Marvel’s possible cancellation, but as one male reader that doesn’t buy “A” or “X” books and on a monthly basis enjoys the exploits of female characters such as Batgirl, Supergirl, Valeria Richards, and Alana (from Saga), the truth of the matter from my perspective is that Captain Marvel is a decent book trying to stand tall amongst excellent ones.

    That all being said, I do not wish ill-will toward the book at all and if its cancellation proves to be true, I think it’s a shame that the title was not given a proper run for the people that truly it. But keep in mind there’s always a chance this news could prove to be false.

    • Dan

      Throughout the KSD run, the focus was trying to do away with the old Ms. Marvel and establish Captain Marvel. Although I think KSD wasted a unique opportunity to make Captain Marvel into a series that would set an example for the other heroine titles to follow. For example, KSD should have capitalized on Carol’s friendship with Peter Parker as a way of getting the Spider-Man readers to buy the series in the first 4 issues in a story arc together, along with Jessica Drew. Imagine if KSD was able to create a story that would have featured Captain Marvel, Spider-Woman, and Spider-Man working together and showcasing their friendship after hours in their civilian guise? That alone would have sealed the deal with a lot of readers as it would have shown that Peter, Carol, and Jessica do have a mutual friendship outside of the Avengers. And a few major villains from the Marvel universe could have been presented in the early stories like the Carnage symbiote merged with Mystique in the second story arc. These of the sort of examples that would have kept Captain Marvel above 30K copies per month.

      KSD might be a good writer. But I don’t believe she could ever ever get to the level of success that Dan Slott currently enjoys because he knows how to get the readers attention as he used to work in advertising, as well as Peter David. So they know how to market the characters to the readers. For Avengers Assemble, I wished that KSD would have used Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, and Black Widow in the previous story arc(Before Age of Ultron) instead of using BW, SW, and Hawkeye together. Another missed opportunity for her to use Spider-Man in that particular story.

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