Captain Marvel #1-#6
Story by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by David Lopez
As the show tends to avoid spoilers as well as most of the reviews, there is not much chance for in-depth discussion of storytelling and theme, as to keep from angering those who have not read. All that follows is a discussion of the first six issues and the first arc of the All New Marvel Now Captain Marvel. So, as a warning, this is not so much as a review but a discussion of the positives and negatives of the story arc and is full to the brim of spoilers and high octane action!
Marvel Comic’s reboot of Captain Marvel with Ms. Kelly Sue DeConnick at the helm didn’t take the world by storm, but it has taken a piece of it. A very passionate and wonderful piece calling themselves, “The Carol Corps”—pronounced core, as in Army Corps, not corpse. That would be creepy. With a powerful character, both in physicality and personality, mix that with profound storytelling (see “The Enemy Within” storyline for proof, if necessary, no seriously, it is necessary that you read it because it is wonderful), it’s a wonder this book isn’t selling like gangbusters. It’s small fan base—or army—is a strong one, though, thankfully.
(Hopefully it will be enough to fight the infamous Bob Reyer Curse—if you don’t understand that, follow the show for another month or so, Bob will more than likely be forced to announce that a book he loves is cancelling.)
With a small audience that is ardent in their affection for this title, it seemed a mite bit strange to renumber the title after such a short run, especially being that the writer was staying the same, but the brighter side of the big two succeeded in setting the book up for new readership, though I would argue that one should read from the beginning of the reboot to better appreciate and love both the story and the characters—not to mention, it’s one of the best runs Marvel has to offer.
Higher, Further, Faster, More.
If you are picking up a new number one from Marvel, two things can be certain: everything you are about to read is meant to be read from scratch and there will be elements from past stories that play a role.
In the last run of Captain Marvel, Carol loses her memory due to a tumor in her brain exploding. Figuring yourself out is hard enough as it is. Figuring yourself out and trying to remember who you are and what you are is difficult when a universe-threatening problem arises in the Builders going forth and destroying worlds that do not fit their standards.
Coming down from an emotionally poignant and stellar last story arc, The Enemy Within, and a brilliantly intimate and profound final issue, Captain Marvel’s future as a character and solid player in the Marvel Universe could only be skyward and ever higher. Ms. Kelly Sue took this literally.
When the All-New Marvel Now series begins, we are treated to a wonderful series of events that is very reminiscent of Star Wars, and even a little Indiana Jones (Yeah, that’s right.) As an avid fan of Star Wars and Indy alike, I love this sequence. In the commentaries of the Original Trilogy, Carrie Fisher speaks of reading the script for the first time and wanting to audition for the part of Han Solo; that even today, she would have rather played Han. Carol is brash, adventurous and charming in the same way Han Solo or Indiana Jones is and she carries the same ideals that Leia Organa carries throughout the Star Wars franchise, for instance, in a tussle with Spartax secret police, we see Carol embody a Solo or an Indy with the toss of fruit and a right cross to the face.
From the beginning of this new arc we are thrown into a world of different races and species on a world that is clearly not Earth. We are introduced to a short list of characters we can’t possibly care about so quickly, and yet, when Carol loses one of them, clearly a young one, in the chaos, her calling her name out into the sky is a resounding and powerful beginning, reminding the reader, as if they would expect anything less, that Captain Marvel is back and she didn’t leave her knack for action-packed emotional stories behind.
Unfortunately, just as soon as we are introduced to a new world, a new group of characters and a new problem, we are rocketed back to Earth and back in time.
The consequences of Carol’s sacrificial and heroic decision in The Enemy Within have left her vulnerable. This is no to say that she can no longer punch things—she still does that masterfully. They have left her in a place where she no longer knows herself, but rather, she knows of herself.
As the issue begins, together with Iron Patriot, Carol and he intercept an escape pod with an alien girl devoid of a home planet within it.
We cut to her home in the Statue of Liberty.
Her adorable little Lieutenant, Kit, a.k.a. Lt. Trouble, the cutest little girl in all of comics, attempts to teach her who she is and what she stands for. When she’s lost who she is and she has recently faced an enemy that near destroyed everything around her, it’s understandable that she’s a bit…restless as Kit’s mother puts it. She needs to find herself. She needs to move. She needs to fly higher.
Tony Stark, in his charm and wisdom, sees this and he offers Carol a chance to do just that. In the wake of Jonathan Hickman’s sweeping epic, Infinity, the Avengers are now in the process of dealing with the destruction the Builders left behind them. It seems that young alien girl is from a race that lost their planet and the Avengers want somebody involved in the “reconstruction” of the universe. For Tony, it could only be Carol.
Needing time to talk, Tony takes Carol on patrol and they deal with low-level criminals as they converse the stars and the Avengers need for presence among them. A clear sign of writer and artist’s working well together is displayed in so few panels as the two giants in Marvel speak, including two bozos knocking each other out in their own escape attempt. Comic book gold.
Then, of course, Tony does what he does, taunting Carol with what he knows she wants, what she needs; with that spirit, and taking the ever-present theme of searching the skies for answers, Ms. DeConnick sends our swashbuckling hero to space, but not without a proper 900 year old birthday party for a dear friend and the awkward discussion of her future with her partner.
It seems that between the time that Captain Marvel has been gone from the shelves that she developed a relationship with the Iron Patriot, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, which pays out in a wonderfully honest and tender way. In a matter of panels, Kelly Sue and the stellar art of David Lopez, we find Rhodey and Carol perfect for each other, cementing this truth with Rhodey stepping back and letting Carol go, stating, “I will be many things for you, Carol Danvers, but…I’m never going to be the one to hold you down.” It’s touching, it’s real, it’s heart wrenching.
And then the Captain races for the stars.
When she reaches them, of course, they fire back. Most often, we find that when we search for truth in ourselves, it doesn’t come quietly—it most often comes with an epic space battle in the sky.
What better place is there to be than in a ship that speaks to you, works with you, and “grows accustomed to you” with your hairy walking carpet cat, Chewie? Was it not the Beatles who once crooned, “I get by with a little help from my friends”? What better friends to have than the Guardians of the Galaxy?
That is, until Rocket Raccoon tries to kill your cat.
We learn that Cap is on a medical mission to the resettled planet from which the little alien girl came. The planet is poisonous and the people refuse to leave, as they have already lost so much. When the little alien girl is accidentally released, it seems that Earth is not the only resting place for misunderstandings. With screaming and gun waving, the young alien girl steals the Captain’s ship…and her flerken cat.
No one steals her flerken cat.
With a lunatic young alien attempting to fly off with her ship, Carol takes it back in the only fitting way imaginable. Taking a beating and then rising to the occasion to take back what is hers, as she does.
Learning that Star-Lord’s father is involved in the controversy over the resettled planet, the Guardians and Carol split and she goes to Tarfa. Cute and happy, she strides up to the broken people of the planet much in the way it is easy to imagine Americans do in third-world countries. Proud and ready to fix everything. Not every time is your kind heart, if not slightly misplaced, is met with the smack of a fist and the kiss of the ground beneath you. For Captain Marvel, it is.
“So much for diplomacy,” she says.
She finds herself quickly at the hands of a people who are not only hurting but are irrevocably cold to her aide and sentiments. But when the death sentence of all who are sick is at stake, the Captain strikes a chord with the people’s leader.
Not everything can be fixed with a punch to the face.
Just as people do, the broken people of this world bicker and fight amongst themselves for truth and the proper path before them. In pulpy fashion, our hero, our captain struggles to keep things going her way. Each and every turn hostile with the last.
A galactic giant named J’Son of Spartax demanding the people leave the so-called poison planet; a people who refuse to be defeated again.
A battle on the rise, in the air, in the hearts of all who reject the notion of surrender.
Captain Marvel, by accident, gets her rag-tag group of misfits and valiant hearts—as she does—and they set out to prepare for war.
Kelly Sue and David Lopez work very well together in that they understand people and they understand their hero. The way Carol holds herself, the devilish grins she has when she knows she gets to punch someone. The desperation in her eyes when she knows things are getting out of hand. Even the dumbfounded surprise when things aren’t working out in her favor is clear. Then there is that which paints her face that tells you she understand the secret horrors surrounding her.
In her anger, Captain Marvel tries to destroy a piece of metal she is carrying. The metal is Vibranium and it comes from the poison planet. To heighten the mystery all the more, it is the incorrect way of mining such material that is poisoning the planet, which seems as much a commentary on our own ways of removing hazardous material from the earth.
The writer does something extremely interesting here in that she takes a cosmic story reminiscent of Star Wars and brings it back to Earth in that it pays homage to the westerns of yesteryear. Stories of evil prospectors and state attorney’s disregarding the safety and well-being of the people in search of their own gain, and J’Son is the conniving attorney trying to drive out the people for the railroad he means to press through the little town, only he’s here for Vibranium to build stronger ships.
The leader of the people, Madame Eleanides, seemingly gives up as an army arrives at the front door and in the sky, telling Captain Marvel to leave, and Carol, as she does, breaks the rules.
The final issue of this story does not feature Captain Marvel much and when it does, she’s mostly blowing things up. Rather, Kelly Sue focuses on the motley characters Carol has become friends with and the defiant people who refuse to back down.
The unfortunate battle this story is fighting with itself is the lack of knowledge of characters. Each of these characters have had interesting moments in these short few issues, but none that tell you much about any of them. When we learn of a relationship one of them has, it feels as if it’s a little too late to have any kind of emotional weight as the team sets for war. Regardless, heroism from one that is super is wonderful to behold, but heroism from those who can’t fly in space is a marvelous thing.
Though there could be more Carol Danvers in these final pages, it’s interesting to watch the people rise due to the inspiration that is Captain Marvel.
When it is all said and done, it ends in the grandest of pulp fashion.
The great enemy, defeated, loses his cool and makes idle threats.
Finally, as is necessary, a playlist of dance music sounds off in the closing scenes.
Captain Marvel’s Higher, Further, Faster, More.by Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez and Lee Loughridge is a wonderful little story that acts an ideal starting point for new readers, though I would suggest you start from the beginning, as it isn’t that many issues to backtrack.
It’s a story about heroes who inspire. It’s a story interlaced with political discourse and pulpy adventure. Though it doesn’t rise to the glorious heights of the past storyline in The Evil Within, it is still a grand Captain Marvel story, and more than that, it is a work of great fiction and inspiring heroism.