Ms. Marvel No More

Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to steal a few minutes from writer Kelly Sue DeConnick when she was in town to speak at WisCon, the feminist science fiction conference held yearly in Madison, Wisconsin.
In addition to her rather epic run on Osborn for Marvel, she has penned a terrific adaptation of ABC’s Castle meta-fiction, Deadly Storm. Her major upcoming project, and the subject of today’s piece, is Captain Marvel, which hits shelves July 11.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months where comics are concerned, you’ve probably seen the news that this once flagship book is set to undergo a major paradigm shift. Despite the pseudo-rebirth of the original version, Mar-Vell, in the current AVX event, the title of Captain Marvel is being passed to Carol Danvers, formerly Ms. Marvel.

There are several reasons that this change is a big one for comics in general and Marvel in particular.

According to the latest numbers from Diamond Distributors, there is only one female-led book in the top 25 (Wonder Woman) and a grand total of four in the top 100. Marvel does not have a title on that list, which is not surprising, as they do not currently have a self-titled female-led book in their catalog. This makes Captain Marvel a landmark for the company.

Some fans might point to the Rogue-led X-Men: Legacy, but let’s face it—this book would not exist if it didn’t have X-Men in the title. As interesting as the idea of Rogue running around with a supporting cast might sound, she is not a complex enough character, nor does she possess enough clout to carry a solo title.

Carol Danvers is an entirely different proposition. For those who have been following Marvel over the last few years, there has been a noticeable effort to raise the profile of this character who is actually one of Marvel’s longest-running female leads. She has had her rough points and has been somewhat abused by various writers and editors in the past, but this new beginning marks what should be the start of something special for a character who has definitely paid her dues. Coming out of the House of M event, we saw her asking herself why she couldn’t be the top-tier hero that she has always wanted to be. She is definitely among Marvel’s most powerful characters, and comparisons to Wonder Woman are not far off the mark. She has been a member of the Avengers in several iterations, and has shown that she not only has the brawn to handle major-league solo adventures, but being possessed of a military background she has the tactical and strategic know-how to put those abilities to their fullest use.

During our chat, I looked at some of the finished art for the book, and I have to say it looks fantastic. Kelly Sue mentioned that this was the first time that she had worked with a painter, so she had to make a real effort to keep the panel count down. The results are well worth that effort, as it looks simply gorgeous. There are some panels at the end of the first issue that I wish I could have as full-sized paintings to put on the wall.

I also got a chance to look at much of the complete script and see how it was put together with that art, enough so that I feel comfortable saying that the book offers a great beginning for this new launch of the character. It contains a quality blend of action, character relationships, and background on Carol herself.

She did share with me that the first arc will be a time travel arc, and while that might make some long-time science-fiction fans cringe, it excites me. Time travel may sometimes give me a headache, but it’s a headache that I enjoy. It lets me know that my brain is working hard, which is something that far too few comics ask of their readers.

All-in-all, Captain Marvel looks like it will be an excellent addition to Marvel’s lineup. It brings a great character to the forefront where she belongs and adds some much-needed gender diversity to the overall comic lineup.

Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-world Smallville.

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