Review: CAPTAIN MARVEL #1
By Eric Diaz on March 12, 2014
Carol Danvers, the current bearer of the title Captain Marvel in the Marvel Universe and the former Ms. Marvel, holds a unique position among all the female spin-off characters created for male superheroes. Unlike, say, Supergirl, Batgirl, She-Hulk, and Spider-Woman, Carol actually long ago surpassed her male counterpart in popularity and importance in the overall Marvel universe. The original Captain Marvel, a/k/a the alien warrior Mar-Vell, had an ongoing series that was relatively short lived, and was killed off back in the early eighties (and shockingly, hasn’t come back to life in all this time). Since then, Ms. Marvel, who was introduced as a human pilot who developed powers similar to the Kree Mar-Vell, became an A-list Avenger, and even forgave them when she was abducted into another dimension with a creepy rapist dude and they all just smiled and let it happen. Yes, that’s a thing that happened.
A couple of years back, Marvel decided it was high time that Carol “graduate” to being the new Captain Marvel officially. Along with the new name came a new costume, one that I’m not crazy about, to be honest, but don’t hate it either. (Mini-rant: I don’t think the idea that by “de-feminizing” a female hero’s costume, you are making the female hero “stronger”- that’s simply equating strength with masculinity when doing that, as if to say the only way a woman can be strong is by emulating a man. While there is nothing wrong with a woman wearing more masculine clothing at all, a woman can still be kick-ass in thigh high boots and showing a little more skin than a man traditionally would. This is also why Wonder Woman never should have pants. End of rant.) Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick launched the new series last year, and although there was strong initial buzz, sales began to taper off, and when no issues of Captain Marvel were scheduled for several months, fans panicked.
Well, there was no need for panic, because Marvel always had plans to relaunch the series with a new Captain Marvel #1 issue and a little extra publicity push. The new series opens up with the good Captain on the alien world of Ursor 4, on a desert outpost in the Mos Eisley tradition. Carol is there with a rag tag alien crew (are there any other kind?) and they seem to be evading some kind of galactic authorities while they search for something… which we, the readers, don’t know what it is. But we know it’s contraband of some kind. Of course, a brawl happens, there’s some punching, and Carol loses one of her companions in the melee.
Cut to a flashback to six months ago. Captain Marvel is now living in the head of the Statue of Liberty, which is a fitting HQ in a symbolic way (but also seems like it would be kinda cold up there and there’s not a lot of space. Where’s the shower and the bathroom? Does she have to fly down to the gift shop?) It kind of looks more like she’s squatting there. She’s got a young mother and her little girl (Lt. Marvel) living with her, although not having read the last series, I have no idea who they are and how they ended up in Carol’s orbit, or living with her in the Statue of Liberty, of all places. A little explanation for new readers would have been nice in this regard. Carol is given a nicely written moment during a scene between herself and the little girl, when the girl asks Carol “what did you want to be?,” and she answers, “I wanted to be all the things; an Olympic medalist-astronaut-teacher-veterinarian-storyteller and marine biologist.” It’s never not OK to show young girls that there are no limits to what you can want to be… although Carol should know that the only pretty blonde that gets to be all those things is Barbie.
During this time, she saves the city from a meteor that is really some kind of spaceship with a young alien girl inside, whom we recognize from the prologue. Iron Man shows up and makes Carol a proposition – he feels the Avengers need a representative in space, like an early warning system…and then promptly suggests James Rhodes, the Iron Patriot, for the job. Of course this just makes Carol want it more, which was Tony’s plan all along (sneaky bastard). And we get to see the beginnings of just how Captain Marvel ended up in space with the young alien girl in the first place. There are other surprises in this issue, at least for me, although I’m not sure how many of these thing were in play already in the previous Captain Marvel series. In this issue we find out which famous male hero Carol is dating, which I won’t reveal in case it’s not something that was known before this new series. But, hey, it was a shock to me!
While this issue is nothing too out of this world, it’s a nice solid superhero book, which is all it needs to be. I enjoyed Kelley Sue DeConnick’s writing style quite a bit; She moves things along and always keeps the funny going at all times, which is always something I appreciate in my superhero titles, which tend to take themselves waaaaay too seriously. I felt the art was serviceable; David Lopez draws a lovely Captain, and I like how he draws people (as in human people), but the opening scenes on the alien planet were kind of boring for me. Alien worlds in comics are your chance to show off what ya got, and there was nothing about this alien world that felt anything but generic. Considering this book will primarily be set in space and alien worlds, that could prove to be a problem down the line.
Captain Marvel seems like it’ll be a fun series, although I hope they don’t keep Carol out in space forever. My favorite parts of this issue were her interactions with the people in her life back on Earth, so I hope the creative team doesn’t keep her away from home for too long. While there is room for improvement, Captain Marvel seems off to a fine second start.