When I spoke to Kelly Sue DeConnick this winter, she was on hiatus from Captain Marvel, hard at work on Pretty Deadly and moving forward on Bitch Planet. Now with Pretty Deadly on delay (we’re waiting…), comes DeConnick’s second rendition of Captain Marvel #1. This isn’t a title reboot but a return to the character as we left her last year.
So. Back to Captain Marvel #1, by DeConnick and David Lopez. Like the recent #1s from Marvel NOW! reviewed here (Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk) Captain Marvel opens with promise. But unlike both of those titles, this new Captain Marvel arc, titled “Higher, Further, Faster, More” is very much a superhero story.
Page one begins in the middle of the action. Captain Marvel rollicks about the planet Ursor 4, settling readers into the pace of Danvers’ new life.
Flash back 6 months, and the story returns Carol Danvers to Earth, working with the Avengers, dating, living in the crown Statue of Liberty. Yes. The Statue of Liberty. The rent must be high and the walls cold. But it’s a fitting home for the mightiest of all of Earth’s mightiest heroes. Danvers combines the honor and symbolic nature of Lady Liberty with the heart and compassion of the ‘you’re welcome in America’ permanently etched in stone.
Carol’s reading of those iconic words to Kit is one of my favorite Captain Marvel moments.
The action of #1 serves the dual purpose of establishing Carol’s role among the Avengers, and then sending her off-world. We know from the book’s prologue that she’ll be on alien-planets soon, so there’s little more to do than kick the tires. The mechanism for this departure is Tony Stark, reading the signs of recent history and recognizing the need for the Avengers to maintain a presence out in space. This Avenger, Stark tells Danvers, should be capable of enduring long periods alone. And preferably, be a great pilot.
He’s thinking Rhodey, James Rhodes, Iron Patriot. Har har. Knowing his ribbing of Danvers will only help ensure that she will volunteer for the role of Avenger-in-Space, Stark’s self-satisfying joke (we see him ‘he he he’-ing off into the night), is indicative of much of the humor in DeConnick’s writing–another sign that Captain Marvel will be plant itself firmly as a superhero story. Cultural references and inside-jokes and aliens don’t know Star Wars–it’s light-weighted dialogue that, for the most part, is welcome.
As always, DeConnick’s Danvers is searching for something to fill an uncertain vacancy, and neither her current work with the Avengers, nor her relationship (with a surprising superhero) is providing that something for her. So she’ll take her 1-year assignment, work with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and send intelligence back to Avengers HQ. Perhaps whatever she’s looking for can be found off-world.
There’s not a great deal to sink your teeth into here. David Lopez handles the artwork with clarity. His Carol is an improvement–so let’s hope that he hangs around and we don’t have inconsistent artwork plaguing the title again. Lopez’s hard lines and thoughtful bodies make the book easy to settle into, and he brings a complexity in close-ups and body language during the conversations Carol has with Stark and her partner.
I’m a fan of Kelly Sue’s. And I’m very happy Marvel has rewarded DeConnick and her character not only with the title’s return but with the full steam of Marvel’s publicity efforts. That Marvel has shown such commitment to this version of Carol Danvers, despite underwhelming sales figures during the previous run, shows they’ve got their house–creatively at least–in order. Fans of this title have responded to Kelly Sue’s Carol. She’s a textured woman to be admired and felt: funny, insightful, lonely, creative, sad, kooky. A pilot. A student. A cat-lover. A renter of the Statue of Liberty.
Now, in the second #1 in two years, we are reminded that Carol is, chiefly, a superhero. Which has always been true but has never been what’s most interesting about Danvers. Perhaps her superhero-ness will remain just another aspect of her character. Perhaps it will overtake the depth we have met previously.
We’re moving into space, here, after all, and everything can get dicey out there. We’ll see if Kelly Sue can keep Carol Danvers grounded while she’s flying about the black.