Carol is back with a new costume, a new hair style and a new (old) codename in Captain Marvel #1.
Captain Marvel #1 (2012)
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Dexter Soy
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: July 18, 2012
|SHE’S BACK! The “Mightiest” of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! Ace pilot. Legendary Avenger. 100% pure bad-a$$. Carol Danvers has a new name, a new mission …and all the power she needs to make her life a living hell. Guest starring Captain America.|
Carol Danvers is a rather interesting character when you really dig into her history: she first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 all the way back in 1968, has been a mainstay of the Avengers since the late 70s and is inter-connected with the X-Man Rogue ever since Avengers Annual #10 in 1981. She’s gone through many codenames (Binary, Warbird, Ms. Marvel) over the years and has had several shots at a solo title dating back to the 70s and culminating most recently in Ms. Marvel which ran until 2010 and netted 50 generally well-received issues (no mean feat in this day-and-age). She’s back to give it another go with another codename and new costume.
Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick is at the helm this time around as she tries to find a new angle on the character, which is a problem the previous series never really got around to addressing. A lot of this issue is given over to Carol mulling over the possibility of taking over the Captain Marvel codename, a name she doesn’t want to adopt in fear of not living up to its legacy, but everyone seems to be pushing her towards doing. Personally I’m rather fond of her Kurt Busiek Avengers codename of “Warbird,” but “Captain Marvel” has a history in the Marvel Universe (and the DC Universe… but we won’t go there this time around) and so that’s what it’s going to be.
Aside from the opening action piece which pits Captain America and Carol, still using the Ms. Marvel codename, against the Absorbing Man, a villain who tends to get wheeled out every once in a while so a hero can beat up on him and show how strong he/she is. The two soundly thrash him and they discuss Carol’s future. Like other recent books of this nature, such as Majorie Liu’s run on X-23, there’s an awful lot of introspection and agonizing going on here as Carol tries to explain her reluctance to take up the Captain Marvel name, while also going over her backstory a bit. It’s necessary information, but the presentation is a bit dry. A sparring session with Spider-Man helps to liven it up a bit, but not much.
What steps this story up a bit, at least for me, is the inclusion of a new character named Helen Cobb, who is likely loosely based on the real-life lady Jerrie Cobb. Jerrie Cobb, and her Captain Marvel counterpart, was a member of the “Mercury 13”, thirteen women who trained alongside the original Mercury astronauts in the late 50s and early 60s and were possible candidates to be the first people in space. It’s a shame then that their program was scrapped and it wouldn’t be until 1983 that an American woman would go into space (the Russians sent up Valentina Tereshkova in 1963). It’s nice to have their story included in this comic, though it’s role is pretty much just to serve as a standard for Carol to live up to. There are certainly worse heroes to have. It does also provide a nice character moment for Carol when she confesses to being jealous because Hobb achieved so many records in her day, which Carol can’t do because her powers disqualify her.
In the end Captain Marvel isn’t a bad comics, but not a great comic either. It’s off to a fine start, but it definitely needs to pickup the pace a little bit. Integrating the Mercury 13 into the story was a very nice touch which gives it a little extra lift, but a little more needs to be done with it. At the same time this comic needs to be careful that it doesn’t just become a tribute to the Mercury 13 — not that they don’t deserve a tribute, but the comic needs its own identity beyond just that. We’ll see where it goes from here, but it has at least my attention for the next few months.