In case you missed the news, last week, Kevin Feige and Marvel announced that they would finally be releasing a movie starring a woman, and it’s a Captain Marvel movie to boot! This news, added together with a followup announcement that Captain Marvel would be Carol Danvers and not Mar-Mell, set the internet on fire. Over the past few years Captain Marvel has been gaining a huge following and that following is especially passionate and vocal on the internet.
To start with, here’s a little info on Carol Danvers herself. Before becoming a superhero, she was a pilot in the Air Force, earning the rank of Colonel, which means that she actually outranks Captain America. She’s also had a variety of other jobs, working for NASA, Homeland Security and even editor at Women’s Magazine (although I’m not sure how many of those are canon anymore). She got her powers from an explosion involving the original Captain Marvel, a male kree named Mar-Vell (I know, very subtle) which caused her DNA to fuse with Kree DNA. Although her power set has changed slightly over the years, she currently has the power of flight, invulnerability, super strength and powerful energy blasts from her hands.
While Wonder Woman graced her cover back in Sensation Comics #1 and has had the 70-plus years since then to become a cultural icon who is recognizable around the world, the current version of Captain Marvel only started becoming really popular when Kelly Sue DeConnick started writing the character in 2012. It was in that year that Danvers, the former Ms. Marvel, took up the mantle of Captain Marvel and got a new haircut, a new costume (designed by Jamie McKelvie) and a new characterization.
This relaunched version of Captain Marvel had an initial run that lasted from 2012 until 2013 and lasted 17 issues. Issues 1-6 were collected in the Trade Paperback In Pursuit of Flight and issues 7-12 were collected in the Trade Paperback Down. The first few issues show Danvers taking up the mantle of Captain Marvel and then going on a time-travel adventure that helps define who she is as a pilot, a person and as Captain Marvel. Next, she hangs out with Monica Rambeau, a former Captain Marvel, fights some dinosaurs, is told she can’t fly anymore (which is really big deal for her) and rejoins the Avengers. The rest of the issues are collected in Avengers: The Enemy Within and Infinity Companion.
She got another series starting in 2014, but this time she’s based in outer space, which allows her to show off her piloting skills and her interstellar-level powers. Her space travel has seen her spend time hanging out with the Guardians of the Galaxy, trying to save a dying planet with the help of an awesome crew of aliens that includes a pansexual woman-engineer-pilot-warrior and an rebellious and androgynous teenager, and then reluctantly accepting the help of Rocket Raccoon when dealing with the fact that her pet cat Chewie is a rare alien called a Flerken that lays a million eggs at once. It’s one of the best-written comics out there today.
One of the main reasons for Captain Marvel’s huge rise in popularity in such a short time is the hope, spirit, humor and feminist slant that DeConnick writes her with. Fans of the character, who call themselves The Carol Corps, take inspiration from the character and run with it. They’ve organized meet-ups, knitting drives to send hats to anyone who needed some cheer and campaigns to encourage more girls and women to read comics. Many members of the Corps are women, and credit Captain Marvel with either getting them interested in comics in the first place or giving them the courage to become a bigger part of a fandom that is famously hostile to women. DeConnick herself is an outspoken feminist, and encourages members of the Corps to be as well. She hopes that this shows in her writing.
It makes me angry. I was asked in an interview once: “You’re writing another book with a female lead, aren’t you afraid you’re going to be pigeonholed?” Has a man in the history of men ever been asked if he was going to be pigeonholed because he wrote two consecutive books with male leads? Half of the population is women… It’s just this pervasive notion that “white male” is the default and you have to justify any variation from it…
I think we’re seeing another wave of feminism today, a fourth wave characterized by intersectionality and the Internet. And I think it falls right in line that we would see another wave of superheroines coming to the fore. You know, girls used to read comics in huge numbers. And were driven out, I would argue, by stories that actively excluded them.
In just a few short years, DeConnick has turned Captain Marvel into one of the most prominent superheroes in the Marvel Universe, a feminist icon and now, the star of her own upcoming movie. If you’re thinking about getting into superhero comics, reading Captain Marvel is one of your best options. It’s fun, it’s action-packed, it’s got a feminist message and the community is the most encouraging one you’ll find. So, if you aren’t already a member of the Corps, pick up a comic book and join today.
New Releases (November 5)
Betty and Veronica #273 (Archie Comics)
Betty and Veronica Jumbo Comics Digest #228 (Archie Comics)
Adventure Time Volume 4: Bitter Sweets GN (Boom!)
Angel and Faith Season 10 #8 (Dark Horse)
Avatar The Last Airbender Vol 9: The Rift Part 3 TPB (Dark Horse)
Gotham Academy #2 (DC)
New Vampirella #6 (Dynamite)
Hack Slash: Son of Samhain #5 (Image)
Elektra Vol. 1 Bloodlines TPB (Marvel)
X-Men #21 (Marvel)
Welcome to Drawn to Comics! From diary comics to superheroes, from webcomics to graphic novels – this is where we’ll be taking a look at comics by, featuring and for queer ladies. So whether you love to look at detailed personal accounts of other people’s lives, explore new and creative worlds, or you just love to see hot ladies in spandex, we’ve got something for you.
If you have a comic that you’d like to see me review, you can email me at mey [at] autostraddle [dot] com.
Oh, dude, this is exactly what I needed. Thank you! As someone who never got into comics as a youngster, the fact that you (and Heather Hogan when she was still at AE) post about them (and specifically comics that are RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS, AHEM) makes me happy. It’s a whole new world of geekery. And since I really dig Marvel’s cinematic universe and I can always use more badass ladies in my life, this is perfect.
Seriously, is one of these coming about Wonder Woman because her comics have been going for a bazillion years and I have NO IDEA where to start. And I want to, I think. Wonder Woman seems like a superhero I’d love, but I know how… uh, unstable the quality of long-running series can be, what with different writers and artists and all that. So if anyone has any suggestions to get me into Wonder Woman without turning me off immediately because of bad writing or misogyny or icky male gaze (I don’t know if the last two are ever a problem in WW comics, but those things make me NOPE faster than the speed of light), I am all ears.
I think an essential Wonder Woman book to read is The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka. To me this is the seminal work on Wonder Woman every fan should read at least once. You could also try his Eyes of the Gorgon. I generally like anything Rucka does anyway, so if you like that, you should try picking up his current series Lazarus. The New 52 relaunch of Wonder Woman started out pretty well, so you could try Volume 1: Blood by Brian Azzarello. I love the art by Cliff Chiang as well.
And even though you didn’t ask for it I love recommending comics so here are some woman-centric labels you could ask about at your local comic shop (and I hope you have an LCS that’s friendly and welcoming): Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Batwoman (the J.H. Williams III run and Elegy by Rucka), Birds of Prey Volume 1: Trouble in Mind by Duane Swierczynski, Rat Queens, the latest run of She-Hulk by Charles Soule, Elektra (also by J.H. Williams III and SO GOOD), The Wicked and the Divine, and Storm by Greg Pak.
(Oops, I mixed up names, the current Elektra run is being written by W. Haden Blackman, who also worked on Batwoman.)
I totally agree with AnnaY’s suggestions, and I’d also suggest Gail Simone’s run on Wonder Woman. She’s a feminist (and very talented) writer who definitely writes Wonder Woman as a feminist hero.
Also, while I do think that the current Wonder Woman run is pretty good, they did some pretty weird (and in my opinion, gross) things to her origin, making her the son of Zeus instead of a woman made by the Queen of the Amazons out of clay, and making the Amazons into slavers and sometimes rapists.
One of the more pertinent things to know about Carol Danvers (I don’t use Capt. Marvel so that we can keep them all sorted) is that her initials powers (super strength, flight, invulnerability) were stolen by Rogue…permanently. This has caused more than a little tension between her and Rogue, and by extension, the X-men. It also means that a version of her lives inside Rogue’s head.
Thanks for this primer! I have a Marvel Infinity account and have been wanting to get into Captain Marvel, but wasn’t sure which ones would get me the proper Carol Danvers introduction. Good to know there’s only 17 issues (and then the 2014 series) to catch up on, that’s much less daunting than trying to get into some of Marvel’s other, super-long-and-broken-into-umpteen series, titles.
I love Carol Danvers! I’ve never been so excited about a superhero movie before, cannot wait.
I am so excited I want to quit my job and devote my time to building a time machine so 2018 can be here sooner.
I never read comics growing up (despite being deeply and unabashedly geeky in basically all other things) because there didn’t seem to be anything relevant to me in them (white male superheros saving the day/women existing only to be saved/killed for Mr Superhero’s character development? No thanks, I’m going to go re-read the entire Tamora Pierce canon instead). But a little over a year ago, a tumblr-friend was really recommending the In Pursuit of Flight collection hard, so I gathered the courage to actually go to the comic book store and buy it. And now… let’s not discuss what percentage of my book budget is now devoted to comics. I read Captain Marvel, Ms Marvel, Black Widow (I am really hoping for a solo movie for her, too), Lumberjanes, Young Avengers, and Hawkeye (written by Matt Fraction, who is Kelly Sue DeConnick’s husband and also rather clearly a feminist), and Pretty Deadly (also by Kelly Sue DeConnick, it is a western and it is a magical delight of great writing + great art … also the main characters are women). Actually, if you looked at just my comic book collection, you could be forgive for thinking comics are mostly about kick-ass women. And that is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
And if you’re looking for a woman-friendly comic book shop in your area, check out the reviews on haterfreewednesdays on tumblr.
Carol is badass and I’m very glad you’re spreading the love for Captain Marvel. This is seriously one of the best comic books I’ve read all year, and, possibly, one of the best, best female superheroes I have ever read. You guys need to become fans ASAP! Also, she’s sooo cute and a nerd. What’s not to love?
Mey, you could teach a master class in comics! Keep it coming!
Well, that settles it, I’ll have go read all the Captain Marvel books! Been meaning to look into them for a while, but I’m going to make it happen.