Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Captain Marvel #1 - A Review

I must confess I only bought this book to make a statement. To prove a point. To strike a blow against the male-dominated Powers That Be in the comic books industry in general (and at Marvel Comics in specific) and all the trolls who declared this book Dead On Arrival.

I'm doing this despite my personal ban on most things Marvel in the wake of One More Day. I decided to lift it to support this book. Because some things are more important than my own vendettas. Because while I still can't bring myself to buy Spider-Man comics when the people running Spider-Man believe his defining trait to be youth rather than responsibility, I can buy a book to show that there are readers out there who want stories with strong female characters. That we want books written by female writers.

In saying all that, I must also say this: this book is well worth buying even if you don't want to make a statement, prove a point or strike a blow.

Carol Danvers is not a character I've ever thought about much. I know her back-story - USAF pilot is infused with alien DNA, gaining superpowers in the process. One of Marvel's first ham-fisted attempts at creating a feminist superhero, back in the 1970s. Part of what was easily the most sexist, disturbing storyline in comic book history. And she had a storyline in the Avengers where Tony Stark confronted her about her alcoholism. She's a notable character but not one I've ever been a big fan of.

This issue doesn't discuss most of that but it does lay clear who Carol Danvers is outside of a series of statistics and storylines. She is tough. She is no-nonsense. She is capable. She shouts orders at Captain America and can match him in tactical knowledge. She snarks back at Spider-Man and can hold her own in a fight against him. She loves flying under her own power but missing flying in an airplane.

All of this and more is revealed to us through Kelly Sue DeConnick's masterful script. Broken into four rough acts, we see Carol fighting the Absorbing Man alongside Cap, discussing her new costume and taking up the name of Captain Marvel with cap later, sparring with Spider-Man in The Avengers gym, checking up on a cancer-patient friend and thinking about her hero, record-breaking female pilot Helen Cobb. There is Ethos, Pathos and Logos - all in balance.

The artwork by Dexter Soy is nothing less than amazing. Reminiscent of Tony Harris' work on Starman, though with brighter colors and less heavy inks, Soy's artwork throughout changes palettes as needed. More muted tones are used in the flashback scenes and more vibrant shades are used in the scenes depicting superheroes in motion.

I may have bought this book to make a statement. I will continue to buy it because it is damn good.

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