Carol Danvers, formerly Ms. Marvel, has taken on the mantle of Captain Marvel in a new ongoing title of the same name, helmed by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Dexter Soy. This marks the first time a female sidekick character has taken on the mantle of her predecessor in a meaningful way.
Carol Danvers is pretty much my favorite character in the Marvel Universe. Not Spider-Man, Wolverine, Cap, Iron Man, Black Widow, Sue Storm or Jean Grey. USAF Colonel and longtime Avenger Carol Danvers.
She has been through her fair share of character development and name changes: Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird, back to Ms. Marvel, and now... Captain Marvel. She's intelligent, driven and slightly arrogant, but at the same time she's compassionate with a great moral compass. She's battled with alcoholism, gained phenomenal cosmic power, lost it, been stripped of her memories and emotional attachments, yet still managed to overcome it all and earn her place back among Earth's mightiest.
Regardless of her alias, Carol Danvers is a role model for anyone, male or female, young or old. She's a strong enough character to build a long-standing monthly series, but is still relatable and a shining example that heroes don't have to be angsty, brooding and dark to be accessible. Carol is a breath of fresh air for the superhero genre at large and it's for this reason above all that her new Captain Marvel ongoing title must succeed.
This isn't Carol's first time at bat with a solo title; it's actually her third and this series carries more importance than both prior ones. Her first solo outing in Ms. Marvel v.1 (1977-79) lasted 23 issues while Ms. Marvel v.2 (2006-10) lasted an even 50. Now, she’s the star of this new Captain Marvel, marking firsts for the mantle, Carol, and all female sidekicks. What’s more, Captain Marvel is currently Marvel's only solo title featuring a female lead.
I think Marvel is testing the waters for female-led books. There's been no shortage of uproar from fans at cons and trade shows over the last few years over the dearth of solo female books and female creators. Captain Marvel has both an established, respected and powerful female character and an established, respected and intelligent female writer. Captain Marvel #1 debuted in July and come October we'll see a Red She-Hulk ongoing from regular Hulk writer Jeff Parker. Captain Marvel #1 and Avenging Spider-Man #9 (featuring Captain Marvel) have both sold out and are returning to press for second printings. And critics are loving it. If Captain Marvel consistently/continually sells big numbers and Red She-Hulk follows suit in October, then Kelly Sue DeConnick, Dexter Soy and Carol Danvers will have started a path for a resurgence in female-lead titles at Marvel.
Carol has BIG shoes to fill; 45 years of Captain Marvel legacy now move forward on her shoulders. The Captain Marvel mantle has a large fanbase and renowned serial The Death of Captain Marvel is among the best cosmic Marvel stories ever. Carol has the job of bringing the name back to the forefront of Marvel’s lineups, now that DC’s hero of the same name has adopted Shazam as his official moniker.
She joins the club of "sidekick" characters who've moved beyond their namesake's shadow: Oracle (formerly Batgirl), Flash (Wally West, formerly Kid Flash), Nightwing (formerly Robin), Winter Soldier (formerly Bucky) and the list goes on. Her writers raise the bar, chronicling the adventures of a woman who's inherited the title of the male hero she used to be defined by. Awesome.
Carol Danvers makes history with this promotion and raises stakes for her future at Marvel. I can only think of two characters who've stepped up to take their mentor's title, only to step down later: Dick Grayson, from Nightwing to Batman back to Nightwing,and Bucky Barnes, from Winter Soldier to Captain America back to Winter Soldier. But Carol's just inherited a previously male title in such a way that she is certainly capable of keeping it. Who would want to go back to being Ms. Marvel when you've had a taste of what it's like to be THE Captain Marvel and broken a barrier in comics? No, DeConnick and Soy need to make sure Carol remains worthy of the title and keeps it.
Best of the Best
Marvel's been trying to give Carol a push for years through her 2006 solo title plus lead or major supporting roles in Mighty Avengers, The Initiative, House of M, Secret Invasion, Avengers vs. X-Men and Fear Itself. Marvel editorial is not giving up on her yet. For all the female heroes in the Marvel Universe, none really shine as the iconic heroine. She’s powerful, tenured and a respected leader. It appears the only other thing she needs is the clout of the Captain Marvel mantle.
For years Wonder Woman has been the undisputed queen of heroines; every woman in the DCU measures themselves against Wonder Woman. I think Captain Marvel can and will fill a Wonder Woman role in the MU. She’s in a position to garner some real respect both in and outside of comics; I trust that DeConnick and Soy will capitalize on it.
I urge you to go out and give Captain Marvel a try. It’s great! If you're at all a supporter of females in comics and actual new directions in superhero books, or you just like stories about legacy, new chapters in life, self-identity and good old superheroics, then buy Captain Marvel. I believe DeConnick and Soy have a lot up their sleeves that will continue setting Captain Marvel apart from other books on the stands. Many often complain "There's nothing NEW in comics!" all the time. Captain Marvel is new, fresh, unique and helmed by an extremely capable writer-artist duo who've definitely got a plan for Carol's future. Well done, Kelly Sue and Dexter. I hope you two are here for the long-haul.