Captain Marvel is a woman of bold moves. She stares alien war machines in the laserific eye and doesn't flinch; nay, she flies, fist first, straight into the cornea. Or whatever the eyeball equivalent of the heart is.
Inspired by her, and desperate to get a post up after the loss of my laptop last week (my laptop containing 3/4 of a post about Captain Marvel), I writ bold, transferring content from my brain to the Typepad page without first drafting in Word. I am Moses carving straight into the table without consulting his papyrus draft; Jefferson quilling the declaration while tossing the note-bearing parchments of his compatriots into the fire.
I am Captain Marvel! I wish.
Supergirl and I weren't getting along when one Foz, comic book aficionado and friend of super-sheep Alfie Purl, suggested Captain Marvel. I twitched a bit. I started this journey with DC, and while I knew I was breaking up with Supergirl right after the prom, I had planned to find another DC girlfriend to join the cast of Big Comic Love. Next visit to Harrison's, I allowed my eyes to wander from DC's glossy covers to Marvel's matte ranks.
I need to note, Marvel's matte ranks are woefully man-centric. There are women-led books, including Red She-Hulk, but based on my quarter-assed eyeball-conducted research, DC offers more female-led titles. (A quick research break backs up the eyeballs: As of November, DC had nine women-led titles, while Marvel had roughly half that number.)
Having said that, Captain Marvel is a heroine for the ages. What a fantastic read. First off, the covers are brilliant, Captain Marvel adopting a variety of strong-woman poses across a series of covers that read as a propaganda campaign a la Rosie the Riveter. In fact, Captain Marvel strikes a Rosie posie on cover #2.
The nod's heavy; the books are full of imagined 20th-century aviatrices, from the all-female Air Service Pilots Banshee Squad fighting on a mysterious and remote Peruvian island during WWII to a fearless woman pilot trying to break altitude records.
Into the stories of these faux-historic women, the tale of Boston-bred Carol Danvers weaves seamlessly in a genre where narrative implausibility is mundane. Carol's an aspiring Air Force pilot who eventually winds up, in true Marvel fashion, the victim of an otherworldly explosion. Shards of space tech turn her mighty; she becomes the superheroine Ms. Marvel and eventually joins the Avengers.
The first issue of the Captain Marvel series, which hit Harrison's last summer, features some blatant stage-setting. Captain America, Spidey and Ms. Marvel jabber about her new outfit, her new hairdo (a Farrah Fauxhawk that disappears by issue 5), and whether she should accept the mantel of Captain Marvel. I found the issue overly but helpfully didactic, and full of the flip jabber that the Avengers can't seem to communicate without.
(I'm a fan of flip jabber, don't get me wrong. But while a well-placed moment of superhero snark in the face of a villain produces catch-phrases I'll cheer for and remember, a movie full of nothing but flippery is gone from my head before I've picked the popcorn kernels from my teeth.)
But by issue #1's end, Carol's on her way to time-traveling adventure with strong, realistic female characters I found interesting me far more than some of the folks I've met over at DC. I'm not sure quite how to explain it, but this story smacked genuine to me. Somehow, Captain Marvel was a human superhero having super adventures. I never forgot she was human.
Sure, she stands apart, as all superheroes must, but somehow she's human about it. I'm not nodding at all to any inferred soft feminine traits; I simply mean, I sunk into these books the way I sink into a great novel.
I forgot I was reading a comic book, and I mean that in the very best sense. Thanks Captain Marvel, and thank you Foz!