With the start of a new year, it’s the perfect time to reevaluate habits and make some changes, including a return to our comics-reading roots! Once a month, we’ll talk about a comic book (a trade volume to really get a taste of what’s going on) and hopefully encourage you to expand our reading repertoire beyond traditional novels.

And we are starting with Captain Marvel: in advance of the new movie (we are all going right?), it is past time to read one of the seminal stories that created the character we will see in the film. 

Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero Vol. 1 (Trade Paperback) was published in June 2016 and collects issues 1-12 of the new Captain Marvel series that debuted in 2012. This series allowed Kelly Sue DeConnick, renowned feminist and badass, to push a redesign of the character. Carol Danvers moved from the swimsuit-esque Ms. Marvel into the sweet flight suit we recognize today. (Interestingly, that character design was done by Jamie McKelvie of The Wicked + The Divine and Young Avengers as a sort of bet!)

In the Beginning

We begin with Carol Danvers, in her new suit, fighting a baddie alongside Captain America. What’s important here is that Carol is the focus – from being taunted by the baddie to taking control and ultimately winning the fight. We see her humor and her strength in those initial panels. We also see a vulnerability related to self-doubt as Captain America encourages her to take up the mantle of Captain Marvel, held previously by Mar-Vell.

If you are new to Carol Danvers with this book, you don’t quite know all the background. But it doesn’t matter. You get the important parts. Carol was called Ms. Marvel. Her mentor was named Mar-Vell and referred to as Captain Marvel. In an explosion with an alien “psyche-magnetron” device, the genetic structure of Mar-Vell, a Kree, was grafted onto Carol’s DNA giving her “abilities.” According to Carol, this made her a “living glowstick in a circus suit” (and those are her words).

That’s all you need and you get it succinctly and beautifully in issue one. From there we kick into high gear with a time travel story for issues 1 through 6 that provides more background and personality for Carol Danvers, while also introducing us to several other amazing women like Helen Cobb and the Banshees.  

After the time travel, we end up on an undersea adventure (Kelly Sue is going to have so much fun with Aquaman) with Monica Rambeau, formerly known as… Captain Marvel! It’s highly entertaining for two women joke with each other about the myriad of code names superheroes end up having – no wonder we all get confused!

About Kelly Sue DeConnick

Kelly Sue DeConnick is best known for hits like Carol Danvers’ rebranding as Captain Marvel and the Eisner-nominated mythological western, Pretty Deadly. DeConnick’s most recent venture, the sci-fi kidney-punch called Bitch Planet, co-created with Valentine De Landro, launched to rave reviews in December 2014 and has since been nominated for an Eisner. DeConnick lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Matt Fraction, and their two children. Under their company Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, Inc., DeConnick and Fraction are currently developing television for NBC/Universal.

DeConnick does an amazing job with Carol Danvers–it’s no wonder she has amassed an army known as the Carol Corps! The art and letters all help complement and enhance the story. My one small critique, as with most trades, is the shifting artists throughout the book. At times, it is difficult to tell the women apart and figure out who was who (which wasn’t a problem with the diverse, newly-introduced Banshee Squadron – something to think about).

Do yourself a favor and dive into the Captain Marvel comics before the movie and start off with Kelly Sue DeConnick’s take in the character. You won’t regret it!

Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero
Vol. 1 (Trade Paperback)

Carol Danvers has a new codename and is determined to prove herself the best of the best! She’s forging a new future for herself as Captain Marvel, but finds that she still can’t walk away from a challenge from her past! It’s a firefight in
the sky as the Banshee Squadron debut – but who are the Prowlers, and where has Carol seen them before? Witness her in blazing battlefield action that just may change the course of history! Then, the Avengers’ new Captain Marvel meets their old one – Monica Rambeau! But what’s Monica’s problem? Can they resolve it before a threat from the ocean depths attacks? Collecting: Captain Marvel (2012) #1-12.

Iggle Bookworms January Read

And don’t forget to check out the monthly read from our book-loving friends in the community. For January, the group is reading The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. You can read along and participate in discussions, chats, and more over on Goodreads and Twitter.