Captain Marvel's Carol Corps has a new recruit.
Jem & The Holograms writer Kelly Thompson is making her Marvel debut this summer as she co-writes the new Captain Marvel & The Carol Corps series alongside Kelly Sue Deconnick and David Lopez. Newsarama talked with Thompson about the book, digging into the exact nature of the corps, their home base Hala Field, what exactly the ladies of the Carol Corps will be facing, and the matriarchal nature of their “idyllic” society.
Newsarama: Kelly, hwo did you get recruited into the Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps gig?
Kelly Thompson: I had been talking Jeanine Schaefer (former Marvel editor and head of Marvel Talent) for a while now, showing her my work and talking about pitching at Marvel, and before she left Marvel she passed one of my pitches on to editor Sana Amanat and made an introduction. When an opportunity opened up for a co-writer on Captain Marvel & The Carol Corps I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to be considered for that role. It didn’t hurt that it turns out Sana is a big Jem fan!
Nrama: What is the Corps facing in the story?
Thompson: Well, there are some more concrete battles for the Corps in the sense that they get to blow some things up and work to keep their “land” safe, but the bigger fight for the Corps is a fight against the unknown and the pursuit of truth, the pursuit of knowledge. Even though Hala Field is one of the more idyllic and peaceful lands in Battleworld, they still lack some real freedom including, most important to our characters I think, the freedom of knowledge. There are a lot of things being kept from these characters and as they realize this, they push against it like classic revolutionaries – the fight for knowledge, the fight for transparency, the fight for freedom. And of course as you do something like that, you draw a very big target on your back, so things get violent very fast.
Nrama: Tell me about the characters of the Carol Corps.
Thompson: Well, in addition to an incredible (yes, still powered!) Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel the book is filled with new alternate reality versions of characters that fans loved in Kelly Sue’s Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight arc. So you’ve got Helen Cobb (a personal favorite!) who is even more of a rebel here. I think Kelly Sue said in a previous interview that this is Helen Cobb with the wind at her back, which I think is so perfect. This is a matriarchal-based world, so one where Helen doesn’t face all of the obstacles she necessarily did in a patriarchy-based 616 reality and the time period she was living in. Helen is both an insanely talented pilot and also a rebel, which kind of keeps her from being the leader of the Corps, she knows you can get away with more if you don’t have to lead a team.
You’ve also got new but similar versions of Jerri, Mackie, and Bee. Jerri is the talented level-headed glamorous leader of the squad, someone a bit more conservative and measured and better suited to leading than Helen. Bee is the philosopher, the thinker, the one really pushing the envelope with the unanswered questions of this world. Mackie is the one who can fix everything, and as Kelly Sue says, kind of the Dum Dum Dugan analogue, very fun. We’ve also got an all-new character, Jolene, who I like to think of as sort of a partner in crime to Mackie. I have this whole imaginary side story in my mind where Jolene and Mackie go off base all the time and just get into all kinds of shenanigans. There will be a few other really fun cameos, one I’m especially proud of and I think fans will get a kick out of, but the ladies mentioned above are the core of the actual Carol Corps.
Nrama: What’s it like working with Kelly Sue DeConnick? How closely are you working together on this?
Thompson: Working with Kelly Sue is pretty much a dream come true. I know that’s what you’re supposed to say in these situations but in my case it’s just absolutely true. I am a huge fan of Kelly Sue’s writing – both her incredible Marvel work (especially with Carol, obviously) and also her indie work – Bitch Planet in particular is not only great comics, but important comics. The working relationship is pretty close – basically Kelly Sue put together a rough outline of the series as a whole, what it should be about, the characters involved, the emotional beats we wanted to hit, and some key moments in each of the issues. Then I broke the individual issues down further into beats and actions, hammering out the specifics of the story. When that was approved by Sana and Kelly Sue I then took a first pass at the script. From there, Kelly Sue goes into my script and works her Kelly Sue magic, which is pretty exciting to behold!
Nrama: What can you tell us about Hala Field?
Thompson: Hala Field is, certainly on the surface of things, one of the more idyllic Battleworld domains from "Secret Wars." This is a matriarchal society, and one that has Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps to defend it from potential enemies. This is an air force base that is basically operating in peacetime, so it’s not a super grim dystopian world.
Nrama: How closely does Carol Corps tie in to the larger "Secret Wars" story?
Thompson: I hope it ties to it in the best possible way in that you don’t have to read other stuff in order to understand our story, it can stand on its own; but it also uses some of the best elements of "Secret Wars" to its advantage. I hope it also just makes the most of the fact that "Secret Wars" is really fun place to play and cut loose with characters, to do something a little different.
Nrama: What’s it like making the jump to writing at Marvel?
Thompson: It’s a bit intimidating, obviously. When you’re talking comics there isn’t a bigger deal than Marvel, so it’s a big stage to fall on your face if you screw up, but I’m very fortunate to be getting eased in as a co-writer. With pros like Kelly Sue, David Lopez, and Sana Amanat as my partners in crime, I'm confident that I'm well protected against big screw-ups. Fortunately my experiences launching Jem and The Holograms, which is also pretty high profile, helped prepare me a little bit for the process and exposure.
Nrama: What’s coming up next for you, post Carol Corps?
Thompson: Well, I’m still writing Jem and the Holograms, which has been incredible. My first graphic novel, Heart In A Box, from Dark Horse with co-creator/artist Meredith McClaren on art, releases in September. And this summer I’ll be running a Kickstarter for (and then releasing) the second volume of my Storykiller series, which is prose, not comics. There are some other exciting things in the pipeline on the comics side, but unfortunately nothing I can announce just yet.
Nrama: Why should readers pick up Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps?
Thompson: For the Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez, obviously! And to get a wonderful story centered on some incredible and very different women that you don’t always get to see in comics. Even though we’ve only got four issues I think we’re telling a strong, emotionally resonant story that speaks powerfully to what Carol and all of these women are really about. And of course there are plenty of explosions and lots of punching.
Nrama: Last question - How does it feel to be a part of the Carol Corps phenomenon?
Thompson: It’s amazing to get to come onto a comic book that not only has a wildly passionate fan base, but also has its own movement. There’s a lot of pressure to not disappoint them of course, but it’s such a positive, encouraging, and passionate group of people that it’s impossible not to be excited by getting to be a part of it.