WonderCon 2012: Carol Danvers is the New CAPTAIN MARVEL

WonderCon 2012: The New CAPTAIN MARVEL

When Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort announced Saturday that Carol Danvers would be taking on the role of Captain Marvel in a new ongoing series starting in July, one word seemed to describe the sentiment of many observers.


Introduced as a military officer in the 1960s and as superhero Ms. Marvel in the 1970s, Danvers has long been a part of the Marvel Universe, racking up stints as "Binary" and "Warbird" before becoming an important part of the Brian Michael Bendis-era Avengers in recent years. Her origin tied her powers — and fictional history — closely with the publisher's first Captain Marvel, the Kree hero Mar-Vell.

Though several characters have been known as "Captain Marvel" since the original's death in 1982, the closest Carol Danvers ever got was in the "House of M" alternate timeline — until now. She's starring in Captain Marvel from writer Kelly Sue DeConnick (Osborn) and artist Dexter Soy (Army of Two), with covers by Ed McGuinness; said during the panel to in part spin out of the character's role in the Avengers vs. X-Men tie-in issues of Secret Avengers.

Newsarama talked with DeConnick via email about why the Captain Marvel name is important for Danvers, the need to move beyond the character's "black swimsuit and thigh boots" look, and her thoughts on writing an ongoing series at Marvel for the first time.

WonderCon 2012: MARVEL Talk to the Hat
WonderCon 2012: MARVEL Talk to the Hat
Captain Marvel

#1 cover.

Newsarama: Kelly Sue, Carol Danvers has been known by a few different names over the years — Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird — but now she's taking on the mantle of Captain Marvel. What does this mean for the character? Does the new name come with a new sense of purpose?

Kelly Sue DeConnick: I think Carol's as surprised as anyone to find out how much it matters to her.  

You ever have one of those? You don't realize how much it means to you until it happens?

Nrama: Well, outside of the fictional implications, what do you see as the symbolic importance of Carol Danvers becoming Captain Marvel? Does it perhaps legitimize or elevate the character in a way that her past identities couldn't?

DeConnick: I love Ms. magazine. I'm a subscriber. I could not be a bigger fan of Gloria Steinem. She is made of awesome.  

All that said, there's something kind of dated about the name, don't you think? The intent behind the creation of the "Ms." title was to supply a formal title of respect for women that was neither dependent upon nor indicative of her marital status. And I think it succeeded… mostly. I use it. I certainly prefer it to "Mrs." But I nonetheless can't help but feel like there's an auxiliary-thing going on there. Like… Punisher and Lady Punisher, you know? Who is she? She's the Punisher! If the Punisher were a lady!  

Uh… wha?

WonderCon 2012: MARVEL Talk to the Hat
WonderCon 2012: MARVEL Talk to the Hat
Captain Marvel

#2 cover.

Ms. Marvel — the same powers as Captain Marvel, plus boobs! I'm making light here obviously, but at the time of her creation Ms. Marvel was both a progressive character and a progressive idea. The feminist movement hit a really spectacular high in the 1970s and Gerry Conway was not shy about exploring the issues of the modern woman as well as he could in the context of a superhero comic. I mean, those old books are really something to be proud of. I think, in many ways, they're more cutting edge than most of what we're putting out today. And the name was perfect — it told you exactly what to expect from the book, exactly what he wanted to explore.  

Today… well, we could have a long conversation about the successes and failures of the feminist movement — if you ever want to see me Hulk-out, let's go to dinner and discuss — but the feels a little bit like a relic. She's not auxiliary to Captain Marvel anymore. He's gone. And she's got a long history of her own. It's time to stop being an adjunct and take the mantle.   

Nrama: This is your first ongoing series at Marvel — what are you looking forward to with that, in terms of writing a more long-form, open-ended story?

DeConnick: Well… let's not get too ahead of ourselves. In the current marketplace, most "ongoings" are making it to, what?  6-12 issues, no? If you're lucky? I've got a plan and I'm not being shy about planting seeds that I hope to come back to for, you know, exponential awesomeness… but neither am I holding my breath.  

Though Carol is an Avenger, there is no Captain Marvel movie coming out this summer, you know? And we talk a big game about wanting female-led books that don't look like gynecological exams, but can the community actually come through with the numbers to back that up? I don't know. God, I hope so.  

WonderCon 2012: MARVEL Talk to the Hat
WonderCon 2012: MARVEL Talk to the Hat

The problem isn't just that we have to get folks to buy it; it's that we have to get retailers to order it. The failing of our distribution model is that our customer isn't really the reader, our customer is whoever places the Diamond order at any store. So if there's a perception that the book won't sell, it gets under-ordered and it becomes this self-fulfilling prophecy.  

Here's a thing that happens to every creator on Twitter on one Wednesday or another: an incredibly sweet reader who really wants to support you, writes to tell you that they tried to buy your book at their LCS and it was already sold out! It's only noon, they say! The shop only opened at 10! Your book must've flown off the shelves!  

And then the creator, not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings, says, "Wow! Thanks for your support — better pre-order the next one!" and then they cry into their coffee. Because, friends, selling out by noon on a Wednesday is not good news. Heck, selling out by Thursday is not good news. That means your book was under-ordered — if it was ordered at all. If the consumer wants the product and we can't get them the product, our system is broken.  

I hate the pre-order thing. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Ten years ago, I was complaining about it on the [Warren Ellis Forum] — I'm a shopper. I looooove to shop. I will spend money. But I am not going to buy a pair of shoes that I'm expected to order three months in advance and am not able to try on! And that's what we're asking of our readers. It's the dumbest system. No wonder we have problems! Is there another industry that works like this?  

And yet, here I am begging you: if you want to read this comic, please, please oh please, oh please: pre-order it. If you want to see more female-led titles from the mainstream publishers, pre-order this book. If you're not familiar with how to pre-order, or you're not sure why it's so important, check in with me on Twitter @kellysue or on my blog at http://www.kellysue.com — some time in the next couple weeks I'm going to do a step-by-step blog post.  Maybe I'll even do one of those Warren Ellis-style pre-order coupons.  

Nrama: There definitely does seem to be a weird disconnect between how important pre-ordering is, and how few people actually do it. To be even more open-ended than the last question, what's your own take on Carol Danvers as a character? She's been around for decades, is she someone you had been wanting to take a crack at for a while?

DeConnick: I think this pitch took almost a year to get approved? I'd have to check on that, but I think that's close. Long enough that I'd pretty much given up on it. Bless [Marvel senior editor Stephen] Wacker's heart, he had not.

WonderCon 2012: MARVEL Talk to the Hat
WonderCon 2012: MARVEL Talk to the Hat

It was Carol Danvers as Chuck Yeager, essentially. It was called Pilot and opened with a Madeleine L'Engle quote, "In our dreams we are able to fly… and that is a remembering of how we were meant to be."

The Marvel Universe is founded on Daddy Issues and Carol's no exception to that — she's the hyper-competative eldest in a family of boys, headed by an old-fashioned man's man. While there's no doubt that her father loved her, I don't think she ever got the respect or approval from him that every little girl so desperately wants from her daddy. And her dad's gone now, so she's never going to get it, but she is who she is and she's driven to move faster, fly higher, work harder than anyone who comes up against her — friend or foe.  

There's a tension to Carol I think, like she's always on the brink of exploding, be it with fury, joy or even pure energy.  

Nrama: What can you say at this point about the direction of the series? Given the fact that Carol Danvers has been prominent in a lot of Avengers vs. X-Men promotional images, and the series starts right in the midst of it, does it spin out of that in some fashion?

DeConnick: No, our series takes place after AvX.  

Nrama: To use an awful segue, speaking of fashion, as we were in the last question, Danvers has a new costume in this series. Given your past comments about female superhero costumes — including very recent ones in regard to your new Ghost series at Dark Horse — is it safe to assume that this one will be considerably more practical? Were you involved in the design process?

Previous Ms. Marvel costume.

DeConnick: Yeah, I was involved! Her new uniform is, in fact, considerably more practical than the black swimsuit and thigh boots. Unless she was going swimming. Or wading through really high water. Or go-go dancing. Then the swimsuit and thigh boots would be best.  

The new uniform was designed by Jamie McKelvie, with little input from me save for squealing and clapping. It looks to me like the dress uniform for the superhero branch of the military. That seems appropriate, don't you think?

Nrama: Dexter Soy is artist on the series — it's early still, but what are you looking forward to him bringing to the book, visually?

DeConnick: Dex brings the epic. When I first saw his work, I thought he should be working on Thor — he's got that grandeur about him. That, like, side of the van, Zeppelin thing. It's phenomenal.  

Nrama: A few months ago there was discussion and debate over how, with X-23 ending, Marvel had no current books starring a sole female character. Is there pride attached in being the writer of a book that's bringing some degree of balance to that?

DeConnick: I'm not sure we're more than a rice grain on that scale, but yeah, I'm proud. I'm proud of this book and of this team.

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