Taking the mantle of Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers is adding a new name, new look, and new series to an already-crowded backstory. Major Spoilers has the review to let you know whether this one feels like it’s going to stick.

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Dexter Soy
Cover: Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines & Javier Rodriguez
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Prettiest: Stephen Wacker
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

Previously, in Captain Marvel: After a chance encounter with Kree hero Captain Marvel, Air Force officer Carol Danvers gained superpowers. Using the alias Ms. Marvel (and variously Binary and Warbird), Danvers joined up with Earth’s mightiest heroes The Avengers and became one of the super-group’s staunchest members.


The issue opens with an engaging fight with the Absorbing Man lined up versus Captains America and Marvel. The fight scene is enlivened by some peppy dialogue – Crusher Creel is entertainingly stupid, while Cap and Marvel have some funny banter regarding Danvers’ superior rank (if anything, this book should be called “Colonel Marvel, but I digress). The rest of the issue is an exploration of Danvers’ personality as she comes to terms with her own superpowers and evolving identity. This issue does not set up a supervillain for later conflicts, nor does it feature much action beyond the initial fight sequence. What it does do is breathe life into a difficult character, providing a sympathetic and inspiring protagonist while clearly outlining the themes of this book.

It is clear that Kelly Sue DeConnick’s intent is to write a character-driven story. Too often, superhero comics are driven by events, with the characters coming off as little more than action figures plugged into whatever the plot requires. It is refreshing to read a comic that puts the character front and center, and DeConnick handles this task ably. She skilfully provides a distinct voice for each character in this issue, adding in humanizing details like subtle, everyday uses of power while touching on how these powers can also serve to dehumanize a person by taking the risks out of life. DeConnick contrasts Danvers with her childhood idol, an Amelia Earhart-style aviatrix named Helen Cobb. Cobb is Danvers inspiration, but also a reminder that Carol Danvers isn’t quite human anymore. How she chooses to deal with that fact seems to be at the core of this issue. Captain Marvel #1 ends in triumphant fashion, with Captain Marvel streaking towards the stars, reinvigorated and fully confident in her new guise. The moment is one of the more uplifting, optimistic things I’ve seen in comic books in recent memory, and with it, DeConnick creates a rare, fully-earned emotional moment.


I wish I was as enthusiastic about Dexter Soy’s art on this issue as I am with DeConnick’s writing. Soy is a fine artist. His control of the action sequences through dynamic panel layouts and energetic illustration is superb, and he creates realistic looking humans. Unfortunately, the overall feel is somewhat muddy; his colors are dark and smudged, which is at odds with the tone of the book. I think Soy would be better served working with gritty, street-level characters like the Punisher or Daredevil, but this is a hopeful book with cosmic pretensions. Soy is obviously a skilled artist but his talent is badly misused in the pages of Captain Marvel. As for the Captain Marvel uniform, it is a welcome change from the usual cheescake-y costumes of the day. It looks and is functional (even the sash has a use!), and befits a former Air Force officer. The only quibble is with the face-mask that appears at high speeds. I suppose it is meant as a nod to the Kree origins of the character, but it seems unnecessary (as well as a pain to draw in transition). Not to mention it creates a very 80s mullet/Mohawk thing, which no one has successfully rocked besides Bauhaus’s Daniel Ash.


One of the trickiest things about Carol Danvers is her ridiculously convoluted backstory made all the more difficult by her constant changes in codename, costume, and seeming identity. Lately, Danvers has been settled as Ms. Marvel, one of the most prominent and strongest members of the Avengers. Captain Marvel adds yet another codename and costume to Danvers already stacked list, but the issue is fresh and inviting to new-comers. Hopefully this identity will stick, as DeConnick has crafted a great beginning and sold me on Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel. There’s been some hand-wringing about Danvers taking on the mantle of the late Mar-Vell, but the issue is handled in a thoughtful way and the change feels good. If the art only matched the writing better, this issue could have easily been a four star debut. As it is, Captain Marvel #1  still gets a very good three and a half out of five stars. Check it out.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Author

George Chimples

George Chimples

George Chimples comes from the far future, where comics are outlawed and only outlaws read comics. In an effort to prevent that horrible dystopia from ever coming into being, he has bravely traveled to the past in an attempt to change the future by ensuring that comics are good. Please do not talk to him about grandfather paradoxes. He likes his comics to be witty, trashy fun with slightly less pulp than a freshly squeezed glass of OJ. George’s favorite comic writers are Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison, while his preferred artists are Guy Davis and Chris Bachalo, He loves superheroes, but also enjoys horror, science fiction, and war comics. You can follow him @TheChimples on Twitter for his ramblings regarding comics, Cleveland sports, and nonsense.

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  1. July 24, 2012 at 4:30 am — Reply

    My impression was basically the same as yours – great human-level story, could use a better artist. I’m looking forward to where they choose to go with Carole because this seems like the first time in a long time someone has an idea for her.

  2. July 24, 2012 at 4:49 am — Reply

    My main issue was her age. In order to retire from the Air Force as a full bird colonel, Danvers would have had to put in at least 25 years in uniform, and that’s after college since she’s an officer. She’d therefore have to be AT LEAST in her mid-forties. But they’re drawing and writing her in her mid-thirties. I mean, look at her friends–Captain America and Spider-Man. Both those guys are essentially mid-career professionals in their primes, and both are in their mid-thirties.

    My point in all this that the story would’ve worked a little better IMHO if Danvers had been forced from the Air Force following her accident with the psyche-magnitron as a Major. As it is, we get a little angst over her lost career, but it feels forced given that she retired as a senior field grade officer, having had what anyone would call a successful professional career.

    Alternately, they could have built an interesting but very different book around a late-forties/early-fifties Danvers who is a retired officer and a superhero. But that woman wouldn’t have angst. And indeed, I doubt most of today’s comic readers would’ve known what to do with her.

    • Frank
      July 24, 2012 at 8:24 am — Reply

      Maybe, it was a brevet promotion or (more than likely) the Marvel writers thought it sounded way cooler than ‘Major Danvers’…

    • July 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm — Reply

      The age thing is a great point. I didn’t pick up on it, but you’re right, to be a colonel as they say.

      I like your concept of a retired, older and angst-free Danvers. I doubt that any big publisher would be willing to take a flier that idea (their loss), but it’s a good one.

  3. Ian
    July 24, 2012 at 7:21 am — Reply

    I hate the mask, too.

  4. Oldcomicfan
    July 24, 2012 at 7:45 am — Reply

    Last time I saw Captain Marvel, he had died of cancer, and Thanos, of all beings, was escorting him to meet Death, an oddly touching scene after all the epic battles the two had engaged in over the eons. Bringing back the character in any form just cheapens that Epic tale. (See what I did there? Epic? Heh heh.)

    Turning Carole Danvers into Captain Marvel is just a… well… can you say “gimmick” boys and girls? The whole Captain Marvel situation is simply ridiculous. Since Disney now owns Marvel, and money is no longer an issue, why don’t they just buy all the rights to the original character back from DC, then Marvel can have the whole shooting match, and their own Superman rip-off.

  5. TaZ
    July 24, 2012 at 10:33 am — Reply

    The only Captain Marvel has to say “Shazam”. I’ve never really considered Captain Mar-Vell anything but just that, which was enough because he was a great character as Mar-Vell. This is simply a shameless way for Marvel Comics to try to steal DC’s “thunder” (pun intended) of the revamped Shazam character since Bill Batson’s new alter-ego will apparently forgo the traditional name of the “Big Red Cheese”. It would have made more sense to make Ms. Marvel Captain Marvel before the african-american version of the character appeared and made Marvel’s version of it even more confusing. Now it takes a Wikipedia search to track down all the Marvel characters that have taken the name “Captain Marvel”. Sorry, not enough to make this old boy forget the guy with the cool cape and the lightning bolt logo.

    • July 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm — Reply

      Naw man, everyone knows the real Marvel says Kimota, but can’t go by his actual name due to copyright litigation.

    • July 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm — Reply

      It would have made more sense to make Ms. Marvel Captain Marvel before the african-american version of the character appeared and made Marvel’s version of it even more confusing.

      I don’t recall an African-American Captain Marvel in Marvel’s regular continuity…

      • Young
        July 24, 2012 at 5:49 pm — Reply

        That was Monica Rambeu, the light based super-hero. I think she ceded her name to one of the Captain Marvels that came along (don’t recall which). She changed her name to Photon, but that name was taken by that jerk, Genis, the original cap’s son, so she became something else – can’t remember what.

        • July 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm — Reply

          Holy moley. I’m an idiot. :) Of course I remember Monica, but for some reason I completely zoned on her…

      • Navarre
        July 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm — Reply

        Monica Rambeau was the second Captain Marvel. She was an African-American woman.

  6. DMC
    July 26, 2012 at 9:18 pm — Reply

    Loved the issue Loved the art


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