By: Kelly Sue DeConnick (story), Dexter Soy & Al Barrionuevo (art), Wil Quintana (colors)
The Story: Stranded with some Axis forces in Peru. Sounds like a vacation to me.
The Review: In my view, Marvel has always lagged a bit in terms of its female characters. While they certainly have no shortage of recognizable ladies, they’ve never managed to make the women nearly as recognizable as their male counterparts. Nearly all the female-led titles of recent memory have been canned, leaving behind only a couple (?) ongoings today, including the subject of this review. (By contrast, DC currently has seven.)
Captain Marvel may represent the biggest effort thus far from the House of Ideas to give Marvel its own Wonder Woman. While Carol Danvers has always had a presence in the Avengers with all their major events, she somehow never reached the kind of widespread fame and strength you’d expect. Writers simply didn’t seem to know what to do with her. Giving her a promotion and a writer with a passion for the character seems like a good start.
At first glance, things look very good. DeConnick’s familiarity with the military allows her to depict both Marvel and the WWII-era Banshees with both grace and gender-nonspecific humanity. They carry themselves as thoroughly competent soldiers, making their sex a non-issue. I really enjoy the Losers vibe you get from these underdogs, in a crisis situation way over their heads, and still serving to the best of their ability, right down to the rigidly sentimental, “Ladies, it’s been an honor and a privil—”
I had the bad timing of jumping on board midway, so I’m assuming I missed all the fun character work where the Banshees are concerned. Except for Jerri Quimby, you don’t get much in the way of personality from the rest of the squadron in this issue, which is unfortunate. And again, chalk this up to my timing, but I found myself taken aback to see Carol suddenly take off, leaving behind her new comrades to essentially save themselves, her confidence in them notwithstanding. I really feel like I barely got to know them.
On the plus side, we move from one band of fly girls to another, and this one seems as gutsy and determined as the last, only more outgoing and confident. While the Banshees, being first-gen lady pilots, seem earnest and committed to their jobs, Helen Cobb and her pals behave like their jobs are a natural fact of life, not a reward they must re-earn. They have the freedom to poke fun at their male “superiors” without anger, but this is still a long ways from getting the plum positions they feel entitled to. And therein, perhaps, lies the whole point of Carol’s time-traveling quest: to show the past the fruits of the present.
Soy’s painted style looks a bit too posed and static, the way all these kinds of art tend to look. At times, they appear more like a string of Deviantart pieces cobbled together, but that doesn’t take away from their lushness. At any rate, Soy proves adept not only at the dramatic moments, but at sci-fi action as well. For my money, I tend to prefer Barrionuevo’s stuff; his characters simply look more human, with inner personality radiating from them. Even among the Banshees, Soy depicts them with the chill of strangers, but Barrionuevo’s women are warm and familiar, even with the non-speaking bartender at their local watering hole.
Conclusion: A feminist story, but one remarkably free of anger or self-righteousness. A little difficult to access for the new reader, but otherwise an easy, solid read.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – DeConnick knows who her audience is: “You ever accidentally poked your mascara wand in your eye? No? Well, doesn’t matter. This is gonna be way worse.”
– I appreciate it only takes Helen Cobb two cards to turn an entire hand around. Lucky woman.