Disassembled #5: Why I Love Captain Marvel
Although, until recently, she wasn’t always the most visible hero in Marvel’s extensive pantheon, Carol Danvers has been a major player at The House of Ideas for the last four decades. Since her first appearance in 1968, gaining her powers from an incident involving the first Captain Marvel and Kree warrior Mar-Vell, Carol has used her skills, intelligence and sheer determination to work her way up the ranks in the armed forces and intelligence fields. She has fought alongside the Avengers as Ms. Marvel, the Starjammers as Binary, and even found time to squeeze in a career as a journalist and writer, all before coming full circle and accepting the title of Captain Marvel. New readers might know her best from Kelly Sue DeConnick’s ongoing Captain Marvel and Avengers Assemble series, as well as various recent appearances in the pages of Red She-Hulk, Avenging Spider-Man, Daredevil and Avengers.
So why all the love for Carol? Any seasoned reader can give you a whole litany of valid and likely well-researched reasons. (With decades of source material, it’s hard not to.) But, for the sake of time, gentle newbies, I’ve narrowed it down to just a few of my favorites.
When her father chose to put her brothers through college over her, Carol refused to let that stand in her way. Joining the Air Force, she quickly climbed the ranks as an ace pilot and made Major long before she ever put on the spandex and cape. Determined and highly competitive, Carol has never been defined by being a hero alone, and has had a distinguished professional history to rely on.
From the Air Force, Carol branched out to work for the C.I.A. and S.H.I.E.L.D. As an intelligence officer, she has worked alongside the likes of Nick Fury and Wolverine in various covert operations and infamous missions all over the world. Carol was even captured by the KGB and held in Russia for a period of time, surviving torture and deprivation. Overcoming this, she settled for a grounded position at N.A.S.A. as a security director. She has proven herself to be capable, resourceful and adaptive, both professionally and personally.
A Girl on the Go
After failing to capture Mar-Vell, Carol lost her job at N.A.S.A. In spite of this setback, she shifted gears, moving on to write a novel about her experiences in the aeronautics field. The success of the book led to her becoming the editor at the feminist magazine WOMAN, a subsidiary of The Daily Bugle. A fiercely self-reliant and forward-thinking woman, she brought this tenacity to her journalism, and used to get on J. Jonah Jameson’s nerves on a regular basis. Even after leaving journalism, Carol has periodically tried to find time to return to writing over the years.
Changing forms, codenames and powers many times over the years, few have seen as much reformation and rebirth as Carol. She has had team affiliations with the Defenders, the Avengers, the X-Men, and eventually took off with the space pirates Starjammers. From Ms. Marvel to Binary, Lady Marvel to Warbird, Carol has always sought to carve out her own path and her own name, searching to find her place in the world. While sometimes she doesn’t know what’s coming around the corner, she tries her best to meet her challenges head-on. Carol doesn’t always come through the other side with flying colors, but she tries.
Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down
Carol has had numerous personal and professional set-backs, as well as her own share of devastating lows. Over the years she has lost her job, lost her powers, lost her memories, struggled with self-doubt and identity, was court-marshaled by the Avengers, and overcome a nearly fatal battle with alcoholism. Despite all of this, she has emerged a stronger and more focused person, determined to put her past behind her and set her sights on the future. Still the firecracker she was all those years ago, climbing the ranks as an ace pilot, she strives to do better by herself and for others. And while others have worn the mantle of Captain Marvel, Carol has become a worthy successor to the title, which now she holds in honor of the late Mar-Vell.
There are a lot of other things to love about Carol, and other stories that bear mentioning, but these are just some of my favorites. Want to make a list of your own? Pick up the ongoing Captain Marvel from Kelly Sue DeConnick and Co. and catch up on Carol’s adventures. I promise it’s worth the trip.