Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "captain-marvel"

Book Review: Captain Marvel, Volume 1

Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: In Pursuit of FlightCaptain Marvel, Vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight by Kelly Sue DeConnick

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


This book collects the first six issues of the new Captain Marvel series starring Carol Danvers formerly Miss Marvel in the title role. This title was originally held by the male Kree Warrior Mar-vel.

The book is not bad, but it suffers from an affliction common to similar female productions: a sense of its own self-importance.

This is on full display in Issue 1 when the name change is the centerpiece of the whole issue. And Captain America, the First Avengers pushes her to do the change of title. He tells her, "Quit being an adjunct." And she appeals to Marvel's most popular character, the pre-Ock, Post-One More Day Spider-man for his approval and he gives it, while acting kind of pathetic and wimpy. Her assuming the title of Captain Marvel is given a huge front page billing in the Daily Bugle with "New Captain Marvel! And He's a She."

The big problems with this is that the book never explains WHY this matters in the Marvel Universe. Marvel died 30 years ago in our time, and since that time at least two other people including one woman have held the title. There's no reason for this to be front page news unless it's a very slow news day.

However, Issues 2-6 are an improvement as she takes the plane of her recently deceased girlhood hero Helen Boyd and ends up travelling back through time and encountering a World 2 team of female soldiers called the Banshees. Later, she travels forward to 1961 where female pilots are being denied a place in the space program and Helen has bought them a chance to get jet training, but at a price.

I won't say nothing interesting happens in the book: it does. However, the problem is the interesting stuff is tied to nothing in particular. Captain Marvel fights supervillains and alien tanks, and breaks into NASA in the 1960s and shows general guts and wreckless abandon but with no point whatsoever. She's offered a chance to get rid of her powers and be a normal women judged on her own merits, which would have been interesting...if she'd ever expressed an interest in that.

The other problem with the book is that it's supposed to be a jumping on point, yet character such as Carol's friend with cancer are shown without any real introduction. You'd have to know your Marvel to know that Jessica Drew was Spider-woman and especially to know who the friend with cancer is. There is an introduction of Carol Danvers' career and history that runs four pages of small print, but it doesn't help much, nor does it give readers a sense that we're dealing with a reliable hero with a strong personality. Instead, we get a picture of a character who has had three different secret identities and has been subject to constant redefinition by Marvel in her 40 year history.

Finally, the art is decent but rarely anything to write home about except perhaps in the first issue.

In the end, while Captain Marvel as written by Kelly DeConnick is an interesting character who could achieve some awesome things, she just doesn't get the chance in this volume. The book exudes girl power, but girl power can't make up for a weak plot and a book that takes itself far too seriously.





View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on December 17, 2013 19:45 Tags: captain-marvel

Book Review: Captain Marvel, Volume 2: Down

Captain Marvel, Vol. 2: DownCaptain Marvel, Vol. 2: Down by Kelly Sue DeConnick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I was not a huge fan of the first volume of this series but this volume (collecting Issues 7-12) of Carol Danvers' (Captain Marvel) adventures was just awesome.

Issues 7 and 8 have Captain Marvel teaming up with a previous Captain Marvel named Monica Rambeau, who had held the title of Captain Marvel in the 1980s. This was important because one problem with the last book was its own self-importance about Carol Danver being a female Captain Marvel when there had already been one. But more than that, the story was just great with some mystery and Danvers bringing some awesome action.

Issue 9 is a bit of a one-off but leads into a larger story. It features Tony Stark trying to micromanage Carol Danvers' day only for her schedule to be shot to heck by many catastrophic incidents. Most famously she and Spider-woman (Jessica Drew) team up to fight a dinosaur leading to my favorite line of the book when she tells a cab driver, he's an honorary deputy Avenger. She leaves her cat with him (telling him that it's really Spider-man) and announces, "Now if you'll excuse me...I need to go punch a dinosaur."

How can a book with a line like that not have at least four stars?

However, events take a turn for the worse at the end of Issue 9 and into Issue 10 with a diagnosis of an anomaly in Carol's brain and she's grounded by Doctor's orders, a very painful thing for a woman who loves flying. Here I expected the story to get maudlin and woe as me, bu o Kelly DeConnick's credit...she didn't go THERE. Instead, we get to see Carol fighting back, first ignoring Doctor's orders and then adjusting and then ignoring them when she has to. Of course, she has a villain to face a, and while I've never heard of this particular baddie before, it's still a very compelling story of Captain Marvel continuing to be awesome even while she faces this challenge.

Overall, this book is exactly the type of thing people look to superheroes for. The art takes some getting used to, but other than that, it's perfect pitch. It wasn't trying to be edgy or some sort of polemic on feminism. And to be clear, it's not some masterpiece epic that people are going to insist is "must read" but it is incredibly awesome and a book that really makes this Captain Marvel worth reading about.



View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on May 14, 2014 19:11 Tags: captain-marvel

Book Review: Avengers: The Enemy Within

Avengers: The Enemy WithinAvengers: The Enemy Within by Kelly Sue DeConnick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book wraps up the latest Captain Marvel series nicely with a crossover Avengers Assemble collecting the Enemy Within one shot comic, Avengers Assemble #16 and #17, and Captain Marvel #13, #14, and #17. All but the last issue are part of the crossover event, so I'll address the true Enemy Within story first.

As the book begins, Carol Danvers can't fly anymore without aggravating a condition that could destroy her mind. However, her problems go far beyond that as the enemy who caused this begins to come after her. The thing is, when you take on one Avenger, you take on them all.

It's a solid crossover story. At five issues long, it's not overstuffed with too much going on. It's packed with action from start to finish. The story works because here Carol is clearly the lead and all the other characters including heavy hitters like Captain America and Thor play supporting roles well. There's plenty of suspense and a powerful conclusion that shows Carol's heart, grit, and determination while also bringing the story of Carol's illness because in the previous volume of Captain Marvel to a satisfying conclusion.

Issue 17 is where the book falters. It was the last issue of this volume of Captain Marvel. Leaving aside the annoyance of Marvel relauching yet another title without even changing writers, this issue was yet another Captain Marvel story where the book brimmed with its own self-importance. Worse yet, it used a one dimensional cartoonish libertarian "objectivist" as a villain to launch an attack to reign on Captain Marvel's parade. Even though I'm not an objectivist, the story came off as straw man polemics. In world, after everything Carol Danvers went through in the first five issues in this book, it was like, "Oh please, give me a break."

However, even Issue 17 wasn't without its redemptive moments as the relationship between Carol and the little girl Kit saved the issue from its own self importance and politicization.

Overall, this was an enjoyable Captain Marvel book with a great crossover story which more than makes up for a lackluster Issue 17.



View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on September 17, 2014 22:10 Tags: avengers, captain-marvel, carol-danvers

Book Review: Essential Captain Marvel, Volume 1

Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 1Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 1 by Stan Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There's power to longevity and retelling of heroic origin tales and that illustrated better nowhere else than in the case of Mar-vell of the Kree, a character who Marvel killed off and never brought back in his original form back in the 1980s. To many comic fans and certainly to the general public, Mar-vell is rather obscure which is why I'm so thankful for this very enjoyable collection which features the original Captain Marvel story from Marvel Superheroes #12-13 along with Issues 1-21 of Captain Marvel and a parody reprint of Not Brand Echs.

This Captain Marvel shouldn't be confused with the Fawcett/DC character formerly known as Captain Marvel now known as Shazam. Marvel created the character after Fawcett had gone bankrupt and they wanted to use the name.

Mar-vell was a spy for the Kree Empire sent to monitor the Earth and to report back to the Kree without getting involved. At the same time, the commander of the Kree ship, Yon-Rogg is jealous of Mar-vell's rising star and seeks to bring him down. As part of his mission, Captain Marvel has to intercede on Earth and is proclaimed a hero. In some ways, he was the opposite of Spider-man who was mistrusted despite good intentions while Mar-vell could doom the Earth. Adding to this tension is that Mar-vell really does sympathize with the people of Earth and is a hero and this brings him into direct conflict with himself and the Kree.

The story follows along this same line through Issue 10. Some of the best highlights here are Mar-vell's battle against Super Skrull (Issues 2 and 3) and Namor in Issue 4. The Namor Issue is particularly ironic as Mar-vell has been ordered to allow the detonation of a device that could inflict great harm on the Earth while Namor is trying to stop it, with Namor being seen as a villain to humanity and Mar-vell as the hero.

Arnold Drake of Doom Patrol fame (took over from Roy Thomas) with Issue 5 and the stories were fun but very much character and plot arc driven through Issue 12. The big change happens when the Kree finally order Mar-vell's execution. It's stayed in Issue 11 when Mar-vell isn't executed due to a random attack that leads to death of his beloved Uma, and he encounters the alien entity Zo who gives him a new power set. This story arc continues with some impressive but odd comic art from the period from artist Dick Ayers, Frank Springer, and Tom Sutton. With Gary Friedrich doing the writing chores for Issues 13-15 and Archie Goodwin writing Issue 16 which ends with Mar-vell in his most recognizable form and then banished to the Negative Zone.

Issue 17 saw the return of of original series writer Roy Thomas along with Gil Kane as artist as the new status quo of Rick Jones having a bracelet that he could slam together to call forth Captain Marvel from the Negative zone while Jones changed place with him. In some ways, this was an improvement on the original Fawcett Marvel concept and it certainly was a great turn for Rick Jones a character.

The Not Brand Echs comic at the back was nice for its rarity, though it wasn't quite my cup of tea. I also appreciated the original artwork reprinted at the back.

Overall, a lot of hands were involved in these comics: Five different writers, six different artists but the results are great. Mar-vell is a fascinating character and a great concept that's well-executed. The book also introduces Carol Danvers. While she bears resemblance to the modern Danvers, she's certainly ahead of her time. Overall, while this book isn't essential reading for comic fans. It certainly is recommended.



View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on October 13, 2014 08:34 Tags: captain-marvel

Book Review: Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil

Shazam!: The Monster Society of EvilShazam!: The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Jeff Smith's take on Captain Marvel in this book manages to do something rare for writers of the Big Red Cheese: Capture the Spirit of one of the Golden Age's best characters.

The art is the best part of the book. I've never seen a better example of art that is so inviting to younger readers to enjoy comics than in this collection. The pictures are so fun and appeal to kids of the twenty-first century the same way the original C.C. Beck art appealed to the kids of the 1940s.

Much of the story is heartfelt and has great ways of showing Billy Batson's kindness. The story is a bit more real about Billy being a homeless waif and his need for family. His love for his sister Mary was very sweet and endearing.

The only downside to the book is even though it's more than 200 pages long, it's a very picture heavy story with a lot of very cool half, full, and two page pieces of art. The problem is that at times, the book seems too small for all that's going. You not only have the titular Monster Society, you have Doctor Sivana, a mystical talking tiger, and Mary Marvel. In that way, the book feels overloaded. In addition, a few of the modern adjustments such as tension over an evil Secretary of Heartland Security (or was he Attorney General, I got confused at the point) seemed to lessen the magic. Thankfully, there was plenty of magic to go around, and this book is still by far, the best representation of Captain Marvel in more than sixty years since the character was cancelled by Fawcett.



View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on October 20, 2014 18:35 Tags: captain-marvel, shazam

Book Review: Captain Marvel: Higher, Faster, More

Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, MoreCaptain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


After the last two books have dwelt on Carol losing her ability to fly (without extreme pain or mental damage), this book goes into a bold new direction. It starts with the cover for Issue 1 that screams that Carol Danvers is ready to go into action and the title of this collection defines its theme well.

If there are rough spots in this book, it's in Issue 1 where the book begins with a cut-scene from events that we won't actually get back to until Issue 5. (I only had to flip through 80 pages, people who read the comic had to wait four months). I was also a little bothered by the conversation with the pilot/boyfriend.

The only other problem is that part of the motivation for her not being sure where she belongs and to take this journey into space is that her mind was affected in the last story leaving her with some uncertainty. Given that, she seems to remember a lot of obscure continuity stuff.

At any rate, Carol is deployed to space by the Avengers to return a child to a planet where she escaped in a pod with hope of getting in touch with Spider-woman but having to settle for Captain Marvel. Along the way, we get a nice two issue cameo with Guardians of the Galaxy and then Carol gets to an alien plant that Emperor J'son is demanding to evacuate. She and a ragtag team from the planet investigate and find something sinister going on.

Even after ordered to leave, Carol refuses to let the Emperor force the Colonist of Tofra and delivers a stirring action speech at the end of Issue 5, "They are a peaceful people, but I am a woman of war. If you move against them, you move against me. I'm willing to die here today for this cause. I've made my choice, now you make yours." It was an awesome moment, given that she was speaking to a full page of battleships.

Marvel has been rediscovering the joys of space adventures. While the Silver Surfer feels much like Doctor Who, this Captain Marvel adventure feels like something out of Star Trek. She's far from home and the only representative of the Avengers in outer space. She has to make her own decisions and hope that anyone who needs to approve does. It's like Captain Kirk without a crew and a lot less regulation.

Overall, this was a great book and a nice new direction for Carol Danvers.



View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on December 21, 2014 16:54 Tags: captain-marvel, carol-danvers

Book Review: Captain Marvel, Volume 2: Stay Fly

Captain Marvel, Vol. 2: Stay FlyCaptain Marvel, Vol. 2: Stay Fly by Kelly Sue DeConnick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book collect five issues of Captain Marvel (issues 7-11) with Issue 10 being a double issue.

I thought after the first issue that while Silver Surfer was going for a Doctor Who Feel, Captain Marvel was very much a Star Trek-like book with Carol Danvers representing the Avengers far from home base just as Kirk did the Federation. That seems confirmed by the cover art which in many ways seemed to be an homage to the scene where tribles fell on Kirk's head in, "The Trouble with Tribles."

In Issue 7, it's confirmed that yes, Rocket was right and Carol's Cat's not really a cat but an alien creature that's very pregnant. This two issue story is played as a comedy but it just doesn't work for me. Again, the Star Trek analogy holds because oftentimes, Star Trek comedies aren't that funny either.

In Issue 9, she and her travelling companion Tic land with Lila Chaney on a planet where Lila got engaged to the price at a young age. Everyone speaks in rhyme and he story is amusing.

Issue 10 is puzzling. It's a double issue with a cover that's done in true retro silver age Marvel style heralding Danvers "100th Solo Adventure." It's an odd thing to celebrate since it includes the 10 issue in this Captain Marvel series, a prior Captain Marvel Series, a Miss Marvel series that preceded it, and a Miss Marvel series from the 1970s.(Perhaps there were a few more.) IThe Double issue ends up being focused on how her supporting cast on Earth (from Issue 1) deal with an enemy. This is a good story, but she's really a supporting character and doesn't do much at all. Which is kind of an odd way to celebrate a character's "100th Solo Adventure."

Then in Issue 11 she returns for Christmas and there is some genuinely touching stuff here.

Overall, this isn't a horrible book, but it does feel like it lost focus. The stories didn't serve Carol Danvers well. She's not best served by comedic storylines. She's a courageous warrior who likes to show determination and grit and hits things. I'll always remember her line, "I've got to go and punch a dinosaur." And the more the series gives her the ability to do things like that and the less it has her dealing with an overly pregnant alien cat, the better off we'll all be.



View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on August 10, 2015 19:16 Tags: captain-marvel, carol-danvers

Book Review: Captain Marvel, Vol. 3: Alis Volat Propriis

Captain Marvel, Vol. 3: Alis Volat PropriisCaptain Marvel, Vol. 3: Alis Volat Propriis by Kelly Sue DeConnick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This trade is one that doesn’t look feel like an actual story as it collects only four issues.

Issues 12 and 13 are an okay two parter involving Carol’s cat (who has been revealed to be a powerful alien.) Following that, Issue 14 is actually a tie-in to a much-larger comic event that as a standalone really doesn’t offer much. It’s part 11 in a much larger story. Issue 15 sees Carol saying goodbye to an old friend who has actually been dying since the start of the previous series. She doesn’t get to say goodbye to her as her deep space adventures kept her away from Earth. It’s a touching story and probably the highlight of the book.

Still, the book itself is weak. Comic book companies shouldn’t include tie-ins to events in trades not related to the event because it really left me feeling lost. Probably the weakest Captain Marvel since the first volume of the previous series.



View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on March 28, 2016 16:45 Tags: captain-marvel, carol-danvers

Book Review: Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps

Captain Marvel and the Carol CorpsCaptain Marvel and the Carol Corps by Kelly Sue DeConnick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Kelly DeConnick's run on Captain Marvel ends on a whimper. The book has some decent action and is certainly a brisk read. The idea of Carol Danvers leading an all-female crew of pilots is interesting but the realization is off. With so many characters in the Carol Corps, it's hard to really get a feel for any of them.

Ultimately, the action bits as well as battling the army of flying Thors are the highlight of the book. The book also throws in Issue 17 of Captain Marvel's 2012 run. The issue is still good, but the idea of a libertarian villain just hasn't aged particularly well. Still, it's a sweet story.

Overall, the book is okay but not really a must-read.



View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on December 14, 2016 23:06 Tags: captain-marvel, carol-danvers

Book Review: Shazam: A Celebration of 75 Years

Shazam! A Celebration of 75 YearsShazam! A Celebration of 75 Years by Bill Parker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This books collects numerous books through Shazam (Captain Marvel)'s history. The Golden Age section really is a treasure of wonderful firsts and great stories with Captain Marvel's origin story, the first Mary Marvel tale, and the first Marvel family story (with them battling Black Adam in his first appearance.) We also get to see Captain Marvel battle the Earth is a surreal tale, as well as two chapters from the Monster Society of Evil storyline and Captain Marvel taking on the Seven deadly sins. These stories are top notch and some of the best the Golden Age had to offer.

The second section begins with the Superman story, "Make Way for Captain Thunder" which has Supes taking on an alternate universe version of Captain Marvel. Still, don't think it belongs in this collection...Then we see a couple stories from the 1970s Shazam comic, a back up story from World's Finest, and then a Superman/Captain Marvel team up against Black Adam. I like all these fine. They're not quite as much fun as the Golden Age tales, but still pretty good.

Captain Marvel battles Lobo in a somewhat pointless story in L.E.G.I.O.N. #31 and it's okay, but really pointless because of it's sudden stop and start that the reader of this book has no way of knowing about.

Then we have more modern Captain Marvel comics beginning with the Power of Shazam #1 and #2 which set up this run of Captain Marvel and it's not bad. It doesn't have the magic of the earlier runs, but it has some nice moments. It does give, "Yeah, this is a face only a Mother Could Love" (Power of Shazam #33) some context but it's still not a great story. It's kind of dismal and depressing as well as not all that sensitive to ]victims of disfigurement.

O Captain, My Captain (Action Comics #768) features mostly the Marvel family trying to get Superman's help as something has gone wrong, and Superman gets to examine his own impressions of Captain Marvel and of Lois. The story doesn't really feel like it fits in Action Comics modern day, it feels like a modern all ages book and that works both for it and against it.

JSA #48 is a somewhat pointless story that has Billy Batson talking to Stargirl while she fights some things. It's the pointless story in the book.

Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil #2 creates the second issue of the lovely Jeff Smith mini-series which has come closets to capturing the come closest to capturing the pure joy of the original. It's hurt by the fact it's only one part in the mini-series.

The same goes for the new 52 entry, Justice League #21, the issue actually concludes a longer story arc and while it's not bad, it really feels disconnected without the other tales.

Overall, this collection was okay. I was a lot harder on the Shazam: The Greatest Stories Ever Told when it came back even though it had similar stories. Why I feel more generous to this has to do with the fact that the book doesn't claim to collect "the greatest stories," only to celebrate the character's entire history which this book does.

The quality of the stories are mixed because since the Golden Age, comics have really struggled with handling the character properly. In addition, the one shot story that was king in the Golden Age is far rarer in our age of writing comics "for the trades." That's not the book's fault. The Golden Age stuff is pure gold. The rest ranges from "meh" to "okay." That doesn't reflect on the compilers but on how comics, and particularly Shazam comics have been published.



View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on March 09, 2017 19:16 Tags: captain-marvel, shazam

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
...more
Follow Adam Graham's blog with rss.