Saturday, March 12, 2016

Book Review: Captain Marvel Vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight by Kelly Sue DeConnick et al.

Captain Marvel Volume 1: In Pursuit of Flight written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, art by Dexter Soy and Emma Rios with others

Earth's Mightiest Hero, Ms. Marvel (real name Carol Danvers), got her superpowers from a Kree device that makes wishes come true. At the time, Carol was a pilot in the United States Air Force (with the rank of colonel) who wanted to be an astronaut and have the powers of the alien who was attempting to save her, Captain Mar-Vell. When the machine exploded, she was granted Mar-Vell's near invulnerability and super-strength, which among other things let her fly into outer space unharmed. She fought alongside Mar-Vell on Earth and in the cosmos. He eventually died and in this issue, Captain America convinces her to accept Captain Marvel's legacy by taking his name (she's already wearing a new costume more like his). She's reluctant until he dares her, which pushes her into the decision.

Another of Carol's heroes, legendary pilot Helen Cobb, dies and leaves her plane to Carol with a mysterious note. Carol tries to replicate one of Helen's many altitude records in the plane but doing so sends her back to World War II. She battles alongside the Banshee Squadron (an all-female group of US Airforce pilots) against some Japanese soldiers who have Kree ships. She makes another time hop to 1960s Texas where a young Helen Cobb and some female friends are trying to become astronauts but NASA is reluctant to train women. Captain Marvel has plenty of opportunities to change history, but will she?

Time travel stories are a bit of a pet peeve for me. Often, they are incoherent, sometimes blatantly so. The more consistent ones are better (like the first Terminator film), though the best are stories that don't focus on the time travel so much as another interesting story (like Back to the Future films throwing Marty in with various generations of his family). This book falls in the later category. Carol discovers bits of the Kree device which made her superpowered and assumes they were scattered through time when the device exploded. As she's trying to undo that damage she has the chance to undo the accident that gave her powers, but does she really want to do that? The time travel is just there to provide an interesting existential crisis for Carol along with some fun adventures and an interesting puzzle to solve.

Carol Danvers is an interesting character. She has a gung-ho attitude and is able both to work together with other heroes (super or regular) and to go it alone if the situation requires it. She'll take the time to think out a problem but is decisive under time constraints. Her main interest is helping others and she isn't afraid to sacrifice herself in doing so. She makes a great role model.

She's a great character and this is a fun story, so I recommend it heartily.

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