Where do I start? I wanted to start a challenge called #NoBadCharacters where we drive the point that bad characters do not exist, rather bad writers. If you want to take part in it then make sure to make your own blog on it. I decided to challenge myself with the currently challenged character Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel aka Ms. Marvel aka Warbird aka Binary aka you get the point. I will particularly look at the worst version of the character so far….
CIVIL WAR II by Brian Michael Bendis
This is a pretty easy comic to rip on full of plot holes, delays, editorial mistakes, generic action, zero stakes, depending on shock value rather than good story, we get it, but it would have made it that much easier if they made Carol somewhat likable. When you have Tony Stark acting like the adult here, you know you’re doing something wrong. Answer this: what was the difference between her motivation and the one Tony Stark had? Bingo! There was none!
The death of Rhodey and She-Hulk’s coma traumatised both Tony and Carol. You would think both would be against utilizing Ulysses’ power, but Bendis figured we don’t need different reasons be leading opposing sides. Tell me what logic rules the MU when you support the thing that led to your lover and BFF’s casualties? What that tells us is that she doesn’t really even care for the beloved people in her life. Carol is plain selfish. I understand her being patriotic and all, but she valued being a hero and thinking of the consequences first.
What the hell?! “I’m sorry, but I would let your friend and possibly my future husband get murdered again if the time came.” Danvers acts worse than a spoiled teenager in a middle of puberty who lies to herself about how she is always right. Basically the “sorry, not sorry” attitude which makes her comes off as reckless. And then out of the blue, for no reason, she spouts, “I love you, Tony.” You hear that guys? She loves him! She loves him this much:
<sigh> Me not being able to describe how “I’m unable to describe how stupid this is does not do not do it justice” does not do it justice. Why would you even say you love him out of the blue?! Why is this character so confident about being so ignorant?! Sheesh! We shoulda had her be the one who said “Hail Hydra.” at the end of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1.
What makes her worse is when she finds out the visions aren’t guaranteed to be true. You would think this would at least make her question if what she’s doing is right, but nope! Nothing! She just keeps on going! At least if you’re gonna make her a villain make her a one with good motivation! We would still hate her, but at least explaining why she was terrible would make it that much more easier. I conclude Bendis has no idea how to write Carol Danvers as a main character. Sadly, he wasn’t alone.
SECRET EMPIRE by Nick Spencer
Let’s just get this one over with. In Civil War II she continues to persue her actions after the death of War Machine and the coma of She-Hulk. Knowingly the wrongs she follows up with being the one responsible for the the death of Bruce Banner, arresting of Hawkeye, arresting of some innocent woman, finds out the visions aren’t always legit, starts a war between heroes, chases after Miles Morales and leaves Tony in a coma! All of these things she had control over, she could’ve backed out, but only now she feels sorry and claims responsibility because a Quasar no one knows or cares about is also in another coma. Bullshit! She had zero control or knowledge over what Steve was accomplishing. Because Steve asking her to help with a wall somehow meant keeping out evil aliens would have been easy to decipher as means of manipulation if you didn’t cause the war (not). Am I the only one who decided to take a stop and analyse this situation or is everyone else distracted by the explosions?
THE MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL (2017) by Margret Stohl
You see in the middle of Civil War II, before Carol killed Tony a new series was announced that would take place after Civil War II in the timeline by an acclaimed novel writer. I thought to myself, “Oh this is a great idea! This will bring success to the character like Ta-Nehisi Coates did with Black Panther.” I also read the synopsis for the series which described it in what I can summarize as, “After the events of the second Civil War Carol becomes the most popular superhero in the world….”. I remember wondering what she had to do to be so beloved by everyone, skipping to the last issue she kills Iron Man….hero goalz? Killing of Stark made everyone think she is the best superhero today. The amount of logic this looses is plain wrong.
Sadly this was another flop by Marvel. Nobody understands this character anymore! May I remind you this was her 4th relaunch in the span of 5 years! Yes 4th!!!! Ladies and gentlemen, Squirrel Girl doesn’t even have that many and that’s a title which made fun of the fact it got two new #1’s within less than a year. That’s how bad this is getting. Well what was the problem with the character? She was extremely BORING! She is the embodiment of why people think they dislike Superman, because they think he is so perfect that means he’s boring….but if you read more Superman stories there is more to him. Same cannot be said about this one. One automatic red flag are the covers.
These are the covers for the series since #0-#4. As you can see each but one cover has Carol being extremely praised over how amazing and cool of a new hip of a hero she is. The one issue (#3) I didn’t include in the “praise category” because I’m not sure what is recording her, could be her fan so for all we know even one cover cannot stop overpraising her. This is something many people have criticised Marvel about, their “diverse” characters are these perfect heroes who are so cool, amazing and without a flaw. I honestly see where they’re coming from. I mean why are these people so obsessed with her?
She didn’t do anything any other hero didn’t do so the only reason why she is gaining this fake amount of praise is because she is a “strong independent woman” and Marvel wants you to know that. The covers that came after this are a bit less “Look at this glorified strong woman” because that’s when the tie-ins for Secret Empire came into picture which had to have a bit more to them than fans geeking over a female superhero. Sadly the interior makes sure to remind you Captain Marvel is a very very strong and independent hero who is superpowerful, amazing and unstoppable….
And there she goes on about breaking the “glass ceiling”.
Choose your definition
Eh….you’re boring Carol. That’s your greatest glass ceiling. Anyway the series is basically based around Carol just bragging and sucking her own D, which I guess with her redesign makes sense for her to do. I quit reading past issue #4 because 1) The series puts me to sleep at noon and 2) It’s just tie-ins to an event which I am opposed to supporting. I will return to the character once her tie-ins to SE are over, especially that she is supposed to get a ‘darker’ origin story this fall. Still written by Stohl, but let’s hope she improves.
Before I jump off this crashing train onto another I wanna bring up her meeting Tony A.I. What could’ve made for at least an interesting interaction creating an awkward and uncomfortable environment looses such potential. We can’t have Carol look uncomfortable nor apologize. Instead she hugs the A.I. Tony (I thought he was a hologram) and then cracks jokes with him, not brining up anything that occurred in Civil War. At all.
This is clearly a character that has been lost in whatever Marvel has been building her up to be. But let’s go back to a time when her transition to Captain Marvel started. You know, the reason why we’re here.
CAPTAIN MARVEL (2012) by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Believe it or not I was a huge fan of Carol as Ms. Marvel. When I was younger I have only seen her in some shows and always loved the idea of her. She was always this attractive superhero who kicked butt and to me had much more going for her than Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell). To me this was HUGE! Imagine if Supergirl was 10 times more of a compelling hero than Superman was. You could say I had a weird fanboy knack for her (a crush? Is that even possible since she’s a cartoon?) so when I found out she was taking up the mantle of Captain Marvel I was beyond excited.
Marvel was giving her the status I thought she always deserved, that would result in the publisher obviously trying to make her an A-lister. The lead-up was very interesting as she first appeared in her role as Captain Marvel in two issues of Avenging Spider-Man and I was beyond excited! She was everything I was hoping for! The Carol that I always knew, admired, but with a bigger and more important name! Then the series came out and it was….a let down. This is when the boring plague began haunting her. The story was about her time traveling. A Marvel time traveling story? Now that’s what I call original. The art was nice, but did not suit Carol at all given how it took place on Earth most of the time. Overall very forgettable and missed its mark.
When I read the story I was getting this weird feeling within me. Something was off. When I started reading, she no longer felt like it was about her believing “Let’s go save the world.”, but rather “Look at me! I’m gonna save the world!” What was once confidence turned into arrogance. This was me at a young age, as all kids, they don’t care about the boring politics, but even back then I was detecting this weird feeling of something off being created. I was so bummed since then I wasn’t willing to pick up her solos at all.
CAROL’ S APPEARANCE
Some may disgaree with the importance of this point, but it applies to not just looks, but her internal appearence as well. The more the years pass, the more they started masculizing her. Oh sure I shouldn’t care about how a character looks, but it felt weird, sudden and out of character for her to change styles. Weirdly enough along with her looks, she started acting accordingly as mentioned above. It started to look like only now Marvel was trying to make her a strong character. It’s like they never before thought of her as admirable when she was a Miss. I was honestly confused about how they managed to screw this up. It couldn’t have been the bad artsits on her books making Carol look like the unusual self, since David Marquez’s very clear art just started to portray her more as a manly woman.
Jim Cheung is a fantastic artist, each character in the image above looks cool, with the exception of Danvers who looks like some chubby bunny. I’m not complaining because a character was drastically changed, but because a character that I cared about was meddled with into something she was not. My feelings in this were shared by many. Ms. Marvel #1 (Carol in 2006) sold 73.4K. It took her by issue #15 to reach the sales of Captain Marvel #1 (2012), which was 41.6K, and took Ms. Marvel (2006) 21 issues to reach the number of copies shipped of Captain Marvel #2 (2012) at a weak 28.4K. The disinterest for the character fell as she became this newer version of ‘herself’.
Her newest run which started in 2017 as of now is selling less per issue than Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel, who is shipping under a mere 20K and is on the 21st issue as of the time of writing this. Someone who used to make impressive numbers, beating out the main Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell), is now being beaten by her own successor. Irony. Don’t rejoice too early Kamala fans as the success gap is not very wide between the two heroes Marvel is pushing as the next big things in cartoons, games and other forms of media while they fail to make an impact in comics. The lack of interest for Carol fell enormously. Marvel changed the way she looks and acts. I’m starting to believe she is being based off of Justin Bieber.
No photoshop, promise
And at the end of the day I do think her physical appearance has something to do with a diversity stunt. Marvel for a nice reason wants to show their female characters come in various sizes, but the intention never felt true. Like I said, this felt ungenuine and unfair to suddenly switch up in such character. Let’s face it, the only reason why Carol looks the way she looks is because the Big M can put out images like these and wait for the praise from the comic sites and the Tumblr crowd:
Now again, this is a pretty cool variant cover, but it feels more like showing off rather than the true intention. They wouldn’t be changing characters and making such a fuss about it. And if you are a person who believes Marvel is NOT doing this for show I got a question for you: once the Captain Marvel movie comes out starring Brie Larson, do you think Carol will have super short hair as she does now? Think carefully of that answer. She already looks like her average self in the Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite game which is basically MCU vs. Capcom. Also Brie Larson doesn’t necessarily scream ‘manly’ like have seen some of the Amazons to appear in the Wonder Woman film.
Now we can assume Carol will he a much more likable character after her film releases, which will effect the comics and hopefully heal her current state. I’m hoping we will like this version of the character. What the Wonder Woman movie was able to do was send a precedence that we don’t need to be hit over the head to understand the significance of a female hero. I hope Marvel will hit this one out of the park like they do with their films as always.
So I think I made my case as to why this character could be considered bad to many, as of this time throw me into that basket. And to drive my point even further here is an official variant cover with Carol as a furry.
There! That had to get you over to my side. I think barely anything good came out of her being Captain Marvel. I spoke with many of my friends about this character, how I dislike the current state, my reasons. And then on one of those days a friend recommended me to read the 2014 run of Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick (not the 2012 run). He/she said it was funny, entertaining, very enjoyable and differs a lot from the 2017 garbage excuse of a run by Stohl. So I read it….
CAPTAIN MARVEL (2014) by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Holy Mary Sue DeConnick! I did not expect to enjoy this the way I did. It was written by the same writer of the 2012 run and it was a huge improvement. Keep in mind it wasn’t golden, the story was a bit niche for a hero who should lead A-list arcs, but it was a step in the right direction. For one, Carol was very likable! She has people in her life that all admired her, not because she is a female hero, but because they know her.
Instead of having her talk about the glass ceiling Marvel did something very weird and unlike modern Marvel, give her a boyfriend. Now say all you want, but Marvel was always known for their interesting, iconic love interests. Iron Man had Pepper, Peter had MJ, Bruce Banner had Betty, Thor and Jane Foster, Daredevil with Elektra, Hank Pym loving Janet, Storm with Black Panther…..you get the idea. Today the only one who really has a relationship is Peter and Mockingbird so we know that won’t last forever. Other than that it seems like Marvel isn’t interested in portraying characters in love anymore, in fact you see them ruin those relationships. In this run we see a new iconic pair. Carol Danvers and Rhodey aka War Machine.
I honestly felt like the two really care for each other and are willing to let each be who they are. It did 2 things. 1) Made me finally care for Rhodey and 2) Finally let me see a new side to Carol’s Captain Marvel. I appriciate how open the two are towards each other showing their true emotions, never hiding them. This could have been a classic power couple. Knowing how he gets killed in Civil War II makes me dislike the damn thing even more. Seeing how much she cares for Rhodey makes me that much more angry how she was “willing to watch him die again” in Bendis’ version. I bet DeConnick must’ve been as mad at the event like as other one of us. The romantic interaction was only in the first issue of the first story arc, it still showed potential and actual quality.
Another important scene was with who I think is her niece, Kit.
The little girl had a short, but heartwarming back and forth. You get to see Carol for who she is. She has an actual heart who cares for the ones she chooses to spend her time with. Then she goes travels for a space adventure which slows down the arc in quality, but that’s not the point. The point is Carol isn’t doomed as Captain Marvel. 2017 Marvel treats her as an unemotional walking personification of an unbeatable feminist, but she isn’t perfect. She is anything, but that. Restless. I am in the middle of the run so far, I will happily finish it knowingly that it wasn’t all doom and gloom. If DeConnick was able to improve then so can Stohl, right?
The reason why the fans like Carol to begin with is because she is interesting. When fans read her comics it was because she was a cool female superhero. Then out of the blue Marvel is trying to capitalize not on her character, but on her identity. I don’t like that, neither do most of the fans because we understand the potential each of these characters have which is beyond of what we’re being told they are. We have seen Carol be a far better hero than she is now and we don’t need you to change it because it looks better. It doesn’t. If I had to grab a panel from Stohl’s run and use it to describe her own work, her version of the character, her motivations and the art in it this would be it:
Stohl’s run is the total opposite of this 2014 one that actually has a direction and certainty as to what it can be. So by the end of the day it seems like Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel is not a bad character. The writers Marvel keeps hiring for her is what is ruining the once beloved hero.
I feel like once All-New All-Different Marvel started hiring, instead of asking “So what’s the story you wanna write?” Marvel asks, “So what is the message you wanna promote and how do you plan on implementing it?”. The 2014 run was able to make me somehow relate to her which is something the character hasn’t done for me even when she was Ms. Marvel. Captain Marvel is a PHENOMENAL character, but she needs:
1. Better writers and less of Marvel’s current style of promoting their fake image of the character. You wanna make her an A-lister? Then give her an A-List COMIC BOOK writer.
2. Stop with the tie-ins. The majority of her 2016 and 2017 runs are tie-ins to events. This is sad and doesn’t allow the character to grow.
3. Make her part of a family if it’s visiting her niece, her sister and going on dates with Rhodey (please bring him back) like we see in the 2014 run because those things make her human and fun. Her family are her great supporting roles.
4. Give her an archenemy.
5. Chill with the hero friends. Who is Carol’s BFF anymore? Spider-Woman, Jessica Jones or She-Hulk? Stick with one and don’t have that friend guest-star a lot.
6. Make sure she has a story arc that will be huge and cinematic.
7. Carol should be feminine and badass. She is not interesting when you try to make her more brutish. Make her a human with emotion.
8. Give her logical motivations (aka not Civil War II)
We’re finally done! Phew! I wanted to talk more about the character, her Ms. Marvel life and the other personas, but we wouldn’t want this to drag Next time? I could talk a lot about Carol Danvers. Hopefully you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s fun to just sometimes go on about a detailed discussion about a hero you like and vouch for their change to improve. Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for the other #NoBadCharacters blogs coming out throughout the month. Peace!
I am a comic book geek! I love comic books! #1 fan right here.