damalur: (Default)
no, use my SPACE name! ([personal profile] damalur) wrote2016-07-31 01:13 pm

further, more

The more I think about it, the more I’m starting to believe that what Captain Marvel needs is a writer willing to do what Fraction did with Invincible Iron Man or Brubaker did with Captain America or even what Aaron is doing with his roster of Thor books. DeConnick did a really great job drawing on the early themes of Ms. Marvel + the stuff Brian Reed introduced to reconceptualize Carol, but now I think someone needs to take that concept and refine it in the context of plot-heavy stories – we need not only a writer willing to do comics-level psychological digging into the character but also someone who’s going to construct substantial, engaging arcs around Carol.

(Uh, maybe this is not “we need” so much as “I want”, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how Marvel has been using her in the comics, and I’m not convinced they’ve figured out the best way to push her as an A-list character.)

Part of that requires the writer to determine what is a fitting, appropriate story for Carol. A lot of her more significant moments have centered around themes of identity or the violation of self – there’s her struggle with not knowing she’s Ms. Marvel early in her superhero career, there’s Rogue stealing her memories and her powers around the time Carol started hanging out with the X-Men, there’s her loss of confidence when she can’t function as Binary anymore, there’s her search to find her own limits after she loses her memories fighting Yon-Rogg… The Reed run has plenty of identity stuff, from Carol contacting a publicist to reinvent her image to Carol fighting Moonstone to reclaim the Ms. Marvel title. There’s a lot of her explicitly redefining herself in terms of both her superhero and street careers, too.

I guess if the fundamental Tony Stark question is “How will I fix this?” then the fundamental Carol Danvers question is: “Who am I?” I like that a lot in stories that play out as claiming-power fantasies or as Carol sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong, but the amnesia thing doesn’t need to come back again unless it’s part of a restoration arc (probably not ever gonna happen) or the writer is addressing her previous losses of memory. Marvel also needs to focus on developing her villains’ gallery (plenty of others have pointed that out before me!!). Bringing back Yon-Rogg struck me as a pretty great start, and the foundation is definitely there, but there needs to be some effort to build, oh, maybe three to five characters into a.) villains who are a real threat to her and b.) villains who have a fixation on her.

Space is a great backdrop for addressing the “Who am I?” question, but it also removes Carol from the orbit of the characters closest to her, and she functions so well as connective tissue. She’s competent and irreverent, which means she works well with a lot of other heroes; she’s a good team player but occasionally has a stubborn streak of unwillingness to change or even listen, which makes for an interesting dynamic in all kinds of contexts; she has history with so many of Marvel’s teams; and she’s experienced, which makes her a great fit for “mentor” storylines like she once had with Anya.

She has an addictive personality – she’s an adrenaline junkie and a recovering alcoholic – and can be self-sabotaging. She has a tendency to lash out in anger when she’s hurting. She is really, really compassionate and concerned with morality and doing what she thinks is right, and despite her strong friendships with so many other superheroes, she’s at least semi-estranged from her family. There’s so much fodder there, and it’d be so great to see it woven into big-picture plots. The current book has laid the groundwork for all kinds of interesting things on that front – actually, as I’m writing this, I realize that Butters & Fazekas got off to a really solid start. Hopefully the editors will encourage Margaret Stohl to build on that instead of abandoning it.

There’s also the question of how the character is going to recover from Civil War II, and it looks like Stohl is going to be dealing with that. My fingers are crossed that she’s going to bring the same kind of fix-it attitude to Carol’s solo book as Al Ewing seems to have in Ultimates right now. It’d be interesting to find out that Carol’s stance and mania re: Ulysses are partly the result of her pushing herself too far, too fast – maybe even that she’s burying herself in work to avoid dealing with the pretty severe things she’s been through the past few years – and to have her need to MAKE SURE NOTHING BAD HAPPENS EVER explicitly addressed in terms of her history. And then, you know, come back from that! Carol is a comeback-er.

I don’t know!!!!! I didn’t mean to write all this out. I do really, really hope that Stohl sticks with the book for a couple of years and constructs not only five-issue stories but some kind of long-running arc that she can write towards throughout her entire run. Carol’s a character with both breadth and depth, so ultimately there are a lot of fitting stories for her and a lot of ingredients that could go into making a really iconic, substantial run.

My wishlist is probably something like: have her work on a small team, have her struggle with questions of identity /without/ losing who she is (No amnesia, for sure! Bisexual Carol? I wish!! A decision to double down instead of running/reinventing herself, maybe???), have her move to the level of “Who am I in relation to ________?” and then draw support from the relationships that reward her (in relation to… Avengers? Birth family? Kids she’s mentoring? Mysteriously-resurrected War Machine?), make her do some kind of intelligence-gathering work, put her in situations that require her to think fast on her feet /and/ that require her to fight her way to a solution (whether physically or verbally), develop a small roster of villains and build long arcs around them, address her tendency to self-sabotage and the toll that losing her memories must have had on her, oh my god this reads like a list of hostage demands, how did I waste this much time.