After reading the other Captain Marvel Vol 1, I followed Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) into Down, a second story arc by the same creative team. Unfortunately, while In Pursuit of Flight is self-contained, Down ends mid-story, and the cliffhanger ending is only resolved in a crossover title called Avengers: The Enemy Within. This is the kind of thing I’d have found Too Daunting only a year ago, but as one of my aforementioned comics guiding principles is “follow characters you love”, I decided to push through. My library had The Enemy Within, so I put it on hold. But then the due date came and went, and then one, two, three weeks, one month went by with no sign of the book. It began to look unlikely that whoever had it would ever bring it back, so I caved and bought it as a digital comic — a first for me.
This is a measure of my love for Carol. You see, Carol is my favourite (though it’s possible that this actually means Kelly Sue DeConnick is my favourite). The character moments in her stories are the most satisfying I’ve come across so far. I love the scene in Down when Carol is arranging to take her friend Tracy (who we know has cancer) to the doctor, but when she gets there we realise Tracy came along because Carol herself was asked to bring a family member for support. I love her relationship with Kit Renner, her six-year-old neighbour and Captain Marvel’s biggest fan. I love that one of her priorities is taking her cat Chewie for her annual check-up — and when everything explodes, to keep her safe. I love that there are so many women in Carol’s stories, and that her relationships with them matter.
In Higher, Further, Faster, More, we follow Carol and Chewie into space. Carol needs some time away after her difficult experiences in NYC, and when the opportunity presents herself she doesn’t hesitate (her cat comes along because she’s too mean for any of Carol’s friends to agree to feed her. Chewie, that is, not Carol). A mission to return an alien teenage girl to her home world ends up getting Carol involved in a conflict between a large intergalactic empire and a small planet of refugees who are once again being moved from the place they’ve learned to call home against their will.
What I liked about this volume was pretty much what I like about Captain Marvel as a whole: it shows Carol using a range of skills to solve a problem and collaborating closely with other women along the ways (also, Chewie. I really like Chewie). I also appreciated how DeConnick analysed traditional colonial dynamics, not only between the Empire and the planet’s inhabitants but in Carol’s intervention itself.
It’s possible I’m mildly obsessed with this cat.
Ms Marvel Vol 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt and Adrian Alphona
In Generation Why, Kamala meets Wolverine and gleefully tells him about her fanfiction. She also confronts The Inventor, the villain first introduced in No Normal, and learns a little more about his motivation. This story is deeply concerned with our cultural tendency to dismiss and condescend to children and teenagers, and with how easy it is for the fact that you’re repeatedly told you’re worthless to make you feel worthless. Kamala meets some kids who have taken that message to heart, and it’s heartbreaking to see the effects it’s had.
She-Hulk Vol 1: Law and Disorder by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido and Ron Wemberly
Memory persuaded me to try She-Hulk by saying that it “gives far more weight to [Jennifer Walters’] law practice than to her superheroic antic”: I thought this hinted at the same human scale I so appreciated about Kate Bishop’s L.A. adventures, and that did indeed turn out to be the case. As you probably can tell, She-Hulk didn’t disappoint: it hit all my cool-lady-doing-things-and-surrounding-herself-with-other-women buttons and it filled me with joy.
In the first issue, Jennifer leaves her job at a big law firm, helps a single mother challenge a powerful man, and ends up establishing her own law practice. She then hires Angie Huan as her paralegal and fellow superhero Patsy Walk as her investigator, and the three begin solving cases and helping those in need.
There’s an overarching mystery to the series, but this first collection is also very much concerned with smaller cases. If you’re wondering how much superhero context you need, one of Jennifer’s clients is the son of Doctor Doom, who’s seeking political asylum in the USA because he doesn’t want his father to force him to succeed him as an evil overlord. I knew pretty much nothing about the character, but the context makes it obvious that he’s bad news and that’s all it takes for the plot to make sense. Also, it was nice that Jennifer didn’t hesitate to point out when her client was being an entitled, patronising jerk (which was most of the time), but she decided to help him anyway because his claim was sound.
In sum, She-Hulk was another successful incursion into the Marvel universe. I look forward to reading volume two, which sadly will be the series’ last.