Monday, February 24, 2014

Review # 99: "Avengers: The Enemy Within"

Rant time:

I was a little miffed earlier this month when Marvel shared a link on Facebook to a recounting of Carol Danvers' history resulted in multiple comments slagging the company. On one side, you had smart-asses thinking they were witty by saying "Shazam" was the real Captain Marvel, or that Mar-Vell was the real Captain Marvel. This was followed up the next day with a preview of the new "Ms. Marvel," which stars a Muslim teen as the title character. This led to people calling for Carol to return to that title, disregarding the character growth she had undergone under the larger mantle.

I am sick and tired of seeing this. While it's partially the company's own fault for drawing her that way, Carol Danvers has been saddled with the stigma of being eye candy and not a fully-developed character. Anything more than that and the fanboys revolt.

It doesn't take a big leap of faith for me to believe that none of these asswipes have picked up a single issue of Kelly Sue DeConnick's "Captain Marvel." And it's a shame. While the series has been a critical smash, sales have been soft prompting a very quick All-New Marvel NOW relaunch with the same writer. Hence the climax of her solo rejuvination is titled "Avengers: The Enemy Within" as Marvel likely hopes that will give it a sales bump.

The situation the series finds itself in is appropriate to a degree. For years now the character has been determined to be an A-List hero. It was her dream life in "House of M" where - as it happens - she was in the Ms. Marvel garb but known as "Captain Marvel." However, she just did not have the chops to back it up. Danvers had an intriguing history, botched as it may have been at times (I love ya, Chris Claremont, but Binary was a terrible idea.) It was waiting to be properly tapped. DeConnick's run has done this.

As Carol deals with a brain condition that makes flying potentially fatal - a heartbreaking revelation built over the first two volumes - we finally discover who has been plotting against her. It's a brilliant reveal, tying back to her origin, creating a perfect wrap to an arc that both acknowledges and redefines Carol's history, making her more than just Rogue's power source. With New York facing a Kree threat, Captain Marvel is forced to make a choice. Her decision is tragic and touching, and finally puts her in the echelon among Earth's Mightiest - unfortunately it's restricted to that universe and not the wallets of comic fans.

But that could change. Should Marvel decide to ever make a "Captain Marvel" film, they should adapt it straight from DeConnick's run. Carol is completely run down from her long life on the B-list. "The Enemy Within" is her finally breaking free. It's thrilling, it's inspirational and it's very human. Thanks to DeConnick, Carol Danvers is the best Captain Marvel of all time. Better than Shazam, better than Mar-Vell, better than Noh-Varr, better than Genis-Vell, better than Monica Rambeau. And it's all because of this arc. "The Enemy Within" isn't perfect. A lot of context is lost without reading the first two "Captan Marvel" volumes. But as I have insisted before, they are well worth the time.

Rating: 9/10

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