Comics I Love: Captain Marvel
I'm pretty sure I've stated this before, but one of the nice things about having a few comics I like is that I can use them as a seed to find more. Since I love Stumptown and am excited that new ones are coming out soon (tomorrow I think), I perked up when I heard that a podcast interviewed Greg Rucka. I had never heard of the 3 Chicks Review Comics podcast before but I think I'll start listening to it now. During episode 43, they asked Rucka to name one of his favorite female characters in comics now (outside of his own). He mentioned the new Captain Marvel, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. I read the first few issues last night. Here's what I love about this comic with some slight spoilers.
I paused from the episode to find out information about the comic and was immediately impressed. Having a woman take on the Captain Marvel mantle is pretty cool in itself. But it goes beyond that. Through Carol Danvers we get to explore a relatively unknown part of our own past, the contributions of women to WWII and the space program. I've been doing a lot of research in that area myself because it wasn't something they taught us in school. I had always known about the domestic programs, like Rosie the Riveter, war bonds, and victory gardens, but I didn't know about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), the Women Army Corps (WACs), the nurses who served on foreign soil, the 800,000 Soviet women who served in combat, etc. It seems that only in recent years has it become acceptable to point out that then Princess Elizabeth drove a truck during the war.ComicMix has a great story about the historical roots of women's aviation presented in this comic.
Now we have a comic that explores those issues, for instance revealing one of the reasons why it took so long for there to be a female astronaut. In short, it's a comic that speaks to my experience and counters the argument that women didn't do these things because they weren't interested. I also love that Carol Danvers is portrayed as a woman who is fiercely competitive and that competitiveness gets her into interesting trouble.
One of the things I love about the comic is that it passes the Bechdel test fairly often. How does it do that? By having lots of female characters who have different personalities, different outlooks, and who do things. It's pretty difficult not to have meaningful conversations between women when you're dealing with an all-female unit or when you have two female friends interested in a hobby or profession. The competitiveness between Danvers and her mentor, Helen Cobb, provides plenty of non-male centered dialogue. In the end, these are just women who are doing what they do and cooperating and competing in a way that helps get things done. I've read the first 3 issues and can't wait to read more.
Edit: I forgot to mention this earlier, but I LOVE the artwork in this. Sure there are times that it feels a little awkward, like pictures that emphasize that one of the female characters has her rear end up in the air, but overall, it's just crazy awesome.