Since becoming Captain Marvel Carol Danvers status has been elevated to being a key part of the Marvel Universe. From becoming an Avenger to being one of the leads of several big blockbuster events Carol Danvers is ready to reach even greater heights as she will be portrayed by Brie Larson in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie. With that major movie down coming soon it is the right time for Marvel to explore Carol Danvers backstory with The Life of Captain Marvel. This new origin mini-series can help bring in a new set of fans to one of the major players in the Marvel Universe while building the next phase in Captain Marvel’s life. Let’s see how things go with The Life of Captain Marvel #1.
Writer: Margaret Stohl
Artist: Carlos Pacheco and Marguerite Sauvage
Inker: Rafael Fonteriz
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Years ago in Harpswell Sound, Maine Carol Danvers remembers how much fun she had with her big brothers Joe Jr. and Stevie as they spent their summers together.
In the present Carol as Captain Marvel starts remembering how when her brothers ruined her kite while fighting. This earned her brothers a beating from their father. Carol tried to defend her brothers but her mom stop her. Carol would break free and tearfully tell her dad to stop. Carol’s dad told her mom to get Carol under control.
Remembering all of this Captain Marvel starts fighting more aggressively while on a mission to stop Tanalth the Pursuer and Moonstone with the Avengers. Her memories lead Captain Marvel to use excessive force that her Avengers teammates decide to step in and calm her down. When Captain Marvel stops fighting she suddenly collapses after feeling short of breath.
At Tony Stark’s lab Tony says that the medical test show that Captain Marvel is fine and asks her why she raged out like she did. Captain Marvel says because its Father’s Day, one of her least favorite days of the year. Tony says he can relates and gives her a hug.
Later that night Carol and Tony grab some coffee at a dinner. Tony tells Carol that she can’t escape the family PTSD that she is constantly dealing with. He goes on to say that she needs to talk about it with someone that can help her because she is going to severely hurt someone if she continues acting like an idiot.
Carol takes what Tony said and while walking home and suddenly realizes something.
The next day Captain Marvel flies to Harpswell Sound, now known as the summer home of Captain Marvel.
Carol lands next to a donut shop and notices it is selling what they call “Official Donut of Captain Marvel.” One of Carol’s childhood friends, Louis Lee, appears and surprises her with how tall he has gotten. They then start to catch up for a bit.
Carol then flies over to her childhood summer home to meet up with her mom. Carol smells that her mom cooked some blueberry peach buckle pancakes. Carol’s mom tells her before she has some she should go check on Joe Jr.
Carol finds Joe Jr. practicing basketball in the back. She joins in and they start out doing each other’s shot. Joe Jr. wins when he makes a shot at a nearby dumpster that Carol ends up missing earning her, what her brother calls, the Super “H.”
Back inside Carol is asked by her mom and brother why she is there. Carol says that she just doesn’t have a reason. Joe Jr. questions this since she has blown off the family for years, including when their dad got sick. Carol grows frustrated by this and walks out.
Later that night Joe Jr and Carol sit next to their dad’s grave. Joe Jr. says that their dad was still their dad. As he continues to drink Joe Jr says that Carol always thought she was better than them, especially with how the entire world also sees it that way now.
He then wonders if she is happy. Carol says its not a simple answer. Joe Jr. says she can simply fly away anytime she wants again. He then gets in his car and drives away.
Carol looks at her dad’s grave and says she wishes he was just a lousy drunk so she would’ve understood his actions but she could never understand him. She then destroys her dad’s grave with a punch.
Carol hears what sounds like a car crash. Carol flies over to check it out. She notices a car that drove off the highway and is on fire. She immediately identifies it as her brother’s car and quickly rescues him.
At the hospital the doctors tell Carol and her mom that Joe Jr suffered a traumatic brain injury and will be in a coma for an unknown amount of time.
Carol stays by her brother’s side for months as he wakes up from his coma and takes care of him in the hospital.
On the roof of the hospital Carol continues to ignore text messages from Tony.
Knowing this Tony decides to send a virtual version of himself to meet Carol. Tony tells Carol that the Avengers and world need her as it has been nine months since she took her break from being Captain Marvel. Carol says that her family needs her and that they are finally bringing Joe Jr. back home today. She then says the hospital roof is as high as she will be getting at the moment. Tony says to call him if she needs anything and that they all miss her.
A little later Carol brings Joe Jr. home and lays him on the couch. When she goes to help in the kitchen her mom says that Carol should go back to New York to get back to being a superhero there. Carol says she can’t go back to how things were, as her mom said, and goes to move her stuff to the bedroom.
While moving her stuff to the bedroom Carol finds an old box in the closet. In the box she finds a love letter that her dad wrote to someone else that sounds like her father was having an affair. When looking into the box some more she finds a high tech device she does not recognize.
Carol takes it to the garage and uses a hammer to try to break into the device. Her mom ends up calling her to come inside.
When Carol leaves the device activates and sends a red beam of light into the sky. As the beam travels through space a mysterious sphere takes shape inside it. Inside the sphere a baby begins to form a Mother Kree voice speaks to it and fills it with combat ability, information of Earth and something Joe (possibly Carol’s dad) said.
Elsewhere Carol tells a virtual Tony that while growing up she knew her family wasn’t perfect but thought love was. Tony says he understands. End of issue.
The Good: The Life of Captain Marvel #1 is a clearly created to take a step back and tell Carol Danvers origin while also slightly resetting her present day character. With that in mind Margaret Stohl is able to hit the mark as she creates an entry point for Captain Marvel. Though working as an entry point there are questionable story decisions made that will make or break The Life of Captain Marvel depending on how Stohl executes the endgame she has in mind.
When it comes to Captain Marvel she has been one of the harder characters to follow in the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe. Since that event we have seen Marvel heavily push Captain Marvel as one of the top heroes they have. While that is a commendable thing to do since, in the right hands, Captain Marvel can be what Wonder Woman is to the DCU. Unfortunately before and after Civil War II made it hard to like Captain Marvel as Marvel decided to have Carol Danvers have an asshole personality in which she believe she was right and everyone else was wrong.
And that has largely been who Captain Marvel has been since so for Stohl to take a step back with Carol Danvers in The Life of Captain Marvel #1 was the right choice. It was time that Stohl tackled what was at the heart of what has turned some fans off about Carol’s current character. Basing this character analysis around Carol’s backstory was a good way to set this series up to tell Captain Marvel’s origin without making the story just be told in the past. And in having Carol’s origin story as the launching point Stohl opens up the opportunity to develop how that backstory currently affects Carol and sets the stage for her future.
Centering the story around Carol’s family life is an easy way for Stohl to have the readers connect with Captain Marvel. For those who come from a similar upbringing where one or both their parents were violent to children it will definitely hit home. It’s something that someone can’t forget happening to them. And for Carol since she is working as Captain Marvel and one of Marvel’s prominent heroes we know things can get highly emotional. Those emotions can be manifested in the worst ways as we see Carol, remembering her dad’s actions on Father’s Day, made her flip out and use an ruthless aggression in taking out villains that weren’t worth that power.
Having this all come out in front of her Avengers teammates added to how it made sense for Carol to go visit her family to deal with her emotional state. And it was good to see that while Carol blamed her father for everything her mother and brother weren’t in complete agreement with her. Because rather than trying to stay in contact with her brother and mom she has kept her distance from them. Keeping that distance made it so Carol does come off as selfish in her visit since she didn’t come to see them in their family summer home for pure reasons. It added a sense of believability to this since we know that when tension is allowed to be built it will only explode when family reunites after years apart.
That was well executed with how Stohl had Carol and her brother, Joe Jr., interact with one another. Starting with a fun game of Horse showed that there is some sibling bond between the two. At the same time, that bond is clearly fragile as we see how Joe Jr. does feel abandoned by his sister who never visited or reached out to them as adults. This made Joe Jr.’s honesty with his little sister come off as something that Carol needed to confront her own turmoil with her past.
Joe Jr.’s honesty made Carol’s own reason for staying with her family after his accident look to be what she needed. It was an eye opening thing for Carol that she is partially to blame since she didn’t realize until it was too late that she should’ve been there for her brother and mother. Seeing Carol actually set her foot down when both Tony and her mom told her to go back to being New York showed that she knows that she needs to be their for her family. It sets up for a greater character development as we will get more interactions between Carol and her mom while they take care of Joe Jr.
All of this is given an interesting mystery with the twist that there was more to Carol’s father than she thought. We already saw how Carol’s father was not a great guy or someone you want to know. But now that we see that there was more to who Carol’s dad was with a possible connection to the Kree there is now something that you want to find out about him.
Now, with how much the story is about Carol and her family it was good to see Stohl bring in Tony Stark to act as a supporting character. The animosity between Carol and Tony has been something that has made both characters come off as unlikeable whenever they are in the same room. It was time that these two rectified their relationship and talk to each other like adults rather than petty children. That is exactly what Stohl does by having Tony continue to reach out to Carol as she deals with her past. In doing so it further helps to grow the readers connection with Captain Marvel.
As for the artwork it was actually cool to see how Stohl used Carlos Pacheco and Marguerite Sauvage for The Life of Captain Marvel #1. Having Pacheco handle the main story while Sauvage did the artwork for the flashback scenes helped make both time periods stand out. As always Pacheco delivered great artwork that got across where Carol Danvers is right now in her life. And even though we don’t see her as Captain Marvel a lot in this issue, he does a good job when it comes to capturing the superhero portions of the story.
With the flashback scenes Sauvage did a very good job making them feel like memories that Carol was thinking about in the present. Sauvage captured how the story was based around Carol as a kid and how it was through her childhood eyes.
The Bad: As much as there is to like about The Life Of Captain Marvel #1 this is far from being the perfect issue. One big problem is with how Stohl decided to try to give Carol a deeper connection with the Kree. This is a story we’ve seen far to often with superheroes who gain superpowers from alien means. It’s not a story that will add to Carol’s role as Captain Marvel since she has long established what her relationship is with the Kree. This possible twist connection just does not add to that part of the character.
It was also odd to see Captain Marvel try to figure out what the Kree device was by simply using a hammer on it. Carol doing this made it look like she has never seen a device like that. Given that she has work for years as a member of the Avengers, Alpha Flight and Guardians of the Galaxy she should know how to handle analyzing this type of tech. So seeing her use a hammer just made her look like the rookie that readers know she is not. But by deciding to do this Stohl does make Carol look inexperienced to new readers.
Carol’s time away from being Captain Marvel and an Avenger did also make you question why Tony was the only one to reach out to Carol. Given that Carol has a lot of closer friends in the superhero community you would expect others to check in on her during her nine months away. Not doing so makes you unnecessarily wonder if others care that Captain Marvel is not around. Hopefully that is something that is fixed in future issues of The Life of Captain Marvel as it would be good to see other hero friends help Carol in a time when she needs it.
Overall: The Life of Captain Marvel #1 was a solid, but flawed, beginning for the fresh start that Carol Danvers needed. There are definite problems with this issue but Margaret Stohl does set-up a foundation that makes readers interested in Captain Marvel be instantly invested in. Hopefully this character analysis of who Carol Danvers is fixes the problems and properly executes the more interesting plot points The Life of Captain Marvel #1 established.