We all wonder, “Why am I here,” but when you’re a super powered alien hero who’s traveled forward in time that some people believe has come back from the dead, that question gets a lot more interesting. Beginning this November, writer Brian Reed and artist Lee Weeks will explore that question and more in “Captain Marvel” a five-issue mini-series from Marvel Comics. CBR News spoke with Reed about the series.
Reed has chronicled the adventures of “Ms. Marvel” for almost two years, which was one of the big reasons why Editor Steve Wacker called him to offer the “Captain Marvel” assignment. “Steve said, ‘I don’t know if you’re going to be familiar with this character. He’s kind of obscure but we’re interested in doing something with him,'” Reed told CBR News. “I said, ‘Okay.’ Steve said, ‘It’s Captain Marvel have you heard of him?'” He laughed. “I was like, ‘Why yes Steve. I have.’ So I jumped at the opportunity.”
One of the reasons Reed jumped at the chance to write “Captain Marvel” was the character’s noble nature. “Here’s a guy who turned away from his own civilization to come live with us and take care of us,” Reed said. “That’s a pretty cool trait I think.”
Mar-Vell will still be the same noble hero when Reed’s series begins but he’s also a character who’s troubled by many unanswered questions. “The biggest thing with him, and this was in ‘Civil War: The Return’ a little bit, is that there’s a hole in his memory,” Reed explained. “He’s trying to figure out what he was doing in the Negative Zone, why he was there when that accident happened that propelled him into the future. That’s one of the big mysteries that were going to be solving in the title.
“So, initially his biggest drawback is that he doesn’t have all the playing pieces yet,” Reed continued. “He knows where he is but he doesn’t know why and even know where to begin with how to get home again.”
In “Civil War: The Return,” Captain Marvel accepted the position of warden of 42, the superhuman prison built by the minds of the pro-registration faction but reader who expect to see Mar-Vell in charge of the superhuman penitentiary when “Captain Marvel” #1 begins might be in for a bit of a surprise. “When we first see him in the series, which is like page two of the book, he’s taken off for France,” Reed said. “He’s hanging out at the Louvre all day and appreciating human art. Nobody at S.H.I.E.L.D. knows where he’s gone. Basically something happened to him during the Battle of Times Square [The climatic battle of “Civil War”] and he said, ‘You know what. I don’t know what’s going on here. I don’t know if I’m on the right or the wrong side. I’m just going to play it safe and get the hell out of there.'”
Reed will reveal what happened during the Battle of Times Square and will also show what Captain Marvel’s return means to many of the heroes in the Marvel Universe. “We see a little glimpse of what was going on in the Times Square Battle when some of the other heroes saw him,” Reed stated. “They just assumed Stark is now cloning other people like he did Thor. You see some of that reaction and that’s a lot of the world’s reaction at first too. They wonder, ‘Is this really Captain Marvel? Is this a clone? What’s going on here?’
“Then as things come about, people start to realize, ‘Holy shit! This is really him! He’s back!’ You kind of see the world shift,” Reed continued. “Ms. Marvel actually approaches him to join the Mighty Avengers. We’ve got a scene in the second issue, I think, where she actually says, ‘Look I’m in awe of you. You are why I do what I do.’ We’ve got moments like that. If you go back and read ‘The Death of Captain Marvel,’ there was a page where you’re seeing what the Earth’s reaction was. It was like almost every hero came out to Titan for his death and every news channel on Earth was talking about it. We’re going to kind of see it again. The whole planet is going to go, ‘Holy shit he’s back.'”
In addition to her enormous respect for him, there’s another reason why Ms. Marvel attempts to recruit Captain Marvel into the ranks of the Mighty Avengers. “Part of why Ms. Marvel comes to him and says, ‘We need you on the Avengers,’ is because they’ve become aware of the Skrull plot that’s going on,” Reed explained. “They know he’s got a history with the Skrulls and could help out.”
It’s not just the Skrulls that Mar-Vell has a history with it. He’ll also become aware that something strange is going on with his own people, The Kree. “We actually bump right into ‘Annihilation: Conquest,'” Reed said. “There’s the issue of, okay, he’s back. Are the Kree going to come looking for him? Because he’s still a wanted man. When Tony Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D. go to find out what’s going on with the Kree, they go, ‘Huh? We can’t contact them.’ They see that they’re sealed away in this corner of space. So that actually becomes something that Captain Marvel has to deal with a little bit. It’s like, ‘Wow! Everything I know that’s not Earth is in a big mysterious bubble.'”
Some readers might be wondering what Mar-Vell know about his legacy and impact on Earth. Like for instance, is he aware that he’s the father of three children [the deceased Genis-Vell, Phyla-Vell AKA Quasar, and Dorek VIII/Teddy Altman AKA Hulkling]? “He’s got twenty years of continuity to catch up on,” Reed remarked. “He’s not going to catch up on it all at once. They were kind of keeping him in the dark when he was in charge of 42 because they didn’t know quite what to do with him yet. He really hasn’t had a chance yet to learn everything about what has been going on around him. So we’ll be with him as he discovers these things.”
Discovery will a big part of the plot of “Captain Marvel.” “A big part of the story is about a man trying to find out who he really is,” Reed explained. “Being told you’re going to die in a couple of weeks or months kind of has a centering effect on you. There’s also solving the mystery of why has he got bumped forward in time and what is he supposed to do to get home. And of course there’s some concern from S.H.I.E.L.D. over what happens if he’s still here he when he dies. What does that do to history?”
Captain Marvel’s quest for answers won’t be an easy one. There will be plenty of obstacles and a horde of adversaries blocking his way to the truth. “There’s going to be a lot of villains that show up that people won’t expect,” Reed stated. “That’s the best way I can put it without giving anything away. It’s going to be interesting to see why these people are showing up. It’s all going to connect to the mystery of why he is here and how did he get here.”
It won’t be just heroes, villains and agents of S.H.I.L.D. that play active roles in Reed’s story. “I think if you’ve got a guy who not only has all these super powers but is an alien to boot and now it looks like he’s returned from the dead, you’ve got to think that some people are going to get a little religious about that,” Reed explained. “So that’s something were going to explore here. There’s actually a cult calling themselves Hala, which is the name of the Kree home world. They show up and they’re kind of a mysterious force. We start exposing what they’re up to as we go along but they’re a group of people who are straight up worshipping Captain Marvel.”
Lee Weeks will be Reed’s artistic collaborator on “Captain Marvel” and he’s very happy for the chance to work with the penciller. “I’ve seen Lee’s rough pencils and I’m incredibly excited,” Reed stated. “The cool thing with Lee is that he’ll call you up and he will be so excited about an idea and it’s always better than your original idea. But he’s always sure you’re not going to like it (laughs). He’s always super apologetic and I still don’t think he believes me when I go, ‘No, Lee that is so much better. Do it!’ That’s all you can ever ask for from an artist, that they take your thing and go, ‘What if we did it this way?’ and you go, ‘That’s great!'”
“Captain Marvel” is only a five issue mini-series but if readers want to see more of the Kree Nega Bands wielder Reed is happy to oblige them. “When I turned in first pitch for this, Steve Wacker goes, ‘You know what you’ve got here is like five arcs worth of stories,'” Reed said. “He’s like, ‘Let’s take your first issue and turn it into the first mini-series.’ So I’ve got plenty of ideas for more stories.”