Some of the greatest heroes of the Marvel Universe don’t have super powers or wear costumes. They’re the friends, family and historical figures who inspire costumed champions through their courage and kindness, people like Ben Parker, who inspired his nephew Peter to don webbed tights in the fight for justice, and aviatrix Helen Cobb, whose daring exploits encouraged Carol Danvers to join the Air Force, eventually leading to Danvers becoming the high-flying hero known as Captain Marvel.
For all of her influence on Carol, readers met Cobb for the first time in the debut issue of the new ongoing “Captain Marvel” series by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Dexter Soy. Over the course of the last five issues, both they and Carol have gotten to know Helen very well thanks to the series current arc shifting Carol through time into the past where she’s met and worked alongside Helen during several of her hero’s most famous exploits.
CBR News spoke with DeConnick about the arc, which comes to a close this month in “Captain Marvel” #6, featuring art by Emma Rios, and her next story where the current Captain Marvel encounters a former one: “Nextwave’s” Monica Rambeau.
CBR News: By the end of “Captain Marvel” #4, we’re knee-deep in a time travel mystery about Carol’s idol Helen Cobb and what she found on a Peruvian island back during the early days of World War II. In her inner monologues, Carol seems to think she’s out of her element, but is Carol always the most reliable narrator when it comes to her own capabilities?
Kelly Sue DeConnick: Yes and no. She is out of her element, her comfort zone, but isn’t that what we try to do to these characters? To constantly challenge them? What fun would it be to have issue after issue of somebody having it easy? Not much drama in that. And a big part of our thesis discussion when Editor Steve Wacker and I first started talking about this book was that heroes must be challenged and heroes must make sacrifices. It’s rather inherent to the concept of a hero, I think. There must be a price.
The first leg of Carol’s time travel journey took place in issues #2-#4, where she met the Banshee Squad of the Women’s Air Service and they fought a Japanese military unit equipped with ships from the Alien Kree Empire. Where did the inspiration for the Banshee Squad come from? And in your mind, was this the Squad’s biggest WWII adventure? Or would you like to revisit these characters somewhere down the line?
They’re inspired by Nick Fury and the Howling Commandoes. This would have been their first big adventure — their origin story, if you will. And no, I am absolutely not done with them yet.
At the end of issue #4, Carol leaves the Squad and leaps ahead through time to 1961. Can you give us a hint of what’s in store for Captain Marvel in this next stage of her journey through time?
Some things to come:
- Helen Cobb
- Brass Knuckles
- Helen Cobb vs. Car
- Carol Danvers & Helen Cobb: Thieves
I’m curious as to what kind of person Helen is in 1961. From the scene with George Howard in issue #3 and the way she plays poker in issue #4, she seems to play things very close to the vest, only revealing her advantage at the best possible moment.
She’s a manipulator, to be sure. Most of the time, she’s impulsive enough to make Carol look patient by contrast, but when it matters, when she’s really after something, she’ll take her time and choose her moves carefully. The thing is, Carol and Helen have a lot to learn from one another.
Your “Osborn” and “Pretty Deadly” collaborator Emma Rios is providing the art for “Captain Marvel” #5 and #6. What’s it been like reuniting with her for this tale?
There’s so much movement on an Emma page, it almost vibrates. She’s also got this style of cool that’s so very hers — you know how most of the time we’re reaching for particular archetypes? With Emma, it’s more like she’s digging up new ones. I wanted to say “inventing,” but that doesn’t feel right because when you see her stuff there’s this moment of recognition — like, yes, this is exactly what I wanted to see and expected to see, though I’ve never seen anything like it before. It feels — Jungian. And now I sound like a crazy person.
Not at all — Emma’s art style is both unique and incredibly exciting.
Once the time travel story wraps, issue #7 has your title character runs into Monica Rambeau, a character who also once bore the name Captain Marvel. What do you find interesting about Monica and what made you want to examine the dynamic between her and Carol?
I felt like we had to address the fact that Monica used the name before. It seemed disrespectful of an important character to not address it directly. Plus, I loved her in “Nextwave.”
[Co-writer] Chris Sebela joins me on this arc. We had a lot of fun putting together this story that takes Carol to Monica’s stomping grounds, reintroduces a figure from her past and offers some gorgeous underwater vistas for Dex to knock out of the park.
I’m really pleased with the ending, in particular.
I’d like to finish up with a couple questions about your future plans for the series. When we first talked about this book, you were cautiously optimistic about its chances for success, but you were holding off on planning year two of the series. With “Captain Marvel” solicited through issue #8, have you begun thinking about year two and where you would like to take Carol? Or is it still too soon?
I’d like to get her hair situation situated! Is that horribly shallow of me? It’s driving me nuts that we don’t have a consistent look for her across the line. I favor Dex’s take for reasons I can spell out for you some time if you’re battling insomnia, but really, any one, semi-consistent look would be progress. That’s not what you’re asking me, I know.
I have ideas for where I want to go, yes. We’ve had conversations. Do I have a Hickman-esque 36-issue color-coded chart? No, I do not.
Our numbers were — I think, I can’t bring myself to look, so I have to sort of get a feel for this sort of thing from others — better than expected out of the gate, but we’ve settled back down, now. I think it’s normal attrition, but I also think every issue that gets solicited is a victory. Let’s take this one step at a time.
At New York Comic Con it was announced that your friend and fellow writer Brian Michael Bendis is launching a new “Guardians of the Galaxy” ongoing which is being edited by your “Captain Marvel” editor Steve Wacker. One of the interesting things about this series is it will feature a rotating cast of Avengers doing tours of duty with the Guardians. Would you be interested in seeing Carol team with the Guardians, either in your title or their own?
That is a hilarious idea.
Sana Amanat has actually taken over most of the editorial duties on “Captain Marvel,” which is both good and bad. It’s great in that I love Sana — we’ve worked together on “Castle” and we have very similar sensibilities. She’s opinionated, bold and wee. I can relate.
I do miss phone calls from Wacker, though. He’s been my — what? Not Obi-Wan. Like, Mickey Goldmill meets Machiavelli. And you know, he still edits “Hawkeye.” So, I do feel like he chose his favorite and now I must make him pay.
“Captain Marvel” #6 goes on sale October 31.