With powers that include flight, energy absorption and superhuman strength, Carol Danvers (better known as Captain Marvel) is super, but her abilities aren’t what makes her a hero. Carol’s heroism stems from things like her devotion to duty, perseverance in the face of great odds, and the inspiration she draws from the Marvel Universe’s other notable Captains, not the least of which is the Kree soldier Mar-Vell, who established her current heroic nom de guerre, and the original Captain America, Steve Rogers. The actions of those two heroes not only helped shape Carol’s past, they’ll have an impact on her present and future as well.
In the current Secret Empire tie-in arc of The Mighty Captain Marvel, by writer Margaret Stohl and artist Michele Bandini, Carol and a band of heroes are defending the Earth against Chitauri invaders who have been lured to Earth by the treacherous actions of a Cosmic Cube-altered, HYDRA-affiliated Steve Rogers. Then, in the September one-shot Generations: Captain Marvel & Captain Mar-Vell by Stohl and artist Brent Schoonover, time travel will reunite Carol with her heroic namesake, allowing her a chance to reflect on how the actions of the Kree hero impacted and continue to affect her life.
CBR: “Band of Sisters,” the current Secret Empire arc of The Mighty Captain Marvel, is your first event tie-in story. What’s it been like writing this arc and connecting to the larger tale Nick Spencer is telling in Secret Empire?
Margaret Stohl: It’s been amazing. I love Nick’s big Marvel brain. He is fearless. He involved anyone he felt like. Because I go to the Marvel creative summits I saw that evolving in the room. So I watched as his big brain rummaged through the whole universe.
That’s a very particular skill set, and it was great for Captain Marvel because she’s originally from the Air Force. So she gets to return to military combat.
Also, I was going to launch a group of Alpha Flight cadets anyways because I had wanted some teen voices in the series and that’s my wheelhouse. It was wonderful though to be able to watch those characters during a Chitauri battle. It gave us this great moment where those characters had to suddenly come of age. I love those types of moments. The role of the innocent in combat is always interesting. It adds a whole other price of war and reality to conflict.
In terms of overall tone “Band of Sisters” has reminded me a lot of the early episodes of the new Battlestar Galactica series in that it follows how a group of people weather wave after wave of alien attackers and keep on going. Is that a fair comparison?
Yeah, and it also has this ragtag band of survivors trying to keep it together in space. I’m a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica. Little known fact; I knew Glen Larson, who did the original Battlestar. I was friends with his son.
I particularly loved the first season of the new Battlestar Galactica. The beginning stuff is some of the strongest part of that arc. So I love that you see that. Battlestar Galactica meets Band of Brothers that’s the dream.
So with this story you’re telling a big, cosmic, action, epic, but you also want to keep things intimate since you’re showing how your cast are coping during the moments in between these battles?
Yes, and it’s also a great moment to work on the idea of a hero’s journey. As I said to some LCS guys yesterday, if you define a characters in terms of who or what they want, the flip side of that is what or who wants them. When you’re working with a real enemy like the Chitauri or Steve Rogers it takes the sort of emotional quest for a hero and gives it these real visceral stakes.
So that’s actually a great set up for what we’re going to go into now with the Generations one-shot, and then what we’re going to go into with the small Legacy arc that follows.
How is Carol handling Steve Rogers’ betrayal? How angry and hurt is she?
She is hurt and angry, but she’s also a soldier. As is often the case for Carol, emotions and the price that type of damage exacts are generally not on her mind during combat. For now, she’s really engaged in getting back to Earth, in saving what’s left of Earth, and in keeping her cadets alive. She will do literally anything to make sure those things happen. What we’ve seen in recent issues and those ready to come out is her putting herself in harms way.
I like building character and I like down time and relationships, but I also really like to do things that I feel comic books do best like combat and epic, dramatic action.
I loved being able to do those massive two pages spreads with those huge panels filled with all the heroes Secret Empire gave us access to like the Guardians of the Galaxy and America Chavez. Those kinds of combat sequences are peak hero stuff and I love that
What’s it been like writing guest stars like the Guardians and America Chavez?
I love it so much. I live for bad Tony Stark jokes. So I loved putting the Tony A.I. in. I also love the ensemble banter of the Guardians and those specific characters that have these great, punchy dialogue moments. I live for writing moments with those characters. It’s fun stuff.
You already touched a bit on your Alpha Flight Cadets that you introduced this arc, but let’s talk a little more. These are new characters created by you, but I got the sense that Dante had appeared before in the Black Widow prose novels you wrote. Is that correct?
Yes, Dante, first appeared there. He’s sort of a segue way between my Marvel YA readers and what I’m doing now.
I love all the teen cadets. I love my Wakandan teen A’Di who has a drone as her best friend. Because most of my friends are dysfunctional writers, game guys, or comic people who have technology as their closest companion. That’s been really fun to play with and Michele, our artist, has just knocked it out of the park inventing these three characters in terms of their look as well as Itz the Drone.
Glory is a gay, Filipina, genius. My best friend, Melissa de la Cruz is a Filipina writer. She worked with me a little bit on that character. I also worked with Michele. I also have a gay kid, so that was a dream come true for me.
I really wanted to have a group of teens that were like actual teens. I also wanted to get everybody in there.
I assume the cadets will continue to play a larger role in this arc and in Captain Marvel moving forward.
Yes, I love teens. I identify with them and spend most of my time with them.
When I started writing Captain Marvel I began talking with my editor Sana Amanat, who also works a lot with teens and is the editor of Ms. Marvel. So she knew this was a priority for me.
These were characters I almost introduced in the first arc, but there was so much unfinished business left over from Civil War II that I wanted to be able to emotionally pivot Carol away from that impact and give her sort of a new start.
Issue #6 ended with the Cadets helping the battle against the Chitauri by getting a message through the shield surrounding Earth, and hindering it by distracting Captain Marvel and getting her K.O.ed. What can you tell us about where you’re headed next with this story?
We’re tying in very closely with Nick Spencer’s story. So you’ll see more of what happens with Earth and the shield, but this will roll into some larger issues for the Generations one-shot, which gives me the unique opportunity to pair up Captain Marvel and the original Mar-Vell. That’s so great for Carol because she’s such a classic hero in so many ways, but she’s such a modern woman.
If Steve Rogers is the Captain who falls when Carol is the Captain who rises in this, then we have this other touch point of going back to Mar-Vell, who is her most classic male hero inspiration. It makes a lot of sense for her to be looking at the male heroes in her life and asking, “How did you let me down? What did you teach me? What is my relationship to you?” That’s particularly interesting for Carol because if we’re all the heroes of our own journey Carol is not the hero of her own origin story. She was basically a side character in her origin story.
So for Carol to return to and confront her own origin is something we’ll be occupied with for a whole arc to come.
What’s it like writing the original Captain Marvel in your Generations one-shot?
It’s hilarious! We don’t talk too much about Golden Age comics, but the words that come out of his mouth are incredible. Every line just cracks me up. If you look back at his original series there was some incredible art that was super ambitious, and there was this way in which comics were so untethered from the realities that kind of birthed them.
You see a N.A.S.A. storyline with all these characters and details, but there’s also this feeling of, “Let’s just go with this” to an extent that I really valued it. I enjoyed working on this story so much.
I think it’s the funniest issue we’ve ever done. They are the oddest of odd couples.
What can you tell us about the adventure that Carol and Mar-Vell will embark on together in your Generations story?
It involves the Negative Zone. In that way it’s kind of a set up for some stuff.
I think everyone who is working on these Generations one-shots is using them in some way for a set up to the places they’re going in Legacy.
So, for you, Generations is both a new reader friendly stand alone story and a bridge to where you’re going in future issues of Mighty Captain Marvel?
Yes, I definitely want to direct new readers to Generations because it does this great job summarizing the general zeitgeist of the genre and legacy of Captain Marvel before we even get to Legacy.
I think the Generations and Legacy books are going to be setting the sort of state of the modern series for a lot of what’s going on at Marvel.
Generations pairs you with Brent Schoonover, an artist with a real knack for adventure stories who you worked with on The Mighty Captain Marvel #4. What’s it like reteaming with him for this story?
It’s fun. Brent is really capable. So we know we can give him a big arc and he’ll nail it. He’s really reliable. It’s been great to not have to worry about how it’s going to come in.
And upcoming issues of Mighty Captain Marvel will continue your collaboration with Michele Bandini, correct?
Yes, Michele Bandini is a genius. Working with him is just a joy. He magnifies everything I do and makes me look good. He’s the real deal. So that’s been amazing.
His action is great, but his character acting is amazing.
Yes! People don’t think about that all that much, but that’s hard to find in an artist. The character stuff is super important and I think it’s what sells the big stuff. It’s so much more effective when it’s relatable to these people who are feeling and experiencing things you can see on their faces, and who are saving the world.
Working with my artists has been great, but I’ve also had amazing support teams. From the very start I was working with Charles Beacham, my assistant editor. I love Sana, but Charles has been holding my hand as I learned how to write comics. I’ve been luckier than most in that I’ve had a really great team.
And we’re in a great place to bring in new readers and people who are looking forward to Captain Marvel’s big screen debut. I’m super excited about that and I think Marvel has made a lot of great choices with the women writing, helming, and starring in the film. So, as part of Carol’s team, I feel confident that she’s in good hands. I welcome the readers who are getting on board with her book in advance of her film debut.
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