Higher. Further. Faster. More.
Under writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, Captain Marvel's credo encouraged Carol Danvers and her Carol Corps to never settle. To keep pushing the boundaries. To want bigger things. When DeConnick took her own advice and moved on to pursue her original endeavors, Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters took over writing duties on "Captain Marvel." Fazekas and Butters know a thing or two about strong female heroes from their work running "Marvel's Agent Carter," and they come over to the comics industry, sit right in the Captain's chair and make it theirs alongside artist Kris Anka in "Captain Marvel" #1.
"Captain Marvel" #1 kicks off a new era in Carol's life. She's Captain Marvel, but now she's also Commander Danvers and head of Alpha Flight, Earth's first defense against intergalactic threats. The job comes with a cool new space station, a sweet ship and plenty of unwanted problems. Fazekas and Butters soften Carol just a little bit, allowing her to her flirt with Rhodey, connect with Puck and be genuinely affected by Abigail Brand's obvious disdain for her arrival and position. She's less stiff, but her mischievous side is still intact when she tells off an intergalactic waste consortium or disintegrates a bevy of asteroids with her own punching action. Carol is excited by her new gig, trying to overachieve as a means of survival and hoping her work endears her to her new friends. Much like DeConnick before them, Fazekas and Butters inject their experience into the book. Their dialogue is good and it reads well out loud; even Carol's inner monologue is tighter and more succinct.
Kris Anka and Matthew Wilson upgrade the visuals in this new volume. No disrespect to those who came before, but the art team grabs hold of "Captain Marvel" from the jump. Carol is sleek, sexy and confident, and her facial tics give away her true feelings. Anka banged out some phenomenal work with Brian Michael Bendis in "Uncanny X-Men" last year, and he gets even more design freedom here. The visual effects and equipment in "Captain Marvel" have the same considered, minimalist approach that the artist takes to his characters' fashion sense, though his page layouts are a small step backward from "Uncanny." As Fazekas and Butters learn more about what works on the page, though, this will likely improve. Wilson shapes Anka's art with his color, rounding the characters and equipment with gradients that reveal depth in the panels.
It's not just Carol with the fresh start here. This story is called "Rise of the Alpha Flight." They're back, and thankfully they have more of a purpose than "let's be Canadian." It's a good role for the team. Sasquatch, Aurora and Puck are the only three that appear in the first issue, but they're great. Squatch gets the least amount of time, but the others give a clear sense of who they are in their few interactions with Captain Marvel. Alpha Flight has just gone from a notch above the Great Lakes Avengers to Earth's guardians. That's a hell of an upgrade.
The unsung hero of this series is Sana Amanat, with yet another high-quality title from her office. The editor finds herself in charge of some of Marvel's most media-important books at the company. As always, she sees what works about a character, keeps it and works with her teams to fix what doesn't, though there wasn't much to change with Carol.
The Carol Corps will find their hero the same here and better. New fans will find a confident woman who's striving to achieve beyond where she currently rests. Fazekas and Butters give everyone a taste of the complications that come with the new status quo and a feel for what Carol might sound like when she arrives in cinemas in a few years. I expect this team to keep reaching higher and further with this book.