Before she became the high flying hero known as Captain Marvel, Colonel Carol Danvers was a decorated member of the U.S. Air Force, where she learned that leadership was about making tough choices that could impact countless lives. When she learned of the existence of a super powered Inhuman whose precognitive visions could save thousands of people, she took action -- action which resulted in an ideological schism over predictive justice, splitting the heroes of the Marvel Universe into two camps; one led by Carol and the other by her former Avengers comrade Tony Stark.
The clash between Carol, Tony, and their followers is being chronicled by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez in “Civil War II.” Soon, that conflict will come to a close, and Carol Danvers will face the other difficult burden of leadership; taking responsibility for the choices she's made. In the aftermath of “Civil War II,” that will mean dealing with lost friendships and a new found worldwide fame, challenges she'll face in December when bestselling novelist Margaret Stohl, who spoke with us about the series, and artist Ramon Rosanas kick off a new volume of “Captain Marvel” with a special #0 issue.
CBR: With Captain Marvel, you're writing a Marvel character who was a soldier before she became a superhero, and her military training and experiences continue to inform how she views the world. When you pick up with her, how does she view herself? Does she she think of herself as a soldier first and a hero second? Does she believe it's possible for her to be both?
Margaret Stohl: I think Carol’s becoming a superhero had as much to do with her identity as a woman as it did her identity as a soldier. Captain Marvel is now at the top of her game and the top of every power structure; she has only her own orders to follow from here on out, and that changes everything. As a woman, Carol never had the opportunities her brothers had, and even in the Air Force and NASA, she could never assume she would be seen as the equal of her male peers. As a result, Carol’s had to learn to fight twice as hard to find her place in the world, and I think the impulse to fight for every other vulnerable population is a natural extension of that. And definitely, she is more superhero than soldier, since she’s had to break ranks with her superhero “band of brothers” in “Civil War II.”
In the aftermath of "Civil War II," Carol is facing a new world where she's very much in the public eye and has lost some friends. How is she coping with that when you pick up with her adventures in #0?
Carol is haunted by the events of “Civil War II” -- that’s one of the reasons we gave ourselves an issue #0. She is still processing the heavy price she’s had to pay for doing what she thought was right for the planet. That burden is something she’ll continue to carry with her as she moves into the next year, but she’ll have her newfound celebrity as well, and you’ll see how fame impacts every aspect of her life from here on out. It has been and will keep being a big year for Captain Marvel, and that’s a lot to deal with. I think sometimes traumatic good can feel as disorienting for a psyche as traumatic bad – and Carol has plenty of both.
Carol is the Commander of Alpha Flight, Earth's first line of defense against interplanetary threats. That means that you can tell stories that take place on Earth, thousands of miles above it, or out in the cosmos of the Marvel Universe. What's it like having that sort of scope to play with? And what types of stories are you interested in telling in "Captain Marvel?"
Kelley Sue DeConnick is a genius with character, emotion and dimensionality, so I really don’t want to lose what she began with Carol in her original reboot. That said, the past few years have really evolved the Alpha Flight universe, and I love that as well. My editor Sana Amanat and I tend to focus on story arcs that let Carol be Carol, and feel like Carol, while still bringing the epic scale and threat of a big space opera. As far as the Marvel Universe goes, there really aren’t as many books that focus on the space side of things -- I think it’s just “Ultimates,” “GOTG” and us -- so Alpha Flight lets us play a critical role for the greater universe, which is a good thing.
What can you tell us about the supporting cast of "Captain Marvel?"
There will be a lot of new faces – and definitely some teen ones – but you won’t see too many of them right off the bat. I like my transitions to evolve naturally from within my storylines. Changing a universe should feel organic and real.
In the aftermath of "Civil War II," Carol Danvers is in a huge position of prominence in the Marvel Universe. How will that impact your series? Are there any guest star heroes you can hint, tease, or talk about?
Sana and I have many plans within plans, but of course nothing I can spill about yet. I can say that it was an enormous honor to be at the Marvel Creative Summit a few weeks ago, and so helpful to brainstorm as a group and to see what everyone else is doing. The summit had a substantive impact on my 2017 storylines, and the other creators – along with my editor Sana and editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, as well as Joe Quesada and Dan Buckley – have been super welcoming. These folks are the best of the best.
Throughout 2017, you’ll see some adversaries that we’re creating especially for Carol, as well as some that have already been seeded. You’ll also see Carol square off against herself in a number of ways, as so much of her past remains emotionally unresolved. She’s a compartmentalizer, which I think makes sense for a soldier but is harder and harder to maintain as time goes on. And I think the fallout from “Civil War II” – the loss of Rhodey, as well as a handful of other close friendships – will force Carol to take a hard look at her own identity.
Your Captain Marvel run is being drawn by Ramon Rosanas, an artist whose work on Ant-Man has shown his knack for humor, heart, and personal drama. What do you enjoy most about Ramon's style?
I knew right away Ramon would be a good fit for me. Humor and heart is my comfort zone and my priority. Ramon has these amazingly clean lines that work really well for space, and is absolutely brilliant with character work. I almost cried when I got my very first glimpse of “my” Captain Marvel, so that’s a huge relief.
Ryan North always says that he writes Squirrel Girl while staring at a sketch of Doreen Green that he keeps next to his screen, and I really understand that. At the heart of everything is the character you're writing for – and Carol will always be joint custody of Ramon and myself, as well as our editor Sana and our team.
Carol’s been through a lot this year. I’m aware of that, and I’m pulling for her. Now that “Civil War II” is wrapping, it’s time to let Carol be Carol again – Carol who is a smart mouth and a badass, a good friend and a better commander. Carol the hero and Carol the woman – and how that’s really the same thing. Carol may have her enemies, but when they punch down, she flies high.
That’s my Carol, and I hope it comes through in my run.
Finally, you're a veteran prose novelist who has also worked in the video game industry and you've slowly been wading deeper into the waters of comics writing with some short stories for Marvel, including a very fun tale of Ms. Marvel in last year's “Gwenpool Holiday Special.” How does it feel, to be tackling your first Marvel ongoing series?
The beauty of prose is the abundance of words – so many words. A book is an all-you-can-eat buffet of words! You can go deep into a character’s mind and just sort of root around in there, which is my favorite thing. Even then, you still have plenty of room on the page for all your banter, as well as world-building and big picture plotting. You also get to build a fully realized three act structure over thirty chapters. All that good stuff.
With comics, space is a premium and story gets divided between text and graphics. It’s so much harder -- I have to choose between all my banter and actually getting the plot to happen, or else the whole page would be covered with text bubbles and you wouldn’t get to see any of the amazing art! In comics it’s also harder to sustain a longer story arc, as readers tend to tune in and out of the storyline. So everything has to work first as a page, and then as a standalone issue, and then as a future collected trade graphic novel. Between that and sort of storyboarding the panels, it feels like I’m directing a movie as much as writing a story. It’s a challenge, but I love it, and it’s getting easier as I go.