Carol Danvers is a fascinating character. A staple of Marvel Comics since 1968 (though not officially a recurring character until 1977), Danvers’ story is as odd as any other superheroes. Originally an officer in the US Air Force, she is caught in the explosion of a Kree alien device which restructures her DNA, giving her superhuman powers similar to those of the original Captain Marvel – a Kree known as Mar-Vell (yes, really). After decades of living as Ms. Marvel, and following the death of Mar-Vell, Danvers has recently taken up the mantle of Captain Marvel.
Now, with the first female-fronted Marvel Studios film on the horizon, let’s take a look at the most important Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers stories that will give fans a good idea of who exactly this superwoman is.
10. Civil War II
This is a great way to ease into who Carol Danvers is as Captain Marvel; what she can do, what she stands for, who she fights with... You'll learn about her character, her persona, her attitude. Whether or not you care about Carol Danvers may well be determined by a story in which she attempts to play Tom Cruise in Minority Report.
In Civil War II, the Avengers come face-to-face with Ulysses, an Inhuman with the power to predict the future. Captain Marvel hopes to utilize his power as a means to prevent future crimes before they happen, while Tony Stark (Iron Man) is not so optimistic or trustful. Their disagreement tears a rift between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
9. Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further Faster, More
This story takes Danvers away from Earth and into uncharted deep-space territory as she joins a revolt against the Galactic Alliance after reuniting an alien girl with her home planet. Written by comic book legend and pretty lady Kelly DeConnick (wife of other comic legend and handsome man Matt Fraction), this is the ultimate story of feminine empowerment. Captain Marvel takes flight and moves to correct injustice on an intergalactic scale, with a little help/hindrance from The Guardians of the Galaxy. Now that Danvers has established herself as Earth’s new Captain Marvel, it’s time to take flight and prove herself on the galactic playing field.
8 Captain Marvel: Carol Danvers – The Ms. Marvel Years
Since she became Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers has risen to prominence in a big way. Soon, even the non-comics-reading public will know of her story and her exploits. But where did it all begin? Who was she before the death of Mar-Vell?
In this big book of 17 issues collected from publications between ’06 and ’10, you can read about the exploits of Ms. Marvel, a powerhouse of a woman with the power of a Kree alien. Taking place alongside the infamous House of M and Civil War storylines, these issues will give the best possible taste of who exactly Carol Danvers has always been.
7. Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Captain Marvel
With the movie due to hit theaters in March, the February release of this collection has certainly been well-timed by Marvel (they really know what they’re doing). The Marvel Platinum books always serve as a fantastic collection of issues that document and explore a single hero’s entire history, often spanning 50 years of comics. This time, the spotlight falls on Captain Marvel (that’s both Danvers and Mar-Vell), featuring stellar writers like Stan Lee, Jim Starlin, and Chris Claremont, this collection—which hits almost 300 pages—is not to be passed up.
6. Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Rise of Alpha Flight
Originally an X-Men spin-off from the mind of John Byrne, Alpha Flight were a ragtag team of Canadian heroes popular in the ‘60s and ‘80s. Now, Captain Marvel has assembled her own Alpha Flight team, featuring a few familiar faces.
After DeConnick successfully reimagined Danvers as a space-faring badass superwoman, where was there to go but for Captain Marvel to build and lead her own space program? Playing the role of a soldier, leader, and diplomat, it’s a complex tale of war, politics, and betrayal for the new intergalactic Captain Marvel. If you’ve started at zero with Captain Marvel Vol. 1, this is your next step.
5. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal
No, this is not Carol Danvers, but it does have everything to do with her legacy. It’s also a very important series, being the first comic in history to be written by a Muslim woman and to star a female Muslim protagonist. It’s also just so friggen good.
Kamala Khan is obsessed with Captain Marvel, having grown up on her exploits as Ms. Marvel and awing at her blossoming into Captain Marvel. When the Inhuman Terrigen Mist hits her and unlocks her own dormant powers, she decides to take up the now-defunct name of her idol, and strive to be everything she once admired. To best see the legacy that Carol Danvers has inspired, look no further than this.
4. Captain Marvel Vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight
All of these 'volume ones' can get a little confusing, but you can blame Marvel for its overeager rebranding of everything every two years. However, this was the moment that Carol Danvers finally rose like a phoenix from the ashes of Ms. Marvel, and took up the mantle of Captain Marvel. Just like the other Captain Marvel Vol. 1, this one is also written by Marvel’s Mightiest Woman, Kelly DeConnick. And yes, she is the absolute best jumping-on point for the character. Although not as epic in scope as where the story eventually takes her, it certainly whispers of things to come. It establishes the story on Earth before she eventually takes flight.
3. Essential Ms. Marvel Vol. 1
Similar to the Marvel Platinum series’, the Essentials are, well, essential reading for anyone wanting to get to grips with the long history of their new favorite character. For Carol Danvers, that history is deeper than most readers realize. Her modern-day fame is tied to her moniker as Captain Marvel. With this book, however, we can learn of her true origins back in the ‘60s and ‘70s as the original Ms. Marvel. This giant book, which collects Ms. Marvel #1-23 and Marvel Super-Heroes Magazine #10-11, pits Ms. Marvel against a whole host of iconic Marvel villains, including the very race who gave her those powers: the Kree.
2. The Death Of Captain Marvel
Ah, Jim Starlin. After Jack Kirby not only established so much of what we still love about Marvel (and DC) today, Jim Starlin followed along, creating some of the most beloved stories of the decade. One of these stories was The Death of Captain Marvel. Like No Normal, this is not a Carol Danvers story, but it does speak to her legacy. Rather, this is the story of how Mar-Vell–the original Captain Marvel–fell from grace. A clever tale of mortality and the courage it takes to face it, even as a superhero, this book is an inspiration to readers who look to those superpowered people for guidance and inspiration.
1. The Infinity Gauntlet
This might seem like an odd choice at first since neither Captain Marvel nor Ms. Marvel actually feature in the comic, but so much of their legacy is tied to this book; it cannot go unread. Firstly, the man who defined (and killed) Mar-Vell, Jim Starlin, is the mastermind behind this book; the man who created Thanos and designed him as a villain for Captain Marvel. This also goes on to explain why Captain Marvel will play such a heavy role in the final Avengers movie, and why her film will be released prior to Avengers: Endgame. This book also follows pretty closely on from The Death of Captain Marvel and is the sole inspiration for the blockbuster Infinity War movie. Read it.