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DeConnick, Thompson Bring Retro-Futurism to “Secret Wars” in “Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps”

by  in Comic News Comment
DeConnick, Thompson Bring Retro-Futurism to “Secret Wars” in “Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps”

In 2012, Carol Danvers honored and revitalized one of the Marvel Universe’s heroic legacies by retiring Ms. Marvel identity and taking on the Captain Marvel moniker. This move came along with a bold costume redesign and new “Captain Marvel” series by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. This combination of events inspired readers and sparked the creation of a movement — the Carol Corps.

This June, Marvel will pay homage to the Corps’ real-world support with a new “Secret Wars” series titled, “Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps.” The book — by Carol vet DeConnick, co-writer Kelly Thompson (“Jem and the Holograms”) and artist David Lopez — casts Carol Danvers and several pilots she’s met in her adventures as Captain Marvel as an elite aerial warfare unit operating out of the Battleworld domain known as Hala Field. CBR News chatted with Thompson and DeConnick about their title characters, the battles they’ll become embroiled in and Hala Field.

CBR News: Let’s start with the primary setting of “Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps,” Hala Field. What’s life like there in terms of technology, social conditions, and the fantastic? What I’ve seen suggests it’s one of the more hopeful Battleworld domains in that it’s not a wasteland and it’s not dominated by nefarious individuals. Is that a correct assumption?

Kelly Thompson: Yes, Hala Field is one of the smaller Domains on Battleworld. It’s a matriarchal society with no men, and a place not riddled with super powered characters or hell dimensions, so it looks pretty good by comparison to some others. It’s got a sort of futuristic 1940’s vibe to it, if that makes sense.

Kelly Sue DeConnick: “Retro-futurism”

Kelly Thompson: Hala Field is definitely one of the more hopeful and utopian appearing domains, but as anyone that reads fantasy and sci-fi knows, scratch the surface of a Utopia and you’re bound to find some unsavory things — and that’s definitely true for our characters.

How has being part of the world of Hala Field affected Carol Danvers? How similar and how different is she to the Captain Marvel we knew before “Secret Wars?”

Thompson: I think one of the great things about Carol as a character is that she’s such a well-defined woman and hero that she doesn’t change that much when you change her circumstances and the world surrounding her. As Kelly Sue is fond of saying, everything about Carol wants to go up and that doesn’t change no matter what you change about her world or surroundings. Carol still has her superpowers, she’s still a pilot, still a leader, still a hero. She’s still our Carol, just a slightly different reflection of her.

Who are the titular Carol Corps of this story? What kind of roles do they play in the series? Are they the supporting cast?

Thompson: I guess they are technically supporting cast as Carol’s clearly the lead, but it has a nice ensemble feel to me overall. The Carol Corps are primarily made up of characters from Kelly Sue’s “Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight” arc. [The Corps includes] Helen Cobb, who is even more of a rebel in this world. Kelly Sue said in another interview that this is Helen Cobb with the wind at her back, which I think sums her up perfectly. Helen is both an insanely talented pilot and also a rebel, which sort of keeps her from being the leader. We’ve also got a new but recognizable versions of Jerri, Mackie, and Bee. Jerri is the talented, levelheaded, glamorous leader of the squad — someone a bit more conservative and measured and perfectly suited to lead. Bee is the philosopher and thinker, the one really pushing the envelope with the unanswered questions of this world. Mackie is the one who can fix everything, and sort of the Dum Dum Duggan analogue.

“Captain Marvel And The Carol Corps” Takes Flight During “Secret Wars”

We’ve also got an all-new character, Jolene, who I like to think of as a sort of partner in crime to Mackie. I like to imagine between the panels that Mackie and Jolene sneak off base and get into constant shenanigans. There will be a few other fun cameos and one in particular that I’m especially proud of and think readers will get a kick out of, but Helen, Jerri, Bee, Mackie, and Jolene are the Banshee Squad, a.k.a. the Carol Corps — the best of the best.

What can you tell us about the role Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps play both in Hala Field and the larger Battleworld? Are they an official military force or more of a private company?

Thompson: They’re an official military force serving those in power on Battleworld, but they’re basically a base operating in peacetime — or at least that’s the state they’re in when we first meet them. This book follows the Corps as they’re trying to figure out what’s going on around them and tells its own complete story. It stands alone nicely but we have also tapped into some really cool things about this event and made good use of them, so this book definitely fits into the bigger picture.

What sets the story of “Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps” in motion and what kinds of foes will they find themselves up against?

Thompson: I think there’s only so much I can say without getting in trouble! There are some concrete battles for the Corps in the sense that they’re a military force and so they’re not afraid to “blow things up” to protect their land and people, but the bigger fight for Carol and the Corps is a fight against the unknown – and more specifically the pursuit of knowledge and truth. There’s a lot of information being kept from these characters and when they realize that, they push against it — like all classic revolutionaries do. And as they push against these things, they draw very big targets on their backs and things get violent.

Kelly, you’ve become known for your work as a comics journalist, but you’ve also become a fairly prolific author of both comics and prose in these last few years. With “Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps,” you’re co-writing your first Marvel comic with Kelly Sue DeConnick. How does it feel to see your name on a Marvel book, especially one starring Carol Danvers?

Thompson: It’s a bit wild. There was a lot of pinching myself happening in those first weeks, and as you said, it’s particularly amazing considering it’s Carol. “Captain Marvel” has been one of my favorite Marvel books in the last few years, and of course it’s an especially exciting time to be involved with Carol with the movie hovering out there in the distance.

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What’s it like co-writing with Kelly Sue? How would you describe the division of labor on the book? Does one of you write and the other script?

Thompson: I know it’s a cliche, but working with Kelly Sue is pretty much a dream come true. I’m a huge fan of her work — both her incredible Marvel work, especially with Carol, obviously, and also of her indie work. “Bitch Planet” is a book that feels like, more than just a great comic, a movement. Kelly Sue is a comics hero of mine and so working with her is both amazing and a bit intimidating, but she’s been so kind to me and I’ve learned so much already.

Structurally, Kelly Sue basically put together a rough outline of the series as a whole — what it should be about, the characters involved, the emotional beats we wanted to hit and some key moments. Then I broke the individual issues down further into beats and actions, hammering out the specifics of the story. When that was approved by Kelly Sue and [editor] Sana [Amanat], I then took a first pass at the script. From there, Kelly Sue goes into my draft and works her magic, which is indeed pretty magical.

DeConnick: Aw, you’re very kind, KT. She’s not phrasing it this way, but I will: KT does all the hard work.

Bringing the Carol Corps’ adventure to life is regular “Captain Marvel” artist David Lopez, who has shown a flair for otherworldly design in his work on that series. What’s it like seeing him translate what he’s been doing on the previous “Captain Marvel” title to this one?

Thompson: I am a huge fan of David Lopez, so finding out he was going to be drawing this book — my first book at Marvel! — was incredibly exciting. As you said, David is a fantastic designer, so it’s been really fun to see him approach our world with that kind of “1940’s future” aesthetic that I mentioned before. He designed these awesome planes for the book that are sort of one part fighter jet, one part space ship, and are utterly cool. David also did an incredible job with the diversity of these women. Not all comic book artists can handle that, but David is exceptional at featuring different body types and facial features, making everyone distinct. To me that feels so much more realistic and relatable for each character to look and feel like a real person. He just sent over layouts for an issue the other day and they are insane. So gorgeous!

DeConnick: Yeah, David steps it up every damn issue.

Thompson: I think it’s going to be a beautiful book and we’re telling a really emotionally resonant story that’s full of the kind of characters you don’t get to see often enough in comics. “Carol Corps” is pretty unique in that way, I think.

Finally, Kelly, some readers will be discovering your work as a writer for the first time via “Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps.” For those who are curious and want to try more of your work, what do you recommend?

Thompson: Yes! Thank you for asking! I’m writing the new “Jem and the Holograms” book from IDW. I also have a graphic novel with co-creator Meredith McClaren called “Heart In A Box” forthcoming from Dark Horse in September. I also have two novels — prose, not comics!) — called “The Girl Who Would Be King” and “Storykiller,” and a second volume of “Storykiller” is hopefully releasing this summer/fall. I have a couple other exciting comics things developing but nothing I can announce just yet!

DeConnick: She’s gonna be a superstar, this one.

“Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps” lands in stores on June 10.

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