Before she was known as Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers was a member of the U.S. Air Force. While she’s no stranger to life-saving tools and technology, as a resident of the Marvel Universe she knows all too well the unintended, often disastrous consequences they can lead to when improperly employed. The emergence of an Inhuman whose powers could save lives leads to a major schism that will divide Marvel’s mightiest heroes. Carol wants to use the Inhuman and his abilities to create a better future but some of her allies don’t feel this is the best course of action. Who will stand with her — and who will oppose her?
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Marvel Comics’ upcoming “Civil War II” event when it begins this June, as Captain Marvel and her allies take a stand against Iron Man and those who side with him. Starting in July, co-writers Christos Gage and Ruth Fletcher Gage join regular series artist Kris Anka for an arc of “Captain Marvel” beginning with Issue #6 that will personalize the “Civil War II” conflict for Carol and examine the impact her pivotal role the event has on her life and those she shares it with.
Speaking with the Gages over email, CBR learned about their take on Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, her relationship with Tony Stark and the themes their storyline will explore. The married writing duo also explain how “Captain Marvel” ties into the main “Civil War II” series and reflect on their first comic book collaboration, “The Lion of Rora” OGN from Oni Press.
CBR News: You’re taking over “Captain Marvel” during the book’s “Civil War II” tie-in. Considering Carol plays a key role in the event, what aspects of her will your story explore?
Christos & Ruth Fletcher Gage: Carol has been steadily moving from being a soldier to a leader, and now she’ll step into on one of the most difficult aspects of a leader’s role — taking a tough stance on a controversial issue and fighting for it. The saying “it’s lonely at the top” isn’t a cliche for nothing. Beyond just the usual threats to life and the planet Earth itself, Carol is facing tremendous personal consequences. What’s especially interesting for us is exploring the way Carol’s personality and background (particularly her experience in the military) affect how she deals with this situation, and what the new Inhuman character’s ability to see the future means for both her and the mission she’s undertaken as commander of Alpha Flight, Earth’s first line of defense.
The last thing we want to do is the kind of story where you could plug any number of other characters into Carol’s place and it wouldn’t change. We want this to feel personal — a Carol Danvers story.
Opposing Carol’s faction in “Civil War II” is the one led by Tony Stark. How do you think she feels about that? What’s your sense of the relationship between Carol and Tony? Do you think they were ever friends in the way say Steve Rogers and Tony were?
It’s tough to talk about this without venturing into spoiler territory, but we can say that, at first, this is more of a difference of opinion or philosophy than anything else. However, it soon gets personal — very personal — for both Captain Marvel and Iron Man. We do feel like Carol and Tony were friends — not as close as Steve and Tony, certainly, but he was there to help her cope with her alcoholism, so it’s more than just that they’ve been teammates. Once things heat up, though — let’s just say they won’t be going to AA meetings together any time soon.
While Marvel hasn’t concretely revealed who sides with each hero in the conflict, will the current Alpha Flight roster play a factor in your tale?
The members of Alpha Flight will definitely be around, and we’ll learn even more about just how the new organization functions. Some of Carol’s other allies have been pictured in promotional art, but we’re not about to reveal who will be showing up in our series just yet! We do feel that we don’t want this to become a “cast of thousands” situation — we want to keep our focus on Carol and what’s going on with her. Of course, that will involve other characters.
Does your story build on what’s happening in the pages of “Civil War II” or is it a separate story that finds a different way into the event?
The story kicks off in a similar way to the overall event: a new Inhuman, Ulysses, surfaces. His power is that he gets visions of future events, often situations that threaten lives. Captain Marvel feels strongly that the heroic community has not just an opportunity, but an obligation to act on these visions and stop crises before they happen. Iron Man, on the other hand, feels that tampering with the future could, through the “butterfly effect,” cause even worse problems than it solves. That’s how it begins. From there — and we can’t say how — things escalate dramatically, and that’s the crux of our story. Carol will be up against friends, foes, and at times it’ll seem like she’s taking on fate itself.
Is this story accessible on its own or will readers need to pick up the main series to follow along with these issues of “Captain Marvel?”
We were in agreement with our editor, Sana Amanat, that there’s no point in just paralleling the story of the core “Civil War II” series. A lot of people are going to be reading both, and it would be boring for everyone to just re-hash the same narrative with slightly different points of view. Of course, events from the main series will have a huge effect on our issues, but we’ll probably just briefly touch on the big moments from that book that impact Carol, and then explore exactly how she’s affected.
By the same token, when you see things happen in the main series, if you’ve read our issues, you’ll understand how and why Carol arrived at the conclusions and actions she did. And there’ll be stuff in each book that isn’t in the other. However, anyone who wants to read just one or the other title will have no problem understanding what’s going on.
Current “Captain Marvel” artist Kris Anka will continue to work with you both on this arc. He already has a good sense of Carol as a character, and his style mixes big action with great dramatic and personal moments. What were you excited about seeing him bring to life in this arc?
Absolutely, we couldn’t have said it better. Kris knows Carol and her world through and through, and his skill with everything from cosmically huge events to personal, internal moments is paramount to what we’re doing. We’re thrilled to have him, [colorist] Matt Wilson, [letterer] Joe Caramagna — and, of course, Sana — sticking around after the great work they’ve done with “Captain Marvel” thus far!
You two have written together before in television, writing scripts for first season of the “Daredevil” Netflix show, as well as a graphic novel for Oni Press. Ruth, is “Captain Marvel” the first comic you’ve written for Marvel? Does it feel like a milestone or an evolution of your collaboration together?
Ruth Fletcher Gage: It is. I didn’t grow up reading comics the way Chris did — they were rarely available in the small town I grew up in, and when they were, there were none starring women characters. (But I loved the Lynda Carter “Wonder Woman” show and the “Hulk!”) So while Chris loves writing specific characters, for me it’s about the story and the collaboration.
I’m delighted to work with Sana, who I think is doing amazing things, both in comics and in general. It’s a privilege to follow Tara [Butters] and Michele [Fazekas], who we’ve known since we wrote for “Law & Order: SVU” — they’re great people and brilliant writers. And our creative team, as we mentioned above, is second to none. It’s all very exciting!
What’s the co-writing process on “Captain Marvel?” Is the division of labor as simple as one of you plots and the other scripts?
It’s not unlike how we work on screenplays. We plot it together, talking the story through — and our frame of reference is usually in terms of movies or TV shows. Then Chris will write the first draft of the script, and Ruth will do the second draft. Finally, we talk over any areas that still need massaging, bringing the process full circle by going through the final script together.
Some readers might not know that you co-wrote “The Lion of Rora,” the graphic novel I mentioned earlier. While it’s historical fiction and presumably doesn’t share too much in common with “Captain Marvel,” what can you tell potential readers who may discover it thanks to your latest effort together?
That it’s easy to find out more about it! The best reference point for “The Lion of Rora” is “Braveheart;” like that film, it’s based on the true story of a man leading his people, the Waldensians, to fight for their freedom — in this case, the first time in European history citizens rebelled against their ruler for the right to worship the way they chose, rather than the way the state commanded. The protagonist, Joshua Janavel, rose from being a simple peasant farmer to a brilliant general who Napoleon called the finest military tactician in history. The battles are amazing — Janavel would defeat an army of five hundred with just five men, because of his imaginative planning and knowledge of the terrain.
The ideas for which they fought inspired both the French Revolution and the American Revolution. We were honored to have “The Lion of Rora” win “Comics Alliance’s” award for Best Historical Comic of 2015, and receive wonderful reviews from publications like “The Library Journal” and “Publisher’s Weekly,” as well as being chosen as one of the top ten graphic novels of the month by Amazon’s editors.
Rather than get long-winded about it, we’d recommend anyone who is intrigued by “The Lion of Rora” to check out our web site for the book at www.lionofrora.com — and if you like what you see, you can get “The Lion of Rora” wherever you buy comics, or digitally.
“Captain Marvel” #7 arrives July 20 from Marvel Comics.
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