I’ve been a latecomer to comics for the entirety of my life. While I was introduced to books and novels at a young age, comics were something that no one around me read and they never crossed my radar until just a few years ago. I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what kind of stories appeal to me and what my niche in comics may become. As my journey continues, I’m still working towards that goal, but I’ve found quite a few pieces along the way that have definitely fallen into that category.
I have become a fan of Jim Starlin thanks to a friend introducing me to my favorite comic supervillain, Thanos, and his ever present Infinity Gauntlet. Last September, I had the pleasure of attending Jim Starlin’s panel at Dragon*Con in Atlanta. While I had initially attended to hear what Jim had to say about Thanos’ upcoming role in the movie business, I had become intrigued by Captain Marvel. I did have prior knowledge that Starlin had worked on Captain Marvel and it has always been in my mind as something that I would enjoy. The more Jim Starlin talked about his work on Captain Marvel, the more interested I became. While recently visiting where I call home in Connecticut, I stopped at our area’s longest running comic book store, Cave Comics in Newtown, Connecticut, to pick up the re-release of The Death of Captain Marvel. That’s when I came across Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight.
I was drawn into this book for a few reasons. The first goes back to my love of Battlestar Galactica. I know I just confused you, so give me a moment to explain. The role of Starbuck was originally played by a man (Dirk Benedict), and in the reimagined series, the role is played by a woman (Katee Sackhoff). While the role of Starbuck did not change hands in the same fashion as Mar-Vell to Carol Danvers, I love watching this kind of transition. Another reason that this story stood out to me is the pure no-nonsense talking of the all the female characters. Most of these characters started pursuing their dreams in a time of severe adversity for women trying to break out of the traditional roles set before them. As an Aeronautics major, I love the showcasing of early women aviators as well as women who serve in the armed forces, no matter how fictional, and the inequalities that were faced during that time period.
Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight, as I said earlier, drew me in almost instantaneously. Kelly Sue DeConnick knows how to tell an impelling story. Carol Danvers is struggling to come to terms with the death of her beloved role model and predecessor, Mar-Vell. She’s dealing with an uncertainty of where she should go from here. This even stems to the title of ‘Captain Marvel’ that has now been bestowed upon her. Carol feels towards the beginning of the story that she could not possibly live up to the expectations now set before her.
Amidst Carol’s uncertainty, she is then informed of the death of Helen Cobb, the woman who first inspired her to be a pilot. Helen leaves Carol her most prized possession, a propeller driven airplane known as a T-6, that Helen had achieved a number of aviation records within. With the deaths of Mar-Vell and Helen fresh in her mind and encouragement from fellow Avengers like Spiderman, Carol finally steps up to assume the role of the newest Captain Marvel. The story bounces back and forth between present day and either a World War II setting and the year, 1961. Helen Cobb had given Carol the gift of time travel; the vehicle being her old T-6 airplane. Carol embarks upon a journey and has to decide whether to interfere with the events that are occurring, and possibly set off a butterfly effect, or to sit back and let them unfold.
The art within this book, created by Dexter Soy (issues #1 to #4) and Emma Rios (issue #5 and #6), is very sharp, defined, and reflective of each time period. In the case of Dexter Soy, it is almost like each panel was created on canvas with a paintbrush. However, what brings this book to life are the colors. The World War II setting has a grim and gritty feel to it with lots of tans, browns, and greens to complement the atmosphere. The same goes for the 1961 setting as well with the colors a bit brighter, though, still retaining a grimness.
My only issue is when the story shifts to the present day. It’s hard to differentiate between the setting in the past and the setting in the present based on the colors alone. The colors stay towards the darker side even while in present day. To me, it should be like transitioning from the first color TV to high definition. Some of the scenes take place within a hospital, and I feel that a vibrancy to an almost uncomfortable level would work well here. Hospitals are not known to be dark. They have a brightness about them that cannot be escaped. I feel the colorists lacked in this particular area. On a side note, I just love Carol’s new, and very sensible, costume. Jamie McKelvie gives her a complete makeover from Carol’s previous role as Ms. Marvel. It is the perfect blend of a tribute to Mar-Vell while still being her own.
Summary: Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight takes its time figuring out what it wants to be, but by the end of #6, the journey that you’ve taken alongside Carol Danvers was well worth the trip. This is a good story to introduce Carol Danvers to newer readers as the story re-tells the origin of the woman formerly known as Ms. Marvel and you aren’t picking up in the middle of an arc. I love the all female cast of characters, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for this full bird Colonel.
The Good: Strong, relatable female characters that girls and guys of all ages can appreciate.
The Bad: Slow start may lose a number of readers before the story really gets going.
The Ugly: Difficulty differentiating between present day and the past. Transition is hard to see.