Going On The Account: Oh Captain, My Captain…

You know those odd, kinda long, a little embarrassing yet revelatory stories that begin with, “So I was ordering my third drink at the bar that night, when…”?

This one begins with, “So I just finished re-filing my comic books, when…”

No, I don’t usually talk about comic books too much here.  Most of the time, the ground covered in these books is a little outside of my wheelhouse, though the occasional title like Pirate Eye comes along that’s worth noting.  And of course I may be the only person who got into Tales of the Black Freighter as part of Watchmen, hoping to see a collection of the pieces from the series put into one place to read as its own stand-alone story.

But I’ve not exactly been staying away from people with abilities beyond those of mortal men, either.  I made it clear since Dr. Horrible premiered that I have an interest in this area.  Had it since I could tell the difference between Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko on sight, in fact.

And I think I’ve mentioned before that I believe that some of my work would pass the Bechdel Test, which means the film adaptation of Raging Gail would get a good rating in Sweden…

 

(Hey, does anyone here know how to write a good pitch letter in Swedish…?)

So, anyways, this is a sort of long wind-up before I get to the subject:

 

For those unfamiliar with the woman above, her name is Carol Danvers, who goes by the professional name of Captain Marvel.

Yes, yes, I know, she looks nothing like “the Big Red Cheese,” whom you might have thought I was talking about, who could be worthy of a whole other angsty whistful post another time; it’s not his turn here, even though Mary Marvel might get a write-up before he does…

Stop looking at me like that!  Just roll with me here a bit…

Anyway, the latest Captain Marvel, the latest stop on the road for Carol Danvers, a woman with a very, very long and convoluted history in comics, that even by the standards of comic-based operatic plotting is pretty messed up.  The whole mind-controlled-into-sleeping-with-your-kidnapper thing, for example; not what you call something to speak about with pride…

Despite that, Danvers ultimately gets to be the person who carries the name of Captain Marvel, something Marvel needs done every few years in order to keep their claim the trademark alive, which is a fairly convoluted tale in and of itself.

It seems fitting that a woman with a lot of adversity in her past should take up the difficult task of keeping the brand alive, and when her series started last year, it got off to a rousing start.  The character clicked with dedicated fans, many of whom were inspired by her; the need for strong archetypes for women has always been there, and her taking up the mantle unleashed a lot of pent-up demand, evidence of which runs throughout the Carol Danvers fan Tumblr.

And the run had some very powerful writing, especially the first arc where Danvers travels in time and meets some fictional WASPs and members of the Mercury 13, two groups from history that did not get a lot of the credit they were due.  Here was a title that promised not only that we weren’t just going to get another white dude in a cape and spandex, but that we’d see some of what came before to lead up to this character.  There was a promise that we’d have a heroine that not only was a strong character in her own right, but came out of a tradition that was finally going to get its due.

The last twenty four hours, the press has been abuzz about a new superhero, Ms. Marvel, a teenager of Pakistani-American descent who happens to be a Muslim.  A lot of press has been devoted to this story.  And her publisher is all set to promote her book, after teasing about it in the issue of CAPTAIN MARVEL released today.

Which happens to be the last issue of this series…

Apparently, so much press was generated about Kamala Kahn that word about Carol Danvers’ current run coming to an abrupt end seemed to have gotten lost out there.  I’m not sure I want to say it was intentional, though it does feel like Nero touting an urban renewal plan for Rome without discussing the fire…

Even if we agree on the whole ars gratsia pecuniarum imperative here, that the publisher needs to have a product that makes money at the end of the quarter, the way this all went down seems distasteful.  The subtitle on CAPTAIN MARVEL read “Earth’s Mightiest Hero,” after all; shouldn’t she have had a passing that got more attention, something that didn’t feel like a sleight of hand?

If nothing else, she deserved better than this.  And if you’re about to say, “It could have been worse,” then I’m assuming you’re going to bring up Kate Kane’s marital prohibition or Harley Quinn’s “suicide try-out” offer, which by comparison, yeah, it very well could have.  All we’d need to really ramp this up is a refrigerator to stuff someone in, something we’re all tired of by now.

Well, I am, since I got it out of my system…

 

But it still bothers me that, at a time when we should be opening ourselves up to contributions from new sources and recognizing that we can’t just expect to read or hear about folks drawn from the same limited pool of characters (a bunch of straight white dudes), especially as our culture changes to reflect new realities, that we’re seeing yet more of the same this late on.  Oh, this person can do amazing, superior things, even if he looks much the same as the last few enhanced heroes over the last half of the 20th Century.

Really?

And as I’m putting my books in order, noting that this series was not going to see an Issue # 18, part of me wants to go back.  Not to some golden time, or to some mythical place that may never have existed, no…

I want to go back to some notes I jotted down a while ago.  Like all writers, if an idea comes, I try and put it down somewhere, in case I need to revisit it or have a little time to entertain something.  I have bits of snatches I wrote down during the George H. W. Bush administration I might someday fall back on, and among my notes is something I looked at with new eyes tonight when I re-opened those files.

It might be a little while before this gets an official roll-out, and I did hope to hold this back for professional consideration, but after tonight, this may move up the list and get shared out there the way Abigail Sanders and Jenny DiNapoli’s tales were.

Because if this is what we’re going to get from the mainstream, someone new may need to step up and play the hero…

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