Today’s Super Comic — Ms. Marvel #10 (2007)

The Ms. Marvel series from ten years ago is largely about Carol Danvers striving to become one of Earth’s greatest superheroes. But to be her best self, she must first confront her own worst self—and do so in very comic booky ways, of course.

In #10, a Carol Danvers from a different reality has come to murder the X-Men’s Rogue. Bit of history: In Rogue’s first appearance way back when, she was a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and attacked Ms. Marvel, permanently absorbing all her powers and memories. Carol hung out with the X-Men for a while as Professor Xavier helped reassemble her memories, but she felt like a stranger in her own head. After she evolved into Binary and the X-Men took Rogue in, Carol ran away from Earth with the Starjammers (and returned at some point, obviously, though I’m not sure when).

So apparently in every reality, Rogue has ruined Carol’s life in this same way, so this alternate Carol (calling herself Warbird, which was the main Carol’s name during her alcoholic period), having failed to save her own world from obliteration, is on a mission to kill every reality’s Rogue and every Carol who has forgiven and befriended Rogue.

Yes, very comic booky. But in a good way. The situation forces the real Carol to question whether she has indeed forgiven Rogue, and it tempts her to run away again. And she has to make a decision to be a better person than she was all those years ago.

Comic booky shenanigans, when executed properly, can indeed lead to character growth.

Writer: Brian Reed

Penciler: Mike Wieringo

Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Ms. Marvel vol. 2: Civil War (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Captain Marvel #1 (2012)

Carol Danvers hasn’t had the smoothest history, but she’s finally in the A-list where she belongs. After her character-rehabilitation in the Ms. Marvel series from ten years ago, she was finally ready to take the name and title she should have had from the start—Captain Marvel, Earth’s Mightiest Hero.

She officially takes the name in Captain Marvel #1 (from 2012, not 2014 or 2016; I miss the days when series would go on for hundreds of issues). It’s basically a tone-setting issue, beginning with a fun romp as then–Ms. Marvel and Captain America take on the Absorbing Man, who amusingly wants to steal a moon rock in hopes it will give him moon powers. Things get a bit more serious later with the true inciting incident for the first storyline—the death of Carol’s hero from her youth (and not a superhero hero).

It’s a solid start that strikes a nice tonal balance. I thoroughly enjoy Kelly Sue DeConnick’s writing style—the dialogue sounds organic, the sense of humor is strong, and there’s a focus on character. All good stuff.

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Artist: Dexter Soy

Cover: Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines, Javier Rodriguez

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Captain Marvel vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Ms. Marvel #6 (2016)

ms-marvel-6It’s only natural for teen superheroes to screw up from time to time, and in Ms. Marvel #6, Kamala screws up big time…literally big time.

Like many teenagers these days, she’s so over-committed that she’s trying to be in multiple places at once (also literally in her case). In doing so, she risks missing out on all the important things and winds up fighting a giant-sized clone of herself (maybe not so much like many teenagers).

I’m pleased to see that the series, as well as Kamala, values input from adult role models. Captain Marvel (her hero) and Iron Man (her boss in the Avengers) both show up. Their Civil War II tensions appear without much subtlety, but no knowledge of that storyline is required (I haven’t read it yet). Despite their differences, though, both adults genuinely care about Ms. Marvel … not only her career, but her personal well-being.

Such a fun series, with excellent heart at its foundation.

Writer: G. Willow Wilson

Artist: Nico Leon

Cover: David Lopez

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Ms. Marvel vol. 5: Super Famous (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Kingdom Come #4 (1996)

kingdom_come_4Kingdom Come arrives at a perfect conclusion.

The Superman in this miniseries has been one who’s lost his way. He still wants to do the right thing, but his previously impeccable judgment is impaired. This is the issue to address how he let that happen and how to right the course…but only after he reaches his breaking point, brought upon in part by his own incredible sense of responsibility.

Wonder Woman, too, has strayed, and her arc comes to a head in an excellent confrontation with Batman. And Captain Marvel is extremely well cast as the one character who is both superhuman and human.

The two-page spread early in the book showcases Alex Ross’s amazing artistic talents. He crams so many characters on the battlefield, with every bit player and background actor engaged in a specific action against a specific opponent. Throughout the book, each page is a phenomenal work of art.

Writer Mark Waid clearly understands superheroes’ two most important roles—to fight always for life, and to inspire. Unless they do those two things, they’re not truly superheroes. This series is ultimately all about superheroes becoming heroic again, and while I’ve never ranked my favorite comics, Kingdom Come would easily fall in the top ten. Probably top five.

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Alex Ross

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Kingdom Come (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Kingdom Come #3 (1996)

kingdom_come_3In the third issue of Kingdom Come, Superman doesn’t want to adjust to a changing world, but Captain Marvel couldn’t adjust. Superman strives to maintain peace, but Wonder Woman is prepared for war, if necessary.

The inclusion of Captain Marvel (Shazam) is an excellent choice. He truly is DC’s most innocent superhero. He’s a child who can transform into a super-powered adult, but he’s still a child at heart. But this miniseries is set in the future, and Billy Batson is all grown up…and the manner in which he’s grown up reflects the world around him. He simply doesn’t fit in this darker age, leading him into Lex Luthor’s thrall. His cheesy smile has never been creepier.

The conflict between Superman’s idealism and Wonder Woman’s pragmatism is especially well-handled, and it’s all the more interesting because it’s a conflict between two people who respect each other a great deal.

Tensions escalate throughout the issue. We get some relief as Batman has his Awesome Batman Moment. But this is all about putting all the chess pieces in place for the climactic battle, and it features many excellent moments along the way, including this fantastic quote from Superman to Batman:

“The deliberate taking of human—even super-human—life goes against every belief I have—and that you have. That’s the one thing we’ve always had in common. It’s what made us what we are.”

I will savor re-reading the final issue.

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Alex Ross

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Kingdom Come (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Captain Marvel #14 (2013)

Captain_Marvel_Vol_7_14Yesterday, I noted that the Captain Marvel storyline “The Enemy Within” got off to an excellent start, and I today I confirm that the finale delivers an excellent ending. If you’re looking for great super-heroics, I found it for you. You’re welcome.

This is a relatively recent storyline that shouldn’t be too hard to track down, so I won’t spoil any of the specifics. But it features Captain Marvel behaving exactly as a superhero should, further establishing her as one of Marvel’s best characters. In recent years, Carol Danvers has become the Superman of the Marvel Universe, and the role suits her just fine.

Oh, and the Avengers are in this issue, too. They tend not to magically disappear during their teammates’ solo adventures as often as they do in the movies.

Speaking of movies…I’m completely on board with the recent casting news of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. We’ve still got a long wait ahead for that film, so tide yourself over with the comics for now. And while this is a great story, start at the beginning of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run on the character for the optimal reading experience (that would be the #1 that came out in 2012, not the #1 that came out in 2014, nor the #1 that came out in 2016…geez, Marvel, you have a numbering problem).

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Artists: Scott Hepburn and Geraldo Sandoval

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; Avengers: The Enemy Within (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Avengers: The Enemy Within #1 (2013)

Avengers_The_Enemy_Within_Vol_1_1The title says “Avengers,” but it’s primarily a Captain Marvel story…and, based on this part, quite a good one. The storyline, which I’m reading for the first time, continues in Avengers Assemble and Captain Marvel, and the first part certainly motivates me to keep reading.

This one-shot establishes a compelling situation—Carol is suffering from a brain lesion that’s at risk of growing every time she uses her powers, particularly when she flies. But there’s always work for Captain Marvel to do, whether it’s searching for a lost elderly woman or battling super-villains, and Carol isn’t one to sit idle.

I love how Kelly Sue DeConnick writes Captain Marvel. Carol’s a bona fide hero without ever ceasing to be a human being. I particularly enjoy Captain Marvel’s banter with Spider-Woman. DeConnick has a great ear for dialogue, and it goes a long way toward making the two sound like genuine longtime friends.

Now I want to go back and catch up on the issues I missed.

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Artist: Scott Hepburn

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; Avengers: The Enemy Within (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Superman/Shazam: First Thunder #1-4 (2005)

Superman Shazam First ThunderSuperman and Captain Marvel meet for the first time! Well, the latter needs to be called “Shazam” on the covers because of trademark issues, but he’s Captain Marvel throughout the interior pages.

Written by Judd Winick and drawn by Joshua Middleton, First Thunder is an entertaining look at an early period in both heroes’ tenures, full of magical monsters and giant robots in need of smashing. The characterization is spot-on throughout, giving us fun interactions between the two leads as they bond over their unconventional career that so few can relate to. They don’t fight each other over any petty misunderstanding, but rather they become fast friends who enjoy teaming up.

And toward the end, the book takes a turn into genuinely heartfelt territory, and it sticks the landing with a fantastic final page. Appearances and powers aside, Captain Marvel is still just a kid, so Superman needs to be the adult.

A great, quick read for fans, young and old, of either character.

Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Joshua Middleton

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Superman/Shazam: First Thunder (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Ms. Marvel #1 (2006)

Ms._Marvel_Vol_2_1In recent years, as Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers has become one of Marvel’s preeminent superheroes. She should have been an A-lister when she first became Ms. Marvel in the ‘70s, but writers have not always treated her character well. A supernatural pregnancy led to her leaving the Avengers, and later a pre-X-Men Rogue absorbed her powers and memories, stealing her very identity in the process.

Carol eventually reemerged as a superhero, first as Binary (not the name of an A-lister, for sure) and later as the alcoholic Warbird. By 2006, she was overdue for another shot at the Ms. Marvel title—and her own solo title—and in this series written by Brian Reed, she earns it.

The first issue acknowledges Carol’s tendency to go astray, and it establishes her determination to rectify that situation and become one of the greats.

That’s going to take time, as shown by her knee-jerk reaction of calling for the Avengers when an extraterrestrial threat appears. But she’s working at it.

As Captain Marvel today, Carol is one of the best superheroes in the Marvel Universe, as she should be. And this is where her resurgence began.

Writer: Brian Reed

Penciler: Roberto de la Torre

Inker: Jimmy Palmiotti

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Ms. Marvel vol. 1: The Best of the Best (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comic: Ms. Marvel #17 (2015)

MSMARVEL17I continue to catch up on Ms. Marvel, and it continues to be a total delight. Not even getting caught up in a company-wide crossover can throw it off track. Rather, this Secret Wars tie-in allows Ms. Marvel the opportunity to team up with her idol, Captain Marvel.

Kamala’s initial reaction to meeting her own personal hero after a really rough day is priceless, and their interaction throughout the issue is handled wonderfully. Her youthful enthusiasm is infectious, and Carol Danvers’ patience with her young fan and encouragement of a promising young hero helps set a great, kind-hearted tone for the story.

Writer G. Willow Wilson gets this teenage superhero series exactly right. It’s funny, full of heart, and with a protagonist who tries to do the right thing no matter how difficult that is. If you want a superhero book that will put a smile on your face, check Ms. Marvel out.

“For a while, I just felt kind of weird and gross.”

“And now?”

“Now I feel weird and awesome!”

Writer: G. Willow Wilson

Artist: Adrian Alphona

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; included in Ms. Marvel vol. 4: Last Days (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up