Saturday, February 2, 2013

Review: Captain Marvel #9

Idiosyncratic Routine

''Book like that,'' says my LCS guru, ''fanboys don't support 'em. Too bad too, I've always liked that character and Andrade's art is badass.''
 
When I swore off buying Marvel and DC cape comics ten months or so ago, I gave myself an out, kind of, which I now call 'the Cloonan clause.' If a favorite artist like Becky Cloonan works on a Marvel or DC title, there is no reason to throw the baby out with the corporate comic bathwater. Somewhere David Brothers weeps. So be it.
 
I read an editorial Jessica Boyd wrote on Stash My Comics about Captain Marvel. Boyd passionately writes about the comic she loves and the archenemy of all comic book superheroes -- not named Batman or Wolverine -- cancellation. Boyd lists DIY paraphernalia fans have made in support of Captain Marvel, everything from ID cards to t-shirts to knit caps. I was curious to see what all the hub-bub was (bub) so I thought I'd give it the 'flip test' next time I was at my LCS.

And then it hit. I saw Filipe Andrade's art and it was like when Michael Corleone first sees Apollonia. I was struck by the thunderbolt. Cue the Cloonan clause.

I always choose idiosyncratic art over house-style, always; and perhaps that's my cross to bear when it comes to corporate comics, an aversion to the same sameness. Lucky for us, heroes wear costumes, right, or how else would we tell them apart? Comic books are enough of a ghetto and walling off one kind of reader from another goes nowhere. Captain Marvel #9 flies above the fray to challenge corporate comic book conformity and we are all better for it. 

Nobody knits a hat unless they believe. From what I can tell, Captain Marvel is an idiosyncratic comic, so much so, it feels like it could be creator-owned. Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick has made Captain Marvel personal and people connect to something with character, something handmade. DeConnick has made Captain Marvel a philosophy and therefore dangerous, perhaps that's why the sales figures are low even though fan interest runs at a pique.  

Captain Marvel #9 begins with a refrain: ''Women in Uniform.'' It's the chorus from an obscure 1978 single by the Australian glam rock band, Skyhooks, which was covered by Iron Maiden in 1980 and released as their third single. If that isn't idiosyncratic, I don't know what is. Apparently 'Women in Uniform' is Tony Stark's preferred ringtone and he hacks into Carol Danvers cell phone to make it so -- my guess is Tony prefers the Maiden version. Up the Irons! What a way to start the day. This impromptu hack sets up Danvers's day and puts the story in motion.

This is the only DeConnick comic I've read so I will reserve a stronger critique of her writing until I learn more. She's good with quips and one-liners; and when paired with the visual flair of artists like Andrade and colorist Jordie Bellaire -- Captain Marvel may be Bellaire's best work -- DeConnick would do well to invoke her inner-Larry Hama and let the pictures tell the story.
 
Andrade understands the elasticity of a comic book superhero -- the uncanny ability their bodies have to change shape to suit the moment. I guess this is a problem for those who want their superheroes to be realistic, you know, when they fly or shoot laser beams out of their eyes, 'cause that's what you want with that sort of thing, realism and an obeisance for the laws of physics and thermodynamics. Yeah. Critiques of comic book artists like Andrade always come with caveats like ' the art is not for everyone.' Out of curiosity, when has art ever been universal? This kind of critical crutch exhausts me. Each to their own, I guess.

If the script calls for a hero to punch a dinosaur in the face or execute a roundhouse kick on a couple of tuffs, I say go for it, add some flair, why not; these are superheroes after all, they can take it.

DeConnick's day-in-the-life script calls for a lot of character moments, interactions with super-people and civilians alike. Andrade finds the humanity in each character. There is pride, woe, and joy in the three faces of Rose, a woman to whom Carol brings breakfast. Rose's face looks like she's on loan from a Bill Plympton short; and then there's the eager look of the cab driver whom Danvers recruits to bring her cat to the vet so she can fly off and be a hero. Even for their exaggeration, Andrade's characters look different, unique … like people. Andrade's cartooning has style, yes, and isn't that what one wants in an artist, looks and brains?    
 
I don't knit so I'm out on a Carol Danvers signature hats Etsy site. My loss. However, I'm in on Captain Marvel. Maybe the 'Carol Corps' will cut me an ID card: Carol Corps: Special Andrade Division.

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