Thursday, 18 February 2016

Captain Marvel Book 2: Stay Fly (#7-11)

"Oh hell no!  I'm not giving anyone my cat!" - Carol Danvers

Well, phew, that Punisher story was pretty dark so lets indulge in some extreme mood whiplash and lighten things up a bit with the second Captain Marvel book.  And we're off to a good start already with the cover, look it's raining cats (or at least things that look like cats...).  You'd have to be a pretty hardcore cat hater not to crack a smile at that cover.  That's Rocket Raccoon from The Guardians Of The Galaxy standing on Carol's back as he makes a guest appearance in the first couple of issues.  This volume collects an initial two-parter then three done-in-ones rather than one long arc like the previous volume was. The set-up is simple, Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers is an Avenger deployed in space.  In the previous book she helped out the people of a planet called Torfa (which is made up of refugees from a cosmic disaster) defy tyranny and now she is heading back to rendevous with her ship on a borrowed shuttle where Rocket Raccoon has been minding things for her. That includes her misanthropic cat Chewie who he initially tried to kill insisting it was actually a dangerous alien creature called a "Flerken".  She's also picked up a stowaway, a green skinned female Torfan called Tic.  The whole tone of the book is light-hearted and fun under the smart, assured pen of Kelly Sue DeConnick and while it probably helps to have some background knowledge of Carol's continuity, I didn't find it difficult to enjoy what was going on with the information given.  So let us begin.

Although David Lopez is the regular artist, this first two-parter is drawn by Marco Takara. For a fill-in it's pretty good.  Rougher and more cartoony than normal but I like it just fine.  Anyway we start with Carol having a nightmare where she as Captain Marvel can't save all the people she cares about from The Builders.  She wakes with a start and Tic brings her some unappetising looking tentacle thing as breakfast.
Tic and Carol.
Carol asks Tic to make her some coffee, or "the hot, brown, breakfast beverage that I am pretending is coffee" and she might pretend she invited Tic aboard.  She says the rendezvous with her ship will be awkward as she left the Guardians of the Galaxy in charge and she was supposed to be taking Tic home, "and you're still here."

Tic says she will be Carol's "second".  Carol says she has enough drama having Spider-Woman in that role.  She wants to know what happened to Tic's whole "'Torfa is my home'" stuff:

Tic: "Nothing! 'Home' isn't the place you never leave Captain.  It's the place you always return to."

Carol docks with her ship and tries to communicate with Harrison her ship's computer.  She gets Rocket Raccoon instead.  She goes aboard and can't believe Quill left Rocket Racconn in charge.  He says he promised he wouldn't hurt her "Flerken" and shows her an annoyed Chewie confined in a cat carrier.
Rocket Raccoon and Chewie
Carol picks her up and fusses over her saying, "what did the horrible, ugly weasel do to my baby girl?"  Carol then tells Rocket Raccoon he has five seconds to apologise for putting Chewie in a box before she dines on "grilled weasel shish kebabs".  As Carol counts down, Rocket Raccoon tries to tell her an adult female Flerken is worth fifty thousand and that they are "gateways to pocket dimensions".

Just as Carol goes to zap him the ship is attacked by a giant oily space-flea looking thing.  They can't access Harrison as Rocket Raccoon has it doing something.  Then the computer meows at Carol.  When she queries this, Rocket Raccoon says "there is a perfectly logical explanation".  He had it trying to learn to speak Flerken.
Mysterious oily space flea.
Carol says for the billionth time, Chewie isn't a Flerken and "cat" is not a language.  The alien starts to bash its way in and Rocket Raccoon says it must be here for the Flerken and they shoud hand it over.  Carol says no and they look for Chewie, finding her lying amongst a pile of eggs she has laid.  Rocket Raccoon is all "I told you so" as laying eggs is what Flerken do to reproduce.

Carol: "I am choosing to be in denial about this while there are more pressing matters at hand, Okay?"
Chewie and her Flerken eggs.
Tic hugs Chewie and the eggs start to hatch.  Carol says "pinch me" and Rocket Raccoon lightly punches her and says she isn't dreaming.  Carol tells Tic to gather the eggs and get them onto the shuttle.  But when Tic gets herself and them aboard, Chewie jumps back out and onto Carol's ship while the rest are sealed in the shuttle.

Carol tells Tic to get the "Fler-kittens" out of here while she flies outside and tries to get the alien to leave.  Chewie and Rocket Raccoon aboard the ship have a tussle and Rocket Raccoon says he's sorry he tried to kill her:

Rocket: "But you're going to have to take my word for it that I feel a certain kinship with anything that's the last of its kind.  Even murderous vermin!"
Chewie gets a little payback.
The oily black tentacles penetrate the ship while Carol tries to blast the alien off.  Rocket Raccoon holds them off with his blaster and tells her the thing isn't a ship but a "hive" and they have to trap it somehow.

Combining her powers and the weapons aboard the shuttle Carol and Tic manage to pour enough firepower onto the alien hive to make it back off.  However there are still black oily tentacles attacking Rocket Raccoon and Chewie on the ship.  Suddenly Chewie disgorges a huge load of squirming tentacles of her own and swallows up the black oil remnants.

Rocket Raccoon: "That was the single greatest thing I have ever seen in my life."

Chewie looks demure.  With all the Flerken hatched, Tic brings the shuttle back round so Chewie can be reunited with her family.
We then jump forward a few weeks to the "T.O Polyviv Refugee and Rehab and Relocation Centre".  Carol is discussing with an alien there that Rocket Raccoon has repaired both ships and got them up to code.  The alien says she thinks Chewie was gestating her eggs the whole time Carol knew her, "that would explain her temperament" says Carol.

The alien says Chewie is a bit like a hamster, she can access "bubbles of space and time" and can hide things like eggs and tentacles in them.  Carol arrives at where Tic is playing with Chewie and her kittens, Carol says she is here to say goodbye.  Tic can pilot the shuttle back to Torfa and Chewie can stay here where she is safe.

Carol: "I love you and because I love you, I have to leave you."
Sadly she takes off alone on her ship, then Chewie and Tic teleport aboard using Chewie's powers.  Tic says she doesn't know everything about Tic and having her and Chewie around means she must be brave.  Aren't Avengers brave?  Carol asks Chewie if her litter will be safe, and Tic says they are "on the finest rescue centre in the galaxy".  Carol gives in.  "You're a terrible mother" she says to Chewie, who looks affectionately smug.  And they set course for "adventure."

After that silliness, David Lopez returns as the artist.  Onboard the ship, Carol and Tic listen to some music by Lila Cheney. Suddenly Lila teleports onto the ship.  Carol is not amused and wonders how she can be there when her mutant power only lets her travel on Earth to places she has already been.  But it seems the ship not being on Earth is good enough to allow her to get there.  Carol and Lila briefly argue, then Lila plays her a tune and Carol relents and welcomes her aboard.
The woman herself.
Lila tells them that when she was young she'd "pop off halfway round the galaxy".  She even found a "play world" and got bethrothed to a prince there.  Two decades later she returns to the world and well... she teleports herself, Carol and Tic there.  She has to wed the now grown up prince.  Oh and everyone on this world speaks in rhyme.

The prince's parents greet Carol enthusiastically saying she must be Lila's mother.  Carol wants to know why Lila brought them here, Lila says she's a diplomat so go do her diplomacy thing.  Rhyming rather clumsily, Carol gets to speak to the prince alone.
One hot prince.
He says he knows she is not Lila's real mother as her rhymes are so bad.  Marrying Lila would forge an alliance with Earth and his mum knows what's that worth.  He says once Lila is marrived to him she will be free to go, "our marriage will be one of extrangement".  He can't reign until he is wed though.  The planet is a matriarchy where women choose their mates.

Prince: "A man's choice is not his own.  Not even when he's grown.  His parents chose for him.  Give his choice or sell it on a whim."

He says she can object during the ceremony but this will result in him being married to "Marlo of Sleen", a thoroughly bad egg.

So the ceremony starts, when objection time comes, Carol uncertainly starts protesting then Marlo of Sleen bursts in, objects and challenges Lila to a "fight to the death".  Lila wants to escape right there and then.  But Carol takes her place and steps up to fight.  There is a brief struggle and Marlo zaps Carol and knocks her down.  This just makes Carol mad and she armours up and downs Marlo with a huge energy blast.  The prince begs his father:

Prince: "I'll do what you say.  Marry whoever this day.  But I beg this concession.  Do not let a woman die for our succession."
Carol gets serious.
Carol says the planet already has an alliance with the Avengers now so the prince needn't marry Lila.  But her parents are adamant he marry someone.  Tic then steps forward, she tells Carol she doesn't have long left to live and so she wants at least one kiss, "plus.. you know.. I get a wedding and a happy ending, and to marry a really hot guy, even if it is pretending"
After the ceremony, Carol and Lila walk and chat privately.  Carol wonders how long she'll be away from New York and what to do about Tic.  When she mentions New York, Lila suddenly remembers she's been given something to pass onto Carol.  Turns out to be letters from home.
The happy event finally happens.
She starts reading the letter and we see the events described being played out.  It begins with Kit, the young daughter of a friend of Carol's.  She says that a villain called Grace Valentine has broken out of prison.  She commanded techincally augmented rats to chew through the walls.  Her prison guard faints and Grace takes her gun and leaves.

Kit is playing fancy dress with a couple of friends on the steps of the Statue Of Liberty which is where she lives, in Carol's home there.  The rats swarm towards them and they run up the steps to escape but one friend is too slow so Kit uses her lasso to grab him then all three of them climb the rope and sit up and out of the way of the rats.
Grace Valentine.
The rats arrive inside where Kit's mum and Jessica "Spider Woman" Drew are.  Jessica takes over the narrative saying Carol will remember how much she dislikes rats, and we get a flashback to her freaking out when one comes into her and Carol's flat, while Carol calmly catches it to take to animal control.

Back in the present,  Jessica phones a woman called Wendy Kawasaki and tells her the are inundated with rats.  Wendy knows because Grace is commanding them via ultra-sonics gathering them to attack the Statue Of Liberty.  Jessica is repelling them with "Venom Blasts" but they keep coming.  Wendy says she needs to find the "lead rat".  Jessica finds it and must not kill it but remove its transistor.
They might be rats, but they're pretty cute.
She approaches it and it bites her finger, but she manages to get the thing off its head.  The rest of the rats then just leave.  Wendy wonders what Grace's actual plan was.  Jessica says maybe she just wanted to ruin Carol's pad.  Which gives Wendy a brainwave.  Rhodey then joins the story.  Grace is in Carol's old flat and has explosives.  He goes in alone to confront her and finds her in a Captain Marvel outfit. 

Wendy tells him not to walk past her, but it's too late.  He does so and Grace sticks a bomb onto his back. When Rhodey asks why?

Grace: "I want to destroy her.  Erase her and everything she ever cared about, starting with you".

Rhodey says at this range the explosion will kill her as well.  "Worth it" replies Grace.  So Rhodey flies himself up into the stratosphere where he has a vision of Carol and this somehow helps him get the bomb off his back where it explodes harmlessly.

Rhodey: "Still saving my butt, baby.  Even from a million miles away.  I hope you find what you're looking for out there."
"Carol" saves Rhodey.
The letter ends with Wendy saying Grace has been captured and is awaiting a psych evaluation.  Then we are shown a sick woman called Tracey in a hospital bed.  Wendy reads to her about Carol's adventures on Torfa and the letter ends.  Back with Carol, Lila and Tic, Carol asks if Lila can take her back to Earth for twenty-four hours she has something she needs to do.  So Lila teleports her there and it's Christmas in New York.

Carol transforms into a warmer outfit and Lila asks if she wants to come Christmas shopping with her.  But Carol has other things to do, so they arrange to meet in this same place the next day so Lila can teleport her back.  We then cut to Carol sitting by the sick woman called Tracey's bed telling her all about the friends she made on Torfa.

She nods off and wakes up to find her arms shackled with power dampening cuffs courtesy of Grace Valentine and another woman called June Covington.  Carol angrily tells them to leave her friends room but she is knocked out and wakes up to find herself in a strange room hanging from the ceiling while a tatty looking "Santa" is tied up and gagged in the same place. 
The real Santa of course!
Grace threatens Carol with a knife but Carol kicks the Santa into them, then flips up and kicks herself free of the ceiling.  Now standing on the ground she thumps Grace and kicks June.  June grabs an axe saying, "I'll just have to get what I want for Christmas myself."  And she goes for Carol.  Then a fat jolly (real?!) Santa appears and Carol's cuffs break off.  She lets out a big zap which knocks out Grace and June and the jolly Santa goes "ho ho ho".

Carol calls Jarvis at the Avengers HQ to send someone to pick up Grace and June and deal with the explosives they have concealed.  But then she has a better idea and asks Santa for a favour.  We then jump to the next day where Lila is waiting for her.  Carol has a bag full of the bombs and flies high into the sky.  The sick woman Tracey is lying facing the window and sees Carol in the midst of a huge skyhigh explosion as she lets the bombs off.  "Merry Christmas" she says quietly and that brings this volume to an end.
Christmas goes with a bang.
This was all good stuff.  Of course me being a cat owner who has often blamed him for eating her socks and tea-spoons the first two-parter amused me the most.  I now accuse my cat Biff of being a Flerken whenever he is driving me up the wall.  The Rocket Raccoon stuff was very well integrated, DeConnick really has his "voice" down pat.  Having practically a whole issue in rhyme can be unbearably twee, but as a planet influenced by a pop singer it works and Carol's rather strained attempts to play along are entertaining. Tic remains an enjoyable sidekick and her wish to make the most of the few years she has left adventuring in space are contrasted nicely with Carol's push/pull need to prove herself in space versus missing her Earthbound friends immensely.  The letters from home issue tells a fun story and the differing art style for each narrator is a nice touch too.  Although I didn't know the backstory behind the woman in hospital in the Christmas issue it was still very sweet seeing Carol put on a show for her.  Carol remains a well written, warm and funny character who is also brave and caring and all that is best about the superhero character type and remains a good jumping on point for anyone who wants to enjoy good female superhero stories. Keep an eye out for volume three in a few months time folks.


  1. raining cats is adorable rain! altho I thnk my two cats might be Flerken now too. Better watch for tentacles! :D

  2. A very enjoyable review. Pleasure to read. G, let us know if your cats lay any eggs! :-D

  3. Glad you enjoyed it Lucy, something fun for a change :D

    Yeah, even though Biff is a boycat I'm gonna check for eggs as well, though a dozen Fler-kittens would be great!

    I've got another review starring a cat coming up first of March G, but prepared to have your heartstrings tugged hard as a fellow cat owner.