Sunday, 22 May 2016

Captain Marvel Book 3: Alis Volat Propriis (#12-15)

"Let go" - Carol Danvers

Kelly Sue DeConnick rounds off her time with the redoubtable Captain with four issues that have the misfortune of having a wider Marvel crossover as part of them and the rushed nature of the concluding two-parter of her year representing the Avengers in space (co-authored by legendary UK writer Warren Ellis) makes me wonder if this was sprung on her at the last moment and was going to be spread across three issues.  Despite a somewhat abrupt send off for Tic, the alien from the planet Torfa who joined her in the first volume of the run, it's still fine stuff, the crossover stuff will be skimmed as I have no clue what it involved and the single issue showing her return to Earth and receiving some bad news is both sad and sweet at the same time ending her run on a high note.  A quick reintroduction then: Captain Marvel is Carol Danvers a super strong human with the power of flight and energy manipulation.  She's been doing a tour in space and picked up a companion the aforementioned Tic.  She also discovered that her bad tempered female cat Chewie is actually an alien called a Flerken, a creature able to create pockets to another dimension inside herself.  At the end of volume two a mutant called Lila who can travel the universe at the snap of a finger took her back to Earth where she met Santa and created an explosive display for a bedridden cancer stricken friend of hers.  The first two-parter then begins with Lila transporting Carol back to her highly intelligent ship and splitting leaving Carol alone.  Unfortunately it is immediately clear something is badly wrong.  Art for all four issues is by David Lopez, who has an appealing old skool style to his work.

Carol runs round the ship and finds neither Tic nor Chewie.  She tries to verbally interface with the ship's AI, Harrison but he is offline.  She pulls an emergency lever and this reboots him.  She asks him to report what happened, they were attacked by Haffensye pirates and Harrison shutdown to protect the systems when they were boarded.

"They have to have been after Chewie" says Carol.  She wonders why they didn't destroy the ship when they had her, instantly she realises this is a trap.  She calls for weapons and engines but both are offline.  She tries to leave via an airlock to take the fight outside, but the airlocks have all been sealed shut.  The Haff are going to burn the inside of the ship and salvage the shell and her death is a nice bonus for them (she tangled with them in book one).
Carol takes out the attacking ship with the force-shield.
The only thing Harrison can give her is the force-shield.  She activates the starboard side one and waits until the Haff ship gets close, then she has Harrison rotate the shield horizontally which cuts into the Haff ship and it blows up.  Given a breather, Carol starts all the self-repair systems up and checks the recordings of what happened.  Six hours later and she is repeatedly watching the footage of Tic and Chewie being taken.

Harrison: "With respect, Captain.  Statistical likelihood of analytical change after the fiftieth viewing is less than one percent."

Carol jokes that there is a chance then, but Harrison doesn't get it.  She says he doesn't appreciate her humour.  "Joke detection is enabled.  Perhaps I am not the problem he snarks".

Carol wonders why the Haff want Chewie, it is too much risk just to sell her on.  She decides to go to Haff space to find her and tells Harrison to aim for a shortcut, a subspace tunnel called the "Endless Envelope".  As they travel to it, she calls Gil and Jackie (see book one) on Torfa for help locating Tic.  They believe she is most likely on a disapora planet that is fully into the slave trade.  When Carol says she is travelling into the Endless Envelope they both yell "NOO!" Inside the envelope she loses comms and engines.
Into the Endless Envlope.
Harrison then tells her that the dimension they are in is a football field shoved into a matchbox and that it will actually take ten times longer now.  Then a huge space caterpillar appears with a couple of spaceships on it, which break off and come after Carol.

Carol: "Oh good.  Were going to try and outrun these guys powered solely by attitude thrusters through a giant subspace pocket."

Meanwhile, Tic is shackled to a post with some other prisoners on the Haff ship just outside the Haff end of the Endless Envelope.  The lead pirate holds up a muzzled Chewie and says she will be their secret weapon against a Mister Knife who has been encroaching on their territory.  Once she is of no use to them, they will destroy her.
Poor Chewie.
Back with Carol, she tells Harrison to work on getting her a weapon.  The force shield is almost depleted so she can't use it again.  Then one of the huge caterpillar things disappears, much to Carol's confusion.  Harrison postulates that the beings must be able to travel through the twisted space and time of the Envelope which "doesn't conform to established physics."

She steers the ship close to a mining rig on another creature and lets off some flares that temporarily fend off their pursuers.  Harrison says the mining rig is extracting an high energy fluid from the creature which he calls a "Warp Bear."  The fluid has "rare quantumn properties", it is "Warp Bear Juice".  The weapons are now online and Carol dispenses with their pursuers and flies up close to the rig.  Harrison says the culture must use "Warp Bear Juice to commit it's own warp events."

Carol: "You might have something with 'Warp Bear', but 'Warp Bear Juice' is never, ever going to be a thing people say".

Then we return to the Haff pirate holding Chewie.  He rants that they can hide an arsenal and armies inside her, take her into Mister Knife's territory and deploy from within, sort of like a feline Trojan Horse.  Tic is down below being put to work with the other slaves.  But she reassures them that "I have a friend on the way."

Carol tells Harrison to target the rig and get it off the Warp Bear.  Blasting it off releases a lot of Juice, and she flies the ship right through it, which accelerates the ship to an incredibly fast speed.
Warp Bear Juice.
Carol goes down to the engine room to divert some of the energy into a laser beam.  There is an ominous noise from the hull.  Harrison says the structural integrity has never been tested at such speed before.

Carol: "These last few months have tested both of us more than we anticipated, Harrison.  Maybe complacency can't survive in a vaccuum either."

Harrison makes a cheesy joke and Carol says she regrets engaging his humour protocols. The ship barrels out of the Envelope and bounces off the Haff ship there.

She then uses the highly precise laser to lance into the Haff ship, demanding they hand over Chewie and free Tic.  She is able to cut Tic's restraints and Tic immediately commendeers the ship, while the Haff flee. 

Carol links up to the ship back on Torfa, and Tic hands her Chewie and says with a crew made up of fellow prisoners, she'll go and battle the Haff slavers who are preying on the Torfan's disapora.  As Carol turns to go back to her ship, Tic says "I'm going to miss you".  And Carol smiles back at her safe in the knowledge Tic is going on to be a fine captain herself.
Tic's new ship.
The next issue is chapter eleven of a crossover event called "The Black Vortex".  The thing in question is a mirror that unlocks the true potential of those who look in it.  Thane, son of Thanos, looked in it and has joined up with Knife and the Slaughter Squad to cause havoc.  Captain Marvel swooped down into Knife's fortress and grabbed the mirror now everyone is after her.

She flies through space, taking the mirror to Spartax which has been encased in amber, so she can use it to save the planet.  She comes under heavy attack and ends up being knocked down onto an asteroid along with the mirror.
Carol looks in the Mirror.
She is tempted to look in it and sees herself at top potential, a being of almost pure energy.  "Is this what you want to be?" she thinks to herself.  But she resists, thinking that more power was not something she ever wanted.

The baddies have an disagreement about what to do with her, and a fight breaks out.  Carol uses this opportunity to take off with the mirror again to go save Spartax.  To be continued somewhere else.

Her tour of duty in space over, Carol arrives back on Earth.  She wonders if she needs to make herself up for the welcome home party.  Chewie is just her usual grumpy self and the ship lands at Avengers HQ.
Carol and Chewie back on Earth.
But when she disembarks, no one is there to greet her.  She goes inside and everyone is looking sad.  She realises this means Tracey, the sick woman from book two has died, about a week ago says one of her friends.  She left a letter and some things for Carol, who asks if someone else can read the letter.  We then see Tracy's ghost narrate things for us.  She leaves her a cane which she once whacked an Ultron with.

Tracy: "It's good for leaning on.  If you should find yourself in need of something to lean on from time to time."

Then the story flashes back to Tracey sulking at home with her leg in plaster, brooding over the death of her female lover Teddy.  Carol came to see her and gave her the cane.  She says Teddy wouldn't have wanted Tracey to isolate herself like this.

Tracey remembers back to when she first met Teddy.  She was a young woman and dropped her wallet.  Tracey bought it back to her and invited Tracey to dinner.  Teddy's ghost then appears saying Tracey had "fallen in love with me before the appetiser made it to the table."
Tracey and Teddy's ghosts.
However when they were older, Teddy died of heart failure.  This caused Tracy to lash out and kick the door, breaking her foot in the process.  Carol was there for her when Teddy died.

Tracey: "They let us have the room for a while.  To work it through, to say goodbye.  I would have stayed with her forever if you'd let me."

She and Carol took Teddy's ashes to the sea.  Traecy can't let go at first saying she can't imagine life without her.  But in the end she sprinkles the ashes.

With Tracey's urn Carol and friends go to the same place, but the urn turns out to be empty bar a note from Tracy:

Tracey: "Gotcha sucker.  Our last gift to you..."

Teddy: "... a day at the beach with your friends."

Teddy donated her body to medical science, as her and Teddy's ghosts depart, Tracy tells Carol "I love you kid.  Have fun.  Be happy and don't look back."  And Carol and her friends splash about in the water, laughing their heads off.  Which brings this run of Captain Marvel to an end.
The End...
What a fun series.  Moving effortlessly from high tech space opera to dealing with bereavement and loss, DeConnick really gets Carol, she is extremely relatable.  Hyper competant at the things she puts her mind to, able to plan effortlessly on the fly, she is everything that is good about the superhero archetype.  It's a shame that saving Chewie and Tic was over so quickly, it feels like there was room for a whole issue dealing with the Haff as a more fearsome threat than they ended up being.  Considering how important Tic has been across this run as a secondary protagonist, having one page chronicling her departure feels more abrupt than it possibly was meant to.  The art as I said in the intro is superb, especially when it comes to facial expressions, alhough the kersplosions look great as well.  This ends this run of Captain Marvel, with Tracey's farewell coming across as DeConnick's farewell and well wishes for the character she's helped redefine.  It has restarted at issue one again with a new creative team, Marvel seems to be really pushing the "seasonal" approach to their properties.  Lots more number ones for collectors if I am being cynical about it.  But for now lets hail Marvel's best female superhero and the subject of Marvel studio's first (now delayed) female superhero led film. 


  1. lol, the expression on her flerken-cat's face is hilarious! hope they give her a cat in the movie when it finally comes out :)

  2. Oh yeah, she better have Chewie in the film I totally agree with that!

  3. We are all in agreement, even if Chewie stays as just a cat and not a flerken she should still be in the film. Hear that Marvel? :D