Captain Marvel Carol Danvers struts her stuff in the pages of Marvel Comics. Photo: Marvel ComicsThere’s the Australian woman who wore her Carol Corps lucky hat into brain surgery for inspiration.
And the civil rights attorney in Florida who wears her Carol Corps dog tags underneath her shirt every time she goes into court.
Not to mention the “legit rocket scientist” who made herself a Captain Marvel outfit to run in a marathon.
To say Kelly Sue DeConnick’s take on Captain Marvel has captured the hearts and minds of comic book fans is an understatement.
Since DeConnick launched the new Captain Marvel series – with former Ms Marvel Carol Danvers as the title character – the ranks of the cosplay-wearing and fan-art-spawning fan group known as the Carol Corps have swelled in numbers.
“There was a woman in the Navy who came to see me in Seattle, I was signing her books and she told me that she made the decision to apply for Navy flight school because of Carol. Carol had inspired her to fly,” says the Brisbane Writers Festival-bound comic book scribe.
“It’s just story, after story, after story like that. One part of you is like ‘really?’ I have to think that it ain’t me, I ain’t special. I think it’s this group of people who’ve kind of fostered this thing.
“I just adore them. They move me, they inspire me. They’re funny. Literally [interacting with fans] is the best part of my job.”
DeConnick puts the appreciation for her take on Captain Marvel down to Danvers’ display of old fashioned heroism and self sacrifice, “of trying to do good and be good”.
But she admits there are other factors in play. When DeConnick pitched the Captain Marvel series she wanted Danvers to have a distinct personality, to nudge her back to more iconoclastic roots as an adrenaline junkie full of test pilot bravado.
She didn’t want her to be “blonde superhero number 7”.
Part of that was an editorial decision to get Danvers out of her “black swimsuit” and mask and into a blue and red uniform more befitting her military standing.
The result is comic which harkens back to Danvers’ first solo comic, the “unapologetically seventies feminist fan fiction” of Ms Marvel but with a modern, sophisticated sensibility.
And a book which has won over readers both male and female.
“I am seeing more women coming in as readers and more women asking for the books that they want to read and writing me and saying that they see someone that they recognise in Carol,” she says.
“But not necessarily in Carol but also in [supporting characters] Tracy, in Jessica or in Wendy – they see something of themselves reflected back and that’s a good feeling.
“There’s a Junot Diaz quote about how ‘if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves’.
“This is something I want to talk about in Brisbane: that idea of cultural representation and what that does for people; what I have seen in the mail that I have gotten, from women, just how powerful that can be from something like a dumb little comic book.”
DeConnick will speak about this issue of cultural representation at the Inspire:Women event at the Brisbane Writers Festival this Saturday.
It is one of four appearances by the Portland based writer who will also speak about the enduring fascination with superheroes this Sunday at the Well Drawn: Superheroes forum.
DeConnick, whose other credits include Avengers Assemble, will be appearing alongside her husband – and long-time Marvel scribe – Matt Fraction, as well as fellow female creator Marjorie Liu, best known for her work on X-Men and Dark Wolverine.
Along with Louise Simonson, Gail Simone and Ann Nocenti before them DeConnick and Liu have established themselves in an industry typically seen as male dominated.
Quick to acknowledge the great work of current female creators, as well as to clarify she isn’t “leading any kind of movement”, DeConnick says she is more likely to deal with backlash from within the industry for being married to a fellow creator than “straight up sexism”.
Although she says she has, on rare occasions, heard things that have made her “wrinkle her nose.”
But like Captain Marvel – who DeConnick shares a military background, having been raised abroad on US Air Force bases – Kelly will soldier on.
“Every once in a while there’s somebody who thinks a woman can’t write a particular book for whatever reason and it is just nonsense,” she says.
“I guarantee you when Brian Michael Bendis pitched Spiderwoman no one said ‘Brian Bendis writing a female-lead book? But he’s not a lady or a spider!’ It’s sort of assumed that he could probably use his imagination.
“Every once in a while there’s some dumbass who thinks I can’t do something because of my gender – and they’re wrong and I chuckle, and it is okay!”
Kelly Sue DeConnick appears at the Brisbane Writers Festival from Friday September 6 to Sunday September 8.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.