The showrunners of Agent Carter are taking on Carol Danvers in her new series, and they’re bringing a little TV inspiration with them. Except it’s not from their own Marvel show! They’ve basically turned Captain Marvel into a superhero version of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and it makes for a very promising start.
Spoilers ahead for Captain Marvel #1, by Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, Kris Anka, Matthew Wilson, and Joe Caramagna.
I mean that Deep Space Nine connection pretty literally, too. Carol’s latest adventure sees her leaving Earth behind (something she’s also doing for her duties as part of the Ultimates team) and becoming the Commander of Alpha Flight Space Station, an orbiting platform that acts as both Earth’s first line of defense from alien threats, but also a diplomatic outreach for the Marvel cosmos. Despite desperately wanting to spend most of this first issue wanting to punch things, Carol’s new job sees her commanding the day-to-day running of the station, and, much to her chagrin, engaging in diplomatic talks with alien races about space station sanitation.
It’s less about the defense of Earth, and more about dealing with life on a space station, looking after a crew, and dealing with people who are most decidedly unhappy to see Carol—like her frosty second in Command, Abigail Brand. The actual defense is left to the Alpha Flight (a new take on the classic Canadian superhero team featuring such “wait, who again?” characters like Sasquatch, Aurora, and Puck), re-imagined here as the station’s special forces security and spacefighter wing.
It’s a really interesting take on the sort of cosmic side of Captain Marvel as a character. There’s the push and pull of Carol wanting to be a superhero out at the front of the action, while also needing to grasp the rigors of command and diplomacy, that really does evoke DS9's Captain Sisko at his most punchy. So far, there’s just less of DS9's trademark moral complexity, and a similar amount of people walking around in space-onesies.
Actually, when Captain Marvel does get literally punchy, it’s surprisingly the least interesting bit of the comic. It turns out the alien race that Carol was negotiating with to help run sanitation on the Alpha Flight station were secretly behind a meteorite strike that almost destroyed it, which requires Carol to fly out with Alpha Flight in support and save the day.
Although the moment is dynamic and wonderfully drawn by Kris Anka (as is the rest of the book—between Anka’s clean linework and Wilson’s bright color palette, the space station has another Star Trek sci-fi vibe to it, just more of the original series era rather than DS9), it’s also the moment the comic gets most superhero-y. Here’s the reminder that the Star Trek bit is ancillary to the “superhero in space” bit, which is a shame.
In combination the two so far are a good bit of fun—and the series sets up a little ongoing mystery when Carol and Alpha Flight encounter a strange alien ship that attacks the station bearing the Hala Star that’s on her supersuit—but I was surprised at how enjoyable the “life on a space station” side of this scenario is, to the point I wanted to get back to that rather than the superhero fights.
I’m not saying that Carol should give in to the desk job she fear’s she’s signed up for, but if Captain Marvel can balance its superhero action with some Star Trek-ian space-station-bound stories, this could turn into one of the better Marvel cosmic comics available at the moment.