Welcome to Read This Next, an ongoing feature designed to help you find more comics to love. We take a comic that's a big hit with readers, a comic that's been in the news lately, or both, talk a bit about why it's great and why it's noteworthy, and then steer you toward other comics connected to it in some way. Whether you're a new reader looking for a guide to more than just that one series your friend recommended, an old reader hoping to find new stuff, or just someone looking for something to read, we're here to help.
San Diego Comic-Con is over, and we're back with a new Read This Next installment. This week, we're focusing on both female heroes and female creators with a look at something for fans of Captain Marvel.
IF YOU'VE READ: Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Dexter Soy and Emma Rios
By now, everyone knows about the extraordinary transformation Carol Danvers went through under the stewardship of writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. The character still doesn't sell comics at the same rate as, say, Spider-Man, but her fandom (Hi, Carol Corps!) is one of the most devoted and energetic in the medium. Throughout DeConnick's run, fans have tied themselves to Carol Danvers and her story like never before, and it all begins with the first six issues contained in this volume.
DeConnick began her run with Carol already in the new costume, but unsure whether the new moniker of "Captain Marvel" was really for her. She takes the name quickly, but in order to really come to terms with who she is now, she has to examine her past in a very personal, very intimate way. To firmly establish a new beginning for Carol Danvers, and a new Captain Marvel, DeConnick takes Carol back in time, through World War II and into her own origin story, to the point that she literally has to fight for her place in existence. There are lots of metaphors of varying levels of subtlety built into that, but by the end, Carol's been through the forge. She's stronger, sharper and more sure of who she is, and readers know her better than they ever did as Ms. Marvel. For comic-book readers who really get it, it's a landmark story.
So, when you're done reading it, where do you go?
READ THIS NEXT: Power Girl, Volume 2 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner
After the events of Infinite Crisis restored her classic origin story as an survivor of Earth-Two trying to make her way in the main DC Universe where a character biologically identical to her (Supergirl) is already saving the world, Kara Zor-L, aka Karen Starr, finally got a solid shot at an ongoing series all her own, and she got a great creative team to help guide her. In this series, Kara sets up shop in New York City, where she tries to get back in the swing of being a superhero with a secret identity, saving the world while also trying to re-energize her company, Starr Enterprises. Plus, she opts to take a young new superhero, Terra, under her wing. What follows are 12 issues of lightning-fast adventure full of humor, energy and a vitality often missing from the grimmer side of DC Comics.
Like Captain Marvel's first issues, Power Girl's early stories are all about a new beginning. She's trying to find stability in her life again, but the universe keeps throwing things like evil superintelligent gorillas and alien princesses at her, which makes that kind of hard. The emotional focus that so drove those early Captain Marvel issues isn't all that present here, but that doesn't mean the book is without heart. Palmiotti, Gray and Conner depict Kara as a very strong woman who never shies from shouting down sexist comments or taking the hard way if it means saving more lives, but they also make time for her tender side. She's a nurturing soul who wants to help her colleagues succeed, both in business and in superheroics. She's kind, quick to laugh and very funny herself, even in the midst of an all-or-nothing fight. Most importantly, though, she acts like a superhero in the purest sense, right down to refusing to let an adversary die even when she's trying to save all of Manhattan at the same time. This book might not bring tears to your eyes like Captain Marvel did, but it will keep you turning the pages with a smile on your face.
Oh, and I know I'm not the first person to gush over Amanda Conner's work, but damn is this book beautiful.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Want more? Check out these titles:
Birds of Prey by Gail Simone and Ed Benes: More awesome female heroes doing awesome things. (The link is to the first issue. Just go chronologically from there.)
Avengers Assemble by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Stefano Caselli and Pete Woods: DeConnick has loads of fun with Captain Marvel, Spider-Woman and more.
Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover: This one's got a bit of a different flavor. It's not a superhero book, but if you need more awesome comics ladies in your life, try one of the best digital books out there. And hey, the first issue is free right now.