ROUND 1, BATTLE 12
CAPTAIN MARVEL AND THE CAROL CORPS
Secret Wars seems like it has spent the last month or so teetering on saying something. It doesn’t have to say anything; it’s a mainstream comic book released in the summer. This isn’t to say it needs to be garbage, but it is O.K. if it has little on its mind other than making people say “Oh, that’s kind of cool.” But for the last couple of weeks, everything seems like it has been simultaneously hinting at something while dodging it at the same time. Carol Danvers has no time for that bullshit. In what has to be one of the least likely books to simply and clearly present our main message, Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps (that’s the name, I swear) is my pick for book of the week, much less winner of this battle.
On its surface, the book seems like nothing more than an update on what Carol Danvers has been doing since Doom recreated the world in his gross image. Danvers is the leader of the Carol Corps, a group of pilots who patrol Hala Fields by day (HALA!), and hang out and have fresh and witty cool-girl convos by night. It does everything a Battleworld comic needs to do: set-up your premise, introduce your character, OH MY GOD SOMETHING HAPPENED IN THE LAST PANEL THAT COULD CHANGE THIS WORLD/THESE PEOPLE FOREVER!!!! The difference is that while all of this is happening, and it certainly did happen, we also get a glimpse of exactly what Secret Wars is going to all be about. I don’t know what the ramifications are going to be for the Marvel Universe story wise when it’s all said and done, but the lessons learned begin here.
The fact that “I was just following orders” is not a good excuse is nothing new as a theme. Dozens of stories have been told – mostly involving Nazi soldiers’ pleas for mercy – focusing on whether or not a soldier who did unspeakable things is accountable for it. So the fact that that’s the main focus of Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps isn’t a big deal. Captain Marvel is tasked with destroying an enemy ship that seems dangerous. She asks her superiors why it seems dangerous, or if capturing the enemy wouldn’t be better than obliterating them, to which she is told to shut the fuck up and go do her job. So she goes to do her job, because she’s Carol Danvers, and then stops at the last second to save a person on the boat, because she’s Carol Fucking Danvers. And that’s the CHANGE THIS WORLD/THESE PEOPLE moment: Carol said no to her superior, and their superior is Doom. And that’s probably not going to be good for Carol.
Meanwhile, in every other Battleworld book, writers are making sure their characters are saying things like “Thank God” and “Praise God” all of them time, because when they replace the word “God” with the word “Doom,” readers get a real good idea of just how powerful Doom really is in this world. And therein lies the thing I think Secret Wars is actually tackling, the idea of just how dangerous it can be when there’s no separation of church and state.
See, Danvers has to follow orders because that’s how the military works. Danvers’ superior has to follow orders because she was given orders by fucking God himself. There’s no questioning involved. There’s no committees or hearings or summits or delegates or debates. “Because God said so” is the kind of thing that anyone who speaks to Doom can say to anyone else. It’s easy to think that, here in the real world, a separation of church and state is necessary because we all have different churches, and if the state was intertwined with one particular church, that would be unfair. That’s part of it, but not all of it. In Secret Wars we get to see what the world would be like under one God – one God that even some of his subjects are lucky enough to speak to. And it still doesn’t work because sometimes GodPeople are moody. Sometimes they are overprotective or under protective. Sometimes they love summer events of the past so fucking much that they give each one they can remember a little land to call their own. But all of the time – literally 100 percent of the time – they get their way, with no reason to question their own judgment, and no one else to question it for them. It sounds great, if you’re the God, and even then it doesn’t sound super great. It definitely sounds easy though, a world full of questionless zombies, bumping into each other until Doom tells them it’s safe to come home. That is, unless, Carol Fucking Danvers is one of those subjects.
I don’t think the characters that believe that Doom is their God are stupid. It’s what they believe. It’s all they know. What I do think is stupid – the thing that will separate the heroes of this story from the ones who watch the action – is ever getting to a point where you stop yourself from asking questions, because you ran into a wall of “because I said so’s.” That’s how Doom wants it, and they don’t know it yet, but that’s how Reed Richards and Tony Stark and Hank McCoy and Namor and Charles Xavier and T’Challa also wanted it. They haven’t seen the connection yet, the thing that Cap had been screaming at them throughout all of the Marvel events for the last decade and a half, but all they really wanted is to be who Doom is now. The Illuminati worked their balls off to control the world, for what they thought was the better good, and just when they were almost there, they smashed two planets into each other, and gave Doom the opportunity to get there first. Again, I don’t know what the next Marvel Universe is going to look like, but I know everyone’s about to realize one thing: Cap was right. He’s always right, and he always will be right. And if you ever find yourself thinking that he might be wrong, you’re a horrible asshole and you’re about to be the bad guy of your own story. It’s not just about the separation of church and state. It’s about the heads of state leapfrogging that role so they can be the heads of the church. So that they can be Gods. So, once again, thanks Illuminati. Maybe do something else with your time after all of this is over.
Ghost Racers was also pretty great. Five Ghost Riders race in front of a huge group of fans. The newest, Robbie Reyes, is unbeatable, which means the other four get tortured. This is all so Arcade can win some bets. It’s an awesome vision of just a few more reasons why DoomWorld would be terrible, and one of the five Ghost Riders is a blinded centaur with two Gatling guns that come out of the side of his body. Super rad, but come on. This is Carol Danvers week.
– Ryan Haley