As you probably have heard by now, there will be a Captain Marvel movie from Marvel Studios in the near future. For one second when I heard the news about this movie, I thought of Mar-Vell, but turns out that they will go with Miss Marvel herself, Carol Danvers. Why not Monica Rambeau or Phyla-Vell if they wanted a female Cap Marv? Who knows? I’ll come back for a more detailed article about Carol Danvers soon, but I thought it would be a good idea to write about all the previous Captains before.
Who is Captain Marvel?
As I was saying, the first Captain Marvel was Mar-vell, but more people took up the mantle after him – And I’m not talking about the one from DC Comics of course.
At the beginning, the first Captain Marvel was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in Marvel Super-Heroes #12 (published in December 1967). Captain Mar-Vell of the Kree Imperial Militia was sent to observe Earth and eventually became a friend, and the Kree Empire branded him a traitor.
After him, more people became Captain Marvel. For some, there was not a real connection with the original. Some were from his family. Let see where to start with each one of them.
Where to start reading Captain Marvel?
I will not talk about alternative version, just the Captain Marvel from the regular Marvel universe and timeline.
First thing firsts, the original Captain Marvel, the Kree warrior named Mar-Vell. After Marvel Super-Heroes #12 and #13, he got his own series. It’s all, so not all the issues have been collected. So, here what you’ve got :
- Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 1 – Contains Marvel Super-Heroes #12 and #13, Captain Marvel #1 to #21. The truth is, the series start to be interesting when Rick Jones is introduced to share his body with Mar-vell in issue #17. Also, there is the introduction of Carol Danvers.
- Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 2 – Contains Captain Marvel 22-35, 37-46; Iron Man 55, Marvel Feature 12. Maybe a better entry point with Jim Starling working on the series.
- The Death of Captain Marvel – It’s Marvel’s very first graphic novel, and it’s a classic. That said, it’s the end of Mar-vell, maybe not the best way to start, but if you only want a memorable reading by Jim Starling, read this one.
II. Monica Rambeau
After the Death of Captain Marvel, we continue with Monica Rambeau, introduced as Captain Marvel in the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 published in 1982. Monica sporadically appeared here and there, but mostly in the Avengers.
Monica Rambeau was a police lieutenant from New Orleans who possesses the power to transform herself into any form of energy.
- Avengers: Absolute Vision Book 1 – Contains Avengers #231-241, Avengers Annual #11-12, The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, Fantastic Four #256, and Doctor Strange vol. 2 #60. Monica Rambeau was mostly in the Avengers, so if you want to know where to start with her, don’t try to find a solo series, this is where to start. You can go from here to issue #347 with her as Captain Marvel, starting with this book, then Absolute Vision Book 2 and so on.
- Captain Marvel vol. 2 – If you can find it, this is just one issue, a one-shot if you prefer. If you only want a taste and not the Avengers.
Monica Rambeau change from Captain Marvel to Photon in Avengers: Unplugged #5.
The third Captain Marvel (my favorite) is Genis-Vell. He first appeared in Silver Surfer Annual #6 (1993) using the codename of “Legacy”. Genis is the genetically engineered son of Mar-Vell and his lover Elysius, created from the late Mar-Vell’s cell samples and artificially aged. Like his father, Genis wears the Nega-Bands, possesses Cosmic Awareness and is bonded with Rick Jones.
Genis appears in Silver Surfer and the Cosmic Powers miniseries before staring in the Captain Marvel (vol. 3) by Fabian Nicieza and Ed Benes. Do not start with that, be the best of Genis was written by Peter David, so let’s start with that:
- Captain Marvel First Contact – Contains Captain Marvel (1999) #0-#6. This is where you need to start. After that, good luck. Marvel doesn’t seems to like Genis a lot, so it’s hard to find the series. That said, you can find come of them on Comixology.
In 2002, Marvel re-launched Captain Marvel with a number one, and Peter David took the book in a new darker direction. Not the best starting point.
As Captain Marvel, Phyla-Vell is quite the minor one, even if she is Genis’ sister. She was created by Peter David and Paul Azaceta in Captain Marvel (vol. 5) #16. From that point on, she became a recurring character in the regular series, and kind of shared the mantle with her brother.
After the end of Captain Marvel (vol. 5), Phyla resurfaced as Captain Marvel in two issues of Fantastic Four: The End (#5 and #6) and of She-Hulk (vol. 2, issues #12 and #13).
Phyla became the new Quasar in Annihilation: Conquest, then became part of the line-up for the new Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, a must-read.
Let’s just say that you don’t really start with Phyla if you want some Captain Marvel stories.
This one is also not a big Captain Marvel, but he has a complicated history. As the fifth Captain Marvel, Khn’nr first appeared in Civil War: The Return (in March 2007).
The thing is that Khn’nr was a Skrull sleeper agent. The big twist is that he was bound with Mar-Vell’s DNA to lock itself into Mar-Vell’s form and was given replicas of the Nega-Bands. Furthermore, his personality was erased and the Mar-Vell persona took control. That’s why during the Secret Invasion, this Captain Marvel fought against his people.
As I was saying, a complicated history. You can read it in Captain Marvel: Secret Invasion.
- Captain Marvel: Secret Invasion – Collecting Captain Marvel #1-5 and Civil War: The Return.
Like with Khn’nr, the story of Noh-Varr as Captain Marvel is not a long one, not even an important one. At that point the mantle had lost a good portion of his prestige.
Noh-Varr first appears in Marvel Boy #1 (published in August 2000). He only became Captain Marvel at the behest of Norman Osborn, and joined Osborn’s new Avengers team, the Dark Avengers as part of the Dark Reign storyline. Discovering that his teamates were not the heroes of the story prompt him to quit. The Supreme Intelligence suggested that he should become the Kree’s protector of Earth. He did it and forget all that Captain Marvel business to be named Protector.
- Dark Avengers – If you wan to read the beginning of Noh-Varr à Captain Marvel, it’s in this TPB.
VII. Carol Danvers
And now, the last and also the one destined to become the most famous Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers.
Of course, Carol started a long time ago, in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 in 1967 (you can find it in the Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 1), but we are not here to talk about her previous careers as Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird and others. We are here to talk about Captain Marvel.
Carol’s first appearance as Captain Marvel is officially in “Captain Marvel #1” written by Kelly Sue DeConnick with art by Dexter Soy. The rest is history, especially since Marvel Studios announced the movie, Carol became a big player.
- Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero Vol. 1 – You need to be careful with the numbering. Now known as Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero, this series ended after 17 issues. As Marvel does, another series came after, beginning with the Higher, Further, Faster, More storyline in 2014. It lasted 15 issues. Then, another one started in 2016, with two storylines Rise of Alpha Flight and Civil War II… 10 issues. Now, it’s The Mighty Captain Marvel but for how long?
That said, Marvel seems to meet some difficulties with the character, rebooting the series again and again. So there are other points of entry. The best is probably the miniseries The Life of Captain Marvel which offers a new origin story for the character. It’s a good place to start before reading the last series written by Kelly Thompson.
That’s all for Where to start reading Captain Marvel? In a near future, we will go beyond that with more Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel.