Marvel's summer event Empyre is in full swing – and Carol Danvers is right at the heart of things starting in July 29's Captain Marvel #18 from writer Kelly Thompson and artist Cory Smith.
And that's not a surprise – as a genetically part Kree herself and the protégé of Mar-Vell, Carol's legacy as a hero is tied intrinsically to the original 'Kree/Skrull War.' But in Empyre, Carol has taken that legacy one step further and picked up the Universal Weapon of a Kree Accuser.
And in her solo series, tying into the event, Carol will recruit several more heroes as Accusers and find herself at the center of a galaxy-wide conflict. Newsarama spoke to Thompson ahead of Captain Marvel #18's release to find out how Empyre will change Carol's life.
Newsarama: Kelly, Captain Marvel is finally coming back after COVID-19 put things on hold – and she's heading straight for Empyre. Where's Carol at coming into Captain Marvel #18? What do readers need to know to catch back up?
Kelly Thompson: Captain Marvel #17 was a fun "game night" issue meant to serve as a fun "breather issue" between the super intense events of The Last Avenger arc and the big event stuff of Empyre - but real world events have given us our own much longer breather between the two arcs. I don't think you need to know much beyond the fact that Carol Danvers is the badass hero Captain Marvel. In Empyre she picked up a Kree hammer called The Universal Weapon, which has historically been wielded by Ronan the Accuser. Picking up the weapon makes Carol the Kree's new Accuser. But Carol doesn't just play by anybody's rules, so it's going to look a bit different on her.
Obviously Empyre will have a huge impact across the Marvel Universe, but Carol will have a specific role in the conflict as a Kree Accuser. How does she take that job? How does it affect her relationship with Earth's other heroes?
Thompson: I think there are two different answers here, because the first answer is her role in Empyre itself which is pretty epic and cool, but obviously very focused on the giant conflicts of Empyre. Al and Dan really let Carol take on a great role in this event that's fitting for who she is and how she fits into the Marvel Universe.
And the second answer is a slightly different story that plays out in the Captain Marvel book. It still stems from Carol accepting the hammer - and the role of Accuser that comes with it - but it's a more personal story that ties more tightly to Carol than just to the events of Empyre.
Nrama: She also seems to be recruiting some heroes alongside her. How do they balance their loyalty to Earth with their new duty to the Kree/Skrull Empire?
Thompson: Carol does bring in some allies – Rhodey (War Machine), Jess (Spider-Woman), and Jennifer (Hazmat) – to help her in our story when she begins to have doubts and needs people she trusts to help her carry a burden.
Nrama: Empyre #0: Avengers seemed to show Carol's apparently well-founded skepticism toward the Cotati. What's her attitude toward the Kree/Skrull empire and the conflict overall in her solo series?
Thompson: I think, as a soldier and superhero, and someone who calls Earth home, Carol is always happy to have giant powers like the Kree and Skrull declare peace and try to find a better way. But new alliances change the board a little bit and you don't always know what you're going to get.
Nrama: You're working with Cory Smith on this Empyre arc. What makes him the perfect artist for a story like this?
Thompson: Cory has been such a wonderful gift for us on Captain Marvel as he can handle the epic space stuff just as easily as the really emotional stuff. Our story really combines a lot of elements and Cory is effortless in his transition between what are sometimes very tough contrasts. He also designed a truly awesome new character that I'm so excited for readers to meet.
Nrama: Carol Danvers has more history with the Kree and Skrull than most Marvel heroes. How does it feel diving into that part of Marvel history, and even updating or twisting it with these new ideas?
Thompson: There's really rich stuff here, but it can also feel alienating I think to readers that aren't as up to speed on every little bit of history, so my approach is to keep things really personal for Carol and to focus them through a tight lens of what really matters to her. I'm pretty excited about where we ended up.
Nrama: What's it like working as part of a larger event like Empyre? What are the key things you're keeping in mind when deciding how a tie-in to a larger story will go?
Thompson: To be completely honest, I find it really tough to tie-in to something like this when your character is very central to the event book in question. It's very hard to carve out space for a separate story - even just from a timing standpoint it's simply a tough task. And that's no diss on Al and Dan who are telling a terrific story and who were incredibly open and helpful to me when figuring out what story we wanted to tell.
But Carol needs (and deserves!) to be a big part of the story they're telling so you have to find a way to weave into that – so you can connect to what they're doing but that can also stand on its own as a satisfying story in its own right.
Nrama: Bottom line, what do you want to say to fans now that Captain Marvel is getting back in action?
Thompson: That they better get on board, they're not going to want to miss what's coming…both in Empyre and beyond!