Not Just Another Bulletproof Face

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Captain marvel aka Carol Danvers aka Ms. Marvel aka Binary aka Warbird

Captain Marvel could punch the planet in half and look good doing it

It’s no secret that the Man Cave likes some steely substance under its surface. We admire talent, charm, and class. But those won’t win a fight for you like the sexiest quality a dame can possess: being a badass. So we asked real-life badass writer Kelly Sue DeConnick to share her influences in scripting fictional badass superhero Captain Marvel.

If you don’t read comics, you might not have heard of Captain Marvel, but more than a few fans figure the superheroine as a likely addition to The Avengers sequel. Though that part’s uncertain, the rising player in the Marvel Universe’s debuts with a very real comic book today. Here are the personalities, real and fictional, who inspired DeConnick in her own words: 

Chuck Yeager

chuck yeager Not Just Another Bulletproof Face

Egad, but that man cuts a dashing figure

Who?

World’s Most Famous Test Pilot and the first man to break the sound barrier.

How badass exactly?

Yeager gets 10 of a possible 10 badasses.

His P-51 was shot down over France during WWII. Chuck shrugged it off and joined the French Resistance, where he…

…Won the Bronze Star for carrying a wounded American pilot across the Pyrenees. *Carrying.*

Oh, that one time he broke the sound barrier? Made the flight with two broken ribs. Didn’t tell anybody. Cause, you know… suck it up, whiners. You gonna let a couple of broken ribs keep you from flying faster than SOUND? Yeager ain’t got time for your drama.

Who broke Yeager’s ribs? A HORSE.

The second time he set the record as the fastest man on Earth the plane spun wildly out of control and plummeted more than 50k feet before Yeager showed that baby who was BOSS. The plane, the Bell X-1A, was powered by a rocket engine. At the time of Yeager’s flight, “there was no provision for pilot egress.” Translation: no ejection seat. Meaning, if that thing went down, he was sure as hell going down with it.

What’s the Captain Marvel connection?

My pitch was literally, “Captain Marvel as Chuck Yeager.” BAM.

Modesty Blaise

modestyblaise titan Not Just Another Bulletproof Face

No joke — this is the most crushable woman in fiction

Who?

The protagonist of a series of 1960s comic strips and novels by Peter O’Donnell, Modesty Blaise is one of those delicious characters who is both hero and villain. Technically speaking, she’s a bad guy — a master thief and the head of a criminal network. But she’s–of course!–a thief with a code! And she and her best friend Willie Garvin can’t help but set about righting wrongs, given the slightest opportunity.

How badass exactly?

On my ultra-scientific scale, I’m going to go with 8 of a possible 10 badasses.

Modesty’s sexually liberated and very much a product of her time — as close a thing to a female James Bond I think I’ve ever encountered. She has a flirtatious but ultimately platonic relationship with right hand man Willie Garvin, and the rest of the world is fair game.

cm marvel1 Not Just Another Bulletproof Face

Captain Marvel wants a hug? F-f-from us…?

Modesty does this thing she calls “the Nailer.” It involves stripping her shirt off, busting into a room full of dastardly men and taking advantage of the resulting booby-evoked paralysis to defeat them.

Well, sure. We all do it now, but Modesty was the first. (I have such love in my heart for Modesty Blaise that I’ve not only read what must be miles worth of the strips, but I also collect the novels. Next time you’re in a used book store, see if you can find some of the old paperbacks — there are several different versions of each book and they are each a sight to behold. The painted covers are the best, if you ask me.)

Modesty Blaise is the book that Travolta’s character is reading on the terlet in Pulp Fiction. So there’s that.

What’s the Captain Marvel connection?

In issue two of the new Captain Marvel series we start a time-travel arc and during that adventure Captain Marvel comes into contact with the Women Air Service Pilots’ Banshee Squadron — my nod to the war comics of WWII, and a specific reference to the series Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos. Our lead, though, is a woman named Jerri Quimby — who wears the same iconic hairstyle as… MODESTY BLAISE!

Gloria Steinem

steinem loc Not Just Another Bulletproof Face

Steinem’s no stranger to comics herself

Who?

The face of a movement, Steinem is a journalist and political activist who has been synonymous with feminism since the 1970s.

How badass exactly?

I’m going to give Gloria 6 out of 10 possible badasses. (It doesn’t sound like much, but I’m about a point two five on this scale and I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m kind of a badass.)

Steinem co-founded the Women’s Media Center, Ms. Magazine, the Women’s Action Alliance and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. She’s fought tirelessly for equality for more than 40 years, even when doing so famously meant a stint as a Playboy bunny.

What’s the Captain Marvel connection?

Before Carol Danvers was Captain Marvel she was Ms. Marvel, and there was a period of time during the original Ms. Marvel run when, in her secret identity, Carol was editing a Ms. magazine analogue called Woman. In my mind, the two are similarly courageous and driven by a sense of what is fair and just.

Nancy Wake

nancy wake 28194529 Not Just Another Bulletproof Face

Nancy Wake: Badass

Who?

A British secret agent who operated in German-occupied France during World War II. The Gestapo reportedly called her “the white mouse” for her ability to deftly avoid their traps.

How badass exactly?

I’m going with 15 out of 10 possible badasses on this one.

Those extra 5 badasses are for the this quote from one of her colleagues with the French resistance: “She is the most feminine woman I know until the fighting starts — then she is like five men.”

FIVE MEN.

This woman was REAL, y’all.

She was trained to parachute into hostile territory, operate a machine gun and kill a man with her bare hands. She did all three.

Seriously, just go read her obituary in The Washington Post.

What’s the Captain Marvel connection?

I read that line about her fighting like five men when she passed away last August and I’ve never been able to get it out of my head. Nancy Wake’s resourcefulness and grit probably inspired in some part every one of the warrior women in the Captain Marvel series.

Jerri Sloan Truhill

Who?

A real Texas spitfire, “Jerri T” was one of the 13 accomplished women pilots who underwent testing in 1961 in a doomed effort to bring women into the Mercury astronaut program. The group were later dubbed “The Mercury 13,” though their program was not official to NASA and was privately funded.

capmarvel marvel Not Just Another Bulletproof Face

Anybody cool with Spider-Man is okay by us

How badass exactly?

I’ll give Jerri 7 out of 10 possible badasses.

Jerri T was four years old when she flew with her daddy to an oil meeting across the state in Austin. She immediately got the bug and declared that she wanted to be a pilot just like her serial hero Tailspin Tommy (and his pilot gal pal, Shirley!). When Jerri’s daddy suggested she should instead consider becoming an air hostess because “Gals don’t become pilots — that’s a man’s job,” Jerri swore, “Well, I’m going to.” And that was that.

Jerri T snuck around as soon as she was old enough and got her pilot’s license on the sly. When she got caught she got sent away to a girl’s school. That didn’t stop her either.

In order to get enough flight hours to work professionally, Jerri T took to racing in her cousin’s planes. She was good. And fast.

She was so comely she got a gig modeling a new pink Lycra flight suit, which she wore to fly around in her pink P-51.

She flew B-25s and, oh, when her husband Joe Truhill was arrested in South America on trumped up charges? She busted him out. Like ya do.

What’s the Captain Marvel connection?

Helen Cobb, Captain Marvel’s aviation heroine and pal, is a plain-spoken Texas gal with big hair and a set of brass ovaries. She is heavily inspired by Jerri Sloan Truhill.

Pancho Barnes

Who?

A pioneer aviatrix, founder of the first test pilot’s union and proprietor of the Happy Bottom Riding Club bar and restaurant, made famous by the movie The Right Stuff.

detail Not Just Another Bulletproof Face

Captain Marvel #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Dexter Soy

How badass exactly?

I’m going to give Pancho 4 out of 10 possible badasses.

She broke Amelia Earhart’s air speed record in 1930. The year before she crashed in the same race.

She worked both as a barnstormer and as a stunt pilot, including a gig in Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels.

She was close friends with Chuck Yeager and Buzz Aldrin.

When they essentially tried to steal the land her club was on from her, Pancho sued the Air Force. She won.

What’s the Captain Marvel connection?

Helen Cobb’s club, The Whiskey Tenor, is inspired by Pancho Barnes’ Happy Bottom Riding Club and the mysterious fire that claimed it.

Jerrie Cobb

jerriecobb mercurycapsule Not Just Another Bulletproof Face

She makes maintaining your space rocket look like such a normal thing to do

Who?

An extraordinary pilot and humanitarian, Jerrie Cobb was another member of the storied “Mercury 13.”

How badass exactly?

8 out of 10 possible badasses.

To earn money to buy a plane, she played semi-professional softball. At 19, she was teaching men to fly. At 21, she ferried military fighter planes and bombers to foreign Air Forces in South America and worldwide. Cobb set records for speed, distance, and absolute altitude — all while still in her twenties. She was one HELL of a pilot.

In 1963, she testified to Congress about the possibility of women as astronauts.

She once spent the night in a Peruvian jail. For her humanitarian work transporting aid and supplies later in life, she was honored by the Brazilian, Columbian, Ecuadorian, French and Peruvian governments. Oh, and Jerrie Cobb was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. That’s the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE, y’all.

What’s the Captain Marvel connection?

Jerrie Cobb so blows me away I’ve given her last name to Carol’s aviation heroine, Helen Cobb, and used her as inspiration for Carol, Helen, and a pilot named Oklahoma.


avengers emh Not Just Another Bulletproof Face

It turns out The Avengers are rather popular

Captain Marvel #1 comes out today! Find your copy by punching your zip code in The Comic Shop Locator.

Kelly Sue DeConnick has worked in the comic book industry for the last decade, writing comics and adapting manga into English. Her manga credits include the English scripts for Kare First LoveBlack CatSexy Voice and Robo and Blue Spring. At Marvel she is best known for the Osborn: Evil Incarcerated miniseries.

And check out our recent roundup of Badass Kids’ Shows Better than Adult Programs. –>

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