If I were to ask you what the most important book Marvel's been putting out on a monthly basis actually is, there's a good chance you would reply with whatever is currently selling the best, or affecting continuity the most. Maybe something like Age of Ultron, Superior Spider-Man, one of the Bendis' X-titles, or even Wood/Copiel's all-female X-Men team. And I'm sure from an editorial or sales point of view you'd be correct. But in my anything-but humble opinion, you'd be wrong. It's Captain Marvel.
This past Saturday, Kelly Sue DeConnick held a panel for the "Carol Corp." for the first time at Heroescon. The Corps consist of dedicated fans of her ongoing Marvel book Captain Marvel (and there was definitely some love for her underrated "Avengers Assemble" series, as well as Matt Fraction's "Hawkeye" in the crowd). I would guess that there were about 50 people in attendance, which is pretty big for a Heroescon panel ( I could be way off too, by the way), and the majority of them female (this was fact). It was easily one of the biggest panels I attended at the show, and it was very intimate affair between creators and fan. Kelly Sue was joined by cosplayer Cheeseburgerdanvers and fan artist Flatbear for an hour long Q+A session, with some goodies, prizes and a brief photo-op at the end. It was fun panel/gathering, and more panels need to hand out cookies to attendees in my opinion. Props to all those involved.
Now female readers are nothing new to me (my wife for example, reads no less than eight titles a months, including both DeConnick titles), but something Kelly Sue did during the panel manage to strike a major chord. After seeing how many people were established comics readers, Kelly Sue asked the attendees if "Captain Marvel" was anyone's first comic. I would say maybe 5-6 people, including one of the panelists, raised their hand. Which again doesn't sound like much, but I also doubt they are the only readers news to comics thanks to the book. Which raises a valid question: Is "Captain Marvel" the book that's actually getting the "rare and elusive" new female reader into shops and on Comixology? Something countless other books have failed to do? All signs, at least from the panel, point to yes.
Oh sure, you can look at the Diamond's sales chart and see exactly how many titles are currently outselling Captain Marvel. A lot actually. But are they actually bringing in new readers? The way DC's sales have slipped over the months seems to indicate a massive reboot can only succeed for so long, if at all. Hell, even with the Marvel Now boost, maybe only one Marvel book sells over 100,000 copies on a monthly basis in print. Are these books even bringing in new fans, or just shifting them around?
Even if Captain Marvel isn't a top-seller, Kelly Sue DeConnick is a fan-favorite. There were lines at her booth all weekend long at Heroescon, often longer than her husband's, another fan favorite (both are complete sweethearts by the way, and you should definitely try to meet them at any sort of signings if you're given the chance). And again, it was mostly female fans- children, teenagers, young adults and mothers, some of them in costume, some in them in plain clothes, ALL of them there because of Captain Marvel. Some of them haven't even read the book at the time, but were willing to buy the trades from Kelly Sue directly because of word of mouth from the con floor, or Tumblr, or Twitter.
And that's definitely else something Kelly Sue excels at. Keeping in contact with the fans via social media. She recognized me from Twitter & Tumblr, something maybe one other creator has done (props to Super Pro KO's Jarret Williams btw). A lot of fans I spoke to at the show mentioned that KSD had spoken to them at least once via some sort of social media platform, and it keeps them interested in her work, and makes them feels appreciated. Which is how you build a proper fanbase in 2013. Granted she's not the only to do so, it's definitely helped made her a fan-fave, and helped Marvel actually acquire new readers. Something very few books not tied into a movie, hit television show or video games are actually doing.
Captain Marvel is the ideal for comics. Fresh art, solid scripts, little continuity to worry about and easy to get into. With both Daredevil and Hawkeye getting ton of praise and sales for the same exact reasons (and rightfully so), there's no reason Captain Marvel or Avengers Assemble shouldn't be a part of your pull list either. Best to get on board now, because "Pretty Deadly" is out in a few months, and that book isn't going to be easy to track down once it's drops if the Carol Corp has anything to say about it (unless, you know, you download it all legal like.)