The Blue Age of Comic Books

"All-New, All-Different"

Captain Marvel (2012-2013) #17 is collected in a trade volume titled Avengers: The Enemy Within. It situates Carol Danvers’s Captain Marvel in the greater Marvel Universe. The cover features people of different genders, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and ages in Captain Marvel cosplay: they are representative of the Carol Corps. The final illustrated page in sequence shows Kamala Khan. 
Issue #17 marks the beginning of the Blue Age of comic books because it is an accessible meta-narrative: it connects Captain Marvel to the greater Marvel Universe and to Kamala Khan. For the first time in decades, Marvel was actively courting new (and often marginalized) readers with #1 issues and new characters under their Marvel Now! imprint, and it worked. The digitization of comic books and comic book culture, as represented by the digital redemption code offered by Captain Marvel (2012-2013) #17 and the digital audience that made Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel a bestseller, marks a new age: the Blue Age of comic books.

The Blue Age of comic books is defined by neither corporate mandates nor collector markets. Even as the New 52 transitioned into DC Rebirth and Marvel Now! moved into All-New, All-Different, it was the digitization of comics that allowed would-be demographics to become comic book readers. Books like Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel attracted new readers to a genre that had often excluded them. Guided viewing teaches new readers how to follow pictures and words through a narrative. Digital spaces have facilitated comic book culture in ways that yearly comic conventions could never aspire to do. Ushered in by characters like Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan and people like Kelly Sue DeConnick, G. Willow Wilson, and (editor and Vice President of Content and Character Development at Marvel) Sana Amanat (all of whom can be found on Twitter), the Blue Age of comic books is defined by the digitization of comic books and comic book culture, digital readers, guided reading technology, and social media.

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