Saturday, August 2, 2008

Don't Miss the Ms.

This Captain Marvel did engender a superhero spinoff that would become another Captain Marvel. Carol Danvers absorbed radiation from a Kree machine. This radiation had the effect of turning her into a superhero, the Kree Warrior known as Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel made her first appearance in 1976, just a few years after the first issue of Ms. magazine. This was no coincidence. She was deliberately marketed as “the feminist superhero.” It does seem odd, then, some of the choices that were made for this character by writer Gerry Conway. Carol Danvers had been dismissed from NASA for her unsatisfactory handling of security issues involving the early adventures of Captain Mar-Vell, and now she was starting her new job as editor of Woman magazine, a publication mirroring Ms. She then would have blackouts, during which Ms. Marvel would appear. In other words, she was a schizo! What does this say about women and feminism?

This personality split was ultimately resolved, but she still was wearing a remarkably skimpy costume with one of the most impractical costume elements ever, a scarf! The costume was altered to stop showing her navel, and then completely redesigned to not have any resemblance to Captain Mar-Vell's.

Her series only lasted two years. She became a member of the Avengers, one of its most powerful However, her earliest appearances were punctuated by constant remarks, both in thought and out loud, as to how aggressive she was, as if not being a shy, retiring, submissive was the definition of feminism.

Then one day she turned out to be pregnant, but had not had any sex recently. The pregnancy ran its course in a matter of days. The offspring grew to adulthood even faster. He turned out to be Marcus, the son of Kang, an immortal time-traveling dictator and adversary of the Avengers. He had been trapped in Limbo and this was the only way he knew to get out. He had brought Danvers into Limbo, seduced her with the aid of scientific devices from the future, and impregnated her. Unfortunately, he was unable to survive on Earth, so he had to go back to Limbo, and Danvers volunteered to go with him, believing she was in love.

The truth is, she was raped, and her friends (the Avengers) seemed more concerned with the baby than her welfare. No one batted an eyelash when she left. When Marcus, who continued to age rapidly, died, the effects of the devices wore off, and Danvers found her way back to Earth. There she was almost immediately set upon by a new supervillain, Rogue, who stripped her of her powers and memory. In other words, she was raped again. Is this any way to treat the character that is supposed to be your feminist superhero?

Next: The Return of the Original!

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