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Do NOT call her “Miss” Marvel – Ms. Marvel #1

January 27, 2011


I’m more familiar with Ms. Marvel’s later hot as Hades outfit, the one with the thigh high boots and the clinging top, not this earliest bastardized version of the original Captain Marvel’s garb. While this one doesn’t stack up (though Ms. Marvel is, like most superheroines, stacked), I will doff my cap to the significant amount of back that it shows:

I don’t know what it says about me that a woman’s bare back reminds me of Michael Richards — nevertheless, Kramer’s “What an entrance!” moment on Seinfeld comes to mind:

This set-up issue (Script: Gerry Conway, Pencils: John Buscema, Inks: Joe Sinnott) tries its damnedest to get you to care about Carol Danvers, firmly enmeshing her in the penumbra of Marvel’s flagship title, The Amazing Spider-Man. The John Romita cover promises faces from the Spider-Man clique, and by God we’re going to get them.

Here’s Carol meeting with her potential new boss as she embarks on a journalism career:

She soon corrects Mr. Jameson about his use of “Miss.” I once had a woman do that to me when I was in my early 20s, telling me icily that it was “Ms.” and not “Miss.” I was a bit embarrassed at my faux pas, so I tried to lighten the mood with a joking retort of “Sure thing, toots.” She was not amused. I was young and stupid, okay? And she later turned out to be a real prize of a human being, so I don’t feel so bad. But now I shudder to think that I may have some J. Jonah Jameson in me.

Anyway, Ms. Danvers soon runs into the other two friendly faces from the cover:

And that, my friends, is the full extent of Peter Parker’s cameo.

Mary Jane and Carol head off for a gab-fest, and Jonah gets his acerbic ass kidnapped by the Scorpion. After he strings up the most loathed publisher in history, the Scorpion offers what is perhaps the simplest but most persuasive rationale I’ve ever heard for wanting to kill that cigar-chomping dolt:

Carol, who doesn’t realize at this point that she and Ms. Marvel are one and the same, begs out of her yak with Mary Jane and faints, and then our costumed heroine goes and rescues J. Jonah. I’m not sure if seeing her twirl a guy around by his long appendage will be gratifying to anyone, but here it is:

We end with Jonah lamenting this newest thorn in his side:

This issue (along with other “girl power” books of that era) reeks of Marvel belatedly trying to come on board the women’s movement and shed the comics ethos that brought us such unintentionally demeaning monikers as “The Maid of Steel.” Conway’s opening words about the series in this first issue’s “letters” page (called “Ms. Prints” — nyuk nyuk) makes this intention explicit. As is so often the case, the well-intentioned efforts of not-quite-fully-modernized men to prove their equality bona fides fall a little flat, but, like watching Jonah’s stumbling and bumbling sexism, the endeavor certainly has its appeal.

Buscema did his customary steady work with the primary art chores, though I’ve always found many of his male faces to look way too much like monkeys. And I have to confess to my usual disappointment when I get a Romita cover and open the comic to find that someone else handled the interior art. I realize that it’s no great loss to be denied the umpteenth John Romita rendition of Mary Jane Watson, yet I remain mildly crestfallen, like a kid who’s promised a bike for Christmas and gets a basketball.

I wanted a bike. I wanted Romita. Waaaah.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Darci permalink
    July 27, 2012 10:19 pm

    This version of Ms. Marvel’s costume was designed by John Romita. I prefer the modified version Dave Cockrum introduced in issue #9. It was interesting that this was the costume passed on to Ultra Girl in Avengers Inititiative relatively recently, as well as the one Norman Osborn forced on Karla Sofen for her role as Ms. Marvel in his Dark Avengers.

    See Peter Parker in this issue takes on new meaning now that Pete and Carol have been dating in recent issues.

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