Sunday, 29 March 2020

Ms Marvel #1. This Woman, This Warrior!

Ms Marvel #1
You could never accuse this site of ignoring that new-fangled Women's Lib that's so fashionable now that we're in the 1970s.

Having already tackled the savage She-Hulk and sensational Spider-Woman ("To know her is to fear her!"), I'm now looking at that other battling female Marvel gave us in that period.

That's Ms Marvel, yet another book launched to prevent the company's lawyers having nightmares.

The She-Hulk and Spider-Woman books were not exactly classics, so, how does Ms Marvel's measure up?

It's New York and a bank robbery's underway.

But not for long because barely has it started than a brand new heroine flies in to smash teeth and fling cars around.

She's so new that and no one has a clue who she is - including herself.

Ms Marvel #1, car lift
And what she also doesn't know is those bank robbers are a mere distraction, hired so the Scorpion can sneak in round the back and rob the bank himself.

Next, we meet Carol Danvers, former head of security at Cape Kennedy, who's in the process of landing an editorial job at the Daily Bugle. And the first thing J Jonah Jameson wants her to do is write an expose of the brand new heroine.

No sooner is that agreed to than she bumps into Mary Jane Watson, invites her to her flat and promptly has a funny turn which leaves her telling her guest to leave so she can pass out on her bed in mysterious circumstances.

But there's no time for us to dwell on that because the Scorpion's back - and he's kidnapping Jonah!

And Ms Marvel's back as well! Her psychic powers having tipped her off, in advance, about the kidnapping, she sets off to free the publisher and bring the Scorpion to justice.

Ms Marvel #1, punch the Scorpion
Once she locates him, a one-sided fight erupts and poor old Scorpy finds himself flung into the acid vat he'd prepared for Jonah.

Suitably alarmed, the villain flees, Jonah's unscathed, our heroine decides to call herself Ms Marvel and the day is saved.

But, back at work, showing his usual gratitude, Jonah demands Carol work even harder at exposing the terrible truth about Ms Marvel, as he's more convinced than ever that she's a deadly menace.

But just who is Ms Marvel? Why is Carol Danvers in the habit of blacking out? And just what is the mysterious link between the two women? What? What? What?

Ms Marvel #1, J Jonah Jameson dangles, prisoner of the Scorpion
I would say that, in terms of feel, this is a comic which slots neatly between the She-Hulk's and Spider-Woman's.

As with Spider-Woman, more thought seems to have been put into the central character and her quandary than was the case with She-Hulk. However, the mood of the comic's more conventional than Spider-Woman's, making it seem closer to the She-Hulk's.

The main thing that strikes me about this issue is it feels like we've walked in halfway through it. Ms Marvel already exists, though we're given no idea how long she's been around for. She may have been in existence for months or appeared literally seconds before the splash page.

We also get a very familiar character in Carol Danvers but she's suddenly in an environment and a role some of us have never seen her in before.

Ms Marvel #1, J Jonah Jameson haggles
Because of this, I've had to check with Wikipedia to see if Ms Marvel turned up as a guest in another book before this one launched but it seems the splash page of this issue really is her first-ever appearance.

I'm not sure if we're supposed to be as baffled by the link between Carol and Ms Marvel as Carol and Ms Marvel are, as you'd have to be pretty stupid not to realise they're the same person.

Ms Marvel's 7th Sense is a total cop-out. It means that any time she needs answers, she can just call on it to provide them. A perfect example here is how she finds the Scorpion's hideout just by a picture of it appearing in her head. It may make things easier for her but it also makes things far too easy for the writer who can just get away with taking any liberties with it that he wants to.

Ms Marvel #1, Mary Jane Watson, headaches
Speaking of writers, it's penned by Gerry Conway who seems to be struggling a bit to make it all cohere and it's drawn by John Buscema who's in his Workmanlike Pro mode.

Overall, I'd say it's not a comic that exactly demands you rush out and buy the next issue. Ms Marvel feels like too much of a black hole, as a character, for that, we've all seen JJ's hero-hating routine once too often, and the mystery of the link between Carol and Ms Marvel isn't a mystery, so that's not exactly likely to hook you either.

It also has to be said that that is one of the worst costumes any super-heroine has ever been lumbered with.

And I say that as someone who's seen every outfit Supergirl put on in the 1970s.

Items of possible further interest:


Killdumpster said...

When I found Ms.Marvel at the newsstand, I struggled with whether to purchase it.

Being a fan of Mar-Vell, it felt like a knock-off plagerization of his character. Plus, as noted, her costume was awful.

The reasons I picked it up had nothing to do with the character. It was a first issue, the Scorpion was a fav villain of mine, and John Buscema sealed the deal.

Like you, Steve, I was less than impressed. After that issue I only picked up one more, where she fought the Super-Skrull.

I wasn't exactly thrilled when she joined the Avengers.

Killdumpster said...

Don't know if the inactivity on SDC is because of nice weather in your regions or everyone is getting sick, but I gotta tell ya about something cool.

Adult Swim released a Rick & Morty parody video on YouTube, based on the Lone Wolf & Cub movie/comics series.

It's a screaming howl! If any of you folks have never seen the series, it would be a good intro. Only about 5 minutes.

Killdumpster said...

It's called Rick & Morty "Ninja & Shogun".

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the recommendation, KD.

As for where everyone is, I have no idea. I'm sure people will show up later.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

KD- Charlie's mom said he's gotta stay inside and can't play. Maybe later...

Anonymous said...

You didn't see the Scorpion a lot back in them days. Many years after his debut in the early ASM he wound up as Mr. Hyde's partner in Captain America, which meant he got yelled at a lot by Hyde. Later on he showed up in Daredevil, which is basically like being sent down to the minors. I think he fell off a building or something.
He was your basic animal or arthropod-based supervillain. Plenty of them around.


Killdumpster said...

During the DC/Marvel crossover the Scorpion had a panel were he faced Batman. Scorps had blades & some kind of death-ray at the end of his tail. That was a much needed upgrade.

Wish they would've at least spent a page or two for a battle.

Anonymous said...

This was pretty inevitable after the first issues of She-Hulk and Spider-Woman Steve (;
You definitely got it right though - Ms Marvel #1 was pure formula. Part of the same wave of creativity that gave us, a second Spider-Man comic.
(I think it came out either just before or after Peter Parker #1 - the House of Ideas, eh?)

To be fair to Gerry Conway he was enough of a pro to at least attempt a take on "gender issues", even if it is fairly basic.
I seem to recall an editorial on the letters page where he explains why the comic isn't by a woman - because there aren't any qualified to do it! Writing Marvel comics was clearly a highly trained job, not like being head of security at Cape Canaveral or editor on a major newspaper, which are obviously fairly easy to jump between.


Anonymous said...

When I think of those first few issues of MS. MARVEL, the word that comes to mind is “Lazy”.

J. Jonah Jameson? Mary Jane Watson? I mean, sure, I love ‘em both, but would it really be that much effort to come up with some new supporting characters?

Big John probably cranked out the breakdowns over a weekend. Not terribly “inspired” but honestly not bad for by-the-numbers hackwork —Sinnott doing the finishes helps a LOT. Buscema would be doing much more lifeless stuff in a year or two.

The costume is a lazy re-tread of Mar-Vell’s outfit, but I don’t hate it. And I love that she has “Farrah hair” when she’s in SuperHeroine Mode.

- b.t.

dangermash said...

Yeah, Scorpion got a raw deal in those days. He was stronger than Spider-Man but they kept putting him up against Cap and Daredevil, sometimes with a partner. Mr Hyde is another who seems to have powered down over that time. On th either hand, the Wizard can take on the whole FF at once with his amazing power gloves. I mean, what's all that about?

Anonymous said...

Poor writing?
Call it a wild hunch...


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Guys - Indulge ole Charlie...

Did Ms. Marvel become the female Cpt. Marvel? Reason being Charlie was looking at ebay pricing on Ms. Marvel #1, and it appears you can get a right fine copy for around $10 - $50.

That did not seem like much to old Charlie. He was at the local comic store the other day and saw a Dracula issue with the first issue of Blade going for $475. So, given Cpt. Marvel had her own movie, he is thinking Ms. Marvel #1 is not the first appearance of female Cpt Marvel?

Steve - Charlie thinks you did a right fine write up of the Ms. Marvel #1 and enjoyed reading it. Charlie also notices he now sees Amazon adverts for Ms. and Cpt Marvel compilations for $10 and now Swamp Thing #2 movies at $500 a DVD. Charlie delightfully treats this as a two-fer! A review to read and a chance to buy something! Kind of like all those ads in the comic books for stuff Charlie never bought like x-ray glasses, lol!

Anonymous said...

Didn't Carol Danvers first appear in Marvel Super-Heroes, during the original Gene the Dean green Mar-Vell run?
C'mon Charlie, I thought you of all people would know that...


Charlie Horse 47 said...


By golly you are correct? Charlie was just reading that stuff not too too many years ago. Actually what happened is the good news that your Prince Charles is out of self-isolation and on the road to recovery simply crowded Charlie's brain with delirium.

As you know, Charlie feels a unique bond with anyone else named Charlie!

Sean - you being an immigrant and thus a welfare cheat and criminal, are you finding it harder to commit those crimes you are well known for, with everyone at home? (Charlie assumes you do some two-bit home break ins and such?) And surely you know, Charlie is just kidding... Charlie loves your sense of humor and hopes to see some zinger comebacks on an otherwise boring, though mercifully sunny, day in Chicago.

Anonymous said...

This is a golden age for skiving off work Charlie, and will open up fantastic opportunities for cheating on welfare once the emergency measures properly kick in.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - as you know, one of the UK's greatest gifts to the world is the play "Oliver" based on Dickens' book.

Charlie truly sees you in the role of "The Artful Dodger!" Would you mind sharing your welfare scams?

Anonymous said...

Actually Charlie, I don't have the foggiest. I'm self-employed, and its still not clear to me whats going on with that here.
If you're skint, I hear theres currently good money in drug dealing* to panic buyers. Toilet paper and opiates are where the action is.

I thought you lot were going back to work soon anyway. Or are there still whiners complaining that they don't want to die just to boost stock values and corporate profits?


*That was a joke. I couldn't possibly condone such activity.

ColinBray said...

Yes, Marvel Super-Heroes #13, Sean, and *cough* I own a high grade copy. Captain Marvel #18 sees her caught in an explosion that indirectly leads years later to both her superpowers and Farrah Fawcett hair.

ColinBray said...

To steer the thread back to comics, I remember reading a Ms Marvel issue featuring Tiger Shark off the stands - #15 to be precise. It was quite good. Chris Claremont wrote the comic and Jim Mooney drew it.

Yep, you guessed it. I grew up with a soft spot for both Carol Danvers and Tiger Shark. Go figure.

The gender angle definitely hit on the zeitgeist at a time when clunkiness was the only game in town. I don't think we should judge that quality too harshly from our vantage 2020 point.

Anonymous said...

Colin, I salute the effort of trying to "steer the thread." But topic drift around here is a cosmic force. And I'm as guilty as anybody.
We can start off talking about a comic book and end up talking about acupuncture or marmots or Charles XII. You just gotta buckle up, man.
It's basically Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Might as well enjoy it.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Ms. Marvel 15 - Any comic with Namorita on the cover is a hit with Charlie!

Killdumpster said...

Just remembered I had Ms. Marvel #15 also, just cuz of T-Shark & Namorita.

Wish Namorita had her own book. Unsure if she ever had a Marvel Spotlight or some such.

She was the only reason I'd read an occasional New Warriors book.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents and Dames!

BitBA is awaiting your commentary! Don't be stingy! We know y'all ain't in a pub playing darts or snookers!

Redartz said...

Afraid I was never a big fan of Ms. Marvel at the time. Did find her more interesting when Cockrum redesigned her. And was even more intrigued by Roger Stern's New "Captain Marvel" Monica Rambeau. That all said, I do like the current Carol Danvers Captain Marvel...

Killdumpster said...

You forgot to mention cannibalism, Stonehenge, and nipples.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Steve.
(Hope I got that right - for some reason April 1 stuck in my mind from a mention here a while back ;)


Steve W. said...

Thank you, Sean. Obviously, for purposes of internet security, I can neither confirm nor deny that it is my birthday.

And thanks to everyone else for your comments, which have been as diverse as ever.

Anonymous said...

I liked that first Monica Rambeau Captain Marvel story (in a SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL, IIRC), mostly for the art. JR JR’s work was still a bit tentative and bland at the time, he hadn’t yet developed that much more dynamic approach he later used on DAREDEVIL, PUNISHER, etc — but the Captain Marvel job was inked by his dad, which leveled him up considerably.

I don’t think I read ANY of Captain Rambeau’s subsequent appearances — at least not until Warren Ellis’s hilarious NEXTWAVE.

Though I didn’t have a problem with Ms. Marvel’s original outfit (other than its definitely derivative nature), I too liked Cockrum’s re-design. The man sure liked his thigh-highs, didn’t he! Unfortunately, those issues are kinda hard for me to enjoy these days. I generally loved Chris Claremont’s writing back then, but it hasn’t aged well for me. It helps (somewhat) if I remember to not read ANY of the thought balloons. It’s that ubiquitous internal commentary that really makes me grind my teeth...

— b.t.

Killdumpster said...

Never really cared about Monica, and DEFINITELY didn't care about Carol. Still don't.

Charlie, the reason why the value of Ms Marvel #1 isn't through the roof is because most readers/collectors don't like her!

The only reason a majority of folks went to see the Capt. Marvel film was because it was pigeonholed between the Avengers movies, and they thought it was a needed view to follow the story.

Her last bunch of serieses got canceled, then got revamped for Marvel to sell first issues, and maybe get her character to finally bite.

She never does.

Anonymous said...

I don't pretend to have psychic powers, so I wouldn't claim to know for sure why most people went to see the Captain Marvel film, but I expect it was for the same reason they went to see all the other Marvel films - because its a Marvel film.
They're pretty much all the same, except maybe the Avengers flicks (which are the same... but bigger, and more so).

If the Carol Danvers Captain Marvel didn't have enough of an audience somewhere Marvel wouldn't keep publishing the comic - she'd have gone the way of the other Captain Marvels by now, and they'd try something else to keep the trademark going.

Apparently this all has to do with politics somehow... and some SJW called Mary Sue?
I don't really get it - corporations like Marvel Walt Disney exist to make money. Anyone who thinks they'd keep publishing something for political reasons (seriously?) is obviously clueless.


Killdumpster said...

The majority of the Marvel crew are indeed cluess, Sean.

They are more concerned about publishing agenda propaganda than good stories.

They want to make Marvel a "lifestyle" brand, with an emphasis on clothing, toys, and even a cooking show!!!