Ms. Marvel #1
Issue(s): Ms. Marvel #1
Meanwhile, Carol Danvers, previously a security officer at a NASA launch site, is hired by J. Jonah Jameson to be the editor of Woman Magazine, although JJ doesn't want it to focus on "women's lib" stuff. Despite no real experience, she gets the job, gets to negotiate a decent salary for the time period ($30k - approximately $110,000 in today's dollars) and gets a huge private office. Her previous relevant experience includes one book about the space industry. Not a bad deal, if you can get it.
JJ gets kidnapped by the Scorpion, who wants revenge for having been stuck in his suit, and he is rescued by Ms. Marvel.
JJ of course never appreciates being saved by super-heroes so he orders Carol to write an expose on the new heroine.
The Scorpion has been dealing with a weapons designer who contracts for "groups like Hydra" named Professor Kerwin Korman. He'll be a semi-regular in this series, becoming the super-villain Destructor.
Carol has been having blackouts but at this time does not realize that she is actually Ms. Marvel. Ms. Marvel also appears to be completely amnesiac about her past.
Mary Jane and JJ are set up to be regular support cast members for Ms. Marvel, which is an interesting move. The cover does claim that this book will be "in the senses-stunning tradition of Spider-Man".
The art by Buscema/Sinnott is great, but the story can definitely use some work. The cover also touts that "This female fights back." and in some ways you can see this as a an attempt to return to the vaguely feminist books launched in 1972 (The Cat and Shanna the She-Devil). In some ways it's a regression. It's an all male creative team, for example. But you can't argue with John Buscema on art, and i guess you can't really complain about the costume when comparing to Shanna's fuzzy bikini. Setting up Carol Danvers as a professional executive is a nice move, but going from head of security to head of a magazine publication is an odd shift that feels more like cramming an existing character into a new concept rather than logical character development. Ms. Marvel is, i'm pretty sure, Marvel's first female derivative of a male character (unless you count the Wasp?), although Spider-Woman isn't far behind. Still, the biggest crime here is Gerry Conway's writing, and it's no different a crime than what he's been perpetuating on the books with male leads.
Interestingly, according to Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Mary Skrenes (Steve Gerber's girlfriend & writing partner) was originally invited to pitch this story, and her version involved a "tiny and dyslexic" woman that got super-adrenaline strength when she got angry. But "They didn't want her to be tiny and dyslexic; they wanted her to be statuesque. Stan just didn't like it." So from the very beginning we have this dichotomy; a character that is purportedly feminist but at the same time has to conform to male standards of beauty. We'll see this continue on a smaller scale when Chris Claremont takes over the book and tries to provide Carol with a more practical costume.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Needs to take place before Captain Marvel #51.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Giant-Size Ms. Marvel #1
Inbound References (1): showAunt May, Carol Danvers, Destructor, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Mary Jane Watson, Scorpion, Spider-Man
I think the Scorpion got stuck in his suit in an issue of Peter Parker; he wasn't stuck in it in Amazing Spider-Man #145-146.
The title may refer to FF #51 "This Man...This Monster" (which is sort of a weird choice if I'm correct).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 23, 2011 12:07 PM
According to Chris Claremont, Steve Gerber suggested that Carol Danvers be a divorcee with 2 kids, a lousy house, and a bad job. His idea was rejected as unsalable.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 8, 2012 5:56 PM
Spider-Woman and She-Hulk might have had to be created for trademark reasons, but why a female knock-off of Captain Marvel? Using Carol Danvers was a good move, though, as she'd been well set up at the beginning of Marv's series (even if she got weaker as the series went on).
$110,000 isn't unreasonable for the full editor of a new national magazine (if anything, it's low), and JJJ may have been looking for a semi-celebrity -- a woman who'd been in charge of defense at the country's top space facility -- as much as a hands-on editor. She'd have to be able to edit, but the prestige of her resume may have been more enticing than, say, another applicant's purely journalistic background.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 6, 2012 2:26 AM
FOOM#15(9/76) previewed this book and announced a female villain called the Fox. I think Conway took the concept to DC and called her the Vixen. The preview also made the monumental blunder of calling her Linda Danvers, who was DC's Supergirl.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 31, 2013 5:40 PM
The first issue's letter page has some interesting historical commentary from GC.
Posted by: gfsdf gfbd | May 3, 2014 9:53 PM
"The cover does claim that this book will be "in the senses-stunning tradition of Spider-Man"."
Didn't Marvel try to get him somehow on the cover of every new book? It was like they needed to remind people - hey, we're Marvel, the people who bring you Spider-Man, so try this new book.
But, to be fair, I'm reading my way through DC Year by Year, and all through the 50's and 60's, Superman was actually part of DC's logo, so it's not like they weren't always trying to make people aware of their top character either.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 19, 2015 12:01 PM
Mark Drummond: PPTSSM 21 established Gargan was never stuck in his Scorpion suit; it was all a delusion.
Posted by: mikrolik | December 21, 2015 5:05 PM
"going from head of security to head of a magazine publication is an odd shift"
Going from Wolverine's best friend who goes on awesome secret agent missions to head of security to person who writes a book about the space industry to head of a woman's magazine publication who doesn't realise they're being told to write stories about their own secret identity as an amnesiac Kree-human hybrid superheroine is an even odder shift :)
...And it's only going to get odder from here, what with being mind-controlled into giving birth to the man who impregnated her, having her powers stolen & personality wiped, experimented on by aliens who accidentally turn her into a space goddess, becoming an alcoholic, becoming marketed as one of Marvel's most important heroines, and then becoming the MCU's first solo female film, which will presumably have to ignore pretty much all of this mess.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 14, 2017 8:00 AM
I think Carol going from government agent to feminist magazine editor was a reference to Gloria Steinem working for the CIA, although Steinem never was an "agent" in the sense that Carol was of course.
Posted by: Michael | July 14, 2017 6:35 PM
I was unaware of the Steinem/CIA link, so to me this issue just came off as Conway desperately trying to use all the Spider-characters to try and sell the new heroine. I mean, if they wanted to make her a magazine editor, it didn't have to be the Bugle.
But okay, I could accept the Bugle characters appearing here as well, but then to also throw in Mary Jane, as well as using the Scorpion, and featuring all the Spider-cast on the cover, is what really pushes it over the edge. I guess they thought women characters just wouldn't sell otherwise.
(And maybe trying to recapture the Spider-Man magic was a mission for some of the grown-up Spider-Man fans now running Marvel editorial, since Nova arrived about the same time. Not the first or last time they'll try that, obviously.)
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 14, 2017 8:34 PM
Well, I thought Gerry Conway was on to something with this first issue. With a new series, you need to establish your protagonist, a supporting cast and a rogues' gallery as quickly as possible. By plugging Ms Marvel into Spiderman's universe, Conway gave the series space to develop the main character while being able to lean on popular characters like J Jonah Jameson and the Scorpion. There is a strong engine here to produce stories. Being a magazine editor is a good way to draw Ms Marvel into adventures, and The Incredible Hulk shows you can have a lot of fun with split personalities.
Chris Claremont comes in with issue #3 and begins to undo the status quo, he changes her powers, her costume (twice), her job and personality (disorder), but he doesn't really put in place anything more interesting. So the series becomes:- bland hero bumps into bland villain, they fight. Repeat ad nauseam.
Posted by: Bernard the Poet | December 1, 2017 7:21 PM
Roger Stern (I think) thought it was extremely lazy for Gerry to steal another superhero's supporting cast instead of creating his own.
Posted by: Michael | December 1, 2017 7:58 PM
I have never read these issues, but it seems to me that despite a fairly sound premise (have a strong female superhero who can be in essence Marvel's Wonder Woman), the character and series was botched from the very beginning.
There are too many disparate elements that come into play, and none of them work well together. So despite having acceptable (though generic) superheroes and a fantastic costume (once Cockrum designs it), Ms. Marvel has simply never worked. It's too bad. Her visual in Cockrum's costume looks great, and her original career would set her well.
If they wanted this magazine editor with Spidey's cast, then there is no reason to bring in Carol Danvers. If they wanted to go with a space related superhero involved in aliens, Carol's established past is fine, but this concept and supporting cast doesn't help. And she never had a good rogues' gallery.
I think Claremont later moved in the right direction, but he never sealed the deal - which was not unusual away from the X-Men. I feel despite Claremont's strengths, that he needs both a strong editor and creative collaborator. He got that on X-Men. He didn't with his work on Spider-Woman and Ms Marvel, and it shows.
Posted by: Chris | December 1, 2017 9:02 PM
You can have a lot of fun with split personalities, but if you're creating "Marvel's Wonder Woman" it's way too easy to fall into unfortunate implications when you try to add gimmicks, and Claremont recognized that the whole split-personality thing definitely fell into that category. Not that it would stop Byrne from doing much the same thing with Aurora, but I feel like the execution of that worked better and being part of a team dynamic, without any expectations of carrying her own weight and with other female characters around, helped it feel less insulting.
Taking an established character and plunging into her story, without starting with her origin, and expecting us to buy that she has a split personality now, doesn't feel like a good approach, and I feel like Conway did little enough with the setup that Claremont didn't see the point. It was a gimmick that didn't feel necessary given her origin, modus operandi, and established history, and considering how much writers since the 80s have constantly been attracted to doing away with even the Hulk's classic setup, that a later writer would do away with the split-personality thing feels inevitable, and that it would be Claremont so soon after her creation was probably for the best for her long-term viability (see how She-Hulk never caught on until after Stern and Byrne got their hands on her despite how much David Anthony Kraft did to make her "not just the Hulk but female").
Posted by: Morgan Wick | December 2, 2017 12:03 AM
Not Wonder Woman, Supergirl. At this time Carol Danvers is Marvel's Supergirl. Or so it always seemed to me. And, in a Freudian-like slip, FOOM #15's preview (thanks Mark) even calls her "Linda Danvers!" Amusing and a bit of a shock maybe, but not a surprise to me. Blonde hair, red, blue, and yellow costume, and shares her name and powers with a male predecessor who is an alien from another planet.
Just my take on it. And Captain Mar-Vell himself is now not only Marvel's answer to Billy Batson, but also serves as Marvel's stand-in for Superman, with incremental changes in his powers and appearance taking him farther away from the Stan Lee/Gene Colan prototype and closer to the Superman model. Plus, he now has his own Supergirl, too. He still needs a dog though.
Posted by: Holt | March 2, 2018 6:19 PM
Since she's a derivative character, I can see how someone would think Supergirl was also a model, but I never thought of Carol as occupying the same niche to Captain Marvel as Supergirl plays to Superman. There simply isn't a "Captain Marvel" family at this time like how there was a Superman family at DC. Given Captain Marvel's lack of consistent popularity, building a franchise off him would be a dubious project.
In terms of what Marvel was trying to accomplish, I think Wonder Woman is a better analogy, but I really don't think it matters if all we're trying to do is explain that Marvel wanted a prominent female character who was powerful like how DC had. Both Supergirl and Wonder Woman fit that bill.
Originally Stan wanted to use Ms. Marvel as the name of Jean Grey's "grown up" name, but it never happened and by the time they were ready to launch a title with a female heroine, Jean was already slotted for the All New All Different X-Men. So I think they just went with any existing character who might have a tie to the "Marvel" name.
Posted by: Chris | March 2, 2018 8:45 PM
I don't know exactly why Marvel would want to base a solo independent woman super-hero on Captain Mar-Vell, but they did. Unlike Supergirl and Ms. Marvel, however, Wonder Woman is not, and has never been, a derivative super-hero based on a male character.
Besides that, the Danvers name, and the blonde hair, SG and MM also share the ability to fly, whereas WW needs her invisible plane to fly. Also, SG and MM both have science-based powers, yet WW is a mythology-based hero, like Thor, Valkyrie, Sif, Hildegarde, Hercules, and even the Billy Batson Captain Marvel. Appearance-wise, MM also wears a long red scarf which resembles SG's red cape when she flies.
IMO, Marvel should have made their new hero more like Wonder Woman, but didn't. Marvel might not have been psychologically capable of visualizing and conceptualizing such a strong and independent woman super-hero as Wonder Woman, even though the feminist-inspired psychologist William Moulton Marston obviously was. (This isn't to say that Marston didn't have his own set of psychological quirks.:-))
Posted by: Holt | March 3, 2018 9:30 AM
From The Superhero Women: "It bothered me for years that we didn't have on e particular super heroine... Sure, we had Red Sonja, but... I wanted a female superstar who would exist in the present, the real world... I kicked the idea... around with Roy Thomas... we came up with the name Ms. Marvel, for two reasons. One, I wanted to use the word Marvel if possible simply because it's the name of our gregarious group of titles; and, two, it seemed the the word "Ms. totally represented the new, liberated, upbeat spirit that we wanted the strip to represent.
I don't think it's much more complicated than that. Everything else was just spitballed based on those two words. (gfsdf gfbd's link above tells much the same story.) Plus, of course, Wonder Woman had appeared on the cover of Ms Magazine several years before, and even if it took a while, Stan was never above stealing an idea...
Posted by: Andrew | March 3, 2018 4:57 PM
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