Ms. Marvel #11-13
Issue(s): Ms. Marvel #11, Ms. Marvel #12, Ms. Marvel #13
The second issue has Ms. Marvel fighting Hecate and the Elementals, who are after the Ruby Scarab. The Elementals were last seen in the Supernatural Thrillers stories featuring the Living Mummy, and in this issue they are after the thieves Richard "Asp" Harper and Miles Olddan, who stole the Scarab. Zephyr, the elemental that stayed with Asp and Olddan, is still with them.
The artifact is actually spelled "Skarab" in this story, coincidentally (?) like the Dr. Skarab from the Living Mummy series. In this story, the artifact boosts the powers of its wielder.
Hecate is a new character (although based on the version of legend), and all that's said about her and the fact that she's joined up with the Elementals is that she's a cosmic traveler that has visited the Earth before...
...and that she found and rescued the Elementals when she found them floating in the void.
They turn on her as soon as they get the Skarab.
The second issue ends with Ms. Marvel having defeated the Elementals but having transformed back into Carol, holding the Skarab, and getting ready to beat the crap out of Hecate. But the next issue jumps ahead in time to well after that encounter is over. It then provides the resolution via flashback, and then jumps ahead again to a new fight with some alien robots.
It's an interesting storytelling device, but i'm suspicious of it. The flashback resolution contains the major revelation that Ms. Marvel and Carol Danvers are indeed the same person and that it was just the trauma of the explosion and getting powers that caused a temporary multiple personality disorder type effect. But that's not really a satisfying solution considering all of Danvers' new Kree knowledge and memories.
And it's really brushed over rather quickly, as if Claremont just wanted to hurry up and get all of that over with. On the other hand, i can't imagine an entire third issue of Ms. Marvel fighting Hecate, so maybe this was the plan all along.
In any event, this represents a major turning point for Ms. Marvel, as she's no longer struggling for identity, and she's "super" all the time now. A lot of Claremont's time on this book has been dedicated to undoing the damage that was done in the initial creation of this character - making her powers part of her instead of her costume, removing the idea that Carol's powers only come from an imprint of the male Captain Marvel's personality, updating the costume so that she (eventually) isn't just a sexy female clone of Marv.
In the letters page for Marvel Team-Up #63, an editor's note says "There were times when Chris felt like giving up Ms. Marvel because he felt he couldn't get a handle on either the book or the main character's characterization - luckily things finally meshed for him and Ms. M and the book today is much better for it." I think this is the point where he is hitting his stride with the character, but only after weirdly jumping from plot to plot a few times.
One area that is definitely lacking, though, is her super-villains. MODOK, of course, is awesome, but her other villains so far have included the 3rd tier X-Men villain Grotesk, the Silver Surfer throwaway character Doomsday Man, and Deathbird (who, separated from any future connection with the Shi'ar, is just a cheesy bird woman). This arc introduces some obscure and lame characters that it seems were previously associated with the Living Mummy...
...and a pair of funny looking robots.
To be fair, any seemingly bad characters can be turned into decent adversaries with the right level of attention, and Claremont does rather well even with this group. Deathbird obviously has some hidden depth even at this point, and Claremont tries to make Hecate seem more sympathetic (although the reversal is rather abrupt and unexplained). The robots are actually pretty cool...
...but we'll never see them again until, decades later, Kurt Busiek uses them in his Iron Man run. But just looking at it on a surface level, Ms. Marvel's rogue's gallery is pretty weak.
If the intent of the issues with the Elementals was to provide some kind of wrap up to their storyline, it really seems to have the opposite effect. It brings the Elementals back instead of just leaving them in limbo, and it's unclear what happens to them after the fight with Ms. Marvel. Similarly, it's not clear what happens to Richard "Asp" Harper (he's seen blasted on panel but it's not confirmed that he's dead) or his partners Zephyr and Mike Olddan (who don't even get that much). For years i assumed i was missing out on something since i didn't read the Living Mummy's run, but having now read it i'm even less enthused with the appearance of these characters.
Mary Jo Duffy (going by just "Jo Duffy" at this point, and recently promoted to assistant editor), writes in with a good analysis of the book and its attempts at feminism.
Actually the letters pages in general for this series are quite good, with a lot of people weighing in on the development of Ms. Marvel from a blatant symbol of feminism to a well developed character.
We get what i think might be the first instance of a popular Claremontism: "The battle had been no-holds-barred, no quarter asked, none given...".
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Pushed back in publication time to allow for Ms. Marvel #15-16 to take place circa Iron Man #103-107.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showCarol Danvers, Frank Gianelli, Golden-Blade, Hecate, Hellfire (Elementals), Hydron (Elemental), Joe Danvers, Lynn Anderson, Magnum, Marie Danvers, Mike Barnett, Miles Olddan, Richard 'Asp' Harper, Sapper, Tracy Burke, Zephyr
The Elementals were pretty much the Living Mummy's only villains, except for one issue with (appropriately) the Living Pharoah.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 28, 2011 1:07 AM
In Ms. Marvel #12, the Elemental, Magnum makes reference to "Him, who rules the Outer Dark".
Claremont had previously named Y'Garon as being "of the Triad" and of the "Outer Dark" and Mabdhara, which pretty much all become terms referring to his iteration of the Elder Gods, the N'Garai.
Did Claremont intend this to suggest that the Elementals were cast out of their dimension for worshipping the N'Garai, in much the same way Kulan Gath was driven out of Stygia by the Black Ring?
The other interesting tidbit is Claremont referring to "HIM" who rules the Outer Dark, yet he'd previously referred to Kthara as having ruled there!
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 14, 2012 10:27 PM
Could Carol's mind problems be the real reason Rogue's mind couldn't be read for so long? It stopped being a problem when Carol was asserting dominance later on.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 5, 2015 7:31 AM
For what it's worth, Claremont hints that Hecate is an Eternals-type alien who was mistaken for a goddess, but in the 2012 Pak/Van Lente "Herc" series she returns and is presented as the actual Hecate of Greek legend.
Posted by: Andrew | April 14, 2016 9:00 PM
The matter of Hecate became even more contradictory earlier this year when she showed up in Scarlet Witch (vol. 2) #2. In that issue, Wanda Maximoff had traveled to the Greek island of Santorini to seek her goddess Hekate's wisdom concerning how the witchcraft flowing through the world was broken.
This Goddess Hekate is the Greek goddess of witches but she claims she hasn't cast a spell in years and is content to serve the patrons of her small café. Hekate does say that she might change her mind in a year or a week and decide to take over the world "again" but doesn't explain that reference. Hekate also claims that she hasn't conjured a hex or foretold in many moons, and refers to herself as a lapsed god. The story ends with her dead, killed by the Emerald Warlock.
So, that makes three stories about a powerful woman named Hecate. The first one has an alien explorer from another world who was only thought to be a goddess by humans when she visited Earth long ago. The second story featured an amnesiac drug addict whose memory had been wiped by Zeus when he banished her from Olympus. When she got her memory back, Hecate returned to her true form (with its three faces) and she recalled how she had once fought Ms. Marvel. And now this third story with a lapsed goddess living quietly on Santorini.
I don't like the retcon that Ms. Marvel's Hecate was really the Greek goddess but at least it would be fairly easy to undo it if anyone cared to try. And this Hekate's claim that she hasn't cast a spell in years is inconsistent with the 3-faced Hecate's actions in Herc #3-6. A real mess of conflicting continuities.
Posted by: Don Campbell | June 3, 2016 7:47 PM
I loved how Busiek brought back Sapper and Golden-Blade during his IRON MAN run. Talk about pulling from obscurity! He tied them in with Ultimo, but Claremont intended them to be tied to the Shi'ar. Likely they were after Deathbird.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | August 15, 2016 12:53 PM
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