Characters Appearing: Arabella Jones, Carol Danvers, Centurion, Contessa Valentina Allegro De La Fontaine, Frank Gianelli, Henry Pym, Lynn Anderson, Mystique, Scarlet Witch, Sharon Cole, Supreme Intelligence, Tabitha Townshend, Tracy Burke, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man
Ms. Marvel #17-18
Issue(s): Ms. Marvel #17, Ms. Marvel #18
But in the meantime Carol talks with her friends and gets into a snowball fight with the staff of Woman magazine.
When Ballard, who calls himself Centurion in costume, does attack, the Scarlet Witch and the Wasp happen to be nearby.
Wonder Man, the Vision, and Yellowjacket show up soon afterward. Centurion manages to be a match for all of them. He's also able to hone in on Ms. Marvel's costume, forcing her to switch to civilian clothes and later fashion a temporary costume that looks like a prototype of the black costume she will soon switch to.
She's finally able to defeat Centurion using a high tech trap she builds out of SHIELD's "Magnetic Bubble Memory Cores" (or whatever, see Matthew's comment for an explanation from someone less zonked out by the technobabble).
Raven's last name of Darkholme, and her true form, are both revealed for the first time in issue #18, as she is told by a mysterious "Lord" to withdraw her attack on Ms. Marvel.
She's shown to be working at the Pentagon, but she's not yet called Mystique.
In a separate subplot, two Kree search in vain for the Supreme Intelligence on Kree-Lar, but they are unable to find him. He is still thought to be dead but shown here to be alive and laughing at those who search for him.
Decent writing. I especially enjoyed Ms. Marvel's silent reaction to Henry Pym's semi-sexist snark. The art seems a little sketchy, though.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Some SHIELD agents on monitor duty get a little naughty spying on Ms. Marvel, since Nick Fury is supposed to be "testifying before Congress" and "Dum Dum Dugan an' most of the top operations brass are on the coast chasin' big lizards". The Avengers have been stripped of their official status, placing this after Avengers #172. This takes place before Ms. Marvel's appearance in Avengers #175, making the Korvac saga concurrent with these issues (see the entry for Ms. Marvel #19 for the reason why). The other Avengers appearing in this issue appear between Avengers #172-173.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Raven has a power limitation when she infiltrates SHIELD with Ballard that doesn't turn up in her future appearances: she can't increase her mass and therefore has to stretch herself thin to mimic the taller, heavier Nick Fury. She has no trouble mimicking men in later stories.
Some of her early dialogue suggests Raven isn't from this world. The "lord" she communicates with is presumably Shaw, per later retcons, but I doubt that was the original plan. She refers to a "lord," Warhawk in X-Men is working for a "master" -- I wonder if Claremont was planning something with Master Khan, who was known for going by "Masterlord" in the Iron Fist stories? It doesn't really fit, but Claremont clearly had something other than the Hellfire Club in mind at this point.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 14, 2012 2:55 AM
Also recall in Uncanny X-Men #184 that when Forge switches on the scanner he designed which is capable of identifying human, mutant, Kree, Skrull, Wraith, etc. it identifies only one mutant... himself... failing to pick up on Raven's mutant signature.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | October 26, 2012 8:15 PM
The easiest answer is that while mutant detecting technologies can identify most mutants, like all technology, they are not 100% accurate for numerous reasons.
I think it was in X-Men # 100 or 101 that Lang said that Wolverine was not a mutant. This plot point was supposed to be addressed (originally as Wolverine being a New Man created by the High Evolutionary, later as the son of Sabretooth who "bred true" and thus not a mutant, but a new strain of humanity), but never was. Wolverines's canonical status as a mutant is not in doubt (I think).
I also remember an FF issue of Acts of Vengeance where Reed whipped up a mutant detecting prototype which was also dubiously accurate.
Posted by: Chris | October 26, 2012 10:33 PM
Claremont obviously had other intentions though that were never realised.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | October 27, 2012 2:17 AM
In FOOM#20(1/78) Claremont describes Mystique as working within the US government with the intent of taking it over, and hiding behind a puppet president.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 14, 2013 5:54 PM
@Mark: This makes one now wonder if he pitting the Brotherhood against Senator Kelly wasn't out of any altruism to prevent his stance against mutants but rather that he might have knocked her puppet of the running for the top job!
Who do you think that puppet president might therefore have been?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 15, 2013 6:40 AM
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 20, 2013 2:59 PM
Given FOOM suggested Claremont had an upcoming plot with the Grandmaster, I wonder if he was entertaining the idea of the Elder being Mystique's Lord what with that hairdo.
It would further explain why Forge's scanner fails to identify Raven as a mutant in Uncanny X-Men #184. That is, perhaps she was intended as an alien at the start, which would make a certain amount of sense given her being introduced in Ms. Marvel and not Uncanny.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 20, 2013 9:18 PM
The Grandmaster thing seems possible. My read on the scene with Forge's scanner, though, is that the device would just ping when a mutant was present, not that it would necessarily identify a number of them. So it pinged because of Forge and Mystique, but Forge thought it was just because of him.
I do thin CC intended Raven as something other than a mutant at first but had changed his plans by the time he started using her in x-men.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 20, 2013 10:15 PM
Claremont definitely intended for her to be a mutant in UX #184 because when Forge declares that there's a mutant in the room, she's ready to kill him until he says that it's him.
Also, the device was based on ROM's neutralizer, and was supposed to be able to distinguish between baseline human and anything else, even distinguishing Kree from Skrull from Dire Wraith (and probably even muppet from puppet, Mark. They are different species.). So even if she was supposed to be an alien, that wouldn't explain why it didn't detect her.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 21, 2013 12:20 AM
Different species or not, Bert would still be a great puppet president. He'd pay off the national debt with his paper clip collection.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 21, 2013 2:43 AM
So if Grandmaster was going to be Raven's "Lord" where do you think this might have taken Ms. Marvel's title?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 21, 2013 6:54 AM
I would hope that if Claremont was writing a shape-changing alien into a book starring a Kree-based super-hero, he'd be using a Skrull. Or maybe a Kree/Skrull hybrid if you wanted to assume that her blue-skinned appearance is her natural shape.
The Grandmaster-as-Lord thing doesn't really work for me. The Grandmaster's MO is to teleport a bunch of people somewhere and make them fight each other. He doesn't seem to need an agent on the ground engaging in espionage.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 21, 2013 6:46 PM
Since the Grandmaster tried to get possession of Earth twice before and lost both times, maybe an agent on Earth would be some kind of hedge against losing a 3rd time?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 21, 2013 7:18 PM
The issue stands though what the story was behind Claremont's intended use of Grandmaster in the title?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 22, 2013 2:10 AM
I haven't read all the early Ms Marvels involving her, but I know that the unpublished issues that were to end the series included Mystique and the complete Brotherhood of Evil Mutants that we'd meet in Days of Future Past. It would seem odd to have her leading all these other mutants in a group called the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and not have her be a mutant. So I think by at least what would have been issues 23-24 (or thereabouts) of this book, Claremont knew she was a mutant.
Posted by: Paul | April 22, 2013 4:15 PM
Also, somebody could just ASK him. Maybe shoot him a link to this page/conversation. Claremont's never been shy about talking to serious fans about his unused plots or original intentions. Whether he'd even remember one this minor from so long ago is another matter.
Posted by: Paul | April 22, 2013 5:38 PM
@Paul: Don't worry I've tried but Beth, his wife, says he's not aloud to answer questions about his untold plots while he's still under contract to Marvel (even when he's not writing any titles which is ludicrous:(
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 23, 2013 4:39 AM
I've posted a new theory on how the Lord could be Sebastian Shaw on the post for Uncanny X-Men #170.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 21, 2013 9:32 PM
Sabretooth introduced in Iron Fist. Mystique introduced in Ms Marvel. There's reasons for both, but do you think Claremont just had too much he wanted to do and with X-Men still a bi-monthly, he was just going to get things started by introducing his characters in other places?
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 4, 2015 12:40 PM
Highly doubt that Claremont had a master plan that lasted that long. Maybe he had ideas and had the means to juggle them in a few books, but when Iron Fist got folded into Luke Cage/Power Man and Ms. Marvel got cancelled, it was just easier to stick with X-Men since that was the one he was having the most success with and thus the easiest to control his story elements.
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 4, 2015 3:56 PM
There is an interesting note in the letter column of issue # 22 relating to the art of issue # 18. A reader states their dislike for the excessive use of dark lines and shadows which caused the issue to appear drab, and is given this response:
“Y’see, when the pencils were mailed to inker Ricardo Villamonte, they got lost or stolen en route, forcing Ricardo to ink the book on vellum over none-too-clear xeroxes of the original pencils. All things considered, we feel he did a pretty good job.”
Posted by: Jesse | January 12, 2016 12:51 PM
That seemed to happen a few times at Marvel in the 70s- the story that was supposed to appear in the final issue of Tales of the Zombie got sent to Guam.
Posted by: Michael | January 16, 2016 12:14 PM
Nathan, maybe I've just been reading too many pages about the Scarlet Witch and branching into the High Evolutionary and Viper, but have we ruled out Ch'Thon as Mystique's 'lord'? Especially given the point made above about introducing a shape-changing villain in a book starring a Kree and not have the villain be a Skrull.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 28, 2016 6:43 PM
...And then there's having a mysterious blue-skinned woman in disguise as a Ms. Marvel villain and not having her be a Kree agent...
Posted by: BU | January 29, 2016 11:20 AM
Mystique's 'costume' and skull headpiece, and her real name, seem to suggest something supernatural rather than alien, don't they?
Posted by: Dave77 | May 8, 2016 6:15 AM
No more so than Apocalypse or Sinister.
Posted by: AF | May 8, 2016 6:57 AM
Like a lot of characters, I doubt Mystique (or her "Lord") were all that fleshed out yet by Claremont or his editors in these early appearances.
Ms. Marvel wasn't a mutant related book or character back then so it's entirely possible Mystique was originally intended as a mystical character. I agree that the voodoo getup, the name "Raven Darkholme", and her boss contacting her in the form of some ethereal spirit could all support this.
The truth is we'll probably never really know. This was written almost 40 years ago and I doubt Claremont himself even remembers what the original plan was.
Posted by: Red Comet | May 8, 2016 10:39 AM
Ms. Marvel #18 is also notable for being the first story in which Kree-Lar was identified as the planet where the Supreme Intelligence was located. This was a mistake since all previous stories, including the Claremont-written Captain Marvel #46 in which the Supreme Intelligence had been shut down, had named the Kree homeworld of Hala as where the Supremor was located.
I mention this error because it was perpetuated into the third Silver Surfer series written by Steve Englehart who, like Claremont, really should have known better. Curiously, while early issues of that series did state that the Supreme Intelligence was based on Kree-Lar, by the final Englehart issues that same planet was being correctly identified as Hala.
Posted by: Don Campbell | May 8, 2016 10:45 AM
fnord, no biggie, but Ms. Marvel doesn't build her trap out of "magnetic bubble memory cores"; the trap is a magnetic field so powerful that it actually scrambles the MBMC around which Centurion's S.H.I.E.L.D. battle suit is designed. It's reminiscent of the grids she and Spider-Man had recently used against the Super-Skrull in MTU.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | May 21, 2016 12:17 PM
Claremont was connecting this series with the X-Men at least by #9 with Deathbird and the Aerie. Even Grotesk was an old X-Men villain.
And the mysterious Lord was meant to be the Shadow King/Farouk, which is the reason why he tried to kill her in UNCANNY X-MEN #266. She had turned on him and went against the Hellfire Club in MS. MARVEL #24-25 (the Coelho transaction). I suspect she got much pleasure out of shooting Reisz/Shadow King's head in X-FACTOR #69.
Plus, Claremont intended on the Shadow King also controlling Mastermind in the MS. MARVEL story, as well as in UNCANNY X-MEN, so I suspect he was mighty pissed at Raven. He was controlling Mastermind in UNCANNY X-MEN #169-175, too, where he was messing around with Mystique, in addition to the X-Men, Rogue, and Destiny.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | May 21, 2016 12:59 PM
It occurs to me that we may be looking too far from this book to explain Mystique in these issues. Given the incongruous supernatural elements, perhaps Mystique was meant to be connected to Hecate from issues #11-13 in some way. Then she too might be an alien whose motifs and powers are mistaken for magic; the Elementals in that earlier story were connected somehow to a mysterious figure from "the outer dark;" perhaps Mystique's master is the same entity?
Of course, Claremont tends to blend space opera and high fantasy elements more generally.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 27, 2016 11:04 AM
Given that issue 19 of this book was titled "Mirror, Mirror", and issue 21 was "The Devil in the Dark", I suspect that "Shadow of the Gun" may have borrowed its title from another classic Star Trek episode, "Spectre of the Gun".
Posted by: Andrew | August 2, 2016 8:05 PM
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