Solo Avengers #5 (Scarlet Witch)
Issue(s): Solo Avengers #5 (Scarlet Witch)
...when Melinda Morrison shows up. Melinda was the dead girlfriend of Xandu, the wizard from Marvel Fanfare #6 who tried to rekindle his dead girlfriend's body with the Scarlet Witch's spirit before he was stopped by Spider-Man.
After that incident, Melinda started dating a guy named John Kowalski, but one day after a car accident, it turned out that Kowalski is actually Death.
And Kowalski is still on the hunt for Melinda. He shows up and notices a "void" in one of Scarlet Witch's children.
But he's not after them. He's happy to fight the Scarlet Witch, however.
During the fight, as the Scarlet Witch starts winning, she starts becoming Death. And she's about to claim Kowalski when Melinda tells her that she loves him.
And that causes the Scarlet Witch to regain control, and therefore Melinda and Kowalski reconcile, with Kowalski saying that he has three years to prepare his successor to take his place as Death.
They then fade away just as the Vision comes home.
After the past three issues with Roger Stern, when i didn't recognize the credits, i said "Oh, great, some fill-in dregs.". And then i saw the "girlish figure" scene and sighed further (although to be fair, Stern did the exact same thing with Shanna the She-Devil in Avengers #257). But as i kept going, i realized i actually liked the art and the story was a cool mix of various and obscure past elements. So it was kind of cool, although i have to admit i didn't really understand the resolution!
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP place this before the Scarlet Witch and Vision start appearing in the West Coast Avengers in West Coast Avengers #33. They have the Black Knight's behind-the-scenes appearance at the game with the Vision directly after his appearance in the last issue of Solo Avengers. The MCP doesn't tag Melinda Morrison for this issue and i don't know if that's a mistake (very minor character!) or if there's a revision in her upcoming appearances.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showDeath, John Kowalski, Melinda Morrison, Scarlet Witch, Thomas (VSW Baby), Vision, William (VSW Baby)
So does this mean Thanos is gay?
(No that there's anything wrong with that...)
Posted by: Gary Himes | June 3, 2014 8:13 PM
I don't think there's a revision but her next appearance seems to forget about this one.
Posted by: Michael | June 3, 2014 9:37 PM
Nah, it just means Death is transgender. Though Thanos may be bi... ;)
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | June 4, 2014 3:20 PM
Melinda's next appearance doesn't mention this story, but the love affair with Death and being named as Death's successor do kind of foreshadow it.
Posted by: TCP | April 25, 2015 1:17 PM
I always thought the "girlish figure" line was stupid, since she's clearly drawn to have her figure back after her pregnancy. Even 13 year old me at the time knew that.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 2, 2015 8:39 AM
I have not read all of Thanos's 70s appearances but I can only recall him viewing Death as a female. Gary, I would have a problem if Thanos was now written as gay or bi because to do so now would be socially contrived. Same if Cap, James Bond, Tony Stark etc were written now to be gay.
Posted by: Grom | September 4, 2016 10:46 PM
What if a new version (such as an "Ultimate Universe 2.0", or a videogame that started a new continuity, or something like that) made their versions of Steve, Tony, Peter Parker, etc., gay or bi?
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 5, 2016 12:09 AM
Thanos6, I would be less bothered by that than a revisionism of those characters in Earth616. I would still see it as an exercise in social engineering but I would appreciate that effort was made not to change the existing Earth616 characters. Ideally I would prefer writers make new characters how they want rather than distort old ones.
Posted by: Grom | September 5, 2016 2:29 AM
It'd be absurd to think that anthropomorphic personifications of abstract concepts like Death (or Eternity, Infinity, Chaos, Order, etc) have a gender in any meaningful sense. Death may appear as a woman for Thanos, maybe because that's how he wants to see hir, but there's no reason why s/he can't appear as a man to someone else. And I doubt Thanos' love for Death is comparable to human sexuality, so calling him gay or straight because he loves Death is equally absurd.
Posted by: Tuomas | September 5, 2016 3:45 AM
Good points but I think that it is irrelevant that Death is an abstract because Death has always appeared to Thanos as an attractive woman presumably because that is what Thanos is attracted to. (According to Starlin's comics) Giffin portrayed Death at one point as a girl which made Thanos uncomfortable.
I cannot recall how Rot was spawned though. Something to do with love.
Death, in return, wants Thanos' love but on equal terms. Yes, Death is abstract but only humans are writing and reading this love concept man. Peace :)
Posted by: Grom | September 5, 2016 5:29 AM
Yes, Death often appears as an attractive woman to Thanos, but he doesn't seem to mind when Death is just a traditional skeleton, such as in this story. My point was merely that since Thanos' love for Death is clearly way beyond physical attraction, labels like "gay" or "straight" are meaningless. I doubt Thanos would care whether s/he wore a man's face. Thanos' uncomfortable reaction to Death taking a child's form is probably because paedophilia is considered wrong on Titan, just as it is on Earth. It was just a gut reaction on Thanos' part, it doesn't mean he actually wants to have sex with Death.
Posted by: Tuomas | September 5, 2016 7:30 AM
Starlin generally writes Thanos as someone in love with death as an abstract concept: "tranquility, non-purpose," and all that. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have Jason Aaron's Thanos Rising mini, where Thanos doesn't quite recognize what Death is initially and she seduces him, and meanwhile he's sowing his oats across the galaxy and then returning to kill the offspring at Death's urging.
But some of Starlin's stories have also always had the undercurrent that Thanos doesn't really understand Death as well as he imagines, and that he is, to some extent, a self-justifying psychopath who takes pleasure in killing (as opposed to Death, who just...is what she is). I suspect that the John Kowlaski stuff could fit intot hat; there are sides of Death that Thanos either chooses not to acknowledge or that he doesn't fully grasp.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 5, 2016 7:50 AM
I always interpreted that Thanos only saw the female face but I stand to be corrected.
Posted by: Grom | September 5, 2016 8:32 AM
In the original Captain Marvel saga, Death is hooded with her face completely hidden in shadow for most appearances. In the Warlock saga, she/it doesn't appear at all. I like the way Thanos' relationship with Death is treated in these stories. He's like a hick kid dating Katy Perry. She's completely out of his league, but that's part of the appeal. She can appear beautiful, she can appear ghastly. Either way works for Thanos because, deep down, he's a masochist.
The Thanos Rising miniseries takes a different tack. It's strongly implied that the Death character exists only in his imagination.
Posted by: andrew | September 5, 2016 11:47 AM
John Ridgway is a British artist who often did Judge Dredd stories during this era.
Posted by: Red Comet | September 5, 2016 3:03 PM
In "War Is Hell" Death had definite male characteristics.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 5, 2016 8:29 PM
Mark, so what. In all of the Thanos books I own, Death had definite female characteristics. Death is abstract and take any form. The skeleton face shows us that. My view from reading the books is that Thanos views Death as a woman and is sexually attracted to her. Thanos Quest and Infinity Gauntlet support that. He just misses the point once he has the Gauntlet that Death won't stand to be his inferior. He is an alpha male and she is a feminist ;)
Posted by: Grom | September 6, 2016 1:09 AM
There are also the occasions in stories written by Chris Claremont where Death has manifested itself to Phoenix (both the Jean Grey and Rachel Summers versions) as a very burly construction worker.
As others have pointed out, "Mistress Death" is almost certainly how Thanos personally perceives, or *wants* to perceive, an entity / force that is the embodiment of an abstract concept, and so is genuinely beyond the understanding of any mortal. I agree with Omar Karindu that in the end Thanos probably cannot understand or comprehend what Death is, and that "Mistress Death" is his attempt to know the unknowable.
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 6, 2016 12:39 PM
John Ridgway also drew the Elric stories in the 12-issue "Michael Moorcock's Multiverse" maxi-series for DC's Helix line.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 20, 2017 2:16 PM
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