Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Classics - Ms. Marvel #1

   From time to time the comics companies try to expand their horizons by tackling popular genres, or creating new kinds of heroes.

   But the one area that every company struggles with is creating a successful female hero.

   Until recent times, the only long-running successes in this field were Wonder Woman and Supergirl - and both were often only marginal successes financially.

   Marvel made a few efforts to create comics that starred solo female superheroes in the Silver Age - The Cat and Shanna the She-Devil were the first in 1972, I believe (although Black Widow had some solo adventures in the "split" comic Amazing Adventures in 1970).

   Then, in 1977, they launched Ms. Marvel, designed to star a liberated female who was strong in her "normal" life and a very powerful heroine, as well.

   They didn't skimp on the talent - it was written by one of Marvel's top writers, Gerry Conway, and drawn by living legend John Buscema (with Joe Sinnott inks).

   The story revolves around Carol Danvers, a former military / security specialist who was a friend to Captain Mar-Vell. But in a curious story move, she retires from her military work and becomes... a writer and editor, working on a women's magazine for J. Jonah Jameson - which connects her to the Spider-Man supporting cast and one of Spidey's most powerful villains.

   Which is not to say that the issue was a home run - it's actually a stumbling start for the hero. For one, she doesn't know her real identity (though it's obvious to us) - and her powers are strength, flight and that old comics canard, super-feminine intuition (she calls it a Seventh Sense).

   And then there's her costume, a cutout, peekaboo version of Captain Marvel's costume, with bare back, bare midriff and bare legs.

   The costume would eventually be fixed by Dave Cockrum, who cooked up the black-and-gold version that offered a bit more coverage, and Ms. Marvel would go through numerous changes over the decades since - these days she's more successful than even, taking on the title of Captain Marvel and taking her place as one of Marvel's most powerful heroes.

   (She kindly turned her "Ms" title over to a new hero.)

   But it was a long, tough road to today.

Grade: B-


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