Comics Features

The Mishap With Ms. Marvel

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe in full swing, more and more of Marvel Comics’ popular characters are getting confirmed for films or TV shows. Netflix is getting The Defenders, while  Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and possibly Dr. Strange getting films in the future, it will likely be only a matter of time before Ms. Marvel gets a movie. While a long-running character, her handling hasn’t been perfect. One infamous storyline in particular still carries negative connotations to this day. I’m talking, of course, about the dreadful rape and pregnancy story of Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel first appeared in 1968 as a supporting character for Captain Marvel. Named Carol Danvers, she was a pilot who gained superpowers after being caught in an explosion caused by Captain Marvel, and sported the traditional powers of flight and superhuman strength. She had a short-lived solo series mostly written by comic book legend Chris Claremont (the guy that rebooted the X-Men and made them awesome), before she hooked up with the Avengers. But then, The Avengers #200 came along in 1980, bringing with it a horrific storyline that not only seems incredibly sexist and controversial, but makes the Avengers look like a bunch of idiots.

Now, of course, it was a big milestone for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, so it was expected for them to do something big. What they did, however, was to mysteriously impregnate Ms. Marvel. Carol was understandably distressed and felt used, though the other Avengers just seemed to go googly-eyed over one of their own being pregnant. The baby grew quite quickly and would then age to an adult just as fast (a trope seen in Star Trek: The Next GenerationBirds of Prey, and Smallville). The baby grows into a bloke named Marcus Immortus, the son of a dead Avengers villain named Immortus. He explains what the heck is going on, and here is where things get dodgy.

Marcus was stuck in a dimension called Limbo all his life and wanted to go to Earth, but could only do so by being reborn on Earth. To do this, he abducts Carol and uses his own powers and technology of his father to make a fantasy world to seduce her into becoming his lover. He then impregnated Carol, not with his offspring, but with himself. He then sent her home and erased her memories of their time together. But do the Avengers flip out and beat Marcus to mush? Nope, they are barely phased by it and instead find what he did romantic, including Ms. Marvel, who goes starry-eyed and runs off to be his lover again in Limbo. Marcus has abducted, raped and impregnated Carol and she has just run off with her would be lover/son, and everyone just shrugs it off like it’s nothing.

Surprisingly, no one really freaked out about this at first. But soon, the controversy began when comic scholar Carol A. Strickland eventually wrote an infamous article called “The Rape of Ms. Marvel”. The whole episode was openly criticized by Claremont, who planned to eventually save the character. In Avengers Annual #10, written in 1981, which heavily featured the X-Men, Spider-Woman finds Ms. Marvel, ill and depowered due to an encounter with Rogue. Carol stayed at Professor X’s school for a while to recover, but never contacted the Avengers. When the Avengers eventually found out what happened, they visit her, only to be chewed out by their old friend for being utter dunderheads and letting her go off with Marcus, who died of rapid old age.

As the years went by, Ms. Marvel went from one thing to another, joining and leaving the Avengers multiple times, eventually becoming an alcoholic because of the abduction experience. Ms. Marvel’s treatment has improved greatly through the years, and hopefully, the brains behind Marvel would prefer to forget this little horror of a story. The pregnancy of Ms. Marvel was a dumbfounding decision and makes me wonder if the writing staff even thought out the potential consequences of it. It has to be one of the worst comic book stories ever, right up there with most of Spider-Man’s “One More Day” and the chaos surrounding Green Lantern in the 1990s.

Have you read Avenger #200 and what are your views on it? What other terrible comic book stories compare to this one? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Mark Russell