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Ms. Marvel, Then and Now, Part One: Avengers #200

This month, we’re taking a look at the history and present of she who bears the name of the House of Ideas… Ms. Marvel. We’re kicking it off with two classic Carol Danvers stories, checking in with Carol in the present, and then finally closing out by introducing Kamala Khan, the young Avenger who has taken up the title now that Carol’s a Captain. The world is getting ready for next year’s Captain Marvel film, and you can bet we’ll be getting a trailer sooner rather than later… so what better time than now to look back at the other Cap’s humble beginnings?

Let’s begin with Avengers #200, which… wait a second. Win a what now?

A Toys R Us shopping spree? Woof, that hurts. That’s a fresh wound, you guys. I wasn’t ready for that one. What’ll the next issue say, “Take this issue down to Borders Books for 50% off”? “Use the code on the back to redeem a free rental from Blockbuster Video”?

Anyway, it looks like this one was done Writers’ Room style. The plot is credited to Jim Shooter, George Pérez, Bob Layton, and David Michelinie, with Michelinie credited as writer, Pérez and Dan Green on art, John Costanza on letters, and Ben Sean on colors. I knew this would be a landmark issue, but before going into it, I didn’t know it’d be this one. I’d heard of this story before, and… well, it’s infamous.

This issue begins with Ms. Marvel, who has just revealed her true identity as Carol Danvers to the Avengers, in labor. She became pregnant just a few days ago… how? She has no idea. By whom? Apparently, no one. She gives birth, which all of the Avengers are inexplicitly excited about, showing no concern or empathy for Ms. Marvel in any way. Which is especially weird considering the fact that a lot of the rest of the issue is spent building on a nuanced love triangle between married couple Vision and Scarlet Witch with “metalloid” Jocasta, who wants to connect with Vision over their not-quite-humanness. That part of this issue actually worked, which makes the sociopathic treatment of Ms. Marvel even worse. “Why don’t you want to go see your mystery son, Carol? Oh, by the way, in your time spent upstairs, he’s turned into a grown man with 80s hair.” Come on.

Anyway, Ms. Marvel’s son – Marcus – reveals himself to be a cosmic entity that chooses Ms. Marvel and then impregnates her with himself in order to be born into this physical realm. It’s, weirdly enough, not the first or second time I’ve heard of this concept in speculative fiction, but it’s the only time, full-stop, where it’s not written as a violation but treated by the narrative and the cast like a friendly encounter. To say it’s bizarre is an understatement. And then, adding to the weirdness, when Ms. Marvel finally – after being chastised for not wanting to do so – meets the adult Marcus in person, she is overcome with attraction that is both parental and sexual.

What are you doing, Avengers #200?

You know what’s the salt in this weird ass wound, though? There are really fun action scenes in the climax. Marcus’s birth causes a rift in reality that makes people and, errr, dinosaurs from different timelines emerge into the present. The Avengers fight them off and the banter is fun! Again, what’s weird here is how good Michelinie is at everything else except empathy for Ms. Marvel and the self-awareness to know that this is a violation of the worst kind, rather than a cosmic meet-cute. The dialogue is especially tight and naturalistic, especially for this particular era of comics, so how Marvel managed to make such a weird move in the middle of what’s otherwise a pretty good comic boggles my mind.

NEXT: Can Marvel redeem itself with Avengers Annual #10, which Blastoff’s own Scott Tipton tells me is well aware of the missteps this issue took?



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Welcoming the Future, Treasuring the Past.