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Ms. Marvel, Then and Now: Part Two – Avengers Annual #10

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. Last time… yikes. Ms. Marvel was violated by a cosmic entity named Marcus that gave birth to itself through her, and then, because of reasons, Ms. Marvel figured she’d sort of the weird mix of motherly love and sexual attraction to her own child / assailant by leaving Earth to be with him. I’ll say it one more time for the people in the back: yikes.

Often, Blastoff’s own Scott Tipton gives me recommended reading for these monthly series I contribute to the site, but he normally doesn’t have much to say about the issues until he reads my take – that way, I can experience these classic stories through fresh eyes, without expectation. This time, though, Scott did mention the dichotomy between these two issues: Avengers #200 which tore Ms. Marvel down with this bizarre concept, and now Avengers Annual #10, which supposedly rectifies some of the former’s wrongs. I’m glad Scott mentioned this, because after the last issue, I feel as if we could maybe all use a clean slate. And maybe a shower.

Avengers Annual #10 is written by Chris Claremont, penciled by Michael Golden, inked by Armando Gil, lettered by Joe Rosen, and colored by M. Golden – which, is that Michael Golden again from the pencils credit? In any case, of all the classics I’ve read, the ones I originally remember looking forward to the most were Chris Claremont’s. His iconic X-Men storylines were often name-dropped as some of the best arcs in comic book history. What I found, though, was that while I enjoyed his plotting, his writing style – particularly his incredibly stylized dialogue and narration that often feels, to me, like explaining what’s already clear to the reader – didn’t allow me to connect to his writing the way I had, say, a Roy Thomas. That continues into this issue, but still – Avengers Annual #10 does indeed right the wrongs of Avengers #200 in a way far more blunt than I expected.

There’s a lot going on in this story, but the basics are that Spider-Woman rescues an amnesiac Carol Danvers from a fall (or, perhaps, a push) off of the Golden Gate Bridge. She contacts the X-Men for help, connecting the prodigal Avenger with Professor Xavier, who begins to delve into Ms. Marvel’s mind in attempt to rebuild what has been lost. I was thinking this would connect back to Marcus, but it actually took an interesting direction – it was Rogue, in her first ever appearance in a Marvel comic, who assaulted Ms. Marvel and took her powers. She serves as the antagonist for this issue, giving hell to Captain America and Thor and saying “ah” instead of “I” a ton before she’s temporarily chased off. It’s a weird first appearance considering how important Rogue grows to be, and how prominent she’s been in my more modern X-Men experiences, but I found it fascinating to look back at her seemingly pure evil first bout with the Avengers. She’s way more ruthless than most villains turned anti-heroes turned heroes in the Marvel universe.

Once the threat of Rogue is taken care of and Ms. Marvel’s mind is repaired (mostly), the Avengers meet with her at Xavier’s School. They’re thinking it’s going to be a casual reunion, which… oh boy. In the best part of the issue, Ms. Marvel goes off on them, basically breaking down how they were all acting like sociopaths when she was pregnant. Neither she, nor the narrative, lets the Avengers off the hook. Claremont doesn’t try to explain why they acted that way and doesn’t allow them to offer any excuses – he builds the entire issue toward Ms. Marvel calling them out and then, once it’s off her chest, allowing herself to move on. I think it’s maybe a weird choice to have her in a bathing suit by the pool for this scene, considering what got us here, but hey – at least the issue addressed that total misstep of an issue.

NEXT: We jump into my personal first experience with Ms. Marvel – a run that I remember stocking back when I was working at Borders Books (RIP) and then Barnes and Noble. 2006’s Ms. Marvel #1.

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