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Sometimes the Clothes Make the Woman, Part III

Previously, in COMICS 101: We’ve been looking at Marvel’s premier female solo superhero, Ms. Marvel, starting with her 1977 debut. When we left off, Ms. Marvel had solved her various identity crises and was embarking on a new start, with a new costume, which we’ll refresh your memories about below…

As of the 20th issue of her solo series, Ms. Marvel was getting a fresh start with a new costume (designed by the great Dave Cockrum), one not derived from her male counterpart’s threads:

The new costume immediately helped the series feel more modern, especially with the loss of the Farrah Fawcett haircut as well:

And by issue #22, it was clear that more changes were in the works, as writer Chris Claremont has Carol get her walking papers from her editor’s job at WOMAN MAGAZINE, courtesy of J. Jonah Jameson:

However, the new direction wasn’t enough to save the series, and MS. MARVEL was cancelled in June 1979 after 23 issues. The character was in for a much wider exposure, as only a month before saw her induction into the AVENGERS in issue #183, joining the team to replace the Scarlet Witch during a period when the US government (in the form of obnoxious liaison Henry Peter Gyrich) was micro-managing the team and often dictating its membership. Still, Ms. Marvel makes it clear from the get-go that she’s no one’s government stooge, threatening one of Gyrich’s agents before her membership was even made official:

I like the bit where she gives Gyrich some lip:

As is often the case, Ms. Marvel’s first official mission with the team isn’t really a shining moment, as she pretty much gets her ass kicked by the Absorbing Man:

Of course, Ms. Marvel is barely in the Mansion five minutes before Tony Stark is hitting on her, and it’s refreshing to see someone flirt right back with him instead of being flustered or offended. If nothing else, Ms. Marvel’s confidence sets her apart from previous female members right away.

She’s also not afraid to make her opinion known and occasionally buck authority:

Note the subtlety there of Cap noticing the radio going dead, and Ms. Marvel suddenly having a torn-out circuit board in her hand. Nice.

You also saw Ms. Marvel taking on the heavy-hitter role often, which was a refreshing change, having a woman in that spot:

We also see her getting to know her teammates better, as in this scene with Captain America:

And I like the portrayal of her as someone so self-assured she can even intimidate Cap:

All in all, Ms. Marvel’s original 17-issue stint with the Avengers was a very good little run for the character. It was where I first really got to like her, and even though it wasn’t a starring or even really a featured role, she seemed to fit into the cast well.

And then came AVENGERS #200, which is such a horrible trainwreck in just about every way you can imagine, that I think I need an entire column to talk about it. Come on back next week.

Scott Tipton gets angry just thinking about AVENGERS #200…

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