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Sometimes the Clothes Make the Woman, Part V

For Those Who Came In Late: In recent installments of COMICS 101, we’ve been looking at the career of Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Marvel Comics’ premier solo female superhero, Ms. Marvel. Last time, the character was given an ignominious exit from the pages of AVENGERS, relegated to limbo to live a mind-controlled happily ever after with her own rapist. A high point for comics, to be sure…

As I mentioned when we discussed AVENGERS #200, one of the oddest things about the completely horrendous and misogynist way the Ms. Marvel character was written out of continuity was that, by and large, no one much seemed to notice.

One person who did notice was UNCANNY X-MEN writer (and former MS. MARVEL writer) Chris Claremont, who tackled the issue head-on in AVENGERS ANNUAL #10 (1981), in “By Friends — Betrayed!”, featuring art by Michael Golden.

The issue opens with an unconscious Carol Danvers hurtling to her death from the Golden Gate Bridge, only to be saved by new San Francisco resident Spider-Woman:

Carol is taken to the hospital, where she’s identified by her fingerprints only, since her mind has been erased: a complete blank slate.

Spider-Woman decides to call in a specialist, none other than the X-Men’s Professor Charles Xavier, who uses his telepathic powers to try to get to the bottom of Carol’s condition:

Professor Xavier is able to discern a clue in a fleeting image from Carol’s subconscious:

As it turns out, the then-supervillain Rogue (this was long before her seeking redemption as a member of the X-Men) had used her mutant powers to permanently absorb Carol Danvers’ superpowers as well as her memories (with ugly repercussions for the Rogue character that would unfold in the next few years of the X-Men comic, but that’s another story). Looking for answers, Spider-Woman tracks to Rogue to New York, where she and her teammates in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are involved in a jailbreak brouhaha with the Avengers, and things progress to a fairly standard villain punch’em-up. Midway through, though, Spider-Woman gets the Avengers’ side of the story, and we get a recap of Ms. Marvel’s departure from the Avengers, from their perspective:

After the Brotherhood’s attempted jailbreak of their teammate the Blob is foiled, the story picks up several weeks later, after Carol Danvers has presumably undergone considerable psychic therapy with Professor Xavier. The Avengers stop by Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters to visit their former teammate, and the reunion is a chilly one.

After a tense greeting, the Avengers learn that Marcus is dead:

The Avengers, clueless as ever, need it spelled out for them:

Carol explains how she had been mind-controlled into loving Marcus, and how Marcus straight-up told them that, and yet they still let him take her off to Limbo:

To Claremont’s credit, he doesn’t soft-pedal the story one bit, and remains true to Carol’s character, at the Avengers’ expense.

Carol puts it all out on Front Street, how the Avengers let her down at every turn, and the Avengers can do nothing but stand there and take it.

The Avengers leave with an apology, and little more.

And in a nice bit of storytelling, we end on this panel of the dejected Avengers heading back home, stewing in their own guilt.

While this didn’t make up for the horrible way the Ms. Marvel character was dispensed with, it was certainly a vindication for fans of the character, and an acknowledgment that she deserved a lot better. So how could the character ever wind up back on the Avengers after all of this?

Come on back next week and find out.

Scott Tipton always liked the way Michael Golden drew Spider-Woman.

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