Sunday, July 01, 2007

Let Ms. Marvel Say It Like It Is
I was reading a blog/forum called P.O.W.E.R. In Comics Call To Action this weekend, and it made me think.

At first I had a knee-jerk reaction to one of their suggestions that readers should send to DC & Marvel a bra along with their letters of complaint as to how women are portrayed in their books.

But then I thought -- well, this blog is well-intentioned. Sending underwear to DC or Marvel is not the first line of defense I personally had in mind -- if for no other reason than you don't know who'll be taking those bras and panties home with them.

I'm suggesting that perhaps those who champion the cause of women's equality in comics might use instead the rallying cry of Ms. Marvel, as written by Chris Claremont in King-Size Avengers Annual #10.

The Avengers King-Size Annual is notable for several things -- the first appearance of Rogue, awesome Michael Golden art, and Carol Danvers's dressing down of the Avengers.

After explaining the bizarro circumstances surrounding her mind-rape and impregnation by Immortus, Carol faults her former teammates for not taking her seriously when she needed them most. It's classic Claremont angsty goodness, and I think, especially at the end of the speech, it is rather apropos (the emphasis mine):

"There I was, pregnant by an unknown source, running through a nine-month term literally overnight -- confused, terrified, shaken to the core of my being as a hero, a person, a woman

"I turned to you for help, and I got jokes. The Wasp thought it was great, and The Beast offered to play teddy bear. Your concerns were for the baby, not for how it came to be -- nor of the cost to me of that conception.

"You took everything Marcus said at face value. You didn't question, you didn't doubt. You simply let me go with a smile and a wave and a bouncy bon voyage.

"That was your mistake, for which I paid the price.

"My mistake was trusting you.

"After a trauma like mine, it's easy to wallow in bitterness and self-pity. But both grief...and guilt...have to be faced, dealt with, exorcised.

"There's more -- there has to be more -- to being heroes than simply defeating villains. You have a role, a purpose, far greater than yourselves. You represent what we should be, what we dream of becoming, not what we are.

"You screwed up, Avengers. That's human. What is also human is the ability to learn from those mistakes. To grow. To mature.

"If you do that -- even a little -- then perhaps what I went through will have a positive meaning.

"It's your choice."


  1. Damn.

    That's serious pwnage.

  2. I own the tenth Avengers Annual in my Avengers collection. It's said to have a market value of ten dollars but I bought it for only about two dollars a couple years ago, and in good condition too. However, I own it for the story value, not for the monetary value. It's wiser that way.

    What Carol told the Avengers in the story could serve as a perfect description of anyone who apologized for Identity Crisis: for example, the mainstream press acted as if it were literally a wonderful thing when they wrote about it, gushing on as though it were some delicious strawberry sundae topped with cherries and almonds, and they never said a word about the one-sided, exclusively male viewpoint the miniseries had. And they took Identity Crisis almost entirely, 100 percent at face value. They never questioned or doubted how it was done, and they were even almost sympathetic to the villains in the story, the out-of-character depictions notwithstanding. Is it any wonder that comic books have become so damaged?

    If there's anything Claremont should be honored and respected for, it's the story in the tenth Avengers Annual, which I hope will be published in trades in the future too. While Claremont's list of writings may have its flaws, I still have to wonder if this is why some of his detractors resent him today: because he was capable of writing stories with sincere resolutions, and something to learn from, like this one. Avengers Annual #10 is a great story, and I too recommend it for reading.

  3. I really like this line:
    You represent what we should be, what we dream of becoming, not what we are.

    That's something that has gotten lost, maybe b/c of the obsession with "realism" in comics, or the fear of sincerity in the larger culture. There has been a lot of tearing down of superheroes, but not much building back.