And two issues later she was cancelled. Now she started to pal around with the Avengers as a fighting companion, and later, as a replacement for the Scarlet Witch. Under the writing of Jim Shooter, Ms. Marvel suddenly developed a pushy, intimidating quirk to her nature. Mr. Shooter, whose portrayal of females has not changed one iota since his writing as a fourteen-year-old in the mid-1960s, has a Gerry Conway-ish quality to his work. No, no, Mr. Conway is not the only or worst writer to do this; he is simply the most consistent, when it comes to portraying any female who does not cower in the corner or behind her man when things get rough, to categorize her as 1) pushy -- and usually hypocritical, 2) over-sexed, and/or 3) a castrating manhater. Ms. Marvel was granted the character trait of oversexed pushiness as she proclaimed Wonder Man a "hunk" and that she'd really like to get to know him better -- heh, heh.

With Shooter giving up the writer's role in order to edit The Avengers, David Michelinie stepped in and Ms. Marvel became one of the super-gang; a normal super-hero, although one to stop action with an "important" message about liberation. Many writers do this for some reason. I suppose they don't realize that example has always been a better teacher than preaching. Most comics females today do a lot of preaching. This is why most female characters today are uninteresting and frail.

With a landmark issue coming, big number 200, staff wondered: what to do for the occasion? It was decided that Ms. Marvel would have a baby. Michelinie said that it would be the Supreme Intelligence's kid, since the Supremor has always wanted a Kree-Terran hybrid. This would natually lead to an intriguing adventure, a climax to the years of scheming through countless comics for the Supremor, and a probable end to the Supremor himself, once Ms. Marvel beat him up for what he did to her -- and her child.

Ah -- but Jim Shooter said no! What If #20: "What if the Avengers Fought the Kree-Skull War without Rick Jones?" had ended its tale with the imaginary/parallel world Supremor merging his intelligence with the inert form of Mr. Jones to become himself his precious hybrid. Jim Shooter, editor-in-chief of the Marvel Multiverse, proclaimed that the story would be too much alike and too soon after the What If? story. He didn't bother to look at the many times in which the Supremor's plans have infiltrated a half-dozen titles within as many months in years past, with no complaint from readers.

Instead Mr. Shooter came up with a wonderful plan of his own for Ms. Marvel's anticipated Happy Event. He would make magic number 200 a landmark in bad taste. He would portray a rape that would be applauded and rewarded by all who had news of it.

To my way of thinking, this shows questionable judgment on Mr. Shooter's part.

But let the finished product help you decide. For those of you who either missed it or chose to forget it as quickly as possible, the plot went something like this:

Ms. Marvel is three days pregnant at the start of the the issue, and is about to give birth to a full-term baby. For some reason the Avengers do not call in an obstetrician, but leave their most powerful member in the unspecialized hands of mentor Tony Stark's good buddy, Dr. Don Blake. I suppose Blake won't bill them the way an obstetrician would.

In a male-fairytale version of birth, Ms. Marvel delivers in a non-birthing sort of way (I don't understand it either. Let's look at the physical processes involved--!) There is no pain, no labor, no logic... All the while Ms. Marvel is exposed to the other Avengers without shred number one of privacy during the non-birth birth.

Varying scenes show us that the story is well-written. It is merely the plot that is the blot of blots on this work. The Wasp, not knowing that the baby's father is unknown even to Ms. Marvel, congratulates her on the delivery and baby. We see its mother: exhuasted, humiliated: "I've been used!" she snarls. "That isn't my baby!" Later she refers to it as "that thing." There is no trace of maternal instinct that any other conventional heroine would have been oozing, even at such an inauspicious time. It is a scene well done. Yet compare the concept of this, the rejecting, angry, raped mother with the final image of Ms. Marvel. The change is heinous. It and the plotline spoil everything in their wake.

not pleased with the birth

The story goes on: the child, a boy who names himself Marcus, develops at an ever-increasing rate, passing quickly through childhood to become a young adult. He explains his origin, starting with his real father, a man Ms. Marvel never coupled with: Immortus.

The mere use of such a character is controvertible in itself, for in well-known previous Avengers plotlines, Immortus killed Kang, his earlier self. Mark Gruenwald has explained that the Immortus who killed Kang was clearly a parallel Immortus, for if Kang were killed, there would be no Immortus around to kill him. Yet Marcus (and an editorial note) clearly remembers his father as the Immortus who killed off his earlier self.

I'll pass the Bayer as I continue...

Anyway, before this Immortus-who-could-not-have-existed popped into existence, he had become anxious for a "mate." Not a lover, not a wife, just a "mate" from good old Terra. Knowing that mortals can't exist in his home of Limbo, he created a sort-of semi-Limbo, rescued a victim of a Terran sea disaster -- a woman who could be Carol Danvers' twin -- and, in Marcus' words, "through a combination of gratitude and the subtle manipulation of my father's ingenious machines, the woman fell in love with him." Subtle manipulations. Equals brainwashing. Equals brain control. Immortus couldn't get this unnamed woman into bed with him, so he changed her personality and took her against her will. Equals rape.

It seems mortals can't spend too much time in semi-Limbo, although Marcus has been there all his life. His unnamed mother vanished when he was a boy to go to her death in the real world. Marcus was left with only his father, a wonderful role model, being a rapist and such.

Daddy vanished (when he killed himself off a few millenia before), and Marcus was left alone. Not particularly liking semi-Limbo, he decided to go to Earth. He concocted a scheme by which he could be unnaturally born on Earth, speeded up in growth, and thus be able to prevent the destruction his presence in normal space would eventually create. He coldly chose the mother of the thing that would be himself: "The powerful combination of Kree and human strengths, would be the perfect vessel," he decided, and chose the perfect double of the only human woman he had ever known and loved: his unnamed mother. Of course, his old-fashioned father and mother taught him you can't reach a woman on a level as a human being; he couldn't explain his plight and let her decide if she wanted to go through with his crazy idea or not; he wouldn't even consider that she might have a better idea for getting him to Earth. Instead he went about wooing her: poetry, clothes and music he furnished, thinking that those are the only things women are interested in. When Ms. Marvel didn't respond, as he explains to her in the present, "...Finally, after relative weeks of such efforts -- and admittedly, with a subtle boost from Immortus' machines -- you became mine."

the rape

This is not hidden between the lines. Little kids can read the obvious fact: he raped Ms. Marvel. The artwork goes to great lengths -- two close-up panels -- to show Ms. Marvel's ecstacy during the pseudo-mating.

Ah ha. Another lesson to be learned from comics. It's okay to rape. Women enjoy rape.

Immediately after implanting himself in some sort of pseudo-scientific fashion into Ms. Marvel's womb, machinery teleported her to her jet, seconds after the time she had been abducted by Marcus. The machinery also wiped out her recent memory -- better to leave these females ignorant, right? Marcus couldn't care less about the feelings of a woman who suddenly found herself pregnant -- and giving birth -- for no apparent reason.

This is not Marcus' fault. He is ignorant of human feelings, being brought up by the equally unfeeling Immortus.

The explanation of Ms. Marvel's rape is made to Carol, Thor, Iron Man and Hawkeye. It is obvious that Immortus' machines have renewed their effect upon Ms. Marvel. Remember the angry rape victim at the beginning of the story? Now with a glisten in her eye and sob in her heart, she tenderly strokes the rapist's cheek and tells him that she will return with him to his home. She even adopts his Oedipal way of speaking. Of all the times Marcus refers to her directly, it is as "Carol" three times, "my love" once, and "mother" three times. From Marcus being "that thing," he is now "my child" to Carol. And she's going home to play a different kind of house with him. Aren't the kids eating this up?!

One should think that the other Avengers who have heard this story and see Ms. Marvel's sudden reversal in attitude toward Marcus would stop her from going back, knock some sense into her... anything. But look at this carefully-chosen audience: Hawkeye -- Marvel's answer to the neanderthal Green Arrow, a psychological sickie (catch his last act with Death Bird). He probably gets a kick out of Ms. Marvel's Getting Her Due. Iron Man -- aka "playboy" Tony Stark. In keeping with his public image, Tony chooses to avoid the implications of this event. And Thor -- if anyone can match Jim Shooter's medieval thinking, it is he.

The story ends with Ms. Marvel and Marcus teleporting to semi-Limbo. Iron Man begins to have second thoughts: "We've just got to believe that everything worked out for the best," he temporizes. He isn't convinced, but he won't make a scene.

Mr. Macho, Hawkeye, turns sloppy John Wayne sentimental: "That's all we can do," he says. "Believe... and hope that Ms. Marvel lives happily ever after." It is a fitting end to this male fantasy. A desirable woman/mother figure is raped and then chooses to be the lover of her rapist/son. Raping is manly. Women love to be raped. Perversion is wonderful for kids and other people of taste to read.

The story would be almost laughable if it weren't written in such earnest. Someone really believes this tripe, maybe. Or someone just wants to have some fun.

May I ask a stupid question? Where is the Comics Code during all this? There's their stamp on the cover, covering the "S" in AVENGERS -- but where are they? This dirty joke that someone at Marvel dreamed up is all out in the open -- not a bit of it is between the lines to be hidden from the innocents who make up such a large proportion of the audience. And the entire plot is a deadly insult to every woman.

The bottom line to Avengers #200 is blatant irresponsibility, with every nuance of immaturity that that word provides. "Misogynist" is also a very applicable word. But instead of either, we'll probably see the words "collector's item: rape issue" next to the number 200 in the Avengers column in next year's Price Guide, with an inflated price to match it.

If it takes a second round of witch hunts to rid four-color standard comics of trash like this -- count me in!

Keep reading for the article's aftermath...

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