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Thursday, July 28, 2016 

How can some of Carol Danvers' past stories allegedly be bad, but not today's?

A writer on Vox wrote about the history of the true Ms. Marvel, but for somebody who's arguing that some of the past stories were allegedly sexist, he sure doesn't seem interested in asking whether today's stories suffer any of the same problems. He is accurate about the following Avengers story at the beginning:
In 1980, Carol Danvers was part of perhaps the most irresponsible story Marvel Comics has ever put to paper. The plot involved kidnapping, inter-dimensional roofies, and rape, and it ended with Danvers riding off into the sunset with her rapist as her Avengers teammates wiped away tears of joy.
I'll admit he's right that story was sloppy. Chris Claremont disliked the handling so much he made sure to turn it around in 1981's Avengers Annual. But the columnist becomes very petty with the following:
Carol Danvers makes her first appearance in Marvel's Super-heroes no. 13, published in 1968. Written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Gene Conlan, Danvers is ostensibly a security officer at NASA's Cape Kennedy Space Center, but in actuality, she's primarily introduced as a "girl" who, to Captain Mar-Vell, a man who's actually a Kree alien, is as stunning as the heavily guarded aircraft.

"And, indeed, even the shock-resistant senses of Captain Mar-Vell are stunned by the awesome sight they behold," Thomas writes, comparing Danvers to a vehicle. It's a fossilized example of the comic book industry's archaic view of women, a view that was too often applied to Danvers.
Is something wrong with Mar-Vell developing a crush on a beautiful woman he meets? I guess Clark Kent should never have been in love with Lois Lane, and not even with Lana Lang. He makes it look like they don't even introduce her by name. And he fails to notice that what surprises Mar-Vell first is the sight of the alien robot in the background, which comes before he turns his attention to Carol. There's nothing literally sexist in all that dialect, so I think the writer should go find something better to do.
Danvers wasn't the only superheroine marginalized in her first appearance. Jean Grey, an original X-Man, was introduced five years earlier in 1963 as Marvel Girl. Susan Storm, a member of the Fantastic Four, was introduced in 1961 as the Invisible Girl. And Black Widow, the only female Avenger to make it to the big screen so far, was just a "gorgeous new menace" in a dress (no costume) in her debut in 1964.

Comics have long been a mirror of American society. The ways women were introduced on the pages reflect how women were seen at the time. Grey and Storm were considered the weakest components of their teams and were bailed out often by their husbands and boyfriends. Black Widow, meanwhile, was a Russian femme fatale and thorn in Iron Man's side. Women were either there to play damsel in distress or to lure men into sexual temptation. [...]

Extraordinary things were being done on the pages of Marvel comic books during the 1960s. Men built suits that could fly like planes. Some tapped into the mysteries of the universe with magic. One scaled buildings like a spider. Those things just weren't being done by women. Despite all this imagination and a realm of infinite possibilities, comic book writers, when it came to women, were still constrained by the shackles of real life and the social attitudes of the time.
Just look how he obscures Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, and Black Canary, to name but a few DC heroines from the early days, and can't be bothered to acknowledge that Sue Storm and Jean Grey's status improved within 2 years. He doesn't even mention any of DC's lady co-stars, who were ahead of their Marvel counterparts in some ways, if not all. But, if it really troubles him so much, how come he doesn't mention Stan Lee's at fault too, not just Roy Thomas?

When the columnist complains about the faults, he brings up the following about Gerry Conway:
That may have had something to do with who was writing her. Conway isn't always great at expressing what he thinks about female characters. In 2013, when speaking at a Television Critics Association press tour panel, he said that "comics follow society. They don't lead society."
Did it ever occur to him the reason might lie in his politics? He's not very good on women's issues in real life from a political perspective either, as he's signaled of recent. His comment to the TCA, perhaps ironically, is true from a modern perspective - they don't lead, because of the terrible politics they've become swamped with.

Let's turn now to something brought up further down the article - the time when Brian Bendis was writing Avengers in the mid-2000s:
In 2005, Marvel introduced its House of M/ Decimation crossover event. In that series, the Scarlet Witch warps reality, creating a new world based on the hopes and desires of the world's most powerful heroes. In this alternate reality, Danvers is the most famous hero in the world and operates under the title Captain Marvel — the name of her first comic book love interest.

It's one of the more revealing peeks at Danvers's unbridled ambition.
Wow...I'm speechless. For somebody complaining about what he perceives as sexism in past comics history, he doesn't seem particularly interested in noting the sexism that came packaged in the Avengers: Disassembled stunt in more modern times. Wanda Maximoff was turned crazy, striking out at her colleagues, and there was a scene later where Carol says she hates her, nobody was shown trying to figure out at the time whether it was a villain's influence, taking Wanda's state wholly at face value...and he's got nothing to say? It makes no difference whether Ms. Marvel's the chief focus of this article, that doesn't excuse all the discrimination heaped on Scarlet Witch. Say, does he also see no problem with the 2006 story where Hawkeye took advantage of an amnesiac Wanda in Europe? This just proves my point that PC advocates complaining about alleged sexism and racism in the past aren't interested in protesting whenever it happens today.

Bendis' tamperings with Marvel at the time of Disassembled only sabotaged plausible storytelling for Ms. Marvel as much as the rest of the MCU. In fact, wasn't Danvers shown taking the same side as Iron Man during the first Civil War? Something which goes uncommented on by the Vox propagandist. Proving that he's not exactly a fan of Ms. Marvel at all. Anyone who can only worry themselves with the past but not ask if the present is just as vulnerable is only being self-serving.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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