Monday, September 28, 2015

Avengers Annual 10: Ms. Marvel's Roguish Treatment, Pt. 2

The Cover the Avengers Deserved!
[So to speak.]
Ugly Cover, Great Story
O.K. kids. fanboys and slightly-peeved feminists, if you read my last blog and are still reading to find out why I think Rogue of the X-Men raped Ms. Marvel, and not Marcus, son of Immortus as was featured in Avengers 200, I'll do my best to make my case without too much chauvinistic self-defensive garbage.

But first, let us talk about how incredible this annual was as an effort. Even though I disagree with parts, I tip my hat to Chris Claremont for going in and firing away at our hero's flaws. I raise my glass to the awesome and jaw-dropping artwork of Michael Golden, who honestly should have been paid double and forced to never leave comics.

Be Careful What You Wish For
Chris Claremont's anger at Ms. Marvel's fate in Avengers 200 caused him to write this story. He however does something to her character that is even worse. I mean, on a scale of 1 to 100, this is a 99. He has her powers, her memories and mind are utterly removed from her before she is tossed off of the San Francisco bridge to her [almost] death. I mean, someone takes everything you are but leaves you alive, what is that?

Who did this to Ms. Marvel? The mutant Rogue, who later joins the X-Men, in her very first appearance.

She's older here, not the cute Southern waif we see later. Maybe sucking up someone's life rejuvenated her, don't know.

But she's a woman and Chris Claremont likes her, 'nuff said.

"By Friends -- Betrayed!"
The story starts like this: Spider-Woman swoops down and saves a woman tossed off the San Francisco bridge mere inches from hitting the water, and after swimming for hours, gets the unconscious "Jane Doe" to a hospital where a woman doctor talks to a woman police detective who tells her that the woman whom she just saved is fine physically but mentally is a goner. The police detective then pulls out a dossier on this woman and goes through a list of awesome resume' points that shows this "victim" is indeed the amazing, unmatchable, unbelievable, incredible, successful, talented Ms. Carol Danvers. 

If you have any problem with figuring out that this is going to be a fair and even minded representation of men in the next 32 pages you are out of your mind. Maybe Claremont is trying to balance the scales. Maybe I just don't like the thumb he's using to hold down the female side of the scales.

...and she had a baby too!
Well, that didn't really work out...

First, no men are allowed in this scene, this moment of pain and sensitivity: Carol was saved by a woman, diagnosed by a woman, and her identity is discovered by, you guessed it, a woman.

Let me tell you this is sort of cool in a egalitarian way - and highly biased.

Let us say 20-25% of the superheroes at this time were women. Let us say 30% of the doctors were women. Pretty good percentages, considering. Now how many homicide detectives are women? Less than 10%. I'm not saying this is impossible, but the odds of an all-woman crew solving the mystery of Ms. Danvers in a public hospital is going to be something under 1%.

I like awesome women, truly. I know some personally. But take one look at these panels and tell me if there is any possible doubt that this is going to be a book where women straighten everything out.

Only a Southern Belle could've hurt Cap like this!
[Not like I speak from experience, ya understan']

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned
Launching into his "Make the Loutish Avengers Pay" theme, Chris Claremont has the first Avenger, Captain America, getting his butt kicked - badly - by Rogue.


I guess Carol Danvers mind inside Rogue is doing some payback. I mean, Rogue absorbed so much of Carol's id, that she's probably beating Cap up by proxy.

Still cannot figure this one out. This guy has taken on the Hulk, armies and demi-gods. My only guess is she sucker-punched him.

Over the next 20 pages Chris Claremont has the X-Men's foes, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, escape prison to fight the Avengers. Strange, but I thought this was an Avengers annual. Why are we starting with X-Men, have X-Men foes and end with Wanda, a mutant and former member of BoEM, crying?

But all that really matters in the end is that the Avengers do find out Carol Danvers is alive and well at the X-Mansion under the matchless care of the telepathic and mind-controling mutant leader, Prof. Charles Xavier.

Charles Xavier has been able to restore much of Carol's mind and while he watches paternally with Spider-Woman from inside the luxurious mansion, we get the ugly showdown at poolside with her teammates.

They thought she had left of her own free will to go with Marcus. They were wrong, and it is a painful scene to read and see.

Wonder Man, you have no idea. When she's done, you'll want
to crawl inside the Quinjet's jet intake.

Now here's the come-uppence part everyone overlooks:

Marcus dies in days after his return to Limbo.

His gambit to escape and his unethical use of Ms. Marvel ended in a rather harsh act of justice. I imagine Chris Claremont did this to him out of love for the character of Ms. Marvel.

Once he was gone, Carol says she got her will back. She says she was freed of his "mind control." Now - I don't think that's quite accurate. Not the way it is presented here, no.

I submit that there is no way in Hades that Marcus ever used full blown "Mind Control" on Carol Danvers, who fought Modok, for Pete's sake, and is well-acquainted with fighting for her mind.

I submit that he used Emotion Control on her. This is her weakest area.

Before you go "Wha...?" let me explain why this matters. There is a big difference between controlling another's mind and controlling another's emotions. Mind Control is taxing and the one doing it usually can do aught else. In role-playing games and in comics, we see a huge cost in Mind Control as a power. You get full control of the target but man, they are fighting you, and it is clear to close friends they are not quite themselves.

But Emotion Control? Letting people say what they want, think what they want, just so long as they like you immensely? Oh that's charisma. That's politics. That's seduction. I mean some potent olfactory scents can do that.

Carol kept her mind with Marcus, I think. He instead subjugated her emotions. He made her "love" him. As soon as he was dead, she had no love for him. Thus, she speaks accurately in that: "I didn't love Marcus! I NEVER loved Marcus!"

But then we catch something nasty in Carol's pain: her shame and anger has turned to hatred of her friends. She got back safely home and refused to contact them.

"Wanda, I didn't want to have anything to do with you. I hated you."

This makes perfect sense; Claremont writes better than he means to.

Carol, in her anger, became a victim. Carol, in her rage, lost her powers.

You see, it is in this state of hate that she is attacked by Rogue. This fight gets so vicious - Rogue admits later it was brutal, life and death stuff - that Rogue forgot her training and began holding on tighter more and longer than she should.

In the violence of a betrayed woman being set upon by a power vampire, the real rape of Ms. Marvel occurred.

Ms. Marvel had been seduced by Marcus.

She felt betrayed by the Avengers [who, to their credit, may have also been emotionally controlled by Marcus], but her dignity, her mind, her powers, her life's cherished memories were all taken forcibly by Rogue. That was rape, no two ways about it.

It is a horrible thing to even talk about. Between my two posts on this subject, I have been watching Downton Abbey. And it just happened that these are the ones that show the rape of Anna Bates as well as the seduction of Tom Branson. They are utterly different in styles and outcomes. We all want the rapist of Anna Bates dead, dead, dead - and thankfully, the writer complies. The seductress of Tom Branson? Well, as long as she hits the road, we are O.K. with it.

The reverse happened here: the one who truly took everything that made her Ms. Marvel was allowed to live.

The foolish and isolated boy-man who seduced Ms. Marvel because of his desire for her was disintegrated.

I call that sexism in the highest degree - against men.

There are a few questions, however, and maybe some fanboy will answer them. Maybe a search on the internet will turn it up.
1) How did Rogue know where she was? Probably Mystique with her government contacts. But Avengers records would have had her as "In Limbo" - literally.

2) If Carol had not been so isolated as well as angry, would that lone assault have even  occurred? I mean what is your "situational awareness" when you are alone at night in a big city and pissed off at Earth's Mightiest Heroes? I bet it is nil.

3) Since Rogue's powers only work with skin-to-skin contact, she kisses Capt. America to get his, for instance, how did she get Carol Danvers' powers? As Ms. Marvel, she is covered head to toe except for small areas and face. In her civilian clothes, she's covered much the same as she is a professional woman. I mean, how did Rogue get so physically close... to Carol... in San Francisco... uh....

...guys, does anyone know if Carol Danvers has ever had a boyfriend?

She kissed Wonder Man? O.K. - move on...

4) What precisely did Immortus think about his only child mating and dying within a week? I mean, didn't his machines record what happened or have some failsafe when the boy was no more?

5) When Carol says "I figured out enough of Immortus's secrets to return home..." is she still a reliable narrator? Or did Immortus return and send her packing, using his machines, letting her 'remember' that his son had 'died' and how the Avengers had 'betrayed her'? He does want them to be stopped from effectiveness, you know.

Seriously. Once you open this can of worms, it gets ugly.

We Only Hurt the Ones We Love
What is notable about the failure of the Avengers to stop Carol Danvers from leaving with her seducer and her subsequent restoration as a superheroine, is that while they failed to resist and/or perceive the emotional control Marcus had over her, they loved her and wanted to do good for her.

The Avengers were not the "insensitive louts" Chris Claremont called them. They simply could not process what was going on and intervene to protect a self-described Kree warrior from seduction.

Perhaps that is the lesson we can learn from: not finding who is to blame, but how we can be hurt most by those who profess to love us. People who themselves may have no understanding of how to love or what it means sacrificially.

In this final scene, my heart did go out for Carol. How could it not? Golden's artwork with her clutching her robe as she screams at them just blows you away.

Carol, however, is not perfectly just in blaming the Avengers, but she has been the victim of two assaults and now, after years of status and power, is utterly vulnerable, powerless and humiliated.

Here is where her true heroism begins: in forgiving her friends, in accepting new adventures and rebuilding her life.

Amen.

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