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CSBG Archive

Meta-Messages – Chris Claremont Sticks Up for Ms. Marvel

In this feature I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments!

Today we take a look at Chris Claremont’s resolution of the still-bizarre Ms. Marvel storyline from Avengers #200, where we see Claremont tear that story apart.

Chris Claremont was the last writer on Ms. Marvel’s original ongoing series that ended in 1979. Around the time her ongoing ended, Ms. Marvel was added as a member of the Avengers.

In 1980′s Avengers #197, writer David Michelinie revealed that Carol Danvers was pregnant…

In #199, the rest of the Avengers find out and even though her pregnancy is pretty clearly unnatural (as she has matured four months just since Wanda learned of her pregnancy), the Avengers are pretty thrilled for her…

The next issue (which was co-written by Jim Shooter after Michelinie’s original plans for the baby were changed), she gives birth. The Wasp is shocked to find that Ms. Marvel is not happy about her body being used by some unnatural event…

She, of course, realizes it is foolish of any woman to not embrace motherhood, no matter the circumstances, so Ms. Marvel apologizes and goes to meet her baby only for things to get REALLY messed up…

Time disturbances are appearing all over the world. Hawkeye, naturally, blames this guy and his machine so he destroys the machine. It turns out that the machine was the key to FIXING the disturbances.

The guy, Marcus, then reveals how he came to be born on this Earth…

Okay, so, first of all, that is just ALL kinds of messed up. Even if you think that the whole thing is quite romantic, the dude was still born from his girlfriend. That’s twisted. But that’s only if you think that the whole thing is quite romantic. Which you shouldn’t, because the dude SPECIFICALLY SAYS THAT HE USED HIS FATHER’s MIND-ALTERING MACHINES TO HELP MAKE HER FALL IN LOVE WITH HIM!!

He says it! Right there! In front of everyone! He even makes a point of saying, “I could have used the machines to make her love me, but I didn’t. Okay, maybe I used them a LITTLE bit, but can you blame a guy? She wouldn’t have had sex with me otherwise!”

And yet…

And after Ms. Marvel and Marcus are gone, Iron Man and Hawkeye think about it…

Seriously, guys? You sent one of your teammates off with a dude who specifically told you he used machines to make her fall in love with him and you’re cool with that? I mean, at least they do seem SLIGHTLY conflicted about it all, but not nearly enough.

Well, one fan who had a problem with that was our pal Carol A. Strickland, and she wrote a great article about her dismay over the issue in the comic magazine LOC #1 later in 1980 (check out the badass Wonder Woman by Frank Miller and Terry Austin on the cover…)


As you can see from the cover, she refers to it as the “Rape of Ms. Marvel.” Carol has the whole article up at her website here, if you’re interested in reading it.

One person who definitely agreed with Strickland was Chris Claremont, who noted about the storyline in the pages of X-Men Companion (while specifically referencing Carol’s article):

Avengers #199, where Carol Danvers is introduced to the Avengers, and they’re told that in two days she has become eight months pregnant by an unknown father, or by force of persons unknown, and the reaction of the entire crowd, men and women both, is to the effect of: “Can I babysit?” “Can we knit booties?” “Can I make cookies for the baby?” “Oh you must be so happy?” and my reaction was, “What an insensitive crowd of boors.” Actually, my reaction was a lot stronger than that. But how callous! How cruel! How unfeeling! Considering that these people must have seen Ms. Marvel only a couple of days before, or even a couple of months before. She wasn’t pregnant then. How could she be eight months pregnant now? Now, if that had been the point David [Michelinie] was trying to make, that these other Avengers are callous boors, okay then, I may disagree with the point, but if he followed through on it, it would have made sense. But it seemed to me, looking at the story, looking at the following story, that he was going for: “This is how you respond to a pregnancy.”

So in 1981, Claremont wrote Avengers Annual #10, with stunning artwork by Michael Golden and Armando Gil. In the issue, Carol returns to Earth, only to have her powers stolen by a new evil mutant by the name of Rogue (whatever happened to her?).

Carol ends up being saved by Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew (whose title was ALSO written by Claremont) and Carol then goes to stay with the X-Men. After the Avengers battle Rogue and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, they go to meet up with Carol and she (and obviously Claremont, using Carol as his mouthpiece) gives the Avengers a piece of her mind…

Strong stuff by Claremont. It’s very much a “drop the mic” moment for Carol (and Claremont).

That’s it for this time around! If you have a suggestion for a future Meta-Message, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com


The thing that bothers me here is nobody considered the possibility that the Avengers were brainwashed by Immortus machines. That seems to make more sense than the Avengers being collectively stupid.

Instead the Avengers are chewed out with no rebuttal, because that is what the writer wanted. Leaving it canon that the Avengers are just that stupid. It seems to me the goal of the annual should have been redeeming the Avengers. Not using them as a proxy for Shooter or Micheline or whoever actually wrote it.

Also, is it really a good idea to have her lash at the Avengers just after Xavier tampered with her brain? It’s like opening a new can of worms : maybe one day, some writer desperate for ideas will reveal that Onslaught or some other evil part of Xavier’s persona rewrote Carol’s memories, and in fact, the only thing “Immortus’ machines” ever did was play some Barry White and activate the vibrating bed… which sure did “help”, but not in a rapey way.

Carol being so emotional about it contradicts her appearances in X-Men, where she revealed she no longer had an emotional connection to her memories.

I think the best thing to do with the whole thing is forget about it, no good can come from trying to open an old wound that’s already left a scar

Just a point of order re; Victator’s comments: it’s the X-men appearances that contradict this story, as this came first.

In terms of Avengers #200 and Annual #10, the only real problem I have is Carol reaming out the entire team. Or rather, Claremont reaming out the team, because obviously Carol is understandably upset. But during the climax of #200 when Marcus reveals all this stuff, there are only three other Avengers present besides Carol: Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye. Who, you will note, are all notoriously bad with women. Thor is from an ancient, traditional patriarchy and thus is not exactly known for his sensitivity with women, while Iron Man is a straight-up womanizer and Hawkeye has a very bro-centric attitude at that time period, having just manhandled Deathbird himself in #189.

The rest of the team was off fighting dinosaurs and stuff. So we have the three Avengers least equipped to have any insight into Carol’s point of view making the decision whether to let her go. It’s not really a surprise that they sort of went, “well, women, right?” And it should be noted that Hawkeye did actually protest quite a bit, bothy verbally and, you know, by blowing up Marcus’ machine.

I completely agree that #200 is all kinds of messed up and someone needed to be called out for it. I just wish that Claremont had been a little more even-handed in how he presented his rebuttal in terms of how the Avengers react. Plus, really, the entire issue comes off like Claremont is pissed off at the Avengers rather than at Jim Shooter and the others who wrote #200. The whole issue is basically the Avengers getting their asses kicked by some random mutants, while Claremont’s pet characters like Spider-Woman get all the good stuff.

I have to admit, I kind of love Thor’s line, “Be not ashamed of thy womanly tears, Carol.” :)

And yeah, I agree that establishing that Marcus was using some mind control on the Avengers as well would’ve been a more effective solution than canonically making them all insensitive boors. But man o man, that Michael Golden artwork sure is pretty, huh?

BTW, I think it’s also worth noting that the rapey plotline of AVENGERS #200 was not the original plan. It was originally going to be the Kree Supreme Intellegence that was responsible for Ms. Marvel’s artificial pregnancy, in an attempt to create a Kree/Human hybrid. But it was discovered at the last minute that this was very similiar to a plotline that had run in a recent issue of WHAT IF?, so everyone scrambled to find an alternate solution, and in their rush, they obviously didn’t think through all the implications of the Marcus storyline.

I’ve mixed feelings. I’ll always feel sorry for the character because of the rape and what Rogue did to her, but I’ll always hate her for what she did in civil war. In the end I decided just to walk away from her.

Avengers being stupid jerks make sense for me. But yeah, it was mishandled from the beginning to the end. Let’s forget this ever happened.

Okay, the almost instant rush to paint the Avengers as the victims in this scenario has me feeling a little ill.

No, let’s not forget this ever happened. Forgetting it makes it much more likely this would happen again.

Victator: “Carol being so emotional about it contradicts her appearances in X-Men, where she revealed she no longer had an emotional connection to her memories.”

Look at it this way, she remembers what happened and she’s mad about what she remembers. The connection she has now is not the same as it was before Rogue siphoned her powers, but she remembers the Avengers swallowing every little thing Marcus tells her, and wishing her off on a happy voyage with a man who impregnated her just so she could give birth to himself, and all the while no one bats an eye about how happy Carol is over her extremely contrived and suspicious pregnancy because they’re too happy for her to have a bun in the oven.

This is a Carol who thinks back “This is what happened? This is what happened to me? This is what my teammates, my family, this is what they allowed to happen?!” She’s formed a new connection because she knows it’s her and those are her friends, and they betrayed her.

If she had the same connection she did before, chances are most of the Avengers would’ve either been killed or put in intensive care when Carol got through with them.

The Avengers (and not for the last time) were victims of bad writing. Claremont was in such a rush to make a statement about Shooter and Michelline, he threw out all logic and made the Avengers look like assholes.

Rather than (as I said earlier) show they were being mind controlled.

I know the X-Men stories came later. i just found Claremont ignoring his own story odd.

Go ahead and feel ill, Michael P. Feel free to vomit all over yourself if you want.

I’m not going to speak for anyone else, but I stand by my comments. As I said right off the bat, Carol was the victim and what the writers did to her was horrible and definitely needed to be called out.

However, I still have a problem with the way Claremont did it. Claremont seems to become extremely invested in his own characters – as in, the ones he writes become so precious to him that he goes out of his way to make characters other people write look bad. He and Byrne infamously trashed each other’s characters as an expression of their long running feud. This Avengers Annual #10 is just another example of this misplaced parochialism; since the Avengers writers messed with his character, he’ll get back at them by messing up the Avengers!

It’s just childish. I don’t have a problem with Carol reaming out the team. But coming on the heels of Claremont making the team look like fools for 40 pages in their own title in the story leading up to that lecture, the whole thing becomes petty overkill and it diminishes the core message. Plus, for the majority of fans who haven’t actually read this storyline and instead get their information from reading about it on websites, the impression becomes (and has been for years now) that the Avengers stood around and let Carol get raped without lifting a finger, when in reality only three of them knew the situation and Hawkeye did try to help Carol but was overruled by Iron Man and Thor.

I think Claremont could have drawn a better and more rounded story had he explored this, since Iron Man is notoriously the biggest womanizer in Marvel Comics – having him be the guy who decided to let Carol go off with Marcus is a point that could have been expounded upon to very good effect I think.

As a message about the treatment of women in comics, Avengers Annual #10 is an important moment. But as a story, it totally sucks.

I’ve read both Avengers 200 and Avengers Annual 10 in my younger years, and I always assumed that Marcus was giving the Avengers a “subtle boost” from Immortus’ machines as well. Why wouldn’t he?

When you factor in how the Avengers were running around, fighting dinosaurs, knights and bi-planes, it makes sense that they took everything at face value if there was some subtle mental manipulations going on in the background. I also think Scott Harris raised an interesting point about Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye being the Avengers on hand for the actual ending of the storyline. I think that if Captain America and/or the Scarlet Witch had been present, as opposed to off battling the time displaced cavemen and such, things would have worked out differently; calling Marcus out and such.

Every time somebody complains about editorial killing a writer’s proposed story (i.e., Alan Moore’s Twilight of the Super-Heroes), I need to pull out Carol’s pregnancy as a rebuttal. Certain stories just shouldn’t happen.

I liked how Scarlet Witch learned from this and went on to… massacre millions of mutants in the future.

Avengers Annual #10 might just be Claremont’s finest hour. Not only did he drop the mic on David Michelinie, he also got a little dig in on his boss (Jim Shooter) about a year after Shooter forced the death of Jean Grey on him. It is just a scalding Meta Message.

Also, (paired with the great Michael Golden) he dropped into The Avengers and made a pretty convincing argument that he could’ve done with them roughly he was doing with the X-Men. The Avengers was going through one of its best periods creatively and Claremont essentially said “Yeah, I could top that if I had the time”. When you compare Avenger #200 with Avenger Annual #10, it is hard to deny that he was right.

Oh by the way, he also introduced one of the most enduring creations of the Bronze Age in the same issue.

The thing is the Avengers were written as insensitive. Excusing this by saying it was a case of mind-tampering is as lazy and problematic as the original mind and body rape of Ms. Marvel. I say let it stand as it was writte for all its problems and faults. In this case Ms Marvels response is completely appropriate. The Avengers were wrong.

Just to clarify, I am not a fan of having the Avengers be mind-controlled in this issue. They were wrong and should be called out for it and I think that should stand. I think it would be lame to let them off the hook with the mind-control thing.

I just think Claremont’s characterization and use of the Avengers in Annual #10 is also wrong. It could have been handled better.

I’m with you Michael P. …. the rush to defend the Avengers as being mind controlled is appalling. If, after all, Marcus was controlling them, why would he let Hawkeye destroy his machine?

More than anything, their passe attitude was a result of living in a world where supernatural things happen. But that doesn’t excuse them just letting her walk off after essentially being raped. Even though the 3 guys present were among the most patriarchal of the team… Wanda, Cap, the Wasp…. nobody saw the need to go look for Caral when those three fools told them what happened?

Yeah, if it was a case of mind tampering then the second she and Marcus left they should have had a collective “Holy shit, what did I just do?” moment and gone after her.

Chris Claremont was right, and apologists like Victator and SuperYes are wrong. There was no way to salvage this abomination of a story while casting the Avengers in a good light. Yes, you could say that it was not the characters’ fault that Michelinie and Shooter wrote them this way, but that is besides the point, right? Fictional characters lack the capability to act for themselves, someone has to write them.

And I know that writers usually feud and stuff, but this time, c’mon. The case against the Avengers was all ready just waiting for anyone with common sense to write it. It just happened to be Chris Claremont. Claremont didn’t need to go to any lenghts to make the Avengers “look bad”. Avengers #200 already made all the work for him.

Yes, so his primary job should have been repairing the damage done to The Avengers. Instead it was just entrenched as canon.

Claremont’s job should have been undoing Avengers #200, whether explaining why it was not the Avengers fault or undoing the entire story as never happening.

I would have preferred wiping #200 out of continuity since it did not add a thing to any of the characters.

I’m against writers taking liberties with characters they did not create, Whether it be Shooter/Micheline with Ms.Marvel or Claremont with the Avengers.

I say this as a huge fan of Chris Claremont. I have loved almost everything he has ever written.

Andrew Collins

March 3, 2013 at 3:30 pm

All I can think is “How did she not break her hand on Thor’s face?” but I get the point Claremont was going for with the scene and agree, the original storyline was all kinds of messed up and deserving of the scorn it has received…

Here is a question to ponder….did any of this still happen?

Wanda says she’ld give anything for this to have not happened…well she has certainly has had such an opportunity to make that so, even without realizing it.

So when was the last time this story was brought up?

Beyond that, I do wonder why the readdressing of the story doesn’t look into the idea that the Avengers were being manipulated as well? I mean. We can all agree their behavior and reactions are just weird. It doesn’t even look like the writers intended their reactions to be normal, so why assume that this was just them being stupid?

The way I see it, you have two basic choices, either the avengers were being manipulated as well, or made a tough decision, not to attack a baby god who was willing to leave with a friend who by her admission is going willingly.

The easy answer is that they were manipulated and don’t even realize it today, the harder is that they don’t want to explain to their friend why they did what they did.

But think about this. Let’s say, the Beyond told the Marvel Unvierse he was willing to go away and never return just so long as Dazzler went with him, and that Dazzler said, she would go with him. Do run the risk that this being who tosses galactus around like a ragdoll is going to respond to your attack by accepting that the human spirit is not worth snuffing out, or do you make the larger sacrafice?

Now we don’t have either of those stories, we have this one, though I don’t think if a future writer took up this question that either would contradict what we’ve already seen.

Really we can see from the end of the original story that the Avengers have doubts about what happeend, the question is do they have doubts because they were manipulated and don’t understand their own actions, or because they’ve made a very difficult choice about how to save the universe at the expense of a fellow soldier in the war to protect it. As to their reaction in the second story, manipulation explains why they even still don’t realize how weired they were acting, and if they were complicit in the act, taking the emotional beating from their friend makes sense too.

Really it’s also possible that both answers are correct, that the manipulation was both to accept their friends stated decision and to fear the possible outcome if they didn’t.

Or the whole thing never happened in the MU’s current itiration, any of these options are ripe for further addressing.

loved how carol finaly got to bless the avengers for accepting what went down with marcus instead of no way something is wrong carol don’t go. plus how of all the avengers wanda wound up learning from the mistakes they made.even though it took place when rogue gained the miss marvel powers. though hated jessicas out fit she is wearing.

“Yes, you could say that it was not the characters’ fault that Michelinie and Shooter wrote them this way, but that is besides the point, right? Fictional characters lack the capability to act for themselves, someone has to write them.”

No, Rene, it’s not beside the point. It’s one thing for characters to have flaws and make mistakes in a well-written story, one in which the writer plans on following through on the consequences of those actions. It’s a whole other thing for a writer to produce a piece of garbage like Avengers 197-200. It’s understandable that fans of the book don’t want to read stories about said book’ stars unwittingly abetting a rapist. It’s not about apologizing for the Avengers or casting them in the role of victim instead of Carol, it’s about wanting a particularly bad piece of writing undone. And it’s fiction, so it can be undone.

That said, I’m glad Claremont wrote the piece that showed Carol’s rightful anger towards the Avengers. Within that story, they deserved it (actually, I think they deserved more than they got). But I also wish they had opened up that annual with a text page that admitted that the story was a really bad idea, they were using the annual to show what should be consequences in such a story, but it turns out that 197-200 and the annual actually make up a “What If” story, and the real story of what happened would be told in future issues.

I think it’s important to discern the difference between wanting good stories told about your favorites heroes (and them, you know, acting like heroes) and being apologists for those who let rape happen. The fact that people want the story retconned means they realize how serious the matter is. Let’s face it, no matter how you look at it, Carol’s being used by everyone involved. In-story she’s used by Marcus. She was used by the creators of the original story as a woman in peril. And no matter how noble his purpose, she was used by Claremont as a mouthpiece (not to mention victimized again in the same Claremont issue). At this point, she’s never going to be an actual character as far as this story is concerned. Everyone mishandled her along the way. Short of saying it never happened, there’s nothing that can be done to salvage what happened to her. Considering that the only thing that could possibly be salvaged from the debacle is the reason for the Avenger’s horrible (and some would say out-of-character) actions, it’s not surprising that people would look for any way to do that, and since mind-control was used in the story, that’s the most reasonable go to. As long as they showed the Avengers still felt guilt and shame over the actions, even if they didn’t control them, I’d be fine. If they said the story never happened, I’d be even better.

But at this point, let’s just hope that it all falls into the cracks of history and there’s not a future writer who thinks it would be an “interesting” angle to explore. It’s not. I just want to enjoy the ass-kicking Carol that we’ve got now.

Victator -

It seems like you’re misplacing the blame. Claremont didn’t do anything bad to the Avengers. Shooter and Michelinie did, when they produced Avengers #200. Claremont “failed” to repair the damage, but he didn’t have any obligation to do so. Did he entrench the story as canon? In the Shooter years, all the stories were canon already when they were published, except for WHAT IF.

I don’t see how Claremont “took liberties” with the Avengers, when he merely made evident how morally myopic the former story was. That is like saying the guy that called the police when he saw someone being raped is the one to blame for the rape.

So when was the last time this story was brought up?

Busiek addressed it during his Kang War storyline back in 2001-02.

@Victator: I agree. Not mischaracterising all the Avengers as insensitive morons doesn’t trivialise Carol’s trauma in any way.

I can buy Tony and Thor not realising anything was wrong, but Hank, Janet and Wanda? I would have preferred if it was suggested that they were being influenced somehow. The way they acted was so bizarre, I just assumed that anyway.

Just another thing the Editors screwed up. I hope they, like the Avengers, learn from this fiasco and don’t do anything like this again.

One thing I have wondered about this whole is the bit where they say the original ending planned for Avengers #200 was changed because another comic just used the same ending.

Does anyone know what that ending was and which other comic used it?

@ Brian — So that was a decade ago, and before Disassembled and House of M, so one could imagine that this point in history has since been excised, that is if that was something someone wanted to do.

Really, given the gravity of the story provided by Claremont, that Carol is a happy member of the Avengers and still jocular friends with Tony and the crew, this story just gets all the more complicated.

One can argue that if anyone ever bothered to ask Shooter what his intention was with regard to Marcus’ use of Imortus’ machines were, he might state that he did not intend to suggest that Carol was not authentically and of he own fee will seduced, but as far continuity goes, the original intent is theortically undone by Claremont. This is sort of how arguably a poorly drawn panel turned Hanky Pym into a chronic abuser in the mind of many fans and writers, so to could poorly chosen dialogue arguable turn a clearly bad sci fi “love” story into one of rape. And as such, in the Clarmont story, the rape becomes formalized and made the status quo of the MU, and becomes something every wrier then has to deal with going forward.

With Hank, the answer is to have him repeat nearly everytime he’s on panel that it was only one time, and unforgivable, and he lives his life with constant regret over that one outburst. With Carol, it would seem to be that the answer is just to walk away as quickly from this story as possible and have Carol interact with people that sent her off with her rapist as if nothing ever happened.

Really, check out the really fantastic Captain Marvel series, and look at the interaction between Tony and Carol (as he hacks her computer, and changes her schedule without her consent, including commiting her to some guy who she knows nothing about), and ask if it makes anysense in the continuity that Claremont has provided?

And that is arguably the real problem with the story Claremont wrote. If Carol is a rape survivor she can still grow into Captain Marvel as she has, but if Tony, Hawkeye and Thor just stood by, then how does she have this friendly relationhip with all of them going forward? Heck, how does Jessica Drew date Clint after all this given her role in the Clarmont issue? The whole thing creates something like Hank where you have to keep addressing it every issue, or you have to basically pretend that it never really happened.

So, if people want an explaination beyond the idea that Thor,Tony and Clint were just phenominal jerks and idiots, it’s because they all have to work together, and they aren’t mentioning it every issue. I can’t imagine unless there is more to the story than just what Claremont wrote, that Jessica and Carol are just not interested in discussing it any more, and have decided to let bygones be bygones (This is rape aferall, and something that Clint particularly has a bunch of baggage on).

Of course then the problem is, if you give a greater explaination to the story, then others are mad that you are undoing Claremont’s powerful statement. So it becomes a no win situation or any writer to address, so they don’t. And as it is not addressed, the story is effectivly removed from continuity. A fan can argue it’s still a part of Carol’s history, but really, it’s just not there anymore, and it is actually hard to argue that it is.

With all respect to Viktor and SuperYes, your argument that the other Avengers should have been mind-controlled is a bad excuse for bad behavior. All of us seem to agree that the storyline should never have happened — and given the torture Shooter put Moondragon and Tigra through in the aborted Korvac sequel, one might reasonably wonder about his attitudes towards his female characters — the fact remains that it did happen: the Avengers, or at least three of them, let Carol go off with the man who had raped her mentally, emotionally and physically.

To retcon that with “well, he did it to the guys too! No harm no foul on the good guys!” does more than remove a bad storyline, it minimizes the rape of a character has something that can simply be swept under the rug. That is as offensive as the original storyline itself. I can understand your desires to protect the heroes you love. However, if the characters are going to grow as Marvel at least used to be known for then such traumatic, ill-planned events such as this need to be left in place and dealt with. That’s what Claremont did — he left the characters in position to grow.

On a side note, who did the art in issue 197? Ron Wilson? Good Lord is it awful; Wanda’s eyeballs are at her ears.

Carmine Infantino did layouts but a whole mess of other artists finished it. The art was all over the place throughout the issue. At times it looked like typical early 80s Infantino and other times it barely looked like his work at all. I’d say that this scene was one of the latter ones.

What really kills me about this storyline is that it isn’t the last time it was used. there were at least two other instances where someone thought it was a good idea. one of them i’ve blissfully forgotten, but the other i haven’t.

the character who found herself in this situation was power girl.

yep, power girl, the woman with one of the shortest fuses in comic books. it was in “justice league international.” i think i remember her not being that shaken up by it. i can’t recall for sure, because it was at this time that i stopped buying “JLI.”

let’s face it. if power girl found herself pregnant with no explanation, she should’ve gone out and punched out the moon or something. better yet, tracked down the writer and punched HIM out. (i’m pretty sure the writer was male. I can’t see any woman writing this story without taking it a LOT more seriously.)

it was a betrayal of the character and her fans.

let’s face it. this is a storyline that should never EVER be used again!

Yes, Power Girl has a baby in Zero Hour. If you pick up that collection today, it reads really strange as she’s having this baby that is never discussed in anything since.

I picked Avengers Annual #10 up a few years ago just ’cause it was the first appearance of Rogue. I remember it mostly for the ending of the issue because I hadn’t read Avengers #200 yet. Read that a while later and I’m still kinda blown away. Sometimes, though, I wonder if superhero comics learned anything from this.

It looks to me like the Avengers were too stunned by everything that had happened to really put things together in a coherent fashion and since Carol seemed to be ok with it why would the others think differently?

Daniel Gimenez

March 4, 2013 at 3:44 am

I have a huge soft spot for Avengers Annual #10, it’s one of the first of my brother’s old comics I remember reading. But I get what people wanting the whole thing retconned out are saying, and emotional complaints about “attempts to make the Avengers the victims” are just missing the very simple point the other commenters are making.

So, we all basically agree that the original story was an example of shitty writing with the Avengers behaving stupidly in an out-of-character way . Yeah, yeah, the Wasp’s been ditzy for too large a part of her fictional history, Tony was a womanizer, Thor’s Thor, whatever…it’s really, really pushing it to think their actions make in-story sense based on their personalities. It’s just good ol’ bad writing.

Alright, so given that in the new continuity this story creates the Avengers are basically imbecilic asshats, sure, Claremont having Ms. Marvel rip these new, oh-so-stupid Avengers a new one makes tons of sense, and is more than deserved. But then it’s just one more story confirming that these guys are a bunch of fucking tools (tools in this particularly egregious way, of course there’s a hell of a lot of issues with the Avengers being bickering pricks) in the first place, despite 199 issues prior to that one that show a group of people that wouldn’t have been all giddy/nonchalant/slightly uneasy (attaboy, Simon, there’s the passion and decisiveness we expect from “the guy who laid out Thor once”) over a teammate’s crazy freak baby.

So it’s natural to just think that, great, these stupid alternate-universe Avengers got what was coming to them, but hey, let’s just pretend the whole thing never happened, in-continuity. It’s not an example of the character’s “growing” if they feel shitty about what they did in issue 200, because what they did in issue 200 was so abominably stupid that those weren’t recognizable characters to begin with. The whole thing just doesn’t pass the smell-test. I know this isn’t what everybody does, but personally, anything that’s stupid in such a spectacular way, I just ignore. It didn’t happen. I don’t even care if it gets logically retconned out or not.

Claremont being so protective of “his” character like he always was is fine if you accept the established continuity that the Avengers behaved terribly, but by focusing on their behavior without explaining or waving it away somehow, leaving it as the out-of-character actions of these pretty well defined characters, his focus is basically too narrow. Of course to Claremont and everybody rightfully horrified by Carol’s rape, having the Avengers excoriated was more powerful than the more traditional retconning away would have been. But the real-world issue, that it was a shitty story where everybody acted stupid that shouldn’t have been printed to begin with, just got muddied.

Daniel Gimenez

March 4, 2013 at 3:51 am

It looks to me like the Avengers were too stunned by everything that had happened to really put things together in a coherent fashion and since Carol seemed to be ok with it why would the others think differently?

Because, as Brian points out, “the dude SPECIFICALLY SAYS THAT HE USED HIS FATHER’s MIND-ALTERING MACHINES TO HELP MAKE HER FALL IN LOVE WITH HIM.” That’s the whole thing–given that they just heard this, the “fact” that they’re cool with her going off with this guy that just popped out of her makes zero sense. So this comic makes zero sense.

Kenny –

There are stories that are so ill-conceived that I can’t believe how they were printed. I’d rank Avengers #200 together with the Falcon being revealed as having an alternate personality as “Snap” Wilson, a stereotypical black thug/pimp. Or Emerald Twilight. Stories that make the characters unusable for the next 10 years or so.

Even so, I have to say that I hate retcons something fierce.

I like how Claremont dealt with it, and I thought that should be the end. Never refer to the story again.

I for one was thrilled when Claremont had Carol confront the Avengers, especially after being so appalled by readers’ overwhelming applause at the original rape story. Wasn’t it great that Ms. Marvel had finally found love? Aww.

Then DC decided to do the whole thing again with Power Girl, and added in the fact (iIrc) that her own grandpa Arion was responsible (in a magical way) for her baby. Aww, incest makes it so much sweeter, doesn’t it?

Power Girl’s baby never existed. That’s my claim and Im sticking to it.

You know, just as a side note, has anyone else ever been distrubed by not only how commonplace mind control is in the Marvel Universe (if not comicbooks in general) but also how easy? When the single most devistating force in the MU is weidled by guys like the Ring Master and Miracle Man, it should give you pause. Reed Richards hypnotized sentient aliens that he had only just met into thinking they were a completely differnt species, Ulton, as his first act just after becoming sentient Hypnotizes Hank Pym.

It is pretty disturbing, and probably could an entire pop lit textbook on why this is.

Answered my own question with regard to Jim Shooter being asked what he meant by all this here:



The writers on the book seem to all deny that they came up with the idea, but Shooter does confirm that the popular reading is his reading of the book now (though he is surprised he didn’t see it and other things at the time and fix the story before it came to print).

I agree with the people criticizing Claremont’s fix along with Michelinie’s work.

I feel Michelinie’s work was not only cruel and insensitive to Ms. Marvel, but also to the male Avengers as well. Ms. Marvel isn’t the only character that was a victim here, although she by far was treated the worse. The Avengers who let her go, along with the Avengers who weren’t there but were totally cool with it afterwards, in my opinion are victims of character assassination. I feel like they deserve vindication as well, because they were really written out of character.

I also think that there’s kind of an anti-male sexism going on with the fix. Ms. Marvel was saved because of an outcry due to the anti-female sexism of her story, but for the male Avengers to be portrayed as callous, insensitive, chauvinistic, rape enablers is okay, because after all they’re men and it’s not that much of a stretch supposedly for a man to behave like that?

You know, just as a side note, has anyone else ever been distrubed by not only how commonplace mind control is in the Marvel Universe (if not comicbooks in general) but also how easy? When the single most devistating force in the MU is weidled by guys like the Ring Master and Miracle Man, it should give you pause. Reed Richards hypnotized sentient aliens that he had only just met into thinking they were a completely differnt species, Ulton, as his first act just after becoming sentient Hypnotizes Hank Pym.

It is pretty disturbing, and probably could an entire pop lit textbook on why this is.

That’s a great point. Is mind control more prevalent in Marvel than in DC? I don’t know because my reading history is maybe 80% Marvel, 20% DC, and most of that DC is post-Crisis where it was heavily Marvel-influenced anyway.

I will use this time to plug one of my favorite blogs, of which I have no connection too but like so much I always like to plug it:

Chris Claremont Mind Control central. It never occurred to me that the mind control problem may have predated Claremont, but you make a great point.

@ Brian — So that was a decade ago, and before Disassembled and House of M, so one could imagine that this point in history has since been excised, that is if that was something someone wanted to do.

Here it is from an issue right after House of M, by Brian Michael Bendis.

[...] (You can read the rest of the scene at Brian Cronin’s excellent telling of Claremont’s me…) [...]

The Avengers #200 was wrong on so many levels, but the one thing that really irritated me was the subtext. Ms Marvel was a feminist heroine, proudly announcing on the cover of #2 that ‘this female fights back’ (though that in itself is a problematic statementt); so how do we deal with this uppity woman? We rape her through coercion, get her up the duff, and send her off for a fairytale princesss, happy ever afer, ending..isn’t that what every woman wants?

Power Girl was also DC’s leading feminist (moreso than Wondie at the time), and DC did it to her as well. I thought it was a fairly obvious trend. DC also tried to beat Peege down even farther by giving her those huge hooters and making such a big joking deal about them. Make fun of the feminist. We get it.

T, it’s not “anti-male” to point out the boorishness with which some men behave regarding rape. The storyline as written (by men) presented a raped woman willingly going off with her rapist, with the men doing little more than shrug uncomfortably. Claremont indicted all of the Avengers, including the female characters, for their lack of sensitivity on the issue — though his real targets, probably, were Shooter and Michiline.

True Carol, and that attitude was carried on over into the mid noughties – that awful issue of JSA, spotlighting Power Girl, which reduced her to nothing more than a locker room joke. It certainly was Da Bomb! Mr Johns.

I will say I don’t understand why Tony Stark sleeping around equates him with being a rapist.

Nice topic on one of my favorite X-writers, good ol’ Chris Claremont.

I’ll repeat what I noted back when I did a write up of the issue a year ago today (http://clarmindcontrol.blogspot.com/2012/03/ms-marvels-mark-missing-mindcontrol.html)

I think Carol, understandably traumatised, was being a little unfair to her former teammates. Yes, they did let her go without so much as a ‘waittaminute…!’. But who’s to say Immortus’ machines didn’t subtly influence them as well to be a tad more… cooperative?

And, while we’re on the subject of writers going meta and attacking other people’s stories. There’s the infamous incident where Claremont used Dr. Doom over in X-men and Byrne was so peeved by it he made a point over in Fantastic Four that the Doom appearing in that story was a Doombot, a Doombot that the real Doom personally destroyed. Talk about petty.

Getting back to Claremont sticking up for Ms. Marvel for a second… While I applaud his intentions and like how I took a stance… It’s not like he’s beyond reproach himself. Take this particular Marvel Team Up issue where Chris has Spider-Man free Tigra from months of mind controlled (sexual) abse as Kraven the Hunter’s pet… And in the end, it’s Spider-Man who gets to defeat Kraven, while Tigra stands idly by. So much for being known for writing strong female heroes…


@Brian, thank you for that page, what is the larger context for that story. It does look familiar but I can’t place the story in which it falls.

T, it’s not “anti-male” to point out the boorishness with which some men behave regarding rape.

No, it’s not “anti-male” to point out the boorishness with which some men behave regarding rape. What is anti-male to me is to assume all men start with the presumption of such boorishness just because some men do. For example a disproportionate amount of black men are in the criminal system. As a black guy I feel comfortable pointing that out. However what if you had a story written by a racist writer showing Black Panther, Falcon and a bunch of other black superheroes taking advantage of a blackout to loot the city, which goes against all established characterization of them currently, and if people justified it by saying “Hey, a lot of black guys are out there committing crime, so it’s okay to show these black guys committing crime”? The implication being that because there are a lot of black people who fit that mold, it’s okay to depict ALL black people as fitting that mold, despite how these characters were previously characterized.

Another example, many white guys, especially in past eras, were shamelessly racist. However in the 60s what if you showed a story of Captain America giving racists a free pass, or admitting they had a good point, or letting a character from another era leave with an Avenger like Falcon to use him as a slave, despite implications of using mind control, and not putting up a fight about it, similar to how Marcus did with Ms. Marvel? Then people said, hey, let the characterization stand, because since many white Americans are actually racist, it’s okay to depict all white Americans as racist, no matter how they’ve been characterized previously.

I have no problem with the boorishness of men being a point of a story. But the implication that all men’s default state is boorishness and insensitivity to rape, to the point that it’s perfectly believable that all the male Avengers, who are supposed to be among the most morally upright of the male population, were as oblivious and tone-deaf as David Michelinie is insulting to men.

I feel Claremont should have redeemed ALL of the characters, not just Carol. The fact that so many letter writers and Claremont himself felt so disgusted by the story is proof that not all men are this boorish and stupid regading rape issues, even in the 70s.

There is no anti-male bias in Claremont’s story, as pointed above all the Avengers were indicted, with no exceptions for the Wasp and the Scarlet Witch.

Victaror – no one is saying Tony Stark is a rapist, just that there is a tendency in many men to minimize rape, and people so jumped to the conclusion that Tony could be one of those men just because he sleeps around. Myself, I don’t agree with that one.

Nonetheless, just 16 years before Avengers #200, a major motion picture (GOLDFINGER) advanced the idea that a uppity lesbian (and aren’t all the feminists lesbians?) could be “cured” by “aggressive seduction”. It seems like an idea that lurks inside many people that what “feminists” really need is a take-charge kind-of-guy that will make them feel like a woman.

It’s garbage, it’s rotten, but I don’t think it’s nowhere near the same as “being a rapist”.

T. –

Claremont could have done it, but I don’t think he was “obligated” to do it. I don’t see why people keep saying Claremont did something as wrong as Michelinie/Shooter, just because Claremont sort of fixed one issue of the fracas, instead of fixing all issues. Blame Michelinie/Shooter.

Particularly, I don’t like the use of excuses like mind control, time travel, reality alteration or other to “correct” any story where a character acts in a strange way. IMO, some stories should be semi-removed from canon, with a edict by the editors that they are not to be referenced again.

The geek-ish obsession that every story must count, plus lazy writers that crave sensationalism, is what keeps those aberrant stories popping up again and again.

a) awesome artwork, especially white space when Carol begins to tell her story.
b) Why is jessica drew in a swimsuit with xavier (I didn’t mind when I was 14 and bought this issue, still don’t)
c) if she remembers anything of the immortus’ secrets she learned to escape limbo, she’d be even more bad-ass.


@Brian, thank you for that page, what is the larger context for that story. It does look familiar but I can’t place the story in which it falls.

It was when Jessica Jones gave birth right after House of M. I got the year wrong initially. But still, it is a recent reference to the events.

Why is jessica drew in a swimsuit with xavier (I didn’t mind when I was 14 and bought this issue, still don’t)

The X-Men, Spider-Woman and Carol are hanging out by the pool when the Avengers show up.

One thing about this whole story that I think is easily overlooked is that prior to Claremont, this was a story you could easily no prize away. I think even Shooter is trying to do this a little in pointing out other issues in teh story that he can’t beleive he let get past him (like Tony just giving the alien baby access to his equiptment no questions asked). You could argue as many have here that part of what happened was that everyone was being manipulated, and that results in the story we have, or even for those who would rather not have Ms. Marvel be raped, that for as strange as creepy as the story is, Carol made her choices of her own free will, which seems to be what we are presented here.

When Clarmont says, no, she was raped, and there is no other explain, the readers are left with justifying (or no prizing everything into context). Really nothing in Claremont’s story prevents the Avengers from being influenced by Marcus as well, clearly Carol didn’t realize it at the time she agreed to go back with Marcus, so it is entirely possible they didn’t realize it at the time either, and maybe didn’t even realize it until sometime after Claremont’s story.

I don’t know how many Shooter or Michelinie stories center around mind control sex but we do know that Claremont went to this well often enough to be a pattern for him. So while he gets to yell a the Avengers in this story, he also gets to fullfill this trope he uses where the female power object is subjected to psychic manipulations which center around sex.

Also and again, if one really wants to dig into this trope, that Carol doesn’t even suspect that the other Avengers were also being manipulated to behave so strangly, but allows herself to be overwhelmed by her emotions and lash out at her friends, while understandable also serve to further diminutize the character. She is a sex object or she is a rage object but at no time is she a rational person really shown with her own autonomy.

I just think that looking at Avengers #200, the priority should have been to explain why the Avengers were so out of character.

Its not like this could not have happened while dealing with Ms.Marvel. Its not an either or situation.

They could have used Marcus as a villain instead of killing him in a flashback.

Fredll -

Claremont really does have a mind control fetish (and also a physical transformation fetish), but the man is not a sexist. Both men and women are subjected to abuse in his stories.

Retconning pratically the whole story would be pretty weak. I don’t think it should be seen as Claremont denouncing the Avengers, but as Claremont denouncing absurd sexism by comic book writers. It IS a meta-message, and that is why Brian chose it for his column. It may be heavy-handed, but like they say in TV Tropes, some anvils need to be dropped.

It’s just nerd obsession that worries about every single story “counting” and stories with characters acting strangely as “ruining” the heroes. Even when I was a Marvel Zombie and very proud of how inter-connected Marvel was, I knew better than to hold one aberrant story as an example of how Iron Man or Thor act. Even as a teen I knew that writers sometimes write crap, they inject personal bias, etc.

But yeah, nothing in the story prevents the Avengers from being influenced also. Actually, you could say, if you like, that all stories ever published by Marvel that you don’t like were manipulated by Immortus or the Space Phantom or Kang the Conqueror. Kurt Busiek did exactly that in Avengers Forever, and that was one of the most boring pieces of writing he ever did. I would prefer it if retcons were made in the letter pages.

Brian, it looks like my second comment above is still awaiting moderation.

Does anyone know what Michelinie’s plans were for issue 200 before Shooter stepped in? I’d be curious to know the original plans for this plot, as even as a 15 year-old kid when I first read it, I could tell there was something wrong with this issue.

Matty Macomber

March 4, 2013 at 6:17 pm

I am saddened by the comments here that miss the meta-point and think that “Oh, Marcus Immortus brainwashed the Avengers, too… how dare this woman ream out the all-perfect Avengers” is a better solution. Marvel messed up with its casual sexism and it was a good and brave move for Claremont to call his boss on it and a good move for the editor and editor -in-chief to publish this, and thereby acknowledge there was merit to that criticism. I, too, understand the desire to retcon the idea that these heroes made a mistake but that’s *always* been the difference between Marvel and DC. Spider-Man let the burglar get away, Reed Richards’ rushed work led to his friends getting dosed with cosmic radiation, the Avengers didn’t care to follow up on their doubts about the situation… if Hawkeye was mind-raped, too, the effects of Marcus Immortus would have faded when it faded for Carol. The Avengers, like Spider-Man, grew up a little that day because they let the bad guy get away thinking it was no longer their concern.

Nice comment, Matty.

I don’t think it should be seen as Claremont denouncing the Avengers, but as Claremont denouncing absurd sexism by comic book writers. It IS a meta-message, and that is why Brian chose it for his column. It may be heavy-handed, but like they say in TV Tropes, some anvils need to be dropped.

I don’t think Claremont is denouncing the Avengers but rather just using them as stand-ins to denounce the sexist powers-that-be. However, while I think it came from a good place, I just think that while he made up for one mistake, the unfair sexist treatment of Ms. Marvel, he doubled down on another mistake, which is an unfair sexist stereotype of men as chauvinist, insensitive rape enablers with no empathy to female issues.

To me the Avengers #200 is not just problematic for what it says about women but also for what it says about men.

For example, I’m not saying this is the best idea, just a possibility based on what I came up with after just a few minutes of pondering: What if someone wrote a follow-up story had another superhero visit Avengers mansion and the subject comes up about where Carol is, and the remaining Avengers calmly discuss what occurred like it was the most normal thing ever. The visitor realizes that this makes no sense and is disturbed by the fact the Avengers can even remotely rationalize this without being the least bit bothered. From this they realize, maybe with help from Reed Richard or Dr. Strange, that the Avengers were being influenced by a third party, maybe some alien race, maybe a master villain, or maybe by Marcus himself. This mind controlling source, whether you decided for it to be Marcus or decided for it to be a third party, may have been doing what they were doing with the belief it was for the greater good, that they were sending Ms. Marvel off to save the world, and that influencing the Avengers and Ms. Marvel was harmless, and the ends justified the means. The visitor breaks the mind control, and the Avengers, once coming to their sense, are immediately horrified and try to save her.

You could have easily had this mind-controller, either Marcus or the third party group of your choice, be the stand in for Michelinie and Shooter rather than make the Avengers into the stand-in, and still been able to deliver your meta message reaming them out.

Oops, answered my own question – I should have read Carol Strickland’s piece first:

“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.”

I must admit, while still in questionable taste, I like this idea better, just for the fact that the Avengers could actually beat the stuffing out of the bad guy, rather than taking his side.

I also gotta say, though Brian already said it, but almost as bad as the Avengers letting the rapist take Carol, is how they can treat an supernatural pregnancy as anything but a horror event. I believe Neil Gaiman said it once, how some writers can go so wrong when dealing with women, aren’t they close to any real woman, they must have mothers, at the least.

I mean, the only people to welcome a supernatural pregnancy would be religious fanatics, and perhaps not even them.

Very true Rene. That I 100% agree with.

Which seems to suggest that the Avengers were not themselves, perhaps being influenced by an outside force.

If the story was important enough to be addressed to redeem Ms.Marvel, then it was important enough to fix what happened to the Avengers,

I mean sorry Matty, but that was a better solution. I got the meta message fine, It was a stupid message that took liberties with characters I love.

It’s just nerd obsession that worries about every single story “counting” and stories with characters acting strangely as “ruining” the heroes. Even when I was a Marvel Zombie and very proud of how inter-connected Marvel was, I knew better than to hold one aberrant story as an example of how Iron Man or Thor act. Even as a teen I knew that writers sometimes write crap, they inject personal bias, etc.

While this is true, it’s also true that sometimes, if it’s major or notable enough, a single moment of characterization choices can take on a life of it’s own. Take for example Tony Stark as a drunk or Hank Pym as a wife abuser

Since this thread’s still going, I’ll just disagree with some of the comments that Claremont made the Avengers look like fools the entire issue. Rogue and the Brotherhood stomped their heads for most of the issue, but then they rallied and defeated them through some pretty cool teamwork, which is pretty classic superheroics. That’s actually how I’ll always remember this issue first and foremost.

Of course, the last scene did make the team look bad. I was 8 when I read this fresh off the racks, and while I didn’t quite grasp the Marcus plotline (I had read #199 and #201, but missed that issue) I still picked up on the guy who normally writes the X-Men doing a number on this other team…

I don’t feel as passionate or outraged as most of the folks posting here. I don’t really feel like this story should be wiped from existence (#200 or this annual) as it’s an interesting look at flawed humans writing really flawed superhumans, carelessly, deliberately or otherwise.

Responding to Matty Macomber’s comment, of course “Marvel messed up with its casual sexism “, nobody is arguing that. What so many people here have said is that this isn’t the only way they messed up. Issue 200 is just so shoddily written, the behavior of the Avengers is just not recognizable as belonging to these characters. The flaws they possess here really can’t be compared to the classic Spider-Man and Reed Richards screw ups you allude to (or Doc Strange, Ben Grimm, etc., etc.). There’s just a whole lot of overthinking in these comments–there’s just no friggin’ way the Wasp and Beast see a suddenly super-pregnant Carol Danvers and get excited about it without any concern. It’s just so, so, so stupid. So there’s no room for the Avengers “growing up”, because the Avengers presented in #200 are written so far out of character that it becomes one of those issues that should just be swept away and ignored.

@ Rene

I think the issue here is somewhat akin to the controversey over the song “Baby it’s cold outside” where persons will seize upon single aspect of a larger story and not only suggest an aspect of the story that isn’t necessarily at play, but likewise suggest that the writer’s intention was to convey the controversial idea by the single story point that in the larger context might not have meant what the reader assumes.

You also have the ebon Kettle problem, where Claremont is calling out a writter for things he himself is associated with (far more explicitly) in the Dark Phoenix saga. Personally, I was always a bit more disturbed by Dark Phoenix given that it has at it’s core, a boddice ripper fantasy, where initial resistence is really just forplay. Sure Jean gets “revenge” at the end, but the idea that having an “I Spit on Your Grave” moment negates the sexual fantasy that got you to that revenge scene is highly questionable.

Essentially, I would argue that the writers of Avengers 200 did not have as their goal the rape of Ms. Marvel or the destruction of a feminist symbol. The response to that tends to be that, the intention isn’t important and really that something wasn’t obvious to the writers that is obvious to the reader is just evidence of the pervassivness of the sexism. While I can see that point, I’m just not sure that Claremont’s response in anyway solves the problem. Certainly it gives release to the fans who had been shouting at Avengers 200 for it’s pathetic story and trite resolution, but aside from that visceral release, does it really grow or strengthen the character?

In my opinion the answer is no, that it reallly weakens the character and creates this gigantic issue that has to be ignored to make the character’s interactions with these people make any sense in the future. Essentially, with Claremont’s response writers going forward now have to have Carol hang out and be friends with those people she just accused of beign facilitators of her Rape.

Now in truth, this is a problem for other writers, and really, the better argument is that the current and past writers of Carol should have addressed the issue that Claremont raised in her interactions, especially with the three who sent her off with Marcus, but then, they would either be accused of undoing Claremont’s story, or possibly worse, making the Rape the defining aspect of Carol’s character.

What Clarmont’s story does is make Carol harder to write for everyone who comes after him, and I think that is a very poor thing to do as a comic writer. He could have written a more nuanced and complex exploration of the event but he didn’t, instead going for the moment of fan rage. While he likely felt that other writers could explore the more complex questions of reintegrating Carol in the larger MU after this event, again I think a comic writer has some obligation to make the next guys job in the story go round easier not harder.

@ T.

While this is true, it’s also true that sometimes, if it’s major or notable enough, a single moment of characterization choices can take on a life of it’s own. Take for example Tony Stark as a drunk or Hank Pym as a wife abuser.

Honestly, stuff like that is one of the virtues of strict continuity for me.

Real people are not 100% consistent. We all have bad days, or respond badly to situations, or have weird quirks. Writers building on the work of the last person (even if the last person got it “wrong”) creates that illusion in comic book superheroes.

Ordinarily, there is no way Hawkeye lets Marcus take Ms. Marvel back to limbo. The guy is a skeptic to the core, but in that moment he is maybe a little bit embarrassed about blowing up the machine for the wrong reasons. Maybe that embarrassment holds him back just enough.

Thor is Norse God and nobleman. His ideas about rape and romantic love could easily be very retrograde. Anyway, dimension hopping is not a super big thing for him.

Who knows, maybe Iron Man knocked back a couple before battling Marcus. His perceptions of things might have a little bit blurry.

However you slice it, The Avengers collectively messed up pretty badly. But, the virtue of Marvel was always that their heroes could make a hash of things. I like that Claremont gave Ms. Marvel a chance to call them out, but I don’t think it is a story that needs to be retconned away.

@ Carol A. Strickland

That Power Girl story is pretty bad. It is a shame, since Justice League: Europe had previously been a really nice home for her.

Breaking Peege free from the Superman Family and Earth-Two seemed like it could have been great. She really is strong enough to stand on her own. Gerry Conway and Wally Wood put a bunch of pieces together that added up to more than “Earth-Two Supergirl”. There are parallels between the sinking of Atlantis and the destruction of Krypton.

So far, so good.

However, the dynamic between Peege and Arion was super-creepy almost from the start. It built to that horrible pregnancy story. By that point, you kinda knew that DC was going to walk back the whole post-COIE version of the character.

Who knows, maybe Iron Man knocked back a couple before battling Marcus.

Given “strict continuity” and all that, no he wouldn’t have. The story takes place during Tony’s sober period between his first “recovery” from alcoholism in Iron Man #128 and his relapse some time later in Iron Man #166-82. My take on the matter is more that Tony, the MU’s playboy of the western world, has some mental/emotional habits left over from a lifestyle where it’s normal when two folks don’t always wake up remembering last night.

As to resolution, Claremont seems to think that making the Avengers aware and having them decide to be more intelligent and sensible about such stuff int he future *is* the resolution. They’ve learned a bitter lesson, but they’ve at least learned it, so they’ll presumably make sure something like Avengers #200 won’t happen again. This is also Claremont’s message to writers and editors, of course; just as the Marvel Comics of the period could’t unpublish the story, the Avengers can’t go back and undo their mistake. All that can be done is to wise up and go forward with a better understanding of what to do next time.

If Amazing Fantasy #15 doesn’t taint spider-Man as unheroic forevermore, then this doesn’t forever destroy the Avengers. Peter Parker will have to remember his Uncle Ben whenever he has to make a moral decision in the future, and the Avengers and their creative teams will have to bear in mind the implications of some of their adventures/plots.

I will add that I think the way Bendis drags the story back up as a rather grim joke isn’t my favorite creative move in the world, either.

Good gravy, Omar, I was thinking the same thing about that Bendis page. Was that really played for laughs?

FredII –

Claremont’s pet fantasies were quite different. Again and again he wrote about repressed women being seduced into being bad girls and becoming these sexually aggressive dominatrixes. He did it with Jean Grey, Storm, Psylocke, Madelyne Pryor. It was a very 1980s kind of thing, IMO.

It’s quite different from the stay-in-the-kitchen male fantasy of Avengers #200, it’s almost the opposite, in fact. Here we have a already powerful woman that is raped, impregnated, and then goes off to never-never-land with the rapist (who is also her son!) in a supposed happy ending.

I think in both instances we have writers that are afraid of female sexuality. But with Claremont we have a guy that finds it sexy when a woman explores her “wild side”. It’s absent also the patriarchal thing. He has had women seduced/corrupted by females, like Selene.

Shooter/Michelinie’s story is deeply conservative in the worst’s meaning of the word. Claremont’s stories were more like reactions to conservative sexual politics.

There is a difference between someone having a lapse in judgment, like Peter letting the burglar run by. Or Reed taking a calculated risk in taking the rocket into space and men as smart as Tony Stark and Hank McCoy not noticing a unnatural pregnancy.

I think some people wanted a lecture about feminism and to hell with characterization and logic.

I love Chris Claremont, but this and the Doom/Arcade* story were not high points for him.

*I’m glad Byrne explained that Doom away as a Doombot. No way that Arcade would have lived after striking a match on Doom’s armor.

Tony and Hank noticed the unnatural pregnancy. The disconnect is in how the Avengers could be unfazed by it, or even thrilled with it.

A lecture on “feminism” wasn’t wanted, but it was needed, unfortunately. Considering the sorts of things that still go on in comics, I think it is still needed.

To me being unfazed is the same as going unnoticed. Ms.Marvel being out of character had already been explained. What was needed was fixing what happened to the Avengers.

Or the whole thing could have been ignored. But saying that they needed to address what happened to Ms.Marvel but not explain the Avengers being so badly written is some bullplop.

Now in fairness to Claremont, Carol ended up becoming Binary and joining the Starjammers. So obviously he never considered she would end up being a featured character in Avengers again.

So a man as smart as Reed Richards messing up the radiation shielding and turning his friend into a monster is a mere lapse in judgement, but this isn’t?

We’d better fix that so that Reed was mind-controlled when he did that. Possibly by Rama-Tut.

No Reed knew good and well that was dangerous. But his funding had been cut and he took a calculated risk.

Your reading comprehension cannot be that bad.

I can see both sides of this argument (it’s my curse, eternally the mediator), and I think there’s a good reason why we’ll never decide it. Yes, obviously your opinions on writer feuds, gender politics, and mind control in comics all come into play. But all of those are issues in which you could actually argue yourself to be “right” as opposed to “wrong”, morally or whatever.

There are two other issues tied up in this that will throw a wrench into the works no matter how long we discuss it, because they are strictly matters of simple opinion with no right or wrong. 1. Do you believe retcons should be used to “correct” writing decisions that may be detrimental going forward, or that they should be left as canon and have to be dealt with in the fiction? 2. Are the images we have in our heads of our heroes important enough that their preservation is more important than continuity?

Those two could be argued until the heat-death of the universe and we’d never get anywhere. By no means am I saying to stop the discussion (because this is a really interesting discussion), I just don’t think anyone’s gonna convince anyone to change their mind.

No Reed knew good and well that was dangerous. But his funding had been cut and he took a calculated risk.

Your reading comprehension cannot be that bad.

His “calculated risk” was bringing his untrained girlfriend and her similarly untrained teenaged brother on a dangerous space mission? Come on, Omar’s comment was completely on point. And throwing in rude retorts like the reader comprehension stuff does not serve you well.

How was it on point? Really, it was explained in the story why they were there. It was certainly explained better than the Avengers being collectively stupid. Comparing the two is being intentionally obtuse.

In fact it was acknowledged in the issue that bringing them was a bad idea. Which is more than Avengers #200 or the annual did.

His point was that sometimes heroes screw up big time but we don’t dwell on it. Reed screwed up big time by bringing along his untrained girlfriend and her teenaged brother on a dangerous space mission. It was years before he ever even conceded that that was not a good idea, since the original writer didn’t seem to care that it was a bad idea (same with Avengers #200). All of Reed’s early guilt was squarely about turning his best friend into a monster, not about endangering his untrained girlfriend and her equally (if not more so) untrained teen brother. It took later writers to make that connection.

We’re still able to follow Reed’s adventures without dwelling on it or retconning that original story.

Looks like I wasn’t the only one who thought, “Maybe Marcus was using his ‘persuasion machines’ on the Avengers as well?”

Plus, you have to realize that after Mantis married an alien plant possessing the body of her dead boyfriend, Wanda married a robot, and Wasp married Hank while he was under the delusion that he was someone else, then Carol running off with someone she recently gave birth to wasn’t going to seem that unusual.

The problem is someone felt the need to build a story around Avengers #200. If it had been left in the past, then there is no need to explain it. But when a writer decides to build a story around it and does not explain the problems with how the characters were portrayed, so he can deliver a big rant. Then that is dirty pool and bad writing.

Daniel Gimenez

March 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm

It is really stretching things to compare Reed Richards stupidity in the very first issue of the Marvel Age to unexplainable out-of-character behavior in issue friggin’ 200 of The Avangers. Do we not all automatically cut first issues slack that we shouldn’t have to be expected to do when characters have been around for decades?

There is no way that a smart guy, like Hank McCoy, would ever make a scientific mistake. There is no chance that he would use an experimental serum on himself without having an antidote.

Oh wait …. http://marvel.wikia.com/Amazing_Adventures_Vol_2_11

Maybe he was under the influence of mid control in that one, too.

Again that was extenuating circumstances,. He did something he KNEW was risky. Its not like he just drank that formula for fun. He was keeping it out of the hands of the bad guys. You are being intentionally obtuse. Which is me trying to give you a tiny bit of credit.

But tell you what, explain to me why Hank did not notice something very wrong with Carol being pregnant.

Also Mind Control was a big part of that Avengers story. It was not something people are just making up. The whole case for Ms.Marvel being raped is Marcus was using a form of mind control.

Victator, your points would probably be better received if you didn’t insult people (calling them obtuse, suggesting they can’t read). Or, to put it another way: you’re taking this too personally.

Mind control is a possible explanation for what happened in 200, but it wasn’t the explanation that became canon. I prefer what Claremont did because it was more dramatic; it put the characters in a position where they had to confront their biases (and in the 1970s/1980s, this was not at all an unlikely bias) and resolve to be better.

People behave in inconsistent ways — and in ways that don’t always honor the values they claim to hold. Iron Man, Hawkeye and Thor don’t have to be considered completely boorish males to have behaved boorishly or insensitively. Reed Richards should have known better than to take a calculated risk with his college buddy/pilot of choice, girlfriend and teenage third wheel. Hank McCoy should have found a better way to hide the serum from the bad guys than in his stomach. But they made mistakes and now have to deal with them. This makes them, and the Avengers, more well rounded characters.

It seems to me that you want to preserve the Avengers’ heroism, to find some possible other explanation that not only retcons what happened but *excuses* the Avengers for their inaction. That’s fine; I can understand why you would want that. But other people have equally valid reasons for preferring Claremont’s approach.

I want the Avengers not to be total idiots.

The idea that Immortus machines were influencing them makes more sense than a group of intelligent people acting like morons.

I disagree that they were acting like total idiots. Intelligent, well meaning people can also be insensitive on some issues.

We’re still able to follow Reed’s adventures without dwelling on it or retconning that original story.

To be fair, it was an early 60s comic aimed to be disposable entertainment aimed at preteens, from a superhero line no one was sure would last a year, much less 50 years. So there is a much lesser expectation of nuance and thought of deeper issues like that. AIso, that story takes place before Reed was a hero, which is also excusable. It’s like Peter Parker letting the burglar go. Him doing it in Amazing Fantasy #15 is much different than him doing it decades later.

I think the main problem with Annual 10 is that instead of explaining why geniuses like Henry Pym, Tony Stark and Hank McCoy acted like the cast of Honey Boo Boo, Claremont instead used it as an opportunity to swipe punches at Jim Shooter. His story was basically, “That story was stupid, the Avengers are stupid, and my bosses are stupid! SO NYAH!”. I could have pulled a better explanation out of my ass, like this: “THEY WERE ALL SKRULL IMPOSTERS!” Hey, if it worked for Wasp and Mockingbird….

At the very least, when DC pulled similar crap with Power Girl, they had the sense to realize that it was a poisonous fruit better left to wither on the vine than try to explain or retcon it. Some goes for stupidity like “Diet sodas are making me a total bitch!” or “Natural products can hurt me now, so cotton is the fabric of my death!”

To be fair, it was an early 60s comic aimed to be disposable entertainment aimed at preteens, from a superhero line no one was sure would last a year, much less 50 years. So there is a much lesser expectation of nuance and thought of deeper issues like that. AIso, that story takes place before Reed was a hero, which is also excusable. It’s like Peter Parker letting the burglar go. Him doing it in Amazing Fantasy #15 is much different than him doing it decades later.

Being completely fair, the complaint is specifically about not be able to get past the Avengers being “total idiots” in #200. When Reed acted like an idiot doesn’t matter, nor does the original intent of the writer. Reed Richards, one of the smartest guys on Marvel’s Earth, is on record, in canon, as acting like a total idiot. And no one has bothered to retcon it, because no one judges Reed Richards on that one really dumb mistake. In a world where every character has had something like 50 different writers (at least), we can’t ever really judge characters on one or two mistakes at the hands of earlier writers. It’s the same reason people don’t freak out over Peter Parker’s history of domestic abuse.

Daniel Gimenez

March 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm

To Brian’s last comment, you’re exactly right. All people don’t freak out over such ridiculously stupid stuff because we know that these are just examples of the characters being poorly written, which is often the case with such long histories. So here it’s Claremont that,in a way, overreacts. Readers of discerning tastes are like, “Dude, come on, no need to ream out the Avengers, those were just some other characters from a shitty story. Maybe explain *why* they were such buffoonish dicks, don’t just leave it at the ‘they’re insensitive pricks’ stage it’s at.Oh, ok, you left it at that. Well, alright, it was a neat little issue, has great art in it, that’s for sure, and you had your fun. Those alternate-Avengers got what was coming to them. Now let us never speak of this again.”
And T’s point is an excellent one, of course *when* Reed acted like an idiot matters, it was his first appearance. There isn’t anything wrong with expecting character consistency…once these characters have been clearly defined.


A fair point with regard to the differnce in the fantasies, I’m just not convinced that one is in anyway better than the other. In both cases the female character is made more object than character, and I would argue, as retro as the Avengers 200 fantasy is, at its core is a choice made by the Character, rather than a “secret desire” revealed to the character.

In essence, in the story we have in 200, Carol comes to an arguably autonomous decision (if we are assuming that the machines of imortus are no longer influencning her or anyone else) to return to Limbo, not necesarily because she has found romantic love with “Prince Charming” but because she is making a difficult choice about her responsibilities with regard to this being that she does feel some maternal obligation to. While we may not like her decision, we are presented with the idea that she is making the decision absent of other influences. In Dark Phoenix, the idea is that, the female character needs another character to show them how much they like losing control. We genreally are more accepting of the boddice ripper expressly because the writer shows it in the light of a positive sexual awakening, but in the end, it is the writer who chooses to show it in that light, and whether the woman becomes a sex pot like Jean or a Domesticated wife (like Scarlett O’Hara after Rhett Butler takes her upstairs kicking and screaming) it is a male sexual fantasy tied to rape that we are observing.

If we want to read deeper meaning into Avengers 200 (something I’m not convinced the writers intended) then the story is of a woman who a) accepts the situation she is in despite misgivings and anger about it (we actually get the rage at her friends weird behavior in the original story, just not blame of them) and b) a woman who after going through this insane story makes a choice to explore the path she is on rather than reject it. While the story is not in any way pleseant it has a through line of logic that you can put into context. We even see, all be it just a few panels that Ironman does raise an objection to the idea, before the three avengers in attendence agree that it is her decision, and hope that it works out for her.

Essentially, the scenes depicted are this. Carol is pregnant, and the Avengers act really stupid, and get yelled at by Carol for acting stupid. Then after the child is born, she accepts that she has a responsibility to that child. ThIs is retro, I suppose, but not an unrealistic response to the situation that someone finds themselves in. When we have the final reveal, it is amid a great deal of chaos, and the decision to return isn’t couched necessarily in the realm of romantic love, but of famlial obligation. Her freinds question the decision, but she makes a concerted effort to say this was something she needs to sort out. It really doesn’t look in anyway like a prince charming fantasy to me (especially given the oedipal nature of it all) and it certainly does fall into the “female superheroes being exploited for story purposes” category (so to does Dark Phoenix of course) but it has an internal logic that does make some sense given the chaotic situation that the characters find themselves in and in all honesty in which they live.

In essence, the issue in Clarmont’s revisitng of the event is that he suggests that Carol is still under the influence of the machines when she makes the decision to return with Marcus, and really it is his story that suggests that the Avengers treated it as her going off with her prince charming (their agreement to let her go is with some trepedation but trusting the rationality of their friend in the original story). Avengers 197 through 200 is just a bad story from start to finish, when Claremont addresses it however, he does so in a way that expresses fan rage, but doesn’t really solve any of the problems of the story, and makes the story worse than it originally was, and in doing so ignores the established narrative that was in the original story. Carol voices her anger at Janet in the original story before coming to terms with her situation and obligation (at that point as far as she knows it is her biological child), so at that point clearly she wasn’t under the influence of said machines.

In the end, my persepective would be that, the arc culminating in Avengers 200 was a bad story only made worse by Claremont’s response to it. In my opinion as I’ve gone through these stories, it seems less that Claremont was mad that another female character was exploited in this way, as he was upset that a character he liked had it done to her. While it’s good that Carol got to defend her status in the MU, and return to the mainstream (which leads to her current fantastic series) the way inwhich it was done just seems to be at the expense of other characters, which is a fairly cheap way to do it, in my opinion.

There isn’t anything wrong with expecting character consistency…once these characters have been clearly defined.

Yes there is. It is the problem with the complaint as a whole. You’re adding in qualifiers like there is an actual standard for when it is unacceptable for a character to act like a total idiot. “I can ignore this time but not that time.” No, you can ignore them all if you want to or pay attention to them all if you want to, but the stories still happened either way. Claremont could have ignored the Avengers’ idiotic behavior but he didn’t. Other writers since have. Doesn’t make him or the others wrong or right. The FF’s origin was recapped in the pages of FF for decades before any writer actually commented on the stupidity of Reed’s plan. Since then, a bunch of writers have while a bunch of writers also have not. Neither are right or wrong. Writers could have ignored Hank Pym’s domestic abuse like they have Peter Parker’s, but they haven’t. There’s no standard to it and expecting there to be one is unreasonable.

I think Brian has done a good job of explaining the point, but I’d also like to add that characterization can be consistent but also troublesome — that is, characters may not behave in ways we like or might even regress in behavior but that still might be consistent with their overall profiles.

I don’t think it’s particularly fair to compare Reed’s decision to take Sue and Johnny with him into space, with the Avengers reacting so obtuse with regard to Ms. Marvel.

When Reed made this mistake, it was an necessary mistake for the story that Stank Lee and Jack Kirby wanted to tell, and it’s something that informed the charcter going forward. Reed dwelling on the arrogance that lead to his friend and family being robbed of their normal lives, is not only a defining aspect of who Reed is, and arguably why he’s perhaps a little more cautious in the release and use of his tech than say Tony Stark (who is currently sort of the Steve Jobs of Marvel, with teen titles going on about Stark Phones and Strak Pads). Additionally, poor choices were something that did inform some of Reeds early appearances as well (this is the guy who hypnotized Skrulls to beleive they were cows). And that these lapses of judgement have become a part of Reed. Lapses of Judgement of course are not uncommon among people like Reed who become so certain for their own ideas that they overlook obvious mistakes. In a much less dramatic turn on this Idea, Stephen Hawkings was convinced that the big crunch would result in the backward flow of time, which the math on the subject did not pan out, and made him look a little foolish for overlooking the obvious reasons why it would not.

In Reeds case these early bouts with over confidence (My Rocket is Perfectly Designed, why not take my girlfriend and her kid brother for a jaunt around the moon, while I strike a blow against the commies in the space race) informed his later cautiousness. It’s hard to say anything about Avengers 200 or Annual 10 informed any of the characters at play.

It’s not really a criticism of the argument as a whole, just that Reed is not really a good example since this issue has been and is revisited regularly, and is not necessarily out of character for him.

One thing to consider with regard to the the controversey of both the original story, and the response, is that while we can all ignore poorly written stories, they still exist, and you never know when another writer is going to dredge the story up. Because as readers we aren’t in control of the characters continuity, these stories sit out there like time bombs, waiting for another writer to come along and say, “Hey remember that time Hawkeye was totally o.k. with Mind control rape? Let’s explore that idea more with him.”

Essentially, all bad stories are a problem for fans because at best they are ignored, and if they are ignored, than any piece of continuity can be ignored, which is problematic in its own right. And at worst, the issue is highlighted and woven further into the characters back story and stories going forward (this is essentially what has happened with Hank Pym). The differnece between what was done with Hank Pym and what was done in Annual 10 and Carol there after is that Hank’s mental issues were really fully integrated into him, so that you wind up with a far more nuanced understanding of how he could be both an abuser and hero.

Because the issues in Avengers 200 aren’t much addressed anywhere except Annual 10, the issues aren’t explored further. As such, there is no path for redemption for anyone in it. If you think Ironman was being a jerk, you never get to see how he overcomes that, if you think Carol was being too harsh you never get to see how she dealt with these emotions to come around to be freinds and team mates witht he Avengers again.

Those are both interesting stories, but we don’t get either of them in Annual 10, and haven’t really got them since. As such that time bomb is still out there, and it is worisome to readers who do like the characters. Really the last thing I want is for this all to come up agian in some PTSD story line in Captain Marvel (but then again, that could be amazing if well done) primarily because the character has suffered enough, Likewise I don’t want this to become an issue for Hawkeye and Spiderwoman in any of the books they are in and have it become something that dredges up and idea, that logically should have been dredged up at the start of their dating. But at the same time it’s out there, waiting, and it’s a little disapointing that so far, when given a chance to address it well, we weren’t given that.

You never know if the writer who takes on the continutity bombs that are out there will be great writers or hacks, and if the bomb is being used to expand the character or for a cheap story device. That is the reason these kinds of stories irk so many fans, it is less the resolution provided then the not knowing how that resolution will come. If there was more of a resolution to Calremont’s story here, either with the Avengers coming to terms with their failure and Carol accepting their failure, or something else, then the story wold not be so problematic for people. Because it dredges up and codifies a particularly bad story without much development after reopenign the wound, the response is worse in some peoples minds than the original story.

Well actually its a thing called context. In the context of Fantastic Four #1, there was an explanation for why Reed allowed Sue and Johnny to go up in the rocket.

He was on a very tight schedule and did not have time to stop Sue and Johnny from tagging along. If you want to get very specific, it was Sue and Johnny who insisted on joining Reed and Ben.

Anytime the origin has been revisited, it was explained why those two were on the trip.

When Avengers #200 was revisited, there was zero effort made to explain why people were so out of character. Because if that effort had been made, Ms.Marvel could not have delivered her lecture.

It is not unreasonable to expect characters to be written correctly.

Now you can have someone written out of character as a story point. But again you explain why they are acting the way they are.

Also Peter Parker has no history of domestic abuse. He was in the middle of fighting his super powered clone and Mary Jane was caught in the crossfire. To call that domestic abuse, is frankly insulting.

I’d argue that the last panel of Carol in this story *is* Carol accepting the Avengers’ failure, as are some of her final lines: “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.”

And indeed, in the final panels, we see that the Avengers *have* learned, The final dialogue in the story, the note on which we leave the Avengers, is “Both we and Carol have been granted a second chance. let us use it well.” They’ve learned from their mistakes and are resolved to do better next time something like this comes up.

Y’see, there’s a reason I used Amazing Fantasy #15 as my point of comparison, but I feel part of my point was lost on some of the responses (mine and others’). Marvel comics characters were initially distinctive because they can make serious, irreversible mistakes from which they learn. That’s a benefit of having some degree of continuity — characters don’t forget and can even develop from important experiences — and part of the whole “recognizably flawed” shtick.

Part of the problem here is also that the Shooter/Michelinie Avengers had a bad track record ont his sort of stuff. Not long before #200, issues #183-4 had an Absorbing Man story where the villain decides to leave New York and knock over some “piddly banana republic” country so he can do whatever he wants and stop fighting superheroes all the time, but he decides to take a pretty female sales clerk with him for “companionship.” Naturally, the Avengers show up and beat him, and he basically commits pseudo-suicide in despair at being beaten yet again…

And then the Avengers *and even his would-be rape victim* muse about how bad they feel about Creel and *the sales clerk/kidnapping victim* openly asks, int he story’s final lines, why the heroes couldn’t have let him get away this time! Lest you think this is anachronistic PC scolding, some readers at the time noticed the hideous implications. The letters page referring to the final part of the story included a missive from a reader pointing out all the creepy implications. As that letter writer points out, not only is the sales clerk suggesting she was fine being kidnapped for what amounted to sexual slavery, but also there’s no concern fromany character about whatever country Creel might have headed off to. Even assuming she meant “let him go after you saved me,” the whole thing is a pretty clueless and inadvertently revealing attempt by the writers to play the “alas, poor villain” routine.

But by the time we saw that letters column, Hawkeye (under the same writing/editorial team) had decided the hilariously fitting way to finish his battle with Deathbird — another claremont creation from Ms. Marvel’s book, oddly enough — was to forcibly smooch her on the lips as the police dragged her away. Not long after we got this little gem in Avengers #200. Still later, Jim Shooter would give us Moondragon going full supervillain and, off-panel but very clearly using her mind powers essentially to rape Thor. (That is treated like a serious thing, and Thor hauls her off for Odin to punish her. And he does, limiting her powers with a magical headband and making her join the New Defenders, surely a fate worse than death.) The sexual politics of that era of the comic, as good as most of it was, are deeply problematic, and not just at several decades’ distance. As I noted, letter writers of the time noticed and called the writers out.

The problem, then, is that what some folks are demanding in terms of “more of a resolution” probably shouldn’t have happened and won’t happen for some very good reasons. If we absolve the Avengers with mind control, not only do we weaken the basic Marvel pattern of flawed heroes who learn from their mistakes, we trivialize the whole mess. If we write off carol’s departure in the initial story as “maternal,” we have the creepy issue of the baby mind-controlling and boning “mom” to conceive himself, and mom and “un-son” both clearly talking in terms of romantic, not maternal relations at the story’s end. Even without mind control, Carol’s “journey” is disturbingly incestuous in its overtones….and there’s already an Avenger named Jocasta. If we ignore the whole story, we have to ignore several issues, some of them otherwise considered minor classics representing a healthy chunk of John Byrne’s well-regarded work on the title. And if “resolution” means we *see*the Avengers do better the next time a superheroine undergoes a sci-fi-roofie-rape-induced pregnancy, then…well, then the demand is that we have to live in a world where the phrase “sci-fi-roofie-rape-induced pregnancy” not only exists but applies to more than one Avengers story. No one wants that.

So really, the only way to address any of it was to do this — write a story pointing out the nasty implications, and have everybody (in and outside the story) realize those implications and resolve to not make the same mistakes ever again. Anything else strikes me as at best misguided and at worst complicit.

Yeah, it’s a far more healthy thing to have heroes make mistakes and learn from them than to be able to blame all their mistakes on someone else. That’s the excuse people always give when they’re determined not to learn from their mistakes: “You made me do that.” “That wasn’t be; it was the booze.” “Oh yeah, it was the Overmind making me do that. I’d say sorry, but I actually have nothing to apologize for.” I’d much rather see heroes screw up and then cop to their mistakes and ltry to do better in the future than be infallible, or see themselves as such.

The recent subplot that had Quicksilver trying to convince people that his latest burst of crazy behavior wasn’t him but a Skrull seems reflective of that kind of mentality, that heroes can’t ever do stupid things or else it must be someone else’s fault.

Nice summation, Omar.

That creative team had problems, man, did they have problems. And who can forget the story where Ultron more or less transfers the Wasp’s soul to create the aptly named Jocasta, so he can bone his “mother”? At least no one tried to paint Ultron in a good light in that story, and it was viewed as creepy both by characters and readers.

As for the Absorbing Man, I don’t think that was as bad as the Ms. Marvel situation, because it’s not uncommon for victims to develop feelings for their kidnappers. It is a coping mechanism. But yeah, I agree with your argument that it’s one more evidence of the screwed-up sexual politics.

Yes, explanations have been provided for why Reed did what he did. They’re bad reasons, though.

Why do the html codes never seem to work for me?

Well, in this case because you used square brackets instead of point ones.

And I typed “point” instead of “pointy.” Why can nothing go right?!

In my defense, though, the Puppet Master made me make that typo.

More Marvel “point one”s! Full circle!

@ Omar, very good points, I still think that Claremont is an ebon kettle in this story, but your points, especially with the preious Absorbingman story, bring home that this was something of an unfortunate pattern.

I suppose Carol does say her peice here, and there is some sense of growth from the Avengers, I suppose I would have prefered contrition from Thor or Tony or Hawkeye to make the point, rather than an appology from Scarlet Witch, whose actions in the previous story don’t seem particularly horrible, at least with what I remember of it, and what we see on panel.

I still think this whole thing is a continuity bomb that hasn’t been properly dealt with, but I can see that Claremont left options open for dealing with it. that other writers didn’t follow the path provided isn’t necessarily his fault.

I don’t necessarily think that Mind Control of the Avengers lets them off the hook in any way, anymore than a revelation that Marcus’ machines didn’t actually force Carol to do anything would negate the fact that he kidnaped her to work out his psychotic plan to be born, it just explains their very weird behavior. Given that Marcus only used his machines a “little”, we can imagine that there could still be various explainations where certain emotions where hieghtened if not fully controled, so that for example, let’s say part of Tony’s aquiesance to Carol leaving was sort a gambit to apease an angry baby god who might well destroy the time stream if he didn’t get his way. Tony is still a heel who did something very unheroic, but you come to undersrand why his behavior is out of the ordinary. His action is one he may well have taken (perhaps as part of an Illuminati back story) but you could argue that his fear was hightened by the machines, without showing that his emotions weren’t his own, but all that is just cutting the hair pretty fine.

There is still a continuity bomb here, sooner or later it will get revisited, and anything left unsaid will be used, and may well undo what both previous authors intended in their stories.

I normally found (and still find) Claremont’s stories to be preachy at times. He clearly has an agenda in his stories, but sometimes that agenda leads to great moments. “God Loves, Man Kills” is one of the best X-Men stories ever produced….it’s one of the few from that era to resonate today (too bad he ruined it with the sequel). Carol was screwed over by the writer of Avengers, so I’m okay with another writer “reaming” the Avengers for what happened. It balances out for me, in my mind.

And it’s not the last time the Avengers would %^$# up when it comes to their teammates. The sad Hank Pym downfall was yet to come.

I’m not convinced that doing away with the rape or claiming mind control would have been “supporting rapes”. In Power Man & Iron Fist 125, Priest portrayed DA Tower as a racist. Every single appearance of Tower since then has ignored this. Is that because the writers are “supporting racism”? No, it’s because the entire point of Tower’s character is to be a Reasonable Authority Figure in the DA’s office and it’s easier to get rid of the one bad story than to come up with a new character to fill Tower’s role.
As a side note, why do people think Betsy was repressed before she turned into a ninja? She had a crush on a teenager, took off her clothes on more than one occasion and posed nude for Peter.
The reason why what was done to Jean, Betsy, Maddie and Tyger Tiger was sexist because in all cases it’s the MAN turning the women into bad girls: Jean- Mastermind, Betsy- Mandarin and Matsuo, Maddie- Gateway and S’ym (okay, it’s debatable whether or not S’ym is a he or an it but he was based on Dave Sim, who’s male) , Tyger Tiger- Pretty Boy. And it’s worth noting that Gateway was involved in what was done to both Maddie and Jessan Hoan and he never had to pay for it.
It’s also worth noting that Claremont had Betsy tamper with Alex’s mind against his will to erase his memories, botch the job so that Alex lost control of his powers whenever he had nightmares and Betsy never had to pay for it, even though dozens of people could have died if Alex fell asleep on a bus or a plane.

Michael –

After Betsy becomes a ninja, she thinks many times that this is what she was meant to be, that she is finally able to cut lose, that she always craved this kind of action, etc. Yep, feels like she is finally “free” or whatever.

You also forgot Storm. Her final step in casting away her matronly goddess role and adopting the punk style was meeting the female Yukio and allowing Yukio’s wildness to “infect” her. Remember that Claremont couldn’t be as open with a female-to-female seduction, because Shooter forbid the explicit depiction of homosexual relationships.

Even so, Selene trying to seduce Magma and Rachel Summers was very clearly a lesbian seduction.

This has been an excellent conversation, even with viewpoints I might not necessarily agree with. I would love to see a convention panel with psychologists and creators debating this for an hour.

I think the point made earlier by Omar and Buttler that it is more fulfilling to have the characters commit and learn from mistakes. If all powerful people were exemplars of righteousness and perfection like DC’s trinity, that would be great. Marvel’s theme seems to connect with the readership on the basis of- even Spiderman screws up, but he turned that tragedy into a positive experience for the community. It should rightly inspire children to rise above themselves and turn misfortune into education and development.

To that end, Claremont issued a hit on the Avengers as an entity, and perhaps his tone was inaccurately accusatory and combative to those not present at the Issue #200 exchange. That all said, between panels and issues, why did not of those Avengers question Tony, Thor, and Clint? I could imagine that alienated Carol even more, than if one of the other had raised an alarm over the acquiescence of the 3 men. He closed the book with the idea of moving on from the incident with new awareness and dedication. It was too late for Carol, but it need not happen again.

I would like to add that using the excuse of the 3 Avengers just following the suggestions Marcus could have planted with “a subtle boost” weakens them. The Avengers are less potent, and less reliable if you can’t expect a level of control. Magneto for his faults, still protected himself from the mental intrusion of his best friend or others like Charles. You could trust that the man speaking before you was presenting his true thoughts.

I suppose even Erik could be caught with his helmet off, but I’m confident that he would have the awareness to understand what was being said- whereas the Avengers glossed right over the “subtle boost” interjection.

It seems unprofessional to me, and a little out of character, but I do like Claremont confronting it, making the Avengers realize their failure, own it, and prevent it in the future. To compound unprofessional actions with a lack of responsibility gives the characters, and the writer, license to do this again.

Rene, including lesbian seductions isn’t enough to excuse a work of charges of sexism. If that was the case, then much porn would be non-sexist.
I didn’t forget Ororo- she made her own choices, and was moving towards being ruthless before she met Yukio. She found Dracula (a rapist!) noble and attractive and stabbed Callisto through the heart. In contrast, all the examples I mentioned were turned into dominatrixes through the actions of men.
There’s a difference between portraying female ruthlessness as a positive (which Claremont was definitely guilty of on occasion) and turning female characters into dominatrixes through mind control.
And considering that Selene was previously trying to seduce Cain Marko, her actions towards Rachel and Magma were another trope:

Even without the climax to that story, it had some sexist overtones. Right before the pregnancy, Carol dresses Wanda down for thinking of quitting the Avengers with the Vision, then she gets pregnant. It struck me as very much “uppity feminist learns home and motherhood is what really matters.”
Hank McCoy did have an antidote, but he misjudged his treatment and took it too late. By the standards of comic-book science, that seems pretty normal.

More to the point, the fact that Claremont’s writing has issues of its own (and they eventually took over his work entirely, at least last I’d seen) doesn’t mean that his critique here is any less effective or on-point. It’s often easier to see problems in the work of others than in one’s own, after all.

Come to think of it, have any writers done any *good* work taking on the “nonconsensual domination/body-modification unleashes the real you” aspects of Claremont’s more problematic work? (Well, certain aspects of our own Neil Kapit’s Ruby’s World and Ruby Nation webcomics can be read in that light, though there’s infinitely more original and interesting stuff to look for there. ) The material seems ripe for a critical rewrite.

Michael –

My point was that in Claremont’s writing, I don’t get the impression that the dominator-dominated relation that he likes so much is very gendered. When I read Claremont, I don’t get the vibe that a woman’s role is to be dominated, and a man’s role is to dominate. I get the vibe that every superhero is fair game for every supervillain, and the genders are irrelevant. Even if you are a male in a Claremont’s story, you’re likely to end up in a leather costume with spiked collar with some villain holding the leash.

With Shooter, I get a very sexist vibe. In fact, I find it strange if you’re unable to get this vibe just from reading the panels above.

I’ve always wanted to see a story (and someday I may write it) where the effect of turning evil is that you immediately become an ice maiden (or ice guy): Sex just makes you feel to warm and affection and draws you the light side, so better to avoid it like hell.

Fraser -

Good idea.

The meme that “evil is sexy” is the logical consequence of “sex is evil”. Dark Phoenix was such a fascinating idea at the time because it fit with the turn to conservatism in the dawn of the 1980s. Also, it was not a surprise that Dracula was created in Victorian England as the ultimate villain, but when the more liberal 1990s arrived, he was almost a romantic hero in Coppola’s movie.

Personally, I think sex is morally neutral. But I’d like to see more stories portraying sex as a positive force, just because we have too many of the other kind. The whole horror genre pratically runs on “sex is evil”.

Rene, I don’t think that evil stopped being sexy in modern society. I think that evil is still sexy, but the difference now is that evil is considered cool and almost heroic.

the whole incubus concept is creepy…(to put if mildly)

Of course now the comics urban legends have revealed that this (like Gwen Stacey’s fling with Norman Osborn) was a hasty substitution for a nixxed storyline.
…but I wonder if there may be more to ths…maybe a too casual dismissal of date-rape…an idea that rape isn’t too bad if the rapist is good-looking and the victim unaware at the time.

I wonder how often such rapes have occurred (or could have occurred) in comic stories.
We’ve had love potions/drugs in Thor and Conan the King
Thor was mind-manipulated into sex by Moondragon (she was punished afterwards, but would she have been if she hadn’t also taken over a planet or caused the death of her father?).
Other stories were more ambiguous, were the women enthralled by the mandrill required to have sex with him or men working for him? Just what were the bedroom arrangements when Captain America was brainwashed into a suburban “married”-life with Viper?
And then there are the imposters. How often have people discovered someone they had sex with was not the person they thought but a skrull, doombot or other fake?
And then there is the possibility of “possession” and the like…the only such incident I can think of that definitely involved sex was when the Darkness made a sleeping Jackie have sex with a comatose Sara…

(and best not to talk about Kazuo Koike…)

I wrote a short story a few years ago that looked at what happened when stories of “Invasion of the Bodysnatcher” or “I Married a Monster From Outer Space” events get reported in the news. Basically everyone freaks out and double-checks everyone they know (“My girlfriend broke up with me! She wouldn’t do that if she hadn’t been … replaced.”).

[...] Claremont expressed this most beautifully when he took over writing duties for the Avengers. The Avengers Annual #10 made Carol a key player: away from Marcus and the brainwashing, she realizes that she was [...]

In The Avengers # 197 — 200, Ms . Marvel got pregnant by Marcus, and the baby somehow turned out to be his own father . In Infinity, Inc, Lyta Trevor ( Fury ) got pregnant by Hector Hall ( the Silver Scarab ), and the baby somehow turned out to be his own father . When a comic book heroine gets pregnant and the baby somehow turns out to be her boyfriend, it’s an extremely sick trope, and most comic book writers SHOULD have enough class not to go there !

[...] Meta-Messages – Chris Claremont Sticks Up for Ms. Marvel (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) [...]

I think this is one of those, “you don’t get the point” type of issues for me. Its not about whether the Avengers were written poorly by Claremont– it’s not about that. It’s about one writer using the medium of comics to call out the sexist beliefs of another writer who also used comics to espouse their sexists beliefs. Face facts, comics, especially Marvel comics, are not always “clean” of social/political issues. You can argue that the Avengers were a “casualty” of getting caught up in the middle of this topic but I think people are losing sight of the real issue. And the real issue is that a sexist writer wrote a really awful story that perpetuates sexists views of women and rape. And then you have another writer writing a story that pretty much says, “that’s wrong.”

Good on you Mr. Claremont for doing this. I don’t give a damn that the Avengers were or were not a casualty of this. Blame the writer of Avenger’s 200 for the “fall out” of the Avengers looking like boors and insensitive idiots. All Mr. Claremont did was calling out that writer– who cares if the Avengers looked bad while it was done. That’s not even important.


April 7, 2013 at 6:17 am

I was trying to remember where else I saw this story take place aside from this and Power Girl, it was in Star Trek TNG. Dianna Troi was raped or violated as I believe they said by an alien entity, a glowing light while she slept and showed discomfort. She clearly saw it as rape but wanted to keep the rapid pregnancy baby. All the crew argued about it, Worf said it should be aborted, Data said it was would be worthy of study, Riker’s first reaction was who’s the father. Well the baby who rapidly aged into a man was the father, the alien entity entered her to experience life and they had an empathic connection. He let himself die to save the ship as he was apparently causing destruction.

The situation is so similar though he seems a more nicer alien who apparently didn’t know what he did was wrong. I wonder if the idea behind this episode is inspired by Avengers 200 or if it is an older reference. Well, probably it is a Christlike reference, which the original story of this sounds like too.

Were they originally planning to write Ms. Marvel out in the storyline as well?

I find it interesting, emotionally betrayed by the Avengers here, and later emotionally betrayed by the X-Men, or Xavier specifically when he accepted Rogue, a character I love as much as Ms. Marvel, I like Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman’s friendship and enjoyed their time with the X-Men.

This is why I prefer the DC Universe. They reboot continuity so often, you can assume the stories they’re ashamed of simply never happened.

I had long thought Marvel had missed an opportunity by not retconning a mind-control excuse for the rest of the Avengers (far less than was used on Carol, just a blind spot about the rapiness), but then Poneley said something I hadn’t thought about before:

“but I think people are losing sight of the real issue. And the real issue is that a sexist writer wrote a really awful story that perpetuates sexists views of women and rape.”

Sonuvagun, Poneley is right. I’m so used to stupid creepy stories that I stopped paying attention to how messed up and commonplace they were. Did I say “were”? We’re still dealing with misogyny; just witness the “be a hero” / “I need a hero” shirt fiasco.

I mentioned the time Ms . Marvel got pregnant by Marcus, and the baby somehow turned out to be his own father, and the time Lyta Trevor ( Fury ) got pregnant by Hector Hall ( the Silver Scarab ), and the baby somehow turned out to be his own father . I didn’t realize that Deanna Troi got pregnant by an alien, and the baby somehow turned out to be his own father .

I still say this is an extremely sick idea . It shows a tremendous amount of disrespect for women . Writers should have enough class not to go there, if a writer tries to get away with it, his editor should say “No good ! Try again !” . I can’t believe that nobody at Marvel Comics realized what a travesty this story was before it was published .

When did it happen to Power Girl ? I realize that she had an affair with Aquaman after he broke up with Mera, and she got pregnant with his baby . People have hinted that there was another pregnancy where Arion was responsible .

Chunky Style — I think it’s wrong for a comic book company to reboot continuity as often as DC Comics does . If the folks at DC Comics decide a story wasn’t a good idea, they can pretend it never happened .

The Flash # 167 ( February 1967 ) revealed that the Flash gained his super — speed because of a magical imp named “Mopee” . This story wasn’t very well — received by the readers, and the folks at DC Comics “forgot” about this entire story .

Superman # 330 ( December 1978 ) revealed that Superman had been subconsciously using his super — hypnotism power to make the people of Metropolis to perceive Clark Kent as a weak skinny runt, and the Kryptonian lenses of Clark Kent’s glasses intensified the effect . A number of readers disliked this idea, and a few mentioned some stories where everybody in Metropolis knew that Clark Kent was a big strapping fellow . It was my understanding that the story in Superman # 330 was “forgotten about” .

Have you ever read the “Canon Discontinuity” page on the “Television Tropes & Idioms” website ?
( http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CanonDiscontinuity )

I’m told the original storyline had a mostly positive response. Maybe, then, there’s also a dose of pointing out to the audience that actually, this stuff is all kinds of messed up. “Hey, some guy decided to mind control me into sex and pregnancy and you all cheered for it”, basically.

Honestly, I’m not sure I believe that story could ever get a positive response, probably because I don’t want to believe people could be that messed up.

Plus, to sweep it under the carpet and act like it never happened, or retcon it all away is all very well, but I personally find it a lot more refreshing that someone acknowledged it was messed up and wrong.

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Okay so the original author’s (ridiculous) worldview is such that using mind control to seduce someone doesn’t qualify as rape as long as you are “subtle” about it. I wanna know if this is really so surprising given that he is also of the school that women are just this thing you puke some poetry and pretty clothes at and then they bear your son as is their god-given function. Like lets not ignore how fucked up the rest of his narrative is just because there’s one particularly nasty bit. He seems to believe this subtle mind control doesn’t really count, so clearly he thinks everything else going on is how romance is supposed to go. I’m pretty sure this means we’re supposed to believe Marcus was just taking his due payment for X number of romantic actions. It’s made particularly clear with the line, “finally, after relative weeks of such efforts….” that we’re supposed to be especially impressed with all this time and effort he spent getting MM to put out. What she wants doesn’t matter; she is a sex dispenser, and he has put in the requisite number of quarters. I find the implication that her own consent was never going to be a factor from the outset (except to the extent that it services her rapist’s desire to have her a certain way) whether he used mind control or not, to be just as bad as the story’s conclusion.

Honestly, to everyone who earlier was arguing that Claremont portrays the Avengers unfairly by calling back to the issue, to be honest, it’s not terribly unrealistic for anyone in this society to behave that poorly, even our heroes. I’m always surprised at how many people I believed to be decent and rational will turn around and pull exactly this kind of shit. If it weren’t for every bit of dialogue pointing to the original comic being an unironic portrayal of the author’s views, I would probably suggest that the Avengers behaving in this manner was meant to portray just that; that the negative bits of our culture can be absolutely insidious about worming their way into the hearts of even really good people because that’s the environment they grew up in.

The mind control aspect doesn’ really work when you take into account Mantis’ “wedding” and the wedding of Henry Pym and Janet VanDyne. These were two more instances of the Avengers simply accepting a marriage under totally f’d up circumstances.

Why is Carol allowed to slap the one guy on the team who is obviously mentally retarded? I understand, she got raped. But this is a whole other issue of insensitivity that needs to be addressed.

My opinion–

The idea of the Avengers being collectively brainwashed would be an excuse to act as insensitive A-Holes. While that may be acceptable to some A-Fans, I do NOT accept it. This was a wonderful and horrific event that did what marvel Comics are supposed to do, which is have mature events occur that let characters grow. While there may be an argument that Ms m was a Claremont fave, there have been PLENTY of stories like that (Hobgoblin LIVES? Anyone?). Avengers 200 was an insane climax, I knew even then that the situation was WAY out of character for Ms M. And while I knew that Ms M was not going to be around as I remembered her after AA 10, I was glad to have some closure to that insane story, with some realistic human feeling behind it—drop the mic, it is.

Here’s what I don’t understand: Claremont was upset that Ms. Marvel was treated in a misogynist way that took away her powers of free will with a rape-like act. His cure for that? Have Rogue take away her super powers in yet another rape-like act. What?!

The amount of defense the Avengers is getting for this is just sick, really really sick. I’m not saying that everyone should hate the Avengers because of what they did, but I’m sorry, they were NOT being mind controlled. (At least not by Marcus. I will say the writers certainly were making them totally and stupidly out of character.)

Let’s look at the facts, not the theories, not the “This is what I think happened or would have liked to happen,” but what actually happened.

1. Ms. Marvel was kidnapped and impregnated. Marcus tried to woo her and used his machine to make her love him and sleep with him. He says “subtle” but one way or the other it’s mind control and thus rape.

2. Ms. Marvel is clearly upset by all of this, and tells her team mates repeatedly this is freaking her out and scaring the crap out of her. This is messing with her big time, and all anyone around her does is suddenly go baby crazy around her.

3. The child is born, grows, and Ms. Marvel suddenly is sorry she got angry at the people telling her this was wonderful, and goes to see her child. She gets attracted to her… ugh, child… and through a series of events has no problem with leaving with him, to which none of the Avengers present try to stop her, nor do the other Avengers attempt to go after her when they learn the news.

Between point 2 and 3, there is clearly a lack of control on Carol Danvers. None. She is terrified, scared and confused. She doesn’t want the child, doesn’t consider it hers, and she hates that no one can sympathize with her. She is very clearly NOT being mind controlled here. If she were, there is no way she’d be upset. There is no purpose to it. Why she isn’t could be left up to whatever reason you want. Marcus doesn’t feel like it, he can’t because he’s inside her body at the moment and too weak to use the machine, whatever. Point is, he’s not controlling her despite the fact she should be the one he should obviously be controlling.

So why control the Avengers but not her? That makes absolutely no sense what so ever and it was dumb. No, the Avengers are acting the way they are and there is no sign they’re being controlled. Secondly, if they were being controlled, surely Hawkeye would not have been used to blow up the machine. Marcus wanted to escape. His whole plan revolved around getting out of Limbo. If he had control of them, why allow that? Thirdly, again if they are being controlled, than why do the characters show any doubt whatsoever in their feelings for Carol leaving. Again, Hawkeye seems fully in control of himself and doubts his actions, while Iron Man says “We have to believe it worked out for the best.”

Believe? Believe? That’s doubt there if it has ever been written. He’s not sure, and again, if he were being mind controlled into letting her leave, why is he wondering if it was all for the best or not?

Fourthly, if Marcus’ death freed Carol, the Avengers should have been freed too. They should have had an immediate reaction of “Oh god, what have we done! We have to go after her!” reaction. This is not just “oops, forgot my keys in my locker” moments of forgetting. This is “You left your fallen comrade alone and never even thought to look back!” forgetfulness. I know the Avengers have very full lives and things are complicated, but there is no way they would be collectively released from mind control and not a one of them go “Hey, I have this really bad feeling about when Carol left. Why didn’t I object to her leaving with her so called lover that wooed her by Stockholm syndrome, mind control and rape?” Even if we are to assume none of them thought of this when released from the so called mind control they might have been under, they bring Marcus up joyfully. They can’t still be under the mind control, yet they act the same as they were before.

Finally, and this is the strongest point. THERE IS NO INDICATION THEY WERE BEING MIND CONTROLLED! These are comic book writers. These are writers who give us simple stories with clear bad guys and clear good guys, at least in the beginning. They are not known for their subtle plots. The guys write about people in skin tight outfits and their underwear fighting off bank robbers and alien invasions. Don’t credit them with “Game of Thrones” subtly when they don’t deserve it. If there had been a chance of mind control, the writers would have let us know, and it would have been obvious!

We can not just sweep her ordeal over the rug, and I don’t blame the writer of the conclusion for being angry. Everyone was angry. I’ve seen people tear this comic to little pieces, literally because they hated it so much. It was not his responsibility to “fix” the horrible story of what happened with a big band-aid so there was no guilt. Did Carol go off on the Avengers? Yes. Did she say “You betrayed me and you need to fess up and learn from it?” Yes. Was the second writer talking to the first group and giving them the same message? Probably. And it was the best way to do it.

Giving the Avengers the ‘out’ of mind control when the writers never put that in and they themselves admitted that they messed up horribly is on the same level of victim blaming. Let’s get on the person who was made into the victim instead of those that allowed it to happen. Why? Can you just not handle that people will fuck up? Can you not handle the fact that a woman or man can be deeply scarred and hurt by such a crime and thus must victimize them as if they are the ones at fault?

There have been too many times that writers in comics will do something horrible and awful to a character that readers hate. Ms. Marvel is just one prime example, and she’s very famous for it. Sweeping what happened to her under the rug would be wrong, because the writers need to learn that they can’t and shouldn’t write such trash. That failure should be remembered and used as a sign that such things happening to a character is wrong and will not be tolerated. Every time the writers look at Carol Danvers, they’ll remember what they did. They’ll remember the fact Marcus (and in a way themselves) raped her and then kidnapped her again while her friends waved her off.

If it had all ended with the “Hey, guys! Remember when I was kidnapped and raped?” “Oh yeah! We were mind controlled too. Ooops!” “Oh that’s okay! Let’s go get some badguys, kay?” that would have been just as sick to the plot and character as the original rape.

The obvious subtext here is that Claremont is dressing down the Avengers writing team just as surely as Carol is dressing down the heroes. I see him pointing straight at the writers and going “This was beyond awful, and this is why. You had your heroes behave in a way that was insensitive and in effect allowed a rapist to take away the woman he victimized to live with him. And this is supposed to be the Avengers, the team that gathers together the heroes from throughout the Marvel universe into one book. If any book speaks to the heart and soul of Marvel it should be this one. And through a combination of poor decisions and lazy writing you’ve told a horrible story with truly vile implications. Shame on you. You can be, and should be better than that. So go out there and be better.”

The analysis is perfect and shows again why Claremont is in a pedestal as he is. SetsunaNoroi said it all, though in summary: if people did not like this volume, clearly it’s because something bothered them. Maybe the fact that they were initially OK with the story and Claremont made them realize how outrageously stupid they were. Bonus for demonstrating that even heroes can act that way, simply because they are coming from a “boys will be boys” world (Thor’s line is perfect there– I bet everyone has already seen some woman’s words be dismissed because she was ‘emotional’ about it). Who cares if it’s a broken cannon? X-Men is a pile of that. And @Fred Poole Rogue taking her powers away is NOTHING like what happened. Stop acting like a functional illiterate.

Are you literally all joking?

The story addresses YOUR reaction to the Avengers. Not the writer, not the team, not the characters. It says “why did YOU think this was okay?”

If you think that’s just whiney and it’d be better if the avengers were redeemed as characters so you can go on thinking of them as infallible heroes, you have MISSED THE ENTIRE POINT OF READING.

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I can’t claim to have done more than skim the myriad responses, but like SetsunaNoroi, I’m surprised how much mileage the first comment’s suggestion has gotten

“The thing that bothers me here is nobody considered the possibility that the Avengers were brainwashed by Immortus machines. That seems to make more sense than the Avengers being collectively stupid.”

This is a very peculiar thing to say and reminds me of that SNL skit with Shatner at the Star Trek Convention where the trivia-crazed fan asks him what the combination was for Captain Kirk’s safe (https://screen.yahoo.com/star-trek-convention-000000768.html)

Events and characters in fiction do not have a reality beyond what is presented, explicitly or by implication in the text. To suggest that perhaps the Avengers “were brainwashed by Immortus’ machines” without the tiniest encouragement from the comic is to act as though that the events in the story actually happened. That’s why the SNL skit is funny.

As Setsuna points out, to take the ‘out’ of adding in this sort of twist in a later return to the story wouldn’t just be poor writing, (something akin to the classic “it turns out it was all a dream”) it would be cowardly. In his follow-up story Claremont shows respect for both his characters and his craft by taking their behavior seriously — he helps them to atone for their sins (which are really the sins of their writers) by confronting them directly with the nature of their actions. Respect for his audience, too, women and men alike.

Good stuff.

Nix Nightbird

May 29, 2014 at 5:02 pm

I always took it that the “subtle boost” from Immortus’ machines was the aforementioned Shakespeare, etc. interventions, NOT mind control. He explicitly says he doesn’t use mind control, but that he charms Carol with things he brought fourth via the machines.

I think the later story actually MISREADS the original story. While the original tale is screwed up (it’s comics, folks) it’s not mind control that drives Carol into his arms; It’s sonnets from Shakespeare that are courtesy of Immortus’ machines.

I don’t think Carol was being upset by just them letting her go. She provided examples of what bothered her, the whole concept of the matter. Now I do agree it would have made more sense for the Avengers to have had some mind control themselves however it isn’t uncommon for fictitious characters to occasionally break character or rather say/do something uncharacteristic of themselves for the writers to make a point. It is a tragic occurrence for highly respected and followed characters such as the Avengers to be subject to this but when a person (a writer in this case) has power to do something they feel is important they usually will. You have to keep in mind that it is fiction.

Now to further address the comic itself:
Carol was under the impression that she was in love. Not to mention that by giving birth the same hormones released while making love are responsible for a mother’s typical, immediate love for her child played a big part. However, it was unnatural. Childbirth and pregnancy takes a lot out of a woman. It’s exhausting. All of this happened over night and all Carol got were shallow “congrats” and “Yay! You’re pregnant!” Despite the fact that is was obviously unnatural, the “father” was unknown, and Carol was going through it without any recollection of how it could have happened. Take Iron Man, he is a brilliant man and even though it’s not his field of expertise such a disturbing pregnancy should have set off a “what in god’s name?” response from him. I think the problem is not that the Avengers are supposedly stupid but more of the exact opposite. Carol had unrelenting respect for these people and the role they play in society that when they cared more for the supposed “child” than what she was going through it came as a great shock.
Full term overnight would not be easy even for a superhero. Instead of wanting to help they went the typical comments you see in places like FaceBook where people obviously don’t truly care, it’s just the socially acceptable response to a new mother. “Congrats” “We’re so happy for you!” “Can’t wait for the little bundle of joy!”
And speaking from when she was still pregnant, who’s to say this was a normal pregnancy? Who’s to say the “child” was any bit of normal? Who’s to say that this extremely unusual situation could and would turn out well.
The Avengers didn’t put this to thought. Not just the three men who witnessed her leaving but the entirety of the group including Wanda who was supposedly a close and caring friend to Carol. While you can’t blame the three boys who are notorious for their lack compassion for womanly things, you can still see where she’s coming from.
I’d be upset if all of a sudden I’ve got this massive belly that I’m told is a baby (but there’s no telling, by how unnatural things are already, what lurks in that uterus) and my friends only have the generic responses you’d expect for a very normal pregnancy which it obviously wasn’t. Carol expected more. This comic seemed less to belittle the Avengers rather than express the lack of concern by society for woman taken advantage of, especially woman who may be viewed as strong (like a superheroine).

This is a message, not really something I view as needing to be taken necessarily as canon though it technically is. My advice to those who were offended by it (which I can sympathize… Xena fan here, her pregnancy kind of weirded me out) is to take this as a side-project and not really consider it canon but an alternate (less thought-out) explanation for events that did occur in the comics.

And who’s idea was it to leave the three men who are “typical men” to tend to the new mother? That was disaster waiting to happen. It’s like a woman leaving Charlie Sheen to look after her best friend who just gave birth. I mean, there are so many Avengers that I’m sure Thor, a god, had nothing better to do and could have easily gone off to fight dinosaurs rather than Wanda. I don’t know, it didn’t make sense. lol

The thing that really pisses me off in all of this is that people feel that the fictional world is more important than the real world ramifications of the publication. The reason why they couldn’t just write it off as the Avengers being subject to mind control is that Marvel had published a horrible storyline. They couldn’t merely make a public apology and then stay the course. It needed to happen this way because the real world is more important than fiction.

Avengers #199, where Carol Danvers is introduced to the Avengers, and they’re told that in two days she has become eight months pregnant by an unknown father, or by force of persons unknown, and the reaction of the entire crowd, men and women both, is to the effect of: “Can I babysit?” “Can we knit booties?” “Can I make cookies for the baby?” “Oh you must be so happy?” and my reaction was, “What an insensitive crowd of boors.”

I gotta say, this seems kinda over the top to me. I mean, yes, the pregnancy is clearly odd, but to me that looks more like “semi-clueless trying-to-be-supportive” than “boorish”.

No argument about the rest of it, really.

The subtle boost, sorry Nix Nightbird, was not ‘Shakespeare’. In the full context of Marcus’s dialogue, he lumps in Shakes with Beethoven and Marie Antoinette with “after weeks of such efforts” and then adds “and admittedly a subtle boost from Immortus’s machines.” He basically, after kidnapping her, slipped her a timed-release emotional mickey for weeks and then had sex with her. That would be considered sexual assault. And, really, even his calling on those three historical figures, is crass manipulation. None of it comes from him. They were just tools to further cloud her mind. Now, if it wasn’t for the “boost”, such efforts would be akin to a rich guy lavishing a woman with gifts in hope she might agree to have sex. However, based on his past behavior, Marcus would have felt entitled to the sex regardless.

I do agree that more subtle mind control to nudge the Avengers into accepting this abomination would have been more in line with what the Avengers are supposed to be and it would have been a nice way to tidy it up. However, as others have pointed out in one way or another, that wasn’t how it was written. That wasn’t the intent. It would seem Michelinie and Shooter felt that a woman would, ultimately, get past all that kidnappy-rapey stuff if the guy tried to be romantic and seemed sorry about it. That is to say, the story didn’t deserve a ret-con to fix the bad sexist writing.

Jim Shooter, in his own blog, talks about the events of of this issue and simultaneously denies knowledge but expresses regret for letting it slip by him, saying the issue is a travesty. Then a dozen or so issues later, in the infamous Hank Pym punches Jan, he again tries to back off saying it wasn’t his intent to have him deliberately hit her. It was supposed to be an accidental smack that the artist took to the next level and there was, supposedly, no time to redraw. OK, so a non-wife beating accidental smack gets turned into a deliberate punch, then explain the rest of the story. Combined with #200, it sounds more like Shooter saying, “I didn’t realize I was such an ass, sorry.”

The thing that is most remarkable about this very insightful post by Cronin is the reaction to it here in the comments. Almost everyone here is committing the same misstep Claremont initially did: not recognizing his male privilege and entitlement and how destructive that can be. The prime difference between him and most of these commentators is that Claremont realized it, albeit with help from Strickland, and set about trying to correct himself. This was the socially responsible thing to do. The Avengers’ understanding and reactions, as with anything created by the mind of a human being, is subject to the limitations of the mind they’re created by and are always reflections of its worldview. Claremont wrote what he knew/believed. But Claremont committed to paper an attitude towards women and their rights that is subtle and pervasive throughout our culture, and Strickland’s writing obviously prompted self-reflection that he then infused his writing with. These comics are obviously his way of trying to correct a HUGE misstep on his part and be more inclusive of the female perspective that is so often absent from these stories. It’s not a boys club. Instead of falling prey to the all too common male chauvenist nerd rage trope the internet is famous for, try to look at the larger arch of Claremont’s Ms Marvel and ask yourselves, “Why did he write this? What was he trying to say?” and maybe even add a “How is this a reflection of the culture I live in?” for good measure. And then while you’re at it, read this: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/27/your-princess-is-in-another-castle-misogyny-entitlement-and-nerds.html
Kudos to Brian Cronin for writing this article.

Thanks, Katy, but just a quick correction – Claremont did not write the original story. He just wrote the story responding to the original story.

There is no way to defend this story. No way. People keep trying. It’s like, “hey, some feminist is making a ruckus about stuff, then it MUST be an exaggeration, and I will find a way to prove it.”

However, this one time, it really is as bad as people say, and there is no way to excuse this story, or to downplay it by comparing it to earlier or later stories.

Avengers #200 really is a disaster.

Katy -

Thanks for posting the link.

The guy is absolutely right.

Nerd guys must understand that obsessing about a girl from afar is not love and is not healthy. That you need to learn to take no for an answer and move on. That despite Hollywood fantasies of “opposites attract”, most healthy, long-term relationships happen between people with compatible temperaments and interests.

And, most of all, whining that women only value physical appearance by hooking up with “jerk jocks” is totally hypocritical when the only women you’re obsessed with look like supermodels.

Too bad Claremont was never that generous when dealing with black male characters.

As good as this Claremont story was, it made the Avengers look like douche bags… when they were just written incorrectly. Then she becomes Binary…

What a fascinating discussion! I was around at the time to read them both when they came out, and I’m rather glad they’ve both been “immortalized” for their different reasons. I’ll just add a couple of simple observations.

1) Shooter can try to distance himself all he likes, but that plot and resolution (in A #200) almost perfectly stinks of his failings as a writer. As opposed to Michelinie, who would only pull stuff like that when he DID intend for it to come back around and bite somebody on the ass later. No one could read Secret Wars (or Shooter’s Legion stories as a young man) and believe that Shooter *wasn’t* behind the horrible ending of #200. It’s just classic bone-headed Shooter.

2) However, I’m with Fred Poole up there (April, 2014) who found it entirely offensive that a story meant to “strike back” over Carol’s original violation started with an entirely new horrible violation. I could never really accept Rogue as a heroic figure after that, and it wasn’t long after that I became totally fed up with Claremont’s bone-headedness as a writer itself. He had a heyday, but became grossly overrated rather quickly. He should’ve changed his pen name to “Cliche Claremont.”

As for the Annual itself, I found the smile at the end rather unlikely (and unnecessarily cathartic), but it WAS nice to see an entire thick issue drawn by Michael Golden. I was a (youngish) reader who hadn’t been particularly phased by A #200 at first, and very much appreciated a new way to think about it, criticize it, and learn from it. But I could never entirely applaud Claremont’s effort in hindsight because of how he also abused Carol so unironically via Rogue in the very same issue. That DID seem rather sick to me right away.

Whatever else about Claremont, I’m always glad he did this story, corrected a MAJOR injustice to Carol Denvers’ character. Yes, it can be taking shots on the Avengers writers but given the disaster they created, they were asking for it. I see the defenders for the Avengers here and agree it’s harsh but then, it’s the point, they realized how badly they took Marcus at face value, not able to recognize what was happening to Carol and her point-blank raking them over the coals was an eye-opener to remind them the dangers to the world aren’t as obvious as putting on a costume.

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