The Aftermath

Okay, we can all agree that the issue depicted rape, and that it was deliberately thrown in, probably to get back at a "liberated" woman.

And that there was no negative reaction to it except, seemingly, mine.

I never saw the next issue of LoC, but it seems to me that someone did loan me issue #3, and I remember reading reactions to my article that, summed up, told me that I needed to get laid to get my head on straight. So I continued to think that I was the only one who had recognized this as rape, had recognized the fact that rape is a bad thing, and that Marvel was the personification of the Anti-Christ. Well, that they needed to improve, let's put it that way.

Avengers Annual #10And then came Avengers Annual #10, 1981, written by Chris Claremont.

In the story, Spider-Woman rescues Carol Danvers, who has been mind-wiped by Rogue (this was back in the days when Rogue was a middle-aged hick maniac instead of a sweet young Southern waif). The X-Men get called in (it was an Annual, after all) and Carol winds up recuperating at Professor Xavier's, where the Avengers pay her a visit.

To my extremely pleasant surprise, Carol berates them for leaving her in the lurch. Although the word "rape" is never used, the story did concentrate on that "subtle boost from Immortus' machines" line to heavily imply it. It actually seems to sink in to some of the Avengers' minds that rape might not be good. That a woman might be injured in many ways by it.

It was great to know that others had seen Ms. Marvel's plight and had apparently been as pissed off as I had about it.

scene from Avengers Annual #10

scene from Avengers Annual #10

X-Men Companion II

Then one day in a fit of X-Men frenzy, I bought and actually read The X-Men Companion II (of course I had volume 1 as well), copyright Fantagraphics Books, Inc. 1982, and dropped the book in shock when I got to page 23 of the Chris Claremont interview. He's talking about the portrayal of women in comics:

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."

As Carol [Strickland] pointed out in her article in LOC [#1], women tend to get very short shrift in comics. They are either portrayed as wallflowers or as supermacho insensitive men with different body forms, who almost invariably feel guilty about their lack of femininity. And it's always seemed to me that, why does this have to be exclusive? Can you not have a woman who is ruthless and capable and courageous and articulate and intelligent and all the other buzz-words -- heroic when the need arises, and yet feminine and gentle and compassionate, at others? That was what I tried to do with Ms. Marvel. I tried to create a character who had all the attributes that made her a top-secret agent yet at the same time was a compassionate, warm, humorous, witty, intelligent, attractive woman.

Of course, Star Trek: The Next Generation did a story where they Ms. Marveled Deanna Troi, giving her an instant pregnancy. But this time the entity that did it wasn't human, didn't know anything about humans, and so it was forgiveable, although she seemed entirely too calm, too accepting of the whole ordeal to me. But then I never really did understand Troi much anyway. She was so wishy-washy until the very final seasons. (Oh, how I wished she could be more like her mother!)

And of course, DC Comics had its own liberated female super-heroine, the equivalent of Ms. Marvel: Power Girl. So what did they do? Impregnated her without her knowing who the father was. Oh, they left off the rape bit (though it was entirely involuntary on her part) but they added incest -- weren't they cute?

You win some, you lose some. But most of the time you just hope that some people will grow up. Apparently some comics writers still don't know (1) that women are human and (2) which century we're living in.

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