Cover dated June 1978, Marvel Comics published Ms. Marvel # 18. This comic features a nice Dave Cockrum cover, showing Ms. Marvel flanked by fellow Avengers, Scarlet Witch, the Wasp, the Vision, Yellowjacket and Wonder Man with a cover blurb that states; “Even Avengers Can Die!” That would make most comic book buyers take a second look, don’t you think? Well, I sure did!
The actual title of the story is; “The St. Valentine’s Day / Avengers Massacre!”. Maybe not as eye grabbing as the cover blurb, but still catchy, never the less! It’s written by X-Men scribe, Chris Claremont, and it’s pencilled by Jim Mooney, who spent quite a bit of his career providing inks over other artist’s pencils. The inks this issue were supplied by Ricardo Villamonte.
The action starts immediately, as on the splash page, Ms. Marvel is attacked while flying over New York City, on the way home from an impromptu snowball fight staged by the “Woman” magazine staff, where Carol Danvers, aka, Ms. Marvel, works! Of course that was from issue number seventeen (17), so is you want to check that out, you’ll have to search out that issue. But, back to the non-stop action of issue number eighteen (18), as Ms. Marvel falls to a rooftop, we see Janet Pym, aka the Wasp, and Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, out on the town, on a shopping spree. They witness the attack and spring to the aid of Carol. As the villain, Centurion, gets the drop on Ms. Marvel, the Wasp is quickly at her side to distract the villain into going after her first!
Then the Scarlet Witch springs into action, as well. Centurion manages to get the upper hand on the two female Avengers, but the Wasp is able to call for help from the rest of the Avengers! Soon the Vision, Yellowjacket and Wonder Man appear in answer to the Wasp’s S.O.S. Centurion K.O.s Yellowjacket and the Vision, but it looks like Wonder Man is able to stand up to the villain, much to the surprise of both!
All these distractions have allowed Ms. Marvel to recover and she finally springs into action, as well. Unfortunately, it appears that Centurion is able to sense her everyone move, as well as, where she is at all times! Making it quite difficult for Carol to gain the upper hand. In fact, she’s on the ropes and changes into her alter-ego to blend in with the escaping crowd. This seems to work, as Centurion loses her. Though Wonder Woman swoops in to save her, thinking she just a woman who failed to flee.
Centurion contacts “his boss” for instructions and it turns out he is taking orders from Raven Darkholme, aka Mystique, before she acquired that name in the Marvel Universe! And she is also working for another shadowing figure, un-named in this issue. He tells her to call off Centurion, but Raven chooses not to call off Centurion! Then the comic jumps into space, to the throneworld of the Kree Empire, for a single page and the reader sees the return of the missing Kree Supreme Intelligence! This sidebar will be returned to in future issues, but that’s it for this issue.
Ms. Marvel determines that the villain is only able to sense her when she’s wearing her Kree made costume, so she quickly finds something else to change into, like a one-piece swimsuit, and dons that to confront Centurion. She lures him to a power plant, where she rigs up a magnetic field, and uses it to short circuit Centurion’s weapon and thereby defeats him!
Quite an action packed issue with the Avengers guest-starring! Though the villain is rather week and not one that ever returned, as far as I know, and the art by Mooney and Villamonte is just okay, so I have to give this comic just two (2) out of five (5) Legion Flight Rings! Far from a bad issue, but even further from a great one!
Two issue later, in issue # 20, after meeting up with Captain Marvel in issue # 19, Ms. Marvel would permanently adopt a new costume. Here’s a peek at that costume! Personnally, I think it was an improvement! What do you think?
Carol Danvers had been a supporting character of the Kree Captain Marvel on and off since Marvel Super Heroes #13 (his second appearance), and moved up to starring status with Ms. Marvel #1. Chris Clairmont took over the title with issue #3 (if memory serves), and was still figuring the character out at this point. Still, he was integrating her into both the Avengers and X-Men universes! (Not to mention using her in Marvel Team-up, facing the Super-Skrull…as you’ve covered before!)
And, to answer your ending question…I prefer the newer costume, but the old one is good as well.
I’ve been working my way through this series and haven’t reached #18 yet. Based off your feelings about this book I see it doesn’t get better from what I’ve read so far!
Mike, Ms. Marvel has never been a great book, at least in my opinion, but that’s not to say it was bad, just not nearly as good as some of the other Marvel characters who starred in their own books! It’s of the same era, as the great Starlin Captain Marvel and Warlock series, but it can’t hold a candle to either of those series, or even the Marvel monster books drawn by Mike Ploog, at about the same time, i.e Ghost Rider, Warewolf By Night andthe Monster of Franenstein! Again, in my opinion!
The reason for this comic seemed to be little if nothing more than pandering to the “women’s lib” movement, but Claremont actually did a fair job of making the character somewhat interesting.
And I was always a fan of the old costume but liked the longer hair.
The weird thing about that book is that it seems to want to pander to women’s lib, but it did a poor job. Carol Danvers always seemed to be completely helpless unless she was Ms. Marvel. Women can take care of themselves…as long as they have super powers.
The character had a weak start, and Clairmont really didn’t know what to do with the book until after this issue (one of the first things was the costume change…)
Both Deathbird and Mystique premiered in this series (and they popped up quite a bit in X-Men after), and this was also the time of She-Hulk and Spider-Woman!
Dave, you’re right, Chris Claremont was “felling his way” with this new assignment, as he really didn’t know who Ms. Marvel was, heck, no one really did, as she hadn’t been around for very long. That, plus she was so tied to the Captain Marvel story line, it took a while to spin her into her own woman, so to speak! History has shown him to be able to write strong female characters.
Was he successful? Maybe yes, maybe no. But the character is still around, so he must have done something right! Though each time Marvel Comics has started a Ms. Marvel series, it ultimately gets cancelled.