For decades Marvel has been trying to come out with their own version of Superman. Some might say the Hulk is it, some might say Thor, but neither of them really fit the bill in terms of Marvel having an iconic strongman “truth, justice,” and blah blah character like DC has with the Man of Steel. They have tried tons of times to create this mcguffin and have failed, sometimes miserably so. The most recent and infamous example of one of these failed attempts would be this guy:
The Sentry make his debut back in 2000 in a miniseries after a little hoax put out by Marvel trying to establish some long forgotten super character into the histories of some of their other creations. He was basically a blond Superman with schizophrenia and some serious drug addiction issues.
He started out okay but unfortunately he eventually fell under the pens of writers who didn’t have a clue what to do with him. Fans hated him…and I mean REAL HATRED. If you are feeling very, very brave sometime go on any comicbook discussion website, message forum, or whatever and start a thread on discussion of this guy. Have a bottle of something very strong handy. I’m serious the only other characters I have ever seen generate so much fanboy rage and vitriol directed towards them and the people who like the character and generate so much controversy are Batman, Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Hal Jordan.
To be fair though Marvel really, really shagged the pooch with this one and eventually things got so bad that they were forced to kill him off. That seemed like the end of Marvel’s little experiment with creating their much desired Superman character.
What took Marvel so long to realize was that they already had one. They’ve had one for years. It just took them a few decades to come to this realization because their Superman character is a woman.
Ms. Marvel was created back in the 70s as a sort of female version of Captain Marvel, at the time the Kree superhero known as Mar-Vell…and back then HE was the Superman character for Marvel, an alien soldier from another galaxy who came to Earth and eventually became a superhero. Through some freak accident during a battle between Mar-Vell and one of his enemies Carol was exposed to some radiation that somehow altered her DNA to resemble Mar-Vell’s since he was holding her at the time. As a result she got all of his powers.
Years later she was stripped of those powers but then got some new powers when she was experimented by Marvel’s little villainous aliens the Brood. She became Binary, spent some years flying around the galaxy with space pirates, and then became slightly depowered again and went to calling herself Warbird.
In the early 2000s Marvel decided to have her start calling herself Ms. Marvel again and Bendis took her on in his Might Avengers book. He made her the leader and of course since he’s Brian Michael Bendis and Ms. Marvel’s first name isn’t Jessica (*ahem*) he proceeded to do nothing with that except have Doctor Doom call her a “fat cow” at one point, and have Ares mistake her threatening him with physical harm for flirting.
Marvel tried to have a solo series for her but it was canceled after 50 issues…not a bad run for a typical Marvel owned female solo title since it actually lasted longer than many others, but the way it ended and why wasn’t so great.
Anyway Marvel was trying to establish Carol as their “premiere superheroine”, their version of Wonder Woman, with Sentry as their Superman, and Moon Knight as their ripoff of Batman. It didn’t go over too well since as I said Sentry was pretty much universally loathed, no one knew who Moon Knight was, and Carol…well, about the only thing that she and Diana have in common is that they’re both women and they’re both really, really strong.
See when I said that Marvel already had a Superman character, I wasn’t just referring to the surface commonalties like the fact that they are both super strong. To make my point I’m just going to list their attributes in bullet points below.
First up is the big guy himself.
—stands for Truth, Justice, and the American Way
—alien born on another planet
—absorbs energy from the sun, allowing him his powers
—powers include flight, super strength, super-speed, super-senses, about a gazillion different types of vision, and energy projection (mostly via heat beams from his eyes)
—works at a newspaper
—invulnerable to most forms of harm
—can survive in space
Just a few there that immediately come to mind.
—she was a U.S. Airforce colonel. Doesn’t get much more American than that.
—powers derived from alien DNA
—can absorb all sorts of energy, including solar (also nuclear, sonic, electricity, and others). The more energy she absorbs the more powerful she gets.
—powerset includes superstrength (even the Avengers: Earth Mightest Heroes cartoon stated that she was as strong as the Hulk), flight, superspeed, and energy projection (mostly in the form of photon blasts from her hands). In extreme situations she has the capability to go back to her full Binary powers.
For awhile there back in the 70s she possessed a sort of “seventh sense” allowing her to know when danger was coming. It hasn’t really made an appearance in recent years.
—worked at a newspaper (same one Peter Parker did in fact) writing some column/magazine
—invulnerable to most forms of harm
—can survive in space
Now let’s look at Diana:
—big on Love, Compassion, and only resorting to violence when necessary
—pre-new 52: made of clay and blessed by Greek Gods
—post new 52: daughter of Zeus
—has a mother she doesn’t always see eye-to-eye on (most times in fact)
—came to “Man’s World” on a mission of peace and has become Earth’s defender.
Beyond the powerset and the gender she really doesn’t have much in common with Carol Danvers. In fact I can’t say Marvel really has anyone who would fit the bill as their version of Wonder Woman. I mean created by pagan gods/is a pagan god, has a parental figure they don’t get along with, and has been humbled by some time on Earth and has become it’s protector? Can’t think of anyone who would even come close….
Alright, alright, I’ll admit I’m probably stretching it a bit there.
Anyway point is that Carol has long fit the bill for Marvel’s long-sought after Superman character. Before her there was Captain Mar-vell, whose return from the dead has been teased…and teased…and teased….and….teased….over the years ever since the graphic novel “Death of Captain Marvel” came out, but let’s face it: They aren’t ever going to bring him back and if they ever do it’s been teased so much that by now people are sick of it and they would react with a big ole “Meh”.
Captain Marvel #1 comes out next week but Carol made her debut as Captain Marvel in an issue of Avenging Spider-Man today. I look forward to reading it.
The costume is actually growing on me. I wasn’t too crazy about it at first but now…eh, it’s cool. But the HAIR…
Marvel, the 1980s called. They want their hairstyle back. Seriously…..the costume I can live with and as I said it’s growing on me. But a fucking mullet?! Really?