I am an Avenger

My last post about Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch made me think about my favourite Avengers rosters.  The image above from Volume 1, issue 28, depicts the earliest version I remember, from the Power Comics reprints of the mid-60s. The Collector remains my Ur-Avengers Villain.

Let’s look at my Top Five line-ups from the storied history of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

Number 5)  Thomas/ Colan Era

This represents the second line-up I glommed on to as a child. Granted, it’s got two strong, silent types in T’Challa and Vizh but they’re really very different. I like Clint’s sombre colour scheme and I’m very fond of the red-and-gold Buscema costume Jan’s wearing.

Number 4) Early 90s Avengers

Ah, the Team Jackets Era. Yes, there are two immortals on the team (three, if we’re counting the unseen Sersi) but this is a majestic line-up. I would prefer to see Natasha back in her Bronze Age jet-set black outfit, rather than Frank Miller’s unflattering grey outfit.

Number 3) Busiek/ Perez Era

I like this roster because of the unusual preponderance of super-heroines. I also like Hank modelling Clint’s outfit ( the Avengers need a giant). Almost perfect; I would lose Triathlon, I’m afraid.


Number 2) The 80s Avengers

I actually prefer  Starfox to Namor as an Avenger; I never felt the Sub-Mariner was a good fit on the team. If Jan were in her classic red-and- gold (or Byrne’s black, white and red), she’d look like the leader.

Number 1) The Englehart/Conway/Shooter Era

Englehart designed this line-up for ferment with the ideological poles of Past and Future (Tony and Cap); the Old Marrieds and the New Marrieds; and the Quirky Outsider. This is how I picture The Avengers. If I could trade one member, it would be Hank for Hawkeye.

Runner-up: The Marquee Names

I totally understand the need to bring a team like this together.  A street-level “urban noir” team with a big box-office sensibility. But they should be the Champions or something. I’d also lose Fishbowl Man. ( Unless he’s a new version of Wally Wood’s Faceless One from Astonishing Tales, which would be immense.)

Here’s my suggestion for a ready-made new iteration of The Champions.

Booby Prize:

Simonson 5-Minute-Avengers

Obviously, it isn’t really feasible; Reed and Sue belong in the FF, no question. But this Kirby Kast appeals to me for the same reasons Justice League Detroit does. It’s a really fresh, audacious take on an old favourite.

Speaking of FF members, there should always be a West Coast Avengers and here’s a line-up I like:

I would change teeny-tiny Firebird to her Esperita persona but that’s a roster that works for me. So: what’s your  ideal Avengers team? Something old and something new, like this:

Or something more au courant, like this?

Next: Hold me, Thrill me, Kiss me, Kill me

All images copyright of their respective owners

Like Sister and Brother

A significant omission from March: the mutant Avengers Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, mainstays of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the Silver Age.  Rarely have any Marvel characters experienced the misfortune and misery heaped upon this pair…

Originally mirror-images of the teenage X-Men, the regal but demure Wanda’s name says “magic” and Pietro is obviously Peter, the Rock.  Hilariously, my Black Magic Kirby book says they hail from an Eastern European country called Pastramia: I wish that were true. In any case, their early life was horrendous. They are presumably meant to be Roma and therefore already objects of prejudice. This is before they’re suborned into Magneto’s freakish court with the lecherous Mastermind and the obsequious Toad. It’s easy to forget their first public exploit is establishing a  military dictatorship in a small South American country.

Pietro, in his original green costume, recalls Peter Pan of course: the Boy Who Never Grew Up. In her bathing suit and pointy headdress, Wanda is a cross between dominatrix and Space Nun. Happily, they broke free of Magneto and found sanctuary as half of “Cap’s Kooky Quartet”. Having already been drawn to Namor,  the Witch made goo-goo eyes at Captain America. As did her brother.

Daddy Issues

Their mutant powers mysteriously  waned for a while to make room (conveniently) for the emotional turmoil of Cap and Hank Pym but the Pastramians returned in short order, with Wanda now sporting a slinkier, more minimal  look. Pietro, like a needy child, showed off his short-lived ability to fly.  But the shadow of Magneto fell on them a second time.

Few images reveal the pathos of this abusive relationship more effectively than this Buscema cover.The Maximoffs disappeared from the Assemblers’ ranks again until the early 70s when they were enmeshed in the schemes of Arkon a Conan pastiche whose armoury was “borrowed” from the Weaponers of Qward.

During this period,  Wanda’s locks became brunette while Pietro became more elfin. Her “bad luck” powers were now generic energy blasts- “hex bolts” or later, “hex spheres”. The twins  both found romance: Pietro with Crystal, the former squeeze of Johnny Storm and Wanda with the android Vision ( the book’s de facto star in the Seventies) to the chagrin of Hawkeye.

Pietro’s superhero career effectively stalled for the remainder of the Bronze Age as his status with the Inhumans reduced him to the occasional cameo. Wanda, on the other hand, became the most visible female Avenger for the first half of the Seventies (until the Wasp returned to full-time membership).  Roy Thomas forged an improbable connection with the Forties, positing the Whizzer and Miss America as the twins’ “real” parents. Meanwhile, under Englehart, Wanda explored True Witchcraft and in a more controversial move,  eventually married the Vision.

Tragedy seemed inevitable however. First, the resurrection of Wonder Man threatened the self-belief and self-worth the Vision had battled to attain.

Then, Wanda discovered she was intended to be the host body for the demon Cthon and we the audience discovered, in a devilish twist,  that her real father was Magneto all along. The Whizzer died in battle with an old enemy and, on uncovering the truth about her parentage, Wanda and the Vision left the haven of Avengers Mansion to build their own unconventional family.

Unfortunately, at the same time Pietro’s marriage collapsed, thanks to Crystal’s infidelity with a human civilian. Quicksilver had a psychotic breakdown which led him to make alliances with a variety of super-villains.

Pietro’s unsettling misconduct was later attributed to the psychic powers of career usurper Maximus the Mad, the Inhumans’ usual scapegoat. Some months later,  a government operation to neutralise the Vision led to the erasure of the android’s personality.

At the same time, a sentient primeval organism selected Wanda (yet again) as a suitable host body:

Finally, the revelation that her twin sons were essentially magically-created homunculi caused Wanda to experience a breakdown identical to that suffered by her brother.

Magneto, then going through one of his own periodic phases of megalomania, saw this as a perfect opportunity to reform his Brotherhood with the twins.

After these harrowing events, Wanda exhibited a theatrical sadism quite unlike her “real” persona. The transformation was revealed to be yet another manipulation, this time by the time lord Immortus.  By editorial fiat, in the Nineties, this dark period was not referenced and after the Heroes Reborn experiment, where Wanda was the daughter of the Asgardian Enchantress (!), George Perez and Kurt Busiek played up her gypsy heritage. She established a relationship with Wonder Man, her former “brother-in-law”. In turn, the Vision had flings with Ms. Marvel and the Celestial Madonna.   Pietro, meanwhile, enjoyed his own short-lived series as leader of the New Men of Wundagore Mountain.

In  the Noughties, Brian Bendis turned the Avengers into a hugely successful  franchise, one to rival the X-Men in their 90s heyday. Unfortunately he used Wanda as the instrument to destroy much of what would be considered the backbone of the team in the Bronze Age, including Avengers Mansion…and the Vision. Later, she used her magicks to depower a large percentage of Marvel’s mutant population, including her brother for a time.

Mark Millar’s Ultimates, meanwhile introduced a Wanda and Pietro whose relationship was blatantly incestuous. If there is a sequel to Whedon’s Avengers movie, my money’s on this  reading of the twins.

But  the wheel turns. Bendis has restored the Vision; Pietro is mentoring young superhumans in Avengers Academy; and Wanda is seemingly redeemed. As I have said in previous posts, as a reader, I find it difficult to reconcile myself with asshole Tony Stark; wife-beater Pym; alcoholic Ms. Marvel; and murderous maniac Wanda.  Can you really  go home again? An insane  Scarlet Witch was a  major loss to the classic Avengers. But  twenty years ago, Hal Jordan wiped out the entire Green Lantern Corps and is now a charter member of the New 52 League.

Time will tell; it always does.

All images presumed copyright of their respective owners.

With One Magic Word

This post is about the third and final 100-page Super-Spec I read on my uncle’s farm outside Galston in the summer of 1974. The other two were the Injustice Gang issue of JLA and the Devil-Fish issue of LSH. This third giant-sized comic was bought for my brother, who was seven years old at the time. I can remember certain moments of that week with total clarity even though it was before Tom Baker, before the Sex Pistols, Princess Diana, the Miners’ Strike… In many ways, the 90s now feel more remote and obscure but maybe that’s middle age.

I can think of few covers that say “Seventies” to me more clearly than this one: Mary Batson’s flares remind me of Susan Dey in the Partridge Family while Freddy Freeman looks like a Dickensian urchin and yet is the most realistically-rendered member of the trio:

The Golden Plague: The book opens with a typically whimsical 70s short about Dr. Kilowatt whose machine creates a Midas Effect. Cap mimics Atlas in a pleasing Classical reference but the plot also involves a reporter from the future, Jarl 499-642-831. Jarl dresses like a sinister space version of Velma from Scooby-Doo and in a Mort Weisinger story would be a villain, so  is therefore hugely distracting. It’s all a bit silly.  Bob Oskner’s clean, cartoony art reminds me of a colouring book.

Mary Marvel versus Nightowl: Mary gets her own super-villain, who looks like an ancestor of Daredevil’s Owl and is inspired by the Nyctalope, the French pulp hero who, in turn, inspired Dr. Mid-Nite.  The high point of the story is a ghoulish Forties moment where Mary is about to be crushed by a warehouse pressing machine.

Billy Batson’s Family Album: a gallery of Batson “relatives” including the deathless Freckles Marvel, whom I don’t expect to see in the New 52 universe any time soon.

Uncle Marvel’s Wedding: My introduction to the elderly villain  Minerva, Aunt May as a crime lord. A farcical comedy with pleasingly detailed art (for a Golden Age story)

The Longest Block in the World: Elliot S! Maggin, with his annoying idiosyncratic exclamation mark, was an audacious, would-be hipster who wrote two Superman novels. The one I read, Last Son of Krypton  featured alien musician Towbee and Luthor calling Superman “old fruit”. It’s awful.

Towbee, not Mowpee

Here he brings us Gregory Gosharootie, the World’s Dullest Mortal and a parody of Dr. Kissinger. Maggin, you crazy nut! The artwork by Giordano is gorgeous however and Freddy is dynamic.  I wonder if the new “Curse of Shazam!” version can accommodate the other Marvels?

The Sivana Family Strikes at the Marvel Family: The high point of the comic is this entertaining  three-part “novel” in which Thaddeus, Georgia and Sivana Junior scheme to set up their dynasty. It ranges from the Sivanas’ floating laboratory to the sinking of Atlantis and on to 12,000 AD. The climax of the story reminds me now of one of Jean Grey’s Hellfire Club fantasies as the Sivanas hunt the powerless Marvels like foxes. This epic was also reprinted in the 2002 Shazam Family facsimile annual, IIRC. I can’t believe that was a decade ago already!

Mighty Master of  the Martial Arts: Maggin is back with a story about the kung fu craze. Iron Fist had  debuted at Marvel the previous month as did the b/w magazine Deadly Hands of Kung Fu the month before that.

With one image, we sum up the difference between DC and Marvel in ’74

Maggin’s character is Jeremy Senshoo, a drugged tv star committing crimes to the tune of his evil chef, Pierre. Again, it’s an unfunny spoof      ( and spoofs usually are) drawn in Oskner’s simple, airy style.

Shazamail: further discussion on the make-up of Mary’s chart of godly names and a learned letter about an Egyptian magician Zazamonkh, the “Scribe of the Book”!

Having bought a second copy recently on ebay, I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed this 1o0-pager but I wouldn’t include it in my top five due to Maggin’s irritating whimsy.

Next: Would you like me to be the cat?

All images presumed copyright of their respective owners

St.Dominic’s Preview

To commemorate St. Patrick’s Day, here are my favourite Irish super-heroes from DC and Marvel.

Firstly, the fanciful Jack O’ Lantern, a young farmer granted magical powers by the Sidhe. Created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon,  the first and best Jack made his début in the Bronze Age Super Friends.

From the House of Ideas, one of my earliest X-Men memories: the C&W fan and ex-cop, Banshee:

Sean Cassidy was killed off some years ago and his daughter Siryn now uses the Banshee codename. But if I were writing The Strangest Teens of all, I’d include a youthful Sean since he made an impression in X-Men: First Class

…and, like Jack O’ Lantern, he’s on speaking terms with leprechauns. Comics need more leprechauns and fewer cannibal serial killers.

I was lucky enough to spend a weekend in Dublin in February 2006.  I had a ticket to see the amazing Ralph Fiennes in Brian Friel’s Faith Healer at The Gate, Orson Welles’ beloved theatre. Dublin reminded me a little of Edinburgh but the trams were working.  Although it was quite expensive, the bar staff were efficient and the taxi drivers talked like poets. Unfortunately,  a mini-riot sprang up on the Saturday night after an Orange Walk- something I’d never seen in twenty-one years in Glasgow. It didn’t make the news back home.

The Celtic Tiger doesn’t roar quite so loudly nowadays and I find the Gaelification of Glasgow a little ludicrous but let’s toast Erin in any case.

Next: Shazambago.

The Mystery Men of March part 2

The second part of  my regular series of portraits  of super-heroes who made their début in this particular month. I’ll post covers which were either my first encounter with that  specific character or of an issue that was significant to me.

Silver Surfer:  Stan’s favourite “creation”,  I believe. My first Surfer comic, when I was aged seven or eight,  was this hell-bound Buscema epic. Re-reading the collected Silver Age Surfer series last year, I realised how same-y the stories were: the ostracised, Messianic Surfer bemoans ignorant Mankind but then has to rescue us from some alien or supernatural threat. On the other hand, Lee has to be applauded for the ambition and tone of the comic but it did introduce a preachy, humourless, portentous quality to comics, crystallised in O’Neil and Adams’ Hard-Travelling Heroes.  Buscema’s art is beautiful to look at, however.

Norrin Radd was very well-served by the FF movie sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer.  I followed the Englehart/Rogers version ( a 1980s attempt to recapture the Kozmic Spliff  vibe of the Bronze Age) but the character is too inscrutable and his agonizing is rather unsympathetic, rendering him a perennial B-lister in my book.

Love those framed covers.

I didn’t encounter Galactus until the final page of this suitably apocalyptic early-70s FF. The Big G is actually more interesting than his Herald but is best used sparingly. The original Galactus Trilogy, which was the highlight of the second Marvel Treasury, is hard to beat.

Hall of Deceased Legionnaires: I’ll be featuring Jim Shooter’s Adult Legion 2-parter in a future post-possibly in the late summer. As I said on Some Fantastic Place, Adventure 354 was the first back issue I went searching for and found by chance, in the end.

The cover depicts the memorials of KIA Legionnaires, four of whom had yet to début in the series at that point. One of the most charming aspects of the story was that young Shooter introduced three of the four during his tenure as scripter, giving the series a mythic quality.  A teenage Shadow Woman, of course, was first to appear a year later, followed shortly by Chemical King ( a hero whose  power seemed to baffle Shooter’s successors, perhaps explaining his under-use). Quantum Queen, who could transform into a ray of light, appeared as a sore-thumb member of the Tolkinesque Wanderers almost two years later.

The beatific Reflecto is a strange one though.  Roy Thomas finally introduced him- after 14 years- in 1981 but “he” was a disguised Superboy with Ultra Boy’s memories (comics!). The Bierbaums introduced another Reflecto  (Stig Ah of Rimbor)  in the Five Years Later series of the early 90s. This iteration was still a casualty in battle but I have no idea of his current status in the Legion series.

Finally, inside the comic itself, we glimpse the base of a statue for Power Boy. Dave Cockrum designed the atomic-fisted  hero above for his unpublished LSH spinoff The Outsiders. However, the “real” PB is Jed Rikane, the purple-hued Legion Academy trainee recently revealed to be in a  relationship with Gravity Kid.  It remains to be seen whether Levitz will ever act upon his mid-80s impulse to give Jed that doomed identity. If he did kill off a gay character, the LSH fanbase would be up in arms.

The Creeper: I’ve never read any of the Creeper’s Sixties outings although I’d seen the ads. I first encountered the weird adventurer in Detective Comics and then, after nearly a decade, in the early days of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League. I was intrigued by his personality; a more unhinged and slightly menacing version of Marvel’s Beast. I have to admit that his Timmverse incarnation makes most sense to me: a victim of the same chemical processes that created The Joker. I found his Johnny DC appearances very entertaining.

One day, I’ll have to get around to the original Ditko stories. But the yellow-skinned crimebuster is one of the most memorable and bizarre Silver Age creations.

Starman /Mikaal Tomas: a shameless rip-off of the Sensational Captain Marvel, Gerry Conway’s blue alien turncoat languished in obscurity until James Robinson revived him in his acclaimed Starman series of the Nineties. A disco era hedonist, Mikaal was one of DC’s most prominent gay characters prior to the New 52.  He served in the JLA as a modern take on the Martian Manhunter. Trendy but highly derivative.

Robin (Jason Todd): Thanks largely to nostalgic gorehound Geoff Johns, DC is considered home of the Legacy Character. The first true example, I think, was Jason, the second in-continuity Robin. Jay was created when the highly successful New Teen Titans depicted Dick Grayson’s transition to adulthood. Obviously, Batman needed a Boy Wonder for licensing purposes and since this was the beginning of the Grim’n’Gritty Era,  enter circus boy Todd, in time for his parents to be eaten by crocodiles.

Beautiful Newton/Alcala work

Jason’s carrot-topped look was necessarily short-lived. He became (literally) a darker Robin and after the Crisis, his origin was inexplicably tweaked to make him a modern version of the delinquent kid Simon and Kirby used to write about.

I liked the character from the brief Barr/Davis Detective run, where the Toddster was a younger, more child-like version of Marv Wolfman’s neurotic, Peter Parker-ish Dick Grayson. However, Jason was very unpopular: enough to motivate an overwhelming fan response to kill him off.   I never read the Death in the Family storyline; what I did see of it seemed unnecessarily sadistic and unpleasant.  It resulted in a  self-flagellating  Emo Batman (very mature!) and the  introduction of a new and more successful Robin, Tim Drake.

Jason was resurrected of course and the “Bad Seed” and “Prodigal Son” storylines have been played out to further torture Batman for the edification of tattooed manboys everywhere.  A cautionary tale about how comics aren’t for kids any more.

Rick Astley IS…

Damage:  Speaking of Legacy Heroes, the gimmick behind this character was the secret of his parentage. It just turned out to be tedious Golden Age scrapper, Al Pratt. After a brief spell in various unsuccessful line-ups of the New Titans, Grant acquired terrible facial injuries in Infinite Crisis.  He was  inducted as a modern iteration of the luchador Atom in the Justice Society. This in spite of the existence of Nuklon (now going under the unwieldy codename “Atom Smasher” ) Despite a redemptive storyline, Damage was killed off in Marvel Zomb- sorry, Blackest Night. So much for Damage.

Blood Pack:  EEEEEE, my eyes !!!! A truly horrible 90s comic. A selection of unimaginative Goth superheroes scraped together from  the woeful Bloodlines  Body Horror annual event.  The idea of a super-team docudrama was fresh and interesting but the line-up was terrible. Delete. Delete.

Power Company: a quirky but likeable idea from continuity buff Kurt Busiek. Updating the Infinity Inc. concept, a super-team made up of four newbies, two obscure DC characters (Bork? Bork?!) and run on business principles.  Unfortunately, in an era of global recession, I can’t see a corporate super-group returning any time soon.

Next: Captain Marvel and the Golden Plague

All images presumed copyright of their respective owners.

The Mystery Men of March part 1

Time again for another in my series of snapshots of super-heroes who made their début in this particular month. I’ll post covers which were either my earliest encounter with a specific character or of an issue that was significant to me.

Captain America: I’ve written about Cap extensively on Some Fantastic Place. As Kirby proved time and again, Cap can star in any story genre.The heart and soul of the Invaders and the Avengers, he is Marvel’s answer to Superman. There is a tone of awe and reverence for the character in the early Avengers that no amount of 60s and 70s soul-searching could debase. The First Avenger is the best of Marvel’s movies; Whedon’s Avengers Assemble might have problems with Cap’s nobility in the context of our rather asinine, shallow culture.

The least-known Legionnaire?

Superboy: I’ve also written about The Boy of Steel, in the context of the Super-Spectaculars. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of Superboy  as a vehicle for telling stories for boys. Many of the 50s and 60s tales are about loyalty to friends and parental respect. An older iteration of the character- the super-boyfriend – recently completed a hugely successful run on tv with the cancellation of Smallville. Perhaps this is an insight into why Supergirl has never quite achieved the same kind of success.

Krypto: Even a super- boy’s best friend is his dog, if the three pages of pet photographs in the local broadsheet is anything to go by. Like the Blue Peter pets,  comic book super-animals can appeal to children who can’t have a dog or cat of their own. The whole Legion of Super-Pets possesses humour and charm, as evidenced by the super-dog’s own animated series. I loved the original Man from UNCLE parody-” The Dog from SCPA”- which also poked fun at the Legion. Although I’ve seen the loveable hound act out the tragic tropes of Old Yeller and Lassie, I prefer him hale and hearty in his Doghouse of Solitude.

Flash (Barry Allen): the importance of the Flash should not be underestimated. His début in the 50s revived the super-hero genre and paved the way for the Silver Age Green Lantern, the Atom, Hawkman and Batman’s New Look.

In some ways, I suppose Barry/ Flash is DC’s Spider-Man: in cartoons (even when it’s really nephew Wally West) he’s flippant and insouciant; his Rogues Gallery is recalled in the Sinister Six and he got hip in the late Sixties (even being touted as a fan of a Jefferson Airship-style band in a Sargon story by Mike Friedrich). That’s really when I first got to know the Sultan of Speed. He was even marked by tragedy, like Peter Parker, with the “murder” of wife Iris. I never read any of the over-long Trial sequence but I was there when he sacrificed himself in the Crisis and Wally West took over the role. I was nonplussed because Marv Wolfman himself had told me that Mac Ryan would be the new Flash, with light powers…

Of course, Barry’s been back in the DCU for a few years and and I understand his New 52 version is an enjoyable and modernist comic; I should try it one day.

Not half-bad? Really selling them to me, Giordano!

Captain Atom: I probably first saw the space-age super-hero in this advert in a rare Charlton purchase and next in a b/w Alan Class reprint. I certainly recognised his sparkly jet-trail when Captain Mar-vell underwent his “Metamorphosis”. I didn’t care for Alan Class comics, though, or Charlton: they seemed markedly inferior to Marvel (my favourite for most of my childhood) or even DC, which could be alternately silly or overly adult.

I read a couple of issues of the 80s revival but the whole “government secret weapon” plotline seemed an ill fit for the DC Universe The most significant thing about this distinctly C-list character is that he’s famously the inspiration for the aloof (and naked) blue super-being Dr. Manhattan in the overblown and overrated Watchmen.

Iron Man: Despite the cover above, in all honesty, I found Stark’s adventures in the Sixties pretty dull. I suppose as a kid, boardroom intrigue and political machinations were plain boring. It wasn’t until the late 70s and early 80s when Michelinie and Layton fused espionage and technology that I picked the comic up more regularly. However, the downside was that Stark also became the first alcoholic superhero. Like Speedy’s heroin addiction, or Pym’s spouse abuse, there was just no coming back from that kind of character “development”. The Iron Man of the last decade has been depicted as both a futurist and an arsehole. That’s the persona in the surprisingly-successful movies but the self-indulgent, eternal adolescent turns me off.

Metal Men: predating the Pinocchio plotlines of the Vision and the Red Tornado by at least half- a-dozen years, I first encountered these malleable mechanoids when they were “robots in disguise”; that was in the late 60s when Mike Sekowsky was the “go-to” guy for revamping failing comics. The story in which I best remember them, however, was this whacked-out, campy battle with Egg Fu. The Metal Men were bizarrely effective when teamed up with Batman in The Brave and the Bold. I think they would be an excellent choice for a DC animated series.

(Madame) Medusa: Introduced as a counterpart for Sue Storm in the Frightful Four, the imperious and treacherous Medusa was revealed to be one of the Royal Family of Inhumans.  Instantly, the Lady with the Living Locks was de-clawed and Marvel lost a great villainess. The evil FF felt her loss keenly and spent nearly two decades trying to find a satisfactory replacement until Steve Englehart finally added another red-head in purple: Titania. Apart from a few years in the early Bronze Age as a fill-in member of the FF, the “titian-tressed tigress” has largely served a decorative purpose in Marvel comics, as the wife and interpreter of Black Bolt. She’s one of the few Marvel heroines who has never joined the Avengers, although Bendis and Romita Jr. featured her briefly. A potent and glamorous character, criminally neglected.

Next: A few more March Mystery Men!

All images presumed copyright of their respective owners.