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Carol Danvers (Marvel Comics) (Captain Marvel ally)

Carol Danvers

(Before Ms. Marvel, part #2)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This is the second part of our chronological coverage of Carol Danvers. This profile assumes you’ve just read the . It is followed by the .

It covers her appearances in Marvel Comics’ Captain Marvel volume 1 (and Marvel Super-Heroes), chiefly in 1968-1969. These were her first appearances, as a stock supporting cast character.

As with the previous profile, the dates given in the biography assume our proposed timeline.


Background

  • Real Name: Carol Susan Jane Danvers
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Joseph (father), Marie (mother), Steven J. (brother, deceased), Joseph Jr. (brother), Benny (uncle)
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of the Air Force and Air Force Strategic Operations, former member of the CIA, former employee of NASA
  • Base Of Operations: New York City. Formerly Boston ; later unrevealed Air Force bases and CIA buildings ; later Cape Canaveral (FL)
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 120 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blonde


Powers & Abilities

In the material published in the late 1960s, Carol is dramatically less competent and assertive than in the flashbacks taking place in the early 1960s.

The simplest hypothesis is that torture, undernourishment, sleep deprivation, etc. at the Lubyanka prison severely damaged her health. The diminished Carol was likely left unable to train and forbidden to fly on a regular basis, leaving her stuck in an desk job.

This would also explain her tendency to pass out in these old stories — as a result of wounds that are still healing years after the torture sessions — as well as her apparent difficulties to concentrate or assert herself.

That Carol Danvers was greatly diminished after Lubyanka is not stated in the stories, but is a reasonable conclusion to draw from several Claremont stories.

This woman, this writer

After her first book became a best-seller, Carol could have had the good life for about a year (Wealth 006 in DC Heroes, Benefit 1 in DC Adventures). She instead invested this windfall into a beautiful and tastefully decorated Manhattan penthouse apartment — a Headquarters in DC Heroes terms. This apartment was ravaged by a fire near the end of the period covered by this writeup, though.

The book was a tell-all exposé about NASA. It burned some people quite badly and made her enemies for life ; on the other hand a number of people at NASA were quietly supportive of Danvers’ stance.

Years later, when she helped prevent a planet-shattering disaster involving a cavourite crystal, Danvers was able to come back to NASA turf without being thrown out – her supporters could invoke her good deeds to ignore orders from Danvers’ enemies.

Thus she ultimately retained her connections with NASA, despite losing her official credentials with that organisation.


History

Though Carol had to leave the intelligence community after her unauthorised rescue from Lubyanka, the NASA was interested in hiring her to become Cape Canaveral’s security chief. She thus became a civilian security specialist, and reportedly the youngest NASA security chief ever.

Back in 1967, this position chiefly meant heading the investigative and administrative operations. The on-site muscle was a detachment of military police commanded by one General Bridges, who wasn’t in her chain of command.

Despite the civilian Danvers’ title, Bridges was the one in command of much of the actual security, since the Cape was under military secrecy and protection. Bridges mostly patronised Danvers, seeing her as a glorified secretary and source of red tape while he did the real work.

Chaos at the Cape

Carol’s tenure as security chief at the Cape was eventful. Not only was she protecting NASA during the final years of the race to the Moon, but the site drew the attention of various hostile agencies, including space aliens.

The Fantastic Four brought a wrecked alien robot to the Cape for study, and agents of the Kree empire soon moved in to recover their mecha.

One of the robotics experts brought in by the NASA to examine the alien robot, Dr. Lawson, was actually a Kree infiltrator – the special forces trooper and war hero Mar-Vell. Mar-Vell’s mission failed – other Kree agents activated the robot before it could be stolen, and Mar-Vell was forced to smash it to bits to save Danvers, the MPs and much of the Cape.

Carol Danvers, General Bridges and a Kree Sentry (Marvel Comics)

Danvers sensed that something was off with “Lawson”, and was determined to identify the mysterious superhuman who had stopped the alien robot. This forced Mar-Vell into fancy footwork to dodge her investigations. To fend her off, Lawson kept patronisingly brushing her aside to avoid her discovering his secret, but she kept digging even after the FBI failed to come up with much information about Lawson.

The Kree hero’s presence resulted in a host of further security problems that neither Danvers nor Bridges could hope to contain.

  • The Super-Skrull clashed at the Cape with Captain Mar-Vell and stole some material using his shape-changing powers
  • An experimental NASA rocket was lost at sea then destroyed by Namor the Sub-Mariner
  • UFO activity was clearly afoot within and around the base
  • A failed test created the rampaging energy giant Solam
  • Quasimodo invaded the base
  • Etc.

Furthermore Kree operatives realised that Danvers’ investigations were a threat, and attempted to eliminate her several times.

Danvers grew to instinctively trust, and be attracted toward, Captain Marvel – the name Earth people had given to Mar-Vell in his heroic identity. Eventually, Danvers just pounced on Marvel and kissed him, to the distress of medic Una, Mar-Vell’s Kree girlfriend, who was watching the scene from the orbiting Kree scout ship.

Love and rockets

A Skrull agent later attempted to steal a spaceship at the Cape, and knocked Lawson/Mar-Vell out. Danvers rushed aboard the spaceship as it was taking off, and managed to save “Lawson”, kill the Skrull with his own weapon and pilot the shuttle back to Earth.

This one was of the few times where Danvers, very diminished compared to her USAF and CIA days, successfully took direct action.

Violence, intrusions and weirdness continued to plague the Cape. Most of the time, Captain Marvel’s arrival was required to put an end to the problem since conventional weapons were useless. An advanced robot built by the real Lawson attacked the Cape, then Captain Marvel fought a team of alien Aakon soldiers there.

As Carol sneaked and bribed her way into “Lawson’s” hotel room, she nearly discovered the truth but Lawson’s giant robot returned and captured her. Marvel destroyed the robot, but the mysterious high-tech paramilitary organisation led by Number One then attacked him and Danvers.

Carol Danvers and a Kree Sentry at Cape Canaveral

Chaos continued as Mar-Vell stole an experimental American rocket to save Una. This incident bitterly turned Danvers against him ; she felt that her trust had been betrayed and began hunting down both Lawson (whose disappearances were by then beyond suspect) and Marvel.

In the meanwhile, various protests took place around the Cape. During one of those the robotic Man-Slayer attacked… and of course kidnapped Danvers. Marvel narrowly saved Carol, regaining her trust. Thus, she defended him when the MPs attempted to arrest him for stealing the rocket.

However Mar-Vell was forced to immediately teleport back to the Kree galaxy, making it look like he had fled from arrest and humiliating Carol.

Still suffering from a concussion after the Man-Slayer assault, the dazed Danvers nevertheless left the hospital to continue defending Marvel. She dodged the FBI and the paparazzi, but was kidnapped by Mar-Vell’s commanding officer, Colonel Yon-Rogg.

Yon-Rogg had a plan, resting on his recent recovery of a forbidden Kree device – the Psyche-Magnitron, hidden by the founding fathers of the Kree Empire and a fine example of the proverbial “sufficiently advanced technology” .

The Psyche-Magnitron endowed Yon-Rogg with the ability to conjure any piece of Kree technology past or present. He intended to use this super-power to overthrow the Supreme Intelligence, ruler of the Kree empire. Recreating the ancient Kree executioner robot called the Mandroid, Yon-Rogg clashed with Mar-Vell.

During this fight, the captive Carol was hit by a stray laser blast near the Psyche-Magnitron.

Late NASA career

Marvel got Danvers out of Yon-Rogg’s hideout, but the Psyche-Magnitron exploded right behind them. Mar-Vell shielded Danvers from the flash of the explosion with his body, but she was nevertheless heavily exposed to the energies of the Psyche-Magnitron. However, once at the hospital, the perplexed medical staff couldn’t find any trace of irradiation.

Unbeknown to Carol, she started invisibly mutating. Her body slowly became a complex meld of superhuman and enhanced Kree physiologies. A synthetic “Kree” personality also slowly developed, separate from Carol’s consciousness.

Carol Danvers before Ms. Marvel comics and Doctor Lawson

Furthermore, the remnants of the Psyche-Magnitron briefly hypnotised her into recovering a hidden high-tech costume and keep it handy – perhaps a post-hypnotic suggestion implanted during the initial exposure. The Kree machine also mesmerised Danvers into forgetting about the costume, no matter how many times she packed it into her luggage.

Carol apparently experienced episodes of somnambulism during which she made brief and uneventful “test flights” as Ms. Marvel. This later hypothesis is very tentative, but would explain why a foe later traced Ms. Marvel’s first appearances to Cape Canaveral whereas there were no such appearances in any book.

Carol resumed her duties at the Cape, but the constant circus amidst the supposedly highly-secure perimeter meant heavy criticism from the generals. From context, it is possible (but not clearly stated) that her position was folded back under military authority in the hope of improving security.

Two flashbacks likely occur during this time. In one she was NASA’s watchdog in a major US military project, Professor Kronston’s Doomsday Man. Ms. Danvers was among those who realised early on the danger posed by Kronton’s super-powerful, indestructible robot, and unsuccessfully tried to have the project stopped before the robot was constructed.

Danvers is also known to have collaborated with Dr. Peter Corbeau as he researched an extraordinary source of energy, the cavourite crystal, as a possible source of propulsion for a faster-than-light spaceships. She was present as the NASA security adviser to the project.

Endings

When Carol was seen again, she seemed to be in direct command of a team of MPs. They were securing the experimental gas Compound Thirteen when they were attacked by the superhuman criminal Nitro, who knocked them all out by exploding. Captain Marvel came to the rescue, but was exposed to the nerve gas Danvers was attempting to protect – an exposure that would ultimately result in a fatal cancer.

Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel Comics) training in the martial arts

Mar-Vell switched places with Rick Jones after collapsing from the effects of the gas, and Jones was found and rushed to an hospital by Danvers. After the Wasp and Dr. Pym defeated an attacking Living Laser with some help from Danvers, Jones switched places with Mar-Vell.

The Kree’s life was thus saved by the intensive care unit Danvers had originally scrambled for Jones.

A few weeks later, the body of the deceased medic Una was possessed by a space parasite. Una had been jealous of Danvers in life, and as an undead she severely beat Carol before Captain Marvel could intervene. Danvers was hospitalised again, as Marvel strove to destroy the animated corpse. He then left Earth, as the memories of Una had been too painful for him.

Whilst she was recovering from the corpse’s attack, Danvers was let go from NASA. Though the various menaces were objectively unstoppable with the means at hand, heads had to roll.

This woman, this author

At this point, Carol’s career had rapidly gone from ace pilot to intelligence wunderkind to torture survivor to being fired for being unable to stop space alien commandos and giant robots. Furthermore, she started experiencing fierce migraines and her once-mighty self-confidence had been further damaged by her dismissal and her unrequited love for Captain Marvel.

Fed up with fighting chauvinism in the military and NASA, she searched for her self-identity, eventually establishing that she liked to write and was good at it. After she sold her first articles to magazines, she recovered much of her self-respect. It is apparently as a magazine writer that she researched feminism and women’s lib .

Within months of leaving the hospital Carol was a published book author, writing about the space industry. Her exposé about NASA was a best-seller.

However, Ms. Danvers also started experiencing depressive episodes and her migraines worsened. These became bad enough to have her black out, and she soon grew convincing that she was sleepwalking during these spells. Doctors couldn’t determine what was wrong with her, though she apparently accomplished some progress with a psychiatrist and hypnotist, Dr. Barnett.

On the strength of her articles and best-selling book, Danvers was considered an up-and-coming non-fiction writer in New York City. This led “Jolly” Jonah Jameson, publisher of the Daily Bugle, to hire her to revitalise Woman, a magazine with crumbling sales.

The conservative, chauvinistic Jameson had laughably outdated ideas of what would make a women’s magazine successful. Furthermore, he wanted Woman to relay his anti-super-heroes crusade by exposing female costumed super-heroes such as the newcomer Ms. Marvel.

Danvers took the job as Woman’s Editor-in-Chief, but immediately rejected Jameson’s concepts and forged her own editorial stance.

Apparently, she fully expected to be eventually fired for being too contrary and independent, but would not consider toeing the line. However, Jameson appreciated her tough attitude and gave her her chance.

The EIC of Woman magazine toiled hard, and regularly weathered her oft-wroth boss. But still she wondered – why was she painfully and repeatedly blacking out, and how did she keep waking up home even after fainting miles away from her apartment ?


Description

Carol usually wears mid-1960s, respectable middle-class younger female clothing (including a pearl necklace) even as a NASA security specialist. And yes, she still sounds like sAHmebahdEEfruhm BAHSton.


Personality

At this point Carol is a fairly typical late 1960s comic book female character. Her role as a security chief is unusual, but it doesn’t really impact characterisation. She could have been a secretary and little would have changed, except for her tendency to nag Lawson for being a security risk.

She is at the confluence of 2 comic book stock characterisations – the Romantic Interest and the Flatfoot Detective.

As the Romantic Interest, she is more specifically The Other Woman. Captain Marvel is attracted toward her and saves her every time she is kidnapped (and she gets kidnapped a lot). However, Una is his main romantic interest, and Carol’s interest in him is doomed to failure.

As the Flatfoot Detective, she is ever thwarted in her uninspired and oddly tepid attempts to uncover the hero’s secret identity. Think late-60s-to-mid-70s Lois Lane trying to discover Superman’s secret identity, though the story is less misogynistic and does not *quite* portray her as a bumbling airhead coming up with amazingly inept and convoluted plans a 5-year old could shoot to pieces.

Most character traits of Danvers — competitiveness, need to reject social conventions and authority to forge her own path, brazen courage and take-charge attitude, crankiness toward sexist attitudes, etc. — are very subdued during her NASA career, but start noticeably re-emerging as she earns success as a writer.

System shock

In hindsight, this characterisation is probably the result of the trauma suffered at the Lubyanka prison. Though Lubyanka was a retcon, its consequences are easy to guess :

  • She’s diminished and traumatised by the torture and deprivation.
  • She’s reeling from having her life suddenly collapse from being a top pilot and crack agent to being a ground-bound paper-pusher and glorified hotel detective.
  • She’s gone from being invincible and highly successful to a continuous string of failures against vastly superior forces attacking Cape Canaveral. Danvers likely doesn’t know how to deal with failure, having seldom failed as a student, pilot and agent, and is deeply hurt by this novel experience.
  • She’s no longer protected against chauvinism by her amazing track record, her medals and highly-placed allies such as Rossi. Her achievements are immaterial for NASA or Bridges.
  • As her credibility is being destroyed, one imagines that everyone who resented her for being uppity and not knowing her place (which would be most people given the times) came with knives out to stab her now that she was down, further stressing her out and grinding her down.

In the last 6 months covered by this profile, Carol goes through miserable and even depressive phases. The rest of the time she strives to be back to her old flow, with some success. While she is more at peace as a writer than she was in the military or as a security chief, she is far more vulnerable than she ever was as a gun-toting agent.

Left without direction, without orders and with nothing to effectively rebel against (until she encounters Jameson), she tries to fill her suddenly empty and aimless life.


Quotes

“So, General Bridges… I see you’ve brought Dr. Lawson here against my best advice… as usual !”

“But even if I weren’t head of security for the Cape, I’d be determined to get to the bottom of it ! The man who calls himself Captain Marvel saved my life earlier tonight — and I take my heroes very seriously !”

“Captain Marvel ! You’re a heavenly sight to these eyes… I’ll tell you !”

“And one more thing, Jonah… my name is *Ms.* Carol Danvers. And as far as diets and recipes [in Woman Magazine] go… forget it.”


DC Universe History

Carol would likely have headed a Task Force X beachhead base on Dinosaur Island that regularly got into troubles, suffered heavy losses from monsters that conventional firepower could barely stop, and eventually was closed as a failure.

Alternatively she simply could have been head of security at Ferris Aircraft, and easily inserted into period Green Lantern stories. Having two conflicting love interests both named Carol is so Silver Age.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Carol Danvers

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Do her job
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Head of security
Inf: 03 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 012 HP: 005

Skills:
Artist (Actress): 04, Artist (Cooking): 02, Artist (Writer): 05, Martial Artist (incl. Techniques)*: 04, Thief (Stealth): 04, Vehicles (Land): 04, Vehicles (Air): 06, Vehicles (Space): 03, Weaponry (Firearms, Heavy): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:
Vehicles (Space) is Contingent upon Vehicle (Air) — it represents Danvers using her experience as a pilot or test pilot as it transfers to space shuttles and the like, and is thus only usable with Earth space vehicles.

Advantages:
Credentials (NASA, Medium), Expertise (Poker, Making her personal recipe for soup), Familiarity (SCUBA, Military equipment and protocols, Avionics and related systems), Language (Russian ; some vocabulary in a number of languages, including Arabic), Slowed Ageing. In the last few months covered by this entry she gains a Headquarters (her penthouse flat in Manhattan).

Connections:
Logan (Low), Colonel Michael “Ace” Rossi (Low), Colonel Fury (Low), Dr. Michael Barnett (Low), “Jolly” Jonah Jameson (Low), USAF (Low), NASA (Low). She has a Low Connection with Captain Marvel, but no way to reach him that she knows of.

Drawbacks:
Uncertainty, MIA toward Captain Marvel. Misc.: Carol is young, attractive and in a very unusual role for a woman in the 1960s and 70s, which results in credibility issues and social awkwardness much like the Age (Youth) Drawback. This disappears when she leaves NASA, but is replaced by a Minor Physical Restriction (fierce migraines and occasional blackouts).

Equipment:
None. Carol is never armed during this era, and almost always runs around in casual civvies.


Design Notes

The game stats in this profile are on the high side for what she actually does in the vintage comics, since we assume that she retained a weaker version of the skills she displayed in the retcons.

This remains credible since there was very little she or the MPs guarding the Cape could do during the various attacks on Cape Canaveral during her tenure. The threats being overwhelming and her Hero Points low, highballed Abilities and Skills are not going to change much and remain compatible with the stories as published.

A later flashback mentions that Carol was trained in judo while working security for NASA – the game stats thus include soft fighting techniques.



Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Carol Danvers (vintage appearances) — Averaged PL 3.6

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
00 01 00 03 03 01 01 01

Combat Advantages

Defensive roll 1, Improved trip

Other Advantages

Benefit 1 (Slowed ageing), Language 1 (Russian)

Skills

Athletics 1 (+1), Close combat (Unarmed) 2 (+5), Deception 5 (+6), Expertise (Non-fiction writer) 7 (+8), Expertise (Fighter pilot) 6 (+8), Expertise (Espionage) 4 (+5), Insight 3 (+4), Perception 3 (+4), Ranged combat (Firearms) 3 (+6), Stealth 5 (+5), Vehicles 4 (+8)

Offense

Initiative +0
Unarmed +5, Close, Damage 1

Defense

Dodge 5 Fortitude 3
Parry 4 Toughness 2/1*
Will 4

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Prejudice Carol is a young woman in a macho occupation and a chauvinistic time
  • Disability Carol is physically weakened and has a hard time concentrating

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack/Effect PL 3, Dodge/Toughness PL 4, Parry/Toughness PL 3, Fort/Will PL 4
  • Point total 57 Abilities 20, Defences 11, Skills 22, Powers 0, Devices 0, Advantages 4. Equiv. PL 0.


By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe

Helper(s): Darci, Chaplain Chris

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