(Carol Danvers) (Ms. Marvel "Year One" 1/3)
This profile is part of a large, marvellous series.
For orientation you definitely should first check our guide to Ms. Marvels.
This “Year One”Shorthand for stories chronicling the beginnings of a super-hero. Usually not a literal year. profile starts with Ms. Marvel vol. 1 #1 (cover date January, 1977) and ends when she switches to the black costume with a yellow lightning bolt (in #20 – October, 1978).
During this era, Ms. Marvel undergoes constant changes in powers and characterisation. This article therefore works to explain away all discrepancies. So that everything seen in the comic books can be true, everywhere, all at once.
- Real Name: Carol Susan Jane Danvers.
- Known Relatives: Joseph (father), Marie (mother), Steven J. (brother, deceased), Joseph Jr. (brother), Benny (uncle).
- Group Affiliation: Former member of the US Air Force and US Air Force Strategic Operations, former member of the CIA, former employee of NASA.
- Base Of Operations: New York City’s Manhattan borough. Formerly Boston ; later unrevealed Air Force bases and CIA buildings ; later Cape Canaveral (FL).
- Height: 5’7” (1.70m) (5’9” (1.75m) as Ms. Marvel). Weight: 120 lbs. (54Kg).
- Eyes: Blue. Hair: Blonde !
Carol Danvers stories in their *in-universe* chronological order are all over the place. Her characterisation darts around like a roller-blading skunk on meth, her skills appear and disappear, etc..
It seems difficult to reconcile the pilot and super-spy, the out-of-her-depth supporting cast blonde, and the women’s lib super-heroine.
Howbeit, it is possible to spin it into a coherent narrative.
This narrative was likely not intended by the authors. The material is too scattered. But it does makes sense, in hindsight, to explain Danvers’ abilities and characterisation.
Though it flows naturally from the stories, this rationalisation is *not* canon. Rather, it’s an additional layer to make the conflicting canon make sense.
Wait, wait, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this !
This No-Prize HypothesisA made-up explanation to plug a plot hole. goes :
- The damage suffered at Lubyanka was medically irreparable. Even with her amazing constitution, Carol Danvers remained, physically and psychologically, but a shadow of whom she once was.
- When the Psyche-Magnitron energy permeates her, it responds to her wish to fly again, be a great warrior and be a famous heroine. However, her health is too poor for even this deus ex machinaA contrived plot device that suddenly turns around a hopeless situation. to turn her into a super-heroine right away.
- In our take, what the Psyche-Magnitron does is run a lengthy background process that repairs Carol’s mind and body. After years of this silent procedure, she unknowingly regains enough fortitude to become Ms. Marvel.
So far, so good ?
- This slow process also employs a “crutch” – the artificial Ms. Marvel persona. This synthetic mentality fulfills two objectives :
- It’s a “scaffolding” to facilitate the regrowth of Danvers’ strength of personality.
- It’s a “safe mode” for the Psyche-Magnitron to test-drive the Ms. Marvel superhuman body, which was operational before her mind was fully healed.
- As these physical tests were conclusive and the mental healing concluded, the artificial personality receded. It was no longer needed.
- The Psyche-Magnitron interpreted Danvers’ wish to be a “great warrior” and heroine within a *Kree* cultural context. And a great Kree warrior would be one mastering the Kree military skills, not inferior alien ones. Therefore, the Psyche-Magnitron had to teach her these somehow.
- Having a weakened Carol hallucinate being trained as an elite Kree cadet would likely have driven her crazy. So the skills were given to an alternate, Kree personality that would gently fuse with Carol’s personality as she finished her mental recovery.
There are *hints* about this in the material, but no clear statement.
- When the Destructor (Kerwin Korman) is turned into a half-Kree by the Psyche-Magnitron, the sudden change shatters him, physically and psychologically. This suggests that safely melding Carol with Kree genetics and an artificial Kree personality had to be a lengthy, controlled process.
- In Ms. Marvel vol. 1 #19, the Ms. Marvel costume is clearly stated to have been used to enhance her powers. Because the genetic fusion was a lengthy process with gradual results.
- Carol states in both Ms. Marvel vol. 1 #13 and #19 that the Psyche-Magnitron turned her into a Kree warrior, but her mind couldn’t cope with it and split in two to handle it.
In our framework, this pop-psych explanation is almost right. She just had the sequence backward. Her mind was split because it couldn’t handle the transformation yet.
Further notes about this “trellis” framework
The hypothesis above addresses retconsMaking changes to a character or story after the fact. in Ms. Marvel #1-20.
Early on, it seemed that writer Gerry Conway thought of the process that empowered Carol as exposing a positive photographic film. The Psyche-Magnitron emitted a beam that passed through Mar-Vell and struck Carol.
Writer Chris Claremont showed this in flashbacks when he took over the series. Yet, he must not have been happy with it. Among other issues, it did not explain the costume.
He eventually settled on the genetic reconstruction explanation in Ms. Marvel #19. But that meant having phased out the dual persona subplot and the powered costume.
Last few notes
During this era Carol Danvers pines to be better, stronger, a warrior, and a winner.
At this point her past as a pilot and military intelligence operative has not yet been retconned in. So this cup of ambition comes across as an allegory for women’s liberation and empowerment.
However, the story works even better with the retconned-in military career. Danvers’s reactions and thought bubbles in the period material actually make *more* sense as those of a damaged and traumatised person who is being slowly, painfully put back together by a mysterious force without realising it.
That this psychic and physical surgery was done by aliens, and thus ham-fisted and inaccurate in parts, can also help explain many of her later psychological difficulties and alcoholism.
Let’s have something thematically appropriate, and emblematic of 1977 in the US… Yes, the Steve Miller Band nicely fits that bill.
I reckon that it classifies as Classic Rock or Dad Rock. Though by the late 2020s I guess it will more accurately be Granddad Rock.
Powers & Abilities
Ms. Marvel is a powerful fighter with :
- Enormous superhuman strength. She can smash through heavy stone walls, uproot and throw large trees within seconds, lift main battle tanks, throw cars around as if they were made of cardboard, etc..
- The power of flight. She can reach orbital heights under her own power, though early on such a feat required wearing her costume.
- Enhanced senses – including a complex “seventh sense” we’ll review later. When concentrating, she can also see tiny details in the distance.
Ms. Marvel is superhumanly durable. She can largely ignore conventional weaponry, and withstands superhuman blows without serious wounds. Being unexpectedly hit across the face by a falling I-beam only dazed her for a short while.
But this isn’t entirely consistent, though her durability seems to increase over time.
Higher faster further more
Her agility, reflexes and speed are likely superhuman. She uses a spectacular acrobatic fighting style.
On the other hand, she never displays a number of military skills one would expect from an elite cadet of the Kree Lar academy. In DC Heroes TTRPG terms she might very well have Martial Artist, Military Science, Vehicles, and Weaponry. But she doesn’t use any of those during this era.
On the gripping handAncient nerd joke, equivalent to “on the third hand”., after she integrates herself, she routinely uses Carol’s judo techniques as Ms. Marvel.
Other assets and limitations
Ms. Marvel is a tenacious fighter and hates being knocked out. In DC Heroes terms she tends to keep her Hero PointsDC Heroes RPG concept expressing narrative importance/immunity. to soak damage.
If she becomes angry or needs to save lives, she’ll use her Hero Points more offensively.
During this era, Ms. Marvel consistently underestimates her own power. There’s a series of occasions where she realises that she’s stronger and more durable than she thought.
For instance she assumed that she wasn’t bulletproof. Despite regularly withstanding attacks more powerful than any bullet.
She also thought that people known for their superhuman strength (such as Tiger Shark) were radically stronger than her. As it turned out, he wasn’t *that* brawnier.
Big science, yodellayheehoo
At this stage, Ms. Marvel uses Kree science as one of her core skills. She builds advanced gadgets such as :
- Water-breathing potions.
- Multi-shot flash-packs. These shoot flares to blind and scare off creatures living deep underwater.
- Special nets capable of catching intangible beings such as the Vision.
- Specialised sensors.
She also improvises a powerful EMPAn electro-magnetic pulse/explosion that disables electronics. generator from a Con Ed power plant.
Ronan the Accuser stated that Danvers had all the knowledge of a Fleet Captain. Meaning that she knew how to build any Kree weapon – up to and including the Universal Weapon.
She’s not a full-on gadgets-based hero. She prefers to use her advanced scientific skills after a forceful approach has clearly failed. Still, Ms. Marvel can and does come up with useful, super-advanced tech.
Her scientific and engineering work is done in a light trance. She also once worked at a clearly superhuman speed.
This technological aspect of the character would later fade out.
Seventh sense (part 1)
Ms. Marvel’s “seventh sense” is a danger sense. For instance, it warns her when somebody is about to shoot her in the back.
It also incorporates extra-sensory perception. For instance, she can sense that people she knows are under threat.
This can be broad, such as sensing a danger to New York City. Perhaps somebody she knew was in the crowd being threatened ?
Ms. Marvel will therefore know when an adventure is about to begin, where it is and what is going on. This threatens to put old men hiring adventurers in taverns out of work.
Somehow, she never senses the dangers that occur in other Marvel comic books set in New York City. Except of course when she appears in a team-up event.
Her danger sense also inexplicably fails when that’s convenient for the plot. ESP powers often do that in comics.
Seventh sense (part 2)
Ms. Marvel’s seventh sense can locate the source of a danger. She get visions about the person or phenomenon, which is reminiscent of the cosmic awareness of Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell).
This often fast-forwards the story to the action parts.
The clarity of seventh sense perceptions varies. Manifestations have included :
- A vague intuition.
- Crisp clairvoyance. Ms. Marvel clearly visualises the opposition and its location.
- Detailed dreams about likely events in her future.
- Sudden flashes of cryptic images.
- Later on, precognitive vision flashes. Ms. Marvel foresees events that might be hours in the future.
Taking a tally, Ms. Marvel is empowered by :
- Psyche-Magnitron energy.
- Additional power drawn from Mar-Vell’s nega-bands by the Psyche-Magnitron.
- Exceptional human genetics, including the enormous psionicPsionics are sci-fi style psychic powers. potential inherent to all humans.
- These genetics were then reconstructed as a perfect blend of Human and Kree genetics.
- Extensive Human and Kree military knowledge, Human knowledge of intelligence work, and Kree scientific knowledge.
- For a while, a costume to enhance her super-powers as they finished maturing.
History (part 1)
Carol Danvers revitalised Woman magazine.
Her principal helper was associate editor Tracy Burke. Other staff she regularly worked with included :
- Freelance photojournalist Frank Gianelli.
- Reporter Sharon Cole.
- Clumsy nepo intern Tabitha Townshend.
- As an Easter Egg, fan-favourite comics artist Marie Severin appeared among the Woman staff.
Meanwhile, the mysterious Ms. Marvel (no relation) started manifesting during Carol’s blackouts.
At this point, Danvers and Ms. Marvel did not know about each other. Both were perplexed by their blackouts.
Ms. Marvel assumed that she was some sort of amnesiac heroine. But it was distressingly unclear to her whether she was a space alien, or an Earth woman.
Flying into action
Ms. Marvel was first seen responding to a robbery in New York City.
Mere hours later, the brazen blonde battler rescued the ungrateful J. Jonah Jameson, who had been kidnapped by the Scorpion (MacDonald Gargan).
Meanwhile Danvers continued to consult with Dr. Barnett, a psychiatrist known for his mastery of regression hypnosis. This attempt to learn about her blackouts was a success. Under hypnosis, she could describe her metamorphoses.
At first, Barnett thought these were delusions. But after Danvers fainted during a regression, she became Ms. Marvel right in front of him. The heroine flew off to confront the Scorpion and the Destructor in a street battle.
This woman, this warrior
Carol then returned to Cape Canaveral. She was to write an exclusive about astronaut Salia Petrie, a friend of hers.
However, she sensed the arrival of an ICBMIntercontinental ballistic missile. A sort of rocket, usually used to deliver a nuclear warhead. aimed at the Cape. Turning into Ms. Marvel, she flew beyond the atmosphere to intercept it.
The payload was the Doomsday Man robot. But Ms. Marvel destroyed the missile, forcing the indestructible robot to crash near the Cape.
As the Doomsday Man climbed out of the crater, Ms. Marvel was irresistibly attracted toward the cave where the Psyche-Magnitron had once exploded. There, she intuited that she was Carol Danvers as well as Ms. Marvel.
She was also exposed to further Psyche-Magnitron energy. But it would be months before she realised that it had strengthened her.
Ms. Marvel then destroyed the Doomsday Man robot.
Robots and synthesoids
Days later, Carol fainted right on the street. A premonition of grave danger involving a strange truck had knocked her out.
Her psychiatrist told her that she was the host for a super-heroine. And that this vision was one of Ms. Marvel’s precognitive flashes.
Investigating, Danvers found the truck – and Ms. Marvel took over. The heroine soon discovered that the Vision (“Victor Shade”) was riding shotgun to protect the shipment.
After a scuffle, Ms. Marvel’s precognitive flash was proved correct. The driver was a robot in disguise, tasked with detonating the shipment to kill millions. The two heroes stopped it.
Gortokians and Skrulls
This was followed by an encounter with Grotesk.
Both combatants were interrupted when MODOK tried to kidnap Ms. Marvel. He sought to copy and mass-produce the Ms. Marvel costume. But the fight with Grotesk destroyed the in-costume circuitry MODOK was after.
In New York City, Carol stumbled upon a fight between the Super-Skrull (Kl’rt) and the Torch (Johnny Storm) and Spider-Man (Peter Parker).
Ms. Marvel flew in to help after the Torch had been knocked out. She eventually deduced that the Super-Skrull wanted to use a cavourite crystal to return to his galaxy, and trapped him into warp-space.
The warrior and the witch-queen
Danvers then had another premonition. Her friend Salia Petrie would soon die in a space shuttle explosion, caused by another cavourite crystal.
However, Carol also sensed impending danger in nearby Saracen Cay. Ms. Marvel forced the change to fly off to the Cay and meet this greater menace – leaving Petrie to her fate.
Ms. Marvel intervened in a fight between the Elementals and Hecate.
During the entire fight, the Carol consciousness fought against the Ms. Marvel one. One wanted to rescue Salia, but the other knew that stopping the Elementals was far more important.
Source of Character: Marvel Universe.
Helper(s): Chris Cottingham, Darci, Frank Murdock.