Sharon Ventura is a minor supporting cast character for The Thing (Benjamin Jacob Grimm). She’s also been active as a superhuman adventurer.
She first appeared in 1985. However, The Thing Vol. 1 was abruptly cancelled one issue after Sharon became Ms. Marvel, robbing her of her momentum.
Ms. Ventura has a number of identities, which we’ll cover across multiple short chapters.
The sequence goes :
- Sharon Ventura 1985-1988 — Ms. Marvel. This here entry.
- Sharon Ventura 1988-1992 — Thing form.
- Sharon Ventura 1992-2000.
If you were looking for another bearer of the “Ms. Marvel” name, check our guide to Ms. Marvels.
- Real Name: Sharon Ventura.
- Known Relatives: Major General Ventura (father, deceased), unnamed mother (deceased).
- Group Affiliation: Fantastic Four, former member of the Thunderiders and the US Army.
- Base of Operations: Four Freedoms Plaza, NYC, NY.
- Height: 5’8″ (1.73m). Weight: 135 lbs. (61 Kg.).
- Eyes: Blue-green. Hair: Red.
Powers & Abilities
Sharon Ventura is proficient is an impressive list of action sports, including :
She has ample experience as a cinema stunts performer, and received basic military training.
However, she performs at a realistic level. During such perilous pursuits, she’s as vulnerable as any experienced real-life athlete. Sharon never had the mysterious quality that allows higher-profile costumed adventurers to fearlessly perform unerring feats.
Power Broker enhancement
Ventura was a solid Power Broker enhancement success. She wasn’t deformed in the least, and gained :
- Superhuman strength. The Master Edition of the Marvel Handbook lists her as “Class 25”. I’m wary since there are discrepancies in the numbers given for PB augmenteds (particularly women), but in her case it seems correct.
FF vol. 1 #321 states that Sharon was “Class 10” at this point, so I reckon it all averages out at her being a mite above “Class 15”.
- Tripled reflexes and enhanced agility, taking her a bit under peak human levels.
- Enhanced leaping ability.
Ms. Marvel is thus an acrobatic, mobile, dodge-happy brawler à la Daredevil (Matt Murdock). With lower skills, of course, but much higher strength.
In the zone
As a Fantastic Four member, Sharon demonstrated a notable power of deduction. She presumably always had this knack, but didn’t get a chance to demonstrate it previously.
She’s no Reed Richards, and her deductions about possible weaknesses of her opponents remain within the bounds of common scientific knowledge. But they come quickly, as action and adrenaline grant her a clear mind.
Examples included :
- Deducing that Diablo had a hidden potion he could swallow with almost no movement. Which meant it had to be hidden in his moustache.
- Realising that Fasaud had to use a satellite relay to transmit himself over large distances. Since he moved as an electromagnetic wave that would otherwise be blocked by Earth’s curvature.
What immediately comes to mind to evoke 1985 is the Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget Me”. Which also fits the character.
This Scottish band had been well successful in Europe — well, Western Europe back then — but 1985 is when they made it in the US. “Don’t You Forget About Me” was the memorable ending theme of one of the iconic Generation X movies, The Breakfast Club.
(The stray video excerpts you can see in the music video are from the movie).
The Simple Minds did anthemic, New Wave pop music. Their main successes just… work. Even “Don’t You”, which was crafted in a rumpled, reluctant rush – and never quite finished.
History (part 1)
Sharon is the only child of Major General Ventura.
This harsh, demanding, elite senior officer was apparently greatly respected among the US Army. Perhaps he was a hard-charging, lead-from-the-front WW2 tough guy – like the Air Force’s General Ross.
He harshly drove Sharon to be #1 in everything, from school grades to gymnastics. Nothing she did was ever good enough.
At 17 or 18, Sharon enlisted with a military academy. Since the school is described as “hallowed” and the students were wearing US Army service green uniforms, this likely meant the USMA at West Point .
However, there was a cheating scandal. The school administration ordered her to denounce her roommate. But Cadet Ventura refused, and she was expelled.
(One gets the vague sense that Sharon’s roommate had been picked to be the fall gal – to protect the guilty).
General Ventura refused to hear her explanations, and shut his daughter out. However, he died one year later.
The distressed Sharon vowed that she’d be the best that she could be even without her father around, so as not to shame him in death. She launched into an unrelenting extreme sports practice to prove her courage and skill.
Presumably, her inheritance helped her finance such pursuits. She also made money as a movie stuntwoman.
One panel gives the impression that she occasionally took hot-lass-in-skimpy-clothing bit acting jobs. To make more moolah in movies where she did stunts.
Lions and hogs
Ms. Ventura continued to flitter through dangerous occupations.
In 1984, Sharon performed as a lion tamer with a circus, the “Grandest Show On Earth”. She also featured prominently on the circus’ posters, due to her attractiveness n’atYinzer contraction for “and all those related but unspecified things as well”..
In 1985, she joined the Thunderiders stunt motorcycle team. These popular performers had previously been active as the moto racing Team America.
She toured with them for several months then returned to cinema stunt work.
So, here is the Thing
Meanwhile, a drifting Thing (Benjamin Jacob Grimm) stumbled upon a circus poster featuring Ms. Ventura.
This shocked him, as she was the spitting image of his former lover Tarianna.
- Tarianna lived on the world created by the Beyonder for his Secret Wars. She and most locals had been created ex nihiloLatin for “from thin air”., based on memories of the combatants. As such, Tarianna was essentially Mr. Grimm’s dream lover.
- The Thing lived with Tarianna for a while. But she and the entire made-up world were eventually destroyed, and Ben was cast back to Earth.
- In hindsight, it seems possible that Sharon Ventura was the template for Tarianna. Perhaps Ben noticed Sharon in a movie or TV show shortly before the Secret Wars.
With Vance Astro’s help, Ben tracked Sharon down and met with the Thunderiders. He wanted to check whether she somehow was Tarianna.
But once he met her he could only stand there – numb and unable to speak. Sharon had to awkwardly walk away.
Ben briefly joined the Thunderiders to be with Sharon. But he soon realised that he had been hired to *replace* her. She was gone.
Dejected, he became a wrestler – the star of the recently established Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation (UCWF).
History (part 2)
Sharon attended most of the Thing’s wrestling matches in Vegas. Perhaps she remained intrigued by their awkward encounter.
The Beyonder, experiencing life as a mortal, joined the Federation. This enraged Ben, who blamed him for the loss of Tarianna.
The Thing demanded to meet the Beyonder in a match. In the ring, he entered a grief-fuelled rage.
Noticing Sharon in the audience, Vance asked her to help calm Ben down. They succeeded.
Devil Dinosaur: the movie
Sharon invited Ben to the shooting of Devil Dinosaur: the movie. She and other stunt crew were playing Small-Folks (the befurred, near-Human species of Moon-Boy) fighting sophisticated animatronic dinosaurs.
The shoot went through major incidents, including a Godzilla attack. Ben also explained the Tarianna situation to Sharon.
Though he insisted that he was trying to turn that page and Sharon was just a friend, Ms. Ventura sensed that Mr. Grimm couldn’t actually move on.
She therefore reestablished some distance. But she continued to attend his UCWF matches.
This led to a mistaken brawl between the Thing and Titania’s colleagues, the New Grapplers.
Sharon intervened to help stop the super-brawl, despite the obvious risks. This impressed Auntie Freeze, the manager/coach of the Grapplers.
Freeze pitched Ventura about using the confidential Power Broker strength-enhancement treatment to join the New Grapplers.
Sharon took the offer. But as she talked about it with Ben, she realised he still couldn’t let go of his fixation about Tarianna. This made it impossible to remain friends.
Ms. Ventura underwent much of the Power Broker treatments and injections.
However, the pain and stress triggered nasty hallucinations of her father. This unnerved her. Furthermore, she came to the conclusion that being enhanced was cheating.
As a result, Sharon blindly fled before the last stage of the procedure. But the treatment was actually over.
What hadn’t been done were injections of a powerfully addictive narcotic. It was used to keep all Power-Broker-enhanced persons on a short leash.
Brawn and consequences
Sharon thus realised what was going on with PB and the UCWF.
- The Thing helped her fight off a small army of super-wrestlers. The Power Broker had sent them to silence Sharon, under threat of denying the wrestlers their drugs.
- Another helper was Lt. Michael Lynch of the US Army, who had helped Sharon during a previous misadventure.
- Auntie Freeze sought to help Sharon. She gave Ventura the Grappler costume she had commissioned for her.
- However, the Power Broker then forced Auntie Freeze and her Grapplers to attack Sharon.
- During the fracas, Lt. Lynch exclaimed that Sharon’s new costume reminded him of Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)’s. Since Ms. Marvel had vanished months before and the costume had M-shaped motifs, Sharon claimed the Ms. Marvel name.
- The exposure of the Power Broker machination had severe but undocumented consequences for the UCWF.
- Ben Grimm, who had been slowly mutating for months, broke down. His body became more monstrous. He eventually fled from the hospital to avoid hurting people around him, and hide his altered body.
After a brief, mistaken brawl Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) attempted to help Ben. But he eluded them.
Sharon also realised that Ben had been fixated on her/Tarianna in part since he’d been sick and in pain for the whole time.
For months, Ms. Marvel tried to locate the new hideout of the Power Broker. She also dated Lt. Lynch, who resembled her father in a less than healthy way.
Dialogue implies that some of the super-wrestling events she participated in involved guest appearances by a recovered Thing.
Sharon eventually found the Broker – but she also discovered that Lt. Lynch had been working with the Power Broker all along. The officer was in charge of a secret program to enhance soldiers.
Lynch had the Broker’s men dogpile and capture Ms. Marvel. She then spent months held in a special cell next to fellow PB augmented Demolition Dunphy (Dennis Dunphy).
Experiments were run to depower her, though these didn’t have lasting consequences. But the months of torture, abuse and rape left Sharon traumatised.
In 1987 Captain America (Steve Rogers) located the site, freeing Ventura and Dunphy.
He had Dennis hospitalised, and managed to calm down the shocked Sharon. She then exposed Lt. Michael Lynch.
In the subsequent fray Lynch accidentally killed his first super-soldier, G.I. Max. The army reprimanded him, and buried the project.
Cap agreed to give Ms. Marvel a ride to Manhattan on his Harley. Though he could tell she was psychologically disabled, she rejected all offers of help.
History (part 3)
Sharon sought to contact Ben for help. But before entering Four Freedoms Plaza, she got cold feet out of self-hatred, and walked away.
However, Diablo the Alchemist (Esteban Corazón de Ablo) then publicly attacked the team, taking them down by surprise. Sharon bushwhacked him in turn. She beat de Ablo up, almost killing him.
Seeing how hurt Sharon was, Ben felt he had little choice but to take her in. Beside, he was short one in assembling a replacement FF roster.
Surprisingly, this turned out to be an excellent decision. Physical action and risk allowed Ms. Ventura to forget about her pain – and lose herself in being a super-heroine.
As a FF, Ms. Marvel :
- Again proved her mettle against Diablo’s attempt at revenge. She surprised him with her acrobatic speed, then intuited/deduced that he had soaked his moustache with a failsafe alchemical potion.
- Helped defeat Fasaud (Farouk al-Fasaud). However during the battle, she couldn’t bring herself to touch Johnny to save him from a fall. This forced Crystal to over-exert herself to save the Torch.
As an electronic lifeform, Fasaud was almost impossible to stop. But Ms. Marvel deduced that they could contain and weaken him by taking out a satellite transmitter.
Sharon and Ben stole a space shuttle from Fasaud’s country, and used it to wreck the satellite. They narrowly succeeded, and made it back to Earth.
However, on the way down, they ran into a storm of cosmic rays. And the shuttle’s shielding was too damaged to protect them.
Sharie is a statuesque woman. With immense legs, an athletic yet curvaceous physique, and a long mane of bright red hair. She had no problem looking fantastic in super-spandex.
Her costume does reference the 1980s Ms. Marvel one in both the cut and the sash. Whether that was Auntie Freeze’s intent — and what ring name she had designed for Sharon — remains unrevealed.
Sharon projects the image of a dynamic, conquering, fast-moving, fearless woman of action. People tend to buy that, in no small part because of her beauty.
In actuality, she’s a walking heap of neuroses. Her upbringing left her with severe, disabling psychological issues. She’s fixated on constantly proving her strength in myriad ways, and it will never ever stop.
She admires the Thing – a famous paragon of strength and courage. Though her friendship with Ben went sour due to his own neuroses, she stuck by him – in part to prove her determination.
Why Sharon turned to Ben for help in 1987 was incoherent and unclear, due to her psychological state. Though Ben hadn’t treated her well due to his grief, she still admired his strength and kindness.
Sharon also felt that they shared ground as monsters, as she hated herself as a rape survivor.
As a FF member, Sharon largely reverts to a West Point cadet behaviour. She’s serving the Fantastic Four legacy much like she’d serve her country.
She alternates between this slightly rigid and formal behaviour, and being an action junkie who thinks on her feet and runs on bravery. But if she can’t use either of these modes, she’s left as a psychologically disabled and self-loathing survivor.
The traumatised Sharon hates all men but Ben – especially if they might touch her. But she’s good at concealing these phobic reactions – unless surprised.
Though Ben clearly still has a crush on her, Sharon can more or less deal with that. In part because Ben doesn’t *look* like a man, and therefore doesn’t trigger phobic reactions.
DC Heroes RPG
Sharon Ventura (pre-augmentation)
|Dex: 04||Str: 02||Bod: 03|
|Int: 04||Wil: 04||Min: 03|
|Inf: 03||Aur: 03||Spi: 04|
|Init: 013||HP: 005|
Acrobatics (Athletics, Climbing): 04, Animal handling: 04, Martial artist: 03, Medicine (First aid): 03, Scientist (Observation): 04, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (US infantry weapons): 03
Bonuses and Limitations:
Scientist is limited to what can be inferred using ordinary knowledge.
Familiarity (Cinema industry, Circus industry, Moto racing, Parachuting, Diving, Skiing, Basic survival).
Cinema industry (Low).
Partial Attack Vulnerability (-1CS RV vs. social, Mental and Mystical effects exploiting her neuroses), Guilt, Minor Psychological Instability.
These stats are almost entirely guesswork, given the lack of material. But the numbers space is small enough that they can’t be far off.
Medicine, Scientist and Weaponry are inferred, not demonstrated.
Animal Handling and Vehicles likely have Specialisations. But again – lack of material.
Guilt ain’t a bad way to model her neuroses. She has to keep engaging in Hero Points-earning, risky exploits to maintain her meagre pool of HPs. But she’s forever treading water HP-wise.
Sharon Ventura (PB augmented)
|Dex: 07||Str: 10||Bod: 06|
|Int: 05||Wil: 04||Min: 03|
|Inf: 03||Aur: 03||Spi: 04|
|Init: 015||HP: 025|
Acrobatics: 08, Animal handling: 04, Martial artist: 05, Medicine (First aid): 03, Scientist (Observation): 05, Vehicles (Land): 06, Weaponry (Firearms): 02
Bonuses and Limitations:
Scientist is limited to what can be inferred using ordinary knowledge.
Familiarity (Cinema industry, Circus industry, Moto racing, Parachuting, Diving, Skiing, Basic survival, Pro wrestling).
Cinema industry (Low).
Attack Vulnerability (-1CS OV/RV vs. social, Mental and Mystical effects exploiting her neuroses or trauma), Guilt, Minor Psychological Instability.
- The Psychological Instability becomes Serious.
- Acquires a Serious Irrational Dislike of men.
- Acquires a Traumatic Flashback Drawback about circumstances reminding her of her imprisonment and torture.
Marked lack of material there too. Therefore, overeducated guesses.
The FF likely counted as Financial Backer Advantage.
Source of Character: Marvel Comics.
Writeup completed on the 5th of June, 2023.