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Off My Mind: What's the Deal with Ms. Marvel's Mysterious Pregnancy?

A breakdown of one of the weirdest stories in Avengers history. You won't believe what happened.

Every now and then comics take an absurd turn in storytelling. In 1980s The Avengers #200, we saw something that doesn't happen often, a character got pregnant and gave birth. There have been births in comics but this one was different and disturbing on many levels. With time crawling at a different pace, one would think that it would take years for a character to actually come to full term in comics. That wasn't the case for Ms. Marvel and her mysterious pregnancy.

It actually began in the final pages of The Avengers #199. Ms. Marvel, as Carol Danvers, went to the Avengers Mansion with a dilemma. Carol was pregnant but had no idea who the father was or how she even got pregnant in the first place. Despite all this, other team members like Wasp, Scarlet Witch and even Beast couldn't help but be overjoyed. No one questioned the possibility that Carol might've been attacked. They simply saw the joy in the upcoming birth of a baby.

A healthy baby boy was born with the help of Thor's alter ego, Dr. Donald Blake and Jocasta. Moments after the child was delivered, Wasp tried congratulating Carol, again not questioning how the nature of her pregnancy. Carol's response was she was used and wanted to be left alone. The Avengers still refused to question how she got pregnant but this wasn't the end to the strangeness that would occur.

To everyone's surprise, the baby started growing at an alarming rate. Soon he could talk and told the Avengers that his name was actually Marcus. Finally Captain America asked Marcus where he came from and Marcus told him from his mother. When Cap asked him who his father was, Marcus told him he was. Rather than push the child who now had grown to the physical form of a five-year-old, Iron Man told Cap that the child simply wasn't going to tell them any more.

As Marcus continued to grow, he requested tools to start building a device and the Avengers allowed this with no question. When Wasp finally convinced Carol, who amazingly lost all her pregnancy weight, Marcus had grown to an adult.

This is where it gets weird.

Carol recognizes Marcus. She's confused and doesn't even know how she feels about him. The mansion is attacked while Marcus insists on completing a device he started creating. When things look bleak, Marcus tells his tale, including that of his father, even though he was his own father in order for Carol to give birth to him (trust me, you're better off reading the issue for the full story).

Because Marcus originally was born in limbo, he needed a strong woman to be his vessel. He plucked Carol from the timestream and set out to "win" her over.

"With a subtle boost...you became mine." Seriously?

Marcus tells Carol and the other Avengers the rest of his sob story and they feel sorry for him. Marcus has to go back to limbo and Carol surprises everyone by saying she'll go with. Slightly startled, the Avengers just allow her to go and wish her luck. They allowed her to go off with some guy that persuaded her to become his...vessel despite the fact that she was used and didn't have full memory of what happened. This is all messed up.

Because of who Marcus' father was, the question still remains whether or not Carol was actually pregnant. Even though it was a rapid pregnancy, she still went through the entire process. What's more important is was she actually used? Marcus may not have actually physically attacked her to get his way but he did take her out of time without her permission (in other words, kidnapped her) and set about to win her over and even admitted to there being a 'subtle boost from Immortus' machines."

No one had a problem with all of this. They just let Carol go off with the man that used her because she was confused over what feelings she might have had as his lover in limbo and the fact that he sort of was her child as well. They hoped she'd live happily ever after but that wasn't the case.

Luckily her departure wasn't the last we'd hear about this. In Avengers Annual #10, Carol was saved by Spider-Woman after being attacked by Rogue. After Professor X helped Carol sort through her memories, she explained what happened and how come she had been back for three months without contacting any of the Avengers.

She never wanted to see them again. She felt betrayed when she needed them most.

What we need to keep in mind is these two issues were written by two different writers. Even before reading how Chris Claremont described it in the Annual, it's hard not to see all this as Carol being attacked and the Avengers just sitting by without any concern. Carol might not have been pregnant in the traditional sense but she still went through the process. This isn't something that has really been mentioned since and that's probably how the Avengers would like to keep it. They may be Earth's Mightiest Heroes but they have a pretty crummy way of treating team members when they're in need. Carol was abused and no one stood up for her. This truly was a dark time in the Avengers' history. Shame on them. Luckily Carol has risen above this and remains a strong character.

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Posted by Gambit1024

...Huh...

Edited by RainEffect

Thank flipping goodness for Reed's run for Ms. Marvel. Took the character from whatever hell House of M created and made her incredibly likeable. I have all 9 volumes of Reed's run (50 issues I believe) and I thoroughly enjoy re-reading them.
 
My only complaint is: who the heck is William Wagner?!
 
Edit: Didn't Stark stand up for her?

Posted by TwistedGamer

@RainEffect said:

Thank flipping goodness for Reed's run for Ms. Marvel. Took the character from whatever hell House of M created and made her incredibly likeable. I have all 9 volumes of Reed's run (50 issues I believe) and I thoroughly enjoy re-reading them. My only complaint is: who the heck is William Wagner?!

I'm really considering picking up all 9 volumes...I've never read any ms marvel but i always liked her. should i make the leap? is #50 were it ends?

Posted by RainEffect
@TwistedGamer
I absolutely, wholeheartedly recommend it. Seriously. You can miss volume 1, it more or less sets the stage for things to come. It sort of introduces you to how Reed envisions Carol Danvers to be. The actual story stuff occurs in Volume #2 (the civil war), where she is basically the face of the new order. Once you hit Volume 3, Operation Lightning Storm, it gets really interesting. Lopresti's art is fantastic, and some of the characters are hilarious (machine-man and sleepwalker are unforgettable).
Posted by TwistedGamer

@RainEffect said:

@TwistedGamer: I absolutely, wholeheartedly recommend it. Seriously. You can miss volume 1, it more or less sets the stage for things to come. It sort of introduces you to how Reed envisions Carol Danvers to be. The actual story stuff occurs in Volume #2 (the civil war), where she is basically the face of the new order. Once you hit Volume 3, Operation Lightning Storm, it gets really interesting. Lopresti's art is fantastic, and some of the characters are hilarious (machine-man and sleepwalker are unforgettable).

lol I'm so ocd it would drive me nuts if i didn't have vol 1 but had 2-9 :p it would be nice if it was one big omnibus

Posted by SpidermanWins

Well that's one weird story if I've seen one. Now I know.

Posted by Clue_

This was just horrible. Being reminded of it I can't look at Ms. Marvel the same...again. At least until I forget about this again.

Posted by Duo_forbidden

Wow. WOW. That was something I did not know about her. I do find that a bit weird how no one questioned the fact that she was abused. Thank goodness I prefer her characterization currently.

Posted by dondasch

I don't know much about Ms. Marvel at all, aside from her encounter with Rogue, but this story is all kinds of weird spookiness

Posted by ProjektGill

That is a crazy story. Only in the 80s huh. 

Online
Posted by TheShame

Ah, the 80s.....

Posted by Meteorite
@TheShame said:
Ah, the 80s.....
My thoughts exactly
Posted by Billy Batson

 
 

BB

Posted by chalkshark

I think it's strange that Ms. Marvel's rape by Marcus has been completely swept under the rug by both Marvel, The Avengers, & the fans but no one forgets that one time that Hank Pym backhanded Janet Van Dyne. 

Posted by spider-man 2996
@ProjektGill said:
That is a crazy story. Only in the 80s huh. 
Posted by kevin88wk
@perrykent62: and what does this have to do with the post?
Posted by G-Man

@RainEffect: This was Stark's reaction when she 'decided' to leave.

Staff
Posted by FoxxFireArt

Wow, this is almost a comic book equivalent of Oedipus Rex. In a way, she was raped, and it's almost incest. She had no memories of the act. So, how does she even know she was consenting? What's just the more shocking is how the Avengers are just so aloof over the whole issue. It's as if none of them ever thought "Hey, something about this doesn't seem quite right.".

Posted by RainEffect
@G-Man
Not quite what I envisioned as a knight in shining armor (hah! Get it? He's in ... yeah ... never mind). 
Posted by Thunderscream

This must be where Star Trek: Next Generation got the idea for that episode where Counselor Troi gets knocked up by an energy being whose growth is accelerated....although the crew showed a tiny bit more concern than the Avengers.

Posted by Band Lone

I forgot to wear condoms! End of story move on.. :P

Posted by LordRequiem

I liked the idea of Carol and Spidey being in a relationship, her seriousness and regimented background would have worked brilliantly against his humour. Shame that didn't happen.

Posted by Nerx

She got raped

Posted by The Poet

Wow, just like catwoman!

Moderator
Posted by TheMadMonkey

This was covered over at that other comic book news site some time ago.  I can't find the article, but if someone knows which one I'm talking about and, as long as the good folks here don't mind linking to the competition, put up the URL for everyone else to read.
In that article, Claremont explains why he chose to continue that particular plot. 
Basically put, Claremont felt that Michelinie (and Shooter) screwed it up and he felt it was up to him to fix it.

Posted by SleepyDrug
@chalkshark said:

                I think it's strange that Ms. Marvel's rape by Marcus has been completely swept under the rug by both Marvel, The Avengers, & the fans but no one forgets that one time that Hank Pym backhanded Janet Van Dyne. 
           

Marvel doesn't like to acknowledge sexual assault.....even if they put it in their stories.  Sebastian Shaw's taking Storm's body while it was possessed by Emma Frost has also been forgotten.  After all....if they remembered than Emma couldn't be retconned into a hero. 
 
On the other hand....has Ms. Marvel ever encountered Immortus or Marcus again?  There was a not quite encounter in the Kang Dynasty story.
Posted by playdohsrepublic

I seem to remember that Bendis touched on this story in Alias because of what happened with Jessica Jones and the Purple Man. I also remember Carol specifically calling it out as rape but it was a MAX title so it's not surprising that they dealt with it more head on than in regular books.

Posted by pikahyper

When I saw the headline I thought she was pregnant again lol, this story has indeed been reported a number of times and most of them a while ago o.o 
 
@playdohsrepublic said:

I seem to remember that Bendis touched on this story in Alias because of what happened with Jessica Jones and the Purple Man. I also remember Carol specifically calling it out as rape but it was a MAX title so it's not surprising that they dealt with it more head on than in regular books.
Alias was pretty incredible, the way that story arc was handled was fantastic.
Moderator Online
Posted by Jake Fury

Awkward....
Posted by fodigg

I have not read the issues in question, but if this "Marcus" can control/manipulate/whatever Ms Marvel then couldn't he have been also influencing them in some way? I'm not trying to play apologist for bad writing here, but there has to be some way to explain their ridiculous behavior and I'm going with "freaky limbo mind control." 
 
Oh, and I'll note that the scans and article never actually says the word "rape" even though that's what this totally was.

Posted by ferpuerto17

I wanna dig deep into Ms. Marvel, if you know what I mean lol

Posted by papad1992

I mean, with that costume she wears u woulda thought she'd have multiple kids!!
Posted by keith71_98

Ooooh I remember this! I still have these issues. Strange story indeed. Lots of people saw this as a depiction of rape in the comics and Marvel got a little heat over it.
Posted by zombietag

thats a cool idea. kinda weird, but cool. something different.

Posted by Aronmorales

This is one event I wish had never happened for so many different reasons...

Posted by wingster

Nice article G-Man, only nitpick I have is you didn't list the writer(s) responsible for the story. Thanks TheMadMonkey for telling us it was Michelinie (and Shooter). 
 
Was Shooter the head honcho at Marvel during this storyline? I'm surprised it got approved by Marvel brass back in the day.

Posted by jubilee042

me confused on a number of levels

Posted by Fluffy6079

Ms. Marvel, despite being in New Avengers, is extremely underused these days.  Brian Reed's book was great up until it got sucked into Secret Invasion.  After that, it went downhill.  I still hope that at some point Marvel will give her another shot at a solo title that had a better focus on her personal relationships with people.  

Posted by SirSparkington

That's seriously fucked up. Poorly written and even more poorly handled by Marvel. I would hope that such a stupid thing would never get printed today but ...

Posted by PsychoPanda

I remember reading this around the time it came out. It's not too surprising that the other superheroes were a bit ridiculous about the whole thing, most comics were still very dumbed down at the time and didn't handle complex issues. It almost feels like they were attempting to tackle a rather serious topic, but through heavy editing had to fall back some, which only made things even more awkward. Another dark point for the Avengers was just on the horizon too, when Henry Pym loses it and abuses Janet. I sometimes wonder what was going on with the writers during that time?

The only good thing I can say about #200, is the art and cover are pretty spectacular. George Perez had really grown as an artist at this point.

Posted by Sonata

Poor Ms. Marvel talk about used abused and being tossed aside like yesterdays news:(

Edited by SuperXAsh

always wondered if there was some big plan here that just sorta... fizzled out shortly afterwards. It played up to the cosmic concepts that Marvel was doing at the time (Secret Wars I & II, Contest of Champions, etc.) with many of it's characters, (cept without the weird rape/mystical conception angle) because how the Avengers acted was WAY out of character. Always got the feeling that something huge was planned for this idea (maybe some incredibly strange-ass/twisted backdoor to keep the Beyonder around??)... but when it was said and done... perhaps everyone involved in it felt... icky.  
 
Course one can never tell what a creator/writer was going through at the time... still is frikkin' weird and wrong. 

Posted by CellphoneGirl

I'm shocked i never knew about this lol

Posted by x_lover1
NOW you bring this up? NOW?!
Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Honestly thought that this was a new thing that happened reading this, but interesting nevertheless...kinda off color but, wow!

Posted by GraveSp
@G-Man said:

@RainEffect: This was Stark's reaction when she 'decided' to leave.

 
Look at that goatee he is clearly evil
Posted by Fantasgasmic
@GraveSp said:
@G-Man said:

@RainEffect: This was Stark's reaction when she 'decided' to leave.

 Look at that goatee he is clearly evil
I was gonna say the same thing about his eyebrows.
Posted by difficlus

One of the creepier marvel stories...

Posted by etragedy

I miss some of the weirder stories like this.
 
Poor Carol Danvers, she was sort of the whipping girl at Marvel - long suffering, but what an interesting character.

Posted by labarith

If we're to retcon this, we need to make Marcus "mind control" the avengers, weakly though, like he controled Ms. Marvel. 
 
But yeah... that's %^*&$&ed up.

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