AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #16 (1982): 1st Captain Marvel

There haven’t been many important annuals lately–so this is a nice surprise: The debut of Monica Rambeau, the new Captain Marvel.

Stern and Romita Jr. create a new African American character who (a) doesn’t speak in stilted street slang and (b) is female. Oh, and (c) is technically a legacy character (albeit in name only).  A pretty brave thing to do—kudos to Marvel for letting them do it.

The issue started with a fun splash page…

Almost all of the issue is devoted to Monica’s backstory. She seeks out Reed Richards (who isn’t home) and the Avengers’ help because she can’t control her powers.

She’s got a black star on her chest similar to the one worn by Captain Mar-Vell, but the reasons aren’t clear.  Nor is it clear why she’s called Captain Marvel, but one assumes Marvel Comics needed to reassert their right to use that name.

Thing and The Avengers, specifically,  Iron Man, Hawkeye, Shulk, Thor and Wasp guest star.  Yes, I wrote that right: Spidey is really just a guest in his own annual.  But that’s fine, it kind of makes it more special—and really, the likelihood was very low of people buying a one-shot starring a new black female character named after a guy who really was only popular as the star of a Graphic Novel featuring his own death.

She and a professor are investigating suspicious happenings…

This may seem like a “no big deal” sequence–or maybe even a little sexist to have Monica Rambeau user her sex appeal as a distraction–but I can’t remember a many times when a black female was used like this. I can’t even think of a black female superhero at Marvel, other than Storm. (Misty Knight is a “normal” person with a bionic arm–not someone with powers.). So, this annual was a big deal.

She gets her name from one of the men she saves…

And she can also do street fighting!

As much as this is really Captain Marvel’s story, there’s some nice Roger Stern Spidey moments.

This story leads directly into her joining The Avengers.  Of course, the best use of Monica would be as the leader of NextWave…

An interesting creative note: John Romita Sr. inks his son’s pencils! I think that’s the first (only?) time that’s happened!

3 thoughts on “AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #16 (1982): 1st Captain Marvel”

  1. I agree- this issue IS of monumental importance in the Marvel scheme of things. It gave us another strong black female superheroine, although I have always found the circumstances of her highly-convenient transformation into an ultra-glamourous being of godlike power to be more than a tad specious. ( and where DID that highly-designed costume COME from-?? THIN AIR??? I am burned out on all these supermodel Marvel superladies who can think their ensembles into being out of thin air, like Storm, the late, lamented Phoenix, Ms. Marvel/Warbird, and Captain Marvel- I guess we’ll call them “Claremont Chicks” ) My feeling about Captain Marvel in this issue is that Marvel was trying just a little too hard to give us a black superheroine who is perfect in every way, as most – screw that- ALL of Chris Claremont’s female characters tend to be, to the point of annoyance. The Claremont Chicks are all highly-educated, well-spoken, generally successful in glamourous, high-profile careers, requiring NOTHING from ANY MAN, absolutely NO CHILDREN to hamper them, and always beautiful enough to be poster-girls! Now, I GET that this is funnybooks, and not ‘Roseanne’/’The Conners’, and that funnybook characters are idealized people living idealized existences, but, at times, Marvel’s approach to their female supercharacters CAN be grating! Remember, the House of Ideas built it’s entire brand on flawed supercharacters with real-world problems! This is NOT reflected at ALL in their female supercharacters, especially the Claremont Chicks! Now, this is NOT-repeat, NOT an indication by ANY MEANS to say that I want to see Marvel superladies who look like Sara Gilbert or Laurie Metcalf, but, maybe a little compromise…… a storyarc where Storm or Marvel Girl or the Black Widow have SOME kind of real-life problem. The Invisible Girl’s 1984 miscarriage, or Storm’s 1986 breakdown following her ( fortunately short-lived ) power-loss, due to superhero-hating Henry Peter Gyrich, as well as the Scarlet Witch’s numerous tribulations, were all steps in the right direction. So, those are my thoughts. This epochal issue ALSO featured a pretty-nifty back-feature power chart, which laid to rest a LOT of questions as to who’s stronger than who! The revelation that Hercules is actually slightly stronger than Thor was pretty amazing! ( that’s okay- Thor’s got the hammer, which gives him a slight edge over the Lion of Olympus in terms of sheer power, if not arm-strength- I’d take the hammer over more muscles any day of the week- especially Thursday!! ) So, congratulations to the 1982 ‘Amazing Spider-Man Annual’- a little something for everybody! Word!!

  2. OOPS!!! My bad- the Power Chart I mentioned above was actually published in the PREVIOUS year’s ‘Amazing Spider-Man Annual’, #15, in 1981!! Sorry about that!


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