Marvel Madness

That Time Ms. Marvel Was Hypnotized in the Basement of a Mall

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It’s time to take another trip into the wonderful world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe folks, and to celebrate her first trip onto the silver screen I’ve decided to dive into the weird history of Marvel to find a fun tale involving good old Carol Danvers. Over the years Carol has become one of my favorite characters, but it’s really been in the last few years, primarily thanks to the great Kelly Sue DeConnick’s redefining run where she finally took up the mantle of Captain Marvel. Because, in case you weren’t aware, for a majority of Carol’s history she went by the title Ms. Marvel, thanks to her being essentially a spin-off of the original Captain Marvel, an adventurer/scientist alien who jetted around the Marvel universe, fighting crimes and hanging out with Rick Jones. And, after Captain Marvel’s sad death due to cancer, the bounced around a bit before finally coming to Carol, getting an upgrade in both status and costume to become the character we’re all excited to see on the big screen. But, this story will not be that kind of Carol. No, this is one of the absolute earliest Carol Danvers stories, when they were still figuring the character out, and boy is it weird. We’ve got split personalities, MODOK, hidden bases underneath shopping malls, and of course, sexy MODOK. Let’s get going, folks.

This story picks up at the end of the previous one, where Ms. Marvel did battle with some horrible monster guy called Grotesk. And, it didn’t go well for her. Grotesk was pretty easily able to overpower Ms. Marvel, primarily due to the fact that Carol still didn’t fully understand how her powers worked at this point in the comic. Hell, back in the early days Carol wasn’t even aware that she was Ms. Marvel, she’d undergo weird fugue states and wake up as Ms. Marvel, fight some crime, then pass out and wake back up as Carol again, assuming that she had become narcoleptic or something. So, Grotesk is able to beat Ms. Marvel up pretty badly, to the point where he causes an entire building to collapse on top of her, sending Carol plummeting down into a secret catacomb. She hits the ground, covered in rubble, and ends up passing out. And, when she wakes up she finds something more than a little alarming awaiting her.

 

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Oh, shit! It’s MODOK, folks! And, he’s been eagerly awaiting to meet Ms. Marvel! See, for some reason, these early Ms. Marvel stories frequently had her having to deal with AIM, the Advanced Idea Mechanic. Which, seems little weird. AIM is Marvel’s mad-scientist criminal organization, and they usually deal with more technological heroes. So, having Ms. Marvel’s early days be pitted against a bunch of evil nerds in bee-keeper outfits is a little odd, but I’m always happy to see MODOK, so I’m not going to complain. And, what is MODOK up to you ask?

Well, apparently MODOK is currently not in charge of AIM. There was some sort of civil war among the members of AIM, which left MODOK disposed. But, he chose not to go quietly into that night, and has apparently set himself up as the ruler of a splinter cell of AIM members operating out of the West Coast. Which is weird, because they’re currently in New Jersey. And, MODOK obviously wants to wrestle control of the whole AIM organization back into his stubby little arms, but he knows that he’s going to need a secret weapon. Which has brought him to Ms. Marvel. MODOK has apparently been keeping tabs on this mysterious new hero, and has realized that a majority of Ms. Marvel’s powers seem to come from the Kree technology in her costume. So, he’s abducted Ms. Marvel, taken her costume, and made his own Ms. Marvel!

 

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MODOK is quite proud of his faux Ms. Marvel, and decides to demonstrate his brilliance while Carol is suspended in a weird orb of energy. And it doesn’t go well! Fake Ms. Marvel takes a running leap, ready to fly with grace, and ends up face-planing into the ground, much to the surprise of everyone. Because, for some reason, at this point in her history a majority of Ms. Marvel’s abilities were derived from her Kree battle-suit, but it doesn’t seem like they’re transferable to a different person. Which, is a good thing, because otherwise all early Ms. Marvel stories would revolve around people attempting to steal her clothes.

MODOK is pretty furious that his experiment of putting a costume on some random lady didn’t work immediately, so he decides to try out another feature and blasts his fake Ms. Marvel with one of his mental bolts. And, unfortunately, she’s not able to absorb the energy like the real Ms. Marvel tends to do, and is instead knocked unconscious, proving to be an abject failure. So, it’s not just a costume. Which means that for MODOK to successfully use Ms. Marvel as his own personal weapon to win back control of AIM, he’s going to have to hypnotize her into becoming a Manchurian Candidate. And, to accomplish that, he’s not only going to have to convince Ms. Marvel that she’s a loyal member of AIM, but that she’s incredibly, powerfully attracted to MODOK.

 

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Sorry about your eyes, everyone! I maybe should have tossed a content warning on that or something, because I don’t think anyone was prepared to scope out a ripped, sexy MODOK. I know I sure wasn’t when I read this issue first. As you can see, the hypnotism is a real battle for Carol, because part of her is remembering the fact that MODOK is an evil head, and that she should be trying to beat the hell out of him, but the other half of her really wants to hook up with swole MODOK. Plus, I just can’t get over the idea that if MODOK was able to go into someone’s head and convince them he’s a wonderful leader worth dying for his first inclination is to be super jacked, wear a costume that mostly shows off his abs, and then keeps that weird head, just little. It’s just a work of art, folks.

And, sadly, it seems to have worked. Carol appears to have succumbed to the seductive hypnotism of MODOK, and is ready to get her new orders as an operative of AIM. So, with the experiment a resounding success, MODOK decides to free Ms. Marvel from her bounds. Which, was a mistake, because Carol is apparently just playing possum, and as soon as she’s free from her containment she starts kicking some serious nerd-ass. She fights through several waves of AIM soldiers, and then gets ready to take on MODOK himself by wrenching some piece of machinery off of a wall so she can just beat him to death with it. But, it turns out MODOK does have a trick up his tiny little sleeve.

 

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Uh oh, it looks like some of the hypnosis actually did stick. Just none of the sexy stuff. Carol finds herself completely unable to stop herself from obeying MODOK’s orders, even though her mind is silently shrieking at herself to fight back. And, to test that the hypnosis was successful, MODOK decides to have Ms. Marvel prove her loyalty by killing the failed Ms. Marvel he’d previously brought out. Carol is obviously not okay with killing some random woman, but the hypnosis proves to be pretty powerful, so Ms. Marvel calmly approaches the terrified woman, and starts to strangle her, causing some wild flashbacks to occur.

Carol finds herself being bombarded with some weird memories of herself fighting some Kree on an alien planet, which doesn’t exactly make sense. But, she pieces it together that these are the memories of her friend Captain Marvel, from whom she got her powers and now seems to be intrinsically linked. And, those memories of fighting on Hala end up shifting to Carol herself training as a security agent at the Kennedy Space Center. And, while thinking about sparring with some fellow security agents, Carol starts to think about her friends and family, which is apparently enough to knocker her out of MODOK’s hypnotism. Because MODOK’s experiments just aren’t doing well today, it seems. And, free of MODOK’s control, Carol stops strangling the random AIM agent, and starts whooping some MODOK ass.

 

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Carol quickly begins kicking everyone in the room’s ass, and while doing so she makes a startling discovery. She’s able to fly while not wearing her Ms. Marvel suit. Which, she’s never been able to do before. But, for some reason it seems like a continued use of her Kree battle-suit has caused Carol’s newfound powers to somehow absorb the suit’s abilities, letting her fly and manipulate energy even without wearing it. And, with that knowledge, she decides her first course of action is to rescue the woman she was previously trying to strangle, even though she was presumably an evil AIM agent. Carol flies the woman straight up through the Earth itself, until she finds herself outside. She then quickly changes costumes, and returns to MODOK’s underground base to kick some ass in her regular duds.

Ms. Marvel flies back down into the laboratory and begins doing battle with every AIM goon that she comes across, all while MODOK is yelling in the background, presumably about social justice warriors or some such nonsense. But, Ms. Marvel isn’t standing by any of that, and just starts beating up every AIM stooge she can come across, all while MODOK continues to run away while trying to launch some bolts of mental energy at her to try and slow her down. Eventually though it becomes clear that Ms Marvel isn’t going to be able to shut down this entire operation on her own, and she decides it’s time to escape. She starts flying through the base, and ends up finding an elevator shaft that she’s able to ascend. And, weirdly enough, it spits her out into a department store in the Bronx. Because apparently AIM is operating in the basement of a mall. And, while she’s struggling to figure out why in the world this may be, Ms. Marvel turns back into Carol Danvers, and quickly leaves the department store, ready to come back with the authorities and arrest MODOK. But, that’ll be a mission for another day!

 

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Carol Danvers, no matter what superhero name she’s using, is one of those characters that can be kind of frustrating in regards to Marvel Madness. She’s a character I enjoy quite a bit, but one who doesn’t often lend herself to the type of weird little stories I write about here on the site. Carol more often shows up in really badass stories, full of action and cosmic nonsense, but not usually that special kind of weird I adore so much. But, when I came across this story and found that it a) involved MODOK, b) involved MODOK hypnotizing Ms. Marvel to turn her into a Manchurian Candidate, and c) has a major plot point involving a sexy MODOK, I knew that I was going to have to talk about it. By law. And, it didn’t disappoint! Yeah,  the story just kind of ends when Carol gets bored and flies away from the situation, which is a bummer, but MODOK and the whole AIM shenanigans was the ongoing narrative for quite a while in Ms. Marvel comics, so they had to leave him on the table for further adventures, which quickly starts involving non-MODOK characters, and is thus less insane. Maybe someday we will be able to talk about Ms. Marvel’s continued struggles against MODOK, sexy of otherwise, but for now we can just bask in the glory of this insane little story and remember that no matter what era the story is from, no matter what name she’s using, and no matter how insanely terrible her costume is, Carol Danvers is always able to kick some supervillain ass.

 

Ms. Marvel #7 “Nightmare!” was written by Chris Claremont, penciled by Jim Mooney, inked by Joe Sinnott, colored by Don Warfield, lettered by Joe Rosen, and edited by Archie Goodwin, 1977.

 

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