The Comic Book Histories of The Marvels
In just a few hours, three of our favourite superheroes in the MCU will come together in the latest film, The Marvels. Carol Danvers, Monica Rambeau and Kamala Khan will get a little mixed up in this latest offering from Marvel. So, before we get settled into the new film, let’s take a look at the comic history of this new supergroup.
Carol Danvers – Captain Marvel
The Birth of a Hero
Carol Danvers has the longest history in comic books, and she’s seen a lot of change over time. Her first appearance was in Marvel Super-Heroes Vol. 1, #13 (1967). In this story, Captain Marvel (a title then owned by Kree warrior Mar-Vell), takes on the persona of deceased scientist, Dr. Lawson. ‘Lawson’ is then introduced to the chief of security at The Cape, Carol Danvers. She follows him into some pretty risky situations and finds herself being kidnapped on more than one occasion. The most notable and life-changing was when she was kidnapped by Yon-Rogg (Mar-Vell’s military commander) and taken to an abandoned Kree outpost.
During the battle between Mar-Vell and Yon-Rogg, Carol falls into a damaged Kree Psyche-Magnitron – a machine that can turn imagination into reality. Her exposure to the machine altered her DNA and turned her into a Kree/Human hybrid with powers like those of Captain Marvel.
Once awake, she took on the title of Ms. Marvel and has fought alongside the Avengers, the X-Men and more throughout the years. And while there have been some very questionable storylines for Carol (that whole thing with Marcus was just creepy!) she steadily became one of the most powerful and dependable characters in the Marvel Universe.
Higher, Further, Faster
Over the years, Carol Danvers has taken on a few different aliases. Binary, Warbird and Lady Marvel, are just a few. But in Avenging Spider-Man #9 (2012), Carol took on the title of Captain Marvel, to honour her fallen friend. Since then, she has become one of the most popular characters in the comics. She has taken on threats both on Earth and in space. Her reputation as one of the greatest heroes of all time only grew, and many of her fellow heroes call on her when they need her most.
But that’s not to say it’s all been easy for her. She’s had her powers and memory erased, and her reputation destroyed. Recently, Carol suffered from a brain lesion that became worse every time she flew. After flying into space to stop Yon-Rogg from forming a Kree city over New York, she suffered from brain damage. And while she was able to heal, she lost all her personal memories again. But no matter what knocks her down, she always gets back up again.
Earth’s Mightiest Hero
Carol has come a long way since her first appearance, but you don’t become Earth’s Mightiest Hero without some superpowers! Most notable is Carol’s ability to absorb and manipulate energy. She can create energy blasts, control and absorb different forms of energy, and also use this to temporarily enhance her strength and energy projection. She can also fly and has superhuman strength, durability, and stamina. And if that wasn’t enough for you, she also has superhuman agility and reflexes, and an incredible healing ability which will help her heal even the worst kinds of injuries, as well as slowing her aging.
But it’s not only her superhuman powers that make her the hero we know and love. She’s a master pilot and was a Colonel in the Air Force before she retired. She’s also a highlight skilled fighter with training in both armed and unarmed combat. Due to her acquiring Kree memories she has incredible scientific knowledge and has often uses this to her advantage.
Carol has had some ups and downs in her time on the page, but this has never stopped her. She bounces back every time, and it’s easy to see why she’s become one of the greatest superheroes ever.
Check Out: Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero vol.1-4 (trade paperback, 2016-2017)
Monica Rambeau – Photon
A Different Kind of Captain
As we already know, Carol Danvers isn’t the only person who has taken up the mantle of Captain Marvel. There have been many iterations of this character over the years, but one person in particular first appeared as this superhero. Monica Rambeau hit the page in 1982 in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, under the alias of Captain Marvel.
Working as a lieutenant in the New Orleans Harbour Patrol, Monica meets Professor Andre LeClare. He tells her that during the Second World War, he was trying to draw energy from other dimensions. This technology was then used by Dr. Felipe Picaro to build a dangerous weapon on an oil rig. Not one to shy away from doing the right thing, Monica escorts Professor LeClare to the oil rig and takes it upon herself to destroy the machine when she’s caught. But then, something incredible happens; she’s transformed into pure energy.
Becoming a Legend
Monica was, understandably, confused about her newfound abilities, and decided to figure out what exactly was going on. And where is better for a fledgling superhero to go to figure things out than New York City! Mr Fantastic might have been busy, but the Avengers were more than happy to help. The help her test things out and get rid of some of that excess energy. She was then asked to join the team on a probationary basis, and she has joined them on many an adventure over the years.
While she kept the title of Captain Marvel for some time, she eventually came to change it. After a mind-controlled fight with Genis-Vell (the sort of son of Mar-Vell), she decides to take up a new name so Genis can honour his dad. This is where she becomes Photon. She went through a few different codenames over the years, but she’s currently saving the world as Photon in the comics.
Making a Marvel
One of Monica’s most well-known abilities is that she can transform her entire body into pure energy. From X-rays to cosmic rays, gamma energy and infrared, she can completely change the makeup of her body. But it doesn’t stop there! She can also project beams of energy, as well as create holograms. Not enough for you? Then how about her ability to travel faster than the speed of light and turn invisible. Oh, and she can also phase through different structures.
While there seems to be no end to her incredible superhero abilities, she’s also a highly skilled law enforcement officer with vast nautical knowledge. She’s also very intelligent, a skilled fighter, and is always making sure she utilises the Avengers’ files to fully understand her opponents.
While she hasn’t been around as long as Carol Danvers, Monica Rambeau is a different kind of Captain Marvel who is becoming a fan favourite.
Check Out: Monica Rambeau: Photon 2022 (comic series)
Kamala Khan – Ms. Marvel
New Kid in Town
Move over Avengers, there’s a new hero in town, and she’s not messing around. Kamala Khan may not have been in the comics for very long, but the influence and impact she’s had on audiences has been immeasurable. While an unnamed Kamala appears at the end of Captain Marvel Vol. 7 #14. (2013), in February 2014, Ms. Marvel #1 was released, and a new phenomenon was introduced into the comics. The new version of Ms. Marvel proved to be so popular, that issue #1 had 7 reprints.
So what makes Kamala Khan so lovable and relatable? Well, pretty much everything about her. She’s a teenager, struggling to find her space in life, who idolises all the heroes around her. In particular, Carol Danvers. Kamala spends her days writing fanfiction, going to school, and trying her best to make her parents proud. But when Black Bolt releases the Terrigen Mist into the atmosphere, it unlocks the latent Inhuman genetics and helps her become the hero she’s always wanted to be.
It takes Kamala some time to balance her superhero identity with her everyday life. Saving the world is no easy task. But when you’re a teenager trying to maintain friendships, family relationships, and school work, it just makes things that little bit harder. Eventually, she finds that balance, and while she’s still battling threats from every angle, she’s not always doing it alone.
Kamala spends most of her superhero time protecting her own little corner of the world in Jersey City. But if bigger baddies come from afar, she’s not afraid to step up to the challenge. She may have earned the wrath of many a villain in her time, but she’s also befriended other heroes along the way. Match that with some of her best friends who help her out, Kamala has become almost unstoppable, and an invaluable part of the Marvel universe.
In the MCU, Kamala’s origin and powers have been changed slightly to fit in with the cosmic theme. But they aren’t too far away from her comic book version. Kamala has morphogenetic abilities and can extend and stretch her limbs. It was revealed in Ms. Marvel #34 (2018), that she is basically travelling through time on a molecular level to use different versions of herself whenever she uses her powers. She can also change her size from giant down to very tiny. She also has healing powers and can recover quickly when back in her normal form. But like all of our other Marvelous heroes here, that’s not all she can do. She can shapeshift and alter her appearance, although she doesn’t do this as often anymore.
Kamala came into the Marvel universe with a bang and has proven to be one of the most popular additions. Her story in the comics is still new, but we can’t wait to see where she goes in the future.
Check out: Ms Marvel: No Normal, Ms Marvel: Genertion Why, and Ms. Marvel: Crushed (trade paperbacks, 2014-2015)
A Marvellous Trio
The on-screen counterparts to these heroes may have slightly different stories and powers, but the essence of who they are is still very much there. We might not have seen the three of them together just yet, but it’s clear to see how they will balance and complement each other. Here’s hoping that The Marvels is just the start of some totally cosmic shenanigans with our three favourite heroes.
The Marvels is released in cinemas on 12th November.