Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mary Marvel: Ch-Ch-Changes

Quite a bit was said a few months ago about Mary Marvel, a symbol of purity in DC Comics, being "ruined" when she became the possessor (or was possessed by) the powers of Black Adam and Eclipso. Mary was no longer the avatar of all that was good and in fact all of the Marvels were dirtied up a bit for the contemporary comic book market. This is a sort of nonsense in my opinion and not all necessary as character development. I have always believed the squeaky-clean Marvels could show up in a Vertigo title with no problem or mis-characterization. They are the angelic force to balance against whatever evil nastiness was out there giving Swamp-Thing or Constantine a hard time.

So I waited a bit to see what reaction there would be to Mary re-gaining her goodness-based magic powers in Countdown. What I noticed was that there was very little mention of it aside from a few blog entries and forum posts glad that Mary had changed back to "normal".

But did she?

What people may not have noticed is that after throwing off the skin-tight latex she is not quite back to her old self. Readers may have missed, or just don't care because of the lukewarm reception Countdown seems to be getting, that Mary's symbol is no longer golden and is now a shade of gray. This is probably permanent as the symbol has now remained gray (or even black, depending on the artistic license) over several appearances. While Mary was appropriately thankful to once again have the blessing of the gods she hasn't really explored her newest self yet. Mary has now done too much, seen too much to be considered pure any longer. She is no longer of one side or the other and is instead a living Yin Yang symbol that is reflected in her costume. Plainly, the gray lightning bolt is her "Scarlet Letter" and serves as public notice and as a warning that Mary Marvel is no longer pure and perhaps is not to be trusted.

It is now up to the writers to make use of whatever new concept Mary is going to be a part of. The entire Marvel Family is going through some changes, some of which may allow them to support and sustain their own title. Hopefully, Mary will not be prone to "Hulking Out" in the future and forgetting herself and killing a few bad guys for a sense of hacked-out false drama. In the pantheon of DC heroes, especially in regards to the magical ones, I think that at least a few need to be the avatars of all that is good.


  1. I know what you're saying. I'd still like a better explanation of why everyone was shitting on Mary in her time of need that led to her dark path.

    The arc had some interesting ideas, but really failed for a number of reasons including the one's you mention.

  2. I think part of the problem is that readers are now so used to comic book publishers making "good" characters go "bad" that they now greet the whole phenomenon with a collective "meh." 15 years ago, DC doing this to the Marvels would have been shocking. Now it's old hat, and greeted with skepticism. After all, in the long run, having Hal Jordan "go bad" and eventually be "redeemed" paid off for DC in spades. There's a suspicion that they're trying to recreate that phenomenon with the Marvels. Whether they are or not, if they manage to screw it up, it (sadly) won't surprise anybody. And some truly great characters will continue to suffer in the process. :-(

  3. I must say I love the idea of the pristine and pure Marvels appearing in the midst of Vertigo nastiness. You're right, they would be perfectly appropriate to appear unsullied among the rot and horror in ways that no other "good guy" would be.

  4. I've also always thought the Marvels would make a great Vertigo book.

    As to why people haven't been talking about Mary switching back to the light side recently... perhaps, like me, DC's recent continuity-whirlygig has made them stop caring about their properties? I, for one, effing LOVE Mary Marvel, but Countdown is such a bloody nightmare that I can't be bothered to heave more than a halfhearted "Meh" at anything that happens in that series. The sooner it's buried the better.

  5. The sadder but wiser super-heroine is the super-heroine for me...

  6. Sadly, it looks like we're already back to the Hulking out bit!

  7. And looks like she's evil again... darn you countdown.

  8. Apparently Morrison's planned Supergirl vs. Mary Marvel battle in Final Crisis is why we get to 'enjoy' the latest turn to evil by Mary.

  9. Nobody seems to know what to do with the Marvels so they get tossed around like an egg in a salad.


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