Miss America (Marvel Comics)
Miss America Comics #1 (1944). Cover art by either Ken Bald or Pauline Loth (sources vary).
|First appearance||(historical): Marvel Mystery Comics #49 (Nov. 1943)
(modern): Giant-Size Avengers #1 (Aug. 1974)
|Created by||Otto Binder
|Alter ego||Madeline Joyce|
|Team affiliations||All-Winners Squad
Miss America (Madeline Joyce Frank) is a superhero fictional character in comic books published by Marvel Comics. She first appeared in Marvel Mystery Comics #49 (Nov. 1943), and was created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Gabriele for Timely Comics, the 1940s precursor of Marvel, in the period fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books.
As superheroes began to fade out of fashion in the post-World War II era, comic-book publishers scrambled to explore new types of stories, characters, and audiences. In an attempt to appeal to young female readers, comics companies began introducing some of the first significant female superheroes since Wonder Woman in 1940. These new female leads would include Timely's Blonde Phantom, Golden Girl, Namora, Sun Girl, and Venus, and its teen-humor star Millie the Model; Fox Comics' revival of Quality Comics' Phantom Lady; and DC's Black Canary.
Quality Comics had featured an unrelated character called Miss America in Military Comics in 1941 and 1942. In 1943, Timely Comics published Marvel Mystery Comics #49, featuring a new character by the name "Miss America".
Following two appearances in Marvel Mystery, Timely's Miss America received her own book, Miss America Comics (no cover date) in early 1944. Some sources list Ken Bald as the cover and interior artist, though Vincent Fago, Timely's interim editor for the drafted Stan Lee, recalled, "I hired a friend from the animation business, Pauline Loth, and she did the art for the first Miss America book".
The series, however, changed format with its second issue to become the larger, magazine-sized Miss America, though with the conventional comic book combination of glossy covers and newsprint interior. Initiating this format as vol. 1, #2 (Nov. 1944), the publication relegated its superhero to a secondary role and began focusing on teen-romance comics stories plus articles on such topics as cooking, fashion, and makeup. This second issue — which featured a photo-cover of an unknown model dressed in the Miss America costume — also introduced the long-running, teen-humor comics feature "Patsy Walker".
Together with the single superhero comic, Miss America ran 126 issues in a complicated numbering that continued through vol. 7, #50 (March 1953), the 83rd issue. It then reverted to comic book format as Miss America vol. 1, #51-93 (April 1953 - Nov. 1958). The magazine format had used photo covers of everyday teens. In 1951, starting with vol. #7, #42 (), the logo changed to Patsy Walker Starring in Miss America, with covers now depicting high schooler Patsy, boyfriend Buzz Baxter, and romantic-rival Hedy Wolfe in cartoon art by, variously, Al Jaffee or Morris Weiss.
Marvel later introduced a new Miss America, America Chavez, in 2011, and began fleshing her out in 2013-4 comic books.
Socially aware teenaged heiress Madeline Joyce was born in Washington, D.C., and was the niece and ward of radio mogul James Bennet, who was sponsoring a Professor Lawson, a scientist claiming to have gotten superpowers through a device that had been struck by lightning. Joyce, secretly tampering with the contraption during a thunderstorm that night, herself gained the ability to fly and great strength after lightning similarly struck, knocking her unconscious (she originally had superhuman strength, as well as other powers, but after her few early appearances they were retconned). The panicky scientist, seeing the apparently dead young woman, destroyed the device and then killed himself. Joyce survived to fight crime as the patriotically garbed Miss America, appearing regularly in Marvel Mystery Comics and All Winners Comics.
In the latter, she was a member of Timely's superhero team the All-Winners Squad, fighting alongside Captain America and Bucky, the original Human Torch and Toro, the Sub-Mariner, and the Whizzer in the group's two Golden Age adventures. In the second of these, she wore glasses, one of the extremely few superheroes to require them. Miss America made her final Golden Age appearance in Marvel Mystery Comics #85 (Feb. 1948).
Joyce was later revealed to have married fellow Golden Age superhero Robert Frank (the Whizzer). Because the two had been exposed to radiation, their first child was the radioactive mutant Nuklo. However, Joyce died of complications stemming from childbirth with her second, stillborn child due to radiation poisoning from her first offspring while at Wundagore Mountain, Transia. It was also suggested during this time that Joyce and Frank were the parents of Avengers members Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, although this was ultimately refuted when it was revealed that Magneto and his wife Magda were those twins' biological parents. Miss America was then retconned in 1976 as a member of the World War II super-team the Liberty Legion, set between the creation of the Invaders and the post-war All-Winners Squad. As a member of the Liberty Legion, she battled the Red Skull, and alongside the Liberty Legion and Invaders she batted the Nazi super-team Super-Axis.
Miss America returned from the dead for 24 hours in the 2006 miniseries X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl, where she was revealed to be spending an eternity in Hell. However, in the All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z, select entries of characters featured in that miniseries, including that of the Ancient One, state that the characters in hell were impostors.
Miss America's reanimated corpse later appears as a cyborg resident of the Core, a subterranean city populated by advanced robots. The cyborg does battle with Miss America's former teammate, the Human Torch, and attempts to lull him into a false sense of security. The Torch however, realizes that the cyborg is not really his old friend, merely a puppet using her body.
Powers and abilities
An electrical discharge from an unknown experimental equipment gave Madeline Joyce the ability to levitate herself through psionic means. By using her levitation ability in connection with carefully planned leaps, Miss America could use her power to fly. She could attain any height at which she could still breathe (approximately 20,000 feet). She could use this power for about 2 hours before mental fatigue would force her to rest. Also fatigue poisons accumulate much slower in her body than that of a normal human, giving her a heightened "vitality." Miss America also possessed the "Strength of a Thousand Men", allowing her to lift weights far heavier than a normal human would be capable of lifting.
In addition, Miss America originally possessed the power to project "X-Ray Vision". This power faded over time, leaving her with a need for glasses.
A new Miss America debuted in the Vengeance (2011) limited series by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta, a Latina teenager named America Chavez. This new Miss America later appears in the new 2013 Young Avengers series by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. She possesses super strength, durability and the power of flight. As the series goes on, the team discover Miss America has the power to kick open holes in reality, allowing them to travel the multiverse and through other dimensions. While on the run from the alien parasite Mother, who can control adults, America's parents attack the team—revealing them to be two superpowered lesbian moms. America's origin is more fully given in Young Avengers #14, where it is revealed she hails from a paradise dimension created by and which worships the cosmic entity Demiurge; as she gets to know her teammate, Billy Kaplan, who is in fact the future Demiurge, she is somewhat disappointed. Later, in #15, she reveals offhandedly to the team that she is also a lesbian, and writes off her one-time kiss with the male teen superhero Ultimate Nullifier in Vengeance as experimentation.
Other characters named Miss America
In the Avengers: The Initiative Annual #1, a new version of the Liberty Legion, known as the Liberteens, based in Pennsylvania, debuted, one of their number calling herself Ms. America, and possessing the same powers of flight and strength as the original Miss America.[volume & issue needed]
In other media
- Miss America was loosely adapted for the 1979 "Super Sentai" Japanese TV series Battle Fever J as part of the collaboration between Marvel Comics and the studio Toei. While retaining the name, the costume and character were both changed for the series.
- Miss America appeared in the 1990s Spider-Man animated series in the "Six Forgotten Warriors" arc, voiced by Kathy Garver. In this version, Miss America's powers are the result of an attempt at recreating the process that empowered Captain America. Special rings were needed to help activate them. Her powers consisted of being able to control the mass and density of her body, making her light as a feather to mimic power of flight, as well as making her body hard enough to punch through brick walls. She and other Golden Age heroes are the Six Forgotten Warriors. After Captain America "sacrificed" his life to stop the Red Skull from activating the Doomsday machine, Miss America and the others took possession of the keys and retired. Years later, Vulture targeted Miss America for her keys in a mid-air scuffle. When Miss America started to fall upon her powers deactivating, she was saved by Spider-Man who recognized Miss America's identity. Miss America later joined the others in fighting Kingpin's forces and later Red Skull's forces.
- Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. (Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p. 54.
- GCD Cover Gallery showing the change
- Giant-Size Avengers #1 (Aug. 1974)
- Marvel Premiere #29-30
- Secret Avengers #23
- Secret Avengers #25
- Richards, Dave (9 October 2012). "EXCLUSIVE: Gillen & McKelvie Assemble New Volume of "Young Avengers"". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "Young Avengers" #7
- "Young Avengers" #3
- Young Avengers #14
- Young Avengers #15
- Miss America at Don Markstein's Toonopedia
- The Grand Comics Database: Miss America at the Grand Comics Database
- Atlas Tales: Miss America at AtlasTales.com
- Miss America at Marvel.com wiki