Songbird (comics)

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Songbird
Songbirdtboltsx.png
Songbird
Art by Marko Djurdjević.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Marvel Two-in-One #54 (August, 1979)
Created by Mark Gruenwald
Ralph Macchio
John Byrne
In-story information
Alter ego Melissa Joan Gold
Team affiliations Thunderbolts
Grapplers
UCWF
Masters of Evil
Femizons
Notable aliases Mimi Schwartz, Screaming Mimi
Abilities
  • Sound manipulation
  • Ability to create "solid sound" constructs
  • Sonokinesis
  • Sonic screams, waves, and bursts
  • Vocal manipulation
  • Echolocation
  • Echokinesis
  • Hypnotic song
  • Supersonic speed

Songbird (Melissa Joan Gold), formerly known as Screaming Mimi, is a fictional character, a superheroine and former supervillainess in the Marvel Comics Universe. She possess supersonic sound abilities that can cause a variety of effects.

Publication history[edit]

The character first appeared as Screaming Mimi in Marvel Two-in-One #54 (August, 1979), and was created by Mark Gruenwald, Ralph Macchio, and John Byrne.

She made numerous appearances as a supervillain before taking on a new role as a superhero in the Thunderbolts series.

After some time away from the team, she has appeared as a regular character in Thunderbolts since issue #144, and has appeared as a supporting character since the title transitioned into Dark Avengers beginning with issue #175.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Melissa Gold was a troubled runaway from an alcoholic father and incarcerated mother. In order to survive on the streets, Melissa developed a hard edge to her personality, referring to herself as "Mimi."[1] She was eventually imprisoned, where she met Poundcakes, a female wrestler who invited her to join the Grapplers under the name Screaming Mimi, alongside Titania and Letha.[citation needed] The Grapplers became renowned for their colorful personalities and ringside antics, but the wrestling federation denied them the opportunity to make the amount of money their male counterparts made. Instead, the group agreed to earn supplementary income by performing a covert operation for the Roxxon Oil Company. Roxxon gave the Grapplers special paraphernalia to assist them in their mission; Mimi received an apparatus that converted her voice to high-frequency sonics for various effects. The Grapplers tested these powers by fighting Thundra in a wrestling ring.[2] On their mission, Thundra led them into Project Pegasus to smuggle in the Nth Projector for Roxxon. The mission failed when they were defeated by the heroes Quasar and Giant-Man.[3] The Grapplers were tried and jailed for their misdeeds. Alongside the Grapplers, she victimized Dazzler while she was in Ryker's Island prison with them.[4] When the Grapplers were finally paroled, they discovered that the women's wrestling movement had lost its momentum without them, so they continued to perform crimes to support themselves and working as professional criminals. Alongside the Grapplers, Mimi attempted to attack the Thing while he was in the hospital, and battled Captain America.[5] Later, the Grapplers set their sights on a women's division of the superpowered Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation. Their manager, Auntie Freeze, arranged for the women to augment their natural abilities with artificial powers created by the agency Power Broker, Inc. While the other Grapplers received superhuman strength, Mimi instead had her vocal enhancements internalized as a throat implant; it was once believed that Mimi had also gained superhuman strength, but it was established after the fact in the Thunderbolts series that this was not the case.[volume & issue needed] The all-new Grapplers made a legitimate professional comeback that proved short-lived. When Titania was murdered by the vigilante Scourge, Mimi was among the female wrestlers of the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation who participated in a mass attack upon the Thing, blaming him for Titania's death.[6] After Letha was later also killed by Scourge,[7] the Grapplers broke up.[volume & issue needed]

Mimi was later contacted by the criminal Baron Helmut Zemo to join his version of the Masters of Evil. Her first assignment was to help bust the female Yellowjacket out of prison, but Mimi was captured in the subsequent battle with the Wasp, Black Knight, and Paladin. She was bound and gagged and arrested.[8] Later, she formed a romantic and criminal partnership with the similarly-empowered Angar the Screamer, at one point battling the Avengers Hawkeye and Mockingbird. The pair impersonated Hawkeye and Mockingbird, but battled them and were defeated.[9] Mimi was also seen among the various female superhumans aboard Superia's cruiseship, where she battled Captain America and Paladin.[10] Angar was eventually mortally wounded by a gunshot during a robbery attempt that went sour, and died in Mimi's arms after they escaped. Mad with grief, Mimi screamed, burning out her power. Immediately afterward, she was contacted by Baron Zemo once more, and she accepted his offer to join a formative Masters of Evil. Zemo allowed Mimi to be nursed back to health, and his accomplice, the Fixer, gave her new powers via a voice-augmenting harness and high-tech implants in her neck based on technology from the villain Klaw. With her newly-transformed powers, she resumed the use of her given name Melissa, and adopted the identity of Songbird as a member of the Thunderbolts, a new Masters of Evil group posing as superheroes to win the world's trust while secretly plotting world conquest under Zemo's direction.[volume & issue needed] However, Melissa and most of the other Thunderbolts grew to like their heroic roles. In particular, Melissa began to truly grow into her own and even began a romance with her teammate Abner Jenkins, alias MACH-1, formerly the Beetle. Ultimately, the Thunderbolts turned against Zemo, foiling his attempt at world domination and rescuing the Avengers in the process. Melissa continued to serve with the team, who operated as a team of outlaw superheroes.[volume & issue needed]

Following the battle with Zemo, Songbird began gradually slipping back into her hard-edged Mimi-type persona, and was verbally abusive to Jenkins on several occasions and angrily rebuked him whenever he offered her any type of assistance, in stark contrast to her previous emotional dependence on him. When Jenkins' love and concern for her remained unaffected despite her treatment of him, Songbird finally explained to him that after repeatedly losing the things and people she most cared about, including Angar and the public adulation she had enjoyed before the Thunderbolts were exposed as villains, she had developed a fear of abandonment and felt that the only way she could cope would be to not care about anything or anybody that might abandon her, including Jenkins. Jenkins assured her that he would never abandon her, and the two became close once again.[volume & issue needed]

When veteran Avengers member Hawkeye joined the Thunderbolts as their new leader to help them regain the public's trust, Hawkeye insisted that MACH-1, as the team's only convicted murderer, would have to serve his prison sentence for the good of the group's image. Jenkins reluctantly agreed, separating him from Melissa. The timing of Hawkeye's demand was unfortunate, as it happened shortly after Melissa had ceased pushing Abe away, and after he had given his word that he would never leave her. When MACH-1 returned months later through a bargain struck with the Commission on Superhuman Activities (CSA), adopting a new identity as MACH-2, he underwent appearance-altering surgery to conceal his true identity. He was unexpectedly turned into a man with African-American features, and Melissa was initially disturbed by the change. However, she has since become accustomed to it, and their relationship survived. When the Thunderbolts uncovered and thwarted a CSA-connected conspiracy to exterminate all superhumans, Hawkeye blackmailed the CSA into giving the Thunderbolts full pardons in exchange for the group's silence; however, CSA agent Henry Peter Gyrich insisted that he would not go along with the deal unless Hawkeye went to prison for his technically illegal vigilante activities as a member of the Thunderbolts. Hawkeye agreed, despite the protests of his teammates, and surrendered to federal custody. Most of the rest of the Thunderbolts, including MACH-2 and Melissa, were pardoned and released. However, as part of the terms of their deal, they were forbidden from public use of superhuman powers or costumed identities. Melissa turned her equipment over to the authorities and the two started new civilian lives in the town of Burton Canyon, Colorado as Abe Jenkins and Melissa Gold.[volume & issue needed]

Their quiet lives were shattered when the super-criminal Graviton launched his latest attempt at world conquest in Burton Canyon, imprisoning the world's superheroes and literally reshaping the planet in his own image. Despite their reluctance to risk their newfound freedom, MACH-2 and Melissa agreed to join Citizen V (secretly Baron Helmut Zemo controlling Citizen V's body) in attacking Graviton as part of a new team of Thunderbolts. Melissa was given a new power-harness provided by the Citizen V's financiers, the V-Battalion. Graviton was defeated and the world was saved, but MACH-3 and the other Thunderbolts disappeared in an implosion created by the dying Graviton's power, with the exception of Songbird, who appeared left behind as the sole survivor. In reality, MACH-3 and the other vanished Thunderbolts survived but were stranded on an alternate Earth. Melissa had little time to mourn, as immediately afterward, she was attacked by Scream, a rogue creation of the CSA who turned out to be Angar resurrected as an entity of pure sound. She helped the intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D. destroy Scream, and she also destroyed her sound-shaping harness, apparently intending to retire her Songbird identity again.[volume & issue needed]

However, she was outfitted with new sound technology by S.H.I.E.L.D., who recruited her to help track down Hawkeye, who was officially an escaped fugitive but was unofficially pursuing a secret mission on behalf of SHIELD commander Dum Dum Dugan. After doing some undercover detective work in her old criminal persona as Mimi, Songbird was reunited with Hawkeye, joining forces with him and a captive Plantman to seek out the mysterious legacy of Justin Hammer on behalf of SHIELD. They discovered that Hammer's legacy was a biological toxin that had been ingested by every single villain who had ever worked for him and that one of the villains, Plantman, was the carrier. Hawkeye, Songbird, and Plantman began a new search for the trigger that would release Plantman's toxin. The search ended with Hammer's daughter, Justine, who turned out to be the Crimson Cowl, leader of the Masters of Evil. Hawkeye convinced several members of the Masters of Evil to side with him and Songbird against Crimson Cowl and their former allies. As a new team of Thunderbolts, the group ultimately defeated the Crimson Cowl and her Masters of Evil, and Plantman (now Blackheath) managed to release an antidote for the toxin into the atmosphere.[volume & issue needed]

Songbird was often acting second-in-command to Hawkeye in keeping his Thunderbolts under control. They next helped the true Citizen V and the V-Battalion, whose ship was powered by an engine of alien technology that began distorting and threatened to suck the Earth into the null space of a white hole. The Thunderbolts were asked to move a great quantity of mass to plug the hole. In so doing, the Thunderbolts encountered Zemo's Thunderbolts, who emerged from the void after severing the alien ship's presence from Counter-Earth. The two teams combined forces to plug the void and shunt the alien ship from Earth, similar to the manner in which Zemo's team stopped the threat on Counter-Earth. Songbird's reunion with Jenkins was short-lived. After much discussion, MACH-3 once more remanded himself to police custody to serve the remainder of his sentence. Most of the other costumed heroes and villains chose to part company as well, and Songbird agreed to stay with the Thunderbolts under Zemo's leadership, despite his claim that their mission was to attempt to rule the world in order to save it.[volume & issue needed]

For the last six months, while keeping an eye on Baron Zemo with Atlas and Vantage's help. Melissa fed information to Abe Jenkins while he was in prison. Following the Liberator project, in the course of which Moonstone was brain-damaged and Zemo was badly scarred, the Thunderbolts broke up again. The Avengers offered Songbird a reserve membership post, but she declined, feeling that she could not be on a team that she didn't trust and that didn't trust her.[volume & issue needed]

Eventually, she rejoined her lover, Abe Jenkins in reforming the Thunderbolts. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of stopping Baron Strucker, Melissa was displeased with Abe over his dealing with HYDRA and decided to quit the team. Melissa returned to school while trying to figure out the truth behind Atlas and Genis-Vell which caught the attention of Zebediah Killgrave a.k.a. the Purple Man. Ambushed by Killgrave at her dormitory, Melissa was rescued by the Swordsman who told her that there was an even bigger plot to destroy the Thunderbolts in place. Following the Purple Man's defeat, Melissa agreed to return to the team on the condition that she was permitted to lead it.[volume & issue needed]

During her tenure as team leader, she led the Thunderbolts' attack on the Avengers and apparently entered a romantic relationship with the returned Baron Zemo. This was revealed to be a ruse, in order for her to get revenge on Zemo for killing Genis.[volume & issue needed]

During the superhero Civil War, the Thunderbolts were approached by the government to catch supervillains and rehabilitate them.[volume & issue needed] The Thunderbolts becomes a team of villains under government watch assigned to hunt down and incarcerate unregistered heroes.[11] Norman Osborn became the director of the Thunderbolts and demoted Melissa because she was too moral, giving her leadership position to the recently recovered Moonstone.[volume & issue needed] Melissa is clearly uncomfortable with the situation, and is only still on the team for fear of imprisonment. However, when the team yet again makes a mess of a job trying to capture Steel Spider and Moonstone is wounded, she and Radioactive Man decide to approach the matter the old way, and decides to temporarily act as leader in capturing the Steel Spider.[12] Melissa has been shown to dislike most of her teammates, as instead of villains seeking redemption, the new team of Thunderbolts are largely fighting for personal gain. She also misled Bullseye, leading him to be gravely injured.[13]

Recently, Melissa was gravely injured by the Golden Age superhero Toro when he, along with the time-displaced Invaders attacked the Thunderbolts after witnessing them attempting to arrest Spider-Man and in Times Square, and thinking them to be Nazis. Interestingly enough, Toro displayed a slight attraction to Melissa, commenting that she was, "Too cute to be a Nazi", before engaging her in combat, and defending his remarks about her after Namor claims that his display of affection for an enemy was disgusting.[volume & issue needed]

During the Secret Invasion storyline, Songbird was attacked by a Skrull who not only had her powers, but also had the powers of Atlas and the rest of the original Thunderbolts.[14] The Thunderbolts save her by causing this Skrull to merge into a nearby building, killing him.[15]

When Norman Osborn is given control of H.A.M.M.E.R. and decides to make the Thunderbolts into his own hit squad during the Dark Reign storyline, Melissa becomes a liability. Under Osborn's orders Bullseye corners Songbird with a blade to her back, telling her to ask him to kill her.[16] She manages to deflect him, and escapes as Venom also hunts her down under Moonstone's orders. Stealing the team's Zeus jet, she crashes outside the Thunderbolts Mountain due to Venom attacking her in mid-flight, but she manages to survive. Swordsman saves her from Bullseye after he corners her once again, and after Swordsman fakes her death by blowing up the Zeus, she departs.[17] She is next seen remarking to a couple of homeless men that Osborn is going to destroy the country "unless somebody steps up and stops him."[18]

When H.A.M.M.E.R. agents attack the shanty town where Songbird is hiding, she protects the homeless people there and defeats the agents. Osborn found out, and he sends his newest Thunderbolt, Scourge, after her.[19] Songbird meets with her old teammates Fixer and Abner Jenkins, enlisting their assistance in her battles against Osborn. She then finds out that Natasha Romanova, the original Black Widow who had been disguised as Yelena Belova, had been assigned by Nick Fury to protect her when the Thunderbolts attack.[20]

After the Siege of Asgard and Osborn's subsequent downfall, Songbird has taken a position at "the Raft", as the prison's female warden. Songbird has joined the new Thunderbolts team, led by Luke Cage in large part to keep a close eye over Moonstone (whom Cage has offered a chance for freedom in exchange for her serving on the team). When Songbird objects to Moonstone's inclusion on the team due to her history of manipulation and deceit, Cage counters that Songbird herself used to be regarded the same way and that she should give Moonstone the same chances she was given by others.[21]

Songbird was later captured by Lemuel Dorcas (who had developed an obsession for her) and repaired her vocal cords in hopes of making Songbird his slave. However, Songbird escaped from Lemuel Dorcas' clutches. With the surgery restoring her persuasive powers as well, Songbird used it to turn Lemuel Dorcas' henchmen against him.[22]

Powers and abilities[edit]

As Screaming Mimi, Gold's enhanced vocal cords were bionically altered and enhanced by technicians in the employ of Roxxon. As such, she had the ability to generate a high-pitched, earsplitting, earth-shattering supersonic scream of great volume and for a variety of effects. She was capable of emitting a sound equivalent in decibels to the noise of a jet engine passing 5 feet from one's ear. She has perfect pitch, the ability to hear in her mind the correct frequency for every musical note on the scale. Every note on the scale she screams induces a different effect upon those who hear it. Low C causes low level anxiety and shortness of breath, D causes high level anxiety and panic attacks, E causes dizziness and vertigo, F causes nausea and stomach cramping, G causes severe headaches and fatigue, A causes blindness, B causes euphoria and eventual stupor, and high C causes the listener to visually hallucinate. By rapid oscillation between two notes she can combine effects. In addition, she could produce certain vocal effects in harmony with Angar the Screamer, such as specific sustained illusions. Her nervous system is immune to her own vocal powers. At the upper limit of her scream's power, it could actually damage physical objects. Faced with the death of her lover, Angar the Screamer, she screamed for 43 minutes in a fit of hysteria, creating a large blast crater and literally liquefying nearby plant life.[23] This outburst nearly destroyed her vocal cords, and depowered her briefly until she used new technology to assume the Songbird alias.[volume & issue needed] During a later encounter with the Hand, Songbird unintentionally reactivated her incredibly strong supersonic scream ability.[24]

As Songbird, Gold uses a derivation of technology created by the criminal Ulysses Klaw that converts sound into a malleable form of energy that has physical form and mass, termed "solid sound". She could initially create simple 3-dimensional sound/mass constructions, though as she has gained experience in her new supersonic sound abilities, she has learned to create more complex forms. She shapes and animates these by mental command and they only remain in existence for as long as she wills them to. She can "fly" by generating solid sound "wings" attached to her body; initially, these were created as glider-style wings, stretching from wrists to feet, though more recently they are shown attached to her back. Presumably, she animates the wings to flap or somehow generates a propulsive force with her powers, since her airborne speed and maneuverability to date extend well beyond simple gliding.

Songbird has also occasionally exhibited an ability to influence others through sub-vocal (below the level of conscious human hearing) sonics; this is more of a subtle "nudge" or subconscious suggestion rather than outright mind control. This is apparently an effect generated by the remnants of her original sonic enhancements; it remains to be seen if her "Screaming Mimi" powers will ever return in full.

As a former wrestler, she is extensively skilled in hand-to-hand combat using wrestling techniques, and was well trained by Titania. Her physical and natural abilities were greatly strengthened and augmented by the Power Broker's special process, though she could not be fully augmented to the usual superhuman power levels.

Other versions[edit]

Avengers Forever[edit]

A Songbird from an alternate future is one of the featured characters in the limited series Avengers Forever. In this alternate timeline Songbird has become a member of the Avengers.[25]

Marvel Zombies[edit]

Songbird appears alongside the Thunderbolts in the Dead Days one-shot of the Marvel Zombies miniseries attacking Thor and later Nova. She is quickly destroyed by the Invisible Woman when she tries to bite Nova.[volume & issue needed]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • Songbird appears as Screaming Mimi in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "Hulk Talk Smack" voiced by Julie Morrison.[26] She and Klaw are seen searching for a fractal for Doctor Doom. After failing to recover one from the library, Screaming Mimi and Klaw are sent with Melter and Toad to search for a fractal at the local reservoir. Screaming Mimi appears in the episode "A Brat Walks Among Us!", where she helps the villains try to get the fractal. In the episode "Deadly is the Black Widow's Bite," Screaming Mimi is sent with MODOK and Abomination to search for the Infinity Fractal. When the Super Hero Squad arrives, MODOK tells Screaming Mimi that the Super Hero Squad insulted her voice causing her to use her sonic attacks on them. She alongside MODOK and Abomination were easily defeated by the arrival of Black Widow (who was actually Mystique in disguise for Doctor Doom's next plot). When it came to the Vault, Screaming Mimi was shown with Mystique, Abomination, MODOK, Klaw, and Toad in a raid upon the Vault. During the climax of the episode, Screaming Mimi is revealed to be an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent named Songbird when Captain America revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. planted an undercover agent in Villainville.

Video games[edit]

  • Songbird is a playable character in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 voiced by Susan Spano. She is locked into the Pro-Registration faction during the Civil War portion of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game. On Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, her sound-based wings are depicted as being more like those of a butterfly rather than the bird-like ones she has in the comics. A variant of her Screaming Mimi costume appears as her alternate costume. She also is in the Wii, PSP, and PS2 versions of the game. Her first overall appearance (not counting her silhouette on the selection screen) is as a nanite-controlled boss alongside Moonstone. You unlock her upon getting a silver medal score on her mission which has you saving scientists from a collapsing and guard-infested Prison 42 only to encounter a nanite-controlled Moonstone. Her attitude also differs between the platforms. On the Xbox 360 and PS3, she appears as a more caring and less conceited person. An example of this is when Iron Man and Mister Fantastic tell her the nanite procedure is done with her teammates, she cares for how they'll feel after they tell them. But on the other consoles, she is more stubborn and mean-natured. An example on a side mission is when she tells a scientist she is supposed to rescue that she "isn't [his] mommy", but reluctantly agrees to help.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thunderbolts: Distant Rumblings one-shot
  2. ^ Marvel Two-In-One #54
  3. ^ Marvel Two-In-One #56
  4. ^ Dazzler #13
  5. ^ Marvel Two-In-One #96
  6. ^ Thing #33
  7. ^ Captain America #319
  8. ^ Avengers vol 1 #271
  9. ^ Avengers Spotlight #28
  10. ^ Captain America #389-390
  11. ^ "Thunderbolts #103
  12. ^ Thunderbolts (vol. 2) #114
  13. ^ Thunderbolts #115
  14. ^ Thunderbolts #123
  15. ^ Thunderbolts #124
  16. ^ Thunderbolts #126
  17. ^ Thunderbolts #127
  18. ^ Thunderbolts #129
  19. ^ Thunderbolts #133
  20. ^ Thunderbolts #134
  21. ^ Thunderbolts #144
  22. ^ Thunderbolts #171
  23. ^ Thunderbolts Annual 1997
  24. ^ Thunderbolts #149
  25. ^ Avengers Forever #1
  26. ^ Comics Continuum

External links[edit]