Miss America (Marvel Comics)

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Miss America is the name of multiple fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Madeline Joyce Frank, the first Miss America, debuted 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. America Chavez, the second Miss America, first appeared in Vengeance #1 (Sept. 2011), and was created by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta.

Madeline Joyce[edit]

Miss America
MissAmericaComics n1 1944.jpg
Miss America Comics #1 (1944). Cover art by either Ken Bald or Pauline Loth (sources vary).
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance (historical): Marvel Mystery Comics #49 (Nov. 1943)
(modern): Giant-Size Avengers #1 (Aug. 1974)
Created by Otto Binder
Al Gabriele
In-story information
Alter ego Madeline Joyce
Team affiliations All-Winners Squad
Liberty Legion
Invaders
Abilities Superhuman strength
Flight
Enhanced stamina
Formerly:
X-ray vision

Publication history[edit]

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".[1]

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 ([2]), 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.

Fictional character biography[edit]

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.

Cover detail, All Winners Comics #21 (Winter 1946-47): In a superhero rarity, Miss America wears glasses.

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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

Powers and abilities[edit]

An electrical discharge from an unknown experimental piece of 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.

America Chavez[edit]

Miss America
America Chavez.png
Interior artwork from Marvel Now! Point One #1 (October 2012). Art by Jamie McKelvie.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Vengeance #1 (Sept. 2011)
Created by Joe Casey
Nick Dragotta
In-story information
Alter ego America Chavez
Team affiliations Teen Brigade
Young Avengers
A-Force
Abilities

Publication history[edit]

A second Miss America, a Latin-American LGBT teenager named America Chavez,[7] debuted in the 2011 limited series Vengeance by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta.[8] Chavez later appears in the 2013 Young Avengers series by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie[9] and in the 2015 series, A-Force, by G. Willow Wilson, Marguerite Bennett and Jorge Molina.[10] Beginning in October 2015, Chavez will appear in Ultimates by Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort as part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel initiative.[11]

Fictional character biography[edit]

America Chavez was raised by her mothers in the Utopian Parallel, a dimension out of time and in the presence of the Demiurge. She appears to have inherited or absorbed some or all of her superpowers from the Demiurge's ambient magical presence. When America was approximately six-years-old, the Utopian Parallel was threatened by destruction. America's mothers sacrificed themselves to seal the black holes pulling Utopia into the Multiverse resulting in their particles being smeared across the Multiverse itself. Wanting to prove herself as a hero and knowing Utopia didn't require salvation, America ran away from her home and her responsibilities.[12][13] She travelled across different dimensions, eventually adopted the moniker of Miss America, and began covertly acting as a superhero.

Miss America eventually joined the Teen Brigade and despite her young age even served as co-leader with Ultimate Nullifier.[14] With the Teen Brigade, she freed the In-Betweener from government confinement center, Groom Lake Adjacent in Nevada.[15] With information from the In-Between, the Teen Brigade set out to prevent the Young Masters of Evil from disrupting the balance between chaos and order.[16] To stop the Young Masters from recruiting Kid Loki, Miss America broke into the Metropolitan Art Museum, but Loki used the Screaming Idol to send her to the Sixth Dimension.[17] There she fought Tiboro, and was later rescued by the Last Defenders, She-Hulk and Daimon Hellstrom, under the direction of the In-Betweener.[18] She rejoined her teammates in Latveria where they fought the Braak'nhüd, Young Masters and Doctor Doom. The battle was ended when Ultimate Nullifier shot the In-Betweener. While the smoke cleared, the Teen Brigade covertly departed.[19] Ultimate Nullifier and America briefly engaged in a romantic fling, but it ended when America abruptly left the Teen Brigade.[20][21]

Miss America parted ways with the Teen Brigade due to "musical differences", and eventually travelled to Earth-212. She was later approached by the teenage trickster Loki. He attempted to persuade Miss America into killing Wiccan for the good of the Multiverse. Disgusted with the proposition, Miss America fought Loki and decided to secretly protect Wiccan.[22] On Earth-616, Miss America stopped Loki from magically attacking Wiccan in his home. Hulkling intervened, but Miss America and Loki quickly fled with little explanation.[23] Miss America later rescued Hulkling, Wiccan, and Loki from the Mother, an interdimensional parasite, escaped with them aboard Marvel Boy's ship, and aided them in the final face-off with Mother's forces in Central Park.[24] Later, in Young Avengers #15, she reveals offhandedly to the team that she is not heterosexual, and writes off her one-time kiss with the male teen superhero Ultimate Nullifier as experimentation.[25]

During the 2015 Secret Wars storyline, Chavez appears a member of the A-Force, an all-female team of Avengers. When the fictional island-nation of Arcadia is attacked by a megalodon, Chavez throws the shark across the Shield, the wall that separates Arcadia's borders, thus breaking the laws of King Doom. She is subsequently arrested and sentenced to spend the rest of her life protecting the wall called the Shield which surrounds Battleworld.[26][27]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Chavez possesses superhuman strength, durability and the power of flight. Chavez also has the power to kick open holes in reality, allowing her and her teammates to travel through the multiverse and into other dimensions.[28]

Other characters named Miss America[edit]

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[edit]

Television[edit]

  • 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.[citation needed]
  • Joyce 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.

Video games[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. (Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p. 54. 
  2. ^ GCD Cover Gallery showing the change
  3. ^ Giant-Size Avengers #1 (Aug. 1974)
  4. ^ Marvel Premiere #29-30
  5. ^ Secret Avengers #23
  6. ^ Secret Avengers #25
  7. ^ http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/05/talking-comics-with-tim-nick-dragotta/
  8. ^ http://marvel.com/news/story/15975/a_dozen_days_of_vengeance_miss_america
  9. ^ Richards, Dave (9 October 2012). "EXCLUSIVE: Gillen & McKelvie Assemble New Volume of "Young Avengers"". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Johnston, Rich (8 July 2015). "Miss America To Get Her Own Series?". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Wheeler, Andrew (3 July 2015). "Squad Goals: Meet the Team in Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort’s ‘Ultimates’ [Interview]". ComicsAlliance. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  12. ^ Young Avengers Vol 2 3
  13. ^ Young Avengers Vol 2 14
  14. ^ Vengeance #1
  15. ^ Vengeance #1
  16. ^ Vengeance #2, #3
  17. ^ Vengeance #4
  18. ^ Vengeance #5
  19. ^ Vengeance #6
  20. ^ Young Avengers Vol 2 10
  21. ^ Young Avengers Vol 2 15
  22. ^ Marvel NOW! Point One #1
  23. ^ Young Avengers Vol 2 #1
  24. ^ Young Avengers Vol 2 #1, #5
  25. ^ Young Avengers #15
  26. ^ A-Force #1 (May 2015)
  27. ^ Siege #1 (July 2015)
  28. ^ Young Avengers #7
  29. ^ http://comicbook.com/2015/07/12/lego-marvels-avengers-reveals-stanbuster-miss-america-more-new-c

External links[edit]