Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5 Reasons You Should Care About … Monica Rambeau

When I think about Avengers who have gotten a raw deal over the years, Monica Rambeau comes to mind pretty quickly. She’s easily one of the most powerful members the team’s ever had, plus she even led them for a time. But she hasn’t appeared in any iteration of the Avengers cartoons, and there have been no reported plans to incorporate her into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Heck, she’s never even had a codename someone else hasn’t tried to steal. This February, we here at the Matt Signal think it’s time Monica got some lovin’.

The Basics:

Rambeau was created by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. and first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 in 1982. Her powers – gained through exposure to extradimensional energy – allow her to convert her body into any form of energy within the electromagnetic spectrum, from electricity to gamma rays.

The Reasons:

1. She’s a better representative of New Orleans than Gambit: Rambeau grew up in N’Awlins and went on to become a member of the city police department’s Harbor Patrol, before she became a superhero. She was later a captain for a shipping company. After Hurricane Katrina, she, Blade, Black Panther, Luke Cage and Dr. Voodoo (Brother Voodoo was Sorcerer Supreme for a time) teamed up to fight vampires in her hometown.

2. She was Captain Marvel for most of the 1980s: Rambeau was the second Marvel character to take the codename of Captain Marvel (not including DC’s Billy Batson). The original captain, Mar-Vell, died of cancer in 1982. Many more Captains Marvel followed, including the original captain’s son, Genis-Vell; his sister, Phylla-Vell; a Skrull imposter; Noh-Varr, aka Marvel Boy; and the current captain, Carol Danvers.

3. She’s had a few other codenames: Rambeau ceded the Captain Marvel name once Genis-Vell began superheroing in the 1990s. She subsequently went by Photon (1996), Pulsar (2005) and Spectrum (2013), her current codename in the book Captain America and the Mighty Avengers. She changed her name from Photon to Pulsar after Genis-Vell decided to change his codename from Captain Marvel to Photon, because the son of Mar-Vell’s powers apparently included the ability to blow up Rambeau’s spot. Additionally, during a post-Heroes Return Avengers story in which the sorceress Morgan Le Fay warps reality, Rambeau ends up doing Le Fay’s bidding under the name Daystar.

4. She once led the Avengers: Rambeau appeared in the original run of Avengers between issues #222 and #347, and was the first female African-American member of the team. In issue #279, she takes over leadership of the team from the Wasp, a reign that lasts until she fries herself touching the ocean while in an electrical state. This happened during a battle with a giant sea beast called Leviathan (There’s that name again!). Monica’s memories of leading Earth’s Mightiest Heroes became a point of annoyance among her teammates in Warren Ellis’ brilliant Nextwave series.

5. She was the Miranda in a Marvel attempt at Sex and the City: Rambeau shared a four-issue Marvel Divas series with Spider-Man ally Black Cat, Golden Age romance-book character-turned-superhero Hellcat, and New Warrior Firestar. Around this time Monica was dating Brother Voodoo and was getting over a crush on Black Panther, who’d recently married the X-Men’s Storm.

Read this: Nextwave, Agents of H.A.T.E. #1-12 by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immomen, in which a group of random heroes (including Boom-Boom, Elsa Bloodstone, Machine Man and “The Captain”) are recruited for a SHIELDish agency run by a man named Dirk Anger (get it?) to stop weird weapons of mass destruction. Also Fin Fang Foom tries to stick Boom-Boom down his pants.

Watch that: Rambeau has never appeared in an animated or live-action Marvel property.

Dan Grote has been a Matt Signal contributor since 2014 and friends with Matt since there were four Supermen and two Psylockes. His two novels, My Evil Twin and I and Of Robots, God and Government, are available on Amazon.

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