Comic Art Friday: This is not a blonde joke

Growing up, I read so many comics that my memories of specific stories and issues — and where I was when I read them — run together. A handful of landmark issues stand out for me, however. One such issue was Ms. Marvel #1.

Ms. Marvel, pencils by comics artist MC Wyman

I was already a fan of the Marvel Comics version of Captain Marvel — a completely different character from the Captain Marvel of whom you’re probably thinking if you’re not a major comics geek — when his distaff surrogate first appeared. What drew me to Ms. Marvel, though, was the fact that she was the first Marvel heroine with A-level superpowers.

Essentially, Carol Danvers (who’d actually been a popular Marvel supporting character for several years before she gained superpowers) was both of DC’s signature heroines, Wonder Woman (the powerful and wise mother figure) and Supergirl (the powerful but cute blonde), rolled into one.

"Danvers Dolls," a Common Elements commission by Christopher Rich-McKelvey

The similarities between Supergirl and Ms. Marvel didn’t end with their strength, invulnerability, disdain for gravity, connection to a prototypical male hero, or flaxen tresses. Supergirl’s civilian identity at one point in her complex history was also Danvers — she used the first name Linda — which couldn’t possibly have been a coincidence, though the facts remain shrouded in mystery.

One other factor that Ms. Marvel and Supergirl have in common is that I collect images of both of them. (You can browse my Supergirl collection here and here, and my Ms. Marvel collection here and here.)

Supergirl, pencils by comics artist Christopher Rich-McKelvey

The Ms. Marvel pinup above was drawn by MC Wyman, one of Marvel’s best artists throughout the 1990s. Both the Supergirl solo drawing and the Common Elements commission pairing these two heroines come from the pencil of Christopher Rich-McKelvey, owner of Bald Guy Studios and creator of the independent comic Footman 15.

I don’t often have two artworks featuring the same character by the same artist in my collection, but I’m particularly fond of Supergirl’s costume from the mid-’70s, as seen in the solo pic here. So is Chris, apparently.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

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