Monday, August 16, 2010
Every truly successful superhero has a female partner riding his coattails, and hopefully one day stands out on her own as a marketable character. A case study in whether or not this works, and how very often it doesn't, is our skirt-clad sisters of scintillating superheroism.
Mary Marvel was the third (okay actually the sixth if you count three runners-up to her brother's title) of the Marvel Family to debut in the early 1940's. Mary Blomfield, the long lost twin sister of Billy Batson, gained powers like her brother beyond those of mortal men. Soon she was featured in her own titles as well as alongside her new extended family.
Nightshade, whom we've already considered, was Eve Eden a debutante daughter of a U.S. Senator. However she secretly had a family connection like Mary that granted her immense powers, only hers originated from a mother from another dimension. Like Mary, Eve was separated from a brother, Larry, as he had been trapped in that world when she and her mother escaped. It is unknown if Eve ever reunited with her brother from Earth-Four.
Instead of Mary power to transform into a flying invulnerable version of herself, Nightshade's differed in that she transformed into a shadow that transported from the third dimension. In each case, the gal was rendered immune to physical attack while in that form. And each provided a valuable skill set to aid their Captain comrades, that being Captain Marvel and Captain Atom. While the Marvels had a long documented partnership, Nightshade and Cap only had a few recorded cases together. And rather than brotherly affection like Billy, Captain Adam had something more in mind when he looked at Ms. Eden.
Over at Earth-MLJ, Fly-Girl aka Kimberly Brand was another female given powers that allowed her to mimic a prominent hero, including the requisite power set. Or perhaps the amibguous Catgirl, Jaguar's female counterpart with various superhuman abilities that assisted her male contemporary. There is no clear counterpart on that world for Mary, however.
In 1954, aspiring comic book publisher Charlton purchased the rights to several prominent characters from the expiring Fawcett Comics, such as Ibis, Golden Arrow and Lance O'Casey. In 1980 and 1985, DC Comics purchase Fawcett's Marvel Family then Charlton's Action Heroes, and the two were linked once more, now on parallel Earths, Four and Shazam.Now the MLJ has been added to their stable of characters, we examine the parallels in this series.