This is a character who has gone by many names – Photon, Pulsar, but most notably, her first code name was Captain Marvel. This character is not nearly as much of a hot mess as most of them.
First, some history of the name. You’d think that Marvel Comics would have come up with this name, but instead the name first showed up in Whiz Comics, published by Fawcett Comics. Well before my time. It wasn’t the woman in this article, but rather the Superman-like character that most people know as Shazam! He wore the red suit with the yellow lightning bolt.
Well, DC sued Fawcett because he was too similar to Superman (and also outselling Superman on the stands). So Fawcett went out of business. Later, DC Comics actually picked up all the Fawcett characters, so now they owned Captain Marvel.
Except, in a now-famous legal lapse, DC neglected to challenge Marvel Comics when Marvel started publishing their own Captain Marvel character. Incredibly, this left the way open for Marvel to sue DC. They won, and from this time on, DC could not publish a comic with the name Captain Marvel on the front. Damn, they got punked.
So Marvel kept on with their character, who was a man named Mar-Vell and was actually from an alien race known as the Kree. This guy betrayed his own people to help Earth. Unfortunately he died from cancer years later. This left the name open for the Black Captain Marvel.
Her name is Monica Rambeau, and she wasn’t officially known as the Black Captain Marvel, but that’s what I called her anyway.
The great thing about this character is that they really got her right from jump street. She’s a very intelligent Black woman, she started right out in the Avengers (for those of you who don’t know, the Avengers are the A-List of superheroes in the Marvel Universe), and she was extremely powerful.
Most of the time these Black heroes were underpowered, but not her. Monica could transform her entire body into any form of energy found in the electromagnetic spectrum. Holy crap. That’s pretty powerful.
Many times you’d see villains plotting extra hard, just trying to figure out a way to beat this chick. How can we stop someone who can turn into an x-ray or a gamma ray. It ain’t easy, y’all.
So we have the power, now how about the respect? Get this, she was the leader of the Avengers for awhile. It didn’t go too well, but hey, not just anyone can walk in off the street and take over the Avengers. The Falcon was there for years and he couldn’t get anyone to give him a key to the place. The brotha had to ring the doorbell every time he showed up at the mansion or go in the back way with the help. Disgraceful…
Anyway, Monica ended up losing her powers for awhile, but she got them back to full strength recently. Except she’s not really an Avenger anymore, and she was in this terrible comic called Nextwave. Awful, just awful. But she sided with Captain America during the Civil War (meaing she was on the correct side), so at least she was still down.
Now Monica calls herself Pulsar, I believe. Very lame that they can’t do better for this character. Why can’t she call herself Captain Marvel? Well, it was kind of a trap from the get-go.
A name with that much history was never going to last long with a character who wasn’t related in any way to the original character. When Mar-Vell’s son showed up he started using the name, and Monica started using the name Photon. Ugh, but it was still better than Pulsar.
So she was kind of shafted but still she ended up a lot better off than a lot of the Black superheroes, especially since she didn’t have a blaxploitation background.
Here’s some strange things about Monica: When she was in energy form, she would fly around next to Thor and Iron-Man and jawjack and shoot the shit with them while she flew. Except, wasn’t she made out of light, or some other part of the EM Spectrum? Shouldn’t she always be traveling at the speed of light, and thus NOT able to slow down and speak to Thor as he lazily flies through the clouds??
I don’t think anyone ever explained that one.
Aside from that, a great Monica moment was when the Fantastic Four went into the Negative Zone, and as usual let out a terrible threat from that dimension into our world. Namely the creep called Annihilus, who was actually the worst of them all, and extremely powerful.
Annihilus promptly erected a barrier around the Baxter Building (the home of the Fantastic Four) and it was slowly expanding outward. Captain Marvel tried to get through in her energy form but was repulsed by the barrier.
She realized that the field gave way a little under gamma rays, so she flew out to the sun and melded herself into a gamma ray generated from the sun. Then she rode the gamma ray back to Earth and used it to crack through the barrier. I remember seeing this bad-ass panel when she burst through and made it into the building to confront Annihilus. This woman is powerful!
Another moment was in Marvel’s Secret Wars Series. The Iron-Man at the time was Jim Rhodes (Tony Stark’s Black friend). Tony was no longer Iron-Man due to being lost in an alcoholic daze, so the brotha had to step in and handle business.
Well, he got caught up in the Secret Wars, and he took a liking to Monica, so he started laying his mack down. Unfortunately she did not go for it with her stuck-up bougie azz. Oh well, at least he recognized talent when he saw it.
So for now, Monica is still out there, and still powerful, but she’s not at the forefront where she needs to be. This is the type of character that young Black girls need to see who can represent for them.
I wish she had more juice to her character so she could get a bit more of the shine like Luke Cage is getting. I’d gladly kill off Storm if we could get Monica into a more major role. Hopefully Marvel is working on it, but I doubt it.