Marvel Girl Explained
Before we find out what those Sentinels are up to, lets pause to check out the side story in the back of issue 57. Marvel Girl is finally getting her time in the spotlight. She’s shared issues with Scott, but this is the first time the series has spent any significant time on her specifically. To mark the occasion, Marvel actually allowed a woman, one of the “supposedly weaker” gender, to write a comic book. But how will she manage that with her smaller, more lady-like brain? Immediately I’m wondering just how sexist this segment will be, and just how much of that sexism we can blame on “the times”. The first thing Jean says here makes me think that my suspicions were correct, but the second thing she says leaves me feeling that perhaps I assume too much. Lets not overthink this. Give Marvel the benefit of the doubt and all, right? I mean heck, these days Thor and Captain Marvel are both women. So lets get back to Jean and her cool powers. This will give us a look into her mutant abilities and all of the amazing things she can do.
Like housework! Of course, housework, because this must be what Jean does all day. Hooray society gender norms! We see her picking and peeling apples to make an apple pie, and lifting the couch for dust. She’s a regular Betty Crocker. However, she does mention that she’s not the domestic type. She says her powers really become useful when there is danger.
So if you were worried that Jean’s time in the spotlight was going to be all baking and cleaning, fear not. The next page shows her deflecting weapons, fighting bad guys, picking locks, running through fire, levitating herself over walls and then safely back down, and controlling people with her mind. She can make a man submit with a mere thought.
This must come in handy for all of her sexy bondage games. Who knew Jean was so creative? It would be easy to cry sexism over this panel, but I’m sure I’m putting a lot more into it than I’m supposed to get out of it. The X-Men have been tied up probably a dozen times since they started, so this is a serious work hazard that she deals with. She and Scott must have to practice this maneuver a lot.
She then explains that her abilities let her stop mundane criminals as well. Even in every day situations, you never know what you’re bound to see. A mugging in New York City is often something one witnesses and feels powerless to stop. This isn’t so for Jean. Without throwing a single punch, she can stop a pickpocket dead in his tracks. He won’t even know what hit him.
I’m still left with several questions as to what Jean can do. It mentions that she has an easier time manipulating objects that are closer to her. What is the range of her telekinesis? What is the range of her telepathy? She can control minds, but can she also read thoughts and memories? Still, this issue showed Jean kicking a lot of ass, doing things completely on her own, and leaping through a god damn volcano. Jean is awesome. Now we know that she’s capable, assertive, and sexually creative.
This piece does a great job of first working within it’s era’s gender norms, but then comfortably stepping outside them. It showcases Jean as independent and powerful. It was also nice that a female guest writer was brought in to create this. I was expecting, at worst, a sexist depiction of Jean doing chores with magic, or, at best, a well-meaning but inexperienced nerdy male comic book writer fumbling his way through what he imagines is the mindset of a young woman. Thankfully this focused on her being a significant asset to the team, but with a female perspective. It didn’t marginalize Jean as a housewife, and it also didn’t preach feminism. I wouldn’t have enjoyed this if it was all about getting housework done and looking pretty for her man.
Oh but then in the last panel they totally blew it.