For Your Consideration: Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Omnibus

Women of Marvel Coipel Cover

Women of Marvel Coipel Cover

by Robert Greenberger

Marvel Comics has spent much of this year focused on the female heroines of their ever-growing universe. First there was the slick magazine with articles and reprints from January, which I wrote for. Since then there have been the Girl Comics and Her-Oes miniseries and an honest-to-goodness good Black Widow ongoing series.

This summer, though, Marvel looks back one final time with Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Omnibus. The mammoth 1160 page book will retail for $125 but you’re getting a real survey of how heroic women were portrayed through the years and it makes for an interesting look at Marvel in a new way.

Back in the Timely days, the heroines were costumed do-gooders who didn’t wear provocative outfits or use their gender to do solve crimes and bring the bad guys to justice. Essentially, they were merely role reversals, and that didn’t change as the 1950s arrived and female dramatic leads virtually vanished. By the mid-1940s, though, Timely countered Archie Andrews with a plethora of teen females, notably Mille the Model (the Stan Lee/Dan DeCarlo era begs to be collected).

There were precious few adventure heroines during the 1950s, notably Lorna of the Jungle, who is sadly absent from this book.

This book offers up the solo exploits of the Wondrous Wasp who was introduced in Tales to Astonish #44 (not included) and briefly had a solo feature, which is included, from issues #51-58. She was a socialite who became a heroine to be close to her boyfriend Hank Pym and that’s all you needed to know back then; her true personality didn’t shine through until many years later.

Interesting women arrived with regularity as each series took hold in the Marvel Universe but this volume shines the spotlight on various characters, probably the only time you can have complete runs of Night Nurse, The Cat, and Shanna the She-Devil. They were simultaneously introduced in the 1970s as Women’s Lib was in full flower and several female writers and artists were recruited to lend their talents without commercial success.

We do get to see how some of these women grew and evolved given the stories presented here. The best example would be Patsy Walker, who went from teen humor lead to the heroine Hellcat and her transition is covered in four entries. We also dip a toe into the teen humor line with Millie #100, which lacks the sparkle of the earlier Lee days.

Fans will be treated to several little seen full-length graphic novels including the then-reviled Dazzler the Movie.

Women of Marvel Fradon Cover

Women of Marvel Fradon Cover

With over 1000 pages and dozens of stories, you are treated to a wide assortment of writing talents including Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Tony Isabella, Dwayne McDuffie, Jim Shooter, and David Michelinie. The earliest writing of Jean Thomas, Carol Seuling and Linda Fite are also on display. Artistically, there’s an even greater variety with the likes of Ramona Fradon, Jack Kirby, Mark Bright, Stan Goldberg, Larry Leiber, Werner Roth, Bob Brown, George Tuska, Win Mortimer, Bill Sienkiewicz, Greg LaRocque, and so on.

Overall, there are some exciting stories worth rereading and a lot of one-off curiosities, but the stories that truly explored the characters of Marvel’s women are absent. Nothing with Sue Storm and her 1970s issues over independence or the Scarlet Witch’s love for the android Vision or the romance that was Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy (and a GN worthy of inclusion here). Still, this is a great time capsule that is worth a read.

Oddly, Marvel is also offering this month two trade paperback volumes with similar titles but rather different contents with the first volume focusing on first appearances and volume two is a more varied assortment. Do not order those thinking you’re getting the Omnibus in a more affordable format.

Characters Included:

WASP
TALES TO ASTONISH #51-58

MARVEL GIRL
X-MEN #57

NIGHT NURSE
NIGHT NURSE #1-4

The CAT/TIGRA
CAT #1-4
MARVEL TEAM-UP #8
GIANT-SIZE CREATURES #1
MARVEL PREMIERE #42

SHANNA
SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL #1-5
KA-ZAR: LORD OF THE HIDDEN JUNGLE #2

BLACK WIDOW/SHANNA (#111)
DAREDEVIL (#108-112)

BLACK WIDOW
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #3

DAZZLER
MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #12

STORM/TIGRA/SHE-HULK/WASP
MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #16

SHE-HULK
MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #18

FIRESTAR
FIRESTAR #1-4

SHE-HULK
SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK: CEREMONY #1-2

CAPTAIN MARVEL
CAPTAIN MARVEL (1989) #1
CAPTAIN MARVEL (1994) #1

MILLIE
MILLIE THE MODEL #100

HELLCAT
PATSY AND HEDY ANNUAL #1
SOLO AVENGERS #9
MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS (1988) #36
MARVEL FANFARE #59.

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