Jim Shooter: I did not write Avengers #200

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Not too long ago, we presented for your amusement several videos recapping the rather appalling events of AVENGERS #200, in which Ms. Marvel was kidnapped, drugged, and forcibly impregnated, and after giving birth to a reincarnation of her rapist, went off with him in a happy daze. The writers on the story are listed as Jim Shooter, David Michelinie, Bob Layton, and George Pérez but it’s been noted that in the years since, no one has actually taken credit for coming up with the story. It’s like that one round of blanks in the firing squad — every man can believe he is the innocent one.

Now over on his blog Jim Shooter has come out and confirmed that he’s wiped the entire incident from his memory:

I found my copy of Avengers #200. I read it. I agree with the consensus, it’s heinous. But, I don’t remember much about how it got that way.

I am credited not only as Editor in Chief but as one of the co-plotters. However, I didn’t see anything in the book that jogged my memory. No bits that I remember suggesting. No corrections of the sort I might have made to a plot passed before me.

But I did see many things I would have had changed if I’d seen the plot. For instance, leaving aside the Ms. Marvel mess for the nonce: Iron Man thinks it’s okay for the weird, mysterious child to be given a “laser torch” and electronic equipment so he can build a machine. What?! As the massive machine is being assembled, no one bothers to question what it is or does. What?! Trouble ensues. No kidding, really? Good grief.


Shooter offers a few hypotheses about the story’s origin — a feud between Michelinie and Chris Claremont being one possible motivation — and hints that Jim Salicrup might know more — definitely something to remember next time The Beat sees him!

There is perhaps some comfort all these years later in knowing that Shooter offers a flat-out apology:

But, in those days, in any case, the buck stopped at my desk. I take full responsibility. I screwed up. My judgment failed, or maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. Sorry. Avengers #200 is a travesty.

Comments

  1. Torsten Adair says:

    Question: Was this incident forgotten in the 616? Retconned? Or No-Prized with an explanation to explain all that happened in this issue?

    I remember two other incidents:
    1) Mockingbird being brainwashed in the past of West Coast Avengers, and eventually killing her abductor/husband. (The sex was so oblique, my teenage mind didn’t notice it. It seemed she only killed him because she was brainwashed into being his bride.) (Compare with Hawkeye’s and Mockingbird’s marriage announcement at the Mansion.)

    Oh, and then there’s friction when the WCA discover that she killed her rapist in the past.

    2) The OTHER Ms. Marvel, Sharon Ventura, on Fantastic Four. This was more direct, implied in a flashback. (Geez… reading her Wikipedia entry, she’s quite talented, almost a twin for Batwoman!)

    Dan Slott wrote a decent story with similar themes with She-Hulk and Starfox.

    I suspect there’s a sub-set of this type of story in the Refrigerators listing?

  2. Snikt Snakt says:

    “1) Mockingbird being brainwashed in the past of West Coast Avengers, and eventually killing her abductor/husband. (The sex was so oblique, my teenage mind didn’t notice it. It seemed she only killed him because she was brainwashed into being his bride.)

    Oh, and then there’s friction when the WCA discover that she killed her rapist in the past.”

    Yeah, I loved those old WCA comics, but that whole team reaction to Mockingbird killing Night Rider never sat right with me. Especially Hawkeye’s.

  3. The Beat says:

    I vaguely remember that WCA storyline as well — this was definitely about the time that I stopped reading superhero comics regularly.

    At the time even Chris Claremont had this obsession with female characters undergoing rape as their “rite of passage.” Icky. Imagine if every male hero had to survive a round with Jerry Sandusky to “prove” his heroism.

  4. Synsidar says:

    Yeah, I loved those old WCA comics, but that whole team reaction to Mockingbird killing Night Rider never sat right with me. Especially Hawkeye’s.

    That storyline is one of my favorites; I’ve referred to it as a model of how to write a storyline containing adult material which will go over the heads of readers who might be too young to deal with the psychological angles. If you accept that Hawkeye’s refusal to kill others is genuine, then his rejection of Mockingbird’s decision to let the Phantom Rider fall to his death is a reason for friction. And having the Phantom Rider return as a possessing spirit to torment Mockingbird was a situation that couldn’t have been arrived at easily otherwise. Reading a superhero storyline in which the route to a satisfying resolution isn’t apparent is quite unusual, and one reason to value what was written.

    SRS

  5. george says:

    The Beat said: At the time even Chris Claremont had this obsession with female characters undergoing rape as their “rite of passage.”

    My memory is that Claremont usually handled it in a symbolic manner, with characters undergoing a “psychic” violation in which their “soul” would be “laid bare.” Older readers knew what was going on, but I guess it satisfied the Code.

    Comics creators were probably borrowing the action-movie convention (as in Eastwood and Bronson movies) where female characters are raped or assaulted so the hero can strap on his gun and take revenge.

  6. Spike says:

    Skipping over the rape topic, I find it odd about Shooter finding the kid with a blow torch being a scene he would change. It was a classic 80s comic. Silly things like that happened. I’m sure it still does but now the kids are more sarcastic while doing crazy visual things.

  7. Chris Hero says:

    I think this is about as good of an apology as anyone could hope for. While the buck can always be passed around on who wrote the scene in question, Shooter is apologizing for letting it out the door as he was the boss at the time.

    I dunno…not saying it’s right or good, but this stuff was looked at as being disposable entertainment then. I doubt enough thought was put into the story.

  8. Magewolf says:

    Spike,Shooter was talking about them giving an unknown and highly suspicious infant free rein to build his possibly planet destroying machine.

    There was a whole lot of stupid going on in that issue not just the rape stuff.

  9. Shawn Kane says:

    I re-read my West Coast Avengers recently and I’ve always left the Mockingbird/Phantom Rider plot open to interpretation. I prefer to not read between the lines for things that I’d consider unsavory. Bendis pretty much writes The Purple Man as pretty much the biggest serial rapist of all time. It just doesn’t sit well with me.

  10. I think villains with power of persuasion (i.e, Purple Man, Marcus aka Immortus, Mastermind, etc…) and the wickedness they commit should be a part of the Marvel Universe. This is what SOME wicked people do, BUT the Ms. Marvel leaving with Marcus/Immortus always gave be a nasty feeling in my stomach. Not only did it kind of sort of paint (one of my favorite characters) her as weak-minded, but a pervert for going off with, not only her rapist, but her…son? KindaSorta?? Funky business.

    I totally agree with @Snikt Snakt when it comes to Mockingbird being ostracized by the rest of the WCA for murdering her rapist. Just too stupid for words.

  11. Jon Dubya says:

    To be fair, Mockingbird was NOT “ostracized by her peers” during those WCA issues. Indeed, half the team basically split up over this, as some sided with Bobbi. That plot was then dropped when Byrne entered the scene.

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