Make Mine '39

Miss America: Golden Age Gal

Writer Jen Van Meter talks about showing how men alone didn’t win World War II

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By Jim Beard Writer Jen Van Meter's bringing the fireworks to Marvel's 70th anniversary bash, including a red, white and blue Golden Age firecracker that answers to the patriotic name of Miss America. Arriving on June 3, the MISS AMERICA 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL aims to please not only fans of Marvel's World War II era greats but anyone who loves a rip-roaring yarn of action and intrigue. "Miss America and her teammates learn their nemesis Brain Drain is planning to sabotage a top secret Liberty ship," says Van Meter of her own first full-length Marvel tale. "She goes undercover at the shipyard using her civilian identity, Madeline Joyce, to uncover and thwart their no-good Nazi schemes." The teammates in question call themselves the Liberty Legion but Van Meter assures her readers that Miss America claims the lion's share of the Special's focus: "I built the plot to pull Miss America away from the Liberty Legion in part to keep the spotlight on her, but it wasn't hard to show what made the character distinctive in her original material; Miss America is plucky, she's got moxie, she's got glasses, for

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crying out loud! In her original material, they did some great stuff with her being a pretty savvy problem-solver, so I tried to focus on that as a key to who she is, and to find a way to use her Madeline Joyce 'society girl' identity as well." Premiering in the original MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS, the red-tressed and crimson-clad girl gangbuster led the small pack of Marvel's female heroes in the 1940's. Van Meter feels that in Miss America tantalizing tidbits laid down by past writers create an ideal situation for storytellers like herself. "By the time this story takes place in her timeline, Miss America is an established hero respected by her teammates and known to the public and her opponents alike," she explains. "She's in her late teens and has the confidence of someone with a number of adventures under her belt, though her uncle and others who know her only as Madeline Joyce still think she's just a rich kid with a social conscience and a taste for excitement. "When I started looking into the character and realized that in later Marvel continuity she had married the Whizzer, her Liberty Legion teammate, I really wanted to use that; their engagement and wedding hadn't actually been shown on the page, but there was nothing to prevent me setting this story after they'd become engaged, which let me play around a little with the tensions of them working side-by-side."

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One of the more fascinating aspects of Van Meter's anniversary tale lies in the War's groundbreaking "Rosie the Riveter" phenomenon, a theme she believes lends the story a powerful and unique punch. "I'm always drawn to super hero stories that put the powered hero next to the courage and strength of 'ordinary' people, and I wanted to keep Miss America in her setting as a WWII character, but I didn't want to have her be the only girl on the page," she notes. "I wanted to use a period setting that pitted her against 'real' people, some of them with powers comparable to her own, and one that needed it to be Miss America, as a woman and as a hero, to get the job done. "The U.S. munitions factories, shipyards and aircraft plants where women took over the lion's share of the labor during WWII have always fascinated me, so this gave me a chance to use a relevant setting, and one where none of Miss America's teammates could immerse himself as effectively." And where flies a true-blooded hero, a nasty villain or three can't be too far behind. Our intrepid writer promises Miss America finds her hands full with a clutch of new adversaries who represent an even rarer species: the 1940's villainess. "Developing [the villainesses], I was thinking about what Miss America's analogues would be for the Axis countries," shares Van Meter. "Equally plucky young women with powers or unique skill sets who, from their perspective, are serving their patriotic causes

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in slightly naughty nationalistic costume. In a sense, I wanted them to keep the tone lighter—slugging Axis Annie, Girl Spy is more fun than punching a more realish SS officer or something—but Madame Mauser and her team also gave me a chance to think about the ways in which our WWII characters were all a kind of propaganda, in their red, white and blue and with names like Miss America." The MISS AMERICA 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, out June 3, delivers not only Jen Van Meter's brand-new Miss America story but also opens the casefile on one of the Golden Age gal's original 1940's stories in the form of an extra-special reprint. And for more Golden Age fun, head to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited! Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes! Download episodes of "X-Men: Evolution" and "Wolverine and the X-Men" now on iTunes!

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      4 comments
      Stuart_Vandal
      Stuart_Vandal

      [quote@Perplexor I see, I see. But didn't they go by Maximoff before they became Avengers??[/quote] No. They didn't meet Django Maximoff and start using his surname until some 160 or so issues after they first joined the Avengers. The reason the twins tracked down Bova was because a while after the Whizzer contacted them and identified himself as their long lost father, they were approached by Django Maximoff, who also claimed to be their long lost father. The twins couldn't clearly remember who raised them, due to traumas which had damaged their memories, but Django's words stirred vague recollections that supported his claims. Wanting to figure out the truth, they tracked things back to Wundagore, where they met Bova - she told them the true details behind their birth, clarifying that she didn't know who their father was (they found that out a lot later), but explaining why the Whizzer believed he was (see my post above), and why Django thought he was - after the Whizzer fled, the High Evolutionary looked for other foster parents. Eventually he found a suitable option when the Maximoff's wagon entered the area - Django and his wife Marya had lost their own children Ana and Mateo in infancy, so the High Evolutionary gave them Wanda and Pietro. The children spent years with Django and his wife, but eventually villagers attacked their home, burning the wagon. Marya died; Wanda and Pietro escaped, but believed their foster parents dead, and blotted the tragedy and them out of their memories; Django escaped, but the loss of his wife and children shook him to the extent that he convinced himself the two lost children were his birth children, not foster children.

      Perplexor
      Perplexor

      I see, I see. But didn't they go by Maximoff before they became Avengers??

      Stuart_Vandal
      Stuart_Vandal

      [quote@Perplexor Weren't Miss America and Whizzer (tee-hee) thought to be Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch's parents??[/quote] Yes, for a while, before Wanda and Pietro discovered the truth. Wanda and Pietro were born in the High Evolutionary's citadel atop Wundagore Mountain, but their mother Magda fled fearing her husband (the future Magneto) would find her and them. Whizzer and Miss America were vacationing in the area, and when Miss America went into labour, they too turned to Wundagore's midwife Bova. Miss America died in childbirth and the child was stillborn. Bova tried to ease Whizzer's pain at the loss of his wife by offering him the two other infants, telling them they were his children, but he fled overcome by grief, and only tracked the twins down years later. They eventually learned the truth from Bova, but didn't have the heart to hurt the now elderly Whizzer by telling him they weren't his children - he died still believing that to be the case.Whizzer and Miss America do have a surviving child, Nuklo of the V-Battalion.

      Perplexor
      Perplexor

      Weren't Miss America and Whizzer (tee-hee) thought to be Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch's parents??