OK, so, Jenny did not like my suggestion from a couple weeks ago that Phantom Lady could have been a good fit for her criteria on Iconic Female Heroes That Are Not Madam Xanadu. That was because of her costume.
Admittedly, Phantom Lady has a terrible costume. No one would argue that one, aside from the occasional pervert, like Jimmy. He’s only a pervert on some occasions.
But with this in mind, I think it’s time to go in the complete opposite direction for this week’s column and go with a somewhat forgotten character that was for a period a knock-off of an established male hero. Let’s talk about the She-Thing.
Jenny loves herself some Ms. Marvel, so she may be interested to know Carol Danvers wasn’t always Ms. Marvel. Heck, she isn’t Ms. Marvel right now. There was at one time a Ms. Marvel named Sharon Ventura. Now, to be fair, Ms. Marvel is one of those names Marvel tosses around when they’re feeling lazy and can’t come up with anything better than the company’s name. See also: Marvel Boy, Marvel Girl, Captain Marvel of the non-Shazam variety, etc.
Sharon’s resume reads a lot like a particularly active version of Barbie, in that she seems to have a lot of careers that I guess she switched around for. Sharon can list among her skills: martial arts expert, wrestler, stuntwoman, lion tamer, mountain climber, scuba diver, skydiver, skier, and motorcyclist. She also got kicked out of a military academy.
Sharon’s superhero career began when she apparently was inspired by Ben Grimm’s wrestling federation, I’m guessing back in the days when people were more inclined to think wrestling was real. She got some superstrength from a shady character and called herself Ms. Marvel. See two paragraphs above on my thoughts on that.
You know who else was in that wrestling federation? Vance Astrovic, future Avenger, but at the time known as…Marvel Boy.
But Sharon isn’t best known as Ms. Marvel. She’s best known as the She-Thing. At some point, while a member of the Fantastic Four, she became a female version of Ben Grimm. Cosmic rays tend to do stuff like that.
To make matters worse (for her), Ben got turned human again while she was basically The Thing, Now With Boobs!
Now, this is comics. Ben Grimm isn’t going to stay human forever. And sometimes irony comes into play, so Sharon got cured by Doom, but Ben subjected himself to cosmic rays again to go rescue her. Got that? She’s cured, and he gets turned back into the Thing in order to rescue her, even though she arguably didn’t need rescuing.
Say, what happens to Ben’s fingers and toes when he changes into the Thing? Do two merge into one or what?
Now, this could have been the last of the She-Thing, but Doom can take his gifts away and he turned her back into a more monstrous version of the She-Thing just for kicks and giggles or wounded pride or whatever reason he needs since he’s Doom and he does what he damn well feels like at all times. And because someone actually thought a woman couldn’t take being turned into the Thing as well as a man could, Sharon went nuts and became a temporary bad guy. Or a permanent one, since she may or may not be locked up on the Raft right now, one of those Marvel superprisons that never really work out.
Sharon had a minor role in Secret Invasion in that she was replaced by a Skrull. I am not sure anyone would have noticed at that point, but she did have to join a support group afterwards. Maybe some characters are better off forgotten, because the weak-willed “I’m crazy because I’m ugly now!” woman stereotype that’s best known as a female knock-off of a popular male hero probably should be forgotten, even if she did start off as a woman who could climb mountains with a tamed lion and that parachute off the top. Maybe we can get Phantom Lady to show her how a tough female hero should be.