Monica Rambeau: Who is the Guiding Light?

Star Light, Star Bright

Monica:I spent a year remembering things that couldn’t exist. Trying not to kill and killing anyway… and then they said it didn’t happen. They never let me forget, either. Oh, no. Change your look, change your life, you can never forget… I bet it was funny. From the outside. I bet everybody had a real good laugh. Well. Auntie Monica’s not  ☠☠☠☠ laughing.

Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #6

Five men load boxes onto a boat. The experimental tech inside will set them up for life. An alarm blares. The five run to their boat as a shining light fills the night sky. The leader fires up the engine as his crew clambers aboard, two falling into the water as the boat speeds away. The two waterlogged crooks are blinded as the light grows brighter. Something hurls them onto the dock hard enough to knock them out.

The escaping crooks gape as the light chases them,. They shoot wildly, but it keeps coming. Something hits the boat’s engine. The sudden stop slams the crooks onto the deck. The light dims, revealing a woman floating in the air, her eyes and hands crackling with energy. The crooks surrender as Monica Rambeau descends.

Monica Rambeau is an underrated Avenger. She was a hero long before gaining superpowers and has joined many teams. So who is she? How did she get her powers? Why do people call her Captain Marvel? Let’s find out.

First Light: Monica Rambeau’s Backstory

Felipe: I think the government of the United States will be impressed when their Fort Benning, Georgia suddenly ceases to exist!
Monica: [elbows him] “One side, Felipe! I don’t know who’s crazier here between me and you, but if this contraption has even a snowball’s chance of doing what you say, [smashes it] I aim to see it busted!

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16

Monica Rambeau debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 in 1982. She was created by John Romita Jr. and Roger Stern. Monica was originally supposed to resemble actor Pam Grier, but that was changed at the last moment. She was also the first Black woman to join the Avengers.

Monica Rambeau was a New York Harbor Patrol lieutenant. She went undercover to investigate a terrorist who had built a device to draw energy from the multiverse. She was captured, but managed to destroy the machine while he bragged about its power. The energy flowed into her body and gave her superpowers.

Monica’s new powers were continually increasing and hard to control. An encounter with Spider-Man pointed Monica to The Avengers, who were able to stabilize her powers. The team accepted Monica as a new member while helping her gain control as Captain Marvel.

She became The Avengers’ big gun–so powerful that the writers removed her from stories where her presence made the other team members irrelevant. She led the Avengers while Captain America was indisposed and was successful enough that she became the new leader.

To Nextwave and Beyond!: Monica Rambeau’s Backstory

Carol: “You have like fifteen alternate code names anyway, Monica-Photon-Pulsar-Captain Marvel-Rambeau!”
Monica: Did I just hear that right? Am I being judged by, by Ms.-Captain-Warbird-Binary-Marvel?

Captain Marvel #7 (2012) 

Monica Rambeau was often the topic between feuding writers. Roger Stern loved the character and made her the Avengers’ leader, but Captain America writer Mark Gruenwald disliked that she had usurped his character. Monica made many mistakes and left the team. Writers later retconned that an ally was undermining her to protect the Avengers from a disaster.

Monica gave the Captain Marvel name to Captain Mar-Vell’s son Genis-Vell and took the name Photon. Then Genisa-Vell decided he wanted that name too. She tried other names like Daystar and Spectrum, but eventually resorted to using her real name.

Alongside Elsa Bloodstone, Machine Man, Boom-Boom, and The Captain, Monica Rambeau formed a team called Nextwave. They briefly served a SHIELD counterpart called H.A.T.E. before learning the organization was controlled by the evil Beyond Corporation. Nextwave went rogue for a good cause and began destroying Beyond’s WMDs.

Nextwave eventually defeated Beyond’s leader, Devil Dinosaur. The team was ignored for several years before writers revealed that Nextwave’s adventures had been in an alternate universe. Beyond had screwed with their minds and put them into Family Guy-esque scenarios for a laugh.

Monica Rambeau was furious at being manipulated and waged war on Beyond. She discovered that the corporation was actually led by a Beyonder, an advanced alien with reality warping powers. The Avengers helped kick the Beyonder out of the universe, but several subsidiaries of the Beyond Corporation remain. Monica is reassembling Nextwave to finish her war.

Radiant: Monica Rambeau’s Powers and Personality

Narrator: Monica Rambeau can convert part or all of her mass into any form of electromagnetic energy in the spectrum. Except the ones they make up on Star Trek.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #2

There’s a reason Monica has always been The Avengers’ big gun. She can fly at light speed, transform into any type of energy, fire energy blasts, phase through objects, and has “cosmic awareness” while transformed. If Monica can’t win alone, she can supercharge any fellow hero by merging with them. The Avengers have classified her as one of the few Alpha-level threats, a nearly unstoppable and versatile force of nature.

Monica is also a martial artist, sharpshooter, detective, and an expert swimmer. Writers frequently sideline her to give the Avengers a challenge. She’s usually busy elsewhere, but has also suffered temporary amnesia, been depowered, or been captured while her guard is down.

Monica Rambeau is snarky and demanding, but cares for those under her command. Her mind was rewritten while in Nextwave to hyperfocus on having led The Avengers and be annoyed that this team wasn’t as good as them. Monica enjoys bantering with teammates and will always be the first to rush to their aid.

The Actors Who Play Monica Rambeau

Akira Akbar – Captain Marvel
Teyonah Parris – WandaVision, The Marvels

Didya Get All That?

The little-known strongest Avenger.

Image: Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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