At first glance, Ms. Marvel seems like one of the first (if not the original) feminist superhero. Certainly, there were few women who starred in their own comics before her; Wonder Woman was a major exception, but she was created in an era when women's suffrage was a relative novelty and was not exactly a strong proponent of equal rights; in her secret identity, she was perfectly happy in a subordinate role. Ms. Marvel, from her very name to her actual identity, was clearly a 1970s version of a feminist, a woman who either as a superhero or regular person was independent and not defined by the men in her life.
Actually, that is not completely true. Carol Danvers's alter-ego was literally defined by a man, namely Captain Mar-Vell, to whom she owed both her powers and name. Exposed to strange radiation, Carol would adopt the powers of a warrior from the alien humanoid race called the Kree. Initially, this would result in a split personality, but that would reconcile soon enough. Her powers included super-strength, flight and a pre-cognitive "seventh sense". When she was Carol Danvers, she was an ex-soldier (which is when she got her powers) and for the majority of this volume, a magazine editor.
As with any first issue of a new superhero book, we get plenty of guest stars, particularly from the world of Spiderman: Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, J. Jonah Jameson and the Scorpion. In fact, many of the villains in this book are familiar from other magazines, including Modok, Ronan, Grotesk, Tiger Shark and Sabertooth. One villain, however, was original to Ms. Marvel's book and would eventually become a more important character in the Marvel Universe than Ms. Marvel herself: Mystique. For the most part, though, the woman also known as Raven Darkholme remains behind the scenes; there is never a real fight between the two.
This volume covers all the issues of her original comic book and concludes with an Avengers Annual that details her pivotal confrontation with another key Marvel character, Rogue. Between the original series and this Avengers issue are a couple issues of Marvel Super-Heroes Magazine that were written later but explain some intermediate events.
For the most part, these comics are entertaining. My main gripe seems to be with her powers, which seem to fluctuate with the bad guy confronted; sometimes she seems quite beatable while other times she is almost invincible. Ms. Marvel never wound up being one of the first-stringers in the Marvel Universe, but she has been around now for thirty years in various incarnations. If you like "classic `70s" Marvel, this will be worth reading.