Funny Books: Look Out Patriarchy, Here Come The Lady Liberators! [Avengers #83]

Funny Books is back, and ready to piggy back on that sweet, sweet Avengers gravy train. From now until the premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Funny Books will take a look back at some of the Avengers’ most important moments. The following moment may not be too important for the series overall, but believe me, it’s a must read. I’m talking Avengers #83, 1970, by Roy Thomas and John Busema, starring THE LADY LIBERATORS!!

Warning: Possible Sexism/Feminism Ahead. Emphasis on the “Possible.”

You younger readers might not know, but once upon a time there was something called the “1970s.” These were idealistic times. Bell bottoms were sweeping the nation, Chicken Nuggets were still 15 years away, and women across the country were realizing that they were getting a pretty raw deal. This female frustration eventually birthed “Women’s Liberation,” a cultural movement to increase gender equality. Some people, unfortunately, interpreted this as a sex war conducted by angry man-haters:

And for the life of me, I’m not sure which side of the argument this story lies on.

Avengers #83 opens with the Wasp returning to the Avenger’s Mansion and running into the newly assembled “Lady Liberators,” consisting of The Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Medusa, and newcomer, The Valkyrie. Luckily, in classic Marvel fashion, the new Valkyrie comes with a convenient backstory. It seems that the woman was once a scientist who was undermined by her male colleagues (oh, how times have changed), and in her efforts to show them-SHOW THEM ALL-she accidentally game herself superpowers:

Valkyrie goes on to point out the inequalities each of the female superheroes have encountered. To be fair, she did have a point. The Wasp did often play second fiddle to Ant-Man. Ditto with The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. The Black Widow had been rejected for Avengers membership multiple times. And Medusa was a glorified translator for Black Bolt at the time. Hell, by Avengers #83, the team had yet to have more than one female member at the same time.

But were the ladies arguments valid? Were the fellas just a bunch of glory seeking chauvinist pigs? What were they doing while the superheroines were airing out their grievances?

Maybe the female invitations were lost in the mail?

Yes, the He-Avengers were overseas for a little get together and happen to take part in a parade. Then the festivities are interrupted by “The Masters of Evil,” a ragtag group of villains with everything to prove. This time, they managed to give the male Avengers a good fight, until the female Avengers turn the tide and win the battle.

High-fives right?

Wrong.

 Because as soon as they beat the bad guys, the Lady Liberators turn their attention to their male compatriots.

Then things move to a laboratory, because that’s how these things tend to go, and a big twist unfolds. It turns out that Valkyrie was actually…The Enchantress! That’s right, Thor’s long time villain and sometimes love interest was behind the gender dispute all along. She was pissed over being left by The Executioner; another Asgardian that she had been stringing along at this point, at took out her frustration on all mankind.

Sadly for the Enchantress, she underestimated the female Avengers and they manage to take her down and we all learn a valuable lesson in…

In something. I’m still not sure what this story was trying to say. On the one hand, it pointed out the very real fact that women are often sidelined and underrepresented in many fields, including superhero books. On the other hand, it represented Women’s Liberation as the work of scorned crazy women. It also introduced The Valkyrie, who would become an actual character later one.

So…yeah

 

 

 

Alan Carrillo's picture
Channel Surfer, Funny Book lover, America's Sweetheart
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