Before Carol Danvers took up the title of Captain Marvel, there was Monica Rambeau. It appears as though Monica will make an appearance in the upcoming Captain Marvel as a younger version of herself, while her mother Maria Rambeau will be introduced as a fellow fighter pilot and friend of Carol.
While this is the first time we’ll get this take on Maria, who is more of a homemaker, Maria Rambeau, as well as her husband Frank, have always been their daughter’s biggest supporters. Over the years, Monica Rambeau has had an assortment of writers and just as many name changes. Here are some great comic stories to help you get better acquainted with her before her big-screen debut.
Monica’s story of becoming Captain Marvel is one of the better superhero origin stories. It takes place in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, written by Roger Stern, with pencils by John Romita, and colors by Stan Goldberg. This story starts out when Monica Rambeau sets off Peter Parker’s Spidey senses as they pass one another in public. From there the story follows a Monica who has already obtained her powers but flashes back to how she got them. It's a great story that manages to have relatable situations interwoven throughout it. Monica deals with misogynoir, frustrations with her 9-to-5 job, and the sudden burden of powers she didn’t ask for as a result of trying to help out a friend. Some of the more humorous moments of Monica’s origin story are the interactions between her and Spider-Man and the rest of the Avengers. It's overall a fun read and, best of all, doesn’t involve a major tragedy that thrust the main character into a new life as a superhero.
The late Dwayne McDuffie’s take on Maria and Monica Rambeau remain true to both characters in the one-shot titled Captain Marvel. It’s a 43-page story with beautiful artwork by Doc Bright, Stan Drake, Frank Bollie, and Paul Becton. Monica makes her return to the comic pages after loses at the end of the Avengers vs. Marrina storyline that takes place in Avengers #291 - 294. Although Monica is without her powers for about a quarter of this one-shot, McDuffie does an amazing job of creating an action pack situation that allows Monica to show off why the great Captain America had no doubt in her ability to lead the Avengers. Monica defeats a villain without her powers and then another with them, while never missing a beat.
Captain Marvel vs. racism
A few years later after his Captain Marvel one shot, McDuffie teamed up with Dwight Coye for another, this time with artwork by Barb Kaalberg, Dennis Jensen, Mark Mckenna, and Carlos Lopez. In this story, Monica literally takes on racism in an eerily familiar narrative that makes one wonder if the more things change, the more they actually stay the same. A group called the Sons of the Serpent, comprised of disgruntled cis hetero young white men, are terrorizing students of Empire University. Not only does Monica put an end to their terrorism, but she also delivers a memorable monologue quoting the iconic Audre Lorde in the midst of it. Hate doesn’t win in this story and is instead vanquished to nothing, as it should be.
Monica pops up in Reginald Hudlin’s Black Panther run after being recruited by T’Challa to assist in fending off a vampire outbreak in post-Katrina New Orleans. The story begins in Black Panther #10 and concludes in Black Panther #13. It's a fun story that takes Monica back to her hometown and includes an all Black team-up comprised of herself, Black Panther, Luke Cage, Blade, and Brother Voodoo. Monica, unfortunately, has to deal with some mansplaining on how she uses her powers from T’Challa but ultimately gets to show off her power set while helping the guys save her city.
Friends, how many of us have them?
In the short four-issue series written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Marvel Divas features Monica Rambeau under the alias Photon. It's an extremely soapy series: Everyone is getting busy — including Monica, who has romantic ties with Brother Voodoo which leads to them rekindling their relationship in the span of four issues after Monica agrees to aid him tracking down some sorcerers. Monica attends a birthday party in Las Vegas for Emma Frost and somehow ends up helping to solve a cosmic crisis that involves Frankie Reyes. The series also features some great friendship moments like Monica and other women supporting their friend Firestarter, who battles and defeats breast cancer.
Monica Rambeau — or Spectrum, if ya nasty
Monica is back with the Avengers, but this time under the alias Spectrum after relinquishing her names Photon and Pulsar to Mar-vell twice. Both the Mighty Avengers and Captain America & the Mighty Avengers written by Al Ewing with art by Greg Land and Luke Ross respectively, feature Monica pretty extensively. In the Mighty Avengers run, seeds are planted for a romantic relationship between Monica and fellow superhero Blue Marvel, who heals her after she’s injured by Proxima Midnight as part of an attack launched by Thanos' invasion of Earth. Since the current Avengers members are off in space during this event, the heroes that confronted Proxima Midnight decide to band together as the Mighty Avengers.
This run also features the return of Monica and She-Hulk’s great friendship, as they team up together to help defeat Blue Marvel’s son, who becomes an antagonist in the series. In Captain America & the Mighty Avengers Monica’s time was spent in Nextwave, another great limited series that actually allows Monica to step into her Auntie Monica persona. Both series are great because Al Ewing stays true to the Monica readers had gotten to know throughout her earlier years with the Avengers but brings her up to date and adds a little extra to her character. This Monica would have most definitely told T’Challa where to go halfway through his lecture on how she should use her powers.
To space and beyond
Al Ewing continues writing Monica Rambeau in his series the Ultimates. After the Mighty Avengers dissolve, Monica joins the Ultimates, a team comprised of Carol Danvers, T’Challa, America Chavez, and Blue Marvel. In this series Monica and Blue Marvel’s relationship finally blossoms. The Ultimates spend a good majority of their time in space making for some beautiful artwork by Christian Ward and Kenneth Rocafort. While Carol Danvers is still going by Monica’s old alias Captain Marvel, it's very evident here that Monica still possesses all the qualities that have been there since her introduction in 1982.