Marvel’s latest round of solicitations offered a look at new project centering on a different kind of super group. We’re talking supermodels, and they’ve been kicking around the Marvel Universe for much longer than you might expect. They’ll be congregating in Models Inc. (no relation to the third series in the 90210 franchise, or, as I pretend Matt Brady likes to call it, the Dylanverse) written by Paul Tobin, with art by Vicenc Villagrassa.
So who are the models that populate the Marvel Universe that will be calling Models Inc. home in February? Here’s a brief look at the careers of Marvel’s cover girls in both history and continuity.
Mary Jane Watson: Mentioned by name but remaining unseen in Amazing Spider-Man #15 (Volume 1), and partially appearing in ASM #25 before her famous first full appearance in ASM #42 in 1966, Mary Jane Watson is one of the most well-known ladies in all of comics. MJ’s modeling career began in her teens, and she later parlayed this into acting, including a stint on the soap “Secret Hospital”. Later, an obsessive fan spooked MJ out of this gig. MJ went back to modeling and acting, notably appearing in the film “Lobster-Man”. She’s currently dating actor Bobby Carr. As far as we can remember, she’s never been married.
Patsy Walker: Patsy, believe it or not, has a lengthier pedigree in the Marvel Universe. Debuting in Timely’s Miss America Magazine in 1944, Patsy began fictional life as a teen humor character. Patsy and her friends rotated through many magazines in this fashion from ’44 to 1967. When Patsy started appearing in the mainstream Marvel Universe, efforts were made to place her humor adventures in a different context; her mother Betty was said to have written those tales based on Patsy’s life, including her work as a model. One element certainly remained: her long-time paramour, Buzz Baxter, now her husband.
Patsy takes a big turn in Amazing Adventures #13 in 1973. By this point, she’s decided that she wants to be a super-heroine, and falls into adventure with the Avengers. Acquiring one of “The Cat” costumes originally worn by Greer Grant (Tigra), Patsy becomes Hellcat. The estranged Buzz would become the villain Mad Dog, and later bedevil Patsy and The Defenders on a recurring basis after she became a member of that team. Patsy’s second marriage, to Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan, goes no better; hell, she ends up going crazy and killing herself. Patsy is restored to life thanks to Hellstrom and the unwitting assistance of Hawkeye, and she resumes adventuring (and apparently, modeling). When last seen, Hellcat was the Alaska components of The 50-State Initiative. You betcha.
Millicent “Millie the Model” Collins, Chili Storm, and Jill Jerold: The remaining three-fifths of the main cast come from the long-running Millie the Model franchise. Franchise, you ask? Yessir. Running from 1945 to 1973 (that’s 207 issues, kids), Millie the Model holds the distinction of being Timely/Marvel’s longest-running humor title in its history. Along the way, the book spun-off several other titles and took its own four-year detour (between ’63 and ’67) as a “romantic adventure” before moving back to its original humor format. And lest you dismiss the book out of hand, here are some names that contributed to the series along the way: Stan Lee. Ruth Atkinson. Mike Sekowsky. Al Hartley. Dan DeCarlo. That’s pretty much a murderer’s row of legends right there.
Essentially, the story followed “the blonde bombshell” Millie (model for the Hanover Agency) and the craziness that surrounded her life. Chili was her red-headed “frenemy” and fellow model, while Jill Jerold was a black model from Britain that came along to Hanover in the late ‘60s. Millie actually made it to the mainstream Marvel Universe in 1965 for the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm; ironically, she wasn’t actually seen at the wedding, but was the topic of discussion by fellow crossovers Patsy Walker and her friend Hedy.
Interesting side note: an older Millie appeared as the head of her own agency in the Star Comics series Misty (the Model) in the mid-‘80s. As the Star books have never been in Marvel continuity, this presents no conflict with the transition of any of the cast to the 616 reality code.
So what does the new project have in store? From the solicitation copy, it sounds a bit more like that “romantic adventure” and mystery that the Millie titles phased into during the ‘60s. It’s obviously something that’s outside the mainstream as it exists at the moment. Then again, there were many, many years where the majority of these ladies were the mainstream. Maybe they’re just finally back in fashion.