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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

At last: we've found it: the gender Binary.

An alien experiment conducted by the Brood transforms Carol Danvers into Binary, a being who can tap into unprecedented cosmic power.

Pissed off at the way other writers had mistreated Carol Danvers after his run closing out Ms. Marvel (she was made pregnant with an unnatural mystery-baby, the Avengers were happy about this news, she gives birth with the entire team staring straight down her baby cannon while it's happening, is angry at first then decides it's wrong for any woman not to want to be a mother, the baby is suddenly a full-grown adult man who she was in love with, he had impregnated her himself through time-shenanigans and the power of mind-controlling computers, then the Avengers let her leave the universe with him like he wasn't the rapiest creep this side of Stanford's Brock Turner), Chris Claremont took her on as a pet project. He brought her back to Earth in Avengers Annual #10, had her rightly tell off the Avengers for betraying her, then moved her over to be a supporting character in Uncanny X-Men. She lost her powers to Rogue (so she'd no longer be coasting off someone else's work), was revealed to be harboring a lifelong dream, and presented with the opportunity to fulfill it.

This figure, the fourth and final in Walgreens' Marvel Legends 2021 "cosmic" theme, is what I thought we were getting when I heard the Captain Marvel movie tie-in line was going to have a "Binary Form" exclusive: a shared body mold with new paint and a new head. She really could have used new thighs and upper arms as well, though that probably would have broken the budget on an exclusive toy for a store that seems to be phasing them out. Why new? Because those flames at the tops of her gloves and boots aren't just design elements, they're actual energy spilling off her, so they should really be 3-D.

And speaking of things being multiple D's, this is a weird choice of body. It's the same used for "Age of Apocalypse" Rogue, which you can tell because there's a hole in her back meant to glue Rogue's clavicle band into. We've had two Carol Danvers Marvel Legends before, and they've both used the big curvy body, making them look like the same woman: this one is much skinnier, so she looks like she's someone else. Like we've said before, losing or gaining weight does not naturally change the shape of your bones.

Binary was Dave Cockrum's last creation/redesign on his way out the X-Men door, and he did a bang up job! It's similar to Storm's costume, a semi-connected bikini with thigh-high boots and, in Carol's case, opera gloves but no cape. Paul Smith, who followed Cockrum on the book, misinterpreted it as a full-body suit, but it's not: realize that all the red is her exposed skin, not sleeves and pantlegs. Putting two small black stars on the chest is a nice touch, tying into her new supranym (even if that did come out of nowhere - it's not like she was empowered by a binary star system, after all).

The head had no choice but to be new. There's no one else who has her unique, spiky, corona of hair. To make that distinctive part of her design look like flaming energy, it's molded from translucent orange plastic. But because that wouldn't be good for the rest of her head, the hairfire is a separate piece glued into the opaque red scalp. It does look nice all put together like this, though it does seem a bit weird when viewed from the side: the comic art was free to depict it as a halo of energy sparking out in all directions no matter which way she turned, something that's impossible for a physical toy to do, so they had to pick a single way to represent it; rather than pointing straight out from the center of the skull the spikes are swept back, as though they're trailing behind her slightly as she moves forward. Okay, fair. They even had the forethought to make the lowest point angle back even more, so it won't get in the way if you want to tip her chin up and make her fly.

Fittingly, the figure comes with the same energy effects - two swirls, two balls - as her MCU namesake. Carol's human genes were permanently shifted to be partially Kree by the explosion that gave her her inital powers, so that remained even after Rogue took those powers away - that's the only explanation that's ever even been hinted at for why the Brood's experiments turned her into Binary. In this form, she could fly faster than light, and could tap into the energy of a white hole to boost herself physically or fire energy blasts.

Carol Danvers first appeared in 1967's Marvel Super-Heroes #13, but it took until the mid-80s for her to be a character who did things rather than a character who things happened to. (And yes, that includes Chris Claremont's initial run on the character, which was at times ham-handed and preachy. [And you'd know all about that, wouldn't you? --ed.]) Even when she got her own ongoing series, the gimmick was that Carol would pass out and have no idea that Ms. Marvel had been out there being a superhero. And they didn't even give her an origin for another year and a half! Fricking agency, man! Getting adopted by Claremont and shipped off into space was the first step into making her the hero she is today, so it's surprising we had to wait until now to get a toy of her most striking design.

-- 03/28/22

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