Amazon/ Man-Killer

Contributed by Ronald Byrd

Katrina Luisa Van Horn, who sometimes used the simple alias Wilma,  was a European Olympic-class skier who was crippled in an accident when a male skier deliberately attempted to sabotage her performance. Restored to health and given an augmenting exoskeleton by the criminal scientists of AIM, Van Horn began a new career as the terrorist called the Man-Killer.

Following her initial clash with Spider-Man and the feminist heroine the Cat, the Man-Killer finds employment first at the subversive organization HYDRA, where she clashes with Daredevil, and then with industrialist Justin Hammer as part of a task force sent to battle Iron Man. Returning to her roots as a “militant feminist,” she led a band of female terrorists called the Women Warriors against Spider-Man and She-Hulk, only to apparently be electrocuted. However, her exoskeleton apparently protected her from death, since she is next seen as a member of the second Crimson Cowl’s Masters of Evil, in which capacity she battles the Thunderbolts, themselves former members of an earlier incarnation of the Masters. When these efforts also fail, she abandons the Cowl and lies low as Wilma the bartender, but she eventually returns to the criminal life, only to consider reformation as a member of a new team led by Hawkeye, in which she changes her alias to “Amazon.”

As a rather stereo-typical example of 1970s concept of “militant feminism” in her earlier appearances (contrasted by such feminist heroines as the Cat and the She-Hulk), the Man-Killer was initially quite unstable, harboring an insane hatred of men, and she might well have been identified as a lesbian if the comic books of the time had permitted such identification which would have made her even more of a stereotype. She appears to have mellowed somewhat over the years to the extent that she seems capable of forging friendships with men; however, when the Thunderbolt Atlas became attracted to her and attempted to persuade her to reform with the Thunderbolts, she disdainfully rejects both ideas, noting that “I call myself Man-Killer—how do you think I really feel about you?” This exchange is inconclusive, but it is at least suggestive. More so is an exchange in Thunderbolts #71: when fellow Masters of Evil alumnus Cyclone, referring to Amazon’s willingness to aid the heroic Hawkeye, remarks that “one more goes to the other side” (i.e. “good” instead of “evil”), Amazon responds “I was born on that side,” implying that she interpreted the remark in a different way.

As Man-Killer, she formerly wore an exoskeleton granting her superhuman strength and resistance to injury, and she was in top physical condition even without it; she has subsequently demonstrated super-strength and resistance while not wearing the exoskeleton, indicating that prolonged use of it (or perhaps being nearly electrocuted while wearing it) somehow transferred its abilities to her personally.

Amazon makes her first appearance in Marvel Team-Up #8 and is confirmed as lesbian in Thunderbolts #42 and #71.

© and ® Marvel Comics. Used without permission.

September 10, 2010
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