Published December 15, 2022

Becoming Photon: The Many Roles of Monica Rambeau

Learn more about the high-flying Super Hero who can control and wield all electromagnetic energies!

Before she became a Super Hero, Monica Rambeau was just a harbor patrol lieutenant in New Orleans who had been passed over for a promotion to captain—again—because the harbor master claimed her methods were “too unorthodox.” However, it would be those same unorthodox methods that led her to destroy an energy disruptor, saving people’s lives and ultimately changing her own forever.

Created by John Romita Jr. and Roger Stern, Monica Rambeau is one of the most powerful heroes to grace the Marvel Universe. Now, after 40 years in comics and two dedicated one-shots, Monica is finally starring in her own solo series! In honor of MONICA RAMBEAU: PHOTON (2022) #1, we’ll be stepping back in time to touch upon her previous aliases, starting with her time as Captain Marvel.

Debuting as the second CAPTAIN MARVEL in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL (1964) #16

Two weeks after her transformation, Monica visited the Fantastic Four to get help in releasing the excess energy within her. When Reed Richards and Sue Storm weren’t available, she traveled via radio waves to Avengers Mansion, where Iron Man, the Wasp, and Spider-Man subdued the explosive energy. 

Captain Marvel appeared again in AVENGERS (1963) #227, but this time, she helped the Avengers beat Baron Zemo’s Masters of Evil. She transitioned from an Avenger-in-training to the team’s leader in AVENGERS (1963) #279, but her tenure as chairwoman wasn’t simple. On one hand, she had to moderate Hercules and Namor’s arguments; on the other, she grappled with Doctor Druid, who made it his mission to undermine her leadership. However, none of these aspects would compare to what happened in AVENGERS (1963) #293, the most traumatic moment in her career: she lost her powers—and almost her life. 

Monica retired from the Avengers, but over time, she regained her health—with support from her loving parents—and her powers. During this downtime, she also met Genis-Vell, the son of the first Captain Marvel. (More on Mar-Vell’s fate in THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL (1982)!)  After working together to stop the Controller, Genis-Vell offered her the “Captain Marvel” title, but she told him to keep it due his father’s legacy. She decided on another name “more suited” to her abilities.


How do you welcome back an Avenger? By putting them under a spell, of course! Morgan Le Fay forced Photon and a plethora of other Avengers to be her personal soldiers in AVENGERS (1998) #2 after warping reality to her will. Fortunately, Photon broke out of the spell and rebelled against the evil sorceress alongside Avengers such as Captain America, the Wasp, and Hawkeye. Not long after, she fought with her teammates during the “Kang Dynasty” storyline and was present during Scarlet Witch’s destructive barrage on the Avengers in AVENGERS (1998) #501-#503.

Remember Genis-Vell? Well, he also came back…using Monica’s current name! She furiously confronted him, as he was present when she chose “Photon.” How inconsiderate! As they spitballed different names for him, Monica landed on another one that she liked for herself.


As Pulsar, Monica was tasked with leading a new team, Nextwave, on behalf of H.A.T.E. (Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort). Ironically, though, she mainly used her government name over her codename. 

Not long after, the Superhuman Registration Act was enacted. Monica continued working as a hero (or a vigilante, depending on who you ask) as part of Captain America’s Secret Avengers in CIVIL WAR (2006). Sneaky! Team-up wise, she wasn’t lacking in that area, either. Back in the Big Easy, Monica fought a vampire outbreak with Black Panther, Blade, Doctor Voodoo, and Luke Cage in BLACK PANTHER (2005) #13. She also briefly returned to using the name “Photon” and aided Doctor Voodoo in tracking down the Monkey’s Paw in MARVEL DIVAS (2009) #2-#3

Monica teamed-up with Carol Danvers to investigate ship disappearances off the New Orleans’ coast in CAPTAIN MARVEL (2012) #7-#8. Tension permeated their interactions, as Monica confronted Carol about using her old codename without giving her a heads-up (a recurring theme for Monica), but the former and current Captain Marvels eventually reconciled and saved the day. Lagniappe: Monica finally overcame her fear of utilizing her powers in water, which stemmed from her trauma AVENGERS (1963) #293 – a major milestone for her.

So, did Monica just stick with “Monica” as her codename? Nah.


Monica soon returned as Spectrum, and she was busy! She acted as the field leader for Luke Cage’s Mighty Avengers and tried to save Earth-616 from being destroyed by an incursion in CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE MIGHTY AVENGERS (2014) #9…but things didn’t quite go as planned, paving the way for Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic’s Multiverse-spanning SECRET WARS (2015) event.

Post-SECRET WARS (2015), Spectrum worked alongside Blue Marvel, America Chavez, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel in the ULTIMATES (2015). They took on a gumbo of cosmic threats: changing Galactus from the Devourer of Worlds to a lifebringer, stopping Thanos from gaining the Cosmic Cube, and freeing Eternity from the First Firmament.

Later, Spectrum led the Avengers against Nyx, the goddess of the night, and reunited with Blade on his Strikeforce team. In DEVIL’S REIGN: OMEGA (2022) #1, she assisted Mayor Luke Cage—yes, mayor—in disassembling Kingpin’s Thunderbolts. She was then asked by Helen Astranitia, a PR specialist, to lead the rebranded team, but declined. She did, however, help out the Hawkeye-led team in THUNDERBOLTS (2022) #1.

Four codenames, many experiences. With a career as stacked as Monica Rambeau’s, what else is there to accomplish? Maybe something involving her past? Her family? The future? You’ll have to find out in MONICA RAMBEAU: PHOTON (2022) #1!

Don’t miss Monica’s new cosmic adventure in Eve Ewing and Luca Maresca's MONICA RAMBEAU: PHOTON (2022) #1, on sale now!

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