SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Rise and Shine,” the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Since she debuted on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Dove Cameron's Ruby has remained something of a mystery -- but recently, we've learned a little more about her potential. As the show delves into Ruby's origin and the plans Hydra had for her, it seems to indicate that she has a connection to an existing comic book character: Moonstone.
Karla "Moonstone" Sofen debuted in Marv Wolfman and Frank Robbins' 1975 comic Captain America #192 as an accomplice of Doctor Faustus, a villain who uses his psychiatry training and hypnosis as a means for personal gain. Like Faustus, Karla uses her training as a psychologist to manipulate others. Her victims include Lloyd Bloch, the original Moonstone; she used hypnosis to manipulate Bloch into giving up his Moonstone armor, which she then used to become the new Moonstone.
Thanks to the Moonstone armor, Karla was granted several superpowers, from superhuman strength, speed and stamina to flight and molecular control to intangibility. With these powers, she went on a crime spree, encountering Marvel heroes like Hulk, Doc Sampson, Dazzler and the Inhumans. After a stint with the Masters of Evil, she joined the Thunderbolts as a hero called Meteorite (later Moonstone). This led her to enlist in Norman Osborne's version of the team, which became the Dark Avengers after Civil War. She flew under the mantle of Ms. Marvel until the events of Siege, when she was arrested by the Avengers. Her imprisonment on the Raft led to some time travel and mutli-dimensional adventures. In her last appearance, she was a member of Winter Soldier's Thunderbolts team.
At first glance, Ruby and Karla don't have much in common, but the devil is in the details. First, there's the matter of the Thunderbolts. Although the show hasn't come right out and confirmed that it is building a Thunderbolts team, all of the clues point to that conclusion. For one, General Hale -- Ruby's mother -- has assembled herself a team of veritable supervillains: Carl "Absorbing Man" Creel, Anton "The Superior" Ivanov, Werner von Strucker and Ruby, who has no problem killing or disfiguring her opponents. As in the comics, Hale assembled them for a noble purpose, but -- regardless of their intentions -- their villainous pasts inevitably link them to the Thunderbolts.
In last week's episode "Rise and Shine," Daniel Whitehall himself dropped another, more subtle clue. During a speech about Hydra's very own super solider program, he mentioned the element cesium: "This is the particle infusion chamber, an apparatus that can force human cells to take on the properties of a raw material. Imagine: a man with the density of lead with the volatility of cesium." Oddly enough, this particular element is significant to Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley's 1997 comic Thunderbolts #8.
In that comic, the Thunderbolts (among a dozen other superheroes) battled an anthropomorphized version of Cesium -- just one member of the 109 Elements of Doom. The Elements of Doom originally debuted in Avengers #188 in 1979, when alien invaders created them to replace humanity. Another incarnation of this team appeared in an early arc of Thunderbolts, where they planned to overtake humanity by using a machine to "transform ordinary humans into element-beings." Both plot points ring true for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which just introduced the threat of an alien invasion and "the particle infusion chamber," which bonds human cells with elements like lead and cesium.
So, if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is introducing the Thunderbolts, Ruby is likely based on an existing member of those comics. Of the Thunderbolts' many, many members over the years, she appears to be based on Moonstone (formerly Meteorite) for several reasons, not the least of which is her appearance.