OKAY- TECH PROBLEMS SOLVED SO LET’S TAKE THIS BLOG POST FROM THE TOP –
At Balladeer’s Blog I’m all about you readers. You can’t seem to get enough Marvel Comics items so here we go!
Last year when the latest Marvel movie came out I did a long, issue by issue look at the Avengers’ 1973-1975 story The Celestial Madonna Saga for some nice escapist fun mixed in with my usual topics.
This year as promised I’ll accompany the new Avengers movie (out this week) with an issue by issue look at an even earlier Marvel Comics epic. Namely, the The Kree-Skrull War (1971-1972). In many ways it’s a prequel since it sets up many storylines that were finalized in The Celestial Madonna Saga.
As always I retain a soft spot for superhero stories because reading them when I was a kid served as a gateway to two of my adult passions: mythology and opera.
SETTING: The Kree race and the Skrull race are a pair of alien races who have been at war for untold thousands of years. Both races were introduced in the pages of the The Fantastic Four in the 1960s and became staples in the Marvel Comics Universe, which I will once again praise for being as enjoyably detailed as the Star Trek or Doctor Who universes.
THE AVENGERS Volume One, Number 89 (June 1971)
The Only Good Alien … Is A Dead Alien
Synopsis: The story opens up in Miami, where a trio of Avengers – the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and the Vision – track down and engage in a battle with the Kree superhero called Captain Marvel. (THIS IS THE HERO THAT NICK FURY SUMMONS IN THE POST-CREDITS SCENE IN AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR)
NOTE: There is often confusion between the Marvel Comics figure called Captain Marvel and the Fawcett Comics figure of the same name. The Fawcett Comics figure dated back to the Golden Age and was one of the victims of DC Comics’ legal attacks on ANY superhero that they felt was too similar to their character Superman.
Fawcett Comics eventually went under and nearly all their characters were bought by DC. DC doesn’t mind an alleged Superman ripoff as long as they OWN the character so the Golden Age Captain Marvel is still being published but because Marvel Comics over the years acquired the rights to the character NAME Captain Marvel the original Captain Marvel now goes by Shazam.
Anyway, the Marvel Comics Captain Marvel, who debuted in the 1960s, was an alien Captain of the Kree Starfleet ships sent to conquer the Earth for the Kree Empire. His real name is conveniently Mar-Vell so when he identified himself in his early adventures the media mistook “Captain Mar-Vell” for Captain Marvel, hence his superhero moniker.
Like many other aliens in pop fiction the good Captain came to feel grudging sympathy for us Earthlings and tried to save us primitive schlubs from conquest by the Kree Empire. He thus became labeled a traitor to his own people but was also distrusted by Earthlings because of his alien nature, hence his old Marvel Comics tagline “The Man Without A World.”
Somewhere along the way Marvel Comics made the bizarre decision to make THEIR Captain Marvel a bit more like Fawcett Comics’ ORIGINAL Captain Marvel by “fusing his atoms” with the youngster Rick Jones. This made it so that young Rick could transform into Captain Marvel just like young Billy Batson could transform into the Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel.
Billy Batson accomplished the transformation by uttering the magical word “Shazam.” Rick Jones accomplished the transformation by clanging together the Nega-Bands (more on them later) worn on his and Mar-Vell’s wrists. Those Nega-Bands then caused Rick to be banished to the Marvel Comics Universe’s Negative Zone, the buffer realm between the Matter Universe and the Anti-Matter Universe.
When Mar-Vell was done with his superhero antics he would clang the Nega-Bands on his wrists together and POOF, Rick Jones was back while Captain Marvel was now the one banished to the Negative Zone. As a human, Rick Jones would die if left in the Negative Zone for more than three hours, so Captain Marvel was limited to a maximum of three hours of Earth time per each transformation.
Needless to say, neither Rick nor Mar-Vell were happy with being chained together like this, especially since their minds were melded, too, leaving them absolutely NO privacy. So God knows how Mar-Vell would feel when rock singer Rick was having fun with his groupies.
Back to the story. The battle in Miami between Captain Marvel and the trio of Avengers went on until the Scarlet Witch drove off the Kree Captain. Mar-Vell (whose Kree physiology gained a variety of super-powers from the Nega-Bands) flew to a nearby rooftop where he was zapped into unconsciousness by a ray-gun held by a shadowed figure who turned out to be – impossibly – Rick Jones.
From here readers got a flashback to let them know what the hell was going on. During one of his rock concerts Rick Jones was forced to abandon the stage in the middle of his performance (Maybe Jim Morrison’s eventual unreliability was really caused by having his atoms fused with an alien space captain. I’m kidding!). The reason: Captain Marvel had discovered a way to physically escape the Negative Zone so that he and Rick could have separate lives and minds again.
Recently the Captain had witnessed part of the Fantastic Four’s latest battle with Annihilus (see right), the alien Lord of the Negative Zone who was always trying to add OUR dimension to his domain. (The Negative Zone was apparently what the alien dimension in the 2015 Fantastic Four movie was SUPPOSED to be.)
Mar-Vell saw Mr Fantastic (Reed Richards) being rescued from the Negative Zone by the Fantastic Four’s friend Agatha Harkness, an elderly sorceress who has been alive since the time of the Salem Witch Trials, when an ancestor of Reed Richards saved her from death. (Though that supposedly keeps getting retconned back and forth.)
Probing around in that portion of the Neg Zone, Captain Marvel discovered a portal that could be opened from the Baxter Building headquarters of the Fantastic Four. Rick, knowing that any problems caused by walking out on his performance were minor compared to the chance to have his own life back, clanged his Nega-Bands together and turned into the good Captain.
Mar-Vell flew to the upper floors of the Baxter Building but had to break in since the Fantastic Four were at Agatha Harkness’ Whisper Hill mansion celebrating their latest triumph over Annihilus. Captain Marvel’s break-in triggered an alarm in Avengers Mansion, part of their and the Fantastic Four’s shared security measures.
The only Avengers on duty at the moment – the Scarlet Witch, her brother Quicksilver and the Vision (who had not yet worked up the nerve to tell the Scarlet Witch about his romantic interest in her). The trio took a Quin-Jet and flew to the Baxter Building, where Captain Marvel’s familiarity with superior Kree technology made him capable of operating Mr Fantastic’s machine which opened the portal to the Negative Zone.
The Avengers arrived just as Mar-Vell had located Rick in the Neg Zone and was opening the portal so that Jones could escape, bringing them both into Earth’s dimension physically, with no more need to swap atoms. Rick Jones was known to the Avengers, since he started out as a sidekick to the Hulk, then Captain America (even temporarily becoming a new Bucky when Bucky was still thought to be dead.)
Rick and Captain Marvel had even shared the Avengers’ first battle with the supervillain team called Zodiac several issues earlier (Number 72). At any rate, it turns out Annihilus also managed to come through the portal just behind Rick. The villain plans to kill our heroes, then ambush the Fantastic Four when they return as the opening phase of his conquest of our dimension.
Captain Marvel – who becomes an official Avenger during the Kree-Skrull War (though that, too, often gets retconned) – joins the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, the Vision and Rick Jones in fighting Annihilus. After an intense battle Annihilus gets banished back to the Negative Zone.
Mar-Vell, feeling his gruff, militaristic Kree Imperial Officer roots again, brusquely flies off in the Avengers’ Quin-Jet, planning on stealing some Earth technology at Cape Canaveral. He intends to modify that tech AND the Quin-Jet so that he can return to outer space, leaving our primitive planet behind.
Unfortunately, some of the equipment in Reed Richards’ lab makes our heroes realize that Mar-Vell is filled with Negative Zone radiation caused by the way Rick selfishly made the Kree Captain languish in the Neg Zone for several weeks recently while he pursued his singing career. (?)
And THAT ends the flashback. The Miami fight between Captain Marvel and the pursuing Avengers broke out because he thought they were after him because he stole one of their Quin-Jets, since he was oblivious to the Nega-Radiation he was emitting.
The Avengers and Rick Jones take the unconscious Mar-Vell to Cape Canaveral, where a few supporting characters from Captain Marvel’s own comic book rig a method of draining the Nega-Radiation from the Kree man’s body. The jury-rigged device nearly runs out of power before the task is complete so the Vision feeds it more power through the solar beams he shoots from his eyes.
The Captain is saved and the Vision is exhausted but will recover. Meanwhile, far off in space on Hala, the home planet of the Kree Empire, we readers join the Kree Supreme Intelligence. That figure is the Artificial Intelligence who rules the Empire (I’ll provide a more detailed description of the Supreme Intelligence next time).
Ronan the Accuser, a Kree foe of the Fantastic Four AND of Captain Marvel, launches a lightning-fast coup d’état, overthrowing the Supreme Intelligence and naming himself the new ruler of the Kree Empire. Ronan makes it clear that he will intensify the Kree Empire’s war against the Skrull Federation, and he blames the Supreme Intelligence for the stalemated state of that ages-old war.
Ronan (I’ll provide more details on him, too next time) also plans to follow through on Plan Atavus, a covert plot that the Supreme Intelligence had set in motion against the Earth. But first, the Accuser wants revenge against Captain Marvel, who thwarted Ronan’s previous attempt to take over the Kree Empire in Captain Marvel # 16 (September 1969).
Using Kree technology in the form of an Omni-Wave Projector, Ronan the Accuser tunes in a view of Cape Canaveral, where Mar-Vell and the Vision lie in hospital beds while the Avengers and Rick Jones watch over them. Also at Cape Canaveral is an enormous Kree robot called a Sentry – one of many that the Kree scattered around the universe. (I’ll explain why next time around.)
That Sentry – Number 459 – previously clashed with the Fantastic Four and then most recently with Captain Marvel, who deactivated it and turned it over to Cape Canaveral for secret study. From Planet Hala, Ronan the Accuser uses the Omni-Wave Projector to RE-activate Sentry Number 459 and the kaiju-sized robot attacks our heroes, announcing Ronan’s instructions that he kill Mar-Vell AND everyone with him. +++
I’LL COVER THE NEXT ISSUE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
FOR MY EXAMINATION OF THE 13-PART BLACK PANTHER STORY TITLED PANTHER’S RAGE CLICK HERE
FOR MY ARTICLE ON THE LIST OF ATLAS/ SEABOARD SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE
FOR MY ARTICLE ON THE MAIN LIST OF CENTAUR COMICS SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE
FOR MY ARTICLE ON THE MEMBERS OF INFINITE HORIZON CLICK HERE
FOR THE AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE: Superheroes
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