FOR PART ONE OF THIS LOOK AT THE KREE-SKRULL WAR (1971-1972) CLICK HERE
THE AVENGERS Volume One, Number 97 (May 1972)
AVENGERS ROSTER: THOR (Donald Blake, MD), IRON MAN (Tony Stark), CAPTAIN AMERICA (Steve Rogers), THE SCARLET WITCH (Wanda), GOLIATH (Clint Barton), QUICKSILVER (Pietro), THE VISION (Not Applicable), CAPTAIN MARVEL (Mar-Vell, Kree Captain)
NOTE: CAPTAIN MARVEL IS THE HERO THAT NICK FURY SUMMONED TO FIGHT THANOS IN THE POST-CREDITS SCENE TO AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR.
Synopsis: We pick up right where we left off: Rick Jones has just been transported back into the Negative Zone, the buffer dimension between the Matter Universe and the Anti-Matter Universe. He is being attacked by Annihilus, the Lord of the Negative Zone, who wants revenge on Rick for the way the Avengers prevented him from invading Earth back in Part One.
As Annihilus flies toward Rick as he floats around in the Negative Zone, Rick finds time slowing down for him. His mind begins to expand and – though he does not yet understand why – he begins to approach omniscience. His mind is filled with images of the perils faced at that very moment by the other Avengers and by the entire Earth:
… On the Skrull homeworld (name unpronounceable by a human tongue), Captain Marvel, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are fighting against an entire army in the palace of Emperor Dorrek IV …
… On the flagship of a Skrull space fleet just outside our solar system Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and the Vision are fighting frantically to prevent that fleet from reaching Earth …
… On Hala, home planet of the Kree Empire, Ronan the Accuser watches his own fleet of spaceships depart for the Earth, intent on preventing the Skrulls from seizing the planet, even if that planet gets obliterated in the cataclysmic battle of starfleets …
… On a small Skrull spaceship hurtling toward Earth, Goliath, no longer possessed of his superpowers, stands unarmed against a squad of Skrull soldiers on a kamikaze mission to wipe out the Earth to prevent it from falling back into the hands of the Kree Empire …
… On Earth itself the Avengers’ persecutor Senator H Warren Craddock, a sleazy Robert Mueller-type, continues to abuse his power by conducting a Witch Hunt for more Kree agents infiltrating Earth and for any humans suspected of collusion with the Kree …
And back on Hala, overthrown and imprisoned by Ronan the Accuser, the Supreme Intelligence – rightful ruler of the Kree Empire – awaits the results of the bizarre experiment he subjected Rick Jones to before sending him back into the Negative Zone.
Rick is terrified as Annihilus closes in on him. Driven by the impulse for self-preservation Rick unleashes new powers that have awoken within him. He begins shooting energy beams from his head, blasting Annihilus.
Even though Annihilus is powerful enough to take on entire superteams like the Avengers and his arch-foes the Fantastic Four, Rick Jones’ new powers enable him to defeat the Lord of the Negative Zone.
It turns out the treatment that the Supreme Intelligence subjected Rick to last time around was the reverse of the De-Evolution ray that Ronan the Accuser used on Earth back in Parts Two and Three. While that ray caused life-forms to devolve back into what they would have been millions of years ago, this ray caused Rick to E-volve into what human beings will be millions of years in the future.
That is what provided Jones with his sudden omniscience and other powers. This was the kind of experiment the Supreme Intelligence had in mind for Plan Atavus when Ronan the Accuser launched his coup d’état back in Part One. As readers will remember, Ronan mistakenly thought the Supreme Intelligence was getting ready to devolve all of Earth’s life-forms in order to end the threat posed to the Kree Empire by Earth’s many superbeings.
Meanwhile, back on the Skrull homeworld, Captain Marvel, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver get a break as the Emperor’s troops withdraw to reform and plot another attack. In the lull the Scarlet Witch questions Mar-Vell about why he didn’t just complete building the Omni-Wave Projector that Dorrek IV wanted, but instead use it as a weapon against the Skrulls.
The Captain explains that, when operated by Kree minds the Omni-Wave Projector works only as a means of instantaneous communication and/or teleportation around the universe. It is only when operated by advanced non-Kree minds that the projector can be used as a weapon. Earthlings are not advanced enough yet to be able to wield the projector.
With that hope dashed, the trio of Avengers brace themselves for the inevitable next assault by the Emperor’s troops. Meanwhile Dorrek IV’s daughter Princess Annelle pleads with him to spare Captain Marvel and his two allies. Over the past few issues the kind-hearted Annelle and the Captain have fallen in love, Romeo and Juliet-style. Needless to say, Dorrek angrily refuses his daughter’s request.
Back in the Negative Zone, the floating and tumbling Rick Jones is being pulled toward the Anti-Matter Universe, which, if he enters it, will immediately destroy his material form. Using more of his newfound powers Rick flies away from the pull of the Anti-Matter Universe and teleports himself back to the room on Hala in which the Supreme Intelligence is imprisoned.
Meanwhile, in a nearby chamber Ronan the Accuser’s cosmi-rod detects the unusual energies being generated in the S.I.’s room. Worried now that the S.I. is hatching a plan to retake the throne, Ronan decides to abandon his hope of one day harnessing the Supreme Intelligence’s massive mental powers for his own use. He orders some of his troops to enter the room and blast the S.I. and Rick.
The armed troops burst in just as the Supreme Intelligence has finished explaining to Rick that the experiment was a success, as proven by what Rick just did in the controlled environment of the Negative Zone. (But glosses over the fact that Rick would now be dead if it hadn’t been a success.)
Rick now uses his new power to save himself and the S.I. from the attacking Kree soldiers. He does it in a manner foreshadowed back in Part Four, when it was established that Rick grew up immersing himself in details about the superheroes of the World War Two era.
Those details are so ingrained in Rick’s mind that he is now able to conjure up solid, humanoid forms of old Marvel Golden Age heroes like the original android version of the Human Torch, the Patriot, the Golden Age Angel, the Golden Age Vision, the Fin, the Blazing Skull and others. (This act is what is depicted on the cover of this issue.)
NOTE: Among other things, the inclusion of the Golden Age Human Torch would have served as a reminder for very young Marvel readers that there was an earlier Human Torch AND that it was an android. This goes on to have great significance during the Celestial Madonna Saga.
Those mental creations act, speak and function just like the real heroes would and total the attacking soldiers. The Supreme Intelligence informs Rick that those mental constructs provided enough time for all of his new powers as a hyper-evolved human to consolidate themselves. He can now unleash his godlike abilities all across space.
In the ultimate example of “Rick Jones ex machina,” the young rock singer paralyzes all of the new wave of attacking Kree soldiers AND Ronan the Accuser. He simultaneously paralyzes all of the Skrull troops attacking Captain Marvel, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver on the far off Skrull homeworld.
Back near our solar system the Skrull soldiers attacking Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and the Vision are also paralyzed, along with all the ships and crew of the entire Skrull fleet.
On Earth itself, Senator Craddock is whipping another crowd up into an anti-Avenger and anti-alien frenzy. Rick’s powers strike, forcing Craddock to assume his TRUE form: A SKRULL! (All Skrulls can shapeshift.) And not just any Skrull, but the lone Skrull who escaped capture way back in Fantastic Four number 2 (January 1962).
This revelation would have been a very big big deal to Marvel readers in 1972, since that escaped Skrull’s subsequent fate had never been addressed since Fantastic Four # 2. The reason this fake “Senator Craddock” was so intent on ferreting out Kree infiltrators and on destroying the Avengers was because he was covertly working to advance the Skrull Empire’s cause.
Back on Hala, the Supreme Intelligence now uses a built-in Omni-Wave Projector to teleport Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, the Vision and Captain Marvel to his chamber. The S.I. then proceeds to sum up what has transpired:
His intense interest in Earth’s evolutionary past and future was prompted by the big, bad secret of the Kree and the Skrulls. That secret: both races have reached their evolutionary height. They can evolve no more and because of this dead end the Supreme Intelligence has been seeking ways of interbreeding his Kree people with the human race since human evolutionary potential is still immense. (As evidenced by Rick’s powers when temporarily evolved to Earth people’s evolutionary height.)
The S.I. has still not resolved how to do that given the differences in human and Kree chromosomes but he will continue to work on it and due to superior Kree technology at this time there is nothing Earth can do to stop him.
NOTE: This is a nice touch and in recent decades UFO conspiracy kooks have even begun claiming that the reason behind “alien abductions” and the attendant “sexual probing” is that the alien abductors are – like the Kree – at an evolutionary dead end and need to merge with humans in order to continue evolving.
At any rate, Rick Jones then collapses. The Supreme Intelligence explains that he is dying from the strain of his brief hyper-evolution and that the only thing that can save him is to once again “fuse atoms” with Captain Marvel. This will mean that they will both be bound together AGAIN, with only one of them able to exist outside the Negative Zone at once.
It will also mean that in order to swap atoms the nega-bands on their wrists will need to be clanged together for them to change back and forth from Rick to Captain Marvel and vice versa. Mar-Vell grimly realizes that this ends his potential romance with Princess Annelle and he asks for a few moments for leave-taking.
Resigning himself, the Captain agrees to let the S.I. once again fuse him and Rick together. None of them are aware that this is just more deception on the part of the Supreme Intelligence. He needs Mar-Vell and Rick to remain fused to further his research into ways of breeding humans and Kree.
The moment Captain Marvel fuses with Rick, the rock singer recovers, but is also morose over once again being trapped in a hybrid existence. The S.I, now restored to his role as ruler of the Kree Empire, uses his Omni-Wave Projector to teleport the Avengers back to Earth.
Once arrived on Earth outside Avengers Mansion, our heroes are greeted by Nick Fury, who introduces them to the REAL Senator Craddock. It turns out the Skrull impersonator waylaid him long ago as part of his plan to infiltrate Earth. The real Senator has nothing against the Avengers or the Kree and will clear the Avengers of all charges made against them by the impersonator. He also saved Fury’s job as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. after Nick helped the Avengers in Part Eight.
With that out of the way, the Avengers ponder the fate of Goliath. Since the Supreme Intelligence did not teleport HIM to Hala along with the rest of them they sadly conclude that he must have died trying to stop the Skrull kamikaze assault on Earth. They hang their heads in mourning.
NOTE: This is the end of this story. Over the next few issues (Avengers # 98-100) it will turn out Goliath survived but was not teleported by the S.I. because he was already caught up in new danger. He and the former Avenger Hercules stumbled on to a plot by the Greek war god Ares and the Avengers’ old foe the Enchantress to take over Mount Olympus, then conquer Earth and Asgard.
Goliath goes back to being Hawkeye and, for the Avengers’ 100th issue EVERYBODY who was ever an Avenger – including the treacherous Swordsman – is needed to save Earth and Asgard from the Olympian invasion.
WELL, THIS WAS FUN, JUST LIKE LAST SUMMER’s LOOK AT THE CELESTIAL MADONNA SAGA. IF DEMAND KEEPS UP I’LL DO MORE EXAMINATIONS OF MARVEL CLASSICS FROM THEIR CREATIVE HEIGHT IN THE LATE 1960s TO MID 1970s. +++
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
© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.