FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL STORYLINE CLICK HERE The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.
AMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #19 (July 1973)
Title: THE SIRENS OF SEVENTH AVENUE
Synopsis: Killraven, wielder of a mysterious force called The Power, continues to lead his Freemen/ Rebel Alliance against Earth’s conquerors, led by the armored badass Abraxas, the High Overlord. (1973 means this was BEFORE Star Wars, so don’t leave comments claiming this ripped off that film series)
We pick up where we left off – Killraven, still reeling from some of the shocking information that the late Keeper Whitman just relayed to him about Earth’s alien conquerors, has just realized that his escape rout from Whitman’s underground lab has been blocked by three beautiful Sirens.
Those Sirens are Earth women scientifically modified to be irresistible to men through their physical perfection and presumably through pheromone enhancements. We learned last time around that these Sirens have been very successful at flushing out for capture many of the rebel bands scattered throughout post-apocalypse New York and New Jersey. Now they plan to bring in Killraven, leader of the most successful group of Freemen.
It turns out that “the Power” which Keeper Whitman bestowed upon Killraven when he was a child guinea pig in Whitman’s labs ALSO makes him immune to the Sirens’ mind-numbing sexual attractions. Last time we learned the Power is what lets our hero mentally make himself undetectable to the electronic alarm systems of the Martians.
REVISION: As stated previously, I would have eliminated the vague War of the Worlds connection and just used aliens from outside our solar system to avoid the silly “Martian” nonsense which probably helped put this series in its premature grave.
With Killraven immune to their modified charms the Sirens sic four more humanoids (and one canine) mutated into Resident Evil-movie style monsters on our rebel leader. K.R. battles them and slays them all with his sword, since his photo-nuclear pistol ran out of charge last time around.
Next, Killraven summons those Freemen who survived the battle to get into Keeper Whitman’s lab AND who were not lured away for capture by the Sirens while Whitman gave his Exposition Dump last issue. Our hero and those Freemen (including the black M’Shulla and the Native American Hawk in their first appearances) now set out to fight free of the underground lab and return to their hideout in the ruins of Staten Island.
REVISION: Already we see this promising series being undercut by a rapid abandonment of some of the themes set up in the previous issue. Despite this story being titled The Sirens of Seventh Avenue we’ll get only one more acknowledgement that the Sirens even exist the rest of this chapter.
We are not told how the other Freemen were able to resist the Sirens. I would have had K.R. slay the Sirens or knock them out, thus liberating M’Shulla, Hawk, Arrow, Dagger and the others. With the benefit of hindsight I’d have also had Old Skull be on hand.
I’d have made Dagger and Arrow female, for some variety, since they are otherwise pretty unmemorable and just disappear in a few issues, anyway. ALSO, them being female might have given them built-in resistance to the Sirens unless the Sirens were enhanced to the point where even other women would go crazy for them. (Last issue included hints that some of the scattered gangs of Freemen had gone gay to avoid falling victim to the roaming Sirens, so why not go down this road, too?)
Killraven and his followers, all of them formerly gladiators in the Martians’ arenas, fight their way back to street level past even more Resident Evil movie monster-types plus a few cyborgs.
REVISION: As I stated last issue during the hints at transvestism and gay sex among some groups of Freemen (to avoid falling victim to the Sirens), it’s possible the original creative team behind Killraven wanted to try the more adult storytelling that Heavy Metal magazine would allow in comic books in 1977. If today’s Marvel MAX adult titles had been around in 1973 they would have been perfect for an edgier Killraven saga.
Anyway, for this revision I would have explored more about the Sirens. In my approach the Sirens would have been a counterpart to the gladiators. Just as the Martians and their privileged human quislings enjoyed the decadent spectacle of the gladiatorial performances, they might very well have enjoyed “live porno performances” as it were.
Other Sirens – or another “rank” of Sirens – would have live sex with the triumphant gladiators of the most recent games in front of the Martians and the Quisling administrators. As the Killraven series rolled along we might have even learned that the aliens enjoyed the gladiatorial AND erotic performances not just for the visual spectacle, but because their alien natures let them “get high” as it were, on the pheromonal – or other biochemical – output from the humans fighting for their lives OR oinking and boinking.
Another benefit of these erotic couplings of Sirens and gladiators could be providing the next generations of gladiators from the “best” genetic stock since only the victors would be mating with the Sirens. Sound a little like Bene Gesserit concepts? Well Gerry Conway & Neal Adams MAY have been headed my revision’s way originally, given how the only other Siren we meet is dressed like Dune’s Bene Gesserits and even refers to “the work” of her “sisterhood.” Again, this might have been deemed too adult for Marvel Comics at the time.
Anyway, back to Killraven and his Freemen, who are now trying to make their way back to their own territory while fighting all the menaces who “come out and PLAY-AYYYY” (Had to be said.) K.R. periodically mentions the need to share with all Freemen groups and other rebels the revelations of Keeper Whitman last issue.
Killraven and the others are attacked by a Tripod next. The Freemen race to their tethered horses (REVISION: K.R.’s mount should be his reddish-pink mutated lizard-horse that became associated with him.) After a running fight the Tripod is destroyed and Killraven explains to M’Shulla that Earth’s conquerors and their weapons are not “demons” but aliens, as Whitman told him.
A gigantic, dinosaur-sized alligator attacks the fleeing Freemen next. I’m not sure if this mutated alligator was supposed to be one of the many pop culture jokes about baby alligators from the New York sewers growing into adults or not. Those references had been around since the 1920s and grew more embellished as time went on. By the 70s they were commonplace.
Either way, Killraven leads his men in defeating this creature. We also see him hurl some of his throwing-stars at the beast, but unlike in later stories, these stars don’t explode upon impact with their targets.
Next the band of Freemen encounter a ferry being used to transport fresh captives taken by quisling armies. These new captives (How about saying some were lured out by the Sirens, to at least acknowledge their existence?) are being taken for processing – some to be slave labor, others gladiators and still others to be eaten by the Martians, since they feed upon us humans.
Killraven and company seize the vessel, kill all the human quislings and, after defeating another Tripod, this one rising up from the sea, free the captives. They sink the vessel afterward and continue making their way toward their hidden Staten Island lair.
The story cuts to the one-armed Keeper Kempleton, one of the quisling scientists (Keepers) who work for the Martians in order to use the aliens’ advanced technology to continue their scientific research. The Keepers are also trying to help the Martians bio-engineer new bodies for themselves, bodies immune to Earth’s germs. When those bodies finally get designed the aliens can have their brains or minds transferred into them, cementing their rule of Earth indefinitely.
Keeper Kempleton advises the Martians who rule the New York-New Jersey megalopolis about the evening’s activities by Killraven and his band. The destruction of two Tripods in a mere 6 hours confirms to the Martians that K.R. is far more dangerous than other rebel leaders.
REVISION: If we want to bring consistency to the scattershot themes of this issue’s jumbled story we could also have the Martians get panicky over worries about what Keeper Whitman might have told Killraven before he died. The information about the true nature of Earth’s rulers and their aristocracy of quislings would make K.R. even more dangerous than he already seemed.
Killraven, his Freemen and their newly-liberated brothers and sisters at last arrive at the Staten Island hideout of K.R.’s band. Alarmed at the fact that the sentries are not at their usual posts, our hero is then shocked to realize that all the rebels in his small settlement are gone. They’ve all been recaptured by the Martians.
K.R. is confronted by Skarlet, whom we meet for the first time and are told she’s the Queen Mother of the Sirens. She wears head-to-toe Bene Gesserit-style clothing, compared to the slinky, sexy garb of the other Sirens we met. Skarlet (Maybe “Scarlet Belladonna” if Don McGregor was already writing K.R.’s stories.) refers to her sisterhood’s “genetic heritage” and such.
This issue’s poor writing fails to make it clear, but apparently Skarlet caused the capture of all the rest of K.R.’s settlement/ rebel colony.
REVISION: I’d have made it so that Skarlet and her subordinate Sirens got the location of Killraven’s hidden lair from some of the Freemen captured during the raid on Keeper Whitman’s lab.
She accompanied an army of Sirens whose shtick is being Amazon/Dominatrix type butt-kickers (to emphasize the kinkiness of the Sirens) to Staten Island to make their invasion of the settlement easier because of the importance of this mission. Terrified about what Killraven may have learned from Whitman and needing to wipe out everyone he may have told it to, the Amazon/ Dominatrix Sirens killed every man, woman and child in the place. Maybe with drugs/ gas. They didn’t realize that Killraven had not yet arrived back from his overnight raid until they could not find his body among the dead.
Idiotically, the real story has Skarlet and a 15 feet tall (or so) mutant/ cyborg/ whatever capture Killraven and take him ALL THE WAY BACK to the New York-New Jersey megalopolis. Once there the chained up K.R. is presented to a mutated human with sharp prosthetic limbs to be killed in front of the Martians. (What?)
He breaks free, destroys his foe in front of the Martians – who apparently had no Plan B – and frees M’Shulla and the handful of men who were with him when Skarlet confronted him at his Staten Island hideout. Killraven is surprised to see that they are captives, too, so I have no idea how they got transported there and caged.
He escapes with them. We are never told what happened to the newly-freed humans but I guess they became slaves, gladiators or food after all. Skarlet is never seen again, not in this or any of the subsequent stories in the series. Neither are the other Sirens.
Since the Freemen can’t return home now that the aliens know the location of their hideout, they plan to stay on the run. Killraven emphasizes to them all what Keeper Whitman told him and they all vow to free Earth from its ET conquerors.
REVISION: I’d have had the final action stay at the Staten Island rebel settlement. Killraven and company could have been driven to righteous fury, surrounded by the dead bodies of all their fellow rebels. This would add oomph to the final confrontation with Skarlet and her army of Amazons/ Dominatrixes – many of them cyborgs or mutates.
Ultimately, Killraven and his rebels would defeat the army of kinky female Amazons and Dominatrixes – the enforcement division of the Siren Sisterhood, we’ll say – and K.R. himself would kill Skarlet.
The closing speech by Killraven and the need to abandon their Staten Island HQ would stay the same. This issue ignored last issue’s revelation that K.R. has been collecting old books that chronicled humanity’s history before the alien invasion. I’d make it so that Skarlet and her female army destroyed all those books, too, nicely symbolizing what the ET’s and their human quislings have done to Earth’s cultural heritage.
*** For anyone who thinks I’m reaching with the Bene Gesserit comparison I’ll just ask you to consider this: In the pre-Star Wars world the novel Dune was the king of pop culture sci-fi. This Killraven series already had Freemen (Fremen) being led by a man we are told possesses Messianic Powers that he needs to master in order to lead his oppressed people to victory. A quasi-Bene Gesserit sisterhood is not out of the question in a setting that’s already derivative of Dune.
FOR PART THREE CLICK HERE
I’LL EXAMINE THE NEXT ISSUE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
FOR MY EXAMINATION OF THE 7-PART ADAM WARLOCK STORY WHERE HE FACES THE MAGUS, THANOS AND OTHERS. * FIRST APPEARANCE OF GAMORA, TOO* CLICK HERE
FOR MY EXAMINATION OF THE CELESTIAL MADONNA SAGA STARRING MANTIS AND THE AVENGERS (THE TEAM SHE FIRST BELONGED TO IN THE 1970s) – FEATURES THE FIRST THANOS WAR PLUS THE AVENGERS-DEFENDERS WAR – CLICK HERE
FOR MY EXAMINATION OF THE 13-PART BLACK PANTHER STORY TITLED PANTHER’S RAGE CLICK HERE
FOR MY EXAMINATION OF THE ORIGINAL 9-PART KREE-SKRULL WAR CLICK HERE
FOR THE AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE: Superheroes
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