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 #22 (January 1974)
Title: WASHINGTON NIGHTMARE
Revised Title: Since this is Don McGregor writing, let’s go with something absurdly melodramatic like Reflections in a Night-Dark Mirror.
NOTE: This story introduces the popular female rebel called Mint Julep.
Synopsis: This issue begins an unknown number of days or weeks after the conclusion of the previous chapter. Killraven and his Freemen – M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and Grok – are traveling along the Potomac in a boat they commandeered from human quislings sometime after the end of our previous story.
REVISION: In my revision Killraven’s band of Freemen consist of M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and Deathlok – replacing Grok but still a creation of Carmilla’s – and Arrow, a female member. Like KR, M’Shulla, Hawk and Old Skull, Arrow is a former gladiator from the arena circuit run by Earth’s alien conquerors.
Just like Dagger – the female Freeman killed off last issue – Arrow was one of the bland, faceless Freemen introduced in the first two parts of Killraven’s comic book run. Arrow and Dagger were just dropped from the narrative with no explanation so I made them both female to add some variety to the Freemen. Just as Dagger was killed last time around, so Arrow will be killed this time, but at least in my revision their characters will have had some impact on the story AND emphasized the danger of Killraven’s rebellion.
Back to the story: Rising up from the Potomac to attack the boat is a monstrous subaquatic lifeform – one of the many creatures brought to Earth by the Martians. Our heroes battle the tentacled creature, eventually killing it, but their boat is trashed upon the rocks and is now useless.
REVISION: In my revision the underwater creature kills Arrow during the fight, before our heroes succeed in killing it, furious over the death of their comrade.
Back to the story: Sabre, a Hispanic quisling servant of the Martians (no relation to Don McGregor’s later, more famous character Sabre), attacks the Freemen with his own band of followers. While the battle rages, dialogue makes it clear that Sabre and his men are among the many groups of quislings who round up other human beings for the Martians, who feed on human flesh.
Sabre relishes facing targets who can actually fight back, instead of the usually easily-subdued humans he captures for his Martian masters. After Grok in particular manages to wipe out a large number of Sabre’s men he and his remaining troops retreat with Hawk and Old Skull as their captives.
REVISION: I would have Sabre attack our heroes while they are mourning their freshly-buried comrade Arrow. Sabre would also state that he and his troops had been following the Freemen’s boat from hiding, waiting for an opportunity to strike, but the creature beat them to it.
Deathlok would prove as fatal against Sabre’s men as Grok was in the real story. As stated last time, the resurrected cyborg warrior Deathlok’s tormented memories of the Vietnam War in his original comic book series would, in the KR stories, instead be tormented memories of humanity’s futile war against the invading aliens (Zetans in my version, NOT ridiculous “Martians.”)
Like Grok, Deathlok would turn out to be Carmilla’s father down the road but that is unknown to the other Freemen at this point. I would have Sabre and company retreat while riding mutated horses like the pinkish lizard-horse that Killraven eventually had for his regular mount.
Back to the story: Killraven argues with Carmilla, whom he still doesn’t trust completely, since she was working as a scientist for the Martians until she and Deathlok helped the Freemen escape the Warlord last issue.
Amid their usual bickering, Killraven reminds Carmilla that he knows as much as she does about Washington DC’s significance before the alien invasion, in his case from the scavenged books he used to read. (So Don McGregor acknowledges that crucial element of KR’s character from the first two issues.)
After things calm down, night falls and Killraven leaves M’Shulla, Carmilla and Grok hiding in the ruins of the Washington Monument while he scouts around and plots a way of rescuing Hawk and Old Skull. The foursome wind up getting jumped by Mint Julep, female leader of a group of rebels who operate around Washington DC and vicinity.
Mint Julep is a green-skinned, greenish-white haired woman warrior. She’s an experimental plant/ human hybrid of the Martians and their quisling scientists. She escaped and formed her own rebel band to fight back against Earth’s conquerors.
Since this was written in the 1970s, Mint’s group is all female and is groaningly called “The Freewomen” in contrast to Killraven’s Freemen. This passed for “women’s lib” with male comic book writers in the 70s apparently.
Mint’s signature weapons are two hand-guns which fire the type of stars that Killraven uses as throwing-stars. Don McGregor still hasn’t decided that those stars can also explode on impact with their targets, so for now the stars that Mint Julep’s guns shoot – and which KR throws – are still just really sharp and can penetrate virtually any metal.
REVISION: I would skip the pointless bickering between KR and Mint Julep and just have her start out on friendly terms with our heroes since they have common foes: Sabre and Earth’s alien conquerors.
In addition I would build upon why Mint’s group is all female by having her say that she freed women being used as breeders for the aliens, since they feed on humans like livestock. This would parallel the way Killraven’s band originally consisted of fellow gladiators that he helped to escape captivity.
Mint and the unnamed pair of female rebels with her in this issue would tell KR and company that they, too, spotted and followed their boat but arrived too late to help them against Sabre. She would also reveal that Sabre recently captured the rest of her Freewomen and offer to join forces with KR and company so they can all try to rescue their abducted comrades.
Back to the story: It turns out that the Washington DC megalopolis is like the New York – New Jersey megalopolis – ruins on the edge of a better preserved city that extends for miles inland. Killraven leads his remaining Freemen plus Mint and her Freewomen into the city.
No mention is made that he is using his paramormal ability called The Power to tap into Martian minds, letting him know where Hawk and Old Skull were taken, but I guess we can improve the story by saying that’s how he knew where to find them.
At any rate we now get the first hint at the magnificent work that Don McGregor will do as a writer for Killraven. Old Skull, Hawk, Mint’s captive Freewomen and other humans taken by Sabre are being sold at a slave auction … BEING HELD AT THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL. The narration nicely captures the obscene irony of that situation, which Earth’s conquerors are well aware of and get a perverse kick out of.
The Lincoln Memorial slave market is held under the watchful eyes of the statue of the seated Abe Lincoln, adding an extra nightmarish touch. The auctioneer is Abraxas, one of the mutated hybrids created by alien science.
Abraxas is over twelve feet tall and his otherwise humanoid form has two long tentacles for arms. He grabs and positions each human in turn to be bid on by a crowd of Martians, like it’s a cattle auction. Sabre and his men line the steps leading up to the Lincoln Memorial, serving as guards.
REVISION: I would make no bones about the fact that Killraven is indeed using The Power to locate Hawk and Old Skull. I would also have him using The Power to make not just himself but M’Shulla, Carmilla, Deathlok, Mint and her Freewomen undetected by the aliens’ sensors.
That would explain how they successfully infiltrate Washington DC and would represent a nice way in which KR has already expanded his mastery of The Power, since he can now cloak others in addition to himself. The twisted nightmare of the Lincoln Memorial slave market would stay the same, but I would change Abraxas’ name to something else since I think Abraxas is a perfect name for the High Overlord instead.
Back to the story: Killraven and company attack as Old Skull is put on the auction block and Abraxas stimulates the bidding by emphasizing what sizable meals a human his size will make. KR clashes with Sabre while the others – including Hawk, Old Skull and Mint’s captive Freewomen – fight Sabre’s men.
As Killraven gains the upper hand on Sabre, Abraxas plucks him away with his tentacled arms and tosses KR to the crowd of Martians so they can tear the famous rebel limb from limb.
REVISION: This would all play out the same, since this is the cliffhanger ending to this issue.
FOR PART SIX 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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