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 #24 (May 1974)
Title: FOR HE’S A JOLLY DEAD REBEL
Revised Title: The Legend Assassins. Since I would have saved the attempted execution of Killraven for this final part of this 3-part Washington DC story I would have used that title here instead of last issue.
Synopsis: Writer Don McGregor had not yet found his stride for Killraven’s post-apocalyptic adventures. This issue was more of the same with an escape, recapture, and escape AGAIN because the High Overlord of the Martian invaders fails to slay Killraven immediately but plans to make an example of him.
And yes, the helmet of the armored High Overlord looks like Darth Vader’s helmet but remember, the Killraven stories came YEARS BEFORE STAR WARS.
REVISION: Picking up on the cliffhanger from my revised storyline last time around, Killraven, Mint Julep, M’Shulla, Hawk, Old Skull, Deathlok and Carmilla Frost are using the breathing gear that scientist Carmilla built for them to explore the submerged ruins of the Library of Congress.
Killraven plans to salvage as much of the library as possible and preserve it for future generations, since Earth’s alien conquerors (ZETANS in my revision, not ridiculous Martians) keep conquered humanity ignorant and are trying to obliterate mankind’s cultural heritage from before the alien invasion.
In the winding hallways of the submerged ruins, the rebels were attacked by the mate of the huge extraterrestrial monster that killed the female rebel Arrow two issues back. As the battle goes on, Killraven winds up riding the injured creature’s back and his breathing apparatus gets torn off while trying to work his way to the monster’s mouth.
Soon Killraven reaches the creature’s mouth, then activates one of his throwing stars and shoves it down the monster’s throat. In seconds it explodes, killing the creature but in its death-throes it tosses the still-“riding” Killraven several yards into the air. He briefly appears above the surface of the water, grabs a breath and then falls back beneath the waves.
Mere moments later he makes his way back to the surface, thinking himself safe, only to be stunned by the sight of the armored High Overlord, plus the 12 foot tall Abraxas, who has tentacles for arms, and the human quisling Sabre (no relation to Don McGregor’s later Sabre character). Sabre’s men all have their weapons aimed at KR as he treads water.
Lest he try re-submerging quickly, the High Overlord threatens to drop explosives of his own down onto the submerged ruins of the Library of Congress, killing KR’s Freemen immediately or sealing them within the ruins til their air runs out.
Killraven asks how the High Overlord and company found him and the alien ruler credits the man/rat hybrid Rattack (Called Vermin in my revision). Last issue we saw Vermin and his mentally-controlled dog-sized rats raid the rebels’ hideout beneath the ruins of the Pentagon. Vermin found the map outlining their plans to excavate the Library of Congress. And here things stand.
Our main character surrenders to try to spare the others from an ignoble death of slow suffocation beneath the waves. The High Overlord promised KR to execute them honorably like he will with Killraven. Once KR is on dry land and in the custody of Sabre and his men the High Overlord goes back on his word, saying the other Freemen are to be left to die underwater or be picked off by Sabre’s snipers if they swim to the surface like Killraven did.
While KR expresses outrage and Sabre is digusted, the High Overlord explains that Killraven himself is the only captive of use to the Zetans. He will be executed, and his execution will be broadcast worldwide on the high-tech Mural Phonics System in a propaganda broadcast intended to help kill the spirits of conquered humans and rebel holdouts everywhere.
While his underlings hastily construct a closed-in area for the execution to be carried out, the High Overlord lectures Killraven on the often-barbarous nature of the human “culture” he seeks to preserve. He explains bear-baiting to KR and details how his execution will be similar to such cruelties.
Instead of a bear bound to a tree and slowly, painfully, inevitably torn to pieces by dogs, Killraven will be bound to a pole by one arm and slowly, painfully, inevitably torn to pieces by Vermin’s mutated rats. To add to the cruelty, Killraven’s sword, photo-nuclear pistol and bandolier of throwing-stars will be suspended just out of reach above him.
That last refinement is for the benefit of the High Overlord and his fellow Zetans. It was established five issues back that the Zetans get high on biochemical secretions from the intense human emotions unleashed during battles for death (their gladiatorial arenas) and wild sex acts (their Arena Erotic). Spurred by the nearness of potential salvation, Killraven’s death struggles should make for some “really good shit” for the Zetans to get high on.
Meanwhile, beneath the waves, in the submerged Library of Congress, Deathlok’s incredible strength has succeeded in pulling the creature’s corpse enough away from the doorway of the Library that he and the other Freemen can begin trying to figure out if KR survived the explosion and what is keeping him if he did. To buy more time Deathlok and Old Skull open a chamber with an air-bubble near the top and through some equipment slapped together by Carmilla they look toward the surface and can observe Killraven’s plight.
At length the time of the Mural Phonics Broadcast has arrived and the High Overlord taunts Killraven by telling the technicians to make sure that Keeper Saunders and Killraven’s brother Johsua are watching the spectacle in Yosemite Park.
As KR fights for his life we could use Don McGregor’s narration from the Sabre story The Myth Killers, in which he obviously cannibalized and improved upon elements of The Legend Assassins: Sabre realized that the totalitarian forces he rebelled against were hyping the legends of his rebellious acts to elevate THEMSELVES above him, since they were the ones killing the “superhuman” rebel.
“His rebellious acts will be embellished in the retelling but so, too, will the inevitable end of those who would rebel. And thus would rise a second, larger myth: of the authoritarian who slew the first myth (the rebel) and thus became legendary himself.” or words to that effect.
The sentiment would apply here even better, since Killraven is being put to death in front of a worldwide audience, while Sabre was being put to death in front of just a few hundred members of the ruling class. KR would grasp all of this and reflect that the High Overlord (instead of Sabre’s foe Joyful Slaughter) was “Killing a man … and creating a myth” followed by the rest of the above reflections.
In Killraven’s struggle we also get the shoutout to Orwell with the rat angle, so that’s fun, too. At any rate Killraven would at length turn the tables on his would-be executioners, reach his sword, slash himself free and then grab his pistol and throwing stars.
As KR fights Sabre’s men the High Overlord furiously cuts the Mural Phonics transmission. Now pouring out of the concealed subway tunnels through which Mint Julep’s surviving rebels sought safety last issue come those rebels AND KR’s Freemen. We get a quick explanation that Deathlok’s memories of pre-invasion Washington helped them find an old subway link from the library to the above-ground station and that’s how they got out of the Library of Congress without being seen.
As the rebels now fight Sabre’s men and the nearby Zetans, Mint battles Abraxas and Killraven goes head to head with the armored High Overlord. The High Overlord’s armor protects him even from KR’s photo-nuclear pistol blasts and exploding throwing-stars. The armor’s energy blasts from the H.O’s hands eventually have Killraven on the defensive.
Once again Killraven’s increasing mastery of The Power benefits him. He is able to tell from the minds of the High Overlord and the other nearby Zetans the reason their kind always avoided the Washington DC subway system AND the waters that hid the Library of Congress.
That reason: the tunnels and polluted waters contained traces of the only successful germ warfare concoction the defeated human race had used against the Zetans. Killraven now raced for the explosives that the High Overlord had threatened to use to ensure the Freemen’s deaths earlier. The High Overlord had tried to shoot KR in the back but Sabre, as in the original story, rebelled a little and, in my revision, took this proverbial “bullet” for KR, dying to enable our main character to carry out his plan.
Calling Old Skull and Deathlok to him, he activated some of the explosives and had the strong men hurl ALL the explosives, instead of just the controlled amount the High Overlord would have used to kill the submerged Freemen. Thus KR and company blow an enormous hole in the makeshift restraining wall holding out the waters of the Potomac AND the waters above the Library of Congress.
The flash-flood thus created drowns Vermin, Abraxas and the rest of Sabre’s men. It also kills the Zetans on-hand (except for the escaping H.O.) and as the waters rise all around Washington DC literally hundreds of Zetans die trying to flee from the waters washing the dusted-up bioweapon through the area.
The rebels have won and have rendered part of Washington DC uninhabitable by actual Zetans. The now-blown artificial lake that had previously submerged the Library of Congress is gone and the rebels can, in the coming days, more easily salvage what’s left of the library by just walking into the now-dry ruins.
Killraven and Mint spare a moment to acknowledge Sabre’s self-sacrifice, just like it was acknowledged in the original story.
FOR PART EIGHT CLICK HERE
I’LL EXAMINE THE NEXT ISSUE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
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