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. Marvel still rules current Pop Culture.
AMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #26 (September 1974)
Title: SOMETHING WORTH DYING FOR
Synopsis: Writer Don McGregor took one step forward in quality last time around, now it’s two steps BACK with this story that is so bad even the people at DC’s Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth might have rejected it.
Near Battle Creek, MI, Killraven and his Freemen (M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and her creation Grok) have landed in their Dyna-Glider.
Killraven is busy trying to break one of the pinkish-crimson horses with serpent scales and forked tongues which were caused by the biological warfare agents unleashed 18 years earlier in mankind’s futile war to stop the alien invasion.
While time goes by and the Freemen reflect on KR’s stubbornness, dialogue tells us it has been well over a month and a half since the battle in Indianapolis last issue. (This makes no sense since they are flying, which is why my revision last issue made a point of having their Dyna-Glider destroyed by Skar. Hell, they could have WALKED from Indianapolis to Battle Creek several times over in a month and a half.)
The dialogue also tells us Killraven has not had any of his Visions courtesy of The Power since the encounter with Martians and human Quislings at the Indianapolis Speedway. NOTE: At this point KR and his Freemen have not yet pieced together the fact that his “visions” are really him mentally invading the minds of Martians. Since they have encountered no Martians in the past month and a half, THAT’s why he has had no visions recently.
REVISION: Rather than have the main action focus on KR trying to “break” the serpent-stallion like he’s in a rodeo while dialogue covers important topics, I would have had KR already astride the horse while his Freemen were riding the mutated hybrid animals they would be riding a few issues down the road.
While Killraven and his Freemen – with Deathlok replacing Grok in my revisions – engage in a running battle with human Quislings pursuing them in various land-vehicles, dialogue and narration would let us readers know they’ve been on the run like this for weeks since the clash in Indianapolis.
We would be told that KR’s foresight weeks earlier in having them each corral and tame a mutated creature to ride has proven more than worthwhile in staying ahead of their pursuers. It would be like a post-apocalypse version of Butch and Sundance fleeing the Posse in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
I would also eliminate Carmilla’s pointlessly cruel remarks to Hawk, the Native American of the group, about his alleged “self-pity.” I never understood Don McGregor’s antipathy toward Hawk or why he always depicted him as the jerk of the group just for being blood-thirsty regarding Earth’s alien conquerors – Zetans in my revisions, NOT silly “Martians.”
Back to the story: Our heroes camp for the night, with no explanation why it is taking them so long to fly to Yellowstone National Park, where KR now knows his brother Joshua is being held. They get jumped by humans who turn out to be a group of survivalists from Battle Creek.
Because Battle Creek is known for cereal production the survivalists have names like Foropulist and Racque, anagrams for Fruit Loops and Quaker. (I told you this whole thing was lame.) Carmilla and Grok capture one of the defeated survivalists. The armored survivalists make paranoid references to KR and his Freemen wanting their mysterious “treasure” guarded by a figure called Pstun-Rage, an anagram for Grape Nuts (sigh).
After a tender exchange between M’Shulla and Carmilla, Killraven and M’Shulla ride KR’s new serpent stallion into the ruins of Battle Creek proper. While Killraven battles the scythe-wielding (to emphasize the cereal bits of business) Pstun-Rage in front of the warehouse he guards, M’Shulla fights off other survivalists with his crossbow and indestructible bolts. (Why not have ALL the Freemen get some of the action? This story grates on the nerves with its every move.)
Killraven causes Pstun-Rage to fall on his scythe, mortally wounding him. He and M’Shulla then flee Battle Creek to rendezvous with the other Freemen, whom KR sent on ahead before he and M’Shulla entered the ruins of the city. Pstun-Rage crawls into the warehouse to die amid the treasure he guarded … all kinds of cereals from Kellogg’s Inc. His dying thoughts should have been “So … much … cringe” but instead were reflections on how this “treasure” was indeed “something worth dying for.”
REVISIONS: Talk about a wasted episode in a series which had precious few installments. As stated above, I’d have had the opening action be Killraven and company’s latest running battle with the Quislings who have pursued them back and forth all over what’s left of Indiana and Southern Michigan for weeks.
At length, approaching the outskirts of Battle Creek, mysterious armed snipers would have wiped out the remaining Quislings and their vehicles in flaming wrecks and explosions. Next the armored men would be training their high-tech weapons on KR and company for unknown reasons.
Many of the survivalists would retreat after realizing they need reinforcements to deal with our heroes. Deathlok would have captured one of the fleeing survivalists. Interrogation by Hawk and Deathlok (instead of KR and M’Shulla) would reveal that the armored men were the military forces of Battle Creek.
They long ago stashed supplies and weaponry and have been holed up in hiding since the war, barring anyone – human OR alien – from entering. The soldier tells them that under their leader, who named himself Stun Rage (think of the “Name Yourself” custom in McGregor’s post-apocalypse series Sabre), they will bar THEM from Battle Creek, too.
Determined to enlist the survivalists against the aliens who rule the Earth, Killraven and his Freemen approach the city the next day. The prisoner slips free and presents himself to be killed by the unseen snipers and they oblige. A battle develops as Stun Rage and the Battle Creek survivalists engage in a long firefight with our heroes.
Killraven and M’Shulla make their way along the Battle Creek trenches and enter the city proper, where KR battles Stun Rage while M’Shulla is pinned down by sniper fire. The banter while KR pits his sword against Stun Rage’s scythe would travel the well-worn themes of such post-apocalyptic tableaus, with the Battle Creek leader asking why the hell he and his people should share their supplies or zealously guarded home turf with strangers, who might prove to be thieves or worse. (Think especially of the UK series Survivors, which used this theme a LOT!)
In the end, KR’s eloquent arguments – a theme McGregor used with both Killraven AND Sabre in their respective comic books – would win Stun Rage over, and he would agree that from now on, Battle Creek will be a safe haven for any human rebels who find their way there. Only the aliens and their allies will be barred.
To tie this in with the title, we could have had all the survivalists AND Stun Rage himself, frequently argue that he and his people have carved out for themselves “something worth living for” in this battle-scarred, nightmarish, post-apocalyptic world. When Stun Rage orders his people to cease firing and welcome the Freemen, one of his more paranoid lieutenants could feel he was betraying them all and shoot him.
As Stun Rage dies from his wounds, he would tell his people to make Battle Creek the safe haven for rebels mentioned above, and say that they can’t selfishly stay out of the war that has engulfed the world around them. And that their “something worth living for” is also “something worth dying for.” Cornball as hell, I know, but I’m trying to tie this finale into the title … In a non-cereal way.
A) We learn that M’Shulla is the one spray-painting “Killraven Was Here” everywhere the Freemen go. (His wry denial seems to be proof that he IS the one doing it.)
B) I would have had Deathlok recognize the survivalist’s uniforms from the war 18 years earlier. (Remember, in my revisions Deathlok’s tormented memories of the Vietnam War from his original series would instead be tormented memories of humanity’s failed war against the Zetan invaders.)
C) Everyone’s signature weapons have been settled upon by this point – Killraven has his sword, his photo-nuclear pistol and his exploding throwing-stars … M’Shulla his crossbow and his crossbow bolts made of alien metal … Hawk has his photo-nuclear rifle … Carmilla her radium pistol (which I would make TWO radium pistols, worn gunfighter-style in a double holster) … Grok has his Chewbacca-level strength and suctioned fingertips … Old Skull his enormous sword and his wishbone plasma ray-blaster (when artists remember to draw them). And for Deathlok it would be his superhuman cyborg strength, invulnerability and his laser-pistol plus butcher’s knife. And of course, his internal computer ‘Puter, with whom he bickers.
I’LL EXAMINE THE NEXT ISSUE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
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