FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.
AMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #27 (November 1974)
Title: The Death Breeders
Synopsis: The narrative tells us it is now March of 2019 (lol) but you can just tell yourself that it’s March of 45 years from now, as it would have been to readers in 1974.
Since their clash with the Survivalists of Battle Creek, MI Killraven and his Freemen at some point commandeered an abandoned ice-ship. This craft is basically a traditional ship complete with sails but with runners on the bottom like a sleigh. The wind in the sails lets the ship “skate” across frozen Lake Erie on its ski-like runners.
Up in the ship’s crow’s nest the Native American Freeman called Hawk warns his comrades on the deck below (Killraven, M’Shulla, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost and Carmilla’s creation Grok) that a pair of gigantic lampreys have sensed their vessel and have burst through the ice to attack them.
The lampreys are nearly Kaiju-sized, having been mutated over the years by pollution (the 1970s go-to explanation) and presumably the widespread after-effects of the biological warfare agents unleashed during the war against the Martian invaders.
REVISIONS: As always, I would have eliminated the tenuous connection to War of the Worlds and just had Earth’s conquerors be regular aliens, preferrably from Zeta Reticuli. In addition I would still have it be Deathlok as a Freeman instead of Grok. See previous installments for my justification.
Returning to the story, the Freemen battle the attacking lampreys – Killraven with his sword, photonuclear pistol and explosive star-grenades, M’Shulla with his crossbow and indestructible bolts, Hawk with his photonuclear rifle and Old Skull with his brute strength.
Grok – or in my revisions Deathlok – gets seriously injured by one of the lampreys, prompting Carmilla to suicidally try to save her creation (and much more than that to her as we’ll learn in the future). Killraven has Hawk swing down swashbuckler style to sweep Carmilla out of harm’s way, infuriating her as she once again is needlessly nasty to Hawk, even punching him. (I still don’t know what the writer Don McGregor had against Hawk. He always has him get treated like dirt.)
Carmilla at last reaches her own weapon – a star-piercer pistol – and returns to the fray. Yes, she was trying to fight the lampreys unarmed but still got mad that K.R. had Hawk save her from Grok’s fate.
Since Killraven is the star of this series heroics on his part destroy both giant lampreys, but Grok/ Deathlok is seriously injured and is unconscious. With the lampreys dead the ship resumes skating across the frozen lake as the ruins of Milwaukee appear in the distance.
Meanwhile, in distant Chicago, stands the futuristic alien citadel called Death-Birth. We are told that Earth’s alien masters used human slave labor to build the structure 9 years earlier and since then it has served as a combination fortress and breeding-farm since the Martians/ Zetans feed on human flesh.
In the breeding pens are the “livestock.” Thousands of male and female couples paired off by the human quislings who manage Death-Birth for the aliens. For cruel irony the males are all called Adam and the females are all called Eves. We join Adam 3031 and his breeding partner Eve 3031.
They are grimly discussing the fact that their baby will soon be born and will be brought into the world simply to serve as food for the extraterrestrials. A sinister figure arrives behind them but we are not yet shown who this is.
Cut to the former Indianapolis Speedway, now converted into a proving ground for the war-machines of the Martians/ Zetans. The High Overlord is visiting the station. He is, as always, wearing his suit of “biochemical armor” that makes him alone among the aliens appear to be a bipedal humanoid. His helmet resembles the Japanese helmets which were the models for Darth Vader’s helmet but remember, this is 1974 … 3 years BEFORE Star Wars. Plus the High Overlord’s armor is steel-grey instead of black.
The High Overlord, about 11 or 12 feet tall, towers over the human-sized being called Skar (War-Scar in my revisions). We will not learn the true nature of this figure for quite awhile.
The High Overlord (named Abraxas in my revisions) and Skar/ War-Scar discuss the battle at the former Speedway a month earlier in which Skar clashed with Killraven and his Freemen. Skar angrily recounts how K.R. commandeered a tripod (tri-phibian craft in my revisions) and defeated him in a figurative “dogfight.”
The armored ruler of the aliens orders Skar to depart in a new tripod to track down Killraven, who has become a global rallying point for humanity. That has been the case ever since the broadcast in which our hero turned the tables on the High Overlord and his comrades when they tried executing him in Washington DC.
Abraxas informs Skar that K.R. is obviously journeying toward Yellowstone National Park, since the High Overlord let him know that his long-lost brother Kevin Raven is being held there. The pair scoff at the human weakness for romantic “quests” and sentimental familial relations.
Skar promises to bring back Killraven dead or maybe alive so that he can be broken in a new broadcast, killing the hope with which he has filled humanity. As he departs, Skar/ Warscar says “We will let the reality of his tears wash away the rumors of his legend.”
Meanwhile, back in Milwaukee, the Freemen and their mutated serpent-stallions have set up camp. Carmilla and M’Shulla, who have fallen in love (an interracial romance that was fairly novel in comic books in 1974) are hovering over the injured Grok/ Deathlok.
Carmilla has still not revealed her true relationship to the injured party. She tells M’Shulla that even though she knows the torment Grok feels over his bizarre existence she still doesn’t want him to die. Enigmatically, she says it was her own selfishness that left him in his present inhuman state. Even if he dies, his torment will live on in her.
NOTE: We are finally into the stretch where Don McGregor’s writing is really flowing, hence the need for fewer revisions than before. For the most part my revisions now are just regarding names.
Back to the story, Killraven and Hawk discuss the mysteries surrounding Grok/ Deathlok and Hawk bluntly tells K.R. that he (Killraven) fears that M’Shulla is growing less attached to his “mud-brother” Killraven now that he has Carmilla in his life.
Abruptly, Hawk fires his photonuclear rifle at a figure who was aiming a weapon at Killraven. The figure darts from view so Hawk begins blasting the ruins above the figure, planning on burying the intruder under tons of brick and mortar.
Killraven reminds Hawk that Earth’s alien conquerors do not fire incendiary spears like the new arrival is doing. Our main character steps forward, trying to coax the figure from hiding. They comply.
It is a sexy (of course) woman. She calls herself Volcana Ash and has pinkish-red skin, deep red hair and is another creation of the genetic experiments which traitorous Earth scientists perform for the alien occupiers.
Hawk, in his maniacal hatred, raises his rifle to shoot Volcana but Killraven gets in the way and slowly faces down Hawk. He lowers his rifle.
Volcana burns Hawk’s hand with her touch, then vamps Killraven shamelessly, saying that she attacked because she feared they were Death Breeders. Killraven expresses the suspicious observation that Volcana reminds him of the aliens’ genetically engineered Sirens (from parts one and two).
Suddenly, Killraven’s possession of The Power (a pre-Star Wars variation of the Force) once again brings him one of his visions. To avoid confusion I will again point out that soon now the Freemen will realize that these “visions” are really Killraven telepathically invading the minds of Martians/ Zetans. He has yet to be able to control the ability, though.
Through the eyes of this alien Killraven sees Adam and Eve 3031. The sinister figure who approached them earlier is now revealed to be Atalon, a hideously ugly man dressed in all-white. He is the human quisling who runs Death-Birth for the aliens.
Atalon has an obsession with cleanliness (clearly a parallel being drawn with the infamously fastidious Dr Mengele of the Nazi death camps). His boots have gotten a bit muddy on his daily inspection of the breeding pens and he makes Adam 3031 lick the mud from his boots just to degrade him.
Next the leering, taunting Atalon feels the pregnant Eve 3031’s belly, remarking that her delivery time is fast approaching. He enjoys her discomfort.
The alien whose mind Killraven has entered now talks to Atalon, fascinated at the way he loves being cruel to his own kind just to please his alien masters. Killraven’s fury by this point grows so intense that it overrides the telepathic link and he shares with his Freemen and Volcana Ash the horrors he just witnessed.
A crew of Death Breeders who have been searching for the escaped Volcana suddenly attacks. Since Grok/ Deathlok is too wounded to move, Killraven orders Carmilla and M’Shulla to stand guard over him while he, Hawk, Old Skull and Volcana distract and fight the Death Breeders.
A running battle takes place through a long-abandoned Milwaukee brewery and our heroes naturally kill all the Death Breeders, who dress in skeleton-pattern black outfits like the Turkish movie character called “Killing.”
After a lame joke about the taste of the “beer” that has been sitting in the brewery’s tanks since the war 18 years ago, Killraven tells Volcana he wants her to lead them to Death-Birth. And that all the demons in Hell won’t stop him from storming that vile citadel. +++
I’LL EXAMINE THE NEXT ISSUE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
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