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 #30 (May 1975)
Title: The Rebels of January and Beyond
Freemen: Killraven, M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and her creation Grok (Deathlok in my revisions)
Synopsis: This is a story that provided a wealth of additional lore for the world inhabited by Killraven and his Freemen, especially regarding Killraven’s use of The Power, a pre-Star Wars version of The Force.
It is still April, 44 years in the future. The High Overlord (in my revisions Abraxas the High Overlord), executive leader of Earth’s alien conquerors, walks the streets of occupied Washington D.C.
He is clad as always in his full-body suit of biochemical armor, complete with a Japanese feudal helmet like the kind Darth Vader would later wear. (This was published 2 years before Star Wars came out) The High Overlord’s armor, however, is steel-grey, not black like Vader’s. The sight of one of Killraven’s WANTED posters as he walks along annoys him more than it usually might.
As always, the High Overlord is the only one of the aliens who wears such a suit of armor, which gives him alone of his race the outward appearance of being a bipedal human. (Albeit one who’s about 10 feet tall or so) Abraxas wears the armor to protect and conceal his true form.
REVISION: I would have made it so that the body of the High Overlord was the only completed prototype of the new bodies being bio-engineered by the aliens and their human quisling scientists. That bio-engineering, accomplished through nightmarish experiments on human guinea pigs, was intended to provide the entire race of aliens with new bodies better capable of functioning in Earth’s greater gravity and more resistant to Earth’s germs.
For several months now the High Overlord had been hording the body for ONLY his use while other, less-powerful bodies were being designed for his subordinate aliens. He was doing this as a political power-play. His command of the bio-engineering experiments meant he was free to establish a hierarchy of different bodies for the rest of his race, in descending order of status or rank.
Back to the story – The armored figure meets in the White House with a council of elite aliens called the Forum. They are still in their race’s true, tentacular form. Despite the High Overlord’s power this group clearly holds a certain amount of political influence since they requested this meeting with him to get an accounting of the debacle back in January during the failed attempt to execute the rebel leader Killraven.
The armored ruler begins his explanation with a summary of Killraven’s career.
*** When he was still young his rebellious nature resulted in him being removed from the oversight of Keeper Whitman, one of the human quisling scientists working on the project to eventually transfer the minds of the aliens from their existing bodies into the new bodies when they were ready.
*** The youth – originally named Jonathan Raven – was condemned to serve in the gladiatorial circuit in which humans fought each other as well as mutates and genetically engineered creatures for the amusement of the aliens and their aristocracy of human quislings.
*** Jonathan thrived in combat and became one of the star attractions of the gladiatorial circuit under the name Killraven, proficient with a sword. During those years K.R. first met many of his future Freemen, like Old Skull, Hawk and others.
*** Primary among those others was the African-American M’Shulla, three years older than Killraven. M’Shulla’s gladiator name was Bloodarrow and his favorite weapon was a crossbow with bolts made of alien metal.
*** Eventually Killraven escaped the confines of the gladiator pens in the New York-New Jersey megalopolis. Arming himself with photo-nuclear guns, plasma-ray guns and explosive throwing stars the rebel began launching raids to free some of the other gladiators, who became his dozens of Freemen.
*** These Freemen waged guerilla warfare on the aliens for the next three years. During this period Bloodarrow rejected his gladiator name and adopted his birth name M’Shulla Scott. K.R. meanwhile collected books regarding mankind’s history, which the alien conquerors had been destroying.
*** It is revealed that M’Shulla’s mother led a guerilla group against the aliens until it was completely wiped out. We also learn that – though M’Shulla doesn’t know it – his father is still alive and being kept at one of the aliens’ compounds in Hawaii. We are not told why or what goes on there.
*** In autumn of the previous year Killraven led a revenge raid on the subterranean laboratory of Keeper Whitman, who had subjected him to harsh experimentation during his younger years under the man’s authority. (This raid was shown in the very first K.R. story)
*** During that raid the dying Keeper Whitman revealed to Killraven that the experiments he had subjected him to in his younger years had instilled in him The Power, the “Force-like” powers that he was struggling to master. Among other abilities the Power enabled him to cloak himself (and eventually his Freemen) from the aliens’ sensors, thus facilitating his spectacular guerilla strikes.
*** The Sirens of Seventh Avenue – genetically enhanced human females designed to lure out assorted rebel groups through their pheremones – managed to extract from captured Freemen the hidden location of K.R.’s headquarters: the ruins of Staten Island. (This was in Part Two)
*** The Staten Island rebel colony was obliterated, with the only survivors being Killraven, M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Dagger (female in my revisions) and Arrow (female in my revisions). Those few have been on the run ever since.
*** Those Freemen were soon joined by quisling scientist Carmilla Frost and her creation Grok (Deathlok in my revisions), who betrayed the aliens and helped the rebels escape from the Warlord (Warlord Ryker in my revisions, and Dagger was killed in my revisions). (This was in Parts Three and Four)
*** In December of the previous year the Freemen drifted to Washington D.C., a stronghold of the alien conquerors. They soon joined forces with a plant/human hybrid, the genetically engineered green-skinned female rebel Mint Julep, leader of a group of Freewomen who waged hit and run attacks on the aliens in Washington.
*** The combined groups of rebels launched raids on the aliens’ Lincoln Memorial Slave Market and clashed with the quisling troops led by the Hispanic-American called Sabre (no relation to Don McGregor’s later character of that name). In my revisions they also recovered the remnants of the Library of Congress and entrusted them to Mint Julep and her rebels.
*** Shortly after the New Year, Killraven was captured by the High Overlord and was set to be executed in a worldwide broadcast over the Mural Phonics System. K.R. turned the tables on the aliens and escaped with the other rebels. (All this Washington activity happened in Parts Five, Six and Seven. I had Arrow die in Part Five)
*** Abraxas tells the Forum that he has put the mysterious, immensely powerful yellow-skinned being Skar (Warscar in my revisions) on the trail of Killraven to slay him and his Freemen. Killraven is obviously headed for Yellowstone Park to find his younger brother Joshua, renamed Deathraven and currently serving as an Exterminator for the aliens at their citadel there.
*** The High Overlord concludes his presentation (Or “Killraven Clip Show”) emphasizing that Killraven’s possession of The Power makes him even more dangerous than he himself knows. He has even been haphazardly invading the minds of the aliens, telepathic interactions that manifest as Visions to the rebel leader.
Combined with his global notoriety due to the sensational failure of the attempt to execute him, Killraven poses a potentially fatal threat to the aliens’ rule of the Earth, especially if he ever learns how to fully control The Power. (In my revisions Abraxas would also mention the way Killraven and his Freemen recently destroyed the aliens’ Chicago fortress called Death-Birth.)
MAIN REVISION: I would have intercut the High Overlord’s conference with the Forum with scenes of Killraven and the Freemen fleeing Eastward across OHIO. After leaving Gary, IN and their showdown with Atalon and the Sacrificer the rebels would have been cut off from the south by pursuers.
The aliens – outraged at our heroes’ destruction of Death-Birth, would have dispatched several of their experimental war machines from their Indianapolis Proving Ground (From Part Eight) North, ordered to pull out all stops to kill the Freemen once and for all.
Killraven and his rebels would gradually manage the destruction or the hijacking of each of the experimental craft and kill their human quisling crews. Carmilla Frost, the scientist of the group, would cannibalize some technology from the destroyed war machines.
She would successfully use that plundered tech – including computer tech – to cure the comatose Deathlok (Grok) and jump-start his nervous system. An unfortunate side-effect of these on-the-fly repairs would saddle the undead cyborg with the internal computer voice ( ” ‘puter” as Deathlok always called it) that drove him to distraction at times.
Given the cyborg Deathlok’s generally tormented psyche I would close the issue by having him add to Carmilla’s guilt over creating him by – rather than thanking her for saving him – telling her “you should have let me die.”
NOTE: People who are very familiar with how comic book publishing works will already know what I’m about to explain, but my reviews are targeted mostly at people who have never really followed comic books. Last time around I reviewed Amazing Adventures Volume 2 #31, this time it’s issue #30.
That’s because I wanted to keep all four parts of the Death-Birth storyline together. In real life assorted problems can prevent all of the artwork or writing from a comic book’s next issue from being on hand in time to meet publishing deadlines. Marvel Comics jokingly called it “The Dreaded Deadline Doom” when it happened.
The lack of a complete issue ready to go in proper sequence sometimes necessitated a reprint issue or a fill-in issue pre-packaged by (sometimes) a different writer and artist. In this case such an out-of-sequence story – THIS story – wound up running in between Parts 3 and 4 of the Death-Birth saga.
I covered all 4 parts of that tale so this time I reviewed The Rebels of January and Beyond.
I’LL EXAMINE THE NEXT ISSUE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
FOR MY LOOK AT HOMBRE, SPAIN’S POST-APOCALYPTIC COMIC BOOK FROM THE 1980s, CLICK HERE
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