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 #38 (September 1976)
Title: Death’s Dark Dreamer
Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla war against Earth’s alien conquerors of the future.
NOTE: Another fill-in issue by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen. Once again I’m having to adjust the order of a fill-in issue like I did with Sing Out Loudly … Death awhile back. This undated fill-in issue was originally set in Miami but because we have Killraven and his Freemen’s adventures in other parts of Florida ahead of us – including the Killraven graphic novel from the early 1980s – I am instead setting it in Prosperity, SC. I’m setting it in November to place it between October’s The 24-Hour Man and December’s Red Dust Legacy.
Unrevised story: The lone Killraven has “ridden ahead of ” his Freemen in response to some troubling feelings he’s having courtesy of The Power, a pre-Star Wars variation of the Force. Riding his pinkish-red scaled stallion he has come upon a large domed structure at seaside.
Narration tells us this is the Dream Dome, raising another problem with this out-of-continuity fill-in story.
REVISION: At its core Death’s Dark Dreamer isn’t at all bad, it just suffers from very poor timing. The virtual reality nature of the Dream Dome is too similar to the Mural Phonics Theater from a few issues back. If a LOT more time had gone by the feeling of a rehashed menace would not be so pronounced.
In addition, the use of an Earth astronaut from BEFORE the alien invasion was very clever. Unfortunately, just a few installments from now, we meet ANOTHER Earth astronaut from the pre-invasion era and her role is more crucial to the Killraven saga going forward. So, choosing between the two, I would revise this story’s one-off astronaut character instead of the female astronaut that the Freemen will encounter down the road.
THE STORY: Prosperity, SC. November, 43 years in the future. I would start this story with Killraven and ALL of his Freemen, not just the lone KR, coming across a crashed aircraft of Earth’s alien conquerors instead of the Dream Dome. The downed craft would be in the middle of the biologically mutated jungle which now covers much of the American southeast (in my revisions). Don McGregor would presumably have had some terrific narration contrasting the town’s name of “Prosperity” with the bleak, post-apocalyptic reality.
Back to the unrevised story: Killraven leaves his horse/ lizard hybrid outside the Dream Dome and enters alone to explore the high-tech interior. Inside we see a seated figure, who turns out to be the preserved body of an old astronaut believed dead but really just comatose from space radiation. (Real tasteful to have his actual body on display in what we learn is an old museum.)
The presence of another human mind after so long wakes up this “dreamer” who, though he cannot move, is able to use psychic powers he gained from the radiation he was exposed to. The Dreamer uses those powers to employ the abandoned museum’s Virtual Reality Tech in conjunction with his own Freddy Krueger-style power of pulling other people into his comatose dreams.
The former astronaut has used those powers to prey upon all human survivors who stumbled upon the museum/ “Dream Dome” in the 18 years since the alien invasion. In the case of his attack on Killraven he pits our hero against virtual reality/ dream versions of other Marvel Comics superheroes and supervillains.
The narration wisely plays it coy about whether or not Killraven’s future really is the future of the mainstream Marvel Comics universe of the time. The Dreamer is vague about whether figures like Iron Man, Dr Strange, Daredevil and the others ever really existed or if he just remembers them from comic books when he was younger.
Killraven survives all his battles with Marvel’s super-powered characters and so the Dreamer plans to keep him there with him forever. Killraven defeats the Dreamer so that he can never again prey on anyone else, intentionally or unintentionally.
REVISION: As stated above, I would have had all of the Freemen come across a downed aircraft of the aliens (Zetans in my revisions, NOT Martians). Killraven, M’Shulla, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost and her creation/ resurrected father Deathlok would enter. (In my “Ultimate Killraven” style for these revisions, Deathlok is a substitute for Carmilla’s father Grok, and obviously he did not get killed along with Hawk a few stories back.)
It would turn out that the craft contained a crew of aliens who were transporting one of the prototype “new bodies” being developed for the aliens so that they would have immunity to Earth’s germs AND be able to function more easily in Earth’s heavier gravity. The prototype would have had unforeseen “issues” and gone out of control, feeding on the aliens like they feed on humans. This would have caused the crash a few years earlier.
The Prototype – able to hibernate for extended periods – would have been waiting for additional intelligent victims since then. It would be slowly mutating into an amorphous mass of human and alien features and limbs, making it a real nightmarish-looking conglomeration. (In fact “Prototype” would be the title I used for the story.)
Our heroes would survive the running fight throughout the downed craft and kill the Prototype. They would then set about cannibalizing tech from the craft to replenish their weaponry and ammunition and other supplies.
Carmilla Frost, as the scientist of the group, would be capable of booby-trapping the craft so that it would blow up and kill any of the alien overlords or their human quislings who come to try recovering anything from inside.
COMMENT: In keeping with the star-crossed nature of the Killraven series, in Bill Mantlo’s fill-in tale we got yet ANOTHER wasted issue in the book’s tragically short run. +++
FOR THE NEXT PART CLICK HERE
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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12 responses to “KILLRAVEN TWENTY: DEATH’S DARK DREAMER”
This is crazy awesome. On so many levels it’s so profound and such an expose. About how an undead entity spins a non-reality by using a human’s soul energy, engaging the human in it by pitting him against non-existent-in-reality heroes and villains, till he realizes the orchestrator is the real enemy and kills him.
And very interesting that his own ‘power’ leads him to this ordeal as a solution for something troubling him inside.
It’s just very beautiful.
Your “prototype” is very realistic too. It going rabid and eating up the aliens as well as the humans would be the natural result of it not being fed enough. It reminds me of… I could take names… but I’m trying not to be controversial on your blog.
Thank you! I like how you always analyze all the different layers of meaning!
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With consistent storytelling like in your revisions Killraven could have been an all time classic.
If they ever do a Killraven anime they should use your approach.
Thank you very much.
BALLADEER’S BLOG AT GLITTERNIGHT.COM IS THE BEST BLOG ON THE WEB!
God this thing got to be nothing but filler stories by other people!
You said it!