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.
KILLRAVEN GRAPHIC NOVEL (1983)
Chapter Three: BLOOD AND PASSION
SYNOPSIS: February, 37 years in the future. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla uprising against Earth’s alien conquerors. We left off last time with Killraven, M’Shulla, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost and their new ally Jenette approaching the alien-upgraded Cape Canaveral. Their mission is to inflict enough damage to thwart the High Overlord’s Project Regenesis.
REVISION: My usual revisions would apply – Deathlok, my substitute for Grok, would still be one of the Freemen, as would Didymus, the two-headed, four-armed, androgynous being who was my substitute for Huey and Louie. Plus the pre-invasion astronaut Jenette Miller would instead be McGregor’s Melissa Siren, newly-returned to Earth after a decades-long chryo-sleep mission in space and horrified to find Earth in the clutches of alien dictators who feed on human flesh.
On their way to the Cape Canaveral fortress of the aliens, Don McGregor’s slapdash writing showed again since he had one foot out the door to move on to his new Sabre series over at Eclipse Comics. Carmilla Frost, the scientist of the group, chose that moment to tell M’Shulla she was pregnant with his child.
While the pair engaged in bland Soap Opera dialogue on the subject, Old Skull, Killraven and the enamored Jenette encountered a moustachioed man being attacked by a bland menace: a larger-than normal wolf. Yes, after all the inventive creatures and villains the Freemen had fought in the original series we’re stuck with a lame large wolf, since McGregor was clearly saving his best ideas for Sabre at this point.
After a less-than
thrilling interesting battle, Killraven emerges victorious over the large wolf. He only had to use his sword, not his photo-nuclear pistol nor his explosive throwing-stars. The moustachioed man he saved now reveals himself to be Killraven’s (Jonathan Raven’s) brother Joshua, the search for whom occupied several chapters of the original Killraven stories from 1973-1976.
Foolishly, Don McGregor has Joshua pretend to still be loyal to humanity and to be glad to have encountered his long-lost brother after all these years apart. We readers know full well from the original Killraven series that the alien High Overlord had Joshua trained to serve the alien cause as Deathraven, leader of the Mercenary Elite.
We are left with this poor attempt at suspense because after the original KR series was canceled, McGregor used what was clearly supposed to be Deathraven as Blackstar Blood instead (in the 1978 Sabre graphic novel). Blackstar Blood was even the leader of the elite mercenaries like Deathraven was in Red Dust Legacy.
This blanded-down Joshua Raven/ Deathraven is nowhere near as charismatic or memorable as Blackstar Blood and, even worse, he’s given the overused and unimaginative power of being able to turn into a human-sized wolf and mentally control wolves like the one he let Killraven slay just now. It’s part of his plan to infiltrate the Freemen, since they don’t know about his transformation abilities, nor do they yet know the wolf that attacked him was being mentally controlled by him.
REVISION: I certainly recognize why, for obvious legal and financial reasons, Don McGregor could not simply render Deathraven as a mere copy of Blackstar Blood. Unfortunately, the Deathraven we get is very weak.
In my revision, which treats the Killraven series as if it was never canceled and therefore never had so many of its story elements transferred over to 1978’s Sabre, I would have Deathraven as he was originally presented – as the leader of a group of fellow human traitors serving as the aliens’ Mercenary Elite. (Though McGregor did also once call them Exterminators instead, in another inconsistency.)
In this version, I would have had Deathraven and his Mercenary Elite attack the Freemen at Jenette’s/ Melissa Siren’s Cocoa Beach hideout. They would have thought that they were safe there due to Killraven’s usual use of The Power to keep them cloaked to alien sensors.
Deathraven would announce his identity to his brother soon after the surprise attack started – which would have been my cliffhanger ending to the previous chapter. He would also reveal that KR’s ability to cloak himself and his followers is one of the reasons the High Overlord formed the Mercenary Elite, to PHYSICALLY track down the Freemen and kill them, rather than rely on high-tech sensors that KR could thwart.
While the other Freemen (M’Shulla, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost, Deathlok, Didymus and Melissa Siren) fought other mercenaries, Killraven and Deathraven would have met in the battle that fans had been waiting for since 1976. Their dynamic would presumably have been the same as Sabre to Blackstar Blood – two enemies who grow to have a begrudging respect for each other’s battle prowess while exchanging deep philosophical dialogue about their chosen sides in this rebellion.
Back to the unrevised story, Joshua spins a weak lie about supposedly breaking free from his alleged “captivity” at the aliens’ Yellowstone Park fortress that the Freemen were searching for during the original series. As if that wasn’t lame enough, he also claims to have been searching for KR and just caught up to the Freemen here in Florida by chance. Joshua further claims he knows that the aliens are utterly furious over the Freemen’s December attack on their breeding facility in Georgia.
Killraven should realize that his brother is lying because when he (KR) invaded the mind of the alien commander of Cape Canaveral two chapters back (via The Power, the aforementioned pre-Star Wars version of The Force) he saw that Keeper Saunders was there in addition to the High Overlord. Since Keeper Saunders’ presence in Yellowstone Park with Joshua all those years was known to Killraven and company, the “coincidence” that Joshua has caught up with them right at this moment should set off alarm bells with KR.
Joshua would not know about Killraven’s ability to enter alien minds, so he wouldn’t realize that KR knows Keeper Saunders is also inside Cape Canaveral. That should have been a lie that put Killraven on the alert, but luckily for Joshua, Don McGregor obviously just doesn’t care at this point since he has one foot out the door. Sort of like D&D on Season 8 of Game of Thrones.
So, while readers incredulously watch KR warmly greet Joshua despite M’Shulla’s suspicions, Jenette makes it clear again that she has the hots for Killraven in some actual fun dialogue.
When Old Skull is introduced to Joshua the latter notices that Old Skull is mentally challenged by the way he talks and calls him “retarded.” This, too, fails to put KR on his guard, but Joshua pretends to apologize for using that word which the gentle giant’s (Old Skull’s) childhood tormentors used against him.
Jenette also suspects Joshua, and M’Shulla pushes his own suspicions with Killraven, pointing out that Joshua showing up out of the blue like this is as unlikely as his (M’Shulla’s) dead mother Hortense showing up. (A better comparison would have been like his long-lost father showing up, but his father’s imprisonment in the aliens’ Hawaiian Island facilities is just another plotline from the original series that will remain forever unresolved.)
Joshua reacts to M’Shulla’s suspicions by talking to Killraven about memories of their mother. Of course that does not really address the issue at hand, nor does it correct the whole Keeper Saunders bit, but KR decides the issue is settled and lets Joshua in on their plans to attack Cape Canaveral.
Even more, he agrees to postpone their assault “for a day or so” so they can incorporate Joshua into their battle plan. He’s not so much Killraven now as he is “Jake” Raven.
This chapter ends with Old Skull obviously afraid that his friendship with “Mister Killraven” will be weakened now that KR has at last found his brother. +++
FOR THE FOURTH AND FINAL PART OF THIS KILLRAVEN GRAPHIC NOVEL CLICK HERE
FOR MY LOOK AT HOMBRE, SPAIN’S POST-APOCALYPTIC COMIC BOOK FROM THE 1980s, CLICK HERE
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