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 Four: Let It Die Like It’s The Fourth Of July
SYNOPSIS: February, 2020, or 37 years in the future, like it would have been to readers in 1983. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla war against Earth’s alien conquerors.
Their current target, as this four-chapter story comes to a close, is Cape Canaveral. The site has been upgraded with alien tech and serves as both a fortress for the aliens and as a hub of the High Overlord’s Project Regenesis. The High Overlord himself is currently inside the Cape personally overseeing the final stages of this project.
With him is Keeper Saunders, the human quisling who separated Killraven (Jonathan Raven) from his brother Joshua Raven when they were children.
The High Overlord has abandoned his original plan to have Deathraven and his Mercenary Elite slay Killraven and his Freemen when they reach the Yellowstone Park fortress of the aliens (Martians in the original, Zetans in my revisions.). The Freemen’s attacks on the aliens’ Georgia breeding center and on their installation built amid the ruins of Disney World (wink) made it clear to the High Overlord that Killraven was too dangerously close to Cape Canaveral.
The alien ruler therefore brought both Keeper Saunders and KR’s brother Joshua to the Cape with him. We readers of the original Killraven stories from 1973-1976 know that Joshua was trained by Keeper Saunders and his alien masters and was renamed Deathraven: the perfect weapon to be used against his rebel sibling.
KR and the Freemen do not know this, so the High Overlord sent Joshua to infiltrate the rebel band. In our last installment the traitorous Joshua convinced his brother that he had escaped “captivity” in the Yellowstone Park fortress and had been searching for Killraven ever since.
Idiotically enough, writer Don McGregor had KR believe this far-fetched tale and its unlikely timing. That’s just like he ignored how Killraven’s mental invasion of the alien Commander of Cape Canaveral revealed Keeper Saunders’ presence inside the Cape along with the High Overlord.
So, KR foolishly accepts the story that his long-lost brother just happens to show up in Florida right when the High Overlord AND Keeper Saunders are on hand. As I pointed out in the earlier installments Don McGregor was obviously distracted with thoughts of his new Sabre series over at Eclipse Comics and was just half-assing it through this graphic novel.
(See those previous installments for my detailed breakdown of all the story elements that McGregor transferred from Killraven over to the original Sabre story in 1978 AND to the new Sabre series. OR CLICK HERE )
At any rate, KR and the Freemen are now letting Joshua in on their plans to attack Cape Canaveral led by Jenette Miller, a surviving astronaut from the pre-invasion era and the newest member of the Freemen.
REVISION: I would have Jenette instead be McGregor’s Melissa Siren but as an astronaut who had just returned to Earth from a decades-long chryo-sleep mission and was horrified to find the planet under the rule of aliens who eat human flesh. Also, I would still have Deathlok as a Freeman instead of Grok and Didymus instead of Huey and Louie.
The attack on Cape Canaveral would still be taking place but the High Overlord’s project would instead be my made-up Project Genocide, in which the aliens have been moved to wipe out human life instead of using us as food and slaves. This happened following the tragic events in Red Dust Legacy.
And the Freemen would be openly fighting Deathraven and his Mercenary Elite, instead of having Joshua as a spy in the Freemen’s midst.
Back to the unrevised story, as Killraven, M’Shulla, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost, Jenette/ Melissa Siren and Joshua sneak their way through the Cape’s defenses, KR helps by using The Power (a pre-Star Wars variation of The Force) to keep them all cloaked to the alien sensors.
M’Shulla and Carmilla again choose the field of battle to argue over her pregnancy. Jenette reflects again on the dream that Cape Canaveral and space exploration once embodied for humanity in the pre-invasion era, before the aliens turned it all into a dark, twisted nightmare.
At the crucial moment Joshua betrays the Freemen, smacks down Jenette and announces the group’s presence to the High Overlord, Keeper Saunders and the Cape’s Martian/ Zetan commander.
As floodlights hone in on the rebels, Joshua reveals himself as Deathraven and transforms into a human-sized wolf creature who can still speak English. He summons his mentally-controlled pack of larger-than-normal wolves to attack the Freemen.
Once again forgetting his own continuity from the original 1973-1976 series, Don McGregor further “Rian Johnsons” things by having the High Overlord, the Cape Commander and Keeper Saunders step out on a balcony to proclaim Deathraven to be the “test run” of their psychotectronic experiments.
As Killraven fans know, even this is wrong. Way back during the Freemen’s battle with the High Overlord in Washington DC the aliens already had Rattack, a human mutated into a man-sized, speaking rat who mentally controlled a pack of larger-than-normal rats. So much for Deathraven being the “test run” of such a project. Hell, Deathraven even LOOKS like Rattack (who was renamed Vermin in my revisions).
Killraven and Deathraven fight, with Deathraven’s dialogue actually being very good as he taunts KR for stupidly accepting his cover story AND gleefully refers to their dead mother as “a bitch” and “a stupid, ugly woman.” He also relates to our main character how much he loves what the aliens have turned him into.
Joshua’s enhanced strength and other “wolf-like” powers let him pretty much kick KR’s butt, prompting the bald Old Skull to come rushing to his aid. Killraven tells Old Skull to stay out of the fight because it’s a family matter.
Deathraven mocks his brother by saying “Family? Damn, you’re too much, Jonathan!” and continues smacking around KR to the point where he is lying bleeding and weak on the ground.
Old Skull breaks free from Deathraven’s attacking pack of large wolves and takes on Deathraven himself. Once again, we get a glimpse of how good a villain DR could have been as he strangles the hulking Old Skull and mocks his way of speaking by telling him “Old Skull’s gonna die … He surely is!” He also calls him retarded again, like he did in the previous chapter.
Elsewhere, Carmilla Frost, the scientist of the Freemen, and Jenette Nolan have slipped away from the chaos of the battle and are carrying out the pre-planned sabotage mission on the fly. They shoot down any aliens who oppose them, Carmilla with her radium pistol and Jenette with her plasma-ray rifle.
REVISION: I would have Carmilla, Melissa Siren and Didymus completing the sabotage mission while Deathlok, M’Shulla, Old Skull and Killraven battle the human (in my revisions) Deathraven and his army of human traitors. Carmilla, as a scientist, would have planned this out thanks to Killraven’s description of the Cape’s innards from his mental invasion of the Cape Commander.
Back to the unrevised story, the High Overlord, the Cape Commander and Keeper Saunders enjoy seeing Deathraven and his wolves with the upper hand. M’Shulla is nearly finished off, KR is still on the ground and Old Skull is still being choked by Joshua. McGregor “Rian Johnsons” things again with ANOTHER erroneous reference to the High Overlord as “the Overseer” (the main villain of the 1978 Sabre story.)
In his paniced, desperate desire to save Old Skull from death, Killraven at last masters the remaining elements of The Power which had eluded his control up til now: He realizes he can not just ENTER alien minds, but control them as well. He invades the Cape Commander’s mind and has him use his tentacles to kill Deathraven, saving Old Skull’s life.
In addition, Killraven finally realizes that Keeper Whitman (who tutored him like Keeper Saunders tutored Deathraven), as part of The Power, enabled KR to access all of humanity’s collective memories, so that he can one day restore much of the lost history that the aliens have brutally stamped out.
Back with Carmilla and Jenette, they continue fighting the aliens and sabotaging, with Carmilla at one point joking around. She always did have a sense of humor in the original series, but for some odd reason McGregor presents it like she’s joking for the first time ever thanks to Jenette’s jovial influence. Ooookay.
The High Overlord faces Killraven, Old Skull and the critically wounded M’Shulla, assuring them that they haven’t won and that this is their end. On cue the explosions from the sabotage start, with chain reactions spreading all over the Cape.
The High Overlord is lost from sight as our heroes all flee the fortress. Old Skull carries M’Shulla, since he can’t walk, and Carmilla Frost tells him to be gentle with M’Shulla because “He’s going to be a father.” This lets us know she has decided to keep the baby.
RARE GOOD BIT OF WRITING IN THIS STORY: From a distance, the Freemen all watch the final chain reactions consume Cape Canaveral and Project Regenesis (such as it was). Jenette is jubilant and Killraven says “You sound pretty exultant for someone who just blew up a dream.” (Referring to her earlier remarks.)
Jenette/ Melissa Siren replies “If a dream has to die let it die like this, like it’s the 4th of July … With the promise of other dreams. Newer dreams. Maybe better dreams.” And she again blatantly flirts with Killraven from there.
The good writing continues, making you wish the entire saga could have been presented as McGregor originally planned it before the original series was canceled. Old Skull, still carrying the wounded M’Shulla, points out to the African-American Freeman that his (Old Skull’s) flowers that he’d been cultivating while the rebels were staking out Cape Canaveral have survived all the death and destruction.
The sardonic but weary M’Shulla can only muster the question “You never give it up, do you?” And Old Skull replies “Nope.” As always, the gentle giant’s simple, unwavering optimism even in the face of the horrific world he lives in is very touching.
And with our last sight being Old Skull’s flowers blossoming in the sunrise, this story comes to a close with at least some of the old spirit being recaptured.
*** FOR MY FINAL KILLRAVEN POST, WHICH WRAPS UP EVERYTHING, CLICK HERE
FOR MY LOOK AT HOMBRE, SPAIN’S POST-APOCALYPTIC COMIC BOOK FROM THE 1980s, CLICK HERE
© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.