Tag Archives: book reviews

AVENGERS: KREE-SKRULL WAR, THE CONCLUSION

This weekend’s light-hearted, escapist superhero post features the final three chapters of the original Kree-Skrull War from 1971-1972. For parts 1-3 click HERE. 

Avengers 95THE AVENGERS Volume One, Number 95 (January 1972)

AVENGERS ROSTER: THOR (Donald Blake, MD), IRON MAN (Tony Stark), CAPTAIN AMERICA (Steve Rogers), THE SCARLET WITCH (Wanda), GOLIATH (Clint Barton), QUICKSILVER (Pietro), THE VISION (Not Applicable), CAPTAIN MARVEL (Mar-Vell, Kree Captain)

SOMETHING INHUMAN THIS WAY COMES

Synopsis: This story picks up where we left off last time around. The scaled, amphibious Inhuman named Triton emerges from a manhole at Avengers Mansion while Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Goliath, the Vision and Rick Jones are still fighting the Mandroids.

Those Mandroids – S.H.I.E.L.D. agents wearing high-tech combat suits designed to defeat the Avengers if they ever went bad – are trying to arrest our heroes for Senator H Warren Craddock. That Senator has special powers from the U.N. to deal with the ongoing crisis in which two alien races – the Kree and the Skrulls – are fighting over the Earth. The Avengers are wanted for failure to comply with Craddock’s subpoena regarding the heroes’ role in helping their Kree member – Captain Marvel – escape S.H.I.E.L.D.

mandroids avengersThe Mandroids seem to have the upper hand on the Avengers, so Senator Craddock, observing the battle from his nearby command post, compliments Nick Fury on the performance of his agents in the Mandroid armor. Fury makes it clear that he’s only helping Craddock (a sleazy Robert Mueller-type abusing his authority) under orders. He also warns the Senator not to celebrate prematurely.

Fury turns out to be right as the Avengers suddenly turn the tables and defeat the Mandroids, thanks to a maneuver from Iron Man. Tony Stark – whose double-identity was NOT known back then – had designed the Mandroids and so Iron Man was finally able to exploit a weakness of theirs to knock out the men inside the armored suits with mild electrical shocks.

Rick Jones now helps the wounded Triton, who has been keeping out of the way while the battle raged. The member of the Inhuman Royal Family tells the Avengers what we readers learned last time around: Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans and ruler of Attilan, the Great Refuge, is lost in San Francisco with amnesia. His evil brother Maximus the Mad has taken over the Great Refuge and allied himself with the Kree invaders of Earth. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

KREE-SKRULL WAR: AVENGERS PARTS 4-6

For this weekend’s light-hearted and escapist superhero blog post here at Balladeer’s Blog will examine the 4th, 5th and 6th installments of the 9-part Avengers classic The Kree-Skrull War (1971-1972). For parts 1-3 click HERE. 

Avengers 92THE AVENGERS Volume One, Number 92 (September 1971)

AVENGERS ROSTER: THOR (Donald Blake, MD), IRON MAN (Tony Stark), CAPTAIN AMERICA (Steve Rogers), THE SCARLET WITCH (Wanda), GOLIATH (Clint Barton), QUICKSILVER (Pietro), THE VISION (Not Applicable), CAPTAIN MARVEL (Mar-Vell, Kree Captain)

 ALL THINGS MUST END

Synopsis: We pick up several days after the Avengers and their old civilian ally, rock singer Rick Jones, saved the world from Ronan the Accuser. Ronan was the new ruler of the alien Kree Empire after a coup d’état against the Supreme Intelligence. When his plan was stymied by the Avengers, Ronan was forced to retreat back to Hala, the homeworld of the Kree Empire, because the Kree’s ancient foes the Skrulls had launched attacks on every Kree-held planet in the galaxy.

The Scarlet Witch, Goliath (formerly Hawkeye), Quicksilver, the Vision and Captain Marvel are enjoying down time at Avengers Mansion. Soon their butler Jarvis brings their attention to newscasts stating that the Avengers are being investigated by the U.S. government and the U.N.

captain marvelWord has leaked from a Senator named H. Warren Craddock and from the technicians the Avengers swore to confidentiality following last issue’s action. The entire world now knows about how the alien race called the Kree attempted to destroy the Earth.

Captain Marvel’s status as a renegade Kree captain helps draw attention to the Avengers and his place with them. Not helping the situation is the way Captain Marvel – aka Kree Starfleet Captain Mar-Vell – impersonated Earth scientist Doctor Walter Lawson as part of his original mission to infiltrate NASA at Cape Canaveral.

That circumstance leads to suspicion about how many other alien Kree may be infiltrating Earth bases, fanning the inevitable Witch Hunt. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Superheroes

AVENGERS: THE KREE-SKRULL WAR

This weekend’s light-hearted and escapist superhero blog post here at Balladeer’s Blog will examine the first three installments of the 9-part Avengers classic tale The Kree-Skrull War (1971-1972). 

Avengers 89

THE AVENGERS Volume One, Number 89 (June 1971)

The Only Good Alien … Is A Dead Alien

SETTING: The Kree race and the Skrull race are a pair of alien races who have been at war for untold thousands of years. Both races were introduced in the pages of the The Fantastic Four in the 1960s and became staples in the Marvel Comics Universe, which I will once again praise for being as enjoyably detailed as the Star Trek or Doctor Who universes.

Synopsis: The story opens up in Miami, where a trio of Avengers – the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and the Vision – track down and engage in a battle with the Kree superhero called Captain Marvel.  (THIS IS THE ORIGINAL MARVEL COMICS CHARACTER CAPTAIN MARVEL, A MAN.) 

NOTE: There is often confusion between the Marvel Comics figure called Captain Marvel and the Fawcett Comics figure of the same name. The Fawcett Comics figure dated back to the Golden Age and was one of the victims of DC Comics’ legal attacks on ANY superhero that they felt was too similar to their character Superman.

Fawcett Comics eventually went under and nearly all their characters were bought by DC. DC doesn’t mind an alleged Superman ripoff as long as they OWN the character so the Golden Age Captain Marvel is still being published but because Marvel Comics over the years acquired the rights to the character NAME Captain Marvel the original Captain Marvel now goes by Shazam.

Captain MarvelAnyway, the Marvel Comics Captain Marvel, who debuted in the 1960s, was an alien Captain of the Kree Starfleet ships sent to conquer the Earth for the Kree Empire. His real name is conveniently Mar-Vell so when he identified himself in his early adventures the media mistook “Captain Mar-Vell” for Captain Marvel, hence his superhero moniker.

Like many other aliens in pop fiction the good Captain came to feel grudging sympathy for us Earthlings and tried to save us primitive schlubs from conquest by the Kree Empire. He thus became labeled a traitor to his own people but was also distrusted by Earthlings because of his alien nature, hence his old Marvel Comics tagline “The Man Without A World.” Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Superheroes

HOLYOKE SUPERHEROES

This weekend’s light-hearted and escapist superhero blog post looks at the neglected superheroes of Holyoke Comics.   

doctor-diamond

Any of us could stick a drawing pencil up our butt and draw a better picture.

DOCTOR DIAMOND

Secret Identity: Drake Gorden, MD

Origin: While on a passenger ship in the South Seas Dr Drake Gorden was swept overboard during a typhoon. He washed ashore on an uncharted island inhabited only by a monk formerly from Tibet. The monk decreed Doctor Gorden to be worthy of the Egyptian black diamond he guarded. That jewel bestowed super-powers on Gorden, who returned to the U.S. and fought crime as Doctor Diamond. 

First Appearance: Cat-Man Comics # 1 (May 1941). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942. 

Powers: The black jewel granted Doctor Diamond the strength of fifty men and an impressive degree of invulnerability.  Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Superheroes

CHARLEMAGNE: BRADAMANTE VS ATLANTES

These are the legends about Charlemagne and his Paladins, not the actual history, so there will be dragons, monsters and magic. 

FOR MY FIRST CHAPTER ON CHARLEMAGNE’S PALADINS CLICK HERE.

Bradamante BETTERBRADAMANTE VS ATLANTES – We left off in the previous installment with Bradamante, the female Paladin in white armor, waiting at an inn in Bordeaux for her foretold encounter with the clever dwarf Brunello. Presently the day had come when Brunello arrived, but before she could approach him, both of them were swept up in a crowd of bystanders in a panic, pointing to the sky as the enchanter astride the winged horse once again flew overhead.

Bradamante took advantage of this development to pretend to casually inquire of Brunello about the astounding sight. The clever dwarf, whom Bradamante had been warned was an accomplice of the flying enchanter, informed her that it was Atlantes and that he had abducted several men and women recently and imprisoned them in his mountaintop castle.

Charlemagne's empireBrunello pretended not to know what happened to the abductees, but the female Paladin had been told by the priestess Melissa that they were used as companions for her missing beloved, Ruggiero. Atlantes had trained and raised Ruggiero since the latter’s childhood and feared the prophecies that the warrior would one day be led away from Islam by his love for Bradamante.

Playing along as if she was not suspicious of the clever dwarf, the White Paladin raged about how she longed to find the mountaintop refuge of Atlantes and free his prisoners. Brunello had by now realized that this woman warrior was the famous Bradamante herself, and planned to lure her into the clutches of Atlantes as he had done with so many others. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Mythology

WHEN HERCULES JOINED THE AVENGERS

This weekend’s light-hearted, escapist superhero blog post will deal with the first time Marvel’s version of Hercules joined the Avengers in the 1960s. The demigod had subsequent periods as a member of the team, but this first time carried on from the lengthy Hercules/ Thor/ Pluto storyline that Balladeer’s Blog reviewed HERE.

ave 38AVENGERS Vol 1 #38 (March 1967)

Title: In Our Midst … An Immortal

Avengers Roster: The Wasp, Goliath, Captain America, the Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Black Widow 

Villains: The Enchantress and Ares

Synopsis: The Black Widow is secretly recruited by Nick Fury to go under deep cover by leaving the Avengers and pretending to once again become a communist agent. She is not to tell anyone that she is only faking her return to communism, not even Hawkeye, who is heartbroken and outraged when she departs Avengers Mansion. 

Meanwhile, partway down Mount Olympus, Hercules is engaged in a battle with the god of war Ares. Herc challenged Ares to this fight out of anger over Ares’ taunting refusal to help Hercules against Pluto in the storyline mentioned above. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Superheroes

CHARLEMAGNE: BRADAMANTE IN THE WIZARD’S TOMB

These are the legends about Charlemagne and his Paladins, not the actual history, so there will be dragons, monsters and magic. 

FOR MY FIRST CHAPTER ON CHARLEMAGNE’S PALADINS CLICK HERE.

bradamante another picBRADAMANTE IN THE WIZARD’S TOMB – We left off last time around with Mandricardo searching for the Paladin Roland so he could try to kill him and steal from him the sword Durindana, thus completing the armor of Hector. The female Paladin in white armor, Bradamante, was searching for Ruggiero the Moor, from whom she had gotten separated a few installments back. Ruggiero was likewise searching for her.

The clever dwarf Brunello, a figure who might have inspired GOT‘s Tyrion Lannister just as Bradamante might have inspired Brienne, was meanwhile roaming the same region of Europe. Brunello had been sent from northern Africa by the enchanter Atlantes to lure Atlantes’ departed protege Ruggiero into captivity to prevent him from being lured away from Islam by his love for Bradamante. 

Brunello encountered Ruggiero and convinced him to follow him to save a beautiful maiden who had supposedly been abducted by an enchanter astride a winged horse. Ruggiero, in true chivalric style, agreed to accompany the dwarf to save the maiden. At length Brunello secretly summoned the winged enchanter to capture and make off with Ruggiero.

Mascot and guitar

Balladeer’s Blog

Atlantes the Enchanter had resolved to keep Ruggiero in the castle forever, so additional men and women were abducted and taken to the castle to provide Ruggiero with companionship and keep him too occupied to want to leave. The captured Moor and his fellow prisoners lost themselves in drinking and feasting. Meanwhile, the battles of the Saracen invasion of Charlemagne’s empire raged on.   

Back with Bradamante, she encountered an armored warrior called Pinabel. His true love was among the women abducted by the enchanter on the flying horse and he recruited Bradamante into helping him try to get her back from the enchanter’s castle. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Mythology

CHARLEMAGNE: MANDRICARDO AND THE ARMOR OF HECTOR

These are the legends about Charlemagne and his Paladins, not the actual history, so there will be dragons, monsters and magic. 

FOR MY FIRST CHAPTER ON CHARLEMAGNE’S PALADINS CLICK HERE.

mandricardoMANDRICARDO AND THE ARMOR OF HECTOR – Last time around in the Tales of Charlemagne and His Paladins we left off with Ruggiero searching the Forest of Arden for Bradamante, the female Paladin in white armor, with whom he had fallen in love. They had become separated while fighting some of the Saracen soldiers invading Charlemagne’s realm at the time.

Elsewhere, Mandricardo, son of Agrican, King of the Tartars, and a man whose destiny was linked with Ruggiero’s, was on a quest of his own. Mandricardo sought to kill the Paladin Roland as revenge for Roland having killed his father in our previous installments.

Mandricardo had spent his life in drinking, gambling and mercenary work, never attending to his father’s kingdom. Upon hearing of King Agrican’s death at the hands of Roland, the wayward young man was sobered into seriousness. He armored up, grabbed a sword and shield, then set out for revenge on his father’s killer.

In his travels, he came across a splendid tent pitched beside a fountain. Upon entering the tent, Mandricardo met a beautiful (of course) young woman, who told him that when he set out on his revenge quest, it meant that he was ready to fight for his heritage – the fabled armor of Hector of Troy.
Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Mythology

MLJ COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON

For this weekend’s light-hearted, escapist superhero post, Balladeer’s Blog will feature MLJ, the company that later became Archie Comics.

FoxTHE FOX

Secret Identity: Paul Patton, newspaper reporter and news photographer.

Origin: When his co-worker Ruth Ransom got kidnapped, Paul Patton felt he could fight crime AND enhance his journalism career by first donning a costume and thwarting criminals as the Fox and then getting a “scoop” on those adventures, complete with photos. And this was decades before Peter Parker made a living with news photos of his exploits as Spider-Man.

First Appearance: Blue Ribbon Comics #4 (June 1940). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942. 

Powers: The Fox was at the peak of human condition. He had acrobatic skills greater than Olympic athletes and was a master of all forms of unarmed combat. His stealth skills were the equal of any burglar or ninja. The white eye-lenses on his mask permitted him to see in the dark.   Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Superheroes

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: LUKE CAGE AND THE TEEN TITANS

Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2022 continues, this time combined with the weekend’s light-hearted, escapist superhero blog post. This item looks at A Christmas Carol getting adapted through two separate stories – first with Luke Cage/ Power Man and then with the Teen Titans.

luke-cage-christmas-carol

LUKE CAGE, HERO FOR HIRE Vol 1 #7 (March 1973) 

Jingle Bombs was the real title of this holiday tale which pitted superhero Luke Cage aka Hero for Hire aka Power Man against the one-off supervillain called Marley. Like a Guest Villain from the Adam West Batman show Marley uses a campy Christmas Carol motif for his nefarious plan … yet, oddly the story is kind of quaint.  

On Christmas Eve, Luke Cage is hanging out with his then-girlfriend Claire Temple, a doctor who worked at a clinic in the New York ghetto. Later on in the series Claire would be the center of a romantic triangle between Luke Cage and another of Marvel’s black superheroes – Black Goliath, Hank Pym’s former lab assistant who used Pym’s inventions to turn to giant-size and back. 

As night approaches Luke sees a ruckus outside the clinic: a man in Dickensian 1800s clothing is using his walking stick to beat a little handicapped boy named Timmy. Our hero goes out to save the little boy and is attacked by the strange man, who identifies himself as “Marley.”   Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Superheroes