Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

KILLRAVEN FOUR: THE MUTANT SLAYERS

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven four mutant slayersAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 # 21 (November 1973)

Title: THE MUTANT SLAYERS (Revised Title: DEATHLOK, THE DEMOLISHER)

Synopsis: Another issue means ANOTHER change in creative team for this promising but star-crossed series. This fourth change in four issues gives us Don McGregor as the writer and Herb Trimpe as the artist.

McGregor will stay and will handily develop the flowery prose that also characterized his run on the 13-part Black Panther story Panther’s Rage, previously reviewed here at Balladeer’s Blog. Unfortunately, Don’s writing in this issue is as hopelessly lame and “comic bookish” as Herb Trimpe’s artwork.

We are told that the Martians had their human quislings – in this case led by a human cyborg called the Warlord – transport Killraven and his Freemen, who were ambushed and captured last issue amid the ruins of LaGuardia Airport, to this new underground base. The base’s location is undisclosed for now.

REVISION: Given Ryker’s Island’s proximity to LaGuardia Airport I would have made THAT the location that the captive Freemen were transported to. And given the island’s use as a prison before the alien conquest of Earth it would be ideal for my revised storyline.

I would make the Warlord be specifically Warlord RYKER as in Simon Ryker (no relation to the island’s namesake). Simon Ryker was, of course, the main villain in Deathlok (sic) the Demolisher, another of Marvel’s promising but short-lived sci-fi comic books of the 1970s.

DeathlokI’m combining Deathlok’s story with Killraven’s in a sort of Ultimate Killraven way, since Marvel in recent years had KR, Deathlok and other figures from their canceled post-apocalypse titles get thrown together as a team due to time anomalies, etc ANYWAY.

Warlord Ryker would still hate Killraven for causing the loss and cybernetic replacement of his (Ryker’s) arm and eye during his escape from the gladiatorial pens a few years earlier.

Back to the real story, the Warlord and his fellow quisling Carmilla Frost (in her first-ever appearance) are watching several waves of guards struggling to shepherd Killraven along to join his Freemen in their new prison cells. Expository dialogue makes it clear that Keeper Frost is a molecular biologist and, like all the other Keepers, she is a scientist who sold out her fellow Earth people in exchange for privileges. Mostly, access to the Martians’ advanced science to continue their work.

The Warlord rants a great deal about how he warned the Martians to execute Killraven years ago, but he was such a good fighter in their gladiatorial games that they kept him alive for sport. Eventually the Warlord knocks out KR from behind.

REVISION: As always, I’d have jettisoned the tenuous War of the Worlds connection by getting rid of the ridiculous Martians and just made it regular aliens – say from the Zeta Reticuli area of space – who had conquered Earth.

Carmilla FrostInstead of watching Killraven struggle against guards I would have Warlord Ryker and Carmilla Frost watching and taking notes as other Keepers subject the rebel leader to various tests – many of them painful, of course – to determine the nature and origin of his paranormal abilities called simply The Power in the first two issues. (This was 4 years BEFORE Star Wars, so The Power is NOT a ripoff of The Force.)     Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN THREE: THE WARLORD STRIKES

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven WarlordAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #20 (September 1973)

Title: THE WARLORD STRIKES

Synopsis: We pick up an unspecified number of days after the end of the previous story. We also have yet ANOTHER change in creative team. This issue we have Marv Wolfman writing and Herb Trimpe doing the artwork.

Even more of the sophisticated promise of the first two installments is stripped away as Wolfman & Trimpe serve up a story so bland it would fit right into any given issue of DC Comics’ Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth. The only positive development is that it is at last established that Killraven and M’Shulla, the black member of the rebel band, are the closest of friends. 

Killraven and M’Shulla are being pursued by several human quislings who are trying to bring in K.R. alive for their Martian masters. They fail to say why, but we readers can guess that it’s because the Martians want to know how much Killraven was told by the dying Keeper Whitman back in part one. Or because they want to study K.R. in order to understand the mysterious “Power” that grants him certain abilities.

Killraven cornerOf course, since this issue doesn’t mention EITHER Keeper Whitman OR “The Power” (a pre-Star Wars variation of The Force) it’s also possible Marv Wolfman was planning to write out those aspects. The way this issue is written it COULD be that the quislings have orders to take Killraven alive just so he can be taken before the Warlord, whom we learn has a vendetta against our main character.

REVISION: To maintain continuity I would have made it so that it was definitively stated that K.R. was wanted alive precisely to be studied because of his paranormal powers and to learn how much the late Keeper Whitman told him about the true nature of Earth’s conquerors: namely that they are aliens and not the demons that conquered, superstitious humanity considers them to be.

And, as always, I’d have eliminated the tenuous War of the Worlds connection and made Earth’s conquerors regular aliens and not ridiculous “Martians.” 

As the running fight goes on and on, no mention is made of the forced abandonment of the Freemens’ previous hideout on Staten Island, now known to the Martians.     Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWO: THE SIRENS OF SEVENTH AVENUE

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven Sirens of 7th AveAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #19 (July 1973)

Title: THE SIRENS OF SEVENTH AVENUE

Synopsis: Killraven, wielder of a mysterious force called The Power, continues to lead his Freemen/ Rebel Alliance against Earth’s conquerors, led by the armored badass Abraxas, the High Overlord. (1973 means this was BEFORE Star Wars, so don’t leave comments claiming this ripped off that film series)

We pick up where we left off – Killraven, still reeling from some of the shocking information that the late Keeper Whitman just relayed to him about Earth’s alien conquerors, has just realized that his escape rout from Whitman’s underground lab has been blocked by three beautiful Sirens.

Those Sirens are Earth women scientifically modified to be irresistible to men through their physical perfection and presumably through pheromone enhancements. We learned last time around that these Sirens have been very successful at flushing out for capture many of the rebel bands scattered throughout post-apocalypse New York and New Jersey. Now they plan to bring in Killraven, leader of the most successful group of Freemen. Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN ONE: WAR OF THE WORLDS

masc graveyard newIn the realm of pop culture it continues to be Marvel Comics’ world! Over the past few years Balladeer’s Blog has been reviewing some old, old, OLD Marvel stories from decades ago. From the research I’ve done, I feel the late 1960s through mid-1970s were Marvel’s creative height, with only the Uncanny X-Men title retaining consistent art and story-telling quality beyond that time period.

I’ve covered The Celestial Madonna Saga (1973-1975), which also contained The Avengers/ Defenders War and the original Thanos War within its own storyline. I’ve examined the 13-part Black Panther story titled Panther’s Rage, the original Kree-Skrull War and, most recently, the 7-part Adam Warlock tale The Magus

Readers requested more Marvel, so, since these are fun and light time-passers, here comes Killraven, the Warrior of the Worlds.  

KillravenWAR OF THE WORLDS/ WARRIOR OF THE WORLDS/ KILLRAVEN: In the early 1970s Marvel was experimenting with hybrid titles combining the old and the new by fusing licensed properties with unique Marvel twists.

The most famous and longest-lasting example was Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu. In 1974 Marvel licensed the use of Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu plus other characters from the Fu Manchu tales. Rather than just churn out a Fu Manchu comic book series “the House of Ideas” instead combined it with the Kung Fu craze of the time and created Shang Chi, the son of Fu Manchu.

Shang Chi, as a surrogate Bruce Lee, and Sir Denis Nayland-Smith, as a surrogate Braithwaite from Enter: The Dragon, were the core of the new series. Shang Chi started out as an operative of his evil father Fu Manchu, but realized the error of his ways and threw in with Sir Denis and his team to battle his father’s malevolent schemes.

The previous year – 1973 (so BEFORE Star Wars) Marvel had worked similar “synergy” by taking their license to do a comic book series based on H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and combining it with sci-fi post-apocalypse action. The main character was Jonathan Raven, aka Killraven, a charismatic rebel leading an uprising against Earth’s 21st Century Martian conquerors.

Killraven sword and gunKillraven’s use of a sword AND futuristic firearms in action set against a post-apocalyptic backdrop also brought a little John Carter of Mars appeal into the series. By 1976 the promising saga was canceled due to poor sales but gained a cult following in the decades since then.

Killraven’s influence could be seen in the original 1980s mini-series V, especially the element of humans being used as food by our alien overlords and the sentimental “heroic freedom fighters versus evil tyrants” appeal. Killraven writer Don McGregor incorporated similarly themed stories and characters into Sabre, his other post-apocalypse comic book series. 

Even Star Wars reflected some aspects of Killraven’s tales: the Rebel Alliance against the bad guys, the armored badass (Abraxas, the High Overlord in Killraven’s case) and, of course, the way Killraven wielded enigmatic, more than human abilities called simply “the Power” in K.R.’s series. (PLEASE NOTE: Killraven’s use of The Power came years before Star Wars and The Force.) The young sword-wielding hero was slowly mastering the Power as the series went along, but cancellation cut short his development of his paranormal gifts.

Killraven stampAnd yes, I know that both Killraven and Star Wars drew on the same vast inheritance of sci-fi tropes but the close proximity of K.R. (1973-1976) to Luke Skywalker (1977 onward) makes the comparisons inevitable. 

About fifteen years back, Tom Cruise was set to star as Killraven but eventually all K.R. elements were dropped from the project and Cruise starred in simply another remake of War of the Worlds instead. You have to wonder if the Marvel name would have motivated the filmmakers to keep the Killraven angle if the movie had been done AFTER Marvel became the dominant source for cinematic blockbusters that it is now.

At any rate, let’s dive into the very first appearance of Killraven in 1973: Continue reading

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ADAM WARLOCK: THE MAGUS – CHAPTER LINKS

Tom Fleming WarlockAdam Warlock, one of the Marvel Comics superheroes who are not that well known to the public at large right now, will probably be a household word soon like just about every other Marvel character who gets thrown at the big and small screens.

At this point if Marvel tried launching film versions of It, The Living Colossus or Fin Fang Foom they’d probably take over Kaiju leadership from Japan & Godzilla. Recently Balladeer’s Blog did an examination of The Magus, the seven-part 1975-1976 Adam Warlock story by Jim Starlin. If you missed it here are chapter links:

Magus 1PART ONE – ENTER: THE MAGUS – Includes my quick recap of Adam Warlock’s fictional history from 1967 to 1975, including his encounters with the Fantastic Four, Thor and the Incredible Hulk.

Then it’s on to Adam’s first clash with the galaxy-spanning Universal Church of Truth and the mad god it worships – the Magus. CLICK HERE 

Magus Part TwoPART TWO: DEATH SHIP – Adam Warlock gains a new ally in Pip the Troll when he is taken captive by the Church’s starship The Great Divide.

While participating in a prisoner uprising to seize the vessel he also learns more about the atrocities perpetrated on over a thousand worlds by the Magus and his Universal Church of Truth. CLICK HERE   

GamoraPART THREE: THE TRIAL OF ADAM WARLOCK – *** FIRST EVER APPEARANCE OF GAMORA *** Overcoming even more Black Knights of the Church and another battle with the Soul Gem, Warlock at last confronts the Matriarch, the worldly leader of the Universal Church of Truth.

She puts Adam on trial for heresy as part of her plan to seize control of the Church from the Magus. CLICK HERE

Magus fourPART FOUR: ONE THOUSAND CLOWNS – Pip the Troll and Gamora, the most dangerous woman in the galaxy, try to free Adam Warlock from the Pit of the Sacred Palace.

Meanwhile our hero resists the Matriarch’s surreal attempts to indoctrinate him into the Universal Church of Truth. CLICK HERE   

Magus 5PART FIVE: THE INFINITY EFFECT – Face to face with the real form of the Magus, Adam Warlock learns the horrific fate that lies ahead for him as he will transform into the Church’s god while being tortured over a period of 5,000 years.

Gamora’s mysterious secret is revealed. CLICK HERE

Magus 6PART SIX: THE REDEMPTION PRINCIPLE – While evading the Black Knights of the Church Adam, Gamora and Pip encounter the dying Matriarch.

Thanos reveals Gamora’s mind-bending, paradoxical origin and the In-Betweener draws ever closer in order to steal away Warlock and transform him into the Magus. CLICK HERE

Magus 7PART SEVEN: HOW STRANGE MY DESTINY – The story’s final mind-boggling developments unfold as Adam Warlock struggles to fight his fate.

Plus Thanos’ real motives for helping our hero are revealed in the final battles with the Magus, his Black Knights and the cosmic being called the In-Betweener. CLICK HERE  

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ADAM WARLOCK: THE MAGUS – CONCLUSION

Adam WarlockConcluding Balladeer’s Blog’s examination of another old, old, OLD Marvel Comics hit. This one was written AND drawn by Jim Starlin. (The overrated and over-praised Alan Moore only writes, doesn’t draw.) 

FOR PART ONE PLUS A RECAP OF ADAM WARLOCK’S FICTIONAL HISTORY CLICK HERE

Magus 7PART SEVEN (Conclusion)

Warlock #11 (February 1976)

Title: HOW STRANGE MY DESTINY

Synopsis: Resuming where we left off, the Magus (Adam Warlock’s vile future self and the self-proclaimed god worshipped by the galaxy-spanning Universal Church of Truth) has created a teleportational rift leading from the Sacred Palace of the Church to the interior of Thanos’ space station called Sanctuary.

magus on throneThrough that rift the Magus leads General Egeus and the entire army of the Black Knights of the Church, super-powered beings from countless planets never before featured in Marvel Comics up to this point. (This makes them forerunners of the Shi’Ar Imperial Guard over at The Uncanny X-Men.)

ThanosWe readers know from the end of the previous installment that the Magus suspected that Thanos wanted him to attack, since he had dropped Sanctuary‘s defensive shields. However, even if he’s playing into the Mad Titan’s hands, the Magus had no alternative but to attack since his viewscreens showed him that Thanos and Warlock were about to use a Time Probe to try and prevent the Magus from ever coming into being.

In-Betweener 2As the Magus and his Black Knights pour through the teleportational rift the self-proclaimed god orders his knights to kill Thanos, Gamora and Pip the Troll but leave Adam Warlock to him.

The villain intends to finish off Thanos if he can, but most importantly he needs for the battle to prevent Warlock from entering the Time Probe long enough for the In-Betweener to arrive and abduct Adam to his dimension. There, over the course of 5,000 years Warlock will be tortured into becoming the Magus.

As this final chapter opens we are told there is less than one Earth hour left before the In-Betweener arrives. Continue reading

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ADAM WARLOCK: THE MAGUS, PART SIX

magus on throneBalladeer’s Blog’s examination of another old, old, OLD Marvel Comics hit continues. This one was written AND drawn by Jim Starlin. (The overrated and over-praised Alan Moore only writes, doesn’t draw.) 

FOR PART ONE PLUS A RECAP OF ADAM WARLOCK’S FICTIONAL HISTORY CLICK HERE

Magus 6PART SIX

Warlock #10 (December 1975)

Title: THE REDEMPTION PRINCIPLE

NOTE: This installment of The Magus features what the late Stan Lee might have called “the senses-shattering ORIGIN of GAMORA!!!”

Synopsis: We are rapidly approaching the final installment of Jim Starlin’s masterful hybrid of Young Adult Science Fiction and superhero story. Recapping last issue’s mind-boggling developments regarding Adam Warlock and his vile future self the Magus would require several hundred words, thus blocking the dramatic flow, so I will simply pepper in relevant details as needed.

Adam WarlockWe pick up right where we left off last time: Room #7, Sub-Level 2 of the Sacred Palace, headquarters of the Magus’ galaxy-spanning Universal Church of Truth. The Magus, that Church’s self-proclaimed god, not only defeated Warlock and Pip the Troll but also thwarted Gamora’s attempt to kill him with her God-Slayer Knife.

Gamora’s mysterious (to 1975 readers) master turned out to be Thanos, not as dead as the Avengers thought he was at the end of the Thanos War in July of 1974. Thanos teleported himself to Gamora’s side to continue trying to prevent the Magus (a potential rival) from ever existing (see the previous installment).

GamoraThe Magus had left Room #7, Sub-Level 2 after defeating Adam, Gamora and Pip, and thus is not aware that Thanos is involved. With Gamora’s interference having already altered the Magus’ past as he remembered experiencing it as Adam Warlock, the mad “deity” sent a legion of his Black Knights of the Church to attack the survivors in Room #7, Sub-Level 2 to prevent any further significant changes. Continue reading

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