Tag Archives: War of the Worlds

KILLRAVEN FIVE: WASHINGTON NIGHTMARE

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 five washington nightmareAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #22 (January 1974)

Title: WASHINGTON NIGHTMARE

Revised Title: Since this is Don McGregor writing, let’s go with something absurdly melodramatic like Reflections in a Night-Dark Mirror

NOTE: This story introduces the popular female rebel called Mint Julep. 

Synopsis: This issue begins an unknown number of days or weeks after the conclusion of the previous chapter. Killraven and his Freemen – M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and Grok – are traveling along the Potomac in a boat they commandeered from human quislings sometime after the end of our previous story.

REVISION: In my revision Killraven’s band of Freemen consist of M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and Deathlok – replacing Grok but still a creation of Carmilla’s – and Arrow, a female member. Like KR, M’Shulla, Hawk and Old Skull, Arrow is a former gladiator from the arena circuit run by Earth’s alien conquerors.

Just like Dagger – the female Freeman killed off last issue – Arrow was one of the bland, faceless Freemen introduced in the first two parts of Killraven’s comic book run. Arrow and Dagger were just dropped from the narrative with no explanation so I made them both female to add some variety to the Freemen. Just as Dagger was killed last time around, so Arrow will be killed this time, but at least in my revision their characters will have had some impact on the story AND emphasized the danger of Killraven’s rebellion.

Killraven cornerBack to the story: Rising up from the Potomac to attack the boat is a monstrous subaquatic lifeform – one of the many creatures brought to Earth by the Martians. Our heroes battle the tentacled creature, eventually killing it, but their boat is trashed upon the rocks and is now useless.

REVISION: In my revision the underwater creature kills Arrow during the fight, before our heroes succeed in killing it, furious over the death of their comrade.

Back to the story: Sabre, a Hispanic quisling servant of the Martians (no relation to Don McGregor’s later, more famous character Sabre), attacks the Freemen with his own band of followers. While the battle rages, dialogue makes it clear that Sabre and his men are among the many groups of quislings who round up other human beings for the Martians, who feed on human flesh.

Sabre relishes facing targets who can actually fight back, instead of the usually easily-subdued humans he captures for his Martian masters. After Grok in particular manages to wipe out a large number of Sabre’s men he and his remaining troops retreat with Hawk and Old Skull as their captives.  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 (1973-1975), the original Kree-Skrull War (1970-1971) and, most recently, the 7-part Adam Warlock tale The Magus (1975-1976). 

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 (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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WAR OF THE WORLDS (1988-1990)

War of the Worlds tv guideWar of the Worlds posterWAR OF THE WORLDS (Television Series) – This short-lived series proceeded from a fun premise. In this program’s world the Martian invasions depicted occurring in 1901 ( 1897 novel), 1938 (Orson Welles radio version) and 1953 (first film version) were really three separate real-world attempts by extra-terrestrials (NOT Martians, however) to conquer the Earth. In an “X-Files before The X-Files existed” sort of way the world’s governments collaborated in an extensive – and successful – coverup to pass those invasions off as fiction.

The faux-Martian craft were presented as the explanation behind the first UFO sightings and their damaged spaceships and presumably dead bodies were being kept in hiding at various bases around the world for reverse-engineering and other studies. The leftover bodies from the 1953 invasion were really just dormant, thanks to the aliens’ latest attempts at immunizing themselves against the Earthly illnesses that were always their undoing in the past.    

War of the Worlds castThose dormant aliens are now emerging from their sleep and attempting once again to conquer the Earth, this time by taking over the bodies of human beings thereby giving themselves full immunity. Human scientists, military and governmental forces battle the aliens. 

Though all of that sounds derivative War of the Worlds actually managed to make it all seem fresh through quality scripting, fleshed-out characters and a capable cast led by Jared “Fantastic Voyage” Martin, Ann Robinson, Ilse Von Glatz and Richard Chaves. An added element of suspense lay in the fact that the aliens sometimes WON so viewers felt genuine tension. Pacing was a problem, however, and I would say the show’s episodes would have benefited from a half-hour run time instead of an hour-long format.   Continue reading

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EDISON’S CONQUEST OF MARS (1898): THE CONCLUSION

MARSBalladeer’s Blog concludes its examination of Garrett P Serviss’ odd sequel to Fighters From Mars, his blatant imitation of War of the Worlds.

PART TWELVE

Soon the freed Earthwoman Aina (ah-EEE-nuh) was fluent enough in English and the High Command of the Terran fleet were well-versed enough in the ancient tongue of Aina’s people AND the Martians’ own language. In the present state of affairs Aina could understand and be understood enough that Edison, Serviss, Colonel Smith and the others could make clear to the former slave-girl their strategic needs.

When Aina gave the Earthmen a breakdown on all that she and her people had learned during their servitude on the Red Planet a plan came to mind. Thomas Edison’s strategy took the shape of the soon-to-be- formula “unstoppable army who can be defeated by a single quick blow inflicted at a ridiculously obvious point of weakness.” Continue reading

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EDISON’S CONQUEST OF MARS (1898): PART ELEVEN

The Martian moon Deimos

The Martian moon Deimos

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of Garrett P Serviss’ odd sequel to Fighters From Mars, his blatant imitation of War of the Worlds.

PART ELEVEN

The 20 spaceships in the detachment commanded by Garrett Serviss and Colonel Alonzo Jefferson Smith rejoined the main fleet commanded by Thomas Edison. That main fleet was continuing its bombardment of the Martian forts and cities below with their disintegrator guns while trying to remain just outside of the range of the Martians’ lightning cannons. (I know “cannon” can also be plural but many people don’t so to avoid confusion I use “cannons” instead) 

Serviss and Smith informed Edison about the success of their raid to obtain supplies for the entire fleet and then revealed the other find from their raid: the captive Earth woman whom the Martians had been using as a slave. 

With the dire supply problem solved Edison decided to have the Terran fleet withdraw to the Martian moon of Deimos. The remaining 60-plus Earth ships landed on the side of that moon that was always faced away from the Red Planet. Patrols in camouflaged space suits were posted on the far horizon to keep a watch on Mars with telescopes to prevent any surprise attacks.     Continue reading

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EDISON’S CONQUEST OF MARS (1898): PART TEN

Edison's Conquest of MarsBalladeer’s Blog continues its examination of Garrett P Serviss’ odd sequel to Fighters From Mars, his blatant imitation of War of the Worlds.

PART TEN

The Earth fleet remained far enough away from the Red Planet to be out of the range of the Martians’ heat rays and lightning cannons. Just over 60 spaceships were left of the 100 that had set out from Earth.

The Terrans regrouped after their defeat at the Battle of the Lake of the Sun. Because of the earlier disaster regarding their food and water barely 9 days’ worth of provisions remained to them and that was not even enough to last for the long trip back to Earth.  Continue reading

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