Tag Archives: Weirdness at the End of the World

THE STRANGE MANUSCRIPT (1881): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Strange ManuscriptTHE STRANGE MANUSCRIPT BY _________ M.D. (1881) -Written by Alexander Pitts Bettersworth. The mock author, an M.D. who remains anonymous, upon learning that a comet will strike the Earth in 1883, stores supplies in Mammoth Cave with the help of his black servant Josh. With most of humanity dismissing the threat as a hoax or a mistake, the only other people who join them in the cave are a young woman named Ida and her black servant Chloe.  

The foursome survive the collision with the comet as well as the intense heat which causes some of the rock interior of the cave to melt. When the entrance to the cave indicates that the air temperature has cooled sufficiently the two couples – now romantically involved – venture forth to see what is left of our planet. Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN NINE: SOMETHING WORTH DYING FOR

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. Marvel still rules current Pop Culture.

Killraven nine something worth dying forAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #26 (September 1974)

Title: SOMETHING WORTH DYING FOR

Synopsis: Writer Don McGregor took one step forward in quality last time around, now it’s two steps BACK with this story that is so bad even the people at DC’s Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth might have rejected it. 

Near Battle Creek, MI, Killraven and his Freemen (M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and her creation Grok) have landed in their  Dyna-Glider. 

Killraven is busy trying to break one of the pinkish-crimson horses with serpent scales and forked tongues which were caused by the biological warfare agents unleashed 18 years earlier in mankind’s futile war to stop the alien invasion.

While time goes by and the Freemen reflect on KR’s stubbornness, dialogue tells us it has been well over a month and a half since the battle in Indianapolis last issue. (This makes no sense since they are flying, which is why my revision last issue made a point of having their Dyna-Glider destroyed by Skar. Hell, they could have WALKED from Indianapolis to Battle Creek several times over in a month and a half.) 

Killraven 2The dialogue also tells us Killraven has not had any of his Visions courtesy of The Power since the encounter with Martians and human Quislings at the Indianapolis Speedway. NOTE: At this point KR and his Freemen have not yet pieced together the fact that his “visions” are really him mentally invading the minds of Martians. Since they have encountered no Martians in the past month and a half, THAT’s why he has had no visions recently.

REVISION: Rather than have the main action focus on KR trying to “break” the serpent-stallion like he’s in a rodeo while dialogue covers important topics, I would have had KR already astride the horse while his Freemen were riding the mutated hybrid animals they would be riding a few issues down the road.

While Killraven and his Freemen – with Deathlok replacing Grok in my revisions – engage in a running battle with human Quislings pursuing them in various land-vehicles, dialogue and narration would let us readers know they’ve been on the run like this for weeks since the clash in Indianapolis.  Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN EIGHT: THE DEVIL’S MARAUDER

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. Marvel still rules current Pop Culture. 

Killraven eight devils marauderAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #25 (July 1974)

Title: THE DEVIL’S MARAUDER

Synopsis: Don McGregor is beginning to really click as the writer for this post-apocalypse series, so my revisions will be very limited this time around. Rich Buckler is the new artist, further improving the series compared to the past few issues.

Somewhere in the ruins of Indiana, like most of the Earth, nearly leveled in the war against the alien invaders 18 years earlier, a stolen Dyna-Glider flies through the skies. Aboard are Killraven and his Freemen: Hawk, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost, her creation Grok and M’Shulla, who pilots the craft.

REVISION: My Freemen roster is the same except for Grok, who would instead be Deathlok, Carmilla Frost’s creation. I would have Carmilla piloting the aircraft since she is the scientist of the group.

The Freemen spot a Martian tripod pursuing a human who fled their enslavement at the nearby Martian testing grounds/ proving grounds for their war machines: the old Indianapolis Speedway. Piloting the Tripod is Skar, a mysterious inhuman figure who works for Earth’s alien conquerors but who makes it clear he is neither human nor Martian. (NOTE: His exact nature will be revealed during a future clash with the Freemen.)

REVISION: As always, I would have dropped the ridiculous Martian angle along with the tenuous War of the Worlds connection and just had it be regular aliens – Zetans in my revisions – who had conquered the Earth. Skar is such a bland name I would have livened it up a little as “Warscar” or “Battlescar” or something similar.

Killraven foolishly leaps from the Dyna-Glider to attack Skar’s Tripod. He is defeated and left for dead, since Skar considers all humans beneath contempt. He pilots his Tripod back to the converted Indianapolis Speedway.  

REVISION: I would, as ever, have the Tripods really be Triphibian craft and the Dyna-Glider would have been shot down by Warscar/ Battlescar after he thought he killed Killraven. The explosion in the distance would make him assume all hands were dead and he would return to the Speedway.    Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN SEVEN: FOR HE’S A JOLLY DEAD REBEL

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 seven For he's a jolly dead rebelAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #24 (May 1974)

Title: FOR HE’S A JOLLY DEAD REBEL

Revised Title: The Legend Assassins. Since I would have saved the attempted execution of Killraven for this final part of this 3-part Washington DC story I would have used that title here instead of last issue.

Synopsis: Writer Don McGregor had not yet found his stride for Killraven’s post-apocalyptic adventures. This issue was more of the same with an escape, recapture, and escape AGAIN because the High Overlord of the Martian invaders fails to slay Killraven immediately but plans to make an example of him.

And yes, the helmet of the armored High Overlord looks like Darth Vader’s helmet but remember, the Killraven stories came YEARS BEFORE STAR WARS

Killraven cornerREVISION: Picking up on the cliffhanger from my revised storyline last time around, Killraven, Mint Julep, M’Shulla, Hawk, Old Skull, Deathlok and Carmilla Frost are using the breathing gear that scientist Carmilla built for them to explore the submerged ruins of the Library of Congress.

Killraven plans to salvage as much of the library as possible and preserve it for future generations, since Earth’s alien conquerors (ZETANS in my revision, not ridiculous Martians) keep conquered humanity ignorant and are trying to obliterate mankind’s cultural heritage from before the alien invasion.

In the winding hallways of the submerged ruins, the rebels were attacked by the mate of the huge extraterrestrial monster that killed the female rebel Arrow two issues back. As the battle goes on, Killraven winds up riding the injured creature’s back and his breathing apparatus gets torn off while trying to work his way to the monster’s mouth. Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN SIX: THE LEGEND ASSASSINS

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 six legend assassinsAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #23 (March 1974)

Title: THE LEGEND ASSASSINS

Revised Title: Since I would save the attempted execution of Killraven for the next issue instead of this one, I would use For He’s A Jolly Dead Rebel as the title for this part and save The Legend Assassins for next time.

Synopsis: Killraven and his Freemen (M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and Grok) continue to battle against hopeless odds at the Lincoln Memorial Slave Market, where the Martians buy and sell humans as either slave labor or to be used as food.

Battling at their side is their fellow rebel Mint Julep, the green-skinned plant/ human hybrid created by Martian science and her unnamed Freewomen. Both bands of guerillas have freed their comrades who were being auctioned off and are trying to fight their way free of the increasing numbers of Martians and their human quislings closing in on the area.

Killraven has no trouble killing the mob of actual Martians that he was thrown to at the end of last issue. Their sluggish movements in Earth’s greater gravity negated the advantage of their superior numbers and their many tentacles. KR fights his way clear with his sword and photo-nuclear pistol and the Martians slink away to shelter since, even now, they have only LIMITED immunity to Earth germs.

A pair of Tripods manage to snair Killraven and carry him off before the other rebels can free him. Mint Julep convinces KR’s Freemen to escape with her since she and her Freewomen have hidden lairs all around this territory of theirs.

Mint JulepREVISION: Writer Don McGregor had not yet hit his stride writing about Killraven’s adventures and I feel he messed up the story structure to this three-parter. I would have had ALL the Freemen – including KR – escape with Mint Julep and her band.

The quisling Sabre (no relation to the later Don McGregor figure) would, like in the real story, salute the fleeing Freemen with his sword, wishing he could be one of them. 

With Killraven using The Power to keep all of them undetected by the sensors and alarms of the aliens (Zetans in my revisions, NOT ridiculous Martians) the rebels all escape to the subterranean hideouts of Mint and her people. They follow abandoned subway lines to a sub-level of the Pentagon, one of their lairs.

Dialogue will make it clear that she and her Freewomen practically rule the comings and goings through the old subway system beneath the city because they know them inside-out and massacare any human quislings like Sabre and his men if they try to pursue them there. And, for reasons not known YET, the aliens themselves are too terrified to personally venture into the old subways OR the sub-levels of the Pentagon.     Continue reading

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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 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 Riker’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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