AVENGERS #89-97 – “THE KREE/SKRULL WAR”: I can hardly believe that last week I was ambivalent about rereading “The Kree/Skrull War” again (for the umpteenth time) as part of my Captain Marvel reading project. It has been “only” about 10 years since I read it last, but I read it last weekend yet again and I’m glad I did. The again temporarily cancelled Captain Marvel series flows seamlessly into Avengers #89-92, and #93-97 kick the war into high gear. Plus it folds “Inhumans” continuity from Amazing Adventures into the mix, as well as recent Avengers. There’s a lot to recommend this series, and I get something new out of it every time.
CAPTAIN MARVEL MASTERWORKS VOL. 3 (Plus): Volume three begins with what I think of as “The Wayne Boring Trilogy.” Boring was the premiere Superman artist of the 1950s but he was fired by the bastards at DC when he and other freelancers had the temerity to ask for health insurance. So he came to Marvel and was assigned to a restart of Captain Marvel. the first two issues were written by Gerry Conway and the third by Marv Wolfman. Avengers #103 had a one-page lead-in to the revamped series.
These issues introduced Rick Jones’ girlfriend Lou-Ann, Captain Marvel’s photon powers, and aslo gaimed him a second pair of universe-switching nega-bands. (The first pair were destroyed in the Kree-Skrull War.) Conway threw in several little tributes to the original Captain Marvel (Dr. Savannah for Dr. Sivana, Dr. Mynde for Mr. Mind and so on). I always thought Rick Jones came off as a bit of a jerk in these stories. The nega-bands allowed Mar-Vell to leave the Negative Zone for only three hours at a time, yet rick complains if he has to stay more than 20 minutes. You’d think he could at last sleep there giving Mar-Vell some freedom, but Rich keeps him there for weeks at a time.
Captain Marvel and Rick appeared in Avengers #106-108 between issues #23-24, and in Marvel Team-Up #16-17 after that. Those issues are not included in the Masterworks edition, but Iron Man #55, the beginning of Jim Starlin’s Thanos/Cosmic Cube arc, is. I return to this story every couple of years just to gauge my reaction based on new perceptions I bring to the table. After moving to Captain Marvel #25-29, the story moves to Marvel Feature #12 and 4½ pages of Daredevil #105 (Moondragon’s origin). Then it’s back to issues #30-32 before crossing over into Avengers #125 before wrapping up in #33.
Starlin was creating an entirely new method of comic book storytelling, including a wordless 35 panel page in #28. No prior comic book story, not even the “Kree/Skrull” war, was this ambitious in scope. In retrospect, Starlin might have a better job of re-introducing the Cosmic Cube and the controller, but as that has never occurred to me before, the offence cannot be that egregious. Also (and this may be more my failing than Starlin’s), it took a couple of issues for him to pinpoint the location of Isles Dernieres, where the Cosmic Cube was found. (Do you know where they are without Googling?) “Metamorphosis” in #29 redefined Captain Marvel every bit as much as #17 did. Starlin’s origin of the Titans was later folded in with Jack Kirby’s Eternals. Although the two are mutually exclusive, both versions (or I should say “either”) work for me.
STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #1: As with any TV or movie adaptation, it is essential that the main characters look like the actors who play them; there is no problem with this series in that respect. The dialogue borders on verbose, but is appropriate to the story. Similarly, I didn’t count the number of call-backs to TOS, but while they are numerous, they don’t cross the threshold into too many. John Byrne’s Star Trek: New Visions series stopped abruptly and unexpectedly about a year ago. Star Trek: Year Five has taken its place as best Star Trek series currently being published. Recommended to fans of TOS.
MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #4: The wolverine story is the fourth part in the ten year jumps between chapters. The Spider-Man story is set on opening day of the original Star Wars… with lines around the block. Sorry, no. Star Wars release was limited; its popularity didn’t come until later. There was a time when Moon Knight was one of my favorite series, but that was back when Doug Moench and Bill Seinkevicz were doing it. I’ve sampled it from time to time since then, but it hasn’t really appealed to me since. The Moon Knight in this series is… intriguing. He no longer wears the cape and cowl, but rather an all-white three-piece suit and hood. The panel arrangements were innovative. I doubt it’s enough to make me seek out more new Moon Knight, but it was my favorite story of the three.
Jeff, I have never re-read the Kree/Skrull War, because I remembered being disappointed in the ending back when I read it originally.
Not only was Avengers #97 not drawn by Neal Adams like the other chapters, but it seemed almost literally deus ex machina. And not only did Rick Jones suddenly develop the power to stop every starship in the galaxy and pop superheroes out of his head like Athena from the head of Zeus, a power he never had before and obviously never would again, they were superheroes I (mostly) didn't even know. Nowadays I am more than familiar with The Fin, Angel, Blazing Skull and the rest, but at the time they were all new to me, and I wasn't even sure they had previously existed or if Roy Thomas was just retconning in some WWII heroes he'd just made up. (Especially since they had the same names of and/or resembled modern characters like Angel, Ghost Rider and The Vision. "Is Roy the Boy trying trying to retroactively establish lineage?" wondered the young Captain.)
And yes, I love me some John Buscema, but my internal consistency alarm went off at having a fill-in artist on such an epic story. (Stories that ran nearly a year weren't common in those days, so it was already epic just by length, according to the standards of the time.) Tain't right, McGee. I now know it's because Neal Adams, famous deadline-buster, had busted deadline. I may have known that then. But It bothered me just the same. I'd have gladly accepted a "Dreaded Deadline Doom" fill-in issue or two and pushed the ending to issue #98 or #99 just to keep the art consistent.
So that's where my head has always been at. Do you think I'd benefit from a re-read now? Has the story improved for you over time?
Also, let me add an amen to your Star Wars comment. It came out with little fanfare in 1977, and if a buddy of mine and I hadn't gotten bored shooting baskets one Saturday afternoon and started looking for something else to do, I might not have seen it on first run. And in those days, SF movies were held in contempt by the general public. Even my buddy and I, who were the target audience, weren't enthusiastic -- SF movies were generally B movies with no budget and stupid plots. We didn't expect much, and only went because we were bored. There certainly were no lines at the theater.
It's weird, because when we went to see Star Wars right after it came out, there were lines three people, deep around the cinema.
Bob, was there a lot of publicity in Boston for the movie? There was zero in Memphis.
I've been rereading the various League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books: Volume 1 and 2, Black Dossier, Century 1910, two of the Nemo titles and, of course, Jess Nevins' amazing guidebooks.
The big question is "Have they aged well?" and the answer in my case is "Yes" and "No". The good parts of the stories are still great with Moore's world-building juxtaposed with Victorian ideals already crumbling with the dawn of a new century. His characterizations are striking on many levels, especially Nemo (who I found to be more sympathetic than I originally thought) and Hyde, the evilest of "heroes".
However, the numerous rape scenes and assaults wear one down after awhile, particularly in Mina's case. It seems to be her lot in life to be attacked in every adventure. Even when used for the most dramatic effect as in Janni Dakar's case, it's unsettling and disturbing. It's almost a theme of the series.
On the whole, LEOG was and is a superior series with surprises in every incarnation, including the film.
"Do you think I'd benefit from a re-read now?"
I think you should re-read it. I always enjoy re-reading classic runs to guage how my perceptions change. Case in point: the Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow. The first time I read it I really enjoyed it. Many years later (and many years ago, now) Commander Benson pointed out its flaws. I won't say he "ruined" it for me, but it was several years before I read it again. By the time I did, I had read other "young turks" books such as Hawk and Dove. If the basis of comparison is earlier Green Lantern stories, the "Hard Travelin' Heroes" arc suffers in comparison, but in comparison to other slightly earlier "relevant" comics of the time, I can appreciate it again as an outgrowth of that movement.
I'm not saying you'll come to appreciate the Kree/Skrull war if you read it again, but if you haven't read it since it first came out, you're bringing nearly 50 years more experience to the table if you were to read it today.
50 years? Impossible. That would make me old.
It's weird, Skipper. I saw the Marvel Comics adaptation, but I don't remember seeing a lot of ads for it. I just know that one weekend, without anyone even asking whether I wanted to see it, my mother drove my sister and me down to the South Shore Plaza in Braintree to see it, only to discover said insane lines. As I recall, we ended up seeing it several weeks later, when the lines had died down a bit. Of course, I was only 13, and not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so I may have missed a lot of publicity. There's a reason I never became a detective.
Captain Comics said:
Bob, was there a lot of publicity in Boston for the movie? There was zero in Memphis.
When the original Star Wars came out in 1977 I think I saw it in first run. I was the tender age of 29. I recall newspaper ads for it, which included the famous movie poster. The light saber looked like a really weird sword and Darth Vader looked like Doctor Doom. I don't think there were long lines in my area, the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles.
In 1980 I took my mother back to England to see our family. In London I saw The Empire Strikes Back (still my favorite) in first run. Being a tourist, I was there in the middle of the day so am not sure how popular it was. I wasn't alone in the theater but it wasn't packed. I arrived five minutes after the posted showtime. Since I was obviously a foreigner, the ticket seller was trying to sell me a ticket for the following showing. I of course balked. She told me I couldn't stay over for the beginning of the next show, which then was then typical in the U.S. I told her I would not have a problem missing the first few minutes. It turned out that all I missed was the coming attractions. Cultural differences continued to amaze me, as every seat had an ash tray inn front of it.
I can't swear to/recall how much publicity the first movie got in the Houston area upon its original release in 1977. I do remember my mom taking all of us kids to an afternoon matinee that summer and while there was no line, the theater was pretty full.
I remember seeing house ads for the adaptation in other Marvel comics of the time, but considering we were still years away from either direct sales or dedicated comic book stores at that point, I never saw anything in print until Marvel (or was it Whitman?) published the tabloid size reprints.
Crowds and comics were a different story for The Empire Strikes Back, and it was an early morning trip to the theater box office to stand in line for tickets to a late afternoon showing of Return of the Jedi (on 2 screens, which was unheard of back then) the same day.
By the way, in the original, unenhanced version of A New Hope, HAN shot first!