MMW CAPTAIN MARVEL v4 (#34-46): This is the Steve Englehart volume. Issue #34 is Starlin’s last and Englehart provides only the script. For #35, Englhart plots, Mike Freidrich scripts, and the art is by Alfredo Alcala. Englehart plotted and scripted the next 10 issues (until he left Marvel), with art by new regular artist Al Milgrom starting with #37. Chris Claremont wrote the last issue in this volume (#46).
In #34, Captain Marvel contracts the cancer that will ultimately kill him. (Who here remembers that Nitro was originally a hunchback?) Starlin writes out Rick’s girlfriend, Lou-Ann, and writes in his singing partner “Dandy” Dandridge. I had completely forgotten that Carol Danvers guest-stars in #34-35. Ant-Man and the Wasp help defeat the Living Laser in #35, and #36 succumbed to the “dreaded deadline doom” as Milgrom ramped up his first issue. The fill-in reprinted Mar-Vell’s first appearance (Marvel Super-Heroes #12) with a three-page framing sequence which sets up “The Trial of the Watcher.”
In #37, Cap fights Nimrod (whose super-villain career lasted all of two pages). Nitro, the Living Laser and Nimrod were all flunkies of the “Lunatic Legion” (whom we’ll learn more about next issue), but more interestingly, to stave off boredom while trapped in the Negative Zone, Rick Jones drops a tab of acid, which has a detrimental effect on Mar-Vell, with whom he is linked. Dandy told him it was vitamin C, but it was obvious he didn’t believe her. Even so, how this got through the CCA I have no idea. (Actually, I do.)
#38 reveals the Lunatic Legion to be a faction of blue-skinned Kree based on Earth’s Moon. This, rather than #16 where it actually originated, is the issue I associate with the dominant Kree race being blue-skinned. I should note that #38 follows Avengers #133 (also by Englehart) which reveals the secret of the blue are of the Moon, and although they are referred to as blue in the script, they are actually colored “pink.” Zarek (from 316) also appears. The blue/pink Kree culture clash will continue to be explaored in this title and the Inhumans in the months to come.
“The Trial of the Watcher” in #39 recaps every appearance of Uatu to date. Tony Isabella is credited with “research.” Rick Jones and Mar-Vell are separated in this issue. In #40 they go their separate ways, but ultimately decide to continue as partners. Carol Danvers also appears, and Medic Una’s corpse is reanimated. In #41, cap and Rick travel to Hala, the Kree homeworld. I was surprised to see that the Universal Church of Truth (from Jim Starlin’s Warlock) had set up a chapter there. The Supreme Intelligence reveals that he has been behind everything since the series began, in anticipation of Eon changing Mar-Vell into the Supreme Intelligence’s “perfect adversary.” It doesn’t really make any more sense than any of the S.I.’s other actions up to this point.
Writer Steve Englehart and artist Al Milgrom had agreed to be co-plotters from the beginning of their run, but because they were on opposite coasts, most of the plotting fell to Englehart up until now. The plotting of #42, however, was purposefully shifted to Milgrom this issue, who put more humor into it. The A-plot concerns the Stranger and B-plot is Drax the Destroyer. The setting is sort of “the old west in outer space” and one of the supporting characters, Shabby Dayes, is obviously based on Gabby Hayes. Rick gets a costume and some new powers in this issue.
Drax is aware of Thanos’ resurrection, but is unable t do anything about it, so he takes out his frustration on Captain Marvel in #43. #45 featured one of the Infinity Gems (the Mind Gem, specifically), back when they were all referred to generically as “Soul Gems.” In #46 they return to Earth and begin a new direction.
Although some of the stories in this volume are slightly above average, the volume itself is simply average at best. I’ve got to be honest about that because the story will get very good in a volume or two and I want you to believe me when that happens. This is a natural break point, so next I am going to read some complementary stories in The Inhumans before proceeding on to volume five.
INHUMANS #1-12 (1975): The Inhumans was one of those series I was excited to get in on at the very beginning. My favorite title at the time (The Incredible Hulk) was approaching its 200th issue, and I didn’t foresee a time when I would ever be able to collect them all as backissues. (Little did I dream that I would one day own them in hardcover.) As with every new series I bought back then, I planned to stick with The Inhumans until it reached it’s 200th issue.
The series was written by Doug Moench, and the art (on the first four issues, anyway) was by George Perez. This was definitely the first time I had seen his art. Gill Kane took over the art chores for issues #5-7, Perez returned for #8, and Keith Pollard finished off #10-12. (#9 succumbed to the “Dreaded Deadline Doom.”) I collected only the first nine issues before I left comics (for a year or two) in the mid-70s. I picked up issues #10-12 while in college.
The first issue, which featured Blastaar, seemed tailor made for me; it smacked me over the head with continuity. Luckily (and quite coincidentally) I had by that time already acquired Hulk Annual #1 (featuring the Inhumans) as a backissue, I had read Blastaar’s first appearance in Marvel’s Greatest Comics, and I had a coverless copy (probably reported destroyed) of Marvel Team-Up #18, his most recent appearance. Believe me, when you are 11 years old and read the words “The Somnotherm must rise!” and “The Kaptroids shall hatch from their graves!” it not something you easily forget.
The series got off to a strong start but, even taking the “nostalgia factor” into account, tapered off after that. The first two issues were the two best. It’s a Kree-heavy series with the threat of the “War Between Three Galaxies” smoldering in the background. In issue #6 the great refuge was destroyed, in #7,8 & 10 they went into outer space, in #11 they returned to Earth, and in #12 they fought the Hulk. the title was cancelled at that point, and the dangling plot threads with picked up in Captain Marvel (which I will return to soon).
MMW DAREDEVIL v5 (#42-53): This volume is mostly Stan Lee and Gene Colan, but Barry Smith fills in for art #50-52, and Roy Thomas takes over writing in #51. #42 features “Marvel’s Joker” (and 1950s Captain America villain) the Jester. Speaking of Captain America, the original guest-stars in #43 when a not-in-his-right-mind Daredevil challenges him at an exhibition at Madison Square Garden. Brief aside: I was in an antique mall a few weeks ago, and one of the booths had framed reproductions of various comic book and pulp magazine covers. One of them was the Jack Kirby cover of Daredevil #43. It was $24, but I really don’t have anywhere to hang it.
#44-46 feature a rematch with the Jester, and #47’s story is the celebrated “Brother, Take My Hand!” the story of an African American soldier blinded in the war, told at the height of the Civil Rights movement and the Viet Nam war. It was chosen by Stan Lee for inclusion in Origins of Marvel Comics (actually, it was Son of Origins, I think). Willie Lincoln reminds me a bit of Jack Kirby’s Willie Walker from New Gods (and there is a Dave Lincoln in that series, too).
The villain in #48 is Stiltman, no joke when handled by Lee and Colan. Also, Foggy is elected D.A. in a long-running sub-plot. #49 introduces Starr Saxon and his robot. It is also Gene Colan’s last issue while Stan Lee reassigned him to Avengers for three months. Barry Smith took over for the second part of the robot story in #50. Smith’s early artwork was a little clunky (as he himself has readily admitted), but his potential is certain visible. In #51, Roy Thomas takes over as writer as the robot is defeated and its inventor, Starr Saxon, moves to the forefront. Daredevil is poisoned and Starr Saxon learns Daredevil’s true identity.
When I was in college and reading these issues for the first time, I read #52, also by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith, some time before the other issues in this run as I was tracking down Black Panther appearances at the time. The Panther learns Daredevil’s other identity, but Matt Murdock doesn’t know he knows. Starr Saxon escapes, but we haven’t seen the last of him.
Colan returns in #54 for a recap of Daredevil’s origin story. The last time I endeavored to make my way through all of Daredevil, just a few short years ago, this is where I stopped. I figured this issue would be a good jumping-back-on point when my mood changed, but I decided to start back at the beginning after all. Besides, last time I started with #12 (or The Man Without Fear limited series by Miller and Romita, Jr., actually). In this issue, Daredevil comes to the odd conclusion that his problems are caused, not by his Daredevil identity, but by being Matt Murdock, so he decides to “give up” being Matt Murdock, which is where we’ll pick up next time.
The volume is rounded out by a story from Not Brand Echh #4 which, like the one included in a Captain Marvel volume I recently read, would have fit better in the previous volume, as this one dealt with the time he was masquerading as his own “brother.”
MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #5: Up until this issue, wolverine had been fighting this demon in 10 year increments. This chapter covers the years 19890-1989 year-by-year in “real time.” In other words, the panel dealing with 1980 showed a scene from a 1980 comic book, the scene from 1981 is from 1981, and so on. How this jibes with “Marvel Time” I have no idea.
The Nightcrawler story is set against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin wall, but it takes place during the “Cross-Time Caper” so it’s an alternate Berlin Wall. Like many other stories written by Chris Claremont, this one is ultimately pointless.
The third story features Venom. I couldn’t bring myself to finish it.
FLASH #71 – “Year One” Pt. 2: This is a completely different Barry (Flash) Allen than the one I grew up reading about. There’s no reason why his origin shouldn’t be completely different, too. And every reason it should be.
That Daredevil story (or the X-Men story with Blastaar) was Barry (not yet Windsor-) Smith's first work for Marvel, and probably for anybody. He was in his Kirby phase, doing his best to channel the King. By the time he took over Conan he had found himself, and was doing his own thing (which was much better). Also, he has said in interviews that he was trying his best to signal Starr Saxon as the first gay supervillain. Saxon eventually became Machinesmith, who is now written as openly gay. If, you know, a robot can have sexuality.
So, there's that.
"[BWS] has said in interviews that he was trying his best to signal Starr Saxon as the first gay supervillain."
I did not know that. There's another Starr Saxon story coming up; I'll have to keep any eye out. Oh, but it's by Colan, so maybe the subtext is not there.
"Saxon eventually became Machinesmith..."
Somehow I missed that little factette, too.
MMW CAPTAIN MARVEL v5:
This volume comprises issue #47-57, Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2, and records a series in transition. Scott Edelman and Al Milgrom wrote and drew (respectively) most of these stories, but other writers include Gerry Conway, Bill Mantlo, Doug Moench, Jim Shooter and Roger McKenzie; other artists include Pat Broderick, George Tuska and Dave Cockrum; and that’s not even mentioning the not insignificant contribution of Jim Starlin in the two annuals.
#47 is a good jumping on point. The story is well structured. It begins with action as Captain Marvel visits the Baxter Building and tussles with the Torch, then a flashback reveals what led up to this confrontation. What happened is, essentially, Captain Marvel flew too close to a black hole and rick Jones (somehow) became trapped in the Negative Zone again. A rescue attempt fails. Then Mar-Vell bangs his one negaband (Rick is wearing the other one) against his other wrist and the status quo is (somehow) restored, except that now they can remain switched for up to ten hours (rather than three) and their mental link is lessened.
Then Rick Jones association with Captain Marvel is recapped and two new characters, the Kree doctors Tara and Mac-Ronn are introduced. (I cannot read the latter’s name without hearing the voice of Eleanor Beardsley in my mind’s ear. But I digress.) They are travelling with the deactivated Sentry #459, with its memory wiped, and Ronan the Accuser, in stasis, in their custody, when they are shot down over the Texas/Mexico border. Ronan had been suffering from “The Sickness,” described as a “virus of the spirit” and a “loss of logic” from having spent too much time on (or near) Earth. The Sentry’s absorbs the mind of a Mexican bandit. If you think the “Mexican bandit” is a stereotype you would be correct, but wait until you meet the Texans introduced next issue.)
Mar-Vell encounters and the Sentry/bandit, and Rick Jones hooks back up with his manager Mordecai Boggs. (We are told twice that Captain Marvel has fought the Sentry once before, but actually it was twice.)
In issue #48, Rick Jones and Captain Marvel are both, inexplicably, wearing a pair of negabands this issue. Mar-Vell defeats the Sentry/bandit, but it/he sends a wave of mental energy to a friend who is transformed into “El Gata, the Cheetah.” Drs. Tara and Mac-Ronn are picked up by “Ma and Pa Kent” (Ethan and Elizabeth Wilford, actually). (SHIELD shot down a spaceship in south Texas and just left it there apparently.) Rick renews his acquaintance with “Trina,” a minor character who worked in a Greenwich Village coffee shop in issue #18 and who now runs the “Halfway Inn” in Texas. He spends the night at her place, one the couch (CCA), and meets her roommate Sharlene. Sharlene takes an interest in Rick (since he and Trina are “just friends”), but nothing comes of it. Captain Marvel has a rematch with the Sentry/bandit, but is defeated this time. He escapes, but transforms as the ten-hour limit is reached. Rick Jones is found by Tara, Mac-Ronn and the Wilfords.
In #49, Sonny and Cher’s relationship is compared, unfavorably, to that of Ike and Tina Turner. Tara is killed by a Ronan driven insane by the “Virus of the Spirit.” His mind is blank.
#50 features the Avengers and the Adaptoid. Rick is touring with “Dandy” Dandridge again. Without explanation, Trina becomes Gertie. (Either that, or “Gertie” is brought into the cast with no introduction whatsoever.) The Kree Dr. Minerva appears to replace Dr. Tara in the cast for reasons we will learn next issue. Both Tara and Mac-Ronn had disguised themselves as “pink skins,” but Minerva keeps her blue skin, with no explanation to the Wilfords at all.
Jarvis uses his Avengers ID to get backstage at Rick’s sold out show. The Adaptoid attacks and gains Captain Marvel’s powers, but is overwhelmed by cosmic awareness. Mar-Vell takes this opportunity to slam the Adaptaoid’s wrists together, thus freeing Rick from the Negative Zone. (I don’t write these things, I just read ‘em.)
#51 features Mercurio the 4-D man. In a cameo appearance, J. Jonah Jameson mentions Carol Danvers. Ricj Jones reunites with the Teen Brigade. Dr. Minerva is a pacifist and does not like Mar-Vell, but the Kree race is at a genetic dead-end, and she is determined that their offspring will break the genetic deadlock.
#52 and #53 both sport Gil Kane covers. The villain is Phae-Dor, Lord of Living Engery, late of the then-recently-cancelled Inhumans title. Pop culture reference: Bruce Lee triple feature. A stray newspaper headline reads: "Tearful Crowds Bid Milgrom Farewell" as this is his last issue. The Inhumans cross over, and the newly grammatically correct “War of the Three Galaxies” comes to a close before it even got underway. For those of you scoring at home, the three galaxies are: 1) Milky Way (ours), 2) Andromeda (Skrulls), and 3) Large Magellanic Cloud (Kree)… so, essentially the same three from the Kree/Skrull War.
#54 features a rematch with Nitro, the man who killed Mar-Vell (although neither one of them know it yet). Nitro’s hunchback is now gone. Wonder-Man makes an early (post-resurrection) appearance. A George Tuska-drawn last page splash is presented in pencil-only form, hinting at a Captain Mar-Vell/Wonder-Man clash next issue, but the page was pulled before production, replaced with a Dave Cockrum tribute to the cover of Marvel Super-Heroes #12.
#55 features Deathgrip, an old enemy of Dr. Lawson’s (believe it or not) from issue #10. (For those of you who may not know or remember, Walter Lawson was the man Mar-Vell accidentally killed and whose identity he assumed when he first came to Earth.) While rick Jones is on tour, Mar-Vell gets a job at a Colorado observatory. Pat Broderick is the artist this issue.
#56 is written by Doug Moench (script only), over a plot by Jim Shooter.
Starlin’s Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2, featuring the finale of the Thanos Saga, occur between #56 & #57. Captain Marvel bears witness to the “Strange Death of Adam Warlock” and delivers his eulogy.
#57 is the epilogue to the Thanos Saga, written by Roger McKenzie, in which Captain Marvel tussles with Thor.
I just read Bane: Conquest #1-12. Was that an attempt at a Bane ongoing, or what?
I assumed before I read it that it would somehow be connected to what Tom King is doing in Batman, especialy with "City of Bane" or whatever coming up. But no, it's entirely disconnected. And it's not like a maxiseries, because there are multiple stories, there's the establishment of (a cliched) supporting cast and multiple guest stars (Batman, Catwoman, Kobra, etc.).
Also, what is Bane doing living in a boat off Gotham, messing with Batman, when he's supposed to be running a worldwide crime empire ? And why do we only see, like three or four operatives (the aforementioned supporting cast) when Bane is supposed to be running a worldwide crime empire? Why does Bane's oft-mentioned crime worldwide empire never shown or demonstrated, but often mentioned?
I don't like Bane, and I'm tired of him, but even if I loved him, I would be disappointed in this stuff. It's like mediocre mid-1980s comics.