New Reviews of Old Comics
My introduction to Captain Marvel was The Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel by Jim Starlin where he got cancer and died. It was a weird story where this all-powerful hero is sick and his super smart, super powered friends can do nothing but accept the fact he’s a goner. I say “weird” but I don’t mean it in a bad way; weird in the sense that it brought this lofty group of characters we follow, who seem to survive the most fantastic scenarios, down to our level. Comic readers and family members get cancer, not the characters. For me it was among the first comics I read that broke the standard, tried and true mold of comic book stories; hero discovers villain doing something wrong, fight scene, fight scene, witty dialogue, hero wins, mingled with some personal character development if we’re lucky.
In this issue of Captain Marvel, “Deadly Genesis!” the Kree super warrior is still alive and cancer free, but writers Steve Englehart and Mike Friedrich, along with artist Alfredo Alcala, start him off being incapacitated by nerve gas. This means his partner, Rick Jones, is stuck in the Negative Zone talking to himself about his horrible predicament. Annihilus is tired of listening to Rick’s whining so he attacks him. Rick and Captain Marvel switch spots when one of them clangs the nega-bands together, with one being on Earth and the other in the Negative Zone. This saves Rick, but puts a comatose Captain Marvel in Annihilus’ clutches. The rest of the issue is Rick trying to connect with Marvel and help him fight off Annihilus, along with the sub-plot of Living Laser on a mission to kill Rick Jones. This little plan is foiled with the help of Ant-Man and Wasp who make an unannounced guest appearance.
This was a very middle of the road issue for me, neither anything great nor anything terrible. I’m a little perplexed why Annihilus didn’t just annihilate (pun intended, sorry) Rick Jones; why in heaven’s name was he trying to strangle him? That’s just stupid. I was always think super-villains should get together for some sort of annual convention or a peer review journal or something where they share experiences about what to do and not to do when trying to achieve world domination (mostly not, because nothing ever seems to work for very long). Top of that list would be “never let your foe any longer than you possible have to” and “don’t take time to reveal your secret plan.” These people/aliens/androids/super robots/whatever really should be learning from their peers.
This was more toward the good side of OK, but still OK none the less. Enough to keep me interested in Captain Marvel, not good enough to inspire to go out and find as many back issues as I possibly can. There is a lot about the character I find very interesting, however that must be tempered a bit with formulaic comic story, which was standard for the time so I can give a little in that regard. Not many creators in the early 70s had the green light to break new ground.