Saturday, December 24, 2016

Live Kree Or Die - Godhood's End!

The great Kree-Skrull War is a remarkable story by Roy Thomas and a team of artists such as Sal Buscema and his brother John. But the name almost everyone thinks of first is the great Neal Adams.

Apparently after all these decades Roy and Neal disagree about who did what sometimes on this epic, but there's no denying it was exciting at the time and still bristles even all these many many moons later. Neal Adams actually started his run on the title (fresh from his stint on the defunct X-Men) with the cover to issue ninety-two, an issue actually drawn by Sal Buscema.

It is issue ninety-three that's the blockbuster of his series. For a brief moment Marvel toyed with the tantalizing notion to make all of their comics larger twenty-five cent comics. This move lasted a month maybe a little more and then the switch was made to a regular size comic with a nickel increase of for twenty cents total. DC had followed Marvel's lead but stayed with the quarter price longer and many say this is the move that finally once and for all put Marvel into the sales lead in the great contest between the Big Two. I for one loved DC's quarter comics and still regard them as great, but apparently at the time I was a minority opinion.

Whatever the case "This Beach-Head Earth!" is a robust and raucous tale picking up the threads of the story after the apparent dissolution of the Avengers by the Big Three (Cap, Iron Man, Thor) who seem not to be award they have done this. The sudden arrival of the Vision who immediately collapses adds more mystery but then suddenly Hank Pym arrives in his Ant-Man guise and he takes one of comics great journeys into the innards of the Vision to help diagnose and repair him. He does just than and flits away leaving the Big Three to discover how the Vision came to be there.

He tells them of their seemingly to have disbanded the team who went to find Mar-Vell but only find creepy cows who attack them in the weird forms of three of the members of the Fantastic Four. The Vision is able to escape leaving Golaith, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver behind.

The scene shifts to a space ship on which are the captured Avengers and Captain Marvel himself. They have all been captured by Skrulls who attempt to get Mar-Vell to reveal the secret of the Omni-Wave which will allow the Skrulls a profound advantage in their war. But while the suddenly arrived Avengers battle the three Skrulls in the FF forms Captain Marvel uncovers the ruse of Carol Danvers really being his old enemy the Super-Skrull and destroys his Omini-Wave device. Switching schemes the Skrulls then make off with Mar-Vell and the two mutant Avengers leaving Golaith behind, his growing serum having worn off.

In the next issue (ninety-four) the Avengers consult the Fantastic Four to investigate the Skrulls who have deceived them. They realize that the Vision is missing, having slipped aboard the ship of the Super-Skrull who is on his way to unleash a deadly bomb against the Inhumans in their Great Refuge. But a force field protects the Inhumans homeland. The Super-Skrull is incensed and he and the Vision reach a stalemate as the latter resigns himself to Wanda's capture and leaves to get reinforcements.

In a chapter drawn by John Buscema the Super-Skrull heads to his homeworld where he is met with resistance by the Emperor's forces who himself takes the hostages Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Captain Marvel. The two mutants are sent to a bizarre environment occupied by deadly fuzzball aliens and used to force Mar-Vell to capitulate and give the Skrulls the secret of the Omni-Wave. Meanwhile the Avengers  themselves come under direct assault from the government, specifically SHIELD who use agents in high-tech armor, the Mandroids to attempt to subdue the Assemblers. As that battle breaks out, Triton appears out of sewers of NYC.

After the Avengers are finally able to end the threat of the Mandroids they learn from Triton of the threat to the Inhumans and go with him to find Black Bolt who is dealing with other issues in the slums of San Francisco.

They find him and after he bids farewell to the young boy he was helping, Black Bolt remembers how his brother Maximus became mad, it was when Black Bolt himself discovered his treacherous brother helping the Kree to take command of the Inhumans and in a last ditch effort Bolt used his powerful voice which ended the threat but drove his brother mad. Finding the Great Refuge at last the Avengers gain access and Black Bolt destroys the force field with his great voice and then commands the Inhumans to stand down. Once again the Kree are plotting with Maximus and as they flee they kidnap Rick Jones leaving the Inhumans relatively safe but the Avengers declaring that they will carry the war to the stars themselves.

That happens in the ninety-sixth issue as the Avengers commandeer a space ship from SHIELD (Nick Fury is of two minds about their criminal behavior) and head into space. They quickly find the Andromeda Swarm, a vast fleet of Skrull warships headed to Earth. They engage the lead craft and using deception and their array of powers attempt to forestall the invasion.

The emperor of the Skrulls shows them his prisoners Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Captain Marvel who once again deceives his captors  and the Avengers vow to go to the Skrull homeworld and save their allies.

Meanwhile Rick Jones is taken to the Kree homeworld and confronts Ronan the Accuser who puts him in a locked room with the deposed Supreme Intelligence, who itself tells Rick that he is the source of some great power and sends him into the Negative Zone again where Annihilus appears.

And finally at long last the finale. In issue ninety-seven Neal Adams steps aside and John Buscema takes up the last chapter in this grand tale. Rick Jones evades the threat of Annihilus and then is informed by the Supreme Intelligence that he is the source of a great power which can end the war. He sees the Avengers fighting the Skrull armada on the outer reaches of the Earth's solar system, he sees Captain Marvel and the twin mutants held captive by the Emperor of the Skrulls, and then he is pulled from the Negative Zone itself. He is then able to produce from the depths of his memory and imagination palpable dopple-gangers of the four-color heroes of his youth and seemingly the Golden Age heroes (Captain America, Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, Blazing Skull, Vision, Fin, The Angel, and the Patriot) battle the Kree.

(Rick conjures Captain America, the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, the Fin, the Vision, the Angel, the Patriot and the Blazing Skull.)
Then Rick unleashes an incredible mental bolt which flies across the universe and stops all the actors in their tracks, effectively ending the war. On Earth the Congressman Craddock is revealed to be the forgotten fourth Skrull who first attack the Fab 4 so many years before. The Supreme Intelligence reveals that the reason the Kree and Skrulls fight over Earth is a recognition of the potential of the human race while they are at an evolutionary dead end. Rick Jones collapses but Captain Marvel is summoned and agrees to merge his lifeforce with the teenager once again reestablishing their cosmic partnership.

With the war mostly all wrapped up, the Avengers are sent to Earth and there they then realize that Goliath, the former Avengers known as Hawkeye is still missing.

But that's another story. One we'll see soon enough. As for Captain Marvel, we have one more story to look at, as it turns out a very important one. 

See you next time. And be good for goodness sake.

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  1. I just love #92's cover. Not even Jack Kirby drew a better cover than this classic by Neal Adams & Tom Palmer. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Rip.

    1. Neal Adams was a cover maestro there's no doubt. That one is in the top ten Avengers covers all-time easily. Merry Christmas back at ya!

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  2. Merry Christmas, Rip, and don't let thoughts of January 20th spoil your enjoyment !!

    1. I would never allow the Great and Powerful King of Tweets to disrupt my holiday. His buffoonery will continue unabated and rest of us will just have to content ourselves by living life to the fullest. Merry Christmas to you sir.

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  3. A few other significant bits in this run: issue 93 marks the return of the "Big Three" -- Thor, Iron Man & Captain America for their first extended run as regular Avengers since Thor & Shellhead departed in issue #16, over 6 years earlier. In-between their appearances together were rather sporadic but from this point, aside for a few absences by Cap in 1974 and '75 (while he was fighting the Secret Empire and giving up being Cap for several months in his own title), they'd be appearing regularly in the Avengers for most of the next 6 years and even for the remainder of the '70s it was rare for any of them to be out for more than a year or so. And their return was made prominent on the covers -- appearing prominently on the covers of issues 92-96, with only the Vision likewise appearing on each cover (not counting the corner icon), as well as on the new logo that appears for the first time on issue #95 and includes the names of the Big Three (eventually switched to "Earth's Mightiest Heroes"). Stan Lee had finally relented and let Roy Thomas bring the Avengers' biggest guns back in more or less permanently and clearly Roy wanted readers to know about it from the cover masthead.


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