Saturday, December 17, 2016

Live Kree Or Die - Monsters And Machines!

With the fifth issue of Captain Marvel things change and yet they don't. Let me explain. Arnold Drake, a longtime veteran of DC Comics comes aboard as the writer. Drake is most famous for his creation The Doom Patrol and was a veteran staffer at DC who like Gardner Fox and some others was summarily fired when they approached management for some healthcare. So DC got some young blood and Marvel picked up some established pros to help flesh out their growing line-up of comics. Drake came to Marvel with a flourish, co-creating with Gene Colan the Guardians of the Galaxy. 

In his debut on Captain Marvel he is joined by Don Heck and John Tartaglione who produce some very capable artwork, but work rather different from Colan's loose idiosyncratic style. This new team starts off with a villain named the Metazoid. The Metazoid is a Soviet agent who has been exposed to radiation and has become a creature with a constantly fluctuating metabolism. This gives him strength and endurance the eventually the ability to alter his very form. Captain Marvel a pretty tough time but in the end wins the day though he is forced to kill the Metazoid.

In the very next issue, Cap battles Solam, the humanoid version of the Sun itself. A great machine called SOLAM is able to tap the power of the Sun but when it overloads a great monster rises from its wreckage. This creature it seems is much like monsters Captain Marvel has battled in distant parts of space and using that experience he eventually is able to drain its power and end the threat.

In the seventh issue Captain Marvel comes face to face with the living computer Quasimodo. To defeat Solam, Mar-Vell required a great computing power and linked many computers from across the country. This attracts Quasimodo who seeks domination with computer energy. He and Captain Marvel battle and the fight ends in a down of automatons who are seemingly killed by a deadly bacterial agent Mar-Vell was ordered by Yon-Rogg and others to use as test on a random American town. He is able to escape mass murder by his trickery but its clear his double life is catching up to him. 

In fact these three issues are all remarkably static in their storytelling. They begin with several pages of Mar-Vell dealing with Yon-Rogg and others aboard the starship and then he heads to Earth confront the menace there. In one issue he confronts his Commander, in another he battles a monstrous hologram aboard ship, and in yet another he takes part in a raid against another alien race the Aakon Clearly the mandate had come to make sure Captain Marvel's space origins were dealt with each and every issue. That really forced onto the series an exceedingly formulaic approach.

Things loosen up a bit in the eighth issue when Vince Colletta returns as inker over Heck's pencils. At long last Mar-Vell sees fit to investigate the man whose identity he stole. He finds that Walter Lawson was a criminal in all probability as his mountain home seems far to luxurious for a man of his accomplishments. Mar-Vell also finds a hidden lab and the mold for a mechanical creation.

This machine man was built by Lawson as the perfect assassin for the Organization, a criminal cartel. The Organization comes looking for their robot but find Marvel and the battle ensues.

Eventually the creation appears calling itself Cyberex, and he discovers it has been programmed to kill Lawson himself. He is able to defeat it but barely.

Cyberex returns in the ninth issue along with the Aakon who find and attack Captain Marvel for his part in the raid against their damaged ship.

Surviving that threat Captain Marvel is able to pit the Aakon against the deadly Cyberex ending both threats for the moment. Mar-Vell is juggling a lot and seems to be living moment by moment. It can't last, and it doesn't.

In the next issue things begin to transform as the status quo of Mar-Vell's mixed up Earth mission changes and before its over people might well die.

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