Sunday, December 18, 2016

Live Kree Or Die - Rebirth!

In the eleventh issue of Captain Marvel the hero changes dramatically. Underneath this dramatic cover by Barry Smith and Herb Trimpe is a story which challenges the status quo of Marvel's Space-Born Super-Hero.

But the story begins in the tenth issue which sports a handsome and dramatic cover by Marie Severin. In this issue by writer Arnold Drake and artists Don Heck and Vince Colletta, Captain Marvel battles the Organization, the same outfit which had paid the nefarious Walter Lawson to build the perfect assassin robot.

Infiltrating their ranks Captain Marvel is able to help save Carol Danvers despite running afoul of the deadly Eon Ray which can age an individual to death in moments. Captain Marvel is able to turn the tables on the grotesque leader of the Organization and save Carol who gives him a kiss for his trouble. This is seen by Cap's orbital love Una on the starship and proves to be a pivotal moment. The story was told in flashback and Captain Marvel was standing before a firing squad convicted of failing the Kree on his mission. We see what leads to his planned execution but we also see Una come to Earth to possibly save him.

In the next momentous issue there is a shake up here not only in premise but in artistic talent. In one of the odder shifts of the period regular penciler Don Heck trades assignments with Marvel veteran Dick Ayers. Heck moved over to the war-torn Captain Savage while Ayers took on the sci-fi adventures of Captain Marvel.

In the eleventh issue of Captain Marvel his execution by firing squad is stopped when the Aakon attack. Now while the script says "Aakon" the new artist Ayers appears to have been confused and instead draws agents of the Organization. It's quite the boner but it doesn't stop the story which moves at rapid fire pace. Una is wounded in the melee and Captain Marvel takes her and steals a powerful rocket form the Cape. (Why a member of an alien race with interstellar capability relies on an Earth space ship with unproven capacity doesn't make much sense, but that's what happens.) He goes into deep space stopping in the Asteroid Belt to build a monument to Una who has died during the trip. Then Yon-Rogg shows up and using his starship slings the Earth rocket into deep space where it plunges headlong for several months.

Eventually Captain Marvel, at the end of his provisions comes to a distant planet which is run by a powerful entity named "Zo". Zo promises the Captain revenge and gives him brand new powers to assist in that vengeance. All Cap has to do is agree to serve Zo later. Cap consumed with a lust for vengeance for the death of Una agrees and he is given the powers of teleportation, greater strength and hypnosis. Armed with these he plans to return to Earth orbit, find Yon-Rogg and kill his arch enemy. This is no longer just a long-suffering hero who wants to save those around him, this is a trained military man who wants final vengeance.

(Note how the body of the deceased Una is added in with the word "Rebirth!" This is my favorite early Barry Smith cover. )
This is merely the beginning of a process which will utterly transform Captain Marvel a few times in one of the most chaotic and consummate alterations ever wrought upon a superhero. 

We'll see how that turns out next time.

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