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Super Reads 137 (Fear Itself!)

Written by SuperginraiX on Sunday, March 27 2011 and posted in Features

The only thing you have to fear is...  I forget.

Today, we check out Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1, Avengers: The Children's Crusade- Young Avengers #1, and Blast to the Past for Marvel Super-Heroes #12.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!

Super Reads 137
Fear Itself, Marvel's mega-event of 2011 is getting started and we want to hit the event right at the ground floor.

Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Heroic Age and beyond?  Check no further than this link right HERE.

OK, the prelims are out of the way so we can just get down with some villainous shenanigans.

Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Penciler: Scott Eaton

In this issue:

• Baron Zemo and the new Red Skull, Sin, track down a secret base of the first Red Skull.

• After fighting through Nazi robots, they find an old magic book.  The cover is made from Atlantean skin.  This is gross.

• Flashback!  It's Germany, 1942.  The second World War rages and the Red Skull has Nazi magicians working overtime to summon a weapon that will win this war.

• They're sacrificing Atlanteans to get it.

• When the weapon comes to earth, it doesn't land at the Red Skull's location, which pisses him off.

• The Thule Society tracks its fall to appease the Skull.

• The next day, Cap, Bucky, and Namor raid the mostly abandoned castle and force the one remaining priest to give up Red Skull's location.

• Which is Antarctica, by the way.  Skull, Baron Strucker, and an army drive their snow vehicles through the icy wasteland in search of the Red Skull's prize.

• The Invaders are on their tail.

• The Red Skull and his team find the weapon but can't use it.  He orders the Thule Society to remain and study the weapon.

• Captain America, Namor, and Bucky fight a Frost Giant.  They also duke it out with German soldiers.

• An aerial attack by the Skull drops Bucky, some Germans, and the Frost Giant into the icy water.  Bucky pops a grenade in old Frostie's mouth.  Boom.

• Stucker and the Skull return to Germany empty-handed.  The Thule Society builds a fortress around the weapon: it's an immovable hammer!

• In the present, Sin pockets the magic book just as the base starts collapsing.  She and Zemo escape before it all falls down.

• Sin betrays Baron Zemo, shooting his teleporter and stealing his hovercraft.

This is it.  This is the big opening prologue issue for this years mega-event from Mighty Marvel.  Are you excited?

Then... you might not have read this issue yet!

Most of you probably know that 2011 is the year of the Thor and Captain America movies.  That's apparent with this comic, which combined Thor elements with a mostly Captain America-centric plot (right down to the villains used).  It's got some really cool concepts which, sadly, just seem to fall flat.

But you didn't come here to get a review.  You came to read what happened.

So let's head to the desert of Egypt where our two present day bad guys are tracking down Nazi treasure, Indiana Jones-style.  Well... FUTURE Indiana Jones-style?  If Harrison Ford had a space age hovercraft?  Anyway, this is Baron Helmut Zemo, the son of the World War II villain, Baron Heinrich Zemo, and Sin, the daughter of the World War II villain, the Red Skull.  During Captain America #'s 607-610, Baron Zemo came to Sin for information to use in his mission to disgrace the current Captain America, James Buchanan Barnes.  This is Sin's reward.  She had Zemo locate one of the Red Skull's hidden bases, assist her in infiltrating the base, and getting past the defenses and booby traps they'll undoubtedly find.  Sin is looking for something specific, which we'll get to in a moment.

Right now, Zemo is going to help her past the first trap.  The very ground around the base is a trap.  If too much weight is put on it, people die.  I suppose it's there to prevent and army from sieging this hidden fortress.  The two villains can walk on it but Zemo's hovercraft will need to stay airborn.  That's why both of them are wearing teleporters.

The two port down to the desert.  Zemo finds the front door to the base.  Sin has the key.  Inside, the two descend a long flight of stairs and we learn that Sin has been here before.  It was just a long time ago, when she was six years old.  That's why she didn't remember the location.

She also forgot about the Nazi robots.

Well, Sin claims that she used these things are playmates and she didn't consider them threats but she's frickin' nuts and we're not taking her at her word.  Zemo and Sin open fire on the Nazi-bots.

They both do pretty well but this fight shows that Baron Zemo has earned the right to call himself a Zemo and that Sin hasn't earned the name Red Skull despite her current looks.  Sin just isn't there yet.  She DOES have the arrogance of her father down, though.  When Helmut saves her life, she thinks he would make a good underling.  Since Zemo also has his fair share of arrogance, he doesn't take that well.  This is just a him repaying a favor and the sooner it's done with the better.

Sin walks right to the room she's looking for without further trouble.  On the altar is a blue leather book.  Zemo's gotta ask: "Blue?  Is that FLESH?"  It is.  That book has a cover made from Atlantean skin.  It's part of the magic.  When Baron Zemo asks what's inside the book, Sin tells him the story of the Red Skull's "Greatest Failure."

We'll see how it stacks up to the rest of the Skull's failures.

The year is 1942.  The month is February.  The country is Germany.  The castle is old.  The weather is rainy.

The Red Skull's plan isn't working.

His Thule Society are chanting over Atlantean sacrifices in an attempt to get some sort of power.  Some weapon.  To be honest, the Red Skull isn't certain what this ritual is supposed to get him exactly but he's been told it will be a game changer in the war effort.  Right now, his patience has run out.  He's let the phone to some higher powers ring and no-one is picking up.

This makes the Skull cranky.  He's about to take some anger out on his chief Thule Priest, when lightning streaks across the sky.  The Thule Priest claims that this is the response to their sacrifice.  The weapon has been delivered, but the problem is easy to see.  It didn't land at the castle.  Red Skull's mood hasn't improved.  The Thules swear they can track where this thing landed.  In fact, they say it should be simple with the power being generated by the weapon.  Johann Schmidt (that's the Red Skull's real name) hopes so, for their sakes.

By the next day, the Skull and most of his travelling crew are on their way to the prize just in time for the German weather to improve.  The castle is left almost empty, with one lone Thule Priest hanging about.  Bucky has been through the place and has already captured the Nazi Priest.  He returns to Captain America and Namor to tell them what he's found.

No more bratwurst for Bucky.

When the three heroes enter the castle and look at the ritual area, Namor completely loses it.  The Nazis were killng his people to perform this ritual and he's understandably pissed the hell off.  The bodies are taken down from their sacrifice positions and cremated.

With that done, Namore takes his anger out on the one remaining Thule.  He also gets some answers.  The Atlanteans weren't chosen for the ritual at random.  The Thule believes that whoever they were sacrificing the Atlanteans to prefers them because they aren't quite human.  The Avenging Son decides to kill the Thule but Rogers stops him.  There's more questions that need answers.  Cap wants to know who this sacrifice went up to, what was the gain, and where they need to go next.

"Where" is Antarctica.  Don't worry!  This isn't going to lead into yet another Savage Land adventure.  They don't discover that place for a while.  It's all frozen tundra with no misplaced dinosaurs.

The Red Skull picked up some back-up muscle for this stretch of the journey.  Baron Strucker will one day found Hydra and is already a pain for Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos.  Now, his men back-up the Skull even though he's in the dark as to what the Red Skull is doing in the winter wonderland.  Arctic vehicles are unloaded from the giant Nazi airplane.  Red Skull's advance team has already located the weapon.  The Skull moves in to see what his prize is.

The Nazis may have a head start but the heroes are closing in fast thanks to Namor's Atlantean Airship.  Bucky thinks the Sub-Mariner is pushing the vehicle too hard but both Namor and Cap disagree.  The Thule said this weapon would be a game changer and Cap doesn't want it to fall into the Red Skull's hands.

It's a bit too late for that, but no real worries.  The Red Skull can't USE the weapon.  He emerges from the flaming crator created on the weapon's arrival.  The Skull is frustrated all the more.  He didn't know what he was going to get with yesterday's ritual, but it wasn't this unusable thing.  He yells at his Thule minions for their uselessness.

For their part, the Thule claim that the artifact DOES contain a load of power.  They just don't know how to use it.  Given time, they can work the problem and find a solution.  The Skull decides to give them that time.  The Thules will remain her to examine the device.  He plans to build a base around it.

Word reaches the Skull that Baron Strucker's men have seen... something outside of their base camp.  Red Skull asks if it's the Americans but that can't be confirmed.  In fact, it doesn't seem to be any of the allies.  The Thule Priest raises a few points before the Red Skull leaves:  This artifact might have brought more trouble than just this crator. There may have been other things/creatures brought to life when it landed.  Hell, there may be other devices like this one that landed in other places at the same time.

That thing noticed by Strucker's soldiers wasn't the Americans.  It was a Frost Giant.  We know this because it greets Namor's airship when the heroes begin to land.  The three Invaders are fine but now they have a new enemy to face besides the Nazis.

From their camp, the Germans see the battle beginning between the Frost Giant and our heroes.  Strucker gives them orders to fire at the Invaders when the time is right.  The Frost Giant is unwittingly helping them.

Namor attacks the Giant straight away.  They don't know if this is what the Skull is looking for in the Antarctic but it still needs to be taken down before it can swear its allegiance to the Third Reich.

Before Bucky and Cap can join the fight, they're strafed by German guns.  Bucky decides to take on the Nazis while Cap assists Namor.

Fights happen.  Nazis get killed.  No one can beat the Frost Giant; though Captain America and Namor do an admirable job trying.

The Red Skull and Baron Strucker have already boarded their jumbo-sized plane and are ready to depart.  Before they leave, the Skull mans one of the big guns on the side of the plane and sends a barrage of heavy fire onto hero and Nazi alike.  Nothing is actually HIT in this attack but the ice beneath their feet is weakened and starts breaking up.  People and Frost Giants fall into the water but Red Skull doesn't stick around to see who lives and who dies.  He's already on his way back home.

While Captain America and Namor avoid a fall into the ocean, Bucky isn't so fortunate.  He drops into the water too close to the Frost Giant for comfort.  The monster starts pursuing him so James Barnes puts a grenade in the creature's mouth.  That takes off the giant's head so we're safe to assume it's dead.

Cap fishes his partner out of the freezing water.

It's their worst enemy.

Namor wants to follow the Red Skull, but Cap's priority is Bucky.  They need to fix the airship and get to a warmer climate ASAP.  For now, they'll have to be content that they foiled the Red Skull's plan, whatever it was.

Baron Strucker and the Skull are on the way back to Germany.  Strucker demands to know why he had to sacrifice his men but Red Skull keeps a tight lip on the subject, claiming that the weapon is in the cargo hold and is for Hitler alone.

Of course, there's nothing of value in the cargo hold.  The weapon was unmoveable.  In the frozen Antarctic ground, a hammer rests, crackling with energy.  The Thule Society remains with it and make plans to build a structure around it.  To this day, it's stuck there because no one can lift it.

It's a lot like Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, but decidely more evil.

Sin completes her story.  Baron Zemo gets one question out about the hammer being delivered by the gods.  Sin starts correcting him in regard to it being sent by GODS but she isn't allowed to finish.  The hidden fortress is coming apart, probably from yet another booby trap.

Zemo and Sin race out of the building.  Sin makes sure to keep hold of the book.  They get out just as the place comes crashing down.  The fun's not over yet.

Baron Zemo takes his time getting back on his feet but that's only because he doesn't expect Sin to betray him.  Sin is already poised for combat, firing three shots at the Baron.  One of those hits it's mark and destroys Zemo's teleporter.  That done, Sin activates her own teleporter and returns to Helmut's hovercraft.

Zemo's craft zips out of sight, leaving the Baron all alone in the Egyptian desert.  Helmut congratulates the already departed Sin for getting away with that but also starts thinking of some ways to get revenge.  He has a lot of time to think on his way back to civilization.

Avengers: The Children's Crusade- Young Avengers #1Avengers: The Children's Crusade- Young Avengers #1
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Penciler: Alan Davis

In this story:

• Iron Lad defeats Kang the Conqueror, but is stopped by the Young Avengers!

• They're all grown up now and tell their founder all that's transpired in their lives since they last saw him.  Chief is that they are allied with Kang who is HIM returned to the past and then aged with the rest of the team.

• After discussing philosophical differences, Iron Lad recalls the Young Avengers first battle with a bad guy.

• In the past, the Young Avengers train in the ruins of Avengers Mansion, fighting computer versions of the Sinister Six.

• After the training sim, the team goes out on the town and discovers Electro killing people.

• The team goes into action for the first time and stumbles their way to a win... and then a loss.

• Instead of pursuing Electro further, they go to rescue people from a burning building caused during their fight with Electro.

• In the future, the Young Avengers have a different take on their mission and Kang claims that it stems from the death of Wiccan.

• Iron Lad teleports to the past to prevent Billy's death.

• When he's gone, it's revealed that Billy isn't dead and looks to be the current Sorceror Supreme.  Kang just said that to rouse Iron Lad into action and perhaps the death of the Avengers.

• The other Young Avengers look nervously at each other.

Kang the Conqueror has one of the most messed up histories ever.  In Avengers Forever, that history was streamlined a bit to make it just slightly understandable.  In two recent stories, that streamlining has started breaking down.  Here's the rundown: Kang is from one thousand years in the future, where he found life so boring that he escaped to the past to become the Egyptian Pharoah, Rama-Tut.  Eventually, that got tiresome and he returned to the future.  He missed his mark, emerging two thousand years in the future, where chaos reigned.  It is then that he became Kang the Conqueror and forged an empire of pretty much everything.  Again, he got bored and made it his goal to defeat Earth's mightiest heroes.  He's been trying to do that ever since.

At this point, things get fuzzy.  In Avengers forever, Kang is split into two people; one the awesome that is Kang and the other the Master of Limbo known as Immortus.  Apparently, Kang finally tires of all this conquering and returns to Ancient Egypt where his rule as Rama-Tut is more benevolent than before.  Somewhere along the line he also finds time to dress up as the Scarlet Centurion between his time as Rama-Tut and Kang.  There's also the Kang who just appeared in Avengers who turned into Immortus before our very eyes, and the second-time-around Rama-Tut, who studies in Limbo to BECOME Immortus.

Really, it's far too confusing.

To add yet another identity to Kang's act, here's Iron Lad.  Back story!  When Nathaniel Richards was a teenager, he was visited by his future self (this time it's Kang) who wanted a more manly background.  He told Nathaniel to use the Kang armor to kill some bullies who were bothering him.  Instead, Nathaniel used the armor to escape into the past where he tried to deny his future self.  He took on the name Iron Lad and modified his armor to match.

It didn't work out.  Realizing that him not becoming Kang would seriously effect the current state of things, Iron Lad was sent back to his fate of eventually becoming Kang the Conqueror.

Now this completely disregards the idea that everytime someone time travels, they pretty much create an alternate time line which means THIS Nathaniel Richards not returning to become Kang shouldn't have changed anything.  As soon as Kang tried altering his past, he would be creating an alternate timeline separate from his own.  This is still CONFUSING but it frees things up more than DC's "one timeline" mandate which makes time travel all about doing as little fun stuff as possible, Booster Gold not withstanding.

So that's your confusing backstory on Kang and Iron Lad.

Here's your confusing beginning of the story!  Iron Lad's not taking his future lying down.  In fact, he's chasing Kang around time and trying to stop the Conqueror.  This time, fighting on a planet full of dead Badoon that were apparently killed by Kang.  It's called Moord.  This isn't the first Kang Iron Lad has fought so at least they're acknowledging the alternate timeline theory again and maybe that the future will always be up for grabs.  Kang, however, thinks Iron Lad is slipping right down the slope that leads to becoming him.

Iron Lad is about to kill this version of himself when Kang's allies show up to defend the Conqueror.  It's the Young Avengers, all grown up!  Katherine Bishop is still calling herself Hawkeye, but is now wearing a feminine version of the original Hawkeye's look.  Tommy Shepherd is now Quicksilver.  Teddy Altman is dressed as Captain Marvel.  Cassie Lang is Stinger and is wearing her Marvel 2 suit.  Eli Bradley is dressed up as Captain America (though the blue part of the suit is black).  Eli's son, Steve, is the new Bucky.  Bradley's wife, Samantha is the new Falcon.  Vision is back to his white look.

Sine Kang is an Avenger and dating Stinger, it makes him a slightly different character.  He's still the sort of guy who slaughters an entire planet of Badoon but now he has friends who agree with him.

There are some happenings that the former Young Avengers tell Iron Lad, but Nathaniel interrupts them to ask where Billy Kaplan is, and what happened to the original Avengers.  Kang ignores the first question and gets right to the second.  The Avengers are looking for these (Young) Avengers.  It seems that the search for the Scarlet Witch didn't end well.  The Young Avengers became at war with the Original Avengers.  Kang helped them hide in time, but it turned them into heroes that kill entire planets.  The team tries to justify this to Iron Lad, but Richards is still too moral to think that's a good idea.  He recalls why the Young Avengers were formed in the first place.

Back then, it was all about defeating Iron Lad's future self.

Now, we go way back in time to when the real Avengers had disbanded after Avengers: Disassembled and the Young Avengers had just started meeting in the ruins of Avengers Mansion.  When the team first came together, it was just Patriot (Eli), Hulkling (Teddy), Asgardian (Billy), and Iron Lad.  The Quartet wasn't ready to defeat Kang just yet, let alone play hero.  Right now, it was all about training with simulations.

Something tells me they aren't ever going to eat that popcorn.

This is the first time they're doing this.  Their first training session is with Spider-Man's foes, collectively known as the Sinister Six.  The simulator is on easy so the new team defeats most of the six in record time.  They even engage in combat talk which is mostly about what they're going to do that night.  Patriot wants to go on patrol.  Teddy and Billy have a date planned.  Eli convinces his teammates that going on rounds is a better idea and the night's activities are settled.

It's only when Kang shows up that things go a little off-plan.  Iron Lad freezes up.  Hulkling realizes that this is the final member of the Sinister Six, Mysterio, employing his tricks.  Teddy races in and knocks the last bad guy out.

So it should be patrol time now, right?  The rest see how rattled Nathaniel is and try to console him.  They suggest more training but Iron Lad doesn't want to spoil the others' night.  He tells them to go out on their date and everything.  When he mentions his complete lack of a life, the rest of the Young Avengers decide to go out together.

It's going to be a memorable night.  The quartet hit the streets where Eli and Nathaniel bond over geeky things and their shared lack of women in their lives.  We're getting to the scenes from the first issue of Young Avengers so Kate Bishop is on the sidewalk, calling up her sister and future brother-in-law who are both late for their own wedding rehearsal.  Teddy tries to get Eli to go over and talk to her but he's far too shy for that.

Luckily, there's a distraction so that Eli can claim that he would have talked to Kate if ONLY he hadn't had to play super-hero.  There's lightning flying all over the place but it's not coming from the sky.  The team follows the lightning and runs into some dead bodies.  It's time to suit up, whether they're ready or not.

Their opponent is Electro who's up to... something.  This is BEFORE Electro breaks people out of the Raft for the first arc of New Avengers.  Even the Young Avengers are confused with what they see but it's not important to the plot.  What's important is fighting the bad guy for the first time ever.

The Young Avengers are emboldened by their battle with Electro in the simulation but aren't stupid enough to get cocky.  That's good because the team is super green.  Electro is in top form and has the kids on the ropes pretty much straight away.  The Young Avengers are stuck behind Asgardian's magical shield, unable to do much of anything.

Iron Lad is actually pushed beyond his fear at that moment and launches through Billy's shield and straight at the villain.  Electro isn't too taken aback, and meets that threat head on.  After all, it's been a while since Dillon was beat up by a fifteen-year-old.

Iron Lad modifies his suit on the fly so that it can pour Electro's lightning back at the bad guy as power beams.  This results in a gigantic explosion.  When it clears, Max Dillon is unconscious and Iron Lad stands on shaky legs, victorious.

The Young Avengers congratulate their founder for taking down a Spider-Man villain but Nathaniel is only this side of passing out.  When Iron Lad finally does collapse, Electro uses it to his advantage, grabbing the Young Avenger as his hostage.

Instead of rushing the villain, Teddy and Billy negotiate for their friend.  They'll let Electro go if he releases their friend.  Dillon tosses Iron Lad in disgust and returns to whatever evil scheme he was in the middle of before interrupted by these kids.

The team sees to their fallen comrade, Billy delivering mouth-to-mouth to get Nathaniel breathing again.  Iron Lad's ready to get the battle with Electro going again but there are other concerns that require their attention.  Their fight caught the neighborhood on fire.  The team has to save some lives.

This is the part that was shown in Young Avengers #1.  They saved lives and got their name from the Daily Bugle article recording the event.  Now you know the Secret Origin behind the Young Avengers' first appearance.

OK, we can return to the far-flung future to try and figure out why we just got that story of the founding Young Avengers.  Oh!  It's because Iron Land founded the team to take on Kang but they soon learned to be heroes.  Really, it's what most of them wanted to do in the first place.  You don't set your training sim up to fight the Sinister Six unless you plan on fighting them some day.  If all they wanted to fight was Kang, they'd have fought HIM in the simulation.

C'mon.  Have you seen Ted and Billy's suits?  OK... I sort of like Wiccan's.

Iron Lad and the Old Young Avengers argue about letting Electro go.  Iron Lad thinks it all worked out because it lead to the Breakout where the Avengers got back together.  Kang says that these Avengers eventually killed Wiccan.  This startles Iron Lad especially after his story about Billy giving him CPR.

Nathaniel demands to know when this will happen and then puts his time machine together to prevent Billy's death.  Kang gives him this information freely and tells Iron Lad that it all leads to him becoming the Conqueror.  The young Nathaniel decides to take that chance to save his friend.

Billy Kaplan isn't dead.  He was just hiding in the background.  The former Wiccan is now dressed as Dr. Strange complete with the Eye of Agamotto that marks him as the Sorceror Supreme.  He's also sporting an Asgardian helmet, so his love of Norse Mythology continues!

Billy isn't too thrilled about tricking Iron Lad but Kang believes it necessary.  Nathaniel's adventure in the past with the Young Avengers transforms him into Kang the Conqueror.  It will also lead to the deaths of the real Avengers.  This pleases him.

It doesn't exactly please the other founding Young Avengers.  Eli, Teddy, and Billy share concerned glances.

Because killing a planet of aliens is fine.  It's only when you talk about killing Avengers that you've crossed A LINE.

Marvel Super-Heroes #12Marvel Super-Heroes #12
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Gene Colan

In this story:

• A Kree vessel enters Earth's atmosphere and deposits its one-man landing party: Captain Mar-Vell.  He leaves behind his girlfriend and a commanding officer who's trying to make time with her.

• Captain Mar-Vell walks near a rocket launch.  The missile goes off-course after launch, and the crew discovers that a jump of radiation (emitted from Captain Mar-Vell's suit) is the cause.

• Soldiers are sent out to capture Mar-Vell.  The Captain stops them with his universal weapon.  It's set to black light.

• Marvel gets out of his explorer suit and into some local attire.

• He hitch-hikes his way into town and checks into a hotel room.

• Once inside, Captain Mar-Vell is paralyzed by his commanding officer so they can attach a wrist monitor.

• He then receives a call from the Supreme Intelligence's Imperial Minister who gives him a pep talk before hanging up.

• Marvel slips on his helmet before he suffocates in Earth's apparently toxic atmosphere.

The time was December 1967 and things were going on all over the comic book landscape.  Fantastic Four was rounding issue #69.  Amazing Spider-Man hit #55.  Avengers #47 was on the stands.  X-Men #39, Thor #147, and Daredevil #35 rounded things out.  And then there was the curious case of Marvel Super-Heroes #12.

Some backstory:  The original Captain Marvel was a creation of Fawcett Comics circa 1939.  Young Billy Batson would become the Superman-like hero after shouting out the word "Shazam!"  It was a winning formula that made him the most read super-hero of the forties, exceeding even Superman in sales.  That didn't sit well with the publisher of Superman (then called National) so they went to court over it, citing that Captain Marvel infringed on their Superman copyright.  When the smoke settled on the case, Fawcett was no longer publishing super-hero comics, but it was the fifties so that wasn't really that exceptional.  Captain Marvel was retired for nearly two decades, eventually reappearing in, of all places, DC Comics.

For a comic company that had decided to call itself Marvel Comics, a name like Captain Marvel seemed like a really good idea.  When the copyright on the Captain Marvel name expired, Marvel jumped at the name, creating their own character to go along with it.  While the character was only marginally successful, Marvel kept the comic in production just to maintain the rights to the Captain Marvel title.  Because of this, when DC started producing comics based on the Golden Age Captain Marvel, they weren't allowed to use Captain Marvel anywhere on the cover.  They called the book Shazam! instead.  The Big Cheese never gained the same popularity he had enjoyed in the 1940's.

But, again, sales all over would rarely see those kind of numbers again.

Marvel's Captain Marvel was from a brand new race of aliens known as the Kree, who had first been mentioned in Fantastic Four #64.  He was the second Kree soldier to come to earth, after Ronan in FF #65.  In the Cold War terms of the day, Mar-Vell was like a Soviet Spy sent in to observe the United States.  In modern day terms, he could be thought of as a terrorist hiding among us.  Now, the Kree may not have posed the same kind of threat as, say, the Skrull Empire but both the Kree Sentry and Ronan had engaged in battle with the Fantastic Four.  The Kree were following their own laws in these matters so they weren't exactly VILLAINOUS, they were just an opposing ideology that conflicted with the earth.

Perhaps that's why Captain Marvel still seemed heroic even in his first appearance.  He wasn't hurting anyone.  His attempts to defend himself were non-lethal.  He had a girlfriend and a crappy boss.  Maybe that made him easier to relate to.  Regardless, Captain Marvel would go from an enemy observer to a hero sympathetic to the human race in short order, even opposing his own people when necessary.

The Kree were nervous.  In the recent past, people from Earth had not only managed to destroy a Kree Sentry, they had defeated a Public Accuser.  Stuff like that just wasn't done, especially by people from a backwater planet in the Milky Way Galaxy that the Kree had forgotten about.  Instead of sending in another armed warrior to try their hand at exacting some more vengeance, the Kree decided to send in an observer to learn more about the people that dared defy them.

A Kree starship flies into the atmosphere of the planet earth.  Its commander, Colonel Yon-Rogg, delivers his orders to his crew to prepare the boarding party.  While this would normally be a group of Kree, the Colonel is handling this with his emotions rather than the cool logic that the Kree are normally known for.  You see, Yon-Rogg has personal feelings for his medic, a lady named Una.  While it's already on the taboo end of things, what with him being Una's superior, the added wrench in the Colonel's plans for love is Una's boyfriend, another crewmember named Captain Mar-Vell.  Yon-Rogg's remarkable plan is to send the Captain on this mission all alone, hoping the Kree would be killed so he can have Una all to himself.

Mar-Vell is aware of this which means Yon-Rogg isn't very good at keeping secrets.  He explains it all to Una who isn't happy that her love is being sent on a presumed suicide mission.  Since they're both Kree military, there's nothing to do but follow orders.  Una administers the potion that will allow Mar-Vell to breath in earth's atmosphere should he have to remove his helmet.  It'll only give him an hour but it's better than nothing.

As the ship approaches the planet's surface, it engages a negativity field so that no-one notices it.  Mar-Vell says his good-byes according to Kree regulations, telling Una that he'll survive the odds and return to her.  For her part, she promises not to cheat on him as soon as he leaves.  It's touching.  The Captain jets away from the ship using his belt jets.

The good news: the gravity of the Kree homeworld is greater than that of Earth, so he is stronger here than a normal person and he can leap higher even without the jet belt.  The bad news: his protective suit emits radiation that is easily detectable and can ruin the launch of any missile tests in the area.  Oh, hey, there's one of those now.

The missile is up, up, and suddenly diverts from its previously scheduled course.  Since all missile tests are perfect, the launch crew looks for anything else that could have gone wrong and notice that their geiger counter is going nuts.  All that radiation was sure to ruin the launch.  Captain Mar-Vell knows they'll be looking for him and leaps away as fast as he can.  It's this leaping that gets him spotted.

Soldiers are sent out to catch the Captain, and they aren't messing around.  When a trooper finds Mar-Vell, he gives the Kree a chance to surrender before firing.  Since Captain Mar-Vell is an alien sent to spy on earth, capture isn't a good idea.  He keeps attempting to flee and the soldier opens fire.  Soon several Army men converge on Mar-Vell's location.  The Kree isn't ready for a fight but he can't very well have earthmen following him for the rest of the day.  He pulls out his Universal Beam Blaster and sets it to wide attack.

This would be better with some shrooms.

The Army men are blanketed in complete darkness.  It gives Captain Mar-Vell his chance to escape.  When enough distance is put between himself and the pursuers, Mar-Vell changes out of his Kree uniform and into some pre-fabricated earth clothes.  Think of it like when Kirk and Spock would go to Gangster Planet 7 and wanted to blend in.  From this point, the Kree only has an hour before he won't be able to breath the atmosphere anymore so he has to make tracks.

Fortunately, the people of earth are trusting.  He's able to hitch a ride to the nearest town and uses some conterfeit money to check into a hotel.  He even "Americanizes" his name when signing the hotel register.  That's right.  He signed his name "Marvel" because that won't draw suspicion.

When the Captain is safely in his hotel room, he has time to think about his next move but instead just wonders if his girlfriend is cheating on him yet.  It's not too long before his wrist starts giving him problems.  Moments later, his entire body is paralyzed, and he knows who to blame.  This is all Colonel Yon-Rogg's fault.

On board Yon-Rogg's ship, he and Una are teleporting a special device onto Captain Mar-Vell's wrist.  It's a wrist monitor.  I really can't tell you why Captain Mar-Vell wasn't just required to take this with him but maybe Mar-Vell's reaction to the device is answer enough.  He can't take the wrist monitor off.  Only Colonel Yon-Rogg can do that.  Essentially, this takes away all sense of freedom since the Colonel can now call him whenever he wants.

Damn you space cell phone!  Damn you to hell!

The first call to Captain Mar-Vell isn't from his Colonel, though.  It's not even from a telemarketer.  This call is coming straight from the Kree homeworld.  It's the Imperial Minister of the Supreme Intelligence telling him in no uncertain terms that his mission on earth had better turn out or there'll be death in Mar-Vell's future.  Noted!

When this call is ended, the Captain finds that it's getting harder and harder to breath.  Oh crap!  Earth air!  Mar-Vell quickly puts his helmet back on and this thing somehow filters his air supply.  Maybe Mar-Vell only breaths through his nose since the mouth is completely uncovered... I don't know.

The Kree looks out the window and doesn't see Yon-Rogg's starship.  This isn't surprising.  Even if it hadn't gone back up into orbit, the Kree vessel would be surrounded by a field of negativism.  Either way, the Kree Captain feels all alone on an alien planet with a weighty mission before him.  A kegger is probably out of the question.

And that's the first appearance of Marvel's Captain Marvel!  After two appearances in Marvel Super-Heroes, Captain Marvel moved onto his own book in May 1968.  Sales weren't stellar and the book was cancelled with issue #21.  It was revived at the end of the Kree-Skrull War but was now on a bi-monthly schedule for it's duration.  Even so, the book managed to make it to issue #62 before it was again cancelled.  In 1984, Captain Marvel was killed off but it wasn't  in a gigantic, heroic battle to end all ages.  Mar-Vell died of cancer.

While many other super-heroes and villains have been resurrected from death, no one has done so for Captain Mar-Vell.  Some say it's because of how he died.  Others say it's because he wasn't really an important character UNTIL he died.  How he is honored it throught that legacy.  The name "Captain Marvel" has not been retired and has passed from one character to another since Mar-Vell's death.

The first was Monica Rambeau who has light powers and currently runs around as Photon.  She served on the Avengers and in the pages of NextWave, Marvel Divas, and Heralds.  Monica might not have the Captain Marvel name anymore but she stays pretty active all around the Marvel U.

Next up was Genis-Vell, Mar-Vell's son who was created through artificially means and then artificially aged.  Genis starred in not one, not two, but THREE different Captain Marvel books. With his last book cancelled, Genis became a Thunderbolt, changed his name to Photon (which ticked Monica off because it was the second time Genis had taken her name), and was eventually killed to save the universe.

His sister, Phylla-Vell, also served as Captain Marvel for a short time before changing her name to Quasar.  She had a hand in killing Annihilus in the Annihilation War and also helped free the Kree from the Phalanx.  Phylla became a founding member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.  While trying to resurrect her girlfriend, Moondragon, she became an Avatar of Death named Martyr.  Phylla-Vell was killed by Thanos just as the mad Titan was reviving from his stasis coccoon.

During Civil War, Captain Mar-Vell seemingly returned from the dead by time travelling to the present BEFORE he contracted cancer.  This turned out to be a fake origin.  This Captain Marvel was actually a Skrull sleeper agent who was supposed to pave the way for a Skrull Invasion but the trigger that would change him back into a loyal and religious Skrull wasn't installed before he was unleashed.  When he learns the truth, he decides to fight the Skrulls and remain as Captain Marvel, eventually dying during Secret Invasion.

But not before inspiring Marvel Boy, Noh-Varr, into fighting the Skrulls for the planet earth.  When Norman Osborn formed the Dark Avengers, he invited Noh onto the team as his Captain Marvel.  When Noh-Varr learned that he was on a team of villains, he bugged out and tried to fight them and call home for reinforcements.  His own Kree Empire sent him a new suit and new powers and Noh-Varr changed his name from Captain Marvel to The Protector.

Which leaves the name open for now.  Eventually, someone's going to have to pick up the name again because there's no way Marvel's going to lose the rights to call a comic Captain Marvel.  Even if it doesn't sell well, that's a name that needs to be kept in the family.

Once again, a fun, fantastic, and frivolous issue of Super Reads sees its way to a conclusion!

Until we return:  Excelsior!

Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX

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About the Author - SuperginraiX

SuperginraiX is the biggest sap on The Outhousers' payroll (wait, we get paid?). He reads every issue of every crappy Marvel crossover so you don't have to. Whats worse is that he pays for his books, thus condoning Marvel's behavior. If The Outhouse cared for his well being at all, they'd try and get him into some sort of rehab center. But, alas, none of us even know how to say his name. For a good time, ask Super why Captian America jumped off the Helicarrier in Fear Itself. Super lives in the frozen wastland that is Minnesota with 15% of the state's population living under his roof: a wife he makes wear an Optimus Prime mask, two gremlins, and his mother-in-law.


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