Monday, October 3, 2011
Three Cows Shot Me Down! Avengers #89
Avengers 89 (June 1971)
"The Only Good Alien..."
Roy Thomas-Sal Buscema/Sam Grainger
Doug: Welcome to what will be a two months-long examination of perhaps the seminal graphic novel at Marvel Comics. Roy Thomas' 9-part masterpiece known as "The Kree/Skrull War" is one of the oft-lauded stories of the Bronze Age, so it's fitting that we get down to business and review this mammoth here at the BAB. We'll be running posts in the series each Monday (with the exception of Avengers #93, which will run on a Tuesday (due to the fact that Halloween is on a Monday, and you know Karen will want to "monster up" on that day!). Karen and I will take turns being the "lead voice" as we move through, and today I'll drive this train. So strap in -- this should be a fun ride!
Karen: This saga means a lot to me. It's my all-time favorite comic book continued story, and I was there right as it unfolded. Avengers 92 was my first Avengers comic. Now I'm not going to say that when I first read the Kree-Skrull War, I actually understood the story -I was only six years old! But I kept going back to it, and reading it again and again. Over time, I came to see it as more than just cool super-heroes in colorful outfits; this was a true epic adventure. So you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm going into this with a biased opinion.
Doug: In case you were wondering about the title of today's post (and indeed this series), it comes from a suggestion Neal Adams made to Roy Thomas at the bottom of the splash page to Avengers #93, Adams' first issue as penciller and co-plotter. Roy had been percolating the idea of the K/S War, but felt like he was meandering with it. Neal asked if he could take it and run, and Roy concurred. Adams decided to use the Skrulls who were left as cows at the end of Fantastic Four #2; we'll see how it turned out in a few weeks, and why Adams chose that phrase as his suggested title.
Karen: From what I gather, there's a little bit of conflict between the two over who came up with what. Of course, Adams was not happy when John Buscema was brought in to wrap up the series.
Doug: We open in slam-bang mode as the Avengers (consisting only of the Vision and Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch) come upon the Kree Captain Mar-Vell. The Avengers accost him, telling him that they mean him no harm and that he must come with them... for his own good. This inflames the seemingly distraught Captain, and it's game on. Of course Pietro takes the lead (a - because he's fast, and b - because he's just like that), but Mar-Vell socks him a good one. Next up is the Vision, but Mar-Vell evades him with a blast; when Wanda steps to the fore, it's retreat-time for the Kree. Landing on a rooftop, Mar-Vell is felled by a blast from a ray-gun... a gun fired by Rick Jones!
Karen: At this stage Mar-Vell still seems to take some pride in his Kree heritage: "Who are you to tell a man of the Kree what to-" It was surprising to see how well he fared against these Avengers, even if the fight was fairly abbreviated.
Doug: Rick doesn't feel too good about what he's done to his former "alter ego". The Avengers nonetheless get Mar-Vell to a quinjet and then whisk him away to the Cape Kennedy Hospital, where they rush him inside and get him hooked up to what looks like a high-tech hair dryer from back in the day (raise your hand if you ever went to the beauty shop with your mom and she sat under one of the things like you see on the cover of this comic).
Karen: As they head off, Wanda points out that she and her brother, being mutants, and Mar-Vell, being an alien, are all strangers in a strange land. Of course the Vision is sitting right there, and certainly he's got it harder than any of them! It's interesting that this group of Avengers is easily the most unconventional and outcast of any group before, and possibly since.
Doug:As the machines hum, Rick flashes back to how this whole thing got started. As he was playing a gig, Mar-Vell appeared to him and showed him a vision of Reed Richards adrift in the Negative Zone (see Fantastic Four #109), being hunted by Annihilus. Somehow Richards had managed to seemingly split himself into multiple images to confuse Annihilus. As Mar-Vell, also adrift in the Neg. Zone, watched as Richards made his way toward a small opening in the fabric of space, and disappeared through it. And so Mar-Vell told Rick that he had to get immediately to the headquarters of the FF.
Karen: This just reminds me that I need to get my hands on some of those pre-Starlin Captain Marvel comics. I'm not even sure how Rick and Mar-Vell got joined. I'm certain I've read it somewhere but it escapes me now. Of course it's a total rip-off (or homage, take your pick) to the original Captain Marvel and Billy Batson.
Karen: Another thing to point out is that already in this first issue, Roy is bringing in threads from other comics (Fantastic Four) and weaving them into his tapestry. By the time he was done with this story, he had done an incredible job of connecting characters and events to really explore and expand the Marvel Universe.
Doug: Rick did as he was told, but Mar-Vell suddenly ordered him to switch places. As Rick banged together the bracelets which served as the catalyst for the body-switch, Mar-Vell appeared and Rick Jones was himself exiled to the Negative Zone. Mar-Vell started into the Baxter Building, but after being confronted by a security guard chose the express route -- by flight! Landing on the 35th floor, Mar-Vell gained easy entry, and then ripped open a steel door to gain access to the Negative Zone portal room. The mission is now evident -- to figure out a way to allow Mar-Vell and Rick to occupy the same space coincidentally. As Rick screamed in fear of being watched by an unseen nemesis, Mar-Vell figured out how to open the portal. Rick jumped through, but at the same time so did someone else -- Annihilus! And at that very same minute, the Avengers arrived, serving as "got your backside" assistance to the out-of-town FF! Needless to say, a melee ensues, and it's a real free-for-all.
Karen: I don't know -it's pretty one-sided. Quicksilver bounces harmlessly off Annihilus, and for some reason, which makes absolutely no sense, Wanda's hex power can't affect him. It's only the Vision who really gives him difficulty.
Doug: The Vision orders Rick to flip the switch that allowed passage to the Neg. Zone; Rick does just that, and Annihilus begins to feel the pull of the neg-gravity. He latches onto the Vision, who goes first diamond-hard, and then intangible. As Annihilus had let up a bit, he's not ready and is sucked back into the Neg. Zone. You know, it was cool to see someone else's baddie guesting in the Avengers' mag -- I'd have liked to have seen more! In all of the confusion, Mar-Vell ducked out and snagged a quinjet. He took off for Florida and Cape Kennedy -- boy gonna hijack himself a rocket ship!
Karen: Maybe it's just because I always liked him, but doesn't it seem like the Vision was always saving the day way back when?
Doug: The Avengers give pursuit, and we come back to the present with Mar-Vell hooked to the machine. The Avengers had noticed abnormally high radiation levels left in the Baxter Building near where Mar-Vell stood. It was now a race to find the Kree Captain, and make him well. As Mar-Vell was being treated, it became apparent to his doctors that if the nega-energy wasn't entirely eradicated it could come back. The Vision offered to exchange his own solar energy with Mar-Vell if it would help. Hooked up, the process was completed, with both heroes down for the count.
Karen: That process seemed a little confused. The technician said they were almost out of power, and the Vision offered to supply his power -but the art and caption has him blasting Mar-Vell with his solar jewel! Very odd.
Doug: Cut to the Kree homeworld, where the Supreme Intelligence has encountered Ronan the Accuser, one he had formerly banished. But Ronan had returned, crushing the Supreme Intelligence's guardians. Claiming that he was now in control, Ronan is even able to activate the Kree Sentry -- as fate would have it, on ice at Cape Kennedy... but no longer!
Karen: As far as I'm concerned, this is the only Sentry!
Doug: Oh, I couldn't agree more! You may have just raised a future topic -- comic book characters who never should have existed...
Doug: And come back tomorrow for a bonus post: a little Discuss-ion!