Thursday, March 20, 2014

Kree-Skrull War, part 1

A long while back, I mentioned that the Kree-Skrull War saga is one of my absolute favorite comic book storylines.  Not simply in terms of Avengers stories but really in all of the comic book medium.

Over the next nine weeks, I am going to take a look at the saga one part at a time in one post per week.

FAIR WARNING: If you're not a fan of Marvel Comics, you're probably not going to get much out of these weekly posts.

 I'll tell you what happened in that particular installment, what I liked best, and also where the story's waters get a bit muddy as the plotlines wander into the woods (I totally mixed metaphors right there, but the astute among you are still with me.)  As Neal Adams, the exquisite artist for the saga, states in the introduction to me 2000 collected edition, the story does tend to "go a bit off track." This assertion inspired me to do a critical rereading of the edition in preparation for this series of posts and indeed I came up with a few more problems than I thought I had.  Oh well, the idea is to look at it all, good and not so good.

We begin with Avengers #89.  It carries the gut-churning title, "The Only Good Alien is a Dead Alien!"

In this issue, story begins in media res with a trenchcoated Captain Marvel skulking through the streets of Miami, apparently playing the role of The Fugitive ("Fugitive Alien...a Sandy Frank production.")  However, he is found by Avengers Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, the Vision, and their kid sidekick, Rick Jones.  They plea to Captain Marvel that they just want to help him, but he apparently wants none of it.  A small fight ensues and Captain Marvel is shot down by his trusted friend, Rick.  As they rush Captain Marvel to the hospital, the Vision recounts just how they got to that point.

The aforementioned Avengers answered a distress call at the Baxter Building, headquarters of the Fantastic Four.  Once at the building, they found that Captain Marvel had broken in.  His aim was to enter the Negative Zone through Reed Richards' portal and rescue Rick Jones who had languished in the limbo-like dimension for far too long.  This had the unfortunate side affect of alerting Annihilus, lord of the Negative Zone wasteland and all-around bad guy of the Marvel U, to the location of this portal.  Annihilus came through to our world and battled the Avengers.  The Avengers stopped Annihilus but during the melee, Captain Marvel stole the Avengers' Quinjet and escaped.

His destination was Cape Kennedy in Florida.  He thought he would hijack a rocket and modify it for interstellar travel so that he might return to Hala, his home planet in the Kree Empire.  This was not to be as the good Captain failed to notice how low on fuel the Quinjet was and he crashed somewhere in southern Florida before reaching his destination.  That's when he encounters the Avengers and his guilt-stricken friend Rick Jones renders him unconscious.

You see, the Avengers determined that Captain Marvel had absorbed an enormous amount of radiation while in the Negative Zone.  This radiation could cause a disastrous chain reaction that might threaten all of Earth.  That's why the Avengers chased him down, subdued him, and summarily rushed him to the hospital where one Dr. Donaldson attempted to decontaminate the Captain.

Meanwhile in the Kree Empire, Ronan the Accuser attacks the Kree Supreme Intelligence in a coup d'etat of sorts.  The totemic head of the Kree dethroned, Ronan activates Kree Sentry #459, the giant robot captured and in custody at the Cape as seen in Captain Marvel's own comic book.  The Kree Sentry attacks the hospitalized Captain Marvel with intent of destroying he whom the Kree view as their greatest traitor.  The issue ends on a cliffhanger...

All right, casting aside comic book science, there are a few problems here.  If Captain Marvel wanted to get to Cape Kennedy but ran out of gas, how does he crash in Miami?  Miami is well south of the Cape.  If he had the gas to make it that far, logically he should have made it to his destination without any difficulty.  Unless he got lost since he's "not from around here."

Wait a minute.  That doesn't make any sense, either.  Captain Marvel spent plenty of time at the Cape by then in his own ongoing comics series.  Shouldn't he be familiar with the geography by then?  Am I not reading this right?

My other complaint is purely a fanboy bleat.  The issue doesn't feature any of the "big" Avengers such as Captain America, Iron Man, or Thor.

Checking myself, that's not exactly a bad thing.  We get to see the focus on other characters such as the Vision for a change.  Additionally, we see the characters pause to ponder the consequences of their actions.  upon betraying and taking down his friend, Rick Jones says: "Avengers, I did your dirty work for you." Even the Vision, the android of the bunch, senses the pain Rick feels over what he had to do.

"I sense bitterness in your tone, young friend...when their should be none," the Vision says.
"You should be proud of what you have done here tonight, Rick," adds Quicksilver.
"Yeah, okay, so I'm proud," Rick says.  "Now let's go before I toss my cookies, huh?"

Besides being symbolic of the beyond-burgeoning cynicism of that era's youth (circa 1971), this response from Rick is a bona fide human emotion: guilt.  More specifically, guilt over something that you had to do but truly resented.  And just because you had to do it, did that really make it right?  Questions without full answers.  I believe writer Roy Thomas was really setting the tone for the saga in that small exchange of dialogue.

As for the Kree-Skrull War itself...well, we see very little of it at this point.  That's okay, though.  Great things often have small beginnings.

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