Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Taste Of Greatness

I very much enjoyed Jim Starlin's run on Captain Marvel, though it took me a few issues to warm up to his style--and to the captain himself. Up to that point, I'd barely paid any attention to the character of Mar-vell. I'd read the prior issues featuring Megaton and Dr. Mynde and was less than thrilled with them; in fact, I was probably only drawn in to picking up issue #25 (Starlin's debut issue) because of the guest-stars on its cover.

So both Captain Marvel and Starlin were acquired tastes for me, particularly since the mag's reboot after a two-year hiatus began shakily, cycling through three writers in three issues, with Mike Friedrich on board when Starlin began pencilling the book. It would then take a few issues before Starlin took the scripting reins--and soon I'd find myself to be a regular reader. Until then, Starlin was getting his feet wet with this character, as I was with both character and artist.

But Starlin eventually began taking a hand in plotting the book, as well.  And one month after Thanos first appeared, Starlin shifted the direction of Captain Marvel and, in this issue, began laying the foundation for Thanos's first scheme--the "Grand Transformation," which would involve Mar-vell, the Cosmic Cube, and Death itself.

With these first pieces being put into place, Mar-vell, still the Kree warrior that the entity Eon would later mold into something much more, gives the book an excuse to plunge into this new adventure with fists flying, though even Mar-vell doesn't suspect the reasoning behind the attack on him:

If you suspect these attackers as being thralls of Thanos, you're right on target; however, preferring to remain behind the scenes while he conducts his hunt for the Cube, Thanos has adopted a code name:

Also bear in mind that, in 1973, Mar-vell still shared a co-existence with Rick Jones (switching atoms by means of the nega-bands each wore on their wrists), and could only exist outside of the Negative Zone for a period of three hours before automatically returning there. It seems a good way for the character to pursue investigations, since the interaction between Rick and Mar-vell across dimensions provides a way for dialog to frequently appear without it looking like Mar-vell is constantly talking to himself.

To get some answers on his condition, Mar-vell decides to pay a visit to the man who had him on his lab table once before--Prof. Savannah, whose daughter happens to be dating Rick. But this will not be a pleasant reunion, for any of these men:

Betrayed, Rick is hauled downtown on suspicion of murder, a development which pleases the "Masterlord":

Thanos appears to need information about the Negative Zone, and so has launched an operation to reduce Mar-vell's mind to a shambles. First, the set-up for murder, combined with Lou-Ann's betrayal of Rick; and now, a series of confounding attacks that defy explanation:

And finally, faced by opponents whose presence sends Mar-vell over the edge--opponents who cannot be real:

What gives?? For an explanation, we have to dig a little deeper with these two--discovering not only their true identities, but the reason behind Mar-vell's waning powers as well as the details of their step-by-step plan to bring about Mar-vell's collapse:

But as the psycho-probe helmet begins its work, this Skrull brains-and-brawn team-up finds that the tables have been turned--opening the door for final battle!

With Mar-vell assumed dead, Skragg and the Super-Skrull return to face the "Masterlord," who will not be happy he's been deprived of his source of information. But we discover their targets are not so easily dispatched:

All during the Thanos plot, I don't think I ever discovered just why Mar-vell was hampered with a loss of half his power during nighttime hours. It made for a dramatic confrontation with the Controller, but otherwise, what was the point? Regardless, Starlin would go on to create an epic story out of these beginnings, while giving Mar-vell a chance for something he'd never truly had: an era of greatness.

Captain Marvel #25

Script: Mike Friedrich
Pencils: Jim Starlin
Inks: Chic Stone
Letterer: John Duffy

1 comment:

david_b said...

Love love LOVED Starlin's CM. Just the facial expressions, the signature 'ceiling-angle' perspectives.., very very fresh artistically back in the day.

Frankly, it still is.

I first caught his art in MF 11, the wonderful Think-Hulk match. It was detailed in the 'Untold Stories' book that Starlin was offered the FF mag.

Interesting just to ponder the entire Thanos saga possibly running through FF rather than the Avengers..? I love how Starlin drew ol' Benjy. I consider Starlin the best Thing artist, next to Kirby and John Buscema (especially with the ever-present Sinnott inks..).

Will definitely have to pick this up, I believe my floppies start with the next issue.