Monday, June 22, 2015

Our Enemy: The Universe!

If you missed the last few PPC reviews of Captain Marvel--wow, have you missed a lot! Because not only have we seen the good Captain become involved with the first grab for power by none other than Thanos--not only has Mar-vell cast off his life as a warrior and chosen a new role as a cosmically-aware protector of the universe--but we've also seen the devilish plans of Thanos come to a head, as the mad Titan has used the Cosmic Cube to transform himself into an all-powerful threat to life!

And as if to underscore things "coming to a head"...

We've arrived at the penultimate issue in this Captain Marvel story that's been developing through the efforts of writer/artist Jim Starlin, as Thanos at last gains ultimate power while those who oppose him fight an uphill struggle for their lives. Mar-vell looks ready for action on the issue's cover--but with his foe having achieved what he schemed for, can he hope to turn things around at this point, much less prevail?

One of Mar-vell's group who predictably takes a different attitude towards their chances against Thanos is of course the Destroyer, whose fanaticism in bringing an end to Thanos often explodes without warning; in fact, if you looked up either the word "tenacious" or the term "loose cannon," there you'd likely find a picture of the Destroyer. Thanos has either outwitted or outfought him at every turn, yet the Destroyer is relentless in his sole task. And the fact that his enemy has now become part of everything in the universe and is thus quite beyond his reach has altered his mission not at all.

(It's hard to say which is more ludicrous: the Destroyer blasting away at the observatory viewscreen where his target appears, or the viewscreen image firing back. Then again, since Thanos is part of everything, perhaps a viewscreen is as good a target as any; though if you extend the logic, the Destroyer could have also opened fire on the air conditioner, or Moondragon's earring, or, for that matter, Mar-vell's foot.)

If nothing else, the Destroyer's outburst has probably distracted Thanos sufficiently to prevent him from wiping them out at a stroke--but it's a brief respite at best, since the observatory's destruction has buried the Destroyer and halted his attack. Soon enough, things begin to go badly for this "resistance movement." Moondragon has been seriously injured by the explosion, forcing Mentor to withdraw and care for her; and another attack by Thanos takes Eros out of the fight. That leaves only Mar-vell and Iron Man to attempt to reach the Hall of Science in order to enlist the knowledge of Isaac, the world-computer of Titan, in the struggle against Thanos.

Though, again, if Thanos is a part of everything, he's a part of Isaac, so what would be the point of such consultation? Starlin seems to be taking the approach of having Thanos "turn his attention" to matters, even in his godlike state, which suggests he's going through a period of acclimation. It's frankly the only way this story could realistically proceed at this point, and it works well enough. Otherwise, Thanos would be aware of the plans of Mar-vell and Iron Man the instant they'd formed them. He is Mar-vell and Iron Man.

Yet, when Thanos "turns his attention" to them, his adjustment period doesn't quite explain why he deals with them with more conventional means, rather than obliterating them--particularly if he considers them to be a clear and present danger to him. Perhaps he places too much trust in his still-constant companion, the hooded figure of Death itself, to bring about their end more swiftly than "she" chooses to:

Iron Man is quickly taken out by these creatures, leaving Mar-vell to face this swarm of demons on his own. The situation, to put it mildly, does not look good.

Meanwhile, the Destroyer has risen from the observatory's wreckage--and three guesses where he's off to? Again, he doesn't have to fly off anywhere to reach Thanos--conceivably, he could strike out at a piece of wreckage, or the soil beneath him, or even just the air. But Starlin prefers to present a more dramatic confrontation:

(A being who's "all-seeing" and "all-knowing" wouldn't be expressing surprise at the Destroyer's appearance here, but we're probably beating a dead horse on this matter by now.)

We're reasonably certain the Destroyer's confrontation won't amount to anything here--but in taking the opportunity to mock the Destroyer for his fanatic hatred of him, Thanos removes the mental blocks placed in his mind by Mentor and restores the full memory of his origin in order to watch him shatter from the realization of the life he once had. And the memories also reveal his startling link to another:

Probably not the afterlife that Art Douglas had in mind for himself, to say nothing of his orphaned daughter. It's a fate that would probably drive any of us insane; but for a being whose existence had been defined by his intense hatred of another, the memories instead add vengeance to the list and bring Douglas's hatred for Thanos into clear focus. And this "amusing" diversion of Thanos backfires.

Back on Earth, the Avengers depart for space in response to the approach of a massive fleet of warships that Thanos had assembled to conquer the planet, the first "trinket" in what will likely be a universal wave of death he plans to offer to his robed companion. But, what of Mar-vell? In the big picture, his life-or-death struggle in the Hall of Science may not seem significant--but, thanks to an observer who materializes on the scene (the holographic manifestation of Isaac), his contribution to the battle against Thanos is about to become far more direct.

As Mar-vell reasoned, the switch to Rick has nullified the demons' attack; and with both Isaac and the Cosmic Cube in tow, Rick has Isaac transport him back to Earth in order to gain much-needed time to devise a strategy. Rick's "breathing room" unfortunately turns out to be brief; but in the face of a threat, Rick's resourcefulness is often his greatest asset.

Yikes! It looks like Thanos has called Rick's bluff, and then some. Where's the Destroyer when we need him??

It's Captain Marvel vs. Thanos, as Death waits in the wings!

It may not have looked like much after Thanos got through with it, but:

Captain Marvel #32

Script: Jim Starlin (with Mike Friedrich)
Pencils: Jim Starlin
Inks: Dan Green
Letterer: Dave Hunt


Anonymous said...

Like I said, when Starlin gets going, he just doesn't let up.
I enjoyed seeing all these heroes gathered together, it reminds me of those Justice League comics from D.C. in the
'70's I loved as a kid, where everybody showed up.
Great review, and a pleasure to see this stuff again. Thanks!

Comicsfan said...

My pleasure, m.p.! It's great fun to revisit these early C.M. stories.

Reggie Lewis said...

Capt Mar-vell was quite possibility marvels greatest space-bound hero. Loved this series when I was a kid and still loving it.

I wished marvel had brought Mar-vell to the MCU and this Drax The Destroyer instead of the way they are going. Mar-vell was really the only hero that Thanos had any real respect for

Thanks for the great memories


Anonymous said...

It would be cool to see Mar-vell show up in the films. I'd really like to see that!

Comicsfan said...

Well, Anon, the good Captain is indeed headed to the big screen--just not exactly the way you and I might have wished!

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