Wednesday, June 26, 2019

This Hero Reborn!

There may have been a collective sigh of relief that echoed through the ranks of Marveldom assembled following the conclusion of the Onslaught crossover event which served as a prelude to Marvel wiping its slate clean and starting anew--while readers, for their part, likely felt on the verge of finally putting the comics of the 1990s in our rear-view mirror and swinging the doors wide on the year 2000 to see what Marvel had to offer for the 21st century. And January of that year indeed looked promising, with new titles already in full swing, new talent on board, and, perhaps best of all, a return to artwork that didn't have its characters looking like they'd just stepped out of a funhouse mirror and sporting hair strands sharp enough to give Wolverine a run for his money.

Among the interesting new books coming down the pipe, one title caught my eye in particular--the refit of the Captain Marvel character, who reclaimed the name from Monica Rambeau and was given prime exposure in the Avengers Forever limited series. We can only assume that reader feedback on the character was favorable, if he was fast-tracked into his own series so quickly afterward (and with writer Peter David taking the reins of the book, at that). But there was of course also the hook of Captain Marvel being reintroduced, recreated, relaunched--though it wasn't Mar-vell, the original "man of the Kree," we'd be seeing, but his son, Genis-vell, artificially aged and determined to carry on his father's legacy as... well, "Legacy," the name he had taken before beginning a trial run in a 1995-96 six-issue series called (you guessed it) Captain Marvel.

But readers following the character from Avengers Forever to his new series were unintentional victims of bait-and-switch--because the mature, seasoned Captain Marvel featured in that book, who came into the story already an Avenger, was wiser, more battle-hardened, and more interesting than the Genis in the new Captain Marvel, a young man very in sync with Rick Jones given that the two are molecularly bonded. One would think that recycling the Rick/Captain Marvel union--which doomed the first C.M. series almost immediately and may have arguably been one of the factors which led to the cancellation of the second--would have been something to steer clear of in the third. But just look at the dizzying sequence of scenes which take place to get the character (and us) to where we need to be, one of which is adapted from what we witnessed between Rick and Mar-vell at the end of the Kree-Skrull war.

And when Rick is returned to present-day, along with Giant-Man and the Wasp, the new Captain Marvel is whipped up before our eyes and ready to be handed off to Mr. David.

Captain Marvel #0, packaged and exclusively sold with Wizard 2000, served to whet the appetite for our new character's new book, immediately involving him in a mystery where he battled an alien threat that only he was able to see; yet you need not have coughed up $5 for Wizard just to get a look at it, since the subsequent issue #1 catches you up sufficiently on where things stand, thanks to a visit from the L.A.P.D.

With that one visual at the mirror, it becomes apparent just what we can expect to see with this Captain Marvel and his relationship with Rick--i.e., where one goes, so goes the other, even though they'll still KTANG! their way back and forth between bodies. To a certain degree, it's the same arrangement they had before, though when Mar-vell went into action his interplay with Rick's voice was to a much more limited extent; here, however, it's been made clear that Genis and Rick are joined at the hip and practically operating as one, two people who truly can finish each other's sentences if the situation called for it.

Thankfully, however, the two are different enough to avoid the material provided by David becoming tedious--one cynical wisecracker (Rick) on the team is quite enough, without their dialog becoming banter between two such individuals firing David's witticisms back and forth. Also gratifying in the issue's early scenes is the indication that Genis has initiative of his own and need not be prodded by Rick in order to act decisively and, in this case, sensibly. (For all the good it does him in this instance.)

Not that Genis is going to turn down a little help from someone who's adept at placating law enforcement personnel.

Rick's "battle cry" is indeed at "Marv's" expense, stemming from a childhood game where you get a group of kids to slowly say three words: o-wha tagoo siam (the last pronounced sigh-am). You then have them speak the words a little faster, then a little more quickly, and so on, until they end up saying "oh what a goose I am" (and hopefully laughing at themselves afterward). You get the feeling that Marv is going to be the straight man in this duo.

And so fifteen pages into the story, you already have a general idea of how David plans to handle Captain Marvel--though these scenes give you only a taste of what quickly evolves into the Marv and Rick Show, as it becomes fair to wonder why Rick's name isn't featured under the Captain Marvel masthead. While David's approach is a familiar one to readers, and certainly time-tested, we see here someone very different from the character that caught our attention in Avengers Forever, a gap that wit alone can neither replace nor compensate for--and at $2.50 a pop, there has to be something more to Genis than someone who has adopted the costume, cosmic awareness (!), and photonic powers of his namesake (to say nothing of his predecessor's rank) and goes into action.

As we've seen, the story continues what issue #0 set in motion--though now the alien who reappears brings quite the mystery to the table.

You've got some nerve mocking your foe for his use of the title "Captain," Genis.

If your title character has to be directed in battle, it's just possible we'll need to revise that masthead even further. How does "Rick Jones, featuring Captain Marvel" sound?

The creature is eventually lured into a giant tar pit, which ends the threat for the time being--though of course there's the creature's origin to consider, as well as its pretense of being "Captain Marvel." For now, Genis can chalk up a win, as well as a smoother relationship with the L.A.P.D. But as to who's really running the show here...

...well, unfortunately, that also seems to be something of a mystery.

Let's not judge a good poker game by its cover!

Captain Marvel #1

Script: Peter David
Pencils: Chris Cross
Inks: Anibal Rodriguez
Letterer: Albert Deschesne


Anonymous said...

Never read that Captain Marvel, but did try Avengers Forever on a whim after having missed the 90s at Marvel. It put me off for quite a few years more.

I know a lot of people like Busiek, but c'mon - continuity porn with time travel AND shapeshifting aliens? The best you can say for it was at least the aliens weren't Skrulls, but that ain't saying much.
And the pay-off for all that was... the new Captain Marvel - ktang! - fuses with Rick Jones! Whoever saw that coming?

With creativity like that, I expect after the Captain Marvel series ended Rick started hanging out with the Hulk or became a new Bucky.
Hope at least he didn't try to revive his music career.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to go on, but - "... so some sort of time-flux must've pulled you here... maybe given you cosmic awareness"
What kind of dialogue is that?!?

And even if you're ok with that kind of malarkey (I'm lookin' at you Killdumpster) since when has Rick Jones been an expert in cosmological metaphysics, or whatever that is?
When did he become the new Reed Richards?

And on top of that, I still don't get whether Kang becomes Immortus or not. (A bit off-topic Comicsfan, but was it both, he does and he doesn't?)


Comicsfan said...

We're definitely in agreement on Rick's sudden aptitude for theoretical science, Sean. We should probably just assume that he was thinking out loud, in an effort to put the whole matter behind them.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe Rick had just had some... uh, vitamin C Comicsfan, like he used to do back in the day. It makes people talk complete rubbish. So I'm told.


Tiboldt said...

Isn't it an established fact that Cosmic Awareness turns your hair blonde?