Friday, November 1, 2019

Man Of The Kree... Man Of The Sea

While it's not exactly surprising to see unlikely pairings of Marvel characters--we only have to take a look at such combinations as the Champions, or the Defenders, or the Secret Defenders, or the Titans Three, or, for that matter, practically any issue of Marvel Team-Up--writer Roy Thomas, for whatever reason, felt that something would click with the pairing of a sea-born prince and a space-born alien. And with Thomas's track record, who are we to say him nay?

Thomas's first pairing of Captain Marvel and the Sub-Mariner took place in the former's nascent title in August of 1968, when Mar-vell, a spy stationed on our world, was beginning to have doubts about his mission among us. In his civilian guise as Dr. Walter Lawson, he learns of a rocket launch designed to release into space test tubes filled with deadly bacteria, in order to record their reactions to cosmic rays. (Which seems like we were just asking for trouble, doesn't it?) But Mar-vell's superior in orbit, Col. Yon-Rogg, diverts the rocket so that it crashes just outside New York Harbor--though that development in itself is cause for alarm, since the rocket is automatically primed to jettison the vials which will now be released into Earth's atmosphere, rather than into space as planned.

Nearby, the Sub-Mariner has arrived on site and is alerted to the situation and warned to stay away--but he's keen to take advantage of the opportunity to establish a link with the human race, by averting this disaster. As for Mar-vell, given his doubts about bringing harm to humans, you'd think he and Namor would be on the same page in this, wouldn't you--but Yon-Rogg's orders to him effectively set both of these men against one another.

Namor's confusion is understandable, since this "human" is either under orders to keep him from approaching the rocket, or intentionally trying to keep him from preventing a disaster. As we've seen, however, the matter is rendered moot, since Mar-vell is no match for the might of the Sub-Mariner--particularly when the battle is under water, where he's invincible. Though it's too bad Mar-vell doesn't have a couple of porpoises up his sleeve.

Finally, Mar-vell figures his only chance is to somehow help Namor accomplish his goal while at the same time making Yon-Rogg believe that he's following his orders--if I'm following Thomas's dizzying plot correctly, that is. Frankly, events from this point become so incohesive that the ending turns into something of a head-scratcher.

We're left to assume that Mar-vell at least will be perceived as doing his job as ordered, but simply failing at his task when he manages to covertly maneuver the Sub-Mariner into "accidentally" setting off the capsule's detonation device--though as we'd see in the following issue, Yon-Rogg will implicate Mar-vell in intentionally destroying the rocket.

Two years later, Thomas has the Sub-Mariner and Mar-vell meeting again, when Namor suddenly appears on a beach where Rick Jones is taking a stroll and advances toward Rick with murder in his eye!

"... in stylish green and white!" Sure, if you say so, pal.

Mar-vell quickly finds that, even when not in direct contact with water, Namor's might is overwhelming; but despite having flipped through only four pages of this story, what we're seeing here will be pretty much the extent of hostilities between these two for its duration.

Before Namor can deliver the coup de grĂ¢ce, however, he experiences a seizure of some sort and collapses; but the mystery behind his actions deepens when he later attempts escape, only to find he now has an unexplained fear of returning to the ocean.

To make a long story short, it turns out that Namor fell victim to a concussion grenade while earlier trying to stop a man known only as Markham from essentially holding the oceans for ransom; if his price wasn't met, his molecular polluter device would be activated, starting a chain reaction which would eventually make the seas radioactive. The trauma from the grenade explosion caused Namor's brain to temporarily react to the ocean with fear, while also causing him to see all humans as foes. Namor and Mar-vell later unite to stop the activation of Markham's second polluter, reaching it just in time and subsequently hurling it into space.

This would be the first and only appearance of the bloated Mr. Markham, an ex-con who had killed the inventor of the molecular polluter in order to possess it. No doubt he was sent up the creek without a paddle for this second and far more major offense. Obviously, he hasn't been missed.


Anonymous said...

Mar-vell was often going up against guys who were, on paper, way more powerful.
First, due to his abilities and training as a Kree soldier and later, Cosmic Awareness and Kosmic Kung-Fu powers courtesy of Eon.
He's taken on some real heavy-hitters, including Thanos and the Hulk. He's defeated guys like Super-Skrull, Super-Adaptoid, and the Controller.
It makes me wish I had paid more attention in that Judo class I took in college.
Other than groaning in pain, that is.


Tiboldt said...

""... in stylish green and white!" Sure, if you say so, pal."

I'm sorry, that's harsh criticism of the fashion sense of what is a visitor to our world. It's not like red and blue is original for an alien colour scheme.

Big Murr said...

I'll chime in as well that the "stylish green and white" is obviously Mar-Vell showing nostalgic pride in his culture. That green and white outfit was his Kree military uniform. I've seen many a soldier from many a nation walking tall and proud in their uniform but, really, I have to wonder if they actually looked in a mirror before leaving the barracks?

Comicsfan said...

I don't know, Murray--it seems unlikely to me that a soldier who takes pride in their uniform would make a point of describing it as "stylish." To me that sounded more like a hallmark of Roy Thomas's writing style than anything that Mar-vell might have said on his own.