Or – “Because NOBODY Demanded It!”


The return of Captain Marvel has bothered me, from the very beginning.  The one-shot that brought him back was, frankly, awful, balancing lame art with a rushed plot, and felt like an afterthought.  “Oh, wait, let’s bring back this guy so that three years down the line we can do something with him!”  This series hasn’t been bad at all, to be honest, although there has been a lot of vaguely whiny self-introspection, and a strange recurring bit about a painting that has been completely impenetrable.  But, aside from the novelty of bringing back the guy who has become synonymous with “Capital-D Dead” (something Marvel excels in, these days) and maybe messing with Carol Danvers’ head, what possible reason could there be to bring back Marv?  Two words: Skrull.  Apalooza.

Previously, on Captain Marvel: Mar-Vell of the Kree came to Earth, wearing a pretty spiffy green and white suit.  He stuck around, on the fringes of the Marvel Universe, until he got his even CaptainMarvel03.jpgspiffier red and blue suit, and went through a period where he was bonded with Rick Jones (ala Billy Batson) and a cosmic re-imagining where his adventures were actually pretty damn good.  Then, after years of fair-to-middling adventures, Marvel did the unthinkable:  Mar-Vell died, not heroically in battle, but quietly, of cancer.  And STAYED DEAD.  To be honest, I’ve always felt that he was better served as proof that sometimes there were fatal consequences in the Marvel Universe than as a character whose main goal seemed to be keeping a trademark out of DC’s hands.  But, during the chaos of the Civil War, somehow Mar-Vell arrived in  the current Marvel U, displaced in time (but still carrying a terminal case of cancer) and forced to deal with a world he never made.  SHIELD ubercommandant Iron Man is very interested in Captain Marvel’s return, both because of recent green-wrinkly-chin related events and also to solidify his powerbase.  (Sorry, I can’t ignore the obvious undertones of story.)  Moreover, a cult worshiping Marv has arisen, led by the mysterious Mother Starr, and blatantly pointing out the resurrection metaphor in his storyarc, and Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel) has asked him to join the Avengers.  And then, the Kree attacked…

Atop the helicarrier, Captain Marvel and Iron Man face down a cadre of Kree, all wearing the green and white uniform of captain.  But, suddenly, my inner fanboy sense springs to life and notices that while they wear the COLORS of captain, they DON’T all wear the insignia of one.  Is it an error, or is it a clever signal that things aren’t quite right?  It could be either, as Iron Man’s armor quickly identifies the energy signature of the weapons… as SKRULL in nature.  One of the agents shoots Mar-Vell right in the head, and hilariously, the shot in the head reveals the same truth to Marv.  He grabs one of the “Kree,” as the others run, and the alien suddenly morphs back into his true Skrull form.  Mar-Vell, a true military man, SHOOTS THE CREATURE IN THE HEAD, turns to Iron Man, and asks “Is there something you’d like to tell me?”  Heh.  That was actually pretty awesome. 

Tony spills the beans on Elektra and the events of the past few months, as we check in on reporter Nathan Jefferson infilitrates the Skrull Church Crew as an initiate as the SHIELD agent (I can’t remember her name, but she’s French…) assigned to investigate Captain Marvel penetrates their security in a much more visceral way.  She sneaks past several of the red robed loons to find out the truth of what happened to Church of Hala member Brother McNally.  The sight of his body tells her all she really needs to know…  Meanwhile, Mar-Vell continues his work, fighting crime in New York, until a stray thread of memory seems to jog something.  He focuses his cosmic awareness until he remembers clearly, standing in a laboratory chamber of some kind, and seeing a Skrull approach.  “Ahh, you are awake!” says the shifty green something, as Captain Marvel’s mind threatens to snap under the strain.  He falls to Earth, remembering the strange painting that keeps haunting him, smashing through a cab (which really needs a nice big KRAK-A-DOOOOOM!) before rocketing away, realizing that everything he knows may be wrong.  Or, as I call it, “Life In The Marvel Universe.”

Mar-Vell heads straight for Camp Hammond, to find one of the only friends he still trusts: Ms. Marvel.  After first forcing her to prove her identity (“What did you say after our first kiss?  Prove to me you are not a Skrull Agent, or you will die!!!”  Wow…  intense, much?  I should try that on my wife tonight…  “Make me a chocolate cake or be executed as a Skrull!  And then, the or–“  Nevermind.)  Marv and Carol discuss current events, including the fact that old villains Cyclone and Cobalt Man have, like Mar-Vell himself, recently returned from the dead.  It’s a slim lead, but the only one he has.  Neither of the villains have shown interest in (or for that matter, had ANY dealings with) the Captain in the past, and there’s no reason why they would have attacked him now.  Desperate for answers, Marv heads to the Negative Zone prison (that thing is still operating???) to confront the Cobalt Man.  “You are not the Cobalt Man at all…” says Captain Marvel, and Cobalt Man laughs.  “Why don’t you just kill me, then?” taunts the Skrull, but Mar-Vell has no easy answer for that one.  When Marv demands that he explain himself, the Cobalt Skrull smiles and says “You tell me.  You were a big part of the plan after all…”  And then, the other shoe drops.

I have to say, this issue is the best one so far, and while I can kind of understand keeping the bits of the plot under wraps, the first two issues of the mini felt really aimless and set up the good Captain as much more morose and deluded than I’m comfortable with.  Still, the art has been very good throughout (Lee Weeks has always been a fave-rave, dating back to his work in the New Universe in the 80’s) and Brian Reed knows how to hit the right notes of paranoia.  Based on the first two issues, I was ready to write this mini up under the same category as the “Return” one-shot.  Now, I’m not sure exactly where I stand, but I’m intrigued.  With a couple of “Holy $#!+” moments on board, Captain Marvel #3 rates an impressive 3.5 out of 5 stars, and makes me think that the resurrection of the good Captain may have a point after all…


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Sanlear
    February 19, 2008 at 2:03 pm — Reply

    ““Make me a chocolate cake or be executed as a Skrull!”

    I have to try that on my wife tonight. I have nothing to lose. :)

    It would be nice if Captain Marvel really did turn out to be a Skrull. I like that alot better than his time-displaced return from the dead.

    Other than Uncle Ben, I’m hard pressed to think of one character that has stayed dead in the Marvel Universe. Yeesh.

  2. Katzedecimal
    February 19, 2008 at 5:45 pm — Reply

    ………… Badger? Is that you? o.O

  3. Josh
    February 19, 2008 at 5:51 pm — Reply

    Quick Question:

    When did Cobalt Man and Cyclone die?

    I could’ve sworn Cobalt Man and Cyclone both showed up in the last ten years in Thunderbolts, but I don’t remember them appearing anywhere after that.

  4. February 20, 2008 at 12:52 am — Reply

    Well, this particular Cyclone was the first, who was aced by Scourge in Captain America #319. The Thunderbolts Cyclone was his successor.

    Cobalt Man died in the explosion in Civil War #1, though he was impersonated by Iron Man in the Thunderbolts/Avengers limited series. Cobalt Man’s gimmick of blowing hisself up real good may indicate that he’s not really as D-E-D as they might have you believe, though.

  5. Josh
    February 21, 2008 at 6:33 pm — Reply

    Skrulls, or how to explain away every dead character who pops up in superstar writer of the month’s books

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