Or – “Kree? Skrull? WAR!”
The presence of Mar-Vell of the Kree in the present-day Marvel Universe has raised all sorts of questions…Â How can he be here?Â Why now?Â Who let that rhinocerous on this bus?Â Isn’t his costume awesome?Â How the hell did he manage to stay dead for more than half an hour in a Marvel comic, anyway?Â Now, as obscure clues which might, possibly, point to the answers come to light, even Marv can’t be sure he is who he thinks he is…Â Is he a Kree?Â Is he a Skrull infiltrator?Â Is he a dot?Â Is he a speck?Â When he’s under water will he get wet?Â Answers are coming, but it’s looking very much like Captain Marvel won’t like what they reveal.
Previously, on Captain Marvel:Â In the midst of the heroes’ Civil War, very few people really noticed that one of the combatants had been dead for decades…Â or so it seemed.Â The return of Hala’s favorite son has caused consternation from Iron Man, anger from Spider-Man, a subdued relief from Ms. Marvel, and even sprouted a cult in his name, the Church of Hala.Â Mar-Vell himself has been attacked by Kree warriors, (who turned out to be, in reality, Skrulls) has been plagued with strange snippets of memory, none of which make sense, as well as strangely fixated on a painting of Alexander the Great.Â Last time round, the head of the Church was revealed to be a Skrull, sending Marvel on a mission to question a Skrull shape-shifter who had been posing as the very-much-dead Cobalt Man (another armored Iron Man foe, for those keeping track.)Â Shock followed shock asÂ “Cobalt Man” informed Mar-VellÂ point-blank thatÂ he is, himself, another Skrull spy!
Our story begins in the recent past (only hours after Captain Marvel reappeared) as a cadre of SHIELD agents arrived on Titan, the moon of Saturn.Â The agents remark how weird it is that the head of SHIELD has a Skrull ship (Is it odd?Â Is it REEEALLY?) and they prepare to extract what they need… from the grave of Mar-Vell.Â While we add graverobbing to the list of Tony Stark’s crimes, we cut forward to Captain Marvel, silently contemplating the nature of reality.Â He remembers the words of the Skrull…Â “The holes in your memory?Â The dead men attacking you?Â The fascination with that damnable bit of human art?Â Your name is Khn’nr.Â You volunteered to have your mind altered so you would think you were that long-dead son of Hk’phh, Captain Marvel!”Â I wonder if Khn’nr (which my mind pronounces “Connor”) is a riff on Superboy?Â In either case, Mar-Vell refuses to believe that he’s a traitor, and punches the living $#!+ out of the Skrull.
Meanwhile, Nathan Jefferson, a reporter who faked his way into the Church of Hala, finds himself really believing in their message of peace, harmony, and nice red uniforms…Â (Oh, Damn!Â Let’s come in again!)Â NathanÂ is, finally, discovered by theÂ church as a spy, but reveals that heÂ is now a true believer.Â “I recruited my first memebers of the church today.”Â Suddenly, Mother Starr, the head of the Cult looks up, her eyes wide, and cries “Oh, my god!”Â They all look up and see… Captain Marvel hovering overhead.Â “I sincerely hope you don’t mean that literally.”Â That is a very good line, actually.Â Mother Starr falls to her knees, beggin forgiveness, but instead Marv offers to join her in her crusade.Â
A worried Tony Stark watches as the now-reinvigorated Church of Hala takes action, moving to the Sudan, and trying to bring peace to the world.Â I have to say, I’m a little uncomfortable with the messiah metaphor, but it’s at least done somewhat tastefully…Â until an explosion rocks their headquarters, killing Mother Starr!Â Nathan rushes in to try and help, but finds only an enraged Cap, who leaps into the sky and flies as fast as he can into conflict.Â He begins in Darfur, destroying tanks and guns, disarming warriors and raging “I once swore to protect this world and no matter what, I WILL protect it… even from itself!Â This insanity wnds, or I WILL END IT FOR YOU!”Â Director Stark is not pleased (heroes going too far and trying to force others to see it their way infringes upon his copyrights, after all) and calls Ms. Marvel to Stark Tower.Â He reveals to her his secret weapon, ripped from the corpse of a man he called a friend: the Nega-Bands.Â You may remember that the bands once allowed Marv and Rick Jones to switch back and forth into the Negative Zone, back in the day.Â As Mar-Vell hovers in the ionosphere, looking down on his protectorate, he’s pleased to see his old friend Carol fly up…Â until she clangs the bands together and sends him into the Zone!Â Carol crashes to Earth like a slightly more masculine David Bowie, while Cap is angered to find himself back in his old prison…Â until he finds a bright light that reminds him exactly of the one that sent him to the future.Â “I…Â I am home!” he thinks, as we fade to black…
This issue feels like a piggyback ride from Jay Garrick, racing from place to place, with barely a second to process information as we go.Â Marv is a Skrull, then he joins the church, then he pledges to end war, then he’s transported into the Negative Zone.Â The somewhat glacial pace of the first two issues would, it seemed, have allowed for some of these developments to unfold at a more natural pace, without whipping me back and forth like a dog with a rawhide bone.Â Still, it’s an interesting issue, beautifully drawn by Lee Weeks (the man really deserves a regular series…Â I’d suggest New Warriors, which could use some clarity in the art department) and slow burn to Secret Invasion aside, I enjoyed the book…Â Still, due to the pacing, I can’t give Captain Marvel #4 more than 2.5 out 5 stars.Â There’s good stuff here, though, and they claim that next issue will answer the question of ‘What in the code of Hammurabi is going on here?’