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Where I Read: Captain Marvel, Part 2

February 22, 2017

Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (cover date Mar ’68)

Did this really come out 4 months after the previous issue? That seems like an usually long gap for the time period. Once again there’s a blurb on the cover for five extra stories that aren’t included in the digital version: Sub-Mariner, Captain America, Human Torch, Black Knight, and the Vision. It’s not said on the cover, but I’m assuming that these are more Golden Age reprints, which means that most of those stories are about completely different characters than one would expect from the names.

Where Stalks the Sentry!

In our second issue, Stan the Man has handed off writing duties to the ever-reliable Roy Thomas. And Roy promptly starts off by ditching Mar-vell’s ray-gun. The story opens with Mar-vell sitting in his hotel room, strangely not wearing his helmet (and thus wasting his supply of breathable air), while modifying his “universal beam blaster” into a wrist-mounted device that he names a “uni-beam.” Once he’s done, he throws the shell of his gun into his carrying case, changes into his Earth clothes, and leaves to rendezvous with his spaceship. As he leaves, he ignores a question from the hotel clerk, who then becomes suspicious of this new renter.

captmarvel-02-aMar-vell walks out to a remote spot and tests his new wrist blaster by shooting some trees and rocks. Not only is he able to blast apart some boulders, he can then “create an artificial magnetic core,” that pulls the rock fragments back together, “until they reform… in almost the exact shape of the original boulder!” While that’s an unusual ability, it doesn’t strike me as particularly useful. “I will blow you to pieces, and then put those pieces back together again!” Upon successfully testing his new weapon, Mar-vell remarks that, “it has been proven, once again, that Kree science is second to none!” Yeah, and how’s that working out for your future cancer?

When his wrist sensor tells him that his spaceship is close, the Captain reveals that Roy has also changed the jump-belt into a jet-flight-belt. Within the story, Mar-vell notes that he modified the belt as well. He flies up towards the ship, which he can only see because he is Kree. Apparently the ship’s aura of negativism cloaks it from human vision as well as from sensors. But as Colonel Yon-rogg watches Mar-vell approach the ship, his hand strays to the weapon controls…

Medic Una sees what Yon-rogg is thinking and protests, but other crew members restrain her. Yon-rogg had warned them to watch her because she was “under a severe strain.” This seems like typical “shut up, you’re just a girl” talk, but maybe I’m looking at it too hard. Or not, because on the next page, Yon-rogg tells the other men, “Medic Una has been distraught – no doubt an effect of our long voyage across uncharted space!” Jeez, what are you gonna do with these frails? You can’t take them anywhere, amirite? Una protests, but is told that disobeying an order is treason. They haul her off, and now there are no witnesses to Yon-rogg’s act of treachery.

But luckily for Captain Mar-vell, a small propeller aircraft (which can’t see the starship, although presumably it could see the flying man) suddenly appears and flies across his path, just as Yon-rogg fires at him! The aircraft is destroyed by the blast, while Mar-vell is completely unharmed, and now aware that Yon-rogg tried to murder his ass.

captmarvel-02-bMar-vell goes to check out the wreckage and finds that, in another incredible stroke of luck, the pilot is dead and looks pretty much just like the Kree spy. Short white hair, clean-shaven, pink skin… they probably have the same eye color. The dead man has papers IDing him as Walter Lawson, an expert in missile guidance systems. And luckier still, Lawson just happened to be on his way to the nearby missile base, to which he was recently re-assigned. Well. Isn’t that all ridiculously and incredibly convenient.

Back on the spaceship, Una brews up a knock-out gas in her quarters and releases it into the ventilation system. When everyone is asleep, she beams more breathing potion down to her lover, who was running out of the concoction. Apparently slipping a mickey to the entire crew doesn’t count as treason. But now Mar-vell no longer needs to rendezvous with the ship, and can go ahead and infiltrate the missile base as Lawson.

As I am re-reading this I realize that it’s not clear what Mar-vell was even supposed to be doing, exactly, while on Earth before this point. It’s only because of this incredibly unlikely event that he has a purpose and a human supporting cast to interact with. Since it’s only the second issue, it’s hard to say if this was how the story was supposed to develop, or if Roy Thomas looked at the thin gruel that Stan Lee gave him and tried turn it into something palatable.

captmarvel-02-cThe missile base is apparently the same one from the previous ish. It’s called the Cape, a stand-in for Cape Canaveral in Florida. While all of the landscape shots make it look like the Cape is outside of Los Angeles, I guess it’s not clear what state the base is supposed to be located in. Lawson shows up and is immediately put to work doing math stuff. He marvels at the humans’ rate of technological progress, and thanks “the stars” for the “American institution known as – the coffee break!” Otherwise he wouldn’t be able to drink his breathing potion every hour. Sneaking off to drink from a flask every hour? His co-workers are probably thinking he’s a drunk.

We are introduced to General Bridges, the base commander, and Carol Danvers, a “girl” who is head of security for the base. The General takes Lawson to a well-guarded hanger where… the Sentry is revealed! Yes, the Cape is studying (without much success) the giant Kree robot that was defeated by the FF (I’m guessing; once again there are no footnotes). Danvers thinks Lawson is hiding something, and her suspicion will soon be a thorn in Mar-vell’s side, I’m sure. Given how much suspicion Mar-vell is raising as he pretends to be a human, I am thinking that maybe the Kree should have sent an actual spy to spy on the humans, instead of a soldier.

Yon-rogg sees the Sentry through the wrist monitor – apparently the Kree had no idea it was here, which makes this another incredible stroke of luck – and sends a command to it that causes the robot to re-activate. It lays waste to the soldiers and the base. General Bridges orders someone to call up Walter Lawson, because hey, he’s a scientist, maybe he has an idea on how to stop the thing. But, Lawson was just there? I guess some time has passed, since Mar-vell is back in his hotel room (again, not wearing his helmet and wasting precious breathing time).

The base calls the hotel looking for him. Did they know he was there? No. But it’s the only hotel in town, you see, so he must be there. The clerk doesn’t know any Walter Lawson, but he does know this guy “C. Marvel” who looks just like him (suspicious!), so he sends the call up to Marvel’s room. Mar-vell wonders if Yon-rogg activated the Sentry in order to kill him. This would apparently endanger their mission, to “fully study this world – to help the Kree decide if it should live… or die,” as the Sentry could destroy the planet by itself. I don’t think so, buddy. How did it end up at the base in the first place? That’s right, some earthlings beat your precious all-powerful robot down. In any case, Mar-vell considers it his duty to stop the Sentry before it kills everyone on the planet, because why take away all the fun from the Kree Intergalactic Fleet? Let’s be realistic. Of course the Kree are going to decide to kill Earth. Why not let the Sentry just do its job and save everyone from a lot of hassle? Anyway, he dons his battle suit and uses his jet-belt to fly to the base.

You know, the whole “study the Earth” business smells fishy to me, too. The Kree have already been to Earth. They created the Inhumans. They presumably left the Sentry there (I’m guessing the FF found in on Earth, anyway). Why send a crewed ship out there at all? Why not ring up Blackbolt and ask him… ok, scratch that idea.

captmarvel-02-dUp in the spaceship, Yon-rogg puts on a show for the crew, pretending that something else awoke the Sentry, and commending Mar-vell for his bravery in confronting it. And back at the hotel, the clerk wonders if his newest guest is really a Communist spy – well, he got it half-right – and is about to sniff around Mar-vell’s room. And then we get a really nice full-page panel of Mar-vell landing in front of / confronting the Sentry. The giant robot recognizes this new figure as a Kree, but from its speech Mar-vell gathers that it is unable to accept new programming. It will fight Mar-vell’s attempts to shut it down.

Next: the fight! Finally! The text says the story will continue in Marvel Super-Heroes #14, which we already know is a dirty lie.

  1. It’s superhero-ing. There will be plotholes. 🙂

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  1. Where I Read: Captain Marvel, Part 1 | Daddy DM

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