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Where I Read: Captain Marvel, Part 3

March 1, 2017

Captain Marvel #1 (cover date May ’68)

Alright, now we’re caught up. The cover says, “Big Premiere Issue!” and “Out of the Holocaust… a Hero!” While I suppose it is the premiere issue, it’s not the premiere of the story, which started in another book, 6 months back. Yes, I’m still bitter.

The opening page notes that the response to the character was so amazing that they had to give him his own title. Stan Lee-style hype? Or the truth? I suppose there’s no way to know. Roy Thomas and Gene Colan are still responsible for the writing & art, with Vince Colletta inking. We join the action as the giant Kree Sentry, a robotic engine of destruction, is attacking the Kree Captain Mar-vell, who is trying to shut the robot down before it lays waste to the Earth.

Mar-vell announces his name and rank to the towering machine, which is overheard by some nearby human soldiers as, “Captain Marvel.” Because of course the Kree soldier is speaking English as he attempts to command the Kree robot. Which is speaking English because… hurm. I got nothing. The Sentry, #459 from highly-sought-after limited run of 500, doesn’t care who Mar-vell is. If he’s going to stand in the Sentry’s way, he is going to get smacked down.

The Sentry comes at the Captain, who tries to lead the robot away from the “helpless” human soldiers. Why does he care if some humans die or not? It’s not said; I guess it’s assumed he will act heroically because he’s the protagonist. He’s also leading the Sentry away from the base’s nuclear warheads, which needs less explanation. He fires his wrist-mounted uni-beam at the giant, noting that a Sentry has never attacked a Kree before, so he doesn’t know what effect the uni-beam will have. So the Kree never tested the Sentries against their own hardware, “the galaxy’s most common all-purpose weapon”? Yeah, that Kree science is something else, alright.

captmarvel-03-aThe Sentry is quite surprised to find that Mar-vell’s attack actually destroyed many of the “metal components of [its] body,” from which it extrapolates that he must have enhanced the weapon’s power. Apparently the Sentry knows the effectiveness of a standard uni-beam on its armor, even if the Kree themselves do not. This realization is accompanied by a picture of nuts and bolts and little doodads spilling through the robot’s hands. The robot itself does not appear to be damaged, really. Where are those bolts coming from? Its body looks dolphin-smooth. In any case, the Sentry picks the bits of itself up off the ground and somehow slots them back into their rightful place, where they “repair themselves – becoming even stronger than before!”

While the Sentry is busy putting itself back together, Mar-vell lifts a long I-shaped beam, which he notes is the upper limit of his strength (so – Excellent Strength in Marvel Super Hero RPG terms? Maybe Remarkable?), and throws it at his foe. But the Sentry’s armor is so strong that the beam actually breaks apart when it strikes its target.

Up on the ship, Colonel Yon-rogg gloats over how no one, “least of all my slave-like crew,” knows that he activated the Sentry. At the very end of the last issue, he had brought Medic Una up to the bridge so that she could witness Mar-vell’s demise, but apparently he changed his mind. Now she is tied up (!) in her own quarters. “She must not be allowed to do anything rash, while she is so… distraught!” In her room, Una laments that the crew is bound by years of blind obedience to their leaders, and notes that her and Mar-vell were always different in that respect. Then she spots a Mend-Mek – a repair bot – and tries to use it to gain a report on what is happening on the Earth’s surface. The machine starts to tell her before its access to the ship’s sensors is blocked by Yon-rogg.

Back at the Cape, Mar-vell tries to use his uni-beam to blind the Sentry, but it instantly recovers. Then in a desperate gambit, the Captain uses his jet-belt to launch himself at the robot, hoping to get at its backside. Why? Well, maybe the armor on its back isn’t as tough as the front. Hey, I said it was desperate. The Sentry smacks its opponent out of the air and then slams him into the ground. It is about to crush the interfering Kree when it is distracted by the human soldiers shooting at it! The Sentry emits light from its eyes, which forms an energy wall that the humans cannot get past. They try bullets and fists and even explosives, but they cannot breach the barrier.

Meanwhile, over at the hotel, the clerk breaks into Mar-vell’s room, finds his alien briefcase, and tried to pry it open. He is unable to open the case, but it makes a loud “klik” sound as he attempts to jimmy it. Undeterred, he decides to take the container to the missile base and let them sort it out.

At the base, Carol Danvers crawls out of some rubble, and nearly gets flattened by the Sentry, only to be saved by Captain Marvel. She implores Marvel to flee, but he notes that they can’t; they’re trapped by the solid light barrier that’s keeping the soldiers out. Instead he resolves to fight on, and turns his uni-beam up to its highest setting. Carol finds his tenacity very inspiring.

captmarvel-03-bBut the uni-beam has no effect. The Sentry tells Mar-vell that, if it had a sense of humor as the earthlings do, it would laugh at him. But it doesn’t, so instead – it will annihilate him! Mar-vell grabs Danvers, telling her to “keep moving, girl!” and they run, with the Sentry gaining on them. When the Captain has gotten the Sentry far enough away from the human soldiers, he turns and fires his uni-beam once more. This time he narrows the beam to a nearly invisible width, and manages to bore a miniscule hole in the robot’s armored hide.

Sentry #459 is unimpressed, and prepares to continue its attack. But Mar-vell is not worried in the slightest. “It is you who are doomed,” he tells the mechanical monstrosity, “not I! Observe how casually I turn off my wrist-lens! I need it no longer!”

“True, man of the Kree!” replies the Sentry. “For in another heartbeat, you shall be- wait! My circuits – inside my chestplate! They begin – to feel drawn – pulled together – !” That’s right, Mar-vell used that magnetic trick from earlier on to destroy the robot’s innards. So much for my theory that that ability would not ever be used.

captmarvel-03-cCarol overhears the English-speaking Sentry call Mar-vell a “man of the Kree,” but is too weak and disoriented to consider what it meant by that (she is just a girl, after all). The Sentry is destroyed “in a brief holocaust,” a fiery blast that is sure to have killed the man of the Kree and the human woman. But no! From the spaceship, Yon-rogg observes Mar-vell walk away from the destruction, carrying Danvers in his arms. “Of course!” he explains to the readers, “The magnetic fusion which took place within the Sentry – it must have caused less an explosion – than an implosion!” Except, you know, for the actual explosion – a holocaust, even – that you just witnessed.

Yon-rogg is incredulous that a sentry was laid low by a mere man of the Kree! Incidentally, starting with this issue, “man of the Kree” appears in roughly one-third of all word balloons in this title. Despite his disappointment, the Colonel resolves to turn the day’s events to his advantage by informing the Kree Imperial Minister that Mar-vell is a traitor for defending puny humans from a Kree war machine. See, Mar-vell? What did I say last issue about just letting the Sentry run amok?

Ronan the Accuser responds to the message on behalf of the Minister (again, so much for failure meaning death in Kree-land) and informs Yon-rogg that they’ve been watching him closely, and THEY KNOW. Yon-rogg gets a scolding for risking the mission for the sake of a personal vendetta. Back at the base, Carol Danvers has conveniently forgotten what she heard due to shock. The military thanks Captain Marvel for saving them, and then he flies off so that he can switch back to Walter Lawson. He lands within sight of the base, and as he looks upon it, he ponders his situation. The humans see him as a hero, he thinks, but “what would they say if they knew the one they call Captain Marvel – may one day become the most deadly menace of all?”

Man, that issue was just one long fight. With quite a bit of padding, too – several pages were spent showing the soldiers trying to get through the light barrier, for example, to absolutely no effect. Still, it was pretty fun, and a nice change from the extended set-up.

Next: the Super-Skrull! Hmm, the Kree-Skrull War is still a long way off, and I wonder if the two species’ hatred for each other has been established yet in the comics.

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4 Comments
  1. Technically, isn’t Mar-vell only stating that _he_ doesn’t know if the omni-beam will affect the sentinel? Unless he’s read the engineering rapports, it could easily have been tested (thus the Sentinel knowing), without the kree “public” knowing.

    • Yeah, that works – you win a No Prize! It struck me as odd, as he’s a bit of a science whiz himself (he managed to upgrade his weapon and jump-belt while sitting in a fleabag motel), so that’s an odd assumption for him to make.

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