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Where I Read: Captain Marvel, Part 9

April 12, 2017

Captain Marvel #7 (cover date November ’68)

“Die, Town, Die!” by Arnold Drake (w), Don Heck (p), and John Tartaglione (i).

Captain Mar-vell is on trial by the Kree, once again. Ho hum, just another Tuesday. This time, he’s been teleported (they can do that?) into “the truth chair” on the Kree ship. Funny how they have some new device or procedure every time this comes up. The truth chair induces pain in its occupant, so it’s probably more of a torture chair, it seems to me. In front of a projection of Ronan the Accuser, Colonel Yon-rogg lays out the newest set of charges: Mar-vell was just supposed to watch as the Earthlings dealt with the light-energy creature that they themselves created. But instead he disobeyed orders and destroyed the creature, using advanced science captmarvel-09-aonly possessed by the Kree.

Ronan notes that the chair can detect falsehoods – so I guess its name isn’t a total euphemism – but only if the right kinds of questions are asked. And so Ronan takes over the interrogation from Yon-rogg, who clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing. The Accuser, who has an empire to run and surely must be tired of constantly having to deal with this whole Yon-rogg/Mar-vell dispute, questions Mar-vell about his motivations for defeating Solam. Mar-vell claims that he did it to preserve the mission – if he did not act, Solam would have destroyed Earth and they would have lost out on the chance to learn more about the Earthlings. Or something. I’m not sure his case is very compelling, to be honest. The Kree are here on a military spy mission, not a scientific mission. Given that Earthlings are just about on the level of cave-men compared to the Kree, there’s probably not much of anything they could learn from us. Except, perhaps, how to produce a metric ton of super-beings.

In any case, the truth chair is unable to determine whether or not Mar-vell is lying. I would think that the persuasiveness of his argument would be more important than whether or not he believed he was telling the truth, but there you go. Since the machines couldn’t catch him in a lie, or prove that he is not lying, Ronan gets to decide the Captain’s fate once more. And Ronan decides that Mar-vell must prove his loyalty by releasing the deadly space virus Z-3 on an Earth town of his choosing. With that taken care of, Mar-vell and Yon-rogg are teleported back to their ship “by beta-ray at velocity 5-SL – five times the speed of light!” I guess this was all happening on the Kree home world, and not Yon-rogg’s ship like I thought. And that wasn’t a projection of Ronan, but simply the poorly-colored real deal.

Back on the Kree ship orbiting Earth, Mar-vell enjoys a short reunion with his true love, Una, before heading back to Earth. Una tells her lover that she doubts that he can go through with it. “You would not willingly destroy intelligent beings as though they were laboratory animals!” Mind you, in the previous panel, Yon-rogg comments that Mar-vell is “the great hero of a dozen inter-planetary campaigns,” so the good Captain is perfectly willing to destroy intelligent beings. Just not like laboratory animals, apparently.

captmarvel-09-bDown on Earth, Carol Danvers is attempting to gather evidence of the Kree spaceship’s landing from the previous issue. Yon-rogg is alerted to her actions, somehow, and fires a “miniscule… charge of cosmic energy” at her. The mote gathers more energy as it speeds towards Earth, becoming a deadly… snowball. Carol sees her approaching snowy doom, but luckily for captmarvel-09-cher, so does Mar-vell, who was flying by. He scatters the accumulated cosmic death-ball with a well-placed shot from his wrist-blaster, creating a thick cloud of mist. When Captain Marvel walks out of the cloud, Carol recognizes him and leaps into his arms. “I thought you were some alien being!” she exclaims. Oh, Carol, if only you knew. When Mar-vell chides her for looking for aliens, she mentions that she thinks Dr. Lawson is involved somehow and requests Mar-vell’s help in getting to the bottom of the matter. Mar-vell uses the opportunity to take a photo of the real Lawson’s fingerprints that Carol just happens to have on her, and promises Danvers to look into the doctor. “Thank you, Captain Marvel!” gushes Carol. “I don’t know why, but I feel an endless trust in you!” The irony is not lost on Mar-vell. This is a pretty common Marvel trope – the supporting cast member who loves the super-hero and hates the secret ID, or vice versa.

Yon-rogg’s plan to kill Carol Danvers may have failed, but he makes the most of the situation by calling Una over to the video screen. She sees her lover embrace Danvers, and the Colonel tries to sow doubt in the Medic’s heart. Una is upset, but knows she “must not give even a hint of my woman’s weakness!”

captmarvel-09-dMeanwhile, in some natural caves under Manhattan, Quasimodo, the Living Computer, rants out loud so that we all know who he is. He (it?) was created by the Mad Thinker as the ultimate computer, and he subsequently made the leap to sentience. So, another foe borrowed from the FF, if I’m remembering correctly. He hates that mankind has enslaved machines, and wants to enslave mankind and make the machines the rulers. Except the machines are mindless, so he’ll be the ruler, and the machines will be enslaved to him. But at least they will not be enslaved by man, I guess. In addition to having a robot body and an ugly face, Quasimodo can animate and control “all mechanical things!” Just in case we missed the last issue, Quasimodo lets us know that he greatly desires the “computer energy” found at the Cape, and he intends to go there and eat it or absorb it or whatever a living computer does with computer energy.

Over at Mar-vell’s hotel, he uses the photo that he took of Lawson’s fingerprints and his handy “cell transmuter” to give himself the human’s prints. And then over at the base, Quasimodo makes his move! Hey, how did he get to Florida from NYC so quickly? The soldiers try to stop the ugly robot, but he uses his powers to turn their guns and the equipment on the base against them. I’m a little surprised that he can levitate and manipulate bolt-action rifles; I would have thought that a “machine” would at least require a power source of some sort.

The self-styled master of machines breaks into the data center, but immediately realizes that the computers are no longer linked. In response to Quasimodo’s ranting, the officer in charge helpfully points out that “computer energy” doesn’t actually exist, but follows Quasimodo’s orders anyway and re-establishes the link by pulling the large lever that turns the internet on and off. Quasimodo drains the non-existent computer energy, which increases his powers to cover the whole world, apparently.

Thankfully for the world, Mar-vell is flying overhead on his way to touch everything in Lawson’s office with his new fingers. When he sees the destruction, he swoops down and finds Quasimodo running amok and ranting like a megalomaniacal machine intelligence. Quasi uses his powers to blow up a fuel truck next to Mar-vell, and then traps him in a cage of animated girders. So I guess he can affect any sort of inanimate object, and not just machines. Quasi then fires a blast of energy from one of his eyes, but Mar-vell counters with his uni-beam. When the two energy streams meet, there is an explosion, and Mar-vell is knocked unconscious.

Or is he? He was just playing dead, as he did with the Super-Skrull. Quasimodo steals a jet plane and flies away with the intention of visiting the capitals of the world, causing a machine revolution in each one. Wait, I thought his powers now had a world-wide range? Mar-vell follows using his jet-belt, although he is worried that Yon-rogg is watching him jeopardize the mission once more. But no! As it happens, Una has disabled the video monitor on the spaceship in order to protect her love, despite her doubts about his faithfulness to her.

captmarvel-09-eNext we suddenly find Mar-vell in the middle of a quaint Victorian town, surrounded by quaint Victorians. Apparently Quasimodo landed his jet plane and hoofed it into the town off-panel. Now, why would he do that when he just told us he was going to visit the nations’ capitals? One of the townsfolk welcomes Mar-vell, and he realizes that this is a historical recreation of an earlier era from Earth’s history. The citizens attack the Kree with hidden ray devices, which turn out to be hidden in their eyes and mouths. Mar-vell quickly deduces that the people are actually robots who have been co-opted by Quasimodo, and starts to beat them down. Pretty advanced amusement park technology for 1968! And I suppose it’s a good thing the park was closed that day. Or maybe it just wasn’t a very popular destination – although Disney World wouldn’t exist for a few more years.

Captain Marvel quickly locates his mechanical foe in a building in the town that conceals the controls for the robotic populace, but then he has an idea and flies out of a window. He warns Quasimodo that he’s going to level the building, but Quasi just rants some more. So Mar-vell uses his uni-beam to bring down the house – rather impressive given that everyone else just shrugs it off – which takes out the supervillain, the control computers for the park, and all of the townsfolk. Mar-vell then uncorks the vial of virus Z-3 so that it looks like the biological weapon took everyone out, and prays that Yon-rogg starts watching… now! The Colonel is, of course – they got the video monitors working again just in time to see exactly what Mar-vell wanted them to, and nothing else.

Yon-rogg is suspicious, but Una cautions that if he persists “in these constant attacks – you will raise doubts about your own motivations!” The Colonel concedes the point in his thoughts, and a galaxy away, Ronan the Accuser feels a weight inexplicably lifted from his massive shoulders. Hopefully he will not have to sit in judgment of Mar-vell again anytime soon! As the issue comes to a close, Una worries that this mission will tear her and her lover apart. “For, if he fails in his sacred duty, he faces court martial and possible death! But if he succeeds in his Earth masquerade – I may lose him to that other woman!” Despite the attempts to set up some kind of love triangle here, from what I know Mar-vell never had feelings for Carol and has always been romantically linked to other (and otherworldly) woman. So we know there’s no actual danger of Una losing Mar-vell, although I suppose Yon-rogg might trick her into believing that she has.

Next: there is no next issue blurb!

  1. And yet again he makes it…

  2. Pinkius permalink

    when the villian completes his objective immediately, but it turns out he’s just a loon.

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  1. Where I Read: Captain Marvel, Part 8 | Daddy DM

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