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Where I Read: Captain Marvel, Part 12

Captain Marvel #10 (cover date February ’69)

“Die, Traitor!” by Arnold Drake (w), Don Heck (p), and Vince Colletta (i).

The scene: the Florida everglades, with nary a mountain or a canyon to be seen. Captain Mar-vell of the Kree stands before a swampy-looking tree, his hands behind his back. In the foreground, a Kree firing squad prepares to execute the Captain… oh, is it Tuesday again? We’ve gone a whole three issues without an attempt on Mar-vell’s life by his comrades-in-arms.

And then we flash back to the end of last issue. Carol Danvers does kiss Mar-vell, and Colonel Yon-rogg and Medic Una do bear witness to the event. Una puts on a brave front in front of Yonny, but inside she believes that Mar-vell has betrayed her.

Mar-vell flies back to the ship, as the battle with Cyberex and the Aakon has torn up his suit and he needs a replacement. Oh, and more of his air supply. Hey, remember that? Alas, gone are the days when we would read about Mar-vell sneaking down to the hotel bathroom to dilute his breathing potion with water.

Ronan the Accuser (who is yellow/gold colored for some reason) calls the ship while Mar-vell is aboard. After reviewing Mar-vell’s recent reports, the Kree Supreme Council wants to know more about Number One and the Organization. Based on the Organization’s bankrolling Lawson for millions in order to produce a giant robot, the Kree believe that “this group possesses power equal to good-sized nation!” Their hope is that they can use the Organization against the other Earth powers when it’s time for the Kree to make their move. It’s a clever idea – identify powerful criminal groups that can be turned into unwitting traitors.

As Mar-vell leaves, he runs into Una, who gives him the cold shoulder. Yon-rogg is ecstatic! Finally, Mar-vell has no allies left on the ship, which apparently is key to Yonny’s plans. Didn’t you give up on trying to engineer Mar-vell’s demise a few issues ago, Yonny? Some people never learn!

captmarvel-12-aOver at the Organization’s HQ, #1 is haranguing the goons who have failed to find Dr. Lawson. Since the penalty for failure is death – why do people join these groups, anyway?!? – one of them gets shot with the eon-ray! This invention of Dr. Lawson ages the target by 10 years per second, and the unfortunate test subject turns into an old man, and then to dust. Damn. Lawson was a straight-up evil mad scientist.

captmarvel-12-bOver by the Cape, Carol Danvers has invited Dr. Lawson for a drive in her pink car. She wants answers about the giant robot that busted up his hotel room and house. He claims he has no idea who could have been smart enough to invent such a contraption. But their argument is interrupted by some blue jumpsuit-wearing goons in another car – it’s the Organization! They shoot at Carol’s automobile with the eon-ray, and Mar-vell pulls them both out of the vehicle just in time. The car is reduced to a rusting heap of junk, and a nearby bird is turned into a pterodactyl.

Yep.

Carol tries to run, but somehow falls backwards and hits her head on a tree, conveniently knocking herself out so that Mar-vell can change into Captain Marvel! The art looks like maybe she fainted, but then they added the tree in afterwards? And then the text says that she tripped, but there’s nothing on the ground for her to trip on, and anyway, who trips backwards when trying to run forwards? Anyway, Marvel fights the dinosaur while the jumpsuits grab Carol. Eventually our man of the Kree is forced to snap the beast’s neck, but when he returns to get Danvers he finds a note instead. The Organization wants Lawson to surrender, or they will kill the woman. Mar-vell decides to go along with their demand, but as Captain Marvel, not Dr. Lawson.

Captain Marvel is brought before Number One, and proposes an alliance. Carol, who is being kept prisoner in the same room, can’t believe her ears. She and Marvel get into an argument, during which Marvel plants a knockout gas capsule in her hand. He whispers to her that she can use it to escape when she’s alone with her guards, and they take her away.

As #1 and Marvel discuss how he can be of use to the Organization, a guard comes running with news of Carol’s escape. Since she had been thoroughly searched (and why didn’t they search and disarm Marvel?), that must mean… Marvel tricked them! #1 escapes on a hidden elevator platform, while a mob of goons with guns swarm around our man of the Kree. He evades the gunshots and gets in close enough that his opponents are forced to combat him in hand-to-hand, where the Kree has a decided advantage. However, #1 appears behind Mar-vell, and shoots him with the eon-ray!

As the Kree ages at an unbelievable rate, he takes note of what is happening to his body. “Skin shriveling – body drying out – muscles atrophying! Starting to gasp for each breath like a septuagenarian! Gums receding – pulse growing feeble – limbs trembling now!” One of the mooks watching this remarks, “That’s what you call collecting your social security the hard way!” And #1 triumphantly rants while the sands of time run out on Mar-vell.

captmarvel-12-cIn a last desperate bid for survival, the Captain lunges at #1, grabs the eon-ray, hobbles off, reverses its controls, and shoots himself with it before anyone can act. Given his advanced age, that’s quite the feat! While all the bad guys just stand around wondering where the geriatric hero went, Mar-vell runs away, where he apparently encounters Carol Danvers because she shows up in the next panel. When #1 and the guards finally pursue, they run into a rejuvenated Marvel, who gives them a taste of their own medicine! #1 and the goons are sentenced to death by eon-ray, but it’s a death that we don’t get to see, because “stray eon-rays have aged the very walls! The structure is starting to fall in upon us!” The Captain grabs Ms. Danvers and flies away as the building collapses.

Up on the Kree ship, Yon-rogg watches all of this take place, and feels like he now has incontrovertible proof that Mar-vell disobeyed orders. Una overhears Yonny’s call to Ronan, informing the Accuser that Mar-vell is going to be executed. Despite her broken heart, she still loves Mar-vell, and flies from the ship with the intention of warning him. Elsewhere on the vessel, the crew has misgivings about executing a hero like Mar-vell, but Yon-rogg quashes the dissent. captmarvel-12-dThe firing squad pilot a shuttle to the Earth’s surface, and they run into Una along the way. They figure she’s going to warn Mar-vell, and knock her out with a “controlled blast.”

Una comes to in time to find the scene from the issue’s opening. The lieutenant in charge of the squad apologizes to Mar-vell, but he tells them to get on with it. And so the lieutenant gives the order to fire as an off-panel Una yells for them to stop.

Next: the end?

MHR: 1990’s Excalibur Datafiles

Back in the mid-1970’s, writer Chris Claremont and penciler Dave Crockum took one of Stan Lee & Jack Kirby’s lesser creations, the Uncanny X-Men, and transformed American superhero comics in the process. Claremont and his collaborators would make UXM into the highest-selling American comic with vibrant characters, soap opera drama, long-simmering plots, and themes of bigotry and prejudice. If you’ve watched X-Men cartoons or movies, 80-90% of what you saw were adaptations of stories and characters written and created by Chris Claremont and the artists that worked on the X-books over the years.

UXM’s success spawned a slew of spin-offs. One of the quirkier ones was Excalibur, by Claremont and artist (later writer, after Claremont left) Alan Davis, whose work I adore. It was quirky in part because it took a few mutants from the X-books: Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, and Rachel Summers (the daughter of Jean Grey and Cyclops from the Days of Future Past timeline), and paired them up with the little-known Captain Britain and his partner Meggan, and sent them on wacky adventures far removed from the other X-titles. Most of the stories picked up plot threads and characters from old Captain Britain comics published by Marvel’s UK arm, which were created by Alan Moore (Watchmen, From Hell, etc.) & Alan Davis, rather than your typical mutant stories. It was an odd book. But a very charming and entertaining one, I thought.

Nightcrawler & Kitty Pryde were two of my favorite X-Men, and as I said I loved Davis’ art, so when I saw the book in the comic store back in the day I bought it, and followed the title when I could. As an adult I’ve gone back and read the entire Claremont/Davis and the subsequent Davis/Davis runs, and enjoyed them so much that I was inspired to stat up the characters in the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game. I think they’re good examples of where MHR shines: with the authors’ penchant for distinctive characters, interpersonal drama, and long-running subplots, each character has several arcs that make for good personal Milestones; and as the characters are not much of a classic team, the Affiliations can really come into play in how the different characters will want to approach a situation.

Beyond that, this little slice of comic book history shows how ephemeral character writeups for superhero RPGs can be. Costumes, powers, motivations, and the status quo are constantly changing and shifting, making any writeup – especially one that focuses on character issues vs. just a plain accounting of powers – just a snapshot that will soon be overtaken by future changes. Captain Britain and Meggan now have different powers, Nightcrawler died and became a priest and came back to life (not necessarily in that order), Kitty grew into adulthood and got engaged to Star Lord and became headmaster of Xavier’s school. The terrain is ever-shifting, and no character is set in stone. Read more…

Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 1, Part 2

Remesio the cleric followed the directions that he had been given to a giant reddish mushroom building. A sign hung over the door that sat at the base of the stalk; painted on the sign was a picture of a gnome riding on the back of a strange four-legged bird creature. The cleric of Cayden Cailean pulled open the door, strolled inside, and looked around. The interior was a dimly-lit tavern, with a wooden bar, toadstool seats, and flat lichen-covered rocks to serve as tables. A set of rickety-looking wooden stairs curved around the back wall, leading up to a second floor. A cluster of gnomes sat drinking and chatting around one of the stone tables, while a pretty elven lady sipped wine at the bar. Behind the bar stood a woman with mismatched eyes, sharp talons on her fingers, and a greenish cast to her skin. They all glanced up at the newcomer as he entered, and then went back to their business. Except for the elf, who watched the priest with undisguised interest.

After ordering a drink from the changeling bartender, Remesio avoided the elf and casually sidled up to the gnomes, who stopped talking and looked up at the human expectantly. He introduced himself, and attempted to ascertain if the small folk were from the Brevoy area or not. As it turned out, they hailed from elsewhere in Golarion. Only a few of the gnomes had even heard of Brevoy, and none of them were very familiar with the Vanishing or House Rogarvia.

Femme Fatale

So the priest turned to elf. She was happy to talk with him, and even demonstrated some knowledge of Brevoy and its Vanishing. After introductions were made, the woman suggested that they might enjoy a more frank conversation upstairs, in her room. Remesio demurred, and probed her for knowledge of Brevic history and Golarion visitors to the First World. Again, she offered to go upstairs, and again he refused. Finally she resorted to a suggestion spell.

Remesio made the save. As it happened, has a trait that gives him a bonus to Will saves when drinking, and it actually made the difference in his roll! The cleric felt the intense desire to follow the elf to her room, but then he also felt an intense desire to get another ale. Weighing the two options, he went with the ale. After that, the woman (a hag in disguise) dropped all pretense of wishing to speak with him, and the cleric went on his way.

Eventually the others concluded their research and, after some searching around the city, found their High Priest valiantly holding a wall up. The party compared notes and passed the time until Remesio felt his buzz start to wear off – a sure sign that “happy hour” was approaching, which meant that he could refresh his spells. A ritual of plane shift followed, and then a prayer of teleport, bringing the rulers to the city of Salar’s Rest.

Home Sweet Home

Why did the group go to Salar’s Rest and not the capital, Stagfell? I’m not entirely sure. Salar’s Rest, built around the ancient elven citadel that was previously occupied by the Dancing Lady, had become a sort of Versailles-like location. The Palace was located there, along with parks, monuments, museums, and sumptuous estates, and they regarded as their summer home. And it was, after all, summertime.

However, the rulers were surprised to find the city transformed as it prepared for a siege. “We’re under attack!” wailed one noble after the PCs made their presence known. Almost a week had passed since they left Golarion, and it seemed that during that time an army had crossed into Caerelia from the west and defeated the garrison at the fort known as Tiger Watch. The invaders’ current whereabouts were unknown, but Tatzylford and Last Hope were the two closest settlements, and neither was particularly well-fortified.

It was a two-day ride back to the capital, so the players opted to wait a day at Salar’s Rest until Remesio could simply teleport them over. The Empress Sojana Zieros had been guiding the realm’s defense during her husband’s absence. She had called for all town militias to be armed and prepare for battle, and sent riders out to recall units in the field. Caerelia had available:

  • the Nomen Heights cavalry; a Medium army of 1st level warriors  mounted on light horses; currently in reserve in Varnhold
  • Salar’s Pathfinders; a Tiny army of 5th level rangers mounted on light horses, armed with ranged weapons, magic weapons, and magic armor; currently exploring near Lake Silverstep
  • the Varn Garrison; a Large army of 1st level warriors with ranged weapons; currently in reserve at Varnhold
  • Oleg’s Troubadours and Varn’s Hellions, two Medium armies of 1st level warriors guarding fortifications at the northern border and the Varn pass.

It was still about a week until the start of the next kingdom turn, and thus a long time before the players could officially recruit any new army units. This represented a bit of a quandary for me. Could the players really not do anything but muster their meager forces until the next turn arrived? Does an army automatically defeat a town or fort that has no defenders? The players had instituted a militia-training program way back in the early days of the kingdom; did that have any effect, or did they need to have the militia already recruited and sitting in the town? Could a city really not mobilize any defense for itself if it came under attack? The kingdom and mass combat rules did not address any of that.

In the end, I decided that a settlement could activate its militia out-of-turn, creating an army whose size can not be more than 1/10th the settlement’s population. As a side note, I use a metric of 1 building plot = 100 population for my game, instead of the published rules’ 250 population per plot, so Caerelia’s settlement populations are lower than one might expect from their size. A normal militia might be composed of 1st level commoners, but seeing as my players had taken steps to train their citizens, I figured they should be 1st level warriors instead.

So anyway, the militias in the towns (aside from Shrike Crossing to the south, which was thought to be out of danger) were already activated, thanks to the Empress. All the players had to do was stall the invaders until a more formidable army could be assembled.

But while plans for hindering the Drelev armies were being made, word reached the capital that the town of Last Hope had been sacked!

Next: this means war!

Where I Read: Captain Marvel, Part 11

Captain Marvel #9 (cover date January ’69)

“Between Hammer and Anvil!” by Arnold Drake (w), Don Heck (p), and Vince Colletta (i).

We open with the Aakon once again, only this time on Earth. They are standing on hovering inner tubes and flying circles around Captain Marvel, while taking shots at our man of the Kree with their rayguns. They seek revenge, for in last issue’s battle on the moon, their commander was killed.

The fracas continues until the police arrive, at which point Mar-vell uses a smoke grenade to cover his escape, and the Aakons’ as well – he doesn’t want the authorities to know there are aliens about! Then he changes into his guise of Dr. Lawson and heads back to his hotel room…

captmarvel-11-aWhere Carol Danvers is busy bribing the desk clerk for a key to Lawson’s room! About time she actually did something. Unfortunately, her search of the room is interrupted by the giant robot assassin from last month. It grabs Danvers through the wall and stomps off, noting that it intends to use the woman as bait for Lawson. Carol screams. So much for doing something useful!

Chester the cabbie drops Lawson off at the hotel, which is now swarming with cops. They tell the doctor about the robot, but Mar-vell tells them that such a thing could not exist. Uh, the military base just saw Captain Marvel defeat a giant robot. You think word didn’t get out about that? captmarvel-11-bSaid robot has brought Carol to Lawson’s “fantastic mountain lab.” It tells her that it intends to kill Lawson, but doesn’t know why it would be programmed to destroy its creator.

When Mar-vell gets free of the police, he changes into his uniform and goes looking for Danvers and her captor. Up in space, Colonel Yon-rogg taunts Medic Una about how her lover is rushing off to rescue another woman. And then he spots the Aakon, still on Earth and looking for Mar-vell. As Yonny is a giant douche, he deliberately sends a transmission to the Captain so that the Aakon will pick it up and trace it back to their quarry.

Mama Mar-vell didn’t raise no dummy, and our man of the Kree realizes what his superior is trying to do. Nevertheless, he zooms into Lawson’s home, intent on freeing Carol. How did he know the robot – which has now chosen the name Cyberex for itself – was there? Oh well. The metal monstrosity displays some new tricks, like lumen-beams and mini-missiles, and also seems to be more heavily armored. Captain Marvel is at a loss, and orders Carol to run. “No, Captain Marvel!” she cries, “If you die here… I must, too!” Uh, why?

In order to get more room to maneuver, Marvel lures Cyberex outside, where they run into the Aakon and their flying inner tubes. The yellow aliens fire at him, and he moves aside, allowing their ray blasts to strike the robot instead. He then uses the momentary confusion to get Danvers out of danger.

The Aakon believe the robot to be a Kree weapon, and focus their fire on it. Cyberex, now claiming to be “Lord of Automatons,” (wasn’t that Quasimodo’s gig?) fights back, but falls to the aliens’ concentrated firepower. Then they catch up to the Kree and the human. Mar-vell holds them off as best as he is able to, but their numbers overwhelm him, and he falls.

captmarvel-11-cWhen they search his body, they find a small book with Kree lettering on it, that reads “Code Z-19” – the Imperial War Code of the Kree! The Aakon are exultant, but before they can run off with their prize, they are startled by the re-appearance of Cyberex. The robot has repaired itself, and determined that the Aakon are allies of Walter Lawson – especially the one holding the book. And so they must all die! (why not use them as bait, as it did with Carol?) The robot kills the Aakon, and then Mar-vell comes to and destroys the robot. Then he locates its self-repair mechanism and destroys that, too.

captmarvel-11-dWhat of Code Z-19? It was just Lawson’s address book. Somehow, at some point, Mar-vell knew he could use the book to trick the robot and the Aakon into fighting each other, so he wrote the Kree letters on the cover. I’m not sure when he had time to do that, or how he had such foresight. “OK, I’ll let the Aakon defeat me – but not kill me – and they will search me instead of making sure I’m dead. Then Cyberex will detect that the book smells like Lawson and use that as a pretext to kill the Aakon. Then I will get my second wind and destroy the robot that was just kicking my butt.”

Mar-vell stumbles away, stunned that his foes killed themselves over a bunch of Earthen phone numbers. Carol chases after him, and up on the Kree ship, Yon-rogg invites Una to come watch as the Earth woman “rewards” Mar-vell. But Una declines the invitation, and the issue comes to a rather abrupt end.

Next: from the cover, it looks like Number One and the Organization return!

Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 1, Part 1

Plane shift is a bit of an odd spell – it requires an intended destination, but then it always sticks you 5d100 miles off-target, meaning that you’ll have a long journey ahead of you after shifting, or will need to have a teleport spell handy. When some of the rulers of Caerelia plane shifted to the First World, they ended up 267 miles away from their target – a fairly average distance – which stuck them in the middle of a primeval bog.

The place was alive with the sounds of animals and insects, and several varieties of giant vermin were spotted – dragonflies, mosquitoes, and swarms of thumb-sized gnats. When one particularly pesky giant mosquito was chased off, it cursed the visitors and their parentage in sylvan before flying off.

The adventurers tried to get their bearings before remembering that (a) they’re probably really far away from the city that they were trying to go to, and (b) Remesio the cleric can cast teleport. After uttering his prayer, the party subsequently found themselves at the edge of a large faerie community where the buildings were incorporated into towering mushrooms. They had arrived at the First World city of Gorias.

Goomba Town

This is a strange start to the Blood for Blood adventure, you might be thinking. And you’d be right! My attempts to foreshadow a possible civil war in Brevoy led to the players’ becoming obsessed with locating the missing royal family, who had mysteriously vanished about 19 years prior. And because the group kept running into fey who felt a strong claim for the Stolen Lands, they assumed that House Rogarvia had been stolen away to the First World, or something. They further reasoned that if they could find the Rogarvians, the could put the royals back on the Dragonscale Throne and stop the civil war before it started. They had no idea that that wasn’t even part of the text for the adventure, and that a sneak attack was coming to their kingdom!

And so, in searching for the lost royal line of Brevy, four brave and foolhardy adventurers had traveled to the faerie realm:

  • Emperor Satampra Zieros, male human rogue 3/swashbuckler 7
  • High Priest Remesio, male human cleric of Cayden Cailean 10
  • Keeper Iofur, male human druid of Gozreh 10
  • Councilor Aurelius Heptamus, male human halfling fighter 8*

* Aurelius had been retired when he got reincarnated as a halfling; his player Bill usually plays Orseen, male human warpriest of Iomedae 10, but dusted off Aurelius for this otherworldly jaunt.

But having arrived, they weren’t too sure of what to do next. And in truth, neither was I! I had been so busy with real life events that I had totally forgotten that the players were in the First World looking for clues about the Rogarvians, leaving me no more prepared for their investigations than I had been in the previous session. The situation clearly called for more stalling on my part!

After a brief discussion, the bulk of the party sought out sources of historical knowledge in the hopes they would find mention of humans trapped in the fey world, while Remesio ambled off to get drunk ask the townsfolk directly. The cleric located a drinking establishment easily enough, but the locals were not very friendly towards him. After some rude comments in languages that he did not understand, he left that establishment and used a prayer of tongues to search for a tavern that catered to Golarion expatriates.

Meanwhile, Satampra did understand the local language, and soon led the others to the home of a renowned sage. The sage’s home occupied an entire giant mushroom, but one with no apparent doors – the only entrances appeared to be windows located higher up on the mushroom’s stalk. Satampra and Aurelius climbed, while Iofur wildshaped into a bird and easily beat them to the nearest opening. From there the druid could see that the stalk was like a hollow tower, with book-stuffed shelves carved into the interior wall. Where the mushroom stalk met the cap was a large trapdoor, which soon swung open to allow an oversized owl to fly down through it.

The owl introduced himself as the sage in residence, one Ibis Sophus. Satampra explained their needs, and after paying the scholar’s fee for his library and his expertise, the owl started to assemble a series of tomes for the visitors to peruse. After spending some time paging through First World histories and compendiums of Golarion flora and fauna, they also asked for information on dragons in the First World, recalling the Owl Prince’s hint about House Rogarvia’s fate.

When faced with how to handle their investigations, I was reminded of the research subsystem from the intrigue rules, found in Ultimate Intrigue. I didn’t have time to look the rules up, though, partly because I can never remember what they’re called or how to find them online. Also I didn’t have any set of prepared clues to offer the players as they searched through the tomes for relevant information. And truth be told, the rules are not necessary in situations where the players aren’t under any kind of time pressure.

Time Runs Out

Although in this case, unbeknownst to the players, they were operating under a deadline! I had planned for Fort Drelev’s invasion that kicks off Blood for Blood to happen near the end of Arodus (August), the current month, and I wasn’t going to modify that just because the PCs might be out of town. We had previously established that time passes faster in Golarion than the First World, although I didn’t want to commit myself to a consistent ratio. So the group knew that they couldn’t spend too long in Gorias, or they might miss the Rova (September) kingdom turn. What they didn’t know was that they would also be giving the invading armies more time to wreak havoc!

But back in the realm of what the players were aware of, I had to give them something for their troubles. Lacking any actual clues for them to follow, I fed them a lot of background information instead. Some of it was culled from faerie tales, some was simply bits of data about the First World. Like the fact that “regular” D&D dragons aren’t native to or commonly found in the First World, but linnorms are. In lieu of anything related to their search, I gave them a list of the names of powerful Golarion dragons that were known to have relocated to the First World, which were all made up save for Ilthuliak (book 6 foreshadowing).

And as the rulers searched through sylvan tomes and drank in expat dives, a gigantic army of humans and giants marched over the Wyvernstone Bridge and into Caerelian territory…

Next: Remesio drinks!

Where I Read: Captain Marvel, Part 10

Captain Marvel #8 (cover date December ’68)

“And Fear Shall Follow!” by Arnold Drake (w), Don Heck (p), and Vince Colletta (i). The return of Colletta to inks is much welcomed by me. Heck’s art looks so much better in this issue.

We open with an Aakon trading vessel that needs to make some emergency repairs while passing by Earth. The Aakon have yellow skin, blue hair, and a bestial sort of face. According to Wikipedia, they haven’t been used since except maybe a name-check here and there. The Aakon detect the Kree warship – so much for that aura of negativism – which means trouble, for the two races are sworn enemies!

The Kree also spot the Aakon, and Colonel Yon-rogg immediately orders the attack. Captain captmarvel-10-aMar-vell tries to dissuade him – an attack will possibly alert the Earthlings to the Kree ship’s presence, it’s dishonorable to attack a trade ship, yadda yadda – but Yonny derides him for being a coward and/or a traitor. The Aakon ship touches down on the dark side of the moon, the Kree ship follows, and the two sides meet in battle on the moon’s surface. Yon-rogg orders a crew member named Tir-zarr to fetch the “nuclear rocket launcher”, and gets guff from both Tir-zarr (for not submitting a written request as per regulations – in the middle of a battle, really?!) and Mar-vell (who fears a nuclear explosion will definitely be seen by the Earthlings!). But Yon-rogg don’t care. He wants that launcher and he wants it now, soldier!

captmarvel-10-bFortunately for the moon, the Aakon take out Yon-rogg and Mar-vell assumes command. He grabs the Colonel and orders a fighting retreat. Incidentally, this is the first time (in this mag, anyway) that we see “Hala” – the name of the Kree home world, although it’s used as an exclamation here – and “Great Pama!” – another exclamation. The Kree make it back to the ship, whereupon Medic Una examines Yonny and says he’ll be fine, eventually. Mar-vell puts Tir-zarr in charge and heads back to Earth.

The Kree Captain feels like he should look into the life of the former Dr. Lawson – I think this might be related to his promise to Carol Danvers in #7, although captmarvel-10-cI didn’t think he was serious at the time – and flies to the dead man’s house. I don’t mean the hotel room that Mar-vell is staying in under Lawson’s name, but the doctor’s actual residence, which has not been mentioned before now. He finds a huge mansion, which is suspicious since Lawson is apparently a university professor. You’d think the university would have blown Mar-vell’s cover by now, since he probably hasn’t been keeping up that aspect of Lawson’s life. Anyway, inside the house he spots a sculpture of the DNA double-helix, and notices a mistake in the sculpture. When he moves the pieces of the sculpture to correct the error, a secret door opens, revealing a huge robotics laboratory! Complete with a conspicuously empty giant-humanoid-shaped depression in a huge table.

captmarvel-10-dAs Mar-vell grabs some computer cards from the lab, two dudes in weird blue jumpsuits and rifles break in to the room. They’re looking for Lawson: “No use hidin’ from us, egghead! We got twelve million bucks sunk into this lab of yours – and we ain’t no silent partners!” Well, that explains the fancy digs, at least. Mar-vell hides from the duo, and when they fail to find their quarry, they radio their boss to tell him that Lawson and “the big guy” have split. Their employer is Number One, a stocky and hideous individual that wears strange, compound-eye-looking lenses over his eyes. #1 reveals that their organization gave the not-so-good doctor all of that money so that he could build them “the perfect agent… that could remove any enemy without risk! A robot assassin! Since the robot was programmed with only enough information to do its job, it could never reveal anything to the police!” #1 is worried that Lawson is going to use the robot captmarvel-10-eagainst him & his goons.

Just then, Mar-vell is spotted and attacked by the two jumpsuits. A stray shot triggers an explosion which disorients the man of the Kree long enough for the humans to grab him and rough him up. But our Captain recovers, and demonstrates his superior strength and speed on their faces! The goons flee and use a couple of high-tech grenades captmarvel-10-fto seal the way behind them, but Captain Marvel is not so easily stopped! He blasts his way free with his uni-beam (now called a u-beam to avoid infringing on Iron Man’s trademark) and flies after the getaway car. The chase, which takes place amongst the scenic cliffs and canyons outside of Los Ange- err, Cape Canaveral (!), ends when the driver loses control. The car plummets over the edge and the two henchmen fall to their doom.

Number One is furious that Captain Marvel has killed his two best agents, and issues an order to his entire organization – which is called, imaginatively enough, The Organization – to seek and destroy the Captain! Meanwhile, Marvel flies over to Carol Danvers’ pad to tell her that the doctor’s lifestyle is suspicious and being underwritten by someone, thereby undermining… his own cover?!? This particular plot doesn’t make much sense to me. First off all, Danvers is the security chief and she’s outsourcing her job to the local superhero. Is she really unable to find Lawson’s residence and investigate it on her own? That’s what you get when you give a dame a man’s job! Secondly, since Lawson is Mar-vell’s human disguise, why the hell would he fuel for her suspicions? In any case, Mar-vell throws himself under the bus, and Carol appreciates it so much that she wraps her arms around him and kisses him. Naturally, Una and Yon-rogg are watching from above. Yonny gets in a good zinger: “Apparently Mar-vell, who is assigned to learn all of Earth’s culture, has chosen to investigate their romantic customs!”

Back at the base, “Dr. Lawson” is feeding the computer cards lifted from the secret lab into the Cape’s computers. By examining the instructions, he discovers that the real doctor set his robot assassin to hunt down and kill… himself! As a test run, you see. Makes perfect sense. In a shocking coincidence, the robot has, at that exact same moment, just found the plane crash site where Dr. Lawson died. As it tears apart the wreckage, looking for clues, it vows to destroy its creator. And before you know it, it’s at the base! The robot is a greyish-blue color, with a pseudo-Kirby design – the body actually reminds me a lot of the Kree Sentry. As it deals with the guards at the gate, Mar-vell just happens to be driving by in Chester’s cab. When the cabbie mentions Lawson’s name, the robot hears it, and Mar-vell runs away to perform a costume switch (from where I don’t know – he’s not carrying it and it seems doubtful he has it stashed near the base entrance).

captmarvel-10-gCaptain Marvel flies out of the foliage, blasting at the robot with his trusty u-beam. The thing grabs the Kree in both of its giant hands, Mar-vell tries to blind it but fails, it throws him but he uses his rocket boots to halt his descent, then he picks the machine apart with blast after blast. It’s a pretty boring battle. The robot falls, Carol Danvers (a latecomer to the scene) breathlessly thanks the Captain, and up in space, Medic Una fears the loss of her lover. Meanwhile, the robot initiates its self-repair mechanisms.

Co-incidences abound here. The Organization goons come to Lawson’s home as soon as Mar-vell checks it out. Lawson’s robot assassin finally tracks “Lawson” down just after Mar-vell finds out about it. I suppose no one noticed a 20-foot tall silver robot stomping around central Florida all this time?

Next: the Aakon return, and they’re vengeful! Watch out, Mar-vell!

Kingmaker: Prepping Blood for Blood

This post is for Kingmaker DMs and other curious parties. It’s a collection of issues I had with book 4 in the adventure path, Blood for Blood, while preparing it for my campaign, and some of the changes I made as a result. Spoilers for this adventure and the adventure path as a whole follow. Consider yourself warned! Read more…