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Out Of The Holocaust — A Hero!

Longbox Graveyard #79

I’ve been on a Captain Marvel kick. Earlier this month, I wrote about Jim Starlin‘s swan song in Captain Marvel #34 for my Dollar Box column at StashMyComics.com, and one of my first articles here at Longbox Graveyard was on Starlin’s full Captain Marvel run in the 1970s. But what has most interested me recently is the original Marvel Comics take on Mar-Vell … the stranger from Kree in the funky old white-and-green uniform who first came to earth in the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes #12, in 1967.

Marvel Super-Heroes #12

I shouldn’t be nostalgic for this character. This isn’t “my” Captain Marvel, as I came to the character well after Marv had adopted his more-familiar red-and-blue cosmic space togs:

Captain Marvel #37

I really can’t defend my affection for the original Mar-Vell. I think his 1950s space aesthetic look is retro-cool (and Neal Adams agrees) …

Captain Marvel by Neal Adams

… but by any measure this is a pretty hopeless character. Marvel’s Captain Marvel was published only to assert a trademark claim after rights to the original Captain Marvel, published by bankrupt Fawcett Comics, were coming up for renewal. Only the need to assert control over that name has kept the character around this past (near) half-century, through a series of cancellations and revolving creative teams. In fact, the character might be best known for his death!

The Death of Captain Mar-Vell

But I come here not to bury Captain Marvel, but to praise him!

If you look at this character in the rear-view mirror AND you squint just the right way AND you exclude some of his less-inspiring adventures, you kinda-sorta arrive at one of the few genuinely complete character arcs in superhero comics. In a sum-of-the-parts equation — and completely by accident — Captain Marvel backs into being a mature and well-rounded fictional character, with a beginning, a middle, and an end; victories and defeats, loves and losses, significant transformation and a meaningful death. This unlikeliest of comic book characters — himself little more than a walking trademark case — has by strange twist of publication fate avoided the curse of the “eternal now” imposed on these ultimately-unchanging heroes of ours, some of whom have been in print as twenty-something-year-old crime fighters for seventy-five years or more.

We’re not talking Moby Dick here. I’m making my case for Captain Marvel — like all the comics I review at Longbox Graveyard — against the backdrop of other superhero comics of the past century, not against the timeless classics of world literature. But here in our four-color subculture I do think this tertiary character of Captain Marvel deserves greater study and respect. He’ll never be a Batman or a Superman or a Spider-Man, and I doubt he’ll ever get screen time in a Marvel movie (though with Rocket Raccoon on the way, stranger things have happened), but I do think Mar-Vell is a more complex and worthy figure than we’ve given him credit for, and I’m going to tell you why.

Captain Marvel #29

Sorting out this character’s powers and history is above my pay grade, but I will try.

We first encounter our hero as part of a Kree response team tasked with finding out how one of their innumerable sentries had gotten whacked back in issue #64 of Fantastic Four. In this, the basic plot of Captain Marvel borrows from a classic science fiction trope — the tale of the super-advanced alien race keeping tabs on earth’s development, which we’ve seen in pictures as diverse as The Day The Earth Stood Still and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Kree are militaristic, imperialistic, paranoid, and (to judge by our hero’s murderous crew) eager to abuse their authority when far from the home office — early issues of Captain Marvel make much of the Captain’s superior, Colonel Yon-Rogg, trying to get Marvel killed so he can make time with Marv’s lover, the beautiful ship’s medic, Una.

Marvel Super-Heroes #14, Gene Colan & Stan Lee

with friends like these …

It’s worth saying something about our hero’s name. The book is called Captain Marvel, but the character is Mar-Vell, a Captain in the Kree military. Yeah, I know, it’s a real groaner, but it gets (a little) easier the more you say it. Aside from providing a convenient reason for our hero to have a trademarked name, Mar-Vell also conjures images of another strange visitor from another planet who becomes a defender of Earth — Kal-El, better known as Superman. Like Superman, Marvel enjoys enhanced strength and leaping abilities thanks to Earth’s reduced gravity. Confusingly, he also has a jet belt (but I thought he could leap tall buildings …?), and a “Kree battle suit” that helps him absorb damage. His signature weapon is the “Uni-Beam,” which is a laser, basically, though scripter Roy Thomas would later characterize it as a special “lens” that could channel all kinds of light effects, maybe groping towards something like the eponymous device from E.E. Doc Smith’s 1930s Lensman science fiction pulp series.

Marvel Super-Heroes #14, Gene Colan & Stan Lee

Mar-Vell is also weakened by exposure to Earth’s atmosphere, and he has to gobble down potions once every couple hours or he’ll suffocate like a fish out of water, and there are other wrinkles that are too tedious to mention, and also unimportant, because this character’s abilities and powers would prove ever-changing as subsequent creative teams re-built him on the fly. What is important about these early stories is what they establish about Mar-Vell — that he is a Kree war hero who loves his homeland but is also a man apart in that he does not blindly follow orders, and has compassion for the people of Earth. He has a keen tactical mind, and he’s a man of honor who respects the chain of command, even when his immediate commander is an incompetent dolt deliberately trying to get him killed.

Marvel Super-Heroes #13, Gene Colan & Stan Lee

Mar-Vell is also a bit of a fool when it comes to politics, letting himself get railroaded into a sham trial where he is judged guilty of treason against the Kree race, then becoming a pawn of Ronan the Accuser in his plot to overthrow the Kree Supreme Intelligence. The stories can be tough sledding to read today, but in retrospect they serve to explain why the loyal Kree Captain Marvel first turns against his home planet, then later comes to reject his militaristic ethos entirely when he achieves enlightenment during a mystical transformation in issue #29.

Captain Marvel #17

But that is getting ahead of ourselves, as Marv still has a series of lesser transformations to experience, including a new Gil Kane-designed costume, and blast of radiation that confines him to the Negative Zone, which he can escape only by clashing together the Nega-Bands on his wrists, and changing places with his Earth-born sidekick, Rick Jones (late of sidekicking it up with the likes of Captain America and The Hulk).

My defense of this character is starting to argue against itself, with sentences like that last, but these are comic books and external transformations like new costumes and powers are a big deal. The gimmick of linking Captain Marvel with Rick Jones also harkened to the relationship between the original Fawcett Captain Marvel and Billy Batson, while making Marvel a prisoner of the Negative Zone was a more actionable and dramatic weakness than the hoary old gotta-drink-my-atmosphere-potion liability. By fits and starts, Mar-Vell was transforming into a capable superhero who was no longer a captive of his heritage, his equipment, or his adopted home, and who was now able to roam the spaceways and chart his own destiny in life.

Marvel vs. Marvel

this never happened, but it is one of several cross-company superhero showdowns you can see at the blog of this Simpsons artist

Not all of Marv’s transformations are external. His interior life is also one of change. His romance with Una ends in her death, caught in the crossfire of Mar-Vell’s betrayal by his Kree masters, providing an early shadow of tragedy for a hero who will be characterized in many ways by the things he has lost. One-by-one, Mar-Vell’s identity is stripped away — his rank, his heritage, his homeland, his reputation are all lost.

A two-year period of cancellation of Captain Marvel between issues #21 and #22 saw Marv better integrated into the rest of the Marvel universe through guest appearances, most notably at the center of the Kree-Skrull war, one of the first great Marvel Comics cross-overs (and which I wrote about here). But it is when the character returns in his own book that he becomes something special, especially when Jim Starlin assumes full creative duties with issue #27.

I’ve already written about Starlin’s Captain Marvel, and while I was a bit dismissive of the stories, I didn’t mean to be dismissive of what they meant. The issues from this era are for the most part energetic and stylish superhero fist operas, characterized by Starlin’s emerging talents as a comic book storyteller, but they are also notable for the development of Thanos as an A-list Marvel villain, and for Mar-Vell’s transformation into a “cosmically aware” warrior in the cause of life and balance in the universe.

Captain Marvel #29, Jim Starlin

The “Cosmic Awareness” Mar-Vell gains in issue #29 of his book is an ill-defined concept, and not even Jim Starlin seems to know entirely what it means. As I noted in my review, Mar-Vell mostly demonstrates his enlightenment by admonishing other characters for their violent ways (right before he punches them in the mouth). Like most every other element of my argument that Captain Marvel is greater than the sum-of-his-parts, this part doesn’t hold up well to individual scrutiny. But what’s important here is not what happened in the books themselves so much as where the ideas would lead — by making Marv an enlightened guardian of the universe, Jim Starlin opted Captain Marvel out of the common superhero rat race and set him on an inevitable path toward martyrdom.

The path wasn’t inevitable at the time, of course — Captain Marvel still had thirty-odd issues of largely-forgettable superhero stories to endure before the book was cancelled in 1979. These issues are distinguished mostly by Marv firmly separating himself from the Kree and (near the end) meeting his second great love, Elysius, but it would be in death where Captain Marvel became immortal.

The Death of Captain Marvel

the Death of Captain Marvel, by Jim Starlin (after Michelangelo!)

With Captain Marvel cancelled, but a need to periodically refresh that trademark defense, Marvel brought Marv back one more time for Jim Starlin’s Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel in 1982. Following on from the events in the final issue of his Captain Marvel run that Starlin had created eight years before, The Death of Captain Marvel was an at-times maudlin and ruminating tale that followed Marv through his last days as he succumbed to cancer. It is a touching story, even after all these years, and it is made even more significant by the degree of admiration and respect shown to Captain Marvel by seemingly every other Marvel character, who appear in the story to pay their final respects.

Captain Marvel’s enlightenment is completed and his tale comes to an end in a memorable climax, where Captain Marvel and his greatest foe, Thanos, are at last in accord in their embrace of Death.

The Death of Captain Marvel, Jim Starlin

What makes Captain Marvel’s death so poignant is not only that it proved permanent (more-or-less) these past three decades, but that it marked the kind of resolution and final transformation rarely granted to characters in the continuous publication format of comic books. The trademark-enforcing title of “Captain Marvel” has been taken up by other characters since Mar-Vell’s death (at the present time it is held by Carol Danvers, the former Ms. Marvel, who is another character for which I have indefensible affection), but aside from a few cameo flashbacks or spirit appearances, the man who was Mar-Vell has remained dead, and his story can be appreciated as a completed whole.

Captain Marvel #1

Carol Danvers takes on the mantle in Captain Marvel #1

And what a whole it is … though you have to stand back from the tapestry to really appreciate it. As I’ve let on in this conspectus, most individual issues of Captain Marvel don’t bear close scrutiny. But taken as a whole, they are a Marvel Comics accidental masterpiece. Here we have a hero who is the product of an evil and corrupt military machine, who betrays the world of his birth to protect the people he was tasked to destroy. We see Mar-Vell as patriot, traitor, ex-patriot, and a citizen of the universe as his life evolves. He becomes a great and respected hero, and transcends the normal brotherhood of superpowered champions through his enlightenment, becoming a cosmic entity and protector of the universe, a nearly-omnipotent being who loses his last battle with a very human disease. He has great loves — and great losses — in his life, and about the only aspect of life Mar-Vell does not experience is raising children (though Marvel Comics would find ways to posthumously continue his line).

Captain Marvel #1

And so out of this holocaust of trademarks, changing costumes, new powers, and rotating creators emerges a hero. His faults are many (and really, I can’t recommend many issues of Captain Marvel itself), but his achievements are visible in the mosaic of his existence, the product of many hands and no definitive plan. Captain Marvel matters — maybe because nobody really tried to make him mean anything at all.

I miss him! And I like it that way. Returning Mar-Vell to life couldn’t help but diminish his legend. He is my favorite hero I hope to never see again … except in the yellowing old pages of the largely-forgotten comics I write about each week here at Longbox Graveyard. Thanks for reading, and please share your thoughts on Mar-Vell (or your own unlikely-yet-favorite heroes) in the comments section, below.

NEXT WEEK: #80 Marvel Super-Hero Holiday Grab Bag (Of Coal)

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About Paul O'Connor

Revelations and retro-reviews from a world where it is always 1978, published once a month or so at www.longboxgraveyard.com!

Posted on December 19, 2012, in Conspectus and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 52 Comments.

  1. My hat’s off to you for giving such a fine retrospective of Mar-vell. There were several times I tried, really tried, to take an interest in his “adventures” while he was dressed in his green/white Kree uniform, but I could never manage it. And I think that uniform was a big part of it. Once he broke with the Kree, making some cosmetic changes in his uniform (if only to demonstrate that severance) would have helped a little in establishing Mar-vell as a character in his own right, and certainly as someone who had cast his lot with Earth. Yet he still dressed as if still tethered to the Kree; indeed, it could have been any Kree warrior in that uniform, which made it difficult for Mar-vell to champion Earth (or Earthlings) in my mind.

    The only thing raising my eyebrow here is that I’d probably stop short of giving him the status of anything even approaching omnipotence, just as I would for someone like Quasar. I never took Eon’s gift of cosmic “awareness” to mean more than enhanced enlightenment which Mar-vell, to that point, was sadly lacking; aside from that, I never saw anything in Mar-vell’s abilities to suggest that ultimate power was ever within his reach. (And Eon would probably be aghast at the thought!)

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    • Those white-and-green uniform stories (aside from the first three or four) are better remembered than read at this point. They’re important only in that they provide a context for Mar-Vell’s later transformations, particularly his repudiation of the Kree military. Those early stories kinda-sorta establish him as a Kree war hero, which raises the stakes when Marv later turns his back on his masters.

      And I probably did overstep by describing Marv as “omnipotent.” I went into it a bit in my review of the Starlin-era Captain Marvel, but the whole “Cosmic Awareness” ability was underdeveloped, and in issues to follow became a concept that writers shaped and re-shaped to suit their specific plot needs. I think we could argue that Cosmic Awareness was anything from a fancy version of Spider-Man’s “Spidey Sense” up to genuine Marvel Universe Omnipotence, and if the character had continued and had more serious adventures I expect this admittedly fuzzy aspect of Marv’s character would have received some clarity.

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      • The issue of omnipotence & the scope of “cosmic awareness” has been given a bit more clarity over the years. Between (the greatly missed) Mark Gruenwald’s Quasar stories & the Earth X books, its clear that the power is now canonized as an aspect of the slightly 3rd-Wall bending “creative force” representing the imagination of the readers as well as the creators & embodied in-story by the likes of Eternity, the Living Tribunal & Eon. It’s a concept that Grant Morrison expresses often & one which has come to represent the ultimate homage to the fans. As such, the character of Captain Mar-vell & those wild stories have become even more important over time & worthy of the term “legend”.

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        • Thanks for that clarification … stuck as I am in 1978 I am fuzzy on anything that happened after the Starlin era. Not sure I like bending that audience wall so much but I suppose I should read the books before passing judgment (which surely makes me unique on the internet!)

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          • The effect is more of an implied wink & nod to the audience, as opposed to the more overt attempts by Morrison.
            I think you might enjoy the stories (especially anything by Gruenwald) as they build upon those early sort of hit-or-miss ideas. I guess that’s what I really enjoy in the older material: the fearless experimental creativity. It’s only funny books, after all. We “truecore” comics fans tend to take the genre too seriously sometimes… but thankfully, ONLY sometimes. : )

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            • TOO seriously??? (He said, knowing full well that he writes a weekly comic book blog …)

              I really need to get to work on my Top Ten Superpets column, to lower the rent around here a little bit …

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  2. very interesting: I like the references to the lustre-less individual issues (apart from #29) but the importance of the whole story arc, the elevation above the ‘rat race’ of ‘the curse of the “eternal now”’ – it doesn’t make for good monthy comicing but it makes for deeper story-telling (… philosophising), nevertheless, the same as for the Ancient One’s becoming ‘one with the universe’ (and even Dr Strange’s similarly, but not quite, so) it makes for story which will not fit the regular superhero soap opera unless you then ‘humanise’ these cosmic entities (in which case they become anathema – like Eternity, the Watcher, Galactus (…))

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    • I’m really cheating here in making such a sum-of-the-parts argument. Many of the individual issues in this run are just dreadful (particularly the early issues by Arnold Drake and Don Heck). I was headed into the flu when I wrote this article and may very well have been out of my mind.

      The other possibility is that I really have teased a worthwhile story arc out of this rambling mess of a comic series … at least I’ve found some slim justification for my affection for this hopeless character!

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      • what it needs is for someone to take the whole body of work and cut-up it down (sic) into one whole amalgam novel – sort of Reader’s Digest – cutting out all of the unecessary dross and sewn together with a masterful linkages, a patchwork collage directed and over-authored by … Neil Gaiman (and they could make it into a Hollywood graphic movie!!! Whaddaya say, whaddaya say!?)

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  3. why is there Air ?

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    • You’re asking the wrong question.

      Here’s the only one that matters, and let me know when you have an answer — “Why is there anything, rather than nothing?”

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      • Because if all we had was nothing, we wouldn’t have comic books – and that would suck.

        Jim Starlin also contributed to a handful of issues in the 1999 C.M. series (Vol. 4). It’s been a few years since we read those and some bits and pieces of Peter David’s Vol. 4 & 5 but they seemed to have their moments. We reserve judgment until we can score a stack of them at bargain price.

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  4. I was never really a fan of Marvel’s version of the Captain Marvel archetype as such, but as I’ve become more immersed in the mythologies, I’ve come around. The red & blue costume is such a solid design & the signature “on the fly” (old) Marvel style in the title so prominent & fun. Comics have lost so much to the commercial bottom line approach in recent times that I can’t help but get caught up in sweep of those older stories. As for the original, green costume & its modern itteration(?); I can’t help but feel a sense of “legacy” (unintentional pun) & nostalgia that is often lacking at Marvel & seems to be anathema now at DC.

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    • I still think the original Captain Marvel uniform is cool, but then again, I’m the guy with original art from Forbidden Planet hanging on my wall …

      Interesting that this entire series was born of “commercial bottom line” considerations but through lens of ages appears more authentic than the corporate-driven story conceits of today!

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  5. I’ve always been a little conflicted about the good Captain. I enjoyed the Starlin stories a lot and but the name always bugged me since it was done in a blatant attempt by Marvel to steal a trademark they really had no right to. But then that sort of thing is a lot more commonplace these days, especially with patents, so I guess it was just Marvel being ahead of the trend.

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    • Mar-Vell.

      Mar-Vell.

      Keep saying it. It gets easier.

      Mar-Vell. Mar-Vell!

      It gets easier! It just takes … decades!

      Personally I like how Rick Jones called our hero “Marv.” That seemed a good compromise.

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      • I’ve accepted that Marvel won the Trademark fight and it would seem weird now to call Mar-Vell anything else. (Although, as you say, it did take a while…) In the current timeline Marvel briefly flirted with bringing Mar-Vell back but opted to leave him dead, at least for now. Carol Danvers has taken on the Captain Marvel name as an homage to the “original” which is rich irony in itself. Since the New 52 Reboot DC has even given up calling their guy Captain Marvel anymore. (they went with Shazam, I’d have gone with Big Red Cheese…)

        The Carol Danvers “Captain Marvel” is 8 issues in so it might start showing up in your Marvel digital service soon. If not look for the trades, it’s better than you might think.

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  6. Mar-Vell was one of my favorite superheroes, and I thank you for this excellently-written piece giving the Kree warrior his due. He truly is a fascinating figure in comics history in that he indeed had a complete character arc ending in his tragic death. The fact that no real attempt had been made to resurrect him in a hoary fashion like many other comic creations also speaks of his uniqueness. I certainly don’t take issue with your choice of the word “omnipotent” to describe his superpowered abilities, as to an ordinary human his powers of flying through space, super stamina, super strength, and other such “stock” superhero abilities would make the captain seem almost godlike to an ordinary human. What did set Mar-Vell apart from most of the Marvel hero canon, however, was his “omniscience,” granted to him by Eon to help him combat Thanos. I will definitely agree with you that Mar-Vell’s “cosmic awareness” was pitifully underused by his writers, often ignored completely. It was a great tool when it was used, though, and Jim Starlin certainly had a great run with the character when he developed the Thanos storyline, which I think is still one of the first and best crossover sagas that incorporated many popular heroes and still reverberates through the Marvel Universe to this day (the “Tesseract” in the “Avengers” movie, coveted by Thanos via using Loki as a pawn, was confirmed by the screenwriters as none other than the Cosmic Cube, an important element in Starlin’s 70s Mar-Vell/Thanos story). Mar-Vell was one of my most favorite comic book heroes and of course I was both saddened and moved by Starlin’s tragic send-off of the man. I had often hoped that Marvel would bring him back in some fashion over the years (a la Adam Warlock) but, like you, I think his legacy is better off as a well-remembered hero resting in peace. Thank you so much for your tribute to this oft-forgotten hero who definitely deserves greater appreciation for his life story than he gets.

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    • Hey, Drew, nice to see you here, thanks for reading and commenting.

      “Omniscience” is a MUCH better term for describing Cosmic Awareness than “omnipotence,” thank you for that. If I was the revising type I’d go back and change the article but then if would invalidate some of the best discussion coming out of this post.

      This post does seem to have struck a chord with Mar-Vell’s secret legion of admirers — glad I am not alone in thinking there is more than meets the eye in these tales. I know I’m bringing a lot to this series that isn’t there — imposing a kind of retroactive continuity and intentionality to stories that were made up on the fly — but there have been thousands of comic series created under similar circumstances that never backed themselves into the kind of space where Captain Marvel ended up. I’m not sure how to account for it. Call it Cosmic Awareness, maybe? It could all be part of Eon’s plan, makes as much sense as anything …

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  7. Paul, thanks for this great interpretation of Mar-Vell’s story, it’s (perhaps unintentional) coherence and importance. He was my favorite character in the first year of my comics fascination (1969-70, aged 11) and my own engagement with the Captain Marvel series was perhaps the perfect sequencing for appreciation of the character. The first superhero comic book I remember buying was Captain Marvel #15 (That Zo Might Live, A Galaxy Must Die!) I missed #16 and then was handed the transformational issue #17 (Rebirth). That month (Aug 1969, I think) was the first month I bought the entire raft of Marvel titles, which I would do for the next 7 years). So my seminal moment was the period of issues #17-19, the first run out of the Marvel/Rick Jones storyline. At Christmas 1969 I received as a present the back issues #1-14 and 16, thus my whole experience of the Green and White Spaceman was retro, and more interesting for it (I agree that it would have been a hard going reading month to month, but as a single, sit-down read of all those issues on Christmas Day 1969, it worked! I was seriously distraught that the series apparently ended with issue #19 (with no explanation, and those nega-bands missing from Rick’s wrists on the final page) and overjoyed that they resumed with #20 in the Spring of 1970. After the second cancellation at #21 I shed fewer tears; older now and had been through it once before. For me, the revival under Jim Starlin was superb, but in many ways a separate experience. Then, at a time when my comic buying had almost stopped, I saw the Graphic Novel ‘The Death of Captain Marvel’ on the stands. It had a powerful impact on that 24 year old, partly as the 11 year old had also grieved over the loss and it triggered the older sentiment. Again, the less notable CM issues (#34-62) were bought post-hoc and read as a group. They had together as a single package, supporting your point that a lot of the value in Captain Marvel was the whole, not the simple sum of the parts.

    I would also concur with your assessment of Carol Danvers. She was my first comic book crush, and especially in the first year of Green and White suited adventures. A true survivor.

    The final irony is that I knew nothing of the trademark law context of Mar-Vell’s life story until well after his death in 1982. The stop-go just seemed painful and inexplicable, and not helped by the Bullpen’s assertions in the issues that the opinion of Marveldom Assembled was the driving force in the good Captain’s fortunes. So what did I do? I became a lawyer, of course.

    Thanks again for this great blog.

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    • Jim, thanks so much for reading and commenting. A couple weeks ago I was wondering out loud in my “Longbox Soapbox” column if I should continue this blog, and then along comes this kind of comment that makes it all worthwhile — a validation that this isn’t an echo chamber, that there are others out there who share my special feelings for these forgotten funny books, and whose lives were shaped and influenced by characters like Mar-Vell! Spectacular! And that you came to comics at the tender age of eleven just serves to reinforce my theory that the Golden Age of EVERYTHING is “twelve” (give or take a year).

      For such an obscure character, Captain Marvel has a devoted cadre of fans, I feel like I am hosting a cult meeting or something … but there is something about this character that is greater than the sum-of-his-parts. I sensed it when I wrote this entry and I’m more convinced of it as people respond and write in. I think ol’ Marv may be on his way to becoming one of the patron saints of Longbox Graveyard, a character (like Nick Fury, and Ms. Marvel) that I didn’t really intend to tackle when I started this blog, but who has loomed large as I’ve explored these comics from my past.

      It has been a worthwhile journey, made all the more so by thoughtful comments such as these … thanks again so much for writing, Jim, it made my day. Happy New Year!

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      • Paul said: “For such an obscure character, Captain Marvel has a devoted cadre of fans…”

        You bet it has and you better remember it the next time you call Captain Marvel an obscure character because I’ll kick your balls up to the Kree mother world!

        Repeat with me… Captain Marvel… Captain Marvel, protector of the universe!
        Where the else would you find a more glorious resume?

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  8. I’ve never really thought about Mar-Vell the way you just lined him up here. I’ve always liked the guy since my exposure to him via the 1991 Marvel Universe trading card set. I was fascinated, but it would be awhile before I read any of his stuff, and as you say, with a few exceptions here and yon (his interactions with Thanos immediately spring to mind) there aren’t many individual issues worth reading. You’ve inspired me to go back and look at the series as a whole after I do some other reading I have lined up.

    Of course, nothing will change the fact that the other Captain Marvel will always be firmly entrenched above Mar-Vell in my hero echeleon. He’s third on my all time list behind Punisher and Green Arrow, respectively.

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    • Read the Starlin stuff if you’re going to check out Mar-Vell, Nate. Then fill in the original green-and-white costume issues or his later Marvel run if you like what you see.

      And yes, the original Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel has been cruelly treated by this industry, first by a National/DC Comics that tried to sue him out of existence, then by a Marvel Comics that took away his name, and now by a DC that keeps trying to cram him into their grim, superheroes-are-everywhere universe. I don’t know a lot about the Big Red Cheese and would welcome a column on him here at Longbox Graveyard — let me know if you’d like to do a guest blog on him!

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      • I have the issues, so I will read them all; I already really like the Starlin stuff, so I am gonna give it a try later this year.

        Yes! I’d love to do that. Send me an email with details! I’d like to time it with when I plan to start my podcast to get some crossover exposure if that isn’t an issue.

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