Captain Marvel #37-39
Issue(s): Captain Marvel #37, Captain Marvel #38, Captain Marvel #39
It also introduces a political schism in the Kree that has questionable long-term merit, but it's certainly a significant development. And that's where we start, with the Lunatic Legion. Two issues ago, Ant-Man and the Wasp helped foil an attack by an android or cyborg (more below) Living Laser, who was working for the Lunatic Legion. Before that, Nitro was also said to be working for them. Last issue was a reprint. But this issue begins with Captain Marvel wrapping up with Ant-Man and the Wasp...
...and Ant-Man suggests that the group might be based on the moon. It sounds like a joke derived from the word "lunatic"...
...but the Wasp also discovered a perfectly round and blue bit of moon rock in the Living Laser's equipment.
Hearing that, Captain Marvel flies off without even saying goodbye to the Pyms. He's stopped by Rick, who is still unhappy about sharing a body with Mar-vell. He demands that they go back to Rick's manager, Mordecai P. Boggs. Boggs sets up a gig for Rick to play at in Denver in 5 days. Dandy slips Rick a "Vitamin C" pill.
With that over with, Captain Marvel is freed up to go to the moon, as long as he can get Rick Back in time for his gig. But even at CM's top speed, it will take him ten hours to reach the moon, and he switches back to Rick every three hours. So they go to Avengers Mansion, where Rick "checks out" a space suit (which will later be said to be an Iron Man-like exo-skeleton).
At the beginning of their trip, Mar-vell is attacked by another agent of the Lunatic Legion. This one is called Nimrod (not the super-sentinel from the future).
But Captain Marvel's cosmic awareness alerts him to the fact that he's a robot, so he uses full force and smashes him very quickly.
It's implied here that both the Living Laser and Nitro were cyborgs. Earlier (see the scan with the Wasp above), the Laser was said to have had "new power" and "a cybernetic rebuilding of his insides". During the fight with Nimrod, Mar-vell says that both Nitro and the Laser were "half-alive". And that's in contrast to Nimrod, who was a straight-up robot.
Ultimately, the Laser that appeared in the previous story will turn out to have been a robot too, and as far as i know Nitro is no cyborg either.
Right after that, in the Negative Zone, Rick Jones gets another visit from Annihilus.
And when Rick instinctively swings out with his exo-skeleton powered arm, Annihilus explodes into a million little Annihiluses. This is before Rick has taken his "Vitamin C" pill, mind you.
The adrenaline rush from that encounter obviously doesn't last long, though, because immediately after that Rick Jones gets bored and does pop the pill. And it definitely starts affecting his mind (note the hallucination of his parents).
Meanwhile (the three hour limitation, which Rick put on that space suit for, is never actually depicted; did Rick, still tripping, occasionally float mindlessly in real space? How did that suit help him breathe?), Captain Marvel arrives at the Blue Area of the moon and, after briefly reflecting on the fact that this is an historical site for people that he had yet to visit...
...he heads for the Watcher's house, to see if he can shed any light on the Lunatic Legion. As we saw in the short framing sequence for last issue, though, the Watcher is actually working with the Legion and is out to seemingly kill Mar-vell.
Rick's psychedelic trip is affecting Marv as well, and he's unable to last long against the Watcher...
...who brings him deep into the Moon to the Lunatic Legion, who turn out to be a group of blue-skinned Kree (by the way, everything i've described up until this point takes place in issue #37; really compressed plotting, but i like it).
The blue Kree explain that they are the pure-blood Kree. Other Kree, including the pink variety, are the result of intermarriage with other alien races that the Kree have conquered (all of whom seem to have been bodacious humanoid babes, as opposed to bug-eyed monsters).
This group of pure-bloods have returned to the Blue Area of the moon to "reclaim our all-but-lost heritage", and they've decided to pro-actively kill Captain Marvel because they know that as a "mulatto and renegade with paranormal powers" he would oppose them. They also don't like the Supreme Intelligence because he's a "cesspool of impure minds" and a "liberal".
Among the Kree is Zarek, the former Imperial Minister who posed as Zo in a previous bid against the Supreme Intelligence.
Captain Marvel is still trippin' balls thanks to Rick's pill while this explanation is given so he actually doesn't remember it or anything prior to first landing on the moon, but when he comes to, he immediately thinks of the blue Kree as "conservative fools".
Cap and Rick's shared acid trip has further connected their minds, to the point where they can now transform without the Nega-bands. It's also said that their minds are practically merged at this point; they have access to each other's feelings and memories.
After Mar-vell defeats the Kree...
...the Watcher shows up again. But instead of helping, he grabs a device and turns it on himself.
It's a signal that he's violated his Watcher oath, and a pair of other Watchers show up to whisk him away. So this is what kicks off the Trial of the Watcher in the final story in this entry. Rick convinces Captain Marvel to hop onto the teleportation beam back to the Watchers' home planet.
Before i move on to the Trial, though, just wanted to pause and note some things from the above two issues. There's the "Annihilus is composed of many tiny Annihiluses" but leave that aside for now.
The first real issue is the "Vitamin C" pill. Not only does Rick have a trip, but that trip is an integral part of the plot and it results in a positive status-quo change for Rick and Marv. Take acid, kids! It'll expand your mind!
The second is the whole obvious interracial marriage metaphor, and a racial discrimination issue more generally. One thing i'll say about that is i think it was a shortsighted move. It's an issue that i'm sure had a lot of resonance at the time. When i first ran into this type of thing much later, though, the whole pink/blue thing seemed really dated and clunky to me. I'm not saying these types of issues are no longer a concern, but they are much less of one than they would have been at the time. And the Kree would have been around for thousands of years at this point, right? This is still an issue for them? I hope that's not a portent for our species! I guess we can imagine a small group of die hard purists remaining but i think the pink/blue divide remains a perpetual and widespread problem in future Kree stories. On top of that, throwing out the "conservative" and "liberal" labels is surprising. Marvel had been out against racism since the Stan Lee days. But they always used inclusive language that didn't try to turn that anti-bigotry directly into a political view. But this story clearly positions liberals as the good guys.
I kind of think both the drug thing and the conservative/liberal thing might not have slipped through on a more prominent book. Although Englehart did manage to make Richard Nixon the head of the Secret Empire in Captain America...
Anyway, moving on to the Trial. Tony Isabella is credited with "research" for this issue, which must have meant gathering the info on all of the Watcher's previous appearances, and crimes, and probably also reading through the Tales of the Watcher stories to get the details about the Watcher's origin and home planet right. It must have been a lot of work to do all of that at the time. Did Marvel already have a list of the Watcher's appearance? Or did Isabella have to manually go through Marvel's entire back catalog? Since detailing those events covers at least four pages of the book, i've given him a plot credit.
When Captain Marvel first arrives on the planet, they are noticed by the Watchers that came for Uatu, and they capture him in a Shroud of Stasis and leave him behind while they head off to the Temple of Justice. Rick and Marv decide that their usual body-switching trick won't free them this time, but they make a special effort and find that they can actually separate their bodies. So for the first time in a long while, both Rick and Captain Marvel are out of the Negative Zone.
The two are observed, however, by a young Watcher named Aron, and a "rackcat" (although i'm going to call him a Catalope) called Mad-Eye. Mad-Eye is not pleased with the appearance of two small hairy men, so he attacks.
Aron, however, just Watches. Mar-vell is able to subdue the Catalope and make it to the trial, already in session.
The Trial involves going through a rather large list of the Watcher's violations of the Watcher Code (see the list in the References section below). What's kind of funny is a couple times another Watcher throws out an accusatory exclamation, and Uatu says something like, "Yeah, I know. That's why I turned myself in." During the trial, the Catalope attacks again. Rick Jones, still in his exo-skeleton, tries to help out, but Mad-Eye is quite powerful. The action is almost exciting enough to get Aron to help, but not quite...
...and ultimately Rick and Captain Marvel defeat the cat creature.
The Trial then concludes with Uatu getting less than a slap on the wrist. Uatu admits that he was wrong and that's the end of it!
An insanely anti-climactic ending, coupled with some goofy facial expressions in the final few panels. But an interesting journey. And a much-needed re-establishment of the Watcher as a force that watches, but doesn't interfere. Sure, he'll interfere, but this is at least a reset button on that. I said above that compared to the Celestial Madonna plot, at least there's a story here. But it's not a great one.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: When Rick Jones shows up at the Avengers Mansion, an "Author's Note" asks us to remember that this story was originally scheduled for two months earlier (the book was bi-monthly and last issue was a reprint), so that explains why Jarvis doesn't mention that the Avengers were looking for Captain Marvel at this point by publication date. It's interesting how Marvel at this time tried to keep their continuity not just consistent but consistent as of publication date, and put in a note when that wasn't feasible. That said, this arc continues a direct string of events going back to issue #34, and i've got the Celestial Madonna story (which is when the Avengers were looking for CM) mostly after this arc, but the prologue, where the Watcher creates the star over the Avengers Mansion, before it. The idea is the events are happening concurrently; when Rick shows up at the Mansion, the Avengers were off dealing with Kang and such but hadn't put out an alert for CM (or Jarvis wasn't aware). It seems to work out ok this way. The one curiosity is that the origin of the Blue Area of the Moon and some of the Kree/Cotati/Skrull history, which is first revealed by publication date in the Madonna story, is "spoiled" for readers here first, but that's not a problem for the characters involved (Captain Marvel already knew that stuff).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
The fact that Uatu was allied with the Lunatic Legion when they empowered Nitro is later forgotten about- nobody resents Uatu for the deaths of Mar-vell, Namorita or Night Thrasher.
Posted by: Michael | April 26, 2013 12:09 AM
Hank Pym's costumes confuse me at this point. Did he fight Whirlwind as Yellowjacket around Avengers #139-140 before or after this? And what about Steve Gerber using him as Yellowjacket in that Giant-Size Defenders, when Pym was supposedly retired from superheroing?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 26, 2013 4:47 PM
This story takes place before Avengers 139-140 and Giant-Size Defenders. The sequence is Captain Marvel, then Giant-Size Defenders, then Avengers 139. Basically, Hank was Ant-Man from the Kree-Skrull War until that Giant-Size Defenders issue.
Posted by: Michael | April 26, 2013 7:28 PM
She's blonde, but if she were a redhead Rick's mom would look an awful lot like Marlo Chandler. Certainly those platform shoes, shorts, and skimpy top look like things Marlo might wear.
At his trial Uatu says he was jealous of Marv's status as a hero, especially as Protector of the Universe. But thought the story I got the impression---not that there are explicit grounds for it---that Uatu only appeared to be aiding the Lunatic Legion and was in fact bringing about their defeat by bringing Marv to then. I guess, contrary to that reading, Uatu could have just clobbered the legion himself, but operating indirectly, through relatively small interferences like just capturing Marv, would be in character. Anyone else get the sense that's what was going on here?
Milgrom's art looks pretty good in the Essential reprint, though maybe it's easily to look good when you're inked by Janson. That last shot of the Watchers is indeed awful, though.
Aron later shows up in Engelhardt's and Tom DeFalco's Fantastic Four runs as a villain. I kind of like him: a Watcher makes a neat adversary.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | June 22, 2013 5:45 PM
The blue vs. pink thing would have been ok if it were only used this one time, as the Lunatic Legion's peculiar motive. Unfortunately Englehart returns to the theme in his late '80s Silver Surfer run, by which time it seems quite dated. No other writer ever really follows up on it, certainly not to the point of making it the defining trait that Engelhart wanted it to be.
Reading these issues for the first time today, I was struck by Marv's reference to these murderous revolutionaries as conservatives--who think the Supreme Intelligence is liberal, no less--but I wasn't bugged by it as much as by the Legion's foppish archaisms--all that "sir" and "calot" it makes them sound like they're doing a Monty Python routine.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | June 22, 2013 6:04 PM
Peter Gillis has a letter in #37.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 25, 2013 6:38 PM
Reading those 80s Silver Surfers & the Kree-Shi'ar War, I never got the impression that the blue Kree were at a state where only a "few full-blooded blue Kree remain." They seemed to be fairly common. I had no idea that this racial-rift was introduced so late in Captain Marvel's run.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | July 20, 2013 2:31 PM
Is it really accurate to say that Rick Jones and Mar-Vell "shared a body"? They each had separate bodies and were active in the Negative Zone while the other was on Earth (or wherever). One didn't transform into the other, they just switched places. The Hulk and Bruce Banner share a body. Rick and Marvel have a two-way teleport.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 20, 2013 2:53 PM
If you want to be pedantic about it, sure. ;-)
But it's not like they each go about their business and switch places every so often. One of them has to float helplessly in an alternate dimension. And they're mentally bonded, so each is literally watching what the other is doing the whole time. So i think "sharing bodies" works well enough for shorthand.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 20, 2013 5:09 PM
For I know, that term came from the comics themselves. I don't know. It just doesn't seem to apply, no matter where it came from. The Kree/Skrull War showed that things happen to them while in the Negative Zone. They don't just float in limbo. Hell, sometimes they run into Anhihilus.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 20, 2013 5:16 PM
The term "teleport"? No, that was actually coined by the famous Charles Fort, collector of information on all things strange.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | July 20, 2013 5:21 PM
I demand that Jay be removed from this board do to incendiary racist initiations.
Posted by: Jack | July 20, 2013 5:43 PM
Posted by: Jack | July 20, 2013 5:43 PM
Is he a member of the KKK, do you mean? "Racist initiations".
Posted by: ChrisKafka | July 20, 2013 5:47 PM
Jack, i'm sorry but you are the only one who saw anything racist in what Jay said. Both Michael and i provided clear and much more likely explanations of what Jay was asking about. And you didn't engage with either of us. You just continued with extremely unsubstantiated accusations. This is your only warning. Any further disruptive comments and you will be banned.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 20, 2013 5:51 PM
Even he didn't see anything racist in what I said. He was called out on his behavior regarding the grades and now he's lashing out like a baby. He knows what he's doing.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 20, 2013 6:08 PM
Chriskafka, it wasn't the term "teleport" I was referring to, it was "sharing a body", in regards to Rick and Mar-Vell. I was clarifying that I didn't even think fnord had originated the term, just that it didn't seem accurate. For all I know Roy Thomas may have called it "sharing a body", but it's a bit misleading.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 20, 2013 6:14 PM
You're right about that. There were the details about them being inside each other's minds, but they were really switching places.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | July 20, 2013 6:29 PM
Posted by: Jack | July 20, 2013 7:39 PM
"Look at me! Look at me!"
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 20, 2013 7:44 PM
Jack, i really think you're misinterpreting both Jay and ChrisKafka, but i'm more than happy to just let this drop. ChrisKafka, if you have anything to clarify, please feel free, but everyone else, please let's just let this drop.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 20, 2013 7:45 PM
Jay, i can understand that being called a racist is upsetting, but if you really think Jack is trolling, you're just fueling it.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 20, 2013 7:47 PM
So...those blue Kree were pretty racist, huh?
Posted by: ChrisKafka | July 20, 2013 8:08 PM
And, I am not trolling.
Posted by: Jack | July 20, 2013 10:07 PM
Jack IS trolling, he's not being particularly subtle about it. Why he's not been banned or had his posts deleted is a mystery. It's doubtful he'll leave or play nice of his own volition - more likely it'll continue and get worse until he finally gets bored. That's what happens when you do nothing (worse than nothing - you are here chastising an actual member of your site for feeding a troll, and not doing anything about the troll).
Maybe you are not experienced in online forums but I am, and my suggestion would be an immediate ban. You ever see 30 Days of Night, where the vampires find a perfect town, one where it's dark for months? That's how this place must look to Jack right about now.
Also, your psychology is off - trolls don't feed off of attention, per se. That's just a byproduct. He's here to cause trouble. End him.
Posted by: Paul | July 21, 2013 4:15 AM
Paul gets away with using profanity. Jay gets away with provoking to ignite racist commentary. But I'm the bad guy?
Posted by: Jack | July 21, 2013 7:22 AM
Comments about the comics are, of course, fine.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 21, 2013 1:26 PM
On a lighter note, Nimrod's costume is totally ripped off from Simonson's Manhunter costume.
But the pink/blue racism thing always made perfect sense to me. After all, the Kree are a fascist military empire. It would be surprising if they didn't have some sort of arbitrary caste system.
Posted by: Andrew | November 8, 2015 1:10 PM
I've always thought it was odd that Steve Englehart was telling this story with its subplot concerning the remaining few "full-blooded blue Kree" at the exact same time he was revealing the origins of the Kree Empire in Avengers #133-134, simply because in those Avengers issues, all of the Kree we see inhabiting the Kree Year Zero onward are colored exactly the same as Mar-Vell, i.e. white or pink. I don't think there's a single blue-skinned Kree on display in those Avengers issues. Yet here we're being told that all the Kree were blue-skinned way back when. I wonder if Englehart forgot to mention all of this to the colorist on Avengers.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 29, 2015 10:12 PM
I remember reading from somewhere that the Year Zero Kree being pink was indeed a colouring mistake. Maybe it was even corrected in the Celestial Madonna TPB? I don't have my copy at hand right now, so I can't check whether the Kree are still pink in that.
Posted by: Tuomas | November 30, 2015 3:45 AM
In my Celestial Madonna trade published in 2002, all the Kree are pink.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 30, 2015 8:58 AM
Ah, now I remember that the place where I read about the colouring mistake was this very site:
Meanwhile the other Avengers travel back to the Kree homeworld of Hala, where we see the Kree, as primitive barbarians (there's a mistake in the panel below, as acknowledged in the lettercol for issue #139.
Posted by: Tuomas | November 30, 2015 12:35 PM
fnord, I totally wouldn't blame you if you decided not to track them, but the individual members of the Lunatic Legion, Arjai-Ush, Fer-Porr, Kay-Sade, Sro-Himm, and Tohn-Bil, recur in several entries. I only really notice them because Sri-Himm, with his monocle, reminds me of Vermin Vundabar.
Posted by: Andrew | December 28, 2016 8:33 PM
I alaways heard that the "white" Kree were rhe minority and that the majority of Kree's were blue-skinned (Hey, just like the Atlanteans!)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | December 29, 2016 11:24 AM
@Andrew, thanks. I've added them, but i didn't do an extensive review of the Captain Marvel appearances, so i only have them appearing here and in issue #41. If anyone knows of appearances in other issues, let me know.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 16, 2017 2:34 PM
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