Silver Surfer annual #6
Issue(s): Silver Surfer annual #6
The major first of this issue is the first appearance of Genis-vell, the son of Captain Mar-vell. Genis-vell by an order of magnitude is the most important character to come out of Marvel's 1993 new character annuals. X-Cutioner and Annex are probably his closest rivals, and given that the latter is causing a good percentage of you to go "Who?", you can see the difference in scale. Genis-vell will take on the Captain Marvel name and have several volumes of his own series, in addition to playing a prominent role in the Cosmic Powers series, in Avengers Forever, and as a member of the Thunderbolts.
While i'm noting Genis-vell's much greater success, however, i want to say that i don't think it's the right frame of mind to simply say that Ron Marz came up with a much better idea for a character than all the other creators on all the other annuals. I don't want to downplay what Marz accomplished. But while a fair amount of the new characters were definitely phoned in - bird men and generic demons and bland assassin robots - it's also the case that it's increasingly hard to come up with original characters. Take a character like Wildstreak. More care seems to have been put into her than, say, the Devourer. But her origin is generically Silver Age like we've seen a thousand times before. And even if she were better scripted and better drawn in her first appearance, i have a hard time figuring out where she could go from there. My initial thought was that she could join the New Warriors, but there's too much of an overlap with Silhouette, who is already a tertiary character.
Actually, i'm going to stop myself, because i wanted to make the point that by 1993 it was just difficult to create original new characters that would catch on with readers, so not all the blame should be placed on the quality of the creations. But as i go through the list of 1993 annuals i've reviewed so far... i mean these characters are really bad. So maybe a better way to make my point is to look at other characters that Ron Marz created during his Silver Surfer run. If you look at Morg and Ganymede and Tyrant, i mean they're not total scrubs but they don't have any significant longevity, either.
What makes Genis-vell different is that he's a legacy character - literally named Legacy at this point! He's the son of Captain Marvel, whose death remains one of Marvel's most significant events, and Marvel received perennial calls for his return. It's worth noting that Mar-vell's return was teased in some Ron Marz issues of Silver Surfer about a year ago and also a year prior to that in a Quasar storyline (in both cases, the appearances were basically ghosts). Those appearances might have fueled the demand for a return and also made a newer generation of fans aware of the character. So it seems "obvious" (said with 20+ years of hindsight) that bringing in a son of Captain Marvel will be a nice twist to meet those demands without compromising the story of the original's death, and it also seems "obvious" that such a legacy character would go on to be more successful than most new characters created at this time, even if those characters were of better quality.
Since i seem to have chosen this issue to do a kind of midpoint summary of the 1993 annuals, let me also note that one type of character that DID seem to get a lot of success in the early 90s was the violent type. I guess maybe there are two sub-types here: the violent anti-heroes like Cable and Bishop, and the psychotically evil and violent villains like Carnage. Characters like that undermine my point that it was hard to create new characters in 1993. Such characters had initial surges of popularity and some continued to be popular to an extent that matched or surpassed Genis-vell (see Deadpool). What's interesting is that at least from what i've looked at so far, i don't see any new characters that were making a bid for the audiences that made those characters popular. We have some out-and-out demons, but they don't really hit the same notes as, say, Carnage. Even taking the (lack of) quality and effort that went into the characters created for the annuals, i'd expect to see a lot more characters like, say, Soulfire or Dreadface (Ghost Rider and Venom stand-ins, respectively, neither of whom were created for the annuals).
Anyway, the actual story here is quite simple, which in itself is refreshing. Genis-vell's mother is Captain Marvel's old girlfriend, Elysius, and he's under the impression that Starfox is his father. But Starfox is an absentee father, and so Genis-vell has become a bit of a ne'er-do-well.
Elysius trades a glowing star necklace that Captain Marvel gave her for what will turn out to be a newly crafted set of Nega-Bands, and then requests that the Silver Surfer locate Genis-vell and bring him home (to her new home on the isolated planet of Paraxis, not her homeworld of Titan). Genis-vell is in the process of getting beaten up by the people that he cheated in cards. The Surfer rescues him. Elysius explains that Captain Marvel, not Starfox, is his father, and gives him the Nega-Bands. The Silver Surfer then helps Genis-vell fight off an attempt by Ronan the Accuser and a band of Kree to take the Bands and to hold Genis-vell responsible for the "sins" of his father.
The writing and art can sometimes be a little terrible and corny...
...but the overall concept makes up for it.
Some important details: First, Nega-Bands aren't the source of Genis-vell's power. It's said that they'll unlock the "latent energy" that has "been dormant within [Genis-vell's] genetic structure". The Bands are said to be modeled after Mar-vell's Nega-Bands, and they're said to have been built by Hammal Kesht, of whom more below. For what it's worth, the last we saw of the Nega-Bands, the Shi'ar took them from Captain Atlas in Avengers West Coast #81.
Second, Genis-vell isn't truly the love child of Elysius and Mar-vell. After Mar-vell died, Elysius felt "empty" so she accessed ISAAC's computer records and downloaded the files that were used during the search for a cure for Mar-vell's cancer, and she used that to replicate Mar-vell's DNA and impregnate herself. "You were born just like any normal baby", but obviously he wasn't conceived like one, and he was also artificially aged and given false memories of a childhood. I suspect that all of this was done to deal with Marvel's Sliding Timescale, but it does introduce the possibility for all sorts of problems. It's worth noting that Elysius herself was artificially created by ISAAC, so the manner of Genis-vell's birth wouldn't seem abnormal to her.
Back-ups: The first focuses on Terrax, and shows him tracking down and locating his axe, which happens to be held at a store run by Hammal Kesht, the guy who was said to have created Genis-vell's Nega-Bands.
After his mention in the main story and his unrelated appearance here, you might think that Hammal Kesht was being set up as a recurring character, but this does seem to be his only appearance. It's worth observing that he was said to have crafted the Nega-Bands replica but that he was selling Terrax's actual axe.
The second back-up has a make-out session between Jack of Hearts and Ganymede getting briefly interrupted by an attack from a damaged but still active robot from their fight with Tyrant.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Crossover: 1993 Annuals
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showCaptain Marvel (Genis-vell), Elysius, Ganymede, Jack of Hearts, Ronan the Accuser, Silver Surfer, Terrax
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