What is this book about?
Since I’m not reviewing volume 1 or 2 of this title, theres some back story I have to get to before I can jump into why I think you should read this book.
Everything we need to know about this title began back in Incredible Hulk # 1, which was the first appearance of the Hulk, and the first appearance of Rick Jones. Rick Jones is just an ordinary kid, who, one day, on a dare, drove to an army test site, where experiments involving gamma bombs were being conducted. Dr. Bruce Banner, the designer of the gamma bombs, realized that Rick was on the testing field, and threw him to safety, absorbing the radiation himself. As a result of this, Banner transformed into the Hulk. Jones remained with the Hulk for some time, becoming a close friend.
Fast forward to Avengers # 1, Rick was instrumental in the creation of the Avengers, as after the evil Loki took control of the Hulk, Rick was the person who sent out the radio call to assemble the heroes to battle Loki.
He later went on to become Captain America’s sidekick for a short while.
However, after some time, Rick started to resent being on the side-lines, this was however, cured, when he discovered a pair of alien bracelets that let him trade places with Captain Mar-vell, an imprisoned Kree warrior.
Mar-Vell, was a white-skinned minority of the blue-skinned Kree empire, but despite discrimination and prejudice, Mar-Vell became a renowned soldier and an acclaimed hero for his victories in battle against the Kree’s enemies, notably the Skrulls.
Mar-Vell’s regiment, under the command of Yon-Rogg, was given a mission to observe Earth, specifically human’s progress of space travel. Yon-Rogg, jealous of the love between Mar-Vell and the ship’s medic, Una, ordered Mar-Vell to infiltrate Cape Canaveral, Florida, alone. He then secretly tried to fire on Mar-Vell’s ship, but killed a human instead, Dr. Walter Lawson. Mar-Vell took advantage of the two looking similar and posed as the doctor and created a secret identity, but Yon-Rogg again secretly tried to kill Mar-Vell by activating the Kree robot, the Sentry. In his Kree uniform, Mar-Vell publicly defeated the robot, and the onlookers dubbed him as “Captain Marvel,” misinterpreting what the Sentry called him.
Mar-Vell continued to observe humanity, in both his secret and costumed identity, growing increasingly sympathetic for Earth and its inhabitants. His initial adventures were typically extensions of Yon-Rogg’s attempts to kill, discredit, or otherwise destroy him.
However, after some time and a uniform change later, Captain Marvel left to return to Earth, he instead found himself in the extradimensional realm known as the Negative Zone. The Supreme Intelligence then mentally lured the Earth youth Rick Jones to an abandoned Kree base on Earth in order to bid him to wear the “Nega-Bands.” (The pair of alien bracelets that let him trade places with Captain Mar-vell I mentioned above.) By slamming the bands together, Jones and Captain Marvel shared a telepathic link as well as, more importantly, switch places between Earth’s universe and the Negative Zone.
These two remained entangled together for a long while.
Fast forward to the Kree-Skrull War where the Supreme Intelligence released Jones’ latent Destiny Force, (which is essentially just vast energy manipulation power). Jones used the Destiny Force to conjure up heroes from Earth’s past to battle Ronan the Accuser and his Kree army, as well as to bring about a halt of galactic hostilities between the two races.
At some point, Captain Marvel was exposed to a nerve gas that proved cancerous, and the cancer turned malignant. Mar-Vell spent his last days on Titan, the moon of Saturn, surrounded by Elysius and his friends Mentor and Starfox. Many of his allies came to visit him while on his deathbed including the Thing, Spider-Man, Drax the Destroyer, and an ambassador of the Skrull empire (the greatest enemies of the Kree Empire) who awarded Mar-Vell with the Skrull medal of valor and stated that Captain Marvel was considered to be the greatest single enemy the Skrull Empire had ever known. He was also granted a posthumous honorary membership in the Avengers, and a monument was erected in his memory on Titan.
After Mar-vell passed, Rick’s life went on. He continued his adventures with the Hulk and eventually got married to Marlo Chandler.
Genis-Vell, the starry faced hero of this title, was originally “born” at the age of thirteen after his mother Elysius used DNA from the original Captain Marvel (Mar-vell) to conceive a son. She then had Genis rapidly aged and imbued with false memories of growing up on Titan among his late father’s friends and associates, all so that he might be better able to protect himself from his father’s enemies. He was told by his mother that his father was Starfox which he believed until Elysius sent the Silver Surfer to fetch Genis back to Titan, as the young man was in the middle of squandering his life, roaming the universe as a hedonist and gambler. After the Surfer retrieved Genis, saving from a bar brawl, Elysius told Genis the truth of his origins and gave him the Nega-Bands of Captain Marvel. Adapting the name of ‘Legacy’ to carry on his father’s heroic tradition, he became an explorer and an adventurer like his father, albeit a rather rash and unwise one at first.
Legacy battled the villainous Controller alongside the Avengers, including the current Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau. In the aftermath of that battle, Monica chose to pass on the title of ‘Captain Marvel’ to Genis, rechristening herself ‘Photon.’
While Genis-Vell was coming into this own, Rick’s association with the Hulk turned tragic however, when the Hulk dealt Rick a crippling blow, rendering his legs useless.
Some time later, Rick’s Destiny powers resurfaced, he became a pawn in a time-spanning conflict between the villainous Kang and Kang’s later self, Immortus – a conflict which would become known as the Destiny War.
During the war, Rick used the Destiny Force to summon Avengers past, present and future to his side, including Genis, the Captain Marvel of tomorrow. The Destiny Force was also able to heal Rick’s crippled legs.
At the climax of the Destiny War, Genis merged Rick’s atoms with those of Genis’ modern-day self, in order to save his life. This process also triggered his latent Cosmic Awareness power.
Which brings us up to speed to where this book starts up.
Unlike other reviews where I choose one story from the whole book and/or volume to read, I am going to recommend reading this whole volume. All 35 issues. See, most comic book volumes, specifically superhero comics, have multiple writers throughout their run. And some writers are just better than others so it’s best to choose one story from a particular book or volume to recommend you read without having to slog through a whole volumes worth of comics that frankly just aren’t that good or really epitomize the point of that volume or that book. Which is the case with a lot of my previous comic reviews on this blog. Not in this case though. Peter David wrote this whole volume, and while there are some storys that are better than others, mostly, this whole volume is connected. The whole volume is really one big standalone story. Which brings me to…
Why should you read this book?
I was a HUGE fan of Avengers Forever. That’s seriously one of my favorite books. I got into that book in a big bad way back in the day. And got into Captain Marvel (Genis-Vell) because of that book. Seriously, I think I dropped $100 on a Bowen Designs statue of Genis-Vell that I did not have the money for but somehow acquired the money to get it.
I’ve been a lifetime collector and reader of Spider-Man comics, so any comic characters that are similar to him in regards to humor I could usually get into. And that’s why you should read this book.
Because the series was wacky, adventurous and fun! Peter David made this book so unique. What made it so much more unique than other books was that the fact that the humor and wackiness and fun was coming from a character you wouldn’t exactly expect to find humor from, (except from Rick Jones of course). The book allowed Peter David to do his own humor and poke fun at politics, pop culture and about the comic industry in general. They did this in the way that David placed Rick Jones/Captain Marvel in Los Angeles where Marlo and Rick also run a comic store, prime for comic inside jokes.
The book was a hard sell for me at first. Only because I wasn’t familiar with Marvel cosmic characters. But I was attracted to it’s humor so I gave it shot and it definitely paid off.
Even Chriscross, the artist on the book, was a hard sell for me. I really hated the way he drew Marlo. He made her look like a drag queen. Not there’s anything wrong with that. But, seeing how Gary Frank originally drew her I was put off by him at first to say the least. But the more I read, the more I realized the only issues I wanted to read were the issues where Chriscross did the art.
A good point to start paying attention, because it will pay off [like paying attention to the inside jokes of a Community episode does], is when Captain Marvel teamed up with Thor and Thanos. They fought against this foe called Walker, who wanted to kill Death. During the course of this adventure Walker shattered Rick Jones’ arm and prematurely aged him to that of an old man. Meanwhile Marlo was in even more danger, as Death had decided to hide inside her body, to escape Walker.
Rick Jones, though, was still maimed and aged. His appearance, not coincidentally, was the same as we had seen in Avengers Forever. Rick even vanishes for a second only to return the next – where he went in that second was his appearance in Avengers Forever. It’s reasons like to this to read this book. The attention to detail. The writer rewards the audience for paying attention. It’s wonderful.
Speaking of paying attention and being rewarded for doing so, towards the end of the series one issue is dedicated just to Marlo – as it goes through her varied history up to then, with a revelation at the end. It’s revealed that Marlo has a connection to Death. Marlo had once died briefly, during the Incredible Hulk series, but was brought back to life. It was no coincidence that a ghost has been following her all this time (during this series a friend of Marlo’s dies and follows her around as a ghost), or that Death herself had taken shelter inside her body. Even all the way back in Incredible Hulk #418, where Rick and Marlo get married – there was a small and concealed appearance of Neil Gaiman’s “Death”, from the DC Sandman series. She made that appearance just to congratulate Marlo on her marriage. Apparently Death had cut Marlo a break before, when she had been revived from death. Marlo apparently has a death wish, having led a somewhat dangerous life. She’s apparently been calling out to Death all her life, and when Death had merged with Marlo during this series – she brought back a powerful ability along with her. She has command over all death. She literally could make the universe die, if she put her mind to it.
This is how insanely planned out Peter David’s stories can be – laying clues and story threads years in advance! The revelation about Marlo’s connection to Death had been long coming – and it’s this kind of mix of planning and improvisation that makes Peter David’s Captain Marvel so great.
If you’d like to buy the books I’m recommending, you can buy them individually here.
Here are some my favorite moments from these issues:
It was nice to see a fight/team-up with the Hulk in this book; seeing as this series was being written after Peter David was unceremoniously kicked off his critically acclaimed 12-year run on the Incredible Hulk.:
I’m also a big Quantum Leap fan, and being molecularly bonded to Captain Marvel, Rick Jones had a very “Quantum Leap”-style way of communicating with him, by seeing the Captain’s reflection in mirrors and reflective surfaces and what not.:
Rick eventually is cured, and then the very next issue the series then brought in probably their best story arc, Time Flies. Where Captain Marvel gets sucked into a portal through time, which, humorously, appears within a toilet. Which is really just commentary on the struggling sales of the series. And that kind of humor is another reason to read this book:
Time Flies saw Rick and Captain Marvel team up with other future-based Peter David characters. Spider-Man 2099, and the future where the Hulk turns evil. It was a wonderful showcase of what the series could do – mixing in humor with great adventure:
While I did like the way Gary Frank drew Marlo better, I did enjoy Criscrosses style that he gave her. Also, funny homeless Namor reference here too:
In these next couple pages, it shows the next morning after Rick regains his youth and vigor and his missing arm that he lost from the attack from Walker where instead of wallowing in misery about being a perpetual sidekick, like he was prior to Avengers Forever, he’s embraced his life and is coming to terms with it and has a new lust for life that he quickly displays to Marlo via a hott make out session on top of a roof. Love way Crisscross drew Marlo here, va va va voom! The best part is the fact that Genis sees and hears everything Rick does, and vice versa, so just as Rick is about to get it on, David cuts quick to Genis taking a cold shower in a waterfall in the microverse. These couple of pages really show the heart of the book. It’s humor as well as heroes over coming obstacles that David as well as other writers have put into place years before. It’s a really wonderful funny/sentimental moment.