Captain Marvel #17: "And A Child Shall Lead You!"

Captain Marvel #17
"And A Child Shall Lead You!"
October, 1969

STAN LEE: Editor
GIL KANE: Artist
DAN ADKINS: Embellisher

The Supreme Intelligence is speaking to Mar-Vell.  The Kree warrior had
returned to Earth for revenge on Yon-Rogg... but this has been delayed
--!!  In his travels, Mar-Vell now finds himself trapped in the heart of
the Negative Zone!!  As he wonders if he is beyond hope, the overmind of
the Kree Galaxy tells him about a possible way out... "And A Child Shall
Lead You!"

The Kree man now sees through the eyes of the Supreme Intelligence... and
watches as a costumed teenager runs along the alleys of the city.  The
youngster is Rick Jones, not much older than Mar-Vell when he first
became an officer.  The youth is well on his way to manhood.  Rick pauses
only to greet a stray pooch, and senses a kindred soul.  The boy has been
searching for his partner and wants to know why Captain America has been
avoiding him.  The teenager's unease would hardly be abated if he know
that it is the Red Skull who has used the Cosmic Cube to change places
with the Living Legend of World War II.

These bits of information would be learned about much later.  After
bidding goodbye to the pooch, Rick continues to stake out Cap's hotel,
and knows that the Avenger has forbidden anyone from seeing him.  The
teenager sees a familiar figure walking onto the adjacent rooftop, and he
is eager to solve this particular mystery.  Rick Jones wishes to speak
with Captain America, but it would seem that the shield-slinger has no
desire to speak with the youth.  SKAK!  The costumed teenager receives
the back of the hero's hand, instead.

The backhanded slap has done something to Rick's head, for he is soon on
his way to Avenger's Mansion, where he is greeted by Jarvis.  The
faithful butler is startled to learn what has happened between the boy
and his partner.  After packing his costume, he offers Jarvis a meek
farewell, and assures him that Earth's Mightiest Heroes need not shed any
tears for him.

Rick Jones remembered the part he had played in the origin of the
Incredible Hulk.  He was the one who Doctor Banner asked to look after
him, as well as leading the ham radio hobbyists in the Teen Brigade.
This was not enough for the orphaned boy, who would soon find himself
heeding the call --

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!  Now alongside a Thunder God, a transistorized titan,
a modern-day goliath, and the resurrected hero from an earlier decade, it
would not be so long before Rick disappear from their midst.  It was the
Hulk who had needed him once more... but the day came when the bestial
brute would lash out at his only friend.  The teen's life was saved by
Captain America, who decided to turn the Hulk's sidekick into his own
partner.  This proved to be beyond the Avenger's abilities, and Rick
found himself alone once again.

The teenager is about to embark on a great adventure, but without the
benefits of an Avenger's I.D. card.  Wherever he ends up, it will be on
his own terms.  After two hours of trying to thumb a ride, a truck slows
down, and Rick sees that his own luck has started to change.  The moment
has arrived for Mar-Vell to act.

The diesel truck drops off the hitchhiker in a deserted area, with only a
headache for company.  After feeling the wind bearing down on him, the
youth starts to head for shelter, and then sees that he is not alone.
The glowing figure before him is all-too familiar.

Amid the lightning, Captain America reaches out to Rick Jones, then turns
to run in the opposite direction.  Not wanting to be left alone again,
the teenager goes off in pursuit of the star-spangled hero.

As fast as he runs, the image of Captain America remains a few steps
ahead of Rick Jones.  Not so much a living being, but a phantom memory
which continues to elude him.

The glowing figure continues in the lead, with the teenager refusing to
admit defeat.  He sees that "Cap" has entered a nearby cave, and knows
that this might be some sort of trap.

As he runs into the cave, the faint glow is his only lead to the end of
the dark tunnel.  Strange equipment... eerie lightning... and graven
images of beings from another world greet his gaze.  The glowing Avenger
is waiting for him in the doorway, where the answers may be found.

Once inside, the costumed figure disappears before Rick's eyes, but
before it fades completely, "Cap's" hands point out towards a pair of
bracelets.  They seem to be pulsing with light energy and he cannot
resist the urge to try them on.  The bracelets fit as though they were
made for him, and Rick Jones sees the face of a stranger before him.
When it asks him to slam his wrists together as hard as possible, the
youth does as he is bidden.

KTANG!  He can feel something happening to him -- as if he were no longer
Rick Jones -- but instead, Captain Marvel!!  The Kree warrior is now free
from the Negative Zone!  Free!

It is now the teenager sidekick who finds himself in a weightless state
of the Negative Zone.  Unlike Mar-Vell, Rick Jones will not remain
trapped there for long.  Thanks to the Nega-Bands, the bracelets which
provided the escape from the radiation which had transported him there.
He had believed the bands to be forbidden, as does Yon-Rogg, for the
Nega-Bands grant the wearer great powers.  Mar-Vell's archenemy would
covet such power, and has lusted for them during his long trip to Earth.
It was he who caused the death of Medic Una, she who had loved Mar-Vell.
The Kree warrior confronts his former commanding officer.  He gauges the
distance between himself and Yon-Rogg, as he would against the accursed
Skrulls.  The commander pauses only to make certain that his shot will
count... or else it will be his only one.  As he does so, Mar-Vell closes

Still suffering some side-effects from his stay in the Negative Zone, the
Kree warrior is too late, but he manages to survive a blast from a proton
gun.  Although his own voice is filled with fear, Yon-Rogg manages to
cause a rockslide with his weapon.  The boulders do not hold back
Mar-Vell for long.  As he flees towards the waiting ship, the commander
remembers how he had trailed the youth -- the instrumentation tracking
Mar-Vell's mental energies.  It was at this deserted Kree outpost where
Yon-Rogg had sought power, but must now make his escape like an

If he is not the one who wears the Nega-Bands, the Kree commander will
make certain that no one else will.  VAROOOOMM  The Kree cruiser has
achieved liftoff, with Mar-Vell unable to pursue it on foot.  With the
Nega-Bands in his possession, it isn't long before the Kree Warrior
learns that he now has the power of flight.  Yon-Rogg's cruiser is fast
approaching escape velocity, and Mar-Vell's chances for revenge are also
fading rapidly.

With the Kree warrior in pursuit, Yon-Rogg sees on the monitor how the
mud ball has made Mar-Vell soft, and sees a chance to end his life.
EEEEEEEEEEEE  The sounds of a woman's screams are heard in the night sky,
as Carol Danvers is thrown from the fast-moving ship.  As he reaches out
for her, the Kree warrior knows that the Earth woman must live, even if
Yon-Rogg makes his escape.  It is then that he hears not the sound of
breathing, but of ticking!!  The figure in his arms is not Carol Danvers
-- nor is it remotely human.  It is a bomb about to exploooo...

The sheer force of the explosion would have turned another person to so
much atoms, but Mar-Vell is still alive -- alive!  He has begun to fall
-- with the Nega-Bands no longer supporting him!  Once he has regained
his senses, the Kree Warrior is able to remain aloft again.  The
bracelets enable the wearer to channel mental energy into the physical...
just as his own atoms in the Negative Zone were exchanged with the
positive ones of Rick Jones.  Even with these newfound powers, he was
unable to get his revenge.  The silver-haired Kree hears the voice in his
mind calling out...

Rick wonders when he'll be allowed to get out and stretch his legs.
Mar-Vell assures him that it is not his intention to imprison him for
life.  KTHANG!  A slamming of wristbands and Rick Jones is once again
among the living.  After the exchange of atoms, both warrior and youth
have sensed a meeting.  They now know one another intimately and share
each other's dreams.  The teenager knows that their paths will cross
again with that of Yon-Rogg... even if it takes them the rest of their
lives...!  "And it may, Rick Jones... it may..."  "...Unless Yon-Rogg
finds the two of you first!!"

On the cover of Captain Marvel #17 by Gil Kane and Dan Adkins, both
Captain America and Rick are struck by the sight of the Sensational New
Captain Marvel.

When we meet Mar-Vell in the Negative Zone, the Supreme Intelligence is
keeping him company, and one wonders when the moment will come when the
Kree man will snap.

The pooch is as friendly and as frisky as the one which hangs out with
Gunner and Sarge.

Captain America's run-in with the Red Skull and the Cosmic Cube lasted
from Captain America #114 (June, 1969) to Captain America #119 (November,

During the course of the story, we get to see up the nostrils of the
characters, and marvel at the art of Gil Kane.

The Simekian sound effects must have left a ringing in many a reader's

Rick Jones first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May, 1962).

The teenager was there when Captain America was found by Earth's
Mightiest Heroes in Avengers #4 (March, 1964).

After being threatened by the Hulk, Rick's life was saved by the
star-spangled Avenger in Captain America #110 (February, 1969).

Justice, like lightning, and Captain America e'er shall appear.

The lightning and the unearthly statues harken back to the origin story
of another boy and another Captain Marvel.

Instead of a magic word, two Kree bracelets enable Rick Jones to change
places with Captain Mar-Vell.

Trapped in the Negative Zone, the teenager probably feels like sitting on
the Rock of Eternity.

In the space of one panel and a lengthy caption, the Kree warrior could
have jumped his former commanding officer before he uttered his third

I wonder if Rascally Roy had seen Vincent Price in "Doctor Goldfoot and
The Bikini Machine"  before sitting down to write this story?

The Kree commander's taste in exotic, explosive weaponry would explain
his lust for power and how Yon-Rogg deals with loneliness on those long
trips to Earth.

After the explosive "Carol Danvers" goes off, Mar-Vell could have saved
his life by talking to himself, and end up landing on some soft word
balloons to break his fall.

Rick Jones is given the chance to "shake his groove KTHANG" in the battle
of the Nega-Bands.

In the "Mail It To Mar-Vell" letters page, Peter Sanderson, Jr. of
Milton, Mass writes:

"Hail O Marvel-lous Masters:

I don't know where you're taking us with CAPTAIN MARVEL, but I'm sure
I'll like the trip.  Whereas some editors would let CM continue forever
in his former state, always narrowly evading execution by the Kree, you
people had the common sense to realize you've exhausted that theme.  You
also realized that in order for CM to battle the Kree, his powers had to
be increased.

But what happens when CM begins serving Zo?  Will Mar-Vell again have
attacks of conscience and try to both obey Zo and not kill any innocent
beings?  Will Mar-Vell battle to save Earth from the Kree while Earth
looks upon him as a menace for stealing that missile?  If he does, then
first won't he have to escape from Zo - and if so, how?  Will Zo have
Mar-Vell leave Earth?  Will space villains prove as colorful as Earth
super-villains?  If Mar-Vell does leave Earth he should, like Thor,
return every so often.  Whatever you do, I wish you luck."

The editor replies:

"And,with the list of problems and decisions that you just tossed our
way, Pete, we're gonna need it!

Actually, as you've no doubt noticed, several of your points have been
resolved, now that the secret of Zo has been revealed.  But, others
remain - and still more may be lurking just around the corner.  We'll
just have to ask you to stick around for a few more issues, lad, and see
if you don't end up thanking us for the ride!  Fair 'nuff?"

This issue is one of Hoy Murphy's favorites, and mine as well.

I've been looking for this particular bit of treasure ever since I read
What If #12: "What If Rick Jones Had Become The Hulk?" (December, 1978).

It was in this issue where I first read about Rick Jones's meeting with
Captain Mar-Vell.  The creative team was Don Glut, Sal Buscema, Bill
Black, George Roussos, and Bruce D. Patterson.

Like Dave Blanchard, I read the Giant-Size Captain Marvel issue (which I
got last year at Wondercon) and was impressed by the Gil Kane art.

David Edge pointed out the Mar-Vell/Rick Jones interaction and I liken
this to the Green Lantern/Green Arrow relevancy issues done by Denny
O'Neil and Neal Adams.

Tom Lammers liked the Captain when he first appeared in Marvel
Super-Heroes, but then the character degenerated/regenerated into other
incarnations before too long.

Our Pal Hoy remembers that several pages were cut out from the Giant-Size
Captain Marvel issue.

I agree with Hoy that Roy and Gil did right by Mar-Vell, as they did with
Adam Warlock.

Who is the number one fan of Hank Pym, the Ant-Man?  Our Pal Hoy or Our
Pal Tom?

Allen Smith remembers the art of Kane, Starlin, Milgrom, and Broderick,
as well as the day the Mar-Vell died. 

Jack Selegue swiftly pointed out that while there's death, there's also
life model decoys, too.

Ed Coyote remembers the Thomas/Kane Captain Mar-Vell, then tries to
forget about the Wayne Boring/Mike Esposito version, and segues into the
art of Jim Starlin.

JK Carrier remembers Rick Jones being on candid camera time, while
Mar-Vell was busy chewing up the scenery in the Negative Zone.

Even with cosmic awareness and a change in hair color, the Kree Captain
was surrounded by a family of characters by the time of Starlin.

This Review Is Dedicated To Our Pal Hoy Murphy

Steve Chung
"And A Child Shall Review You!"