Captain Marvel #36: "Watching and Waiting..."

Captain Marvel #36
"Watching and Waiting..."
January, 1975

S. Englehart
Starlin & CO.
T. Orzechowski
B. Mantlo
R. Thomas

On the moon, the Watcher is viewing an image of Captain Marvel.  On
Earth, Al Milgrom begins pencilling his first issue, working to produce
the next chapter in Captain Marvel's life, and time grows short.  Ah, the
pleasures of making comic books.  On planet Earth, grown men are pulling
at their hair, see the deadline on the wall, and yell for a reprint.  In
the Blue Area of the Moon, the Watcher begins to smile.

Marvel Super-Heroes #12
"The Coming of Captain Marvel!"
December, 1967

Stan (The Man) Lee and Gene (The Dean) Colan
Embellished By: Frank Giacoia
Lettered By: Artie Simek
Relished By: Steve Chung

It is dawn as a Kree warship makes its way towards an unsuspecting planet
Earth -- one which has just crossed over half a universe from its
homeworld.  Yon-Rogg orders Captain Mar-Vell  to don his battle suit,
with Medic Una giving him the necessary breathing potion.  The medic
wonders about the rest of the landing party, but the Kree captain will be
the only one on the mission.  Both of them know that the Colonel is in
love with Una, and as long as this is so, he will do everything he can to
keep them apart.  The medic also knows that alone on such a mission,
Mar-Vell is not expected to come back alive.

Yon-Rogg orders the medic to prepare the breathing potion, which the
Captain drinks down without further delay.  The potion will enable him to
breathe without his helmet for sixty minutes.  The security belts are
fastened and the ship's aura of negativism is activated. 

SHOOOM!  Before the ship can reach the ground, a light beam solidifies,
and cushions the impact of the landing.  The Colonel tells the Captain to
depart, but Mar-Vell knows that he is allowed 30 seconds to say his
goodbyes.  Una promises to be faithful, and as he dons the protective
helmet, Mar-Vell vows to return to her.  The medic weeps and hopes that
the Supreme Intelligence will watch over her beloved.  He knows that her
love will strengthen him for the journey.

Alone on an alien world, the Kree Captain knows that his air-jet belt
will enable him to defend himself against the inhabitants.  Since Earth's
gravity is lighter than on homeworld, his strength will be greater than
any earthling.  This is true as long as Mar-Vell continues to wear his
uniform.  He is carrying Earth-styled clothing in a carry-all cylinder,
and his own strength will decrease in direct proportion to exposure to
Earth's atmosphere.

The Captain sets his mind on the mission involving Earth, where Kree
Sentry #459 has been destroyed.  When Ronan the Accuser arrived to
investigate the matter, he was beaten by the Fantastic Four.  Mar-Vell
must succeed where the Accuser has failed.  The memories end, as the Kree
Captain comes upon an isolated missile base.  With their radar, the
radiation factor in his battle suit may be detected.  Even as he leaves
the area, the countdown begins... blast off!

BUHROOM!  The roar is felt and smoke is seen ,as the missile heads
skyward, but soon changes direction.  The flight is scrubbed and the
self-destruct command is implemented.  This was no malfunction, systems
were go, and an investigation is soon underway.

The Geiger counter detects radiation in the area, and must have affected
the missile's guidance system.  Mar-Vell knows that he only has minutes
before they can figure out what's happened.  In the weightless gravity,
he begins to leap, and hopes to be out of the area.  The Kree Captain is
not ready for battle, but his movements have just been spotted.

It's not a bird... it's not a light's some sort of flying man!
The security units scramble for their jeeps and all are aware what
happened during the test.  They soon sight the flying figure and open

SPTEEE!  The air-jet belt and light gravity enable Mar-Vell to avoid the
deadly shot.  Not willing to endanger his mission, the Kree Captain
resorts to using his universal beam blaster.  With the safety off, he
sets it at a wide-angle arc.  RRRRRRRAK!

BTOWWW!  SPTWEE  The black light catches Mar-Vell's attackers and blinds
them temporarily.  He is able to make his escape, thanks to his beam
blaster.  Although mankind has learned to deal with atomic energy, they
lack familiarity with the most basic weapon in the Kree galaxy. 

At a nearby highway, the Kree Captain changes to some Earth-style
clothing and will be able to breathe without his helmet for one hour.  He
is given a lift to the next town.  Fortunately, Mar-Vell was given some
of the local currency so that he could find shelter at a hotel.  The desk
clerk asks him to sign the register and the white-haired man uses the
name of "Marvel."  After entering the room and resting on the bed, he
wonders what will happen with Una and Yon-Rogg.  As he places this
thought out of his mind, Mar-Vell's wrist begins aching.

Yon-Rogg is responsible for the Captain's sudden paralysis, as the Kree
ship begins the transferral.

The wrist monitor has been sent and Mar-Vell is able to move once more.
Only the Colonel can have the monitor removed, and the Kree Captain will
never truly be free.

BEEEE BEEEE BEEEE  A signal from the Kree homeworld is now being received
on the wrist monitor.  The Imperial Minister of the Supreme Intelligence
reminds Mar-Vell what's at stake and it will mean his life if he should
fail.  With the hour up, the Kree Captain dons his battle helmet, and
rolls up the curtain.  With no sign of the Kree ship, Mar-Vell is now
truly alone -- with the fate of a world on his shoulders.

This was the origin of the Kree man's arrival on Earth.  He came from
space, garbed in the colorful uniform of the warrior, and would soon pass
judgement.  The actions of Colonel Yon-Rogg led to the death of Una...
causing Mar-Vell to become a fugitive, sought by beings from other
planets.  The Kree Captain found revenge, then was cleared by the Supreme
Intelligence itself... bestowing on him a new uniform...  mere moments
before being sent into the Negative Zone... where he was stranded...
until he was freed by sharing existence with a teenager named Rick Jones.
The warrior then fought for Earth... until a mysterious being known as
Eon granted him the gift of cosmic awareness... and made the Kree
warrior... into the protector of the universe entire.

Now, the Watcher clenches his fist, and knows that Mar-Vell will soon
learn the location of the Lunatic Legion's base -- on the moon -- in the
Watcher's home.  Captain Marvel will arrive and learn the identity of the
one who wishes for his death.  Then he, the Watcher, will be forced to
slay Captain Mar-Vell.

On the cover of Captain Marvel #36, the protector of the universe entire
suffers the wrath of the Watcher... a fill-in issue with a reprint?

I miss these Dreaded Deadline Doom issues with fill-ins and reprints by
guest creative teams.  In many cases, this was the only way to learn
about issues that I had missed the first time around.

Tom Orzechowski was kind enough to sign this very issue for me.

With the exception of Yon-Rogg and Mar-Vell, the two other men on the
crew are bald.

If they were to make a movie about the early days of Mar-Vell, I'd love
to see Chris Barrie (Rimmer on Red Dwarf) as Colonel Yon-Rogg.

If a B-movie about Captain Mar-Vell had appeared in the 1960's, I'd like
to have seen Jeff Chandler as the Kree Captain.

The breathing potion looks like a Long Island ice tea to me.

Right now, the only aura of negativism to be seen is on certain comic
book storylines.

Mar-Vell is well-versed on space regulations and I'm sure he would know
about the minimum period for hails between Captains and Medics.

Una invokes the Supreme Intelligence as a protective deity to watch over
her beloved.  Since the Kree have been depicted as a militaristic
society, this makes a lot of sense.

The Kree Captain carries a change of clothes in his carry-all cylinder,
not neatly stored in a ring, where it would expand when in contact with
the air.  (Holy Flash In The Pan, Batman!)

The air-jet belt is impressive, but a Legion Flight Ring works just as

The universal beam blaster functions in much the same way as the Black
Diamond employed by the villain known as Eclipso.

The art of Alan Weiss appears in the sequences introducing and concluding
the reprint from Marvel Super-Heroes #12.

What could drive the Watcher to commit murder?  Maybe they raised his
cable rates?

In the Mail It To Mar-Vell letters page section, Brent Eric Anderson of
Campbell, California writes:

"Dear Jim, Steve, and Roy,

I trotted downtown to ye olde comic shoppe and purchased a small fortune
in magazines, among which was the 34th issue of Captain Marvel.  There
shone a fantastic cover by Jim Starlin and I looked inside to find out if
crazy Marvel had changed the interior artist again.  Nope, it's still
Starlin with his way-out, world-shattering plots and dynamic,
muscle-bound pencilling, so I bought a copy and lit out for home to read
it.  I read six pages and then (FOOM!), in the sixth panel I saw some
crazily written towns' names on a directional mileage sign.  I pondered
them for a minute and figured what they said: "This issue is the end."
Well, needless to say, I flipped immediately to the last page, and there
the question was posed, "Well, is this the end of Captain Marvel...
again?"  I went back and read the rest of the issue, and I am now in a

Is Jim subtly trying to tell fandom that he doesn't intend to write or
draw CM anymore?  Or is it just a ruse to get people like me to write?  I
truly hope that it's not the former reason, because Captain Marvel when
drawn and plotted by Jim, is one of the few comics magazines I truly
enjoy and look forward to every other month, so you can see I would hate
to see it leave the comic scene.  Could you clear this up for me, please?

I would like to comment on Jim Starlin's artwork, at this point.  His
layouts and innovations show an immensely fertile imagination, and I
really enjoy the dynamic muscle-bound figures that stretch majestically
across the pages of Captain Marvel in a style reminiscent of some of the
early Gil Kane masterpieces, but Starlin has gone beyond Kane and into
the realm of the Sterankos and the Eisners in illustrative technique.
Although he's not my favorite comic artist, I truly idolize his unique
pulse-pounding genre and story-telling approach and delivery.

I thank you."

Roy replies:

"Oh that Starlin.

Well, as we explained last time, #34 was Jim's last work as the man
behind Captain Marvel.  Feeling that perhaps killing off the hero wasn't
a clear enough signal of his impending departure, he did indeed decide to
spell out his intent on those posts (ableit backwards).  But he's hard at
work on the second issue of Warlock now.  That series has been scheduled,
and you won't be Starlin-less for very long - while we firmly maintain
that you won't have to watch a good thing die in these pages.  So
rejoice, pilgrim!  Things are actually looking up!"

Roy also wrote:

"See... in one of those foolish foul-ups Merry Marvel is famous for, the
artwork for said story was sent to the wrong party (a totally non-plussed
Don Perlin) and by the time a mailbox-watching Steve Englehart rang an
alarm, it was too late to write and ink and color and edit and engrave
and ship and... well, you get the idea.

But a retrospective on Mar-Vell's life thus far isn't a bad idea at this
juncture in his career, and the framing sequence a bedazzled Bay Area
Bullpen put together overnight might be more than mildly interesting, and
next issue is a beautiful piece of work (and we know, 'cause it's all
been recovered by this time - so things didn't work out all that badly,
after all).

P.S. We'll make it up to ya next summer, though, Marvelite!  The
powers-that-be just decided to make CM seven-times-a-year.  Now, that
extra issue won't put us back on schedule for nine months, but it's
better than nothing, right?"

At this year's San Diego Comic-Con, Brent Anderson was surprised to see
this issue, and was glad to sign the letters page for me.  The Astro City
artist was glad to see that he had won the bet.

Steve Chung
"Watching and Reviewing..."