Amazing Adventures #24: "For He's A Jolly Dead Rebel!"

Amazing Adventures #24
"For He's A Jolly Dead Rebel!"
May, 1974

Don McGregor: Writer
Herb Trimpe: Artist
Jack Abel: Inker
Dave Hunt: Letterer
P. Goldberg: Colorist
Roy Thomas: Editor

It is the year 2018.  The eighteenth year of the War of the Worlds.  The
lives of the hunted, pursued by Martian masters and their overlords, who
now reside within terran buildings for their own purposes.  The catacombs
beneath Washington D.C. are home to the half human-half rodent mutation
known as Rattack and his brethren -- including the vampire bats who swoop
in through the cavern at Killraven and the Freemen.  M'Shulla is certain
that the bats are thirsting for human blood, and his mud-brother knows
this to be so.

In 2018, the White House is now the central command of the Martians.
With the end of the year, and 2019 on the horizon, the man-eaters are
determined to fill their bellies to the utmost.  Old Skull tells Mr.
Killraven not to worry, his club will crack open their heads.  The
red-haired leader does not hear these words, with his own sword slicing
through the bats' bellies.  The Clonal Man, Grok, continues to follow
Carmilla Frost just as Old Skull follows him.  As he stabs another of the
bats, M'Shulla wants K.R. to admit that Carmilla can be trusted, then
tells Mint Julep to be careful if she wishes to continue to lead the
Freewomen.  The emerald-skinned woman with white tresses tells the
Freeman to worry about himself, with her star-piercer gun's projectiles
meeting an airborne bat head-on.  The sounds of wings continue to be
heard -- as one of the carnivores lands behind Carmilla Frost, and
screeches into her ears.  Her head is yanked back, and she can smell the
warm saliva dripping from the nocturnal predator.  As hungry fangs poise
for her throat, the girl screams for Grok.

M'Shulla hears her screams -- and loosens a shaft from his crossbow...
aware that if it should miss its target, Carmilla Frost will never speak
to him again.  Seconds later, the shaft makes its way through the air --
and drives itself deep within the creature's neck.  The girl was
impressed by the incredible shot, but the mud-brother was less than
impressed.  He had been aiming for its stomach, not its neck.  Mint Julep
finds the doorway into the ancient archives, and tells Killraven to bring
his group together.  This place will shelter them until they are able to
reach the dyna-gliders.  While M'Shulla guards the door, the leader of
the Freemen guards his flank.  After a time, the two groups are now
safely within the stone walls.  Knowing that tonight is New Year's Eve,
Carmilla suggests that they celebrate the holiday, but Killraven is not
interested... until the mud-brother suggests that they can use a break.
They could certainly use a happy new year now.

The security sensory monitors hidden throughout the catacombs relay their
information to the computer tapes within the Martian-controlled White
House.  Although the Martian Overlord can communicate telepathically, he
prefers to rely on his audio-transmutors to issue verbal commands to the
human slaves before him.  While one slave retrieves the location
coordinates, the vis-com operator brings up Abraxas on the screen before
him.  Slave Gor recalls that it was the genetic freak who had caught him,
and had auctioned him off to the Martians.  Abraxas is informed about the
activation of the sensory-monitors within the catacombs, and is told by
the Martian Overlord that it could not be Rattack.  The indicators reveal
the presence of humans, and Killraven is to be captured alive, so that he
may be killed by the Overlord's own hand.  The previous evening saw their
failure, but tonight, the collective spirit of humanity will be
overthrown by the death of the Freeman.  Abraxas commands Sabre to bring
his cavaliers together, with the would-be buccaneer telling him to keep
his limbs away from him.

The files within the room have covered events now long-gone.  The
information is blurry -- and are the remnants of a past system.
Killraven believes that the girl has proven to be a positive influence on
the mud-brother, but Carmilla is convinced that M'Shulla possesses his
own mind. She then asks him to address her by her name.  Since she wants
to have a celebration in the middle of the insanity -- the red-haired
leader agrees that they may only have one night left before leaving
Washington D.C.  His hand reaches for an unknown object... reel-to-reel
tapes, much older than the current audiovisual variety.  These must be
from a time when the people trusted their politicians -- but he wonders
what they would have given for the elaborate electronics systems being
used by the Martians.  Although Killraven believes that the tapes are of
no value, Carmilla believes that they would make excellent streamers.

In the dimly lit caverns, Rattack inspects the fallen rodents sliced by
the Freeman's sword.  Their blood have long since grown cold.  He is
unaware that it's New Year's Eve, but there is sorrow within his heart.
When he was first mutated by the Martians, Rattack thought he would go
mad, but the obligations of this former secret serviceman are now dim
memories, too.  He remembers walking alongside the dark limousines with
their closed curtains, but now the loss he feels is for his brethren.
Rattack moves as one driven -- and his rodent troops continue in motion,
their bony sinews crackling along the misbegotten floors -- and several
noses follow the scent with one goal.  The death of Killraven.

There is very little cheer to be found among the Freemen and Freewomen,
as they count down the seconds to 2019.  There is no music as they wait
for the ball to drop on 2018.  There is no longer any need for
noisemakers, as each person chooses to pass the time in silence.  Hawk
drives his knife into the crude drawing of a Martian, eager to press on
against the aliens in Washington D.C.  Old Skull hears the anger in his
friend's words, and Killraven tells the Navajo to calm down if he wishes
to live a bit longer.  Carmilla Frost has seen the years pass her by,
with the future a terror to be discovered, and her past far from being a
safe haven.  Her father died at the hands of the Martians, and she was
locked in with his corpses, while the murderers howled laughter through
the scope-optics.  Their laughter and her tears are the moments from her
past which will never end.

Sabre leaps through the doorway, the flintlock laser firing at a selected
target.  SSSKARKK!  He will have their surrender or their deaths.
Killraven is already in motion, leaping onto the table, but his left arm
is seared by the laser burst.  Old Skull stands ready to defend Mr.
Killraven, but Sabre threatens to cause the red-haired head to part ways
along all of the walls, and Old Skull... understands this...

The leader of the cavaliers knows that the Freeman hates him, but it is
he who is the hunter, not the hunted.  Sabre finds no joy in this battle,
nor any drink to quench the bitterness of this victory.  Mint Julep
threatens to disarm a cavalier if his hands should wander too close.  As
they make their way through the catacombs, each of them hears a sound off
in the distance.  The cavaliers and their captives make haste -- with
Rattack and his troop revealing themselves as the source of the noise.
After finding the archives empty, they follow the blood trail left by
Killraven's wounded arm.

The Lincoln Memorial is surrounded by electrostatic barbed wire, but the
monument continues to wait... as if for retribution to finally arrive.
The Martian Overlord is pleased with Abraxas, now that Sabre has
delivered Killraven before him.  Even among the Martians, the Overlord is
regarded as a superior, and the lone human is nothing to him.  The leader
of the Freemen listens as the Martian Overlord reprimands him for defying
their invasion on the Mural Phonics Systems... and his spirit has served
to inspire the human garbage to rebel.  The laughter will die... It is
then that the Overlord sees an uninvited guest making his entrance, with
his brothers feeding on those who would keep them from their goal.
Rattack is caught in the twin tendrils of Abraxas, who tells the mutation
that his usefulness to the Martians is now at an end.

ZZZ CCHHRISSPP!!  In seeking to prevent any last-minute escapes, the
Overlord unleashes a thermal nuclear radiation burst to incinerate
Killraven, but the Freeman manages to dodge the slow-moving armored
figure, and one of Sabre's men is not so lucky.  The statue done by
Daniel Chester French seems to be rising to its feet, as two beings
separated by different time periods now act as one.  His sword keeps two
more cavaliers at bay, with more on the way.  The Martian Overlord points
his metallic finger towards Killraven's back, with the anticipation of
seeing the molten stream bursting through human flesh once more.

Before this can occur, Sabre fires his laser weapon at the armored
Overlord, who regards it as a toy.  Nevertheless, a column has been
splintered by laser-fire, and the rest occurs in slow motion.  The
monument shakes with anticipation, as the columns are unable to stand the
strain.  Shadows are seen as the masonry continues to fall, and the
statue's face continues to wait for the moment of atonement.  The
Martian's site for a perfect auction block has just come undone, and it
would appear to be the Martian underlings who are to be crushed, not the
human spirit as intended.  Rattack is torn free from the tentacled
embrace of Abraxas.  The suction grip has succeeded in causing flesh to
yield in many places.  The warmth of his own blood provided the coldest
of comforts, as the scavengers descend upon him, and his brethren begin
to feed upon him.

Abraxas listens to the screams of Rattack, knowing that mankind's shrine
has become one of despair, and could be done so again.  As the thought of
Killraven being sacrificed upon just such an altar occurs to him, he is
caught in more of the falling masonry.  Bronze eyes do not burn with
hatred, nor are tears shed from stone cheeks, but the devastation is
complete with the balancing from the great equalizer.  The slave auctions
are now over, and it will be a while before the Martian Overlord will be
able to fully extricate himself from its ruins.  Sabre has made good his
escape, and they may yet see the cavalier again.  As the shadows fall
upon the remains of the Lincoln Memorial, the stone gaze falls upon the
new graffiti left by the Freemen... "Killraven Was Here".

On the cover of Amazing Adventures #24 by Rich Buckler and Klaus Janson,
Killraven is about to unleash an unchained melody upon the armored head
of the Martian Overlord, and those aren't atomic flames of burning love
coming towards the Freeman.

As a six-year old in 1974, I would have loved to have seen a Killraven
and his Freeman line of Mego toys, complete with requisite play set.

The art by Herb Trimpe and Jack Abel was deemed accessible by me at a
young age, and there are many happy memories from reading these stories.

Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan's Tomb of Dracula had Blade the Vampire
Hunter, while Don McGregor's War of The Worlds had M'Shulla and his
trusty crossbow.

The armored Martian Overlord reminds me of the Shogun Warriors toys which
would come out in 1979.

On the New Year's Eve of 2018, Killraven and his band of Freemen come
across the long-lost Watergate Tapes.

In the year of 2005, the world finally learns the identity of "Deep

Another half human-half rodent which springs to mind is Vermin by J.M.
DeMatteis and Mike Zeck in the pages of Captain America in the early

Hawk has his ponytail in a knot over the Martians.

In this corner... the challenger... Abraxas.  In this corner... the
champion... Abraham Lincoln.

In the "Amazing Mails" letters page, we learn that "Washington Nightmare"
was supposed to be a book-length story, but a top level decision cut the
number of pages of War of The Worlds to give it more of a chance of
breaking even with its costs and survival on the stands.  With that
sudden decision, Don would have three pages for the demolishing of the
Lincoln Memorial, Abraxas' defeat, and Killraven's meeting with Sabre.
This was how the continued story came to be.  And this, as Steve Gerber
would say, is the "Making of a Madman".

Marv Wolfman writes:

"Dear Don, Herb, Frank, and Charlotte;

The latest issue of WAR OF THE WORLDS was simply INCREDIBLE.  It was the
very BEST issue of WAR OF THE WORLDS since Marv Wolfman's issue, though,
to be truthful, I wish Marv was back on the book."

The letter armadillo replies:

"Dear Marv,

You wish WHO was back on the book?
Wolfman who?
Oh, MARV Wolfman.
Okay.  We'll bite.  Who's Marv Wolfman?"

This review is dedicated to Don McGregor.

Steve Chung
"For He's A Jolly Dead Review!"