Amazing Adventures #36: "Red Dust Legacy"

Amazing Adventures #36
 "Red Dust Legacy"
 May, 1976

 Don McGregor: Writer
 Craig Russell: Layouts
 Sonny Trinidad: Finished Art
 Phil Rache Colorist
 Dave Hunt: Lettering
 Marv Wolfman: Editor

 On December, 2019, Killraven touches the blade of grass-- of Windsor Forest, Georgia -- only to have it turn into the red dust of Mars beneath his bare hands! Killraven is alone with that staggering truth, but not as staggering as those events yet to come!

 He stands on the alien wasteland and strides across the Martian landscape as if he has done so for all of his life. Killraven is bewildered by his own reaction to such unearthly surroundings. Phobos and Deimos peer down at him as two lopsided eyes. As the stars strive to speak their truths to him, he finds the truth is shifting as the vermillion sands. The truth exists and rushes past Killraven and then eludes his grasp. Solitude cuts through his thoughts as he finds himself alone? Is there something else beyond the edge of vague awareness?

 His boots tread upon the crimson sand as the sun sets the dark sky ablaze. Killraven has never seen a sun in a totally dark sky, but he has envisioned a time when he would bring the War of the Worlds back to the homeworld of the Martians. There is some activity behind him and he starts to turn, and halts. His eyes are now filled with apprehension as an elaborate spectacle is taking place, and the approaching behemoths threaten to overwhelm him with their oncoming pageantry.

 Killraven is at the center of a tournament charge! The Martian ride atop giant tortoises in the desert. He sees the lances and banners held in their tentacles and his warrior's instinct guides his hand as a silver star assumes a deadly arc! The spinning silver cuts through the night and bisects the tortoise mount -- and seeks the soft underbelly of a non-existent throat -- and cuts through an insubstantial mucoid body. Killraven is alone once more with only the red dust on the wind and as a legacy to their passing.

 He touches the crimson Martian dust -- and it turns to a blade of grass from Windsor Forest, Georgia! M'Shulla does not know where his mud-brother went to on his mind-swap, but it is the longest one he has ever had! Killraven believes he invades the minds of the Martians... but their thoughts and imagery threatened to overwhelm his own sense of self. It caught him unawares... and he may never find a way to control this ability. Killraven does know the location of these latest thoughts! M'Shulla offers his mud-brother some mead to put some color back in his cheeks. Killraven finds the mead to be wretched and asks his mud-brother where he found this particular batch. M'Shulla smiles and says from the same place where he gets his silver stars. Killraven appreciates his mount's temperament, especially since it mirrors his own.

 Old Skull stares into the fire and his hand holds the flute... but there is no music. Killraven notices that his friend is not eating and has been known to do one or the other when they were not engaged in battle with the Martians. Old Skull was thinking about Hawk and Grok. Their deaths are still a matter of memory and Old Skull thinks that Hawk was trying to save Grok. Killraven mulls this over for a moment and nods in agreement to his old friend.

 The winter sky is blue above Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful erupts and cascades off the transparent dome that holds it prisoner. The High Overlord bathes in the scalding geyser and it glistens down the length of the bio-chemech armor. Beneath the armor, the Martian surveys the docile killer servants who comprise the mercenary elite. The mercenary elite will one day serve as a banquet for the Martian elite. They watch as a prism tower emerges from the ground and continues upward. From its uppermost level, there is a figure who appears at the center of the manmade radiance. The High Overlord is welcomed to the Yellowstone Sector Mercenary Training Grounds! It is hoped that their efforts meet with his approval! This appearance was timed for the High Overlord's benefit... and is undoubtedly a display of human arrogance from -- Deathraven! The High Overlord does not hear Deathraven's reply, for the geyser's sound triggers memories of a time when Mars was unspoiled and the years before the Martians made their exodus towards the invasion of Earth!

 Twin corridors designed for the Martians led to lava caverns -- where the Elite would bath in the crimson liquid. This heat and color both hotter than human blood -- long before the Martians identified the heat and color of human blood... and long before they grew dependent upon this substance. These thoughts flow through the High Overlord like lava and are expressed to other Martians. Deathraven's words remind the High Overlord that he is back in Yellowstone and must use the apparatus to reply in human speech. As Deathraven seeks to remind him that he has been stripped of such qualities as human arrogance, the High Overlord brings word to him of his... brother! Killraven has destroyed the cybernetic stalker known as Skar and is on a personal quest to find his brother!

 As a young Martian makes his way through the crimson dust, he is joined by a elderly Martian. The younger Martian stares at the replica of the Olympia Volcano Region, having been born on Earth, and never having been on Mars! The older Martian cannot understand his companion's emotions. They both leave the replica of Martian landscapes. As the artificial wind becomes a pneumatic hum, the younger Martian srives to recall the earlier sound. The dual corridors are patterned after those that transversed beneath Mars. The Martian complex is practical and aesthetics are considered negligible. The two Martians continue their telepathic argument that does not interfere with the soft hum of the life systems which allow them to move under Martian conditions...

 The younger Martian is aware that the older Martians may visit their homeworld through their memories, but those of the current generation know only of Earth, and of simulations. As the older Martian views the birth room, the younger one has come to perform the delicate operation of the separation of a beginning Martian life from its parent. The younger Martian appears to be agitated but uses his tentacles to perform the procedure of removal. The pear has been plucked from the tree, and the tree does not celebrate this separation! Nor does it mourn! A transaction has taken place and the immunization process is next.

 CRAAASSSSS As the pear is plucked from the tree, the Freemen have arrived on the outskirts of the Martian stronghold! Within the fortress, he has seen the process by which the Martian infants are grown like fruit on a branch... and are then severed from the tree! There are more Martians inside than the Freemen have seen since the time of the arena, where Killraven and others fought hard for their amusement! These past few months have been cause for great celebration! They have met with other humans... and left them to defend their own territories against the aggression of the Martians! They have suffered terrible losses with the deaths of Hawk and Grok... but the Freemen have advanced! One day, these loose ragged bands will join together and overthrow the Martian invaders! Today, Killraven and the Freemen will teach them the meaning of fear!

 As the young Martian seeks the replica of Phobos -- he wonders where the twisted rock and the red sand leads to and vanishes. He wonders why the older Martians advocate the total destruction of the humans? Such a thing does not seem to be necessary nor desirable. The older Martian sees how his companions tentacles move in the agitated manner of an Earthling's hands. Killraven uses a silver star primed with some of M'Shulla's mead to create their own doorway into the Martian nursery!

 These slanting corridors do not seem to have any warning system! Old Skull knows the Martians are not deaf and must have certainly heard their sudden entrance! KEEEEEEE The older Martian recalls his companion's eyes in the removal room and finds they hold an almost human expression of fondness. The older Martian goes on about the systematic breakdown of human culture through their annihilation and leaving the Martians with the promise of an unclouded future. Their dependency upon humans as a source of nourishment must be eliminated, even if the Earthlings are quite a delicacy. When the younger Martian notes the elder's mention of the "future," his companion reminds him how the Earthlings mark and name everything without understanding the true value of those selfsame things. The younger Martian should be thinking about the upcoming tournament, which served as a festive occasion on Mars until the urgent need for survival.

 Killraven peers at rows upon rows of Martian incubators! Thousands of infant Martians squirming in their own liquids... that must be destroyed! "NO!" Carmilla Frost has listened to Killraven's strategies and bowed to them -- although she had thought he lacked that ability! He reminds her this is not the time for moral debate and he will use his sword against her if necessary! Old Skull is holding M'Shulla back as Carmilla reminds Killraven that the battle has not yet begun until they first butcher defenseless infants! And that there is no better time for moral debate than before just such a slaughter -- one which will live on in the minds of the participants -- for the rest of their lives! He reminds her these infants will soon be feeding upon the flesh and blood of Earthlings! They will be increasing the ranks of those who are currently holding their world hostage! As Killraven insists that he is not making his decision out of pleasure, but of necessity, M'Shulla reminds his mud-brother that they are no longer alone!

 As the Martians crawl towards them, Killraven pulled out his weapon, and glares at the incubators. Carmilla Frost is screaming as she charges towards him with her blade in hand. The Martians watch as Killraven blasts a hole in the side of the complex and the Freemen find themselves on Mars! The atmospheres of Mars and Earth meet, and forces the air from their lungs! Killraven leads the others off of the precipice. He soars in the lesser gravity and it is a weight removed from both the body and of the mind. The others follow his lead and find a new meaning for the word, "freedom". The tournament has begun and the older Martian notes it on one level, while he continues to search the younger one's eyes for that which he has seen in several of the Earth-born Martians. There is a difference in the ones who have never felt Mars' reality.

 Killraven has been here before and has faced his foes! As the sound of thunder roars endlessly from the charging mounts, the others temporarily forget their newfound ability of flight. The young Martian moves in protest, scarcely understanding what it is to which he is objecting. It appears to Carmilla Frost that the Martian is trying to stop the charge! As Killraven asks if she can enter the Martian's mind and find out, the race continues with a predetermined outcome. The young Martian knows he cannot possibly intercept them in time! The silver star thrown by Killraven finds its target in a now-solid and vulnerable Martian throat! The Martian rider and his mount crash to the crimson dust. Their race has ended.

 Killraven meets the next threat with a thrown silver star -- and the young Martian stares at the damage down to his right tentacle! The Freemen have sought flight -- and fly only so far. Their trampoline escape will have to do for those who lack wings. The young Martian's emerald blood vanished in the crimson dust. The older Martian does not console his companion. The younger Martian no longer notices his elder. The older Martian points his tentacles towards the immunization incubators and asks his young companion if he still wants mercy for these Earthlings? The immunization ward was cracked by the explosion of the wall! The earth microbes have infected the damp forms that swim in the innoculative fluids. The younger Martian witnesses their deaths and does not mourn! Carmilla Frost has seen Killraven accomplish one thing properly this evening! He has gone back into the young Martian's mind! The young Martian who came at them -- and Carmilla was right -- they have lost more than they have won! They must endure this defeat in victory! The red dust legacy... blows in the wind... and bequeaths to their descendants, the ability to hate... it is a heritage the Martians born on Earth will perpetuate with no difficulty whatsoever.

 On the cover of Amazing Adventures #36, Carmilla Frost is determined to end the War of the Worlds with the death of Killraven!

 I've enjoyed Don McGregor's runs on Black Panther in Jungle Action and Killraven in Amazing Adventures.

 Sonny Trinidad also drew Skull the Slayer for Marvel Comics.

 The red dust flows through Killraven's hands and he is reminded of moments in time that are lost forever.

 2019 was forty-three years away in 1976.

 Craig Russell's art reminds me of Gil Kane's in places, especially in the beginning sequences where Killraven finds himself on Mars.

 2019 is now only five years away.

 Thanks to Dave Hunt, Killraven has got some color in his cheeks.

 M'Shulla's smile is enough to dispel any questions about where his mud-brother keeps getting replacements for his silver stars.

 Killraven and his band of Freemen suffered a death in the family with the loss of Hawk and Grok.

 The Martian complex reminds me of the Krells' base in "Forbidden Planet".

 The Martians now know of the tree of life and death.

 Killraven has taught them about the emotion of fear and of hatred.

 The young Martian sought to cut them off at the chase, but got his tentacle caught at the star thing's line.

 Steve Chung
 "Red Dust Review!"