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Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel began as the adventures of Capt. Mar-Vell, a soldier of the alien Kree, who - unlike his blue-skinned brethren - was not quite so bloodthirsty. There were two races of the Kree (first introduced in the Fantastic Four comic): blue-skinned, and pink-skinned, like ourselves (well, the Caucasians, anyway); the pinks were discriminated against, which may have led to some of Mar-Vell's alienation. In any case, it was a pretty standard space-themed superhero book when it debuted in 1968, one of the first new titles to emerge after Marvel was allowed by their distributor to create new books.

The title and the main character, however, would endure changes that would benefit them both. In #17, Capt. Marvel got a new costume, but also a handicap - using a pair of 'nega-bands' on each wrist, Mar-Vell change into (actually, exchange places with) young Rick Jones (this being an homage to the original Capt. Marvel of the Golden Age Fawcett comics, put in place by writer Roy Thomas). With #25, artist Jim Starlin took over pencilling, as well as plotting, the book. He brought more broadly-sweeping, cosmic sensibility to the series, and immediately kicked off an epic storyline spanning several issues.

Such older Marvel concepts as the alien Watcher and the power-granting device known as the Cosmic Cube were put into service in some of the trippiest superhero comics of the 70's. Starlin's eventual departure left the title a bit deflated, though writers such as Steve Englehart and Doug Moench still turned out some good issues. By #62, however, it was all over, and the book was cancelled. A storyline left hanging was resolved within the first two issues of the new Marvel Spotlight series; then the Captain teams up with other Marvel heroes to stop the ultimate plot by his old enemy Thanos in Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2.

Then, incredibly enough, a Marvel superhero was allowed to die. Having been exposed to nerve gas in a previous adventure, Mar-Vell contracted cancer and died, as told in the early graphic novel The Death Of Captain Marvel. The book is a bittersweet one, as the strongest heroes in the Marvel pantheon find themselves helpless in the face of such a mundane threat. And, unlike so many other comic book 'deaths', this one has stuck.

But even he has found immortality, of a sort: Mar-Vell's love Elysius took some of his genetic material and used her race's advanced technology to produce a son, Genis-Vell, who became a second Captain Marvel. A third CM was also created for the 'Ultimate' line of Marvel comics.

You can view a cover gallery of this Captain Marvel series here

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