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Captain Marvel

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Here he is, the greatest hero ever created to cash in on a court ruling!

Originally sent to Earth as a spy for the alien Kree Empire, Mar-Vell discovered that the Kree's Supreme Intelligence conspired to enslave the human race and claim the planet for their own. With Earth now his home, he rebelled against his insidious masters to fight for the world that had welcomed him. Possessed of a cosmic awareness and virtually limitless might, Mar-Vell took the name Captain Marvel and uses his powerful Nega-Bands to champion the cause of right!

After the Shazam debacle between DC Comics and Fawcett died down, nothing was immediately done with the charatcer - DC probably hoped some time off would make everyone forget the previous unpleasantness. But during that hiatus, Marvel Comics started to balloon, and wisely started grabbing every "Marvel" related trademark they could lay claim to, among them "Captain Marvel." In order to protect their new title, they had to publish something.

Debuting in the late '60s, Captain Mar-Vell was originally a pretty straightforward superhero story: he had a secret identity and everything. By issue 17 of his eponymous comic, though, writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane decided to play up the "Captain Marvel" angle, turning him into a thinly veiled sci-fi analogue of Shazam.

The Marvel Legends Captain Marvel is wearing the character's second, more famous costume - the one Carol Danvers copied when she initially gained her powers. He originally appeared in a green and white Kree Imperial Militia uniform, but after turning his back on his homeworld in favor of Earth, he got a new red suit with blue elements and a golden star on the chest. He also took to wearing golden "nega bands," which granted him increased strength and resiliency, and allowed him to fly and shoot energy blasts.

The figure uses the same body as Bullseye and Havok, so he's fairly skinny. At least in comparison to guys like Captain America. Marv (yes, that's what his friends called him) is muscular, but not beefy. The character is a product of the '70s, as his stylin' disco-hair will attest. His nega-bands are a sculpted part of his forearms, and he has a hole for a Doop stand in his back.

Captain Marvel holds no surprises in the articulation department. Oddly enough, despite the fact that he has balljointed shoulders, swivels at the biceps and lateral pectoral hinges, you can't quite get him to bang his wrists together; I guess he won't be turning into Rick Jones any time soon. His hands are articulated, but with almost no point. He's got one fist and one open hand, but neither of them look right when you move the fingers.

Marv has no accessories, but does include a piece of MODOK, the ML15 BAF. That's a lot of capital letters. It's basically MODOK's butt. Yes, Monkey Boy said the same thing about the piece that comes with Beta Ray Bill, but he's all nutsy cuckoo. That's more of a hover platform: this is the part that wraps around the back of his legs and the base of his spine. Thus, MODOK-butt.

There's a variant Captain Marvel available - it's actually Mar-Vell's son, Genis-Vell. The biggest difference (other than being semi-translucent) is the haircut. Genis has a white Caesar cut, rather than his dad's flowing blonde locks. The blue parts of his costume have a white starfield painted on. I know some fans were hoping the variant would be Marv in his original Kree uniform; it's always slightly annoying when the variant is a different character - especially when it's a character we've never had before.

The figure includes a reprint of Captain Marvel #25, though it has the (much more iconic) cover to #29. You get to see Marv and Rick Jones switch places a few times, and they both get slapped around by a whole litany of old enemies, including Hulk and Namor. The diorama backdrop is a battle between armadas in deep space - just the sort of crazy widescreen adventure Marv tends to have.

Despite the fact that Marvel needs to publish a Captain Marvel book or lose the rights, Marv has stayed dead for more than two decades. And it wasn't even his longtime foe, Thanos, that killed him - he inhaled a carcinogenic nerve gas and, since Reed Richards was too busy teaching the toaster to feel love to bother doing something pedestrian like, say, curing cancer, Mar-Vell died. While the story may be fairly touching, and show the kind of humanity that make Marvel Comics better than DC, you have to laugh at the cover of the graphic novel, in which Marv takes the place of Jesus in a re-creation of Michelangelo's Pieta.

-- 12/20/06

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