I’ve been very heavy with the DC titles lately, so I wanted to find a Marvel book worth the effort. There is only one book that immediately jumps to mind, although you’ll see a few more in these blog posts eventually.
Death. Before it was a marketing tool, before it was a away to sell more issues, there was just death. How and why this happened I’ll probably never know. I can’t imagine why a company would retire the hero who bears their name, but Marvel not only killed him off, he’s never really returned. Not in any way that I acknowledge, anyway.
Captain Marvel didn’t die saving the world, or fighting his nemesis, Captain Marvel died from cancer caused by exposure to (Earth) chemicals. He was a character from space, a product of the crazy science fiction fads of the sixties and seventies and even though Star Wars was in full bloom it appears his popularity, and that of space themed comics, as well as the horror trends of the time, were all drying up. It was time for superheroes of Earth to take over, the teen heroes like the X-Men and Titans were dominating the sales charts.
I guess if I had of read the adventures of the Captain before this, I might not have loved it so much. Captain Marvel was a character I didn’t know too much about; he’d appeared in a few books but nothing that told me anything about who he was or where he’d come from. I didn’t even know DC had their own Captain Marvel back then. All I knew was this book was big and it was dark and it was strange and that made it cool.
Jim Starlin managed to give the Captain a send-off worthy of a man of his stature. Not only did the greatest heroes of the era show up, but even some of the lesser known characters from Captain Marvel’s run came to say farewell. We’re not talking about the bright and shiny Avengers either, this was a man from the 70’s/80’s, so guys like Ghost Rider and other members of the Champions showed up.
And there was the classic Spider-Man moment.
The biggest hero in the world, the star of multiple morning cartoons, could not cope with watching a man die. Just like young readers, Spidey was out of his element and that angle, that depth of characterization, is what made this graphic novel one of the best comics ever published. Starlin even managed to figure out a way to have the hero face his arch-nemesis Thanos at the end of the book, even after death.