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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Marvelous Death, Life, Rebirth, and Youth

"X" MARKS THE MAR-VELL
The largest and most extensive of the realizations of an Alex Ross idea, the "high-water mark," if you will, of these limited-series extrapolations of possibly alternate futures of the superhero universe, was undoubtedly Earth X and its follow-ups, Universe X and Paradise X, and a Captain Marvel or two were right in the middle of it.

Captain Marvel appears in various forms on selected covers of Earth X, Universe X, and Paradise X.
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This Captain Marvel's story was intimately intertwined with death (which may or may not have been ironically deliberate, being as, at this time in the regular Marvel Universe, Mar-Vell was still dead). However, the story was so big and complex and convoluted, with so many characters doing so many bizarre and universe-shattering things and changing in so many ways, told over massive numbers of pages in three 14-issue limited series in a combination of sequential art and prose, that I can't honestly say that I fully understood it the first three times I tried to read it.

Mar-Vell did appear in two distinctive guises: One of them was the dead Kree warrior in the afterlife, leading an army of dead Kree warriors into battle, inspiring them with a speech to convince them that they were actually dead, though their enemy told them otherwise; The other was a 5-year-old child battling the Supreme Intelligence and pining over his late lover, Una.


 
The child and dead versions of Mar-vell in Earth X

THAT MARVELOUS BOY
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the regular Marvel Universe, writer Grant Morrison and artist J.G. Jones introduced a young Kree warrior from an alternate dimension named Noh-Varr (Marvel Boy #1, Aug 2000). This character became the focus of a limited series that shone a darkly absurd satirical light on the excessive potential for corporate greed to take over the world. 


Young Noh-Varr was a young Kree warrior from an alternate reality. Having had his DNA merged with that of a cockroach (giving him super-powers) he became a member of the crew of a Kree ship, the 18th Kree Diplomatic Gestalt interstellar schooner, the "Marvel."

In a trans-dimensional flight, the Marvel crashed on Earth after being shot down by one Dr. Midas, the head of a globally-ambitious mega-corporation who wore a variant of an early Iron Man suit. He sought to exploit Noh-Varr for his benefit, but the young Kree warrior's alien powers and philosophy (described by one analyst in the story as "Zen Fascism") proved to be resilient and adaptable enough to overcome the challenge.

Marvel Boy (Noh-Varr) in thought and action.

He was, however, eventually captured by agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. and imprisoned on The Cube, a high-security prison for super-powered beings. He was used, however, in the epic, company-wide crossover event known as "Civil War." After which, he benefitted from a breakout from The Cube at the start of the epic, company-wide crossover event known as "Secret Invasion."

BRING ME THE SKRULL OF CAPTAIN MARVEL

"Secret Invasion" told the story of an undercover invasion of Earth by the shape-shifting alien Skrulls. Before it began, however, Mar-Vell appeared, believing that had been thrown forward in time (apparently before he died).

It turned out that this "Captain Marvel" was actually a Skrull named Khn'nr who had undergone such deep genetic alteration to undetectably appear to be Mar-Vell and think like Mar-Vell, that he got stuck believing he was Mar-Vell (unlike other such-altered Skrulls who remembered who they were when a cue was given). Even when presented with irrefutable evidence of who he was, Khn'nr rejected that truth and swore to defend the Earth.

His reappearance (seemingly from the dead) inspired a "Church of Hala" (Hala being the name of the Kree homeworld), a cult that did good works under the inspiration of Mar-Vell.

The founder of the Church of Hala meets her inspiration.

Khn'nr fell in battle with the Skrulls above Earth, but when he crashed to the planet, he crossed paths with the newly-escaped Noh-Varr.


THE BOY AS A MARVELOUS PROTECTOR
The young Kree warrior found Khn'nr dying of wounds sustained fighting against the Skrull invasion of Earth. This inspired him to fight to defend Earth, and, after the company-wide, epic crossover event "Secret Invasion" ended, he would be recruited by Norman Osborn (formerly the supervillain known as the Green Goblin) into his replacement Avengers team (the regular Avengers having been broken up by the events of the Epic Crossover Event). This team was made up of supervillains disguised as superheroes and a few morally-ambiguous super-characters, which Noh-Varr still appeared to be at the time. Osborn gave him the name "Captain Marvel."

In time, though, Noh-Var became disillusioned with these "Dark Avengers" and quit the team. He got in touch with the Supreme Intelligence of the Kree, who granted him a new, improved set of nega-bands with a new costume and weapons, giving him the mantle of "Protector" of Earth. Under this name he joined the newly-re-assembled Avengers.



After a falling-out with the Avengers during the "Avengers vs. X-Men" epic company-wide crossover event, Noh-Varr joined the Young Avengers, a team of young heroes inspired by the original Avengers. He had ditched the "Protector" persona and embraced his initial appearance and powers, taking on the name "Marvel Boy" officially.

The Young Avengers were a very "inclusive" team,. particularly of gender preference. Marvel Boy's bi-sexual appeal and relaxed attitude toward sexual preferences fit the team well in this regard. 

Coincidentally, Teddy Atman, known as "Hulkling," one of the founding members of the team and boyfriend of fellow team member Wiccan, was the son of Mar-Vell and later went on to become emperor of the combined Kree-Skrull "Empyre."

Teddy "Hulkling" Altman learns of his birthright, and makes a speech to his people.

During this time Noh-Varr had a long relationship with the young, female Hawkeye and became enamored with Earth culture, particularly close-harmony girl groups from the 1960's.

Eventually, Noh-Varr left the Young Avengers and worked with the Inhumans, and recently joined the current version of the Guardians of the Galaxy.




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