This week’s MARVELous Monday goes back to 1982 where we relive the death of Captain Marvel in the Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel by Jim Starlin.
The Death of Captain Marvel was an early graphic novel (the first printing fetches a pretty penny too in NM shape) of the entire event of Captain Marvel’s first death, not in battle but to lung cancer from the result of a battle.
This is a must read by any Marvel and Jim Starlin fan, one of his best works I think and one of my own personal favorite Marvel reads of all time.
This book almost reads like Captain Marvel’s memoirs from the get go, failing to find a cure for himself, he returns to Titan to live out his remaining days.
Captain Marvel got cancer after a battle with Nitro where he breathed in the deadly nerve gas that eventually led to him developing lung cancer (Blackend if you are Skree). That battle was in Captain Marvel Vol 1 #34 which was also the first appearance of Nitro.
They were trasporting Thanos’s Stone Prisonment back to Titan when the clues of his disease made others aware, most notably to Mentor (first appearance in Iron Man #55 which also Thanos and Drax’s first, so if you find it cheap, do tell your secrets).
Captain Marvel came off as being sick and unwell. Mentor suggested he should go under ISAAC to get a diagnosis of what’s wrong. Being cosmic aware made Captain Marvel well ahead of his actual diagnosis that something was wrong. But ISAAC at least gave Captain Marvel a time frame of how much longer he had, which he was unaware of.
He knew he should have died years ago, his powers keeping him alive much longer than a normal person or human could endure without any medical intervening. He tells the story on how it happened, the nerve gas during battle with Nitro.
Mentor asks if Elysius knows of his disease, which she does not as he has yet to tell her. So he finally tells her.
It’s total silence with no actual dialogue during the panes in the book. No words could describe this scenario when a person tells the one they love of their terminally ill disease.
Captain Marvel dives back into some recordings of his past, encounters in battle. Recalling how he has just as many enemies as friends during his lifetime.
Meanwhile he visits his best bud Rick Jones back on Earth, which they were bonded at the time of the nerve gas that affected him. He doesn’t believe it affected Rick (likely since he’s still alive without any ill side affects) but tells him the bad news and that he should get checked out anyways.
Rick gets mad at Captain Marvel for basically telling him there’s no hope left. He can’t return to Kree to get treatment since he’s seen as a traitor. The treatments on Earth and Titan don’t carry the same effect since he’s not either.
Rick approaches the Avengers but they remind him cancer research has been going on for decades with no real cure in sight. Don’t expect any miracles. Rick storms out mad on them.
The Avengers do some research and realize Marvel’s Nega-Bands were what gave him so much life while being cancerous but the cancer grew immune to them, over time they started to overtake his body like cancer does to others in weeks, months and years. Reed Richards assumes if Marvel removes them, he would die likely within a few hours.
They also assume the Nega-Bands are also blocking any treatment as well, protecting Captain Marvel.
Just after they realized his own bands are preventing any treatment, Mar-Vell falls ill and they realize time is short.
A lot of heroes come to visit him bedside, pay their respects and to tell him goodbye.
The Skrulls give him a medal of honor.
Captain Marvel falls into a coma. During this time, he falls for the last time but before he goes, Thanos ghost visits him in his sub-consciousness.
They battle while Mar-Vell battles all his past foes as well. But Thanos is there one last time to take his universe away, there will be no cheating death as he leads him to Death herself.
This is a great story that really hits home for most of us. Here’s a nod to all those who have battled cancer, lived to tell another tale or perhaps died, to all those impacted by it, they are the real heroes of this world.