December 6, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #228: Killraven

An escaped gladiator becomes the worst nightmare to Martian invaders.

Marvel Comics loves its alternate futures.  Heck, sci-fi in general loves those things.  Choose some arbitrary year in the future, put your action there, and then hope the work isn’t still being read when reality gets to that selfsame year.

Anyway, Marvel Comics’ Killraven character hails from the year 2019.

OK, technically, his adventures span the years 2018-2020, so if you think we live in the worst possible 2019, try his on for size.

For example, this is acceptable fashion.

Killraven actually has a hell of a pedigree.  His creators were Roy Thomas and Neal Adams.  Mostly.  Thomas and Adams plotted out the first story for Amazing Adventures #18 in 1973, but then other people finished it.  Adams penciled the first half or so of the book.  Howard Chaykin finished the story off.  Gerry Conway actually wrote the script based off the story Thomas gave him.  Conway would hang around as writer for a while after that.  Then Marv Wolfman took over.  And yet, the most acclaimed period came from writer Don McGregor.  I don’t think I am familiar with his work.

So, what was Killraven’s story?  He was born in a time when Martians like the ones H.G. Wells described in his War of the Worlds had subjugated the Earth.  How bad were these Martians?  They bred and ate human babies.  That’s only acceptable in a Jonathan Swift satire.  And he only made a modest proposal.

It took me 228 of these columns to work my literary hero into one.

As it is, Jonathan Raven lucked out.  Martians didn’t want to eat him.  They made a gladiator out of him and his brother Joshua.  Jonathan became Killraven.  Joshua was Deathraven.  However, Killraven escaped and joined a group of freedom fighters.  Heck, he was their leader.  He and his band traveled across a war-torn world, fighting Martians and the victims of their science experiments.  Initially, Killraven thought his brother was dead.  That, of course, was not the case.  In fact, Deathraven turned out to be a collaborator.  I was not surprised to learn that.

So, why didn’t the superheroes stop the Martians?  Good question!  Marvel officially says Killraven may or may not have come from a parallel universe where there never were any superheroes.

That didn’t stop the inevitable Spider-Man team-up. Is this in the chronology, Jimmy?

There actually was a period when Killmonger’s future might have led to the Guardians of the Galaxy’s universe.  That’s the original Guardians from the future, not the ones who appeared in some popular movies.  However, Killraven seems to resist those things, and Marvel always describes him as coming from an alternate future.  Granted, so are those Guardians, but that doesn’t mean they come from the same one.

In fact, Killraven has a number of aborted projects listed in his Wikipedia entry.  Those include one where McGregor had Killraven take the fight to Mars as well as showing he was an ancestor to previous Misplaced Hero Ravage 2099.  But officially, in the end, Killraven scared the Martians off by unleashing a zombie plague on humanity.

See, if you thought your 2019 was bad, at least you don’t live in a world where a zombie plague is somehow preferable.  Or maybe you do.  If so, man, that sucks.