OK, I kinda avoided this character for a while. That’s mostly because, to a certain extent, I wasn’t sure what to make of him. How helpful he is to other Marvel heroes seems to depend on the storyline, the title he’s appearing in, or something along those lines.
But every so often, I figure I need to give myself a challenge, so here’s Noh-Varr, originally known as “Marvel Boy”.
Noh-Varr first appeared in Marvel Boy #1 in August of 2000. Written by Grant Morrison and drawn by J.G. Jones, the idea was to create a new character using an old and long forgotten Marvel hero name. How forgotten? Off the top of my head, I only know that a Marvel Boy existed as a forerunner to the Mar-Vell Captain Marvel and Quasar. He’d probably make a good entry for this series, but this column is about the most recent one.
Besides, as I have often said, when Marvel Comics is being especially lazy, they just slap the company name on a hero and call it a day. That’s about the only reason I don’t care for the name “Captain Marvel” on various Marvel heroes. It just seems like they aren’t trying all that hard. Other than that, most of the Captain Marvels I’ve seen, especially Carol Danvers, have been fairly awesome. The only one I am not so sure about is Noh-Varr, and for that…well, read on.
Noh-Varr was a Kree from an alternate timeline who was traveling through space and time on a scientific expedition on a ship called the Marvel. A supervillain named Doctor Midas decided to shoot them down, possibly because he was a megalomaniac. Or he was a dick. Mostly he wanted the cosmic ray-powered engines, and when Noh-Varr was the only survivor, he did what any reasonable person would do and declared war on the entire planet Earth for the actions of one dick.
This is where Noh-Varr’s (and probably Morrison’s) more radical politics came into play. Yeah, it didn’t take him long to figure out that MIdas was one guy, but he still blamed the Earth and battled S.H.I.E.L.D. That was a six issue mini-series, one that mostly dealt with Noh-Varr’s battle with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Midas, aside from one issue where he battled a living corporation, all while pointing out how much capitalism sucked and stuff like that. At some point, he met Midas’s daughter Oubilette. She wore a mask because she was convinced she was deformed or something, but then she learned she wasn’t and became his love interest or something.
I feel like there’s a lot of “or somethings” when I describe this one.
The mini-series ended with Noh-Varr going to supervillain prison, where he was happy to go because he figured he could recruit an army there to continue what he started, and Oubilette continued his work, as she saw it, by attacking a Disneyworld stand-in.
And he was the good guy? I mean, his opening attack was apparently to blow up a bunch of buildings in New York City to spell out a word, visible from above, of a word that Marvel wouldn’t let one of their books print.
But that was Morrison. Other writers would make him more of a standard superhero.
Oh, if you’re wondering what his powers were, I’m not all that sure. Mostly he was standard Kree superstrong and had access to very advanced technology, possibly including some Nega Bands.
Regardless, Brian Michael Bendis, when he gave the world the Illuminati, that secret superteam made up of the least interesting members of every big Marvel team plus Dr. Strange and Namor, had the Illuminati project themselves to Noh-Varr and suggest he be a “hero,” an idea that Noh-Varr eventually took up when he escaped from prison during the Civil War and when he finally sided with humanity during the Secret Invasion. Of course, he was a Kree and those were Skrulls, so that tracks.
From there, Noh-Varr was recruited by Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers as a new Captain Marvel. He didn’t stay long: as soon as one of his teammates let slip all the Dark Avengers were supervillains, Noh-Varr slipped out. See? That was Bendis again, so he was more a traditional supervillain, one who forgot he wanted to recruit other supervillains for his war against the Earth. At some point, he did join or at least work with the Avengers before finally joining the Young Avengers team. Once there, he had a romantic relationship with Kate Bishop though at the time it came out he was bisexual, but he is an alien, so he apparently had to join the Guardians of the Galaxy as so many aliens eventually do.
That seems to be the pattern with the guy. He joins a team, may or may not pick up a new code name (his last one seems to have been the incredibly creative “Protector”), and he’ll be as heroic or as radical as the script requires him to be. What’s he been up to of late?
You know what? I still don’t know what to make of him. The angry radical is now, well, a standard good guy as near as I can make out. The radical, when I was reading it, struck me as an, at best, an angry, unpleasant jerk. The one dating Hercules? I haven’t read those issues, and I’m not sure where to even start right now, so I’m gonna end this column right here.