Captain America & the Korvac Saga


By Ben McCool, Craig Rousseau, Rachelle Rosenberg, with Jim Shooter, George Pérez, Pablo Marcos & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-5160-9

Over the decades since its founding, Marvel has published a number of popular and/or critically successful mega-epics which fans always talk about with great fondness. In relatively recent years the company began to reconfigure some of them – such as Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet and Spider-Man & the Secret Wars for younger readers in the manner of the company’s all-ages Marvel Adventures format: notionally “in-continuity” tales offering cosmic thrills, chills and light drama as a (possibly misdirected) way to bring kids in on the House of Ideas’ biggest successes.

This yarn is one of the most intriguing, greatly diverging from its source material as writer Ben McCool, illustrator Craig Rousseau and colourist Rachelle Rosenberg wittily wove an alternate interpretation adding a contemporary tone to the twice time-displaced Sentinel of Liberty.

This highly entertaining digest-sized collection collects the 4-issue miniseries Captain America & the Korvac Saga from February-May 2011 and also re-presents the opening shot in the original epic from Avengers #167 (January 1978) as crafted by Jim Shooter, George Pérez & Pablo Marcos.

The new yarn retells the saga, giving the Star-Spangled Avenger the leading role in an engaging and appealing way, adding contemporary sensibilities and a lighter take to a classic but rather dark and gritty Fights ‘n’ Tights yarn.

I would strongly suggest, however, that if you’ve never seen the original epic, you track it down either in Essential Avengers volume 8, Avengers: the Korvac Saga or elsewhere: it’s not strictly necessary but you will get to read an extremely classy piece of fantasy fiction as it was originally intended…

The action here opens in ‘Strange Days’ as Cap leads his avenging comrades Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Vision, The Beast and Iron Man against a quartet of super-villains inexplicably amped up and retooled into major menaces.

Maelstrom, Quasimodo, Living Laser and Super-Adaptoid are putting up far more resistance than expected and when the android Vision detects unusual emanations he and the Sentinel of Liberty track the signals to a sinister technologist who oddly presents no real threat and is easily subdued.

With his defeat the fearsome foursome also fold, but as Cap hauls him off to jail the mystery man exhibits an unnerving understanding of the Super Soldier’s sense of being a man cut off from his own time…

Disturbed without knowing why, the Star-Spangled Avenger later visits the stranger in jail and is on hand when a strange team of super-beings try to break the enigmatic prisoner out…

‘Souljacker’ finds the aggressive newcomers demanding custody of the stranger, a thing they call “Korvac”. They also claim it is a cyborg from a thousand years in the future…

The smug captive delights in all the commotion; turning to energy and freeing his villainous quartet to attack the newcomers. A time portal is opened but in the melee only the acrobatic alien named Nikki and tempestuous star-warrior Firelord follow Korvac through it. Before it finally snaps shut though, Captain America also hurtles into the stellar unknown…

On the other side is the year 3003 and a scene of fantastic future warfare where Nikki and Firelord reveal how they and her now-stranded companions Starhawk, Vance Astro and Charlie-27 – AKA The Guardians of the Galaxy – had been hunting Korvac before it could use the “Power Cosmic” it stole from space god Galactus to destroy humanity…

No sooner have the explanations finished than the energy entity attacks them. After valiantly driving the killer off Cap is determined to make things right and enquiring how to stop it learns that the long-gone star deity had a special weapon known as the “Ultimate Nullifier” which could negate Korvac’s purloined power…

As the trio set off for Taa-II, Galactus’ solar-system-sized ship, ‘The Traveler’ takes us back to the year 3001 when the battered fugitive cyborg first encountered the seemingly abandoned starship and tapped into incomprehensible energies which allowed it to became a transcendent new form of life…

Two years later as the determined trio vector in on the incredible vessel, Korvac materialises and ambushes them. With cosmic-powered Firelord taking the brunt of the assault, Cap and Nikki painfully crash into the system-ship and begin a terrifying safari through astounding beasts and terrors in search of the Ultimate Nullifier. They are within sight of their goal when their beaten companion crashes at their feet and the triumphant Korvac comes for them…

With doom inescapable ‘The Star Lord’ brings the cosmic odyssey to a tremendous conclusion as Captain America’s final indomitable battle against the cyborg God from Tomorrow brings the long vanished Galactus into the fray to set all things aright…

This star-spanning, time-busting blockbusting little box of delights includes a cover gallery by Rousseau & Chris Sotomayor, as well as one by Pérez & Terry Austin which precedes one final treat as the fresh adventure is capped off by a re-presentation of the original 1970s saga.

In the 1960s Jim Shooter was a child-prodigy of comics scripting writing the Legion of Superheroes and Superman before he’d even finished High School. After college, when he returned to the industry and gravitated to Marvel Comics it seemed natural to find him working on a comic with just as many characters as that fabled future super-team.

His connection to The World’s Mightiest Superheroes, although episodic, was long-lived and produced some of that series’ best tales, and none more so than the cosmic epic begun here: a sprawling tale of time-travel and universal conquest which originally ran in The Avengers issues #167-168 and 170-177.

In previous issues a difference of opinion between Captain America and Iron Man over leadership styles had begun to polarise the team and those submerged tensions started to show in ‘Tomorrow Dies Today!’

In the Gods-&-Monsters filled Marvel Universe there are entrenched and jealous Hierarchies of Power, so when a new player mysteriously materialises in the 20th century the very Fabric of Reality is threatened…

It all kicks off when star-spanning 31st century Guardians of the Galaxy materialise in Earth orbit, hotly pursuing a cyborg despot named Korvac.

Inadvertently setting off planetary incursion alarms, their minor-moon sized ship is swiftly penetrated by an Avengers squad, where, after the customary introductory squabble, the future men – Charlie-27, Yondu, Martinex, Nikki, Vance Astro and enigmatic space God Starhawk – explain the purpose of their mission…

Cap had previously fought beside them to liberate their home era from Badoon rule and Thor had faced Korvac before so peace soon breaks out, but even with the resources of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes the time travellers are unable to locate their quarry…

Meanwhile on Earth a new and mysterious being named Michael is lurking in the background. At a fashion show staged by Janet Van Dyne he achieves a psychic communion with model Carina Walters and they both vanish, oblivious to a pitched superhero battle that breaks out involving not only the Wasp and her husband Yellowjacket, but also Nighthawk against the perfidious Porcupine

To Be Continued – Elsewhere…

In 2012 the Marvel Adventures line was superseded by specific comicbook titles tied to Disney XD TV shows designated as “Marvel Universe cartoons”, but these collected stories are still an intriguing and perhaps more culturally accessible means of introducing character and concepts to kids born often two generations or more away from those far-distant 1960s originating events.

However even though these stories are extremely enjoyable yarns, parents should note that some of the themes and certainly the violence might not be what everybody considers “All-Ages Super Hero Action” and might perhaps better suit older kids…
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