The Untold Legend of Captain Marvel #3

Issue Date: 
June 1997
Story Title: 

Tom Brevoort with Mike Kanterovich (writers), Scott Kolins (penciler), John Lowe (inker), Jim Novak (letterer), John Kalisz (colorist), Mark Bernardo (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Mar-Vell and Una evade the Brood and sneak into the Pama, where they devise a plan to defeat the Brood and escape the planet intact. While Una works on a cure for their Brood embryo infections, Mar-Vell sets a time-bomb in the ship’s main power generator. He then advances to the engine room, where he encounters the Devros, the Brood King. During their fight, Mar-Vell’s bomb detonates and initiates a destructive chain reaction. Mar-Vell executes Devros and heads back to find Una. By the time he arrives, however, his inner Brood has overtaken him. Una neutralizes his Brood infection with a makeshift cure. They then jettison the ship’s med-lab into space, but not before Mar-Vell swoops back down the planet’s surface to rescue the stranded Colonel Yon-Rogg. After several weeks adrift, they are rescued by Deathbird and return to the Kree homeworld. Yon-Rogg takes all the credit for the successful mission and receives a promotion—as well as a new mission and accompanying crew. He takes Mar-Vell and Una with him on his next assignment, a mission to spy on the inhabitants of an obscure, backwater planet called Earth.

Full Summary: 

Absolom Sector, on the border of Kreespace…

A swarm of vicious, snarling Brood passes over the heads of Captain Mar-Vell and Medic Una. Fortunately for the two stranded Kreemen, the Brood do not seem too interested in locating them—but Mar-Vell presumes they are simply biding their time until he and Una undergo their own metamorphoses. Mar-Vell intends to take full advantage of this tactical error.

The grief-stricken Una’s mind lingers on other things, however. She turns to Mar-Vell with tears in her eyes and asks him to kill her. Mar-Vell begins to object, but Una asks him to let her finish. She thought about their circumstances all night: they’re trapped alone on a harsh planet teeming with hive-minded killing machines, all of their allies have died, and they’re both infected with embryonic broodlings, which might hatch at any minute. All her life, Una has fought to preserve her individuality, even within the tight constraints of Kree society. Now, however, she seems fated to become a mindless, insignificant Brood drone—and nothing terrifies her more. She can feel the embryo coiled within her body, waiting to hatch, waiting to strip her to the bone and devour her.

Mar-Vell takes the tear-streaked Una in his powerful arms and kisses her passionately on the lips. The two stranded Kree take refuge in this comforting moment. It finally ends, and Mar-Vell switches back into survival mode. He promises to do as Una wishes and end her life before she becomes a Brood, but only—only—when no other options remain! There are deeper concerns than the two of them, he reminds her. After all, if Devros and his Brood make it back into space, they will endanger the entire Kree Empire. Mar-Vell cannot allow this.

Taking Una by the hand, Mar-Vell walks out of the protective cover of the woods and toward the downed ship, the Pama. He outlines their mission objectives to Una: get aboard the Pama whilst avoiding detection, cripple its flight capabilities, determine if the Brood eggs within their bodies can be neutralized, find a way of getting of this planet, and finally, recover whomever remains of their fellow crewmen. He asks Una if she understands the mission objectives; she incredulously asks if he believes they can accomplish all of those tasks. “If we can’t, then it can’t be done,” Mar-Vell answers. Moving on, he hands Una their only uni-pistol, which contains the combined charges of their remaining power cells, and implores her to wield it well. Una asks what weapon he intends to use; she can’t leave him defenseless! “Me? Medic Una,” Mar-Vell says, “I am the weapon!” He grabs onto Una and flies into the air, heading toward the top of the Pama.

As they arrive at the uppermost spire of the ship, the secondary beam-weapons array, Mar-Vell explains that he assumes it will be the least-guarded of all the access points. They land in the center of the concave firing dish. Mar-Vell gets to work dismantling its focal point. After he successfully dismantles it, the tip pops open, revealing an access hand into the long, cylindrical shaft.

Unfortunately, a duo of Brood within the Pama hears the noises of their entrance, and sets off to investigate. Mar-Vell greets the first Brood to arrive with a punch to the mouth. While he smashes its battered face into the floor, the other monster approaches him from behind but, surprisingly, Una obliterates it with a trio of shots from her uni-pistol. Mar-Vell looks at her in shock. “When did i>your shooting improve so?” he asks. Una tells him it didn’t; she merely gambled the refractive coating on Mar-Vell’s uniform would adequately deflect any stray blasts. Wouldn’t he have done the same?

Shortly thereafter, Mar-Vell and Una emerge from the ship’s ventilation shafts and arrive in the med-lab. While Mar-Vell helps Una down from the ducts, she can’t help but comment on his seemingly intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the spacecraft. His father, Mar-Vell explains, designed starships for a living—specifically on the improvement of light-speed engines. Although Mar-Vell rarely saw him after he left for military academy, he always made a point of familiarizing himself with the ship schematics his father would send him, almost as a way of staying close to the distant man.

Mar-Vell asks Una if he can now take the uni-pistol. Of course, she says as she hands him their sole weapon. He begins to leave, but reminds Una of her task: to find a means of exterminating the Brood larvae inside their bodies. Una tells him she already has a few ideas in mind; Mar-Vell knew she would. After telling her to set the med-lab’s quarantine shields to their highest levels, Mar-Vell pulls her in for a hug. If he fails, or changes into Brood, it will fall on Una to ensure the Pama never leaves this planet’s orbit. Una understands. Mar-Vell urges her to be brave.

Continuing by himself, Mar-Vell crawls through the seemingly endless tunnels of the Pama’s ventilation ducts. A sudden, splitting sensation in his torso completely halts his progress. He falls to the ground, clenching his teeth in pain, and resists the pull of the Brood. He refuses to succumb so easily to the accursed egg. However, the pain subsides, and he continues on his way.

An opening in the side of the tunnel catches his attention. Mar-Vell peers inside and sees what he accurately identifies as the main power coupling of the ship’s secondary systems. He takes his uni-pistol, manipulates its charge function, and places the potent energy weapon near a critical juncture. The gun whirrs to life. As Mar-Vell leaves, he thanks his father for imparting in him such critical knowledge.

Mar-Vell soon arrives in the main engine room. Somewhat suspiciously, he finds it empty. He makes the critical error of leaving his back turned for too long, and a wayward Brood specimen, taking advantage of Mar-Vell’s ignorance, attacks him from behind. Mar-Vell turns and engages the creature in close combat. Their combined momentum sends them tumbling over the railing and down to the base of the engine. Mar-Vell, fortunately, makes sure the Brood hits first. He then raises his fist and prepares to knock the remaining life out of the splattered creature, but at the last second, the Brood says something to steady his fist. “Mar…Mar-Vell,” it mutters. Somehow, beneath its hideous exterior, Mar-Vell recognizes the creature as his friend and ally, Commander Zen-Pram. He hesitates for only a moment. Mar-Vell then brings down his fist and smashes the alien’s head—but cannot bring himself to watch as he does it. With his commander now dead, Mar-Vell pays his due respects and gives Zen-Pram a proper, military salute.

“Killing your commanding officer,” the intrusive Grand Admiral Devros says. “Why, Captain Mar-Vell, that smacks of mutiny!” Devros cuts into Mar-Vell’s shoulder with his crackling energy whip. While Mar-Vell looks at the hideous, transfigured Brood King in disgust, Devros gloats about his own tactical brilliance. He suspected Mar-Vell would strike either the bridge or the engine room in order to cripple the ship, as any logical officer would, and he correctly assumed Mar-Vell would be more pragmatic than to attack the bridge. “Efficient, but predictable,” Devros tells Mar-Vell. “That’s why I brought Zen-Pram along to introduce you to the future. You killed my mate, Mar-Vell,” he says, once again lashing out with the whip, “but like you, I must be pragmatic.” It’s only a matter of time, Devros says, before Mar-Vell becomes one of them; his adrenaline and strong emotions will only hasten his metamorphosis. Devros strikes with his whip again. He tells Mar-Vell he has nothing to gain by killing him; he only needs to prevent him from completing his mission. Once Mar-Vell gives in and sees things the Brood way, Devros believes he will be an asset, at which point they will collect Medic Una and depart for Kree-Lar.

“Don’t count on it,” Mar-Vell tells him. Devros cracks his whip once more. Mar-Vell evades the tip, and this time, grabs onto it. Although he absorbs its electric charge, grabbing the whip gives him control over Devros. Mar-Vell yanks him in close and punches him across the jaw. Instead of screaming, however, Devros rejoices in Mar-Vell’s flow of intense, negative emotion. Can he feel himself getting carried away on a tide of red hate? Can he feel the Brood offspring uncoiling within his body? Devros smacks him across the room, and he crashes into an exterior pipe on the wall. Devros tells Mar-Vell to just let his heart and passion run wild and free! He has spent his life trying to contain his true self in order to fit the mold of the perfect Kree soldier. Devros believes that, in his heart, he knows he wants to quit concealing how he truly feels. He lunges at Mar-Vell with his claws outstretched.

Mar-Vell, catching his assailant completely by surprise, rips the pipe off the wall and directs its steamy blast at Devros’s face. The singed Brood King tumbles to the ground. Using another piece of pipe as a weapon, Mar-Vell stands over the downed Devros and prepares to deliver the coup de grace. “You don’t know me! You don’t know me at all!” he shouts. He arcs the metal pipe downward toward Devros’s head. Somehow, Devros catches it. Mar-Vell uses this to his advantage and hurls Devros up against the wall just as a horde of Brood enters. He tells his foe that although he follows the path of the warrior, he does not crave bloodshed or war. Devros refuses to believe it.

Elsewhere, Mar-Vell’s charged uni-pistol finally reaches its upper threshold and explodes, causing a chain reaction that obliterates the ship’s main power coupling Devros hears the ship’s alarm sirens and gasps. What’s going on, he asks? Mar-Vell explains he initiated a cascade effect throughout the lower systems of the Pama, dooming the ship. Devros has no hopes of stopping it. Mar-Vell only came to the engine room to create a diversion while his true plan went into effect. When the Brood King hears this, he goes berserk. “You unthinking dung-brother!” he shouts as he lunges at Mar-Vell. “Do you realize what you’ve done? All my work—now empty vapor! I will feast on your still-living heart!” He pins Mar-Vell to the floor and begins strangling him.

Mar-Vell proves to have the stronger resolve. “I’ll never fall to one such as you,” he says, reaching up and clutching onto the Brood King’s face, “…you miserable… pathetic… racist.” With a twist of his hands, he snaps the Brood King’s neck. The lifeless body of Devros slumps to the floor. Sneering and filled with adrenaline, Captain Mar-Vell turns to the other Brood in the room and asks for the next challenger. The Brood hiss at him, but back away as he walks to the exit.

Una is still tinkering in the med-lab when she hears Mar-Vell knocking on the sealed door. After she confirms his voice identification, she lowers the quarantine shield and allows him to enter—but still gasps when he slinks up behind her. After composing herself, she asks how the mission went. “I killed him, Una! Devros, the perfect general, is no more!” Mar-Vell announces. “Now—I am the Brood King!” The fearsome Mar-Vell lunges at the poor, frightened medic, but she proves to be anything but defenseless. She whips out a strange orb and projects a beam of powerful energy at her attacker. Her own battle, it seems, was equally successful.

As she showers Mar-Vell in cleansing energy, Una explains that she modified an omni-wave projector to emit a specific band of radiation. While it’s toxic to the Kree, it’s more swiftly fatal to the Brood embryos. As long as he has the stamina to survive the treatment, it should prove 100 percent effective. After the treatment finally ends, Mar-Vell, his skin still smoking from the absorption, stumbles around on the floor on all fours. Una asks him to slow down and let his strength return. He stands up and asks Una why she let him in the med-lab in the first place if she knew he had already metamorphosed. She knew the treatment would work, Una says; she tested it on herself, after all. Mar-Vell calls her foolish. If she had died, no one would have remained to complete the mission. “You can’t bear the burden of every sacrifice, Captain,” she says.

With the Brood King defeated, and their bodies healed, Mar-Vell and Una begin working on finding a way off the planet. Mar-Vell orders Una to initiate a critical contamination purge of the sick bay in order to jettison the compartment away from the ship and into outer space. Hopefully, the med-lab has enough rations and battery power to sustain them until someone responds to their distress call. Una admits that Mar-Vell’s tactical brilliance never ceases to amaze her. She initiates the purge, giving them three minutes until launch.

At this point, Mar-Vell looks out the window and notices a lone Kreemen wandering around outside: Colonel Yon-Rogg. He asks Una if the omni-wave projector has any juice left. “Oh no! Tell me you’re not thinking of—” Una says. “Mar-Vell, Yon-Rogg is a maggot! Nobody will miss him! He’s not worth the risk!” After reminding her of his final mission objective, Mar-Vell proceeds to the airlock, despite Una’s objections. She doesn’t see how he can recover Yon-Rogg and get back to the ship in time! He winks at her and tells her to just watch.

Captain Mar-Vell soars out of the ship’s door, blasts his way through the swaths of Brood, and grabs the overwhelmed Yon-Rogg by his uniform. Then, he pulls a mid-air U-turn and charges back toward the Pama, just as the med-lab begins its quarantine purge. The lab launches toward the atmosphere at a fantastic speed. Mar-Vell, with Colonel Yon-Rogg in tow, follows after it. As it soars higher and higher into the sky, it seems to elude his grasp—until Medic Una opens the hatch and reaches outside to grab his hand. Mar-Vell reaches out to grab onto her, but her fingers evade his by the smallest of distances…

Suddenly, the jettisoned med-lab breaks through the atmosphere, causing a sonic boom as it goes. It drifts in space for a week. Then another. And another. After three weeks of drifting, however, it is picked up by a familiar ship—that of the Shi’ar Regent, Deathbird.

Sometime later, Deathbird greets the survivors from the Kree crew she encountered earlier: Medic Una, Colonel Yon-Rogg—and Captain Mar-Vell. Deathbird did not expect to see them again so soon. She notes how their respective positions have seemingly reversed, and snidely asks how their “secret” mission to recover the Pama from the Absolom Sector fared. Yon-Rogg says nothing in response. Una’s jaw drops. Mar-Vell, however, comes clean and tells Deathbird nothing remains for which to search.

Yon-Rogg suddenly speaks up and demands Deathbird provide them safe passage back home, but Deathbird cuts him off mid-sentence and tells him she has no obligation to conduct them anywhere. “Perhaps those cold-blooded intelligence mongers back at our aerie would as much enjoy interrogating a Kree Colonel as a fallen admiral!” she says. “You are all dead men, after all. As far as your superiors are concerned, you perished with your crewmates and your ship!”

Unfazed, Mar-Vell tells Lady Deathbird not to strut for them; he knows she will escort them back to their homeworld. Looking him straight in the eyes, Deathbird steps down from her throne. “You are different from your fellows, Mar-Vell. I sensed it as soon as I laid eyes on you,” she says. “There is a fire in your blood. A fire long since extinguished in the rest of your miserable race. The fire of those who wrested the secrets of space travel from their Skrullian benefactors, and took to the stars in conquest. The same fire which burns in me! We are throw backs to an earlier age, captain. Ones such as we write the legends those like your colonel worship so avidly!” With that, Lady Deathbird orders her crew to set course for Kree-Lar.

Kree-Lar. Several weeks later…

Mar-Vell, now dressed in a red military uniform, waits patiently in the Kree city’s central medical station. The door opens, and Una enters with a smile on her face. Mar-Vell asks if she came to check him out; Una asks why today would be different than any other. They embrace. With her head resting on his shoulder, Una reports that the rumors they heard are true: Yon-Rogg was assigned his own ship, and both she and Mar-Vell have been ordered to serve on it. This comes as no surprise to Mar-Vell. Yon-Rogg, after all, was the highest ranking officer to return from the mission to the Absolom Sector; it only stood to reason High Command would attribute the mission’s success to him. True to his character, Yon-Rogg did nothing to deny the credit, but again, this comes as no surprise to Mar-Vell. Just as Mar-Vell acts in accordance with his own character, so must Yon-Rogg.

This doesn’t sit so well with Una. She reminds Mar-Vell that Yon-Rogg envies all of his achievements. He wants everything Mar-Vell has, and will stop at nothing to destroy him. “It doesn’t matter, Una. None of it,” Mar-Vell tells her. “I’ve found you, and through you, myself. Not all the colonels in the empire can change that.”

Sometime later, they arrive on Yon-Rogg’s ship, the Hala. Yon-Rogg greets his new arrivals and tells them to get situated; they depart in half a moon. On what assignment, Mar-Vell asks? Yon-Rogg tells them they have been assigned to a far-off, backwater planet in the galaxy, whose natives managed to defeat a Kree sentry, and even repelled Ronan the Accuser. Their mission is to infiltrate and study these “Earthlings,” and—if they prove a threat to the empire—seal their fate.

Characters Involved: 

Mar-Vell/Captain Marvel

Medic Una

Colonel Yon-Rogg

Grand Admiral Devros (Brood King)

Commander Zen-Pram (Brood)

Various Brood Warriors-Prime

Deathbird (Aerie, Shi’ar Regent)

Oracle/Lady Sibyl, Smasher IV, Starbolt (Shi’ar Imperial Guard)

Story Notes: 

A Kree Sentry attacked Earth in Fantastic Four (1st series) #64. In the issue that followed, the Fantastic Four battled and repelled Ronan the Accuser.

Mar-Vell next appears, chronologically speaking, in Marvel Super Heroes #12, in which he becomes an undercover spy on the planet Earth. By Marvel Super Heroes #13, however, Mar-Vell grows to empathize with the people of Earth, and decides to defend them against the malicious intentions of the Kree.

Yon-Rogg proceeds to make life miserable for both Mar-Vell and Una while they serve on his crew. He deliberately puts Mar-Vell into situations he hopes will kill him, while making Una watch from the ship, for the most part. Yon-Rogg’s vendetta against Mar-Vell eventually leads to Una’s inadvertent death in Captain Marvel (1st series) #11.

Deathbird next appears in Ms. Marvel (1st series) #9. The members of her Shi’ar Imperial Guard, on the other hand, all appear next in X-Men (1st series) #107.

The cure Una invents for the Brood infection in this issue—the modified omni-wave projector—is the only known, scientifically created cure for Brood infection thus far. Other characters who overcame infection did so through genetic healing factors, cloning, and Acanti cleansing.

The Brood next appears in Uncanny X-Men #155, on Earth and—surprisingly—allied with Deathbird.

According to Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #12, Marvel published this particular miniseries primarily to maintain their trademark on the name “Captain Marvel”, something they have done repeatedly since the original character became inactive and died in 1982.

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