Warning: this article contains spoilers for Captain Marvel #34!
The original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell, has been dead for some time in Marvel Comics continuity, but he just made a shocking return in the latest Captain Marvel adventure. Carol Danvers is facing off against an old enemy – Vox Supreme – who transformed her into an incredibly powerful villain who nearly took down the Avengers. Now, that cosmic evil is threatening to consume Carol Danvers once again, which leads to Captain Marvel having a shocking encounter with her one-time mentor.
Mar-Vell, the first incarnation of Captain Marvel in Marvel Comics, made his first appearance in 1967’s Marvel Super-Heroes #12. Since his introduction, he has been involved in a number of cosmic adventures, being Kree in origin but first and foremost a protector of Earth. In her first origin story, Danvers was a normal human before linking with Mar-Vell, and when she had the opportunity to replicate his powers with alien tech, she took it and became the hero Ms. Marvel. Soon after Carol Danvers got her powers, Mar-Vell tragically died of terminal lung cancer, and his legacy has been passed down from hero to hero ever since, now residing with Carol.
Mar-Vell makes a shocking return in Captain Marvel #34 by Kelly Thompson and Sergio Davila. When the villainous Vox Supreme, who once corrupted Carol and used her to commit evil deeds on his behalf, comes back and threatens ‘the Marvels’ (various heroes who have been influenced by Mar-Vell’s legacy), Captain Marvel fights back, but things don’t initially go according to plan, and Carol finds herself floating through space in a box that neutralizes her powers. She harnesses her abilities to escape the cosmic coffin, but something rushes her with violent intent. Captain Marvel blocks the initial blow, but after taking a step back to address the threat, she sees that the attacker is none other than Mar-Vell himself. The sight of the long dead hero now presented as a villain is shocking to both Captain Marvel and readers,
Carol deduces that this version of Mar-Vell is a clone sent by Vox Supreme, though by the end of the issue that’s still in doubt. While this is Mar-Vell’s latest return from his iconic death, it isn’t his first. A brainwashed Skrull believing itself to be Mar-Vell was a player in the Civil War event, and Mar-Vell was previously brought back to life through the use of the M’Kraan Crystal to fend off the Phoenix. His resurrection was short lived, however, as Mar-Vell sacrificed himself to stop the Phoenix Force. The original Captain Marvel is often held up as a hero who inspires even other heroes – and is one of the few superheroes Thanos ever respected – and Carol is appropriately awestruck by his reappearance, and enraged once she comes to believe he’s a fake.
The original Captain Marvel’s death is treated as a cornerstone of Marvel lore, so it’s a huge deal to see him return, even if this is a clone. Vox Supreme’s disrespect for the hero makes him all the more obscene to Carol, but whether he’s cloned Mar-Vell or truly resurrected him, one of Marvel’s greatest heroes is now alive once more, and can hopefully break free from the villain’s control as the story continues (if only to give the Young Avenger known as Hulkling more time with his father.) Carol Danvers has done amazing things with the Captain Marvel name, but it seems that to bring her mentor back into the fold, she’ll first have to defeat him.
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Author: Spencer Connolly