Secret Avengers #28: Mar-Vell Does It Again

The showdown with the Phoenix results in a renewed sacrifice, and an inspiration to Ms. Marvel. Spoilers within.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Secret Avengers #28

The comics rule used to be that "Only Bucky stays dead." These days, he's alive and kicking as the Winter Soldier, so it had to be revised, and it's pretty much "Only Uncle Ben stays dead." However, they do occasionally do time-warpy things to let Ben Parker show up and tell his nephew Peter that he's proud of him, as in the recent Amazing Spider-Man annual. There's one other guy in the Marvel Universe who pretty much has to stay dead, and his name is Mar-Vell, the erstwhile Captain Marvel. However, they tend to treat him a little more roughly than ol' Uncle Ben, finding ways to bring him back to life only to kill him off again in short order.

The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin remains the most enduring story of the character's entire existence – in fact, it was one of the very first graphic novels Marvel ever produced. His mantle has been carried on before by his genetic son Genis-Vell (dead), his genetic daughter Phyla-Vell (also dead), and Monica Rambeau (currently an Avengers reservist who's given up the mantle), but Mar-Vell himself has been dredged back up on several occasions to remind everybody that it's a big tragedy that he died. Thanos brought him back just long enough to have a heart-to-heart about Death before killing him again, the Chaos War storyline revived him just so he could be impaled by the Grim Reaper's scythe and re-deadified, and now Secret Avengers #28 has rebirthed him long enough to be mind-controlled into fighting Avengers and then shake it off long enough to sacrifice himself to the Phoenix Force. This time, though, it doesn't feel like as much of a tragedy, as Mar-Vell reminds us on a couple of occasions that he did not miss life.

We're not supposed to focus so much on Mar-Vell in this Avengers vs. X-Men tie-in, anyway. This story is more about Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel, setting up her impending costume change to become the new Captain Marvel. One more sacrifice by Mar-Vell, her dear friend she may or may not have been mind-controlled into making out with last issue, so it's a fresh inspiration to take up a mantle long vacant.

A deranged Kree known as Minister Marvel, a relative of Mar-Vell's, has engineered the revival of Mar-Vell by temporarily derailing the Phoenix Force on its way to Earth, believing much like Cyclops does that it will revitalize the evolution of the Kree, and restore honor to the family name sullied by Mar-Vell putting humanity over his Kree heritage. Thanks to his compatriot, dubbed Marvel Mind, a brain-zapping wave has kept all the Kree in line and on planet to recevie this Phoenixing, and had even mind-boggled Mar-Vell, Carol and Noh-Varr The Protector, all Avengers allies, into fighting against the rest of the crew to make sure this happens. However, thanks to the Vision, they've shaken it off, and they find themselves scrambling to find a way to save the lives of the Kree population.

Carol takes a shot, trotting out her old jacked-up powerset as Binary, trying to tag-team with Thor to zap the Phoenix to the edge of reality, but it doesn't fly. Then, writer Rick Remender's pet favorite Captain Britain, whose power is based entirely on his courage, shows us that that means he can even push back the Phoenix with it. Mar-Vell, however, knows it wants the Phoenix mojo siphoned off to resurrect him, so he has to give it back to save the Kree once again.

Interesting things about this issue to take note of, aside from the boost for Carol to Marv it up: I did not know that that's how Captain Britain's power worked, but that's a curiosity – especially since Mar-Vell tells him that his major flaw is that he doesn't know the difference between confidence and arrogance, and one supposes that's why he can't call on that level of power consistently. Also, Mar-Vell's body lands on a barren world and, in the way the Phoenix does, plant life starts to grow out of him. Dare we think that, somewhere down the line, we'll have a Planet Marvel? What might that entail? Constantly head-butting with Ego The Living Planet, or maybe a Mogo-esque place for superheroes to hang out? Maybe a new Guardians of the Galaxy headquarters, or a place for the Nova Corps to set up shop?

The Renato Guedes art has a little of the same oddness I noted about it last issue, but it's a lot less prominent here, and I like it a lot better this time around. That's art for you, subjective and entirely dependent on the mood of the observer. Sometimes it hits you wrong, other times it hits you right.

Overall, Remender's one of my go-to scribes in the House of Ideas these days, and while I'm sad he's leaving Venom, Secret Avengers promises to keep up the good work.