UNEARTHED: The Death of Captain Marvel, Part Three

We’re about halfway through now and I have to say, not having read this since it came out in 1982, I’m struck by how well it maintains its somber tone, given that it’s a part of the larger Marvel Universe. I re-read this expecting it to suddenly break out in action, but it never does. Pretty remarkable that Marvel gave Starlin the green light to do this.

The news gets out and we’re given a look at some of the lives Mar-vell has touched, for good or ill. But take a look at that bottom-left corner. I’m not versed enough in Captain Marvel lore to know if that’s a real character or not, but he’s got a bubble helmet on, implying there’s no air there. And yet, there’s a fire burning. What?

Mar-vell’s definitely more gaunt in this panel, indicating that time has passed. But Starlin messed up a bit in the way his right hand is holding that wine glass. Try it yourself. You COULD hold a glass that way, but you never would.

Hey, Mar-vell: you ALWAYS looked silly in it. That’s superhero comics.

Here’s another aspect of this story that makes me think that maybe Starlin has gone through this experience before with someone else. Mar-vell’s essentially telling Eros ‘hey, I know you’ve always liked my girlfriend, and I’m about to die, so feel free’. It’s kind of cool of him, but also kind of weird, as though Elysius were just a possession to be traded around.

Of course, he doesn’t say it exactly like that, and maybe that’s my reading into it, but you be the judge.

Later, Mar-vell’s monologuing and he’s hit by a spasm of pain. I really like the way Starlin blanks out the middle panels and allows the colors to indicate the pain, subsiding a bit in the final panel.

Starlin does a great job of examining the feelings of cancer sufferers, putting them all on display.

A bit of mechanics here as we talk about why everyone’s having such a tough time curing Mar-vell’s condition. But the question brought up in the previous episode remains: why haven’t they done this for normal people? Going forward, will they? Or will this be ignored in favor of the usual superhero status quo?

This is actually not unlike a problem presented by modern cancer medicine. One of the things that makes cancer so difficult to fight is its speed in spreading and its ability to adapt just as quickly to what’s thrown at it. It’s clever of Starlin to think of this, as in general, not much is made of HOW superhero powers work, and their larger implications. For example, technically, the Hulk and Spider-man are both carrying radioactive blood, but that aspect of it never comes up.

But regular HUMANS won’t have this problem, right? So you SHOULD be able to make a difference there, right? Right?

We’re heading into the final moments.

Here’s another “How many can you name?” moment. I’m 100% on all these guys.

Man, Mar-vell’s looking really rough.

This also feels drawn from Starlin’s own life.

Rick’s gone through all the stages at this point.

A nice bit of banter here, as Drax is a character who was killed and brought back to life. And looking at Drax here, the original version of the character before the MCU changed him so radically, I’m not sure which version I prefer.

This is a really cool moment.

I actually found this really moving in a way I didn’t the first time I read it all those decades ago. The idea that Mar-vell’s life was worth of recognition from even his enemies was a wonderful idea, and it brings his entire career into relief.

Next episode is it, the end of “The Death of Captain Marvel”. Will there be a last-minute suspension of his fate? We’ll find out together!