Tuesday, September 07, 2010

"Citizen Kang" is a great title, but is that it?

Sigh. I know I had these when they first came out, lost them, then just got them again out of the quarter bins a couple weeks back: Citizen Kang, a four annual crossover with Captain America, Thor, Fantastic Four, and Avengers. We'll take a look at one every Tuesday this month, see how that goes.

The first chapter, "An Epic Adventure," opens with Captain America on the hunt for the Vision, who went missing in Timely, Wisconsin. Well, that's an auspicious-sounding beginning; but the Vision (currently in his white, emotionless version) was doing a check of his internal systems, and found a part labeled as made in Timely. (And somehow never seen before in the multiple times the Vision has been repaired, taken apart, etc.) The Vision predates miniaturization: I believe he means his parts weren't mass-produced, so he shouldn't have anything labeled in him.

Since the Vision disappears after that, Cap investigates; and finds Timely to be a creepy tableau of "Norman-Rockwellish niceness." The factory, Timely Industries, doesn't appear to be operating or to have ever made parts that would go into a synthezoid like the Vision; and the supervisor Mr. Johnson is taking a nap. Not buying it, Cap sneaks up to Johnson's office...

...which opens somewhere, somewhen else: Cap finds a man being beaten by a trio of Stone Men. Moving to help the man, he realizes he recognizes both the Stone Men, who fought Thor in his first appearance, and the man, who is Gilgamesh. At least, that the name Cap knows him as, the so-called "Forgotten One, an Eternal who went by many names through the ages. And when Gilgamesh doesn't speak or understand English, Cap realizes he's in Gilgamesh's time, about 5000 years ago. Gilgamesh is in the middle of a quest (I know little of his story, at least compared to the myth or Marvel versions of Hercules and Thor) and Cap is going to let him go on his way, when he sees futuristic towers in the distance.

Meanwhile, in the present, Dr. Druid is meditating, when he's visited by Nebula. Sigh. So, this predates Druid's demise at the hands of Warren Ellis; and Nebula...errrg. This is the same Nebula that joined the Council of Kangs and mesmerized Druid into betraying the Avengers; who may or may not be the same Nebula that was a space pirate and claimed to be the granddaughter of Thanos. The point is academic now, especially since no one likes either Dr. Druid or Nebula, even though Nebula shows up in a bra. Druid's trying to play it cool, but yeah...

Incidentally, I had the issue mentioned in the footnote there, and it is abominable. Roy Thomas tries with every erg of writing power he can muster, to make Dr. Druid worthwhile, and fails spectacularly.

At this point in Gilgamesh's story, Cap knows he's seriously depressed as he's coming to terms with his mortality. But Cap also knows, Gilgamesh actually is immortal, and will still be alive some millenia later. Gilgamesh tries to get a plant that may grant him immortality, but loses it to a giant snake, and goes on his way glumly. Cap goes on to the mysterious future city with a young Eternal, whom Cap recognizes as Sersi.

Cap mentions feeling like the hero in Kafka's "The Castle," which is a pretty good reference. In the city, Kang has had his prisoner shown around his mighty Chronopolis; but the Vision remains unimpressed. Well, the Vision was emotionally dead at the time, so Kang could probably show him the face of God and not impress him. But I'm pretty sure Chronopolis still sucks a bit...

From Captain America Annual #11, "An Epic Adventure" Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Larry Alexander, inks by Kathryn Bolinger. We might look at some of the other features in this issue some other time, but...not great. I'm already wishing I had picked the Terminus Factor instead. I was about to say Cap's annuals are traditionally, pretty bad; but in actual fact, it's just that #11-13 are varying degrees of terrible. The old ones are better. Captain America Annual #5 is one of the first Cap stories I remember, and it's awesome: Gene Colan art, the Constrictor tries to blow up the World Trade Center and that's not even the A-plot.

Next week: Part two of Citizen Kang, Thor Annual #17, "The Hammer, the Cross, and the Eye!"

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