Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The only good use for Cosmic Awareness, would be to avoid Cosmic Awareness...

Some time ago, we checked out an issue where Quasar got cosmic awareness. He was little more than a quantum-ghost at the time, but he did pretty well with it. Better than some...like today's issue! From 2002, Captain Marvel #1 (Volume 4) "Shards" Written by Peter David, art by ChrisCross. This was more like issue #36, but he got another #1...

Rick Jones narrates this issue: he's still bound to the current Captain Marvel, Genis; and one of them is stuck in the Microverse while the other's in the regular universe. And today Rick tells us how Captain Marvel went insane.

Rick explains how "Marv," is and isn't the son of the original CM, Mar-Vell: created by alien genetic manipulation, he's only a few years old, but has all of his "dad's" powers. Including cosmic awareness. That's kind of a hard one to get a handle on, both in and out of story: usually, you could picture it as the character instinctively intuits whatever the plot needs him to know. In this case, Marv uses the power and sees a young boy on earth, offered drugs. Intervening, the pusher turns out to be an alien. Huh.

Rick has to admit that's kind of impressive, but notes Marv didn't seem to believe in a higher power before, yet now was "firmly convinced that the cosmos is a living, breathing entity that's tapped into him and helping him call the shots." Rick then tells Marv the parable of the blind men and the elephant, suggesting maybe God's like an elephant, and we're all blind men. Marv responds, "Why were those men feeling up an elephant? That sounds rather...creepy." Bad touch!

That may be the last moment of clarity for Marv, though; as mid-fight he gets another cosmic awareness flash. Needed elsewhere, Marv incinerates the alien, then races across the world to stop a suicide bomber. Whom we see is having second thoughts, as she realizes a mother and child are in danger. Marv grabs the bomber, who pleads for her life. Disarming the bomb, Marv turns the bomber over to police...where she is promptly murdered, by the mother that had persuaded her not to blow herself up. Rick is aghast, while Marv merely says he knew that might happen, but he had to be somewhere else.
In space, Marv arrives on an alien world and what appears to be the aftermath of a battle. A dying alien asks to be taken home, then dies; and Rick wonders what the point of that is. Marv rages that he doesn't know, but he must be there for a reason: he describes the cosmic awareness as a tapestry, and he can see how all the threads affect each other...and then gets two flashes. The alien Badoon--recurring alien bad guys in books like Guardians of the Galaxy--are attacking a helpless planet; while in the opposite direction, a young alien woman is about to be beaten to death by her boyfriend. Marv can't save both...or take home the first alien's corpse.

Opting for the invasion--needs of the many, of course--Marv stops the Badoon, but the cosmic awareness shows him what could have been: if the young alien woman had survived, her experiences would've made her the greatest peacemaker the universe had ever seen. That revelation would've been enough to break Marv, but he's still getting flashes from across the universe, and can't tell which ones he should or shouldn't act on.

So, cosmic awareness is a massively stupid and unhelpful power: Rick describes Marv's other powers as "like Space Ghost...(but) there's no damn monkey" (You're his monkey, Rick.) and even then he couldn't do anything useful with it. I really liked this issue, David's story and ChrisCross's art; and I'm pretty sure I bought it off the racks new, but I'm really wondering why I didn't keep reading the series regularly!

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Like a lot runs, Peter David's Captain Marvel run is criminally underrated.

While Stern/Busiek's Avengers Forever hinted at what a problem having Cosmic Awareness is, David really defined what a problem it really is to have.

I didn't read a lot of Starlin's CM run, but since it his characters were always so tragic and angsty, it wouldn't be a stretch to have explained a lot of being due to what problem this cosmic awareness stuff is.

Good shit right here.