In every installment of “If I Pass This Way Again,” we look at comic book plot points that were rarely (sometimes NEVER!) mentioned again after they were first introduced.
Today, we look at Captain Mar-Vell's short-lived ability to...cast illusions?!
If you read that and think, "Wha?" then you are not alone, as that doesn't even seem remotely like the sort of thing that you would figure that a Kree warrior would have as his power, but it all played a part of when there was a changeover in the series from Roy Thomas to Arnold Drake early in the series. Captain Marvel, of course, was one of the more open-ended characters that Marvel had at the time. Stan Lee wrote his first appearance but then moved on and Roy Thomas had to salvage something out of what Lee left for him.
Almost all of Captain Marvel's initial powers came from his battle suit that was part of his service in the Kree military. Don't get me wrong, just because he was an alien, he had more strength than, say, a human. So he had some "powers" as it were, at least compared to a human. However, for the most part, his ability to fly, his energy powers, they all came from the weapons provided him by the Kree military. Since he split from the Kree, though, that was going to eventually run out. Arnold Drake took over writing the series and eventually, in Captain Marvel #11, he had Captain Mar-Vell finally move past his original set-up by cutting a deal with a new mysterious character (who will be the subject of his own column in the future). In the issue (by Dick Ayers and Vince Colletta), Mar-Vell gains new powers. Most of them make sense, but some of them are just excessive, like his ability to...cast illusions?!
What a strange idea, right? And yet that was the set-up that Drake was planning on using going forward in the series.
In the following issue (art by Dick Ayers and Syd Shores), Mar-Vell uses his new powers to distract the military when he arrives on Earth to fight a bad guy. He comes up with a bizarre concept, by having protesters show up...
Pretty hilarious stuff, right?
However, Mar-Vell realizes that the power has a limitation as it could only affect humans, since it does not affect the automaton....
That was Drake's final issue, though, as Gary Friedrich took over the book and he had no interest in the new illusion power. He did not have Mar-Vell use them in any of the three issues that he wrote. Friedrich wrapped up the "Zo" plotline in a clever result (that, again, I'll address in a future column).