In 1983, there came a new opportunity to revisit the character and his world.
P. Craig Russell was again the artist for this new adventure, number 7 in the Marvel Graphic Novel range. Killraven,
Warrior of the Worlds irons out a lot of the problems that plagued the initial run in Amazing Adventures, not least
that the hand of a single writer, Don McGregor, was now at the helm with a story that promised a structured beginning,
middle and end. Incongruous elements, such as the monsters, are toned down a bit and the characters and situations more
firmly planted on the ground. This time we find Killraven and his band of "freemen" insurgents arriving in Florida where
they find a vast Martian spaceport under construction. The Martians have sinister plans for the spaceport, built on
the site of the old NASA facility, so the arrival of a former member of the astronaut Corps is a fortuitous omen in their
attempt to breech the defences. Proving in due course to be less than welcome, is the shocking appearance of Killraven's
long lost elder brother.
Undoubtedly, this is a much tauter and far more satisfying adventure. In particular, the addition of the aged NASA
astronaut, embittered both by the destruction of her beloved Cape and the way in which her talents were wasted by the
administration, brings a welcome air of sophistication to the characterisations.
Better though it was than the original Amazing Adventures version, the graphic novel did not inspire a resurrection
of the series that year, but you can't keep a good rebel down for long. In 2001, Joe Linsner crafted a fully painted
one-shot edition for the Marvel Knights imprint of Marvel Comics. The comic is very much a labour of love by Linsner,
who had fond memories of the original series and had long wanted to revive the character. He does so with some changes
to the established history. Linsner, who one suspects may have been influenced by The War of the Worlds television
series (which tried the same trick) suggests that the human race underwent a mass repression of the memory of the first
invasion, and that the H G Wells novel was based on fact. It's as ungainly an idea here as it was on TV, and Killraven
downing a Martian Tripod with nothing more than a throwing star (one of his weapons of choice) does little to inspire
belief in the character. The story is however an interesting one and does a fair job of reintroducing Killraven to a
modern audience by having him retell his story to a young girl he rescues from a suspended animation chamber. She was
frozen during the 1960's and slept through the invasion and occupation, believing she would awaken to a better, kinder
world. Naturally, the reality is far from her expectations. The painted art is particularly good but the story and
dialogue seems somewhat stilted and lifeless, and so once again, the promise of Killraven was not realised to it's full
Which leaves us with one last chance to get it right. In 2003, a new 6 part limited issue series was created by Alan
Davis and Mark Farmer. Davis is a very good artist who cut his teeth in the British comic industry on celebrated titles
such as Captain Britain and Marvelman, where he formed a partnership with the renowned writer Alan Moore. Capitalising
on his success, Davis went on to draw and write many of the key characters in both the Marvel and DC stables. His script
for the new Killraven series is perhaps the most considered of the versions that have come and gone over the years. The
story finds Killraven and his band of rebels only a few months after their escape from the Martians and finding themselves
unsure of their motives and purpose. Rescuing a young boy from a band of human collaborators, they find a bunker containing
an old man who is able to tell them the story of the Martian invasion. It's a very good beginning, retelling the tale in
grand style and is beautifully drawn by Mark Farmer, surely the best artist to have ever tackled the character and his world.
What follows is a nicely self-contained story told over the 6 issues. Killraven and his band of adventurers travel
across the wrecked USA, encountering death and misery wherever they go. A particular strong issue is number 3, where
they find a terrified community that at first glance appears to be free of Martian domination, but in fact are under
the thumb of something worse, humans! The art and writing throughout is superb, but the whole enterprise still creaks
under the weight of having to maintain elements of the previously established continuity, especially the costumes and
character names. Killraven and his co-rebels are dressed throughout like leather fetishishists, and though Davis attempts
to explain and make light of the fashions, this and ludicrously named characters like Mint Julip and Volcano Ash are a
burden the story can do without. But Davis and Farmer almost hit a home run. This is definitely the closest anyone has
got to pulling together the tangled threads of the backstory into something like a coherent whole and creating a believable
and sustainable narrative. I would have liked to see more of this Killraven.
The character continues to make appearances, most recently in a 2008 issue of Guardians of
the Galaxy, so it's clear that there's life in the old dog yet, and there have been rumours of a Hollywood movie. Will
it happen? Only time will tell, but bear in mind that in the present climate of massive success for Superhero movies,
the temptation to option everything that is not nailed down is overwhelming. With neither script written, director
attached or stars interested, the chances must be relatively slim that this will ever see the light of day, but if I can
contribute my two cents, if it were my script to write, I would focus the the movie on a tensely realistic story of
resistance in the ruins of civilisation. A comic book reboot of Killraven in the same style would be no bad thing either.
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