Okay, first things first, sorry fans of Carol Danvers but this title refers to Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel. Carol is exactly nowhere in this issue. I know, I was disappointed too. I don’t know much about Captain Marvel other than that he’s been pretty consistently dead since 1982. I also know he died of cancer and his last moments were in bed surrounded by grieving super-heroes which is a pretty ballsy way to send a character to meet his maker. It’s like the exact opposite of the Flash running to save the multiverse.
This issue gives us a little more info. Mar-Vell was a Kree soldier who invaded Earth (Presumedly with his friends Dee-Cee, Dar-Korse, Im-Age and IDW the Infinite Dynamo Warrior.). Then he realized he really liked the place and became a superhero instead. Then he got Cosmic Awareness from a moldy sandwich with a face and a bomb exploded him with cancer. Just a day in the life of the average 70s space hero!
In our universe, he died in a pretty great original graphic novel I haven’t read since the sixth grade but in this issue of What If, Mar-Vell knows that the best form of prevention is early detection and meets up with Dr Strange and Thor’s alter-ego Donald Blake. Reed Richards is also there but he’s the only one who doesn’t have a medical degree so who really cares what he thinks?
Using a combination of superhero science and banishing Mar-Vell to a magic universe where there is no time, the League of Super Doctors are able to cure the Kree warrior of his cancer. This is good news because Plan B was for Marv to make crystal meth and sell it to the aliens of the Marvel Universe. It was gonna be called Breaking Brood.
Anyway, a delighted Mar-Vell returns to the moon of Titan to retire from superheroing with his wife or possibly girlfriend Elysius. This lasts for about ten seconds.
“I’ve gotten a second chance at life.” He tells Elysius. “I should probably do something important.”
“Like what?” Elysius asks him.
“I dunno. Ending the Kree/Skrull War and bringing eternal peace to the galaxy sounds like a pretty good start.”
With that, Marvel hatches a plan with other Titan guy Mentor to use something called the Omni-Wave to basically threaten the Kree and Skrull empires into peace. Because nothing makes peace happen like mutually assured destruction. That shit is in HISTORY BOOKS.
Marvel does okay at first, at the very least driving the Kree and Skrull to start attacking HIM instead of each other but that kind of crap can only last so long before everyone starts getting damned fed up with it.
Back on Earth, the cessation of battle between the Kree and the Skrull, as well as the continued use of the Omni-Wave attracts the attention of the Silver Surfer. The Surfer’s been trapped on Earth since Galactus banished him here during his first attack. Now, with the whole universe in trouble maybe, it’s probably time to give serious consideration to getting the hell off this stupid planet. The Surfer visits Reed Richards but Reed’s real busy with the plague of cancer that’s suddenly appearing all over earth. Literally everyone has it except Rick Fucking Jones, the little shit and ain’t that always the way?
Everybody pretty quickly deduces that Captain Marvel is the reason for the season of death and so they sneak the Silver Surfer off of Earth by giving him a lift through Asgard. Screw you, Galactus. That’s called line jumping.
Finally free of early 90s Earth and its love of hot pink neon, the Surfer heads straight for Marvel who has managed to spread his cancer across both the Skrull and the Kree. Which I guess IS putting an end to their centuries long war so… good job, Cap? Even though they’re both good guys and also friends, Captain Marvel sees the Surfer flying towards him and attacks because this is a superhero book and we’ve got to have a couple of tussles before we can get to the actual point.
Back on Earth, the Thing succumbs to his cancer and dies. If that weren’t depressing enough, Reed figures out the cure for the disease roughly a minute later. He realizes that, because of his time in the Negative Zone bonded to Marvel, Rick Jones’ blood contains… I don’t know, antibodies or mitichlorians or something. The good news is that they can begin making a cure almost immediately. The bad news is that they don’t cure everybody by tossing Rick into an oversized novelty blender and forcing everyone on Earth to bathe in his innards.
Listen, guys, I really don’t care for Rick Jones.
Back in space, Marvel and the Surfer have wailed on each other for the recommended amount of time and now can start having honest discussions. The Surfer fills Marv in on what’s been happening re: Marvel bringing about total universal extinction and Marvel gets all dramatic and upset. As well he should. He killed the Thing! Everyone loves that guy. My MOM loves that guy.
Just then, Doctor Strange teleports in with that good news about the cure. Even now, Rick Jones blood is being shipped all over every place. Except for the Kree and Skrull Empires which are both mostly dead. Hooray! Universal peace! Unfortunately, to keep his airborne cancer from spreading, Doctor Strange banishes Marvel to that magic timeless universe again where he can’t infect anyone. But he’s a nice guy so he also banishes Elysium so they can timeless bone for eternity. Hooray!