Since the dawn of the Silver Age, legacy characters have been a staple of superhero fiction, and having a new character step into a well loved role can open up new opportunities for writers and artists to tell different kinds of stories. In The Replacements, we’ll look back at the notable and not-so-notable heroes and villains to assume some of the most iconic mantles in the superhero genre.
Mar-Vell of the Kree came to Earth as a spy but fell in love with the people and culture and instead swore to defend it to his dying day. In the aftermath of his death the title of Captain Marvel became one the most prestigious in the Marvel Universe, and this week we look back at the men, women and aliens who have proudly carried his name.
Spectrum (Monica Rambeau)Created by Roger Stern & John Romita Jr. (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16)
Monica Rambeau is the only Captain Marvel to not have a link to the Kree, and instead was given that name by the media. A former lieutenant in the New Orleans Harbor Patrol, Monica was struck by energy from a criminal scientist’s weapon and granted the ability to change her form to any type of energy found on the electromagnetic spectrum.
Over her career, she led The Avengers on multiple occasions and as new Captains Marvel appeared on the scene with closer to ties to the original, she conceded to change her alias. First she became Photon, and later Pulsar, before deciding to just go by Monica for a time as a member of Nextwave.
Nextwave were a group of C-list heroes who were recruited by The Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort (HATE) to combat The Beyond Corporation, but rebelled when they learned HATE was a subsidiary of the evil they fought against. Monica led Nextwave around the country dismantling The Beyond Corporation’s plans and seemingly defeated them when they toppled their leader, an alternate reality Devil Dinosaur.
When Thanos attacked Earth as The Avengers were absent, Monica stepped up and helped found a new team of Mighty Avengers under the new codename Spectrum. After finally clearing up the mess of her life made by the Beyond Corporation, she emerged with a new confident outlook on life and was a founding member of Carol Danvers’ team of Ultimates, dedicated to stopping the biggest threats the Earth could possibly face.
Photon (Genis-Vell)Created by Ron Marz & Joe Phillips (Silver Surfer Annual #6)
Following the tragic death of Mar-Vell, his lover Elysius used alien science to conceive a child using Captain Marvel’s genetic structure, and Genis-Vell was the result. Artificially aged to young adulthood, Genis was isolated from the dangers of the world and not told of his true nature, but when he discovered his father’s heroic identity, he became a hero in his own right.
Genis originally went by the name “Legacy” before taking on the mantle of Captain Marvel later in his career. During the time-spanning Destiny War, Genis found himself inextricably linked to Rick Jones — as his father was before him — and this triggered his latent powers of Cosmic Awareness.
Unfortunately, the Cosmic Awareness drove Genis insane and he was manipulated into destroying the entire universe by Entropy and Epiphany. Although the universe was recreated, there were subtle changes, as Genis now had a sister — and although he seemed to be cured of his insanity, plaguing doubt still haunted him.
Genis travelled to Earth and joined a new team of Thunderbolts. Gaining a new power set he took on the name Photon, once again cribbing from Monica Rambeau. When Baron Zemo’s plans threatened to destroy the universe yet again, Genis intervened and his molecules were scattered across the Darkforce Dimension, where they will never be able to re-coalesce.
Martyr (Phyla-Vell)Created by Peter David & Paul Azaceta
Phyla-Vell was created by Genis-Vell’s mother after the success of her first attempt to create a child from Mar-Vell’s DNA and her existence was one of the changes to the universe after it was recreated by her brother. Previously she did not exist, and then suddenly she always existed.
She challenged her brother for the title of Captain Marvel, deeming herself to be more worthy of the role, but eventually acquiesced to him. Developing a romantic interest in the psychic Moondragon, the two departed together to explore the galaxy.
Phyla-Vell and Moondragon became embroiled in the Annihilation War when the latter was abducted by Thanos due to her relationship with Drax The Destroyer. Phyla, along with Nova and Star-Lord, led the final charge against the forces of Annihilus and in the process she found herself in possession of the Quantum Bands as the newest incarnation of Quasar.
As Quasar, Phylla joined the Guardians of the Galaxy in the wake of Ultron’s attack on the galaxy, but lost the Quantum Bands and instead became the new Avatar of Oblivion, going by Martyr. Unfortuntely, this was part of a larger plan to resurrect Thanos, and when he returned to life, Phyla was one of his first victims.
Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)Created by Roy Thomas & Gene Colan (Marvel Super-Heroes #13)
Carol Danvers was a retired Air Force colonel and a NASA employee when she met the Kree soldier Mar-Vell and found herself caught up in his adventures. During a battle with the villainous Yon-Rogg, a Kree device exploded and altered Carol’s DNA to be half Kree, which granted her superpowers of her own and she took the name Ms. Marvel.
Danvers first took the name Captain Marvel when Wanda Maximoff created the House of M reality, and in this universe Carol was the most popular superhero in the world. When everything was returned to normal, Carol decided she wanted to work towards earning the name, having now seen her true potential.
Carol did eventually become Captain Marvel, complete with a new costume inspired by both Mar-Vell and her own military history. She proved herself to be one of the Earth’s strongest heroes, not only in sheer power, but in the strength of her conviction, and for a time she journeyed to space to represent the Avengers as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Following the dissolution of SWORD, a new space-based security force named Alpha Flight was created, with Captain Marvel as the leader and several former members of Canada’s superteam of the same name working alongside her. In the storyline Civil War II, Carol leads the charge to use knowledge of the future to proactively fight for the world, though the use of such knowledge has already claimed the life of her lover James Rhodes.
Captain Marvel (Khn'nr)Created by Paul Jenkins & Tom Raney (Civil War: The Return #1)
While exploring the Negative Zone, the superhero The Sentry discovered Captain Mar-Vell displaced from time and brought him to the present. It was determined that this was the true Mar-Vell before he died of cancer. The hero realized that his life was now essentially a ticking clock, as he would one day have to return to the past only to die.
He was hidden away from the public so as not to alarm them, but grew restless and made a public appearance saving the Avengers from Ultimo, and as a result a cult begin to blossom known as the Church of Hala. Meanwhile, Mar-Vell felt lost and confused, as if there was something important that he had forgotten. After defeating a Skrull posing as the Cobalt Man, he was informed that he himself was a Skrull that only thought it was Mar-Vell.
While he initially refused to believe it, Mar-Vell eventually learned that he was indeed a Skrull named Khn’nr. Due to a botched transformation ritual he truly believed himself to be the hero he was impersonating. Able to reconcile his Skrull nature with his Kree memories, Khn’nr decided to be the best Captain Marvel he could be and returned to Earth to be its protector.
When the Skrulls launched their full-scale invasion, Khn’nr flew to space and destroyed Skrull ships before they could arrive. Attacked by a Super-Skrull, he barely made it back to Earth where he encountered the Kree soldier Noh-Varr and told him about the coming final conflict, before passing away and revealing his true Skrull nature.
Marvel Boy (Noh-Varr)Created by Grant Morrison & JG Jones (Marvel Boy #1)
Noh-Varr was a Kree soldier from an alternate universe who crash landed on Earth and set about his plan of claiming Earth as a new Kree homeworld. His adventures saw him cross the paths of SHIELD, Hexus The Living Corporation, and Dr. Midas, and ultimately he was defeated and imprisoned in the Ultra-Max facility known as The Cube, which he declared to be the new capital of the Kree Empire.
During his captivity, he was visited by The Illuminati who showed him what a hero Captain Mar-Vell was to Earth, and how that potential was within him also. After an encounter with the Runaways and Young Avengers, Noh-Varr found himself newly in charge of The Cube, but when Skrulls attacked the Earth, he took it as a sign to step up and become the hero the world needed.
Following the Secret Invasion, he joined Norman Osborn’s Avengers, taking the name of Captain Marvel — but discovering Osborn’s history and true motives he abandoned the team. Blessed with extraordinary power by the Supreme Intelligence, he took on the mantle of Protector and joined Steve Rogers’ Avengers, but was cast out after he was manipulated into betraying them by the Kree.
An exile from both worlds, Noh-Varr fell in love with Earth culture and joined the Young Avengers, mostly due to his relationship with Kate Bishop, AKA Hawkeye. He left Kate mid-battle for a chance to reunite with his first Earth love Oubliette, but it turned out she was merely an illusion of Loki’s creation, and Marvel Boy found himself all alone once again.