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- character name: Killraven
- real name:Jonathan Raven
- publisher:Marvel Comics
- debut:Amazing Adventures #18 (May 1973)
- creators:Roy Thomas, Neal Adams
- alliances:Leader of the Freemen
- relatives:Maureen Raven (mother), Joshua Raven (brother)
- powers:Ability to project consciousness
Jonathan Raven, best known as Killraven, the "Warrior of the Worlds", is a freedom fighter in a post-apocalyptic alternate future of the Marvel Comics universe. He first appeared in Amazing Adventures #18 (May 1973), created by co-plotters Roy Thomas and Neal Adams, scripter Gerry Conway, and penciller Adams. The series featured the first interracial kiss in American color comic books. One previous interracial kiss occurred not in a color comic book but in Warren Publishing's black-and-white comics magazine Creepy #43 (Jan. 1972), in "The Men Who Called Him Monster", by the same writer, Don McGregor, and artist Luis Garcia.
Co-creator Neal Adams' early ideas for Killraven involved the character being the son of a Doc Savage archetype.Comic Book Artist #3 (Winter 1999): Neal Adams interview This conception had been reworked by the first issue, a multiple-creator goulash in which the two originators and co-plotters turned the scripting over to another writer, and in which artist co-creator Adams penciled only the first 11 pages and Howard Chaykin the remaining nine. The second issue was fully written by the debut's scripter, Gerry Conway, followed in the third by Marv Wolfman.
After this, the book became the province of writer Don McGregor for an acclaimed run In addition to contemporaneous reviews in the 1970s, latter-day reviews include: "Don McGregor took over the 'Killraven' writing chores, and was joined soon after by P. Craig Russell. With their combined talents, and the freedom that comes with working on a low-selling book that could be canceled at any moment, the two of them produced a groundbreaking series that explored philosophy, madness, love, violence, and the nature of freedom". (Christos N. Gage, FeoAmante.com); "Though quite a few folks had their hand in the original run back in Amazing Adventures, it was the words-and-pictures team of Don McGregor and P Craig Russell that made my tentacles twitch. ...a classic". (Michael Sangiacomo, Newsarama.com, Jan. 25, 2003); "As for Don McGregor, what can be said? At his worst, he could be overwritten and almost incoherent in his pretensions. At his best, he brought to comics like Amazing Adventures and Jungle Action a literary style and philosophical ambition, and a maturity even in Comics Code-approved stuff, that's rarely been matched. He makes Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore look like...well, like comic book writers". (Critic "The Masked Bookwyrm"); "As his work progressed, readers saw [P. Craig Russell] take artistic ownership of 'Killraven'. ... Much like Jim Steranko's work on Marvel's Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, events flowed through some pages in a style that was as reminiscent of fine art as it was of comic art. Also impressive was his sense of design. Russell arguably produced some of the most imaginative, and visually horrific, monsters and villains in Marvel's history. Don McGregor handled the writing for this issue-run, and credit must be given to his involved plots, as well as his ability to pack a lot of story into a 32-page pamphlet". (Michael Vance, SciFiDimensions.com, Aug. 17, 2001) from #21 (Nov. 1973) to the final issue, #39 (Nov. 1976). Pencillers were Herb Trimpe, Rich Buckler, Gene Colan, and, most prominently, P. Craig Russell from issue #27 on.
Aside from McGregor, with whom the character became as associated as Howard the Duck and Man-Thing with Steve Gerber or Tomb of Dracula with Marv Wolfman, other writers include Bill Mantlo (a fill-in Amazing Adventures and a Marvel Team-Up with Killraven and a future-flung Spider-Man); Joe Linsner (a 2001 Marvel Knights one-shot, Killraven, set in 2020 New York City, at odds with the original series' locale by that fictional year); and Alan Davis (also artist), in a 2002 parallel universe miniseries, Killraven vol. 2.
In 2005, writer Jim Valentino said his aborted plans for the Marvel comic Guardians of the Galaxy involved Killraven, in his 50s, joining the team and forming an attraction to Yellowjacket (Rita DeMara). Valentino said he would have established Franklin Richards as Killraven's father.Guardians of the Worlds: Archive of Image.com's Jim Valentino annotations, "Jim Valentino's Guardians of the Galaxy Retrospective"
Writer Robert Kirkman and artist Rob Liefeld said in August 2007 they were creating a five-issue, alternate universe Killraven miniseries planned for release in 2008.WizardUniverse.com (Aug. 10, 2007): "Kirkman on 'Killraven'", by Jim Gibbons and Sean T. Collins. Per Kirkman, "[T]his is really just another Killraven from another universe. The original Killraven is still out there".
On the alternate-future Earth designated Earth-691 by Marvel Comics, the Martians from HG Wells' War of the Worlds returned in 2001 for another attempt at conquering the planet. (They were later retconned as extrasolar aliens using Mars as a staging area). After humanity's enslavement, men not used as breeders or collaborators were trained and forced to battle gladiator-style for the Martians' amusement; women were used as breeders to supply infants, eaten by the Martians as a delicacy. Jonathan Raven, dubbed Killraven as his gladiatorial '|nom de guerre, escaped with the help of the gladiatorial "keeper", but without his brother, Deathraven. Killraven joined the Freemen, a group of freedom fighters against Martian oppression.Amazing Adventures #18 (May 1973)
The story follows Killraven and his companions from 2018 through 2020 as they travel across the eastern portion of North America, from New York City to Cape Canaveral while searching for Killraven's lost brother. Pursued by the cyborg Skar, the Freemen encounter various victims of Martian transhuman experiments, as well as emotionally and psychologically scarred survivors. According to writer McGregor, some story ideas that did not make it into the book before cancellation were explored in his graphic novel Sabre.
Killraven was seen alongside his Freemen in most of his adventures and battles. Killraven battled Skarlet and the Sirens in his second appearance.Amazing Adventures #19 (July 1973) He then first encounters Carmilla Frost and Grok, and alongside his Freemen, he battled the Warlord.Amazing Adventures #20-21 (Sept. & Nov. 1973) The Freemen met Mint Julep, and battled Abraxas, Rattack, the High Overlord, and Skar.Amazing Adventures #22-25 (Jan.-July 1974) Killraven tamed a mutated serpent-horse to use as his mount, and his Freemen battled Pstun-Rage in Battle Creek, MichiganAmazing Adventures #26 (Sept. 1974) The Freeman met Volcana Ash, who helped them battle Atalon and the Death-Breeders.Amazing Adventures #27-29 (Nov. 1974 - March 1975) After learning that his brother Joshua (Deathraven) was still alive,Amazing Adventures #30 (May 1975) and fighting Martian slaves alongside a time-traveling Spider-Man,Marvel Team-Up #45 (May 1976) the Freeman reach the Everglades, where they encounter Mourning Prey.Amazing Adventures #39 (Nov. 1976, the final issue)
The Freemen encounter Killraven's brother, Deathraven, and discover he has become a Martian collaborator in a sequel graphic novel, Killraven, Warrior of the Worlds (Marvel Graphic Novel #7, 1983).
Killraven's Freemen allies included his African American "mud-brother", M'Shulla Scott, and the feisty scientist Carmilla Frost, who shared color comic books' earliest known interracial kiss, in issue #31 (July 1975), page nine, final panel; the cynical and bitter Hawk; the slow-witted strongman Old Skull; the Mae West-like Volcana Ash; the human/plant hybrid Mint Julep; and Grok, the severely damaged clone of Carmilla's father.
Powers and abilities
As a youth, Jonathan Raven's physical prowess was heightened thanks to injections of experimental chemicals by Keeper Whitman. He was later given mental powers through Keeper Whitman's psycho-electric experiments, including the psionic ability to project his consciousness into and take over a Martian's mind, and the psychic ability to resist mental assaults and to mask his presence from robot scanners.
Killraven is also a superb hand-to-hand combatant, and a highly skilled swordsman, wrestler, and martial artist. He is a master of most hand weaponry, especially shuriken. He is a master strategist in guerilla warfare. Killraven possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of human history, art, and science predating the Martian invasion of A.D. 2001, implanted in his mind by Keeper Whitman.
Killraven wears bulletproof fabrics and leather. He is armed with various weapons as needed, and usually carried a sword and shuriken. He sometimes rides a mutated serpent-horse, or appropriated Martian vehicles and aircraft.
There have been counterparts of Killraven in several stories:
- Following minor controversy among fans whether the Killraven of Amazing Adventures is the same as that depicted in the past of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes 2005 established that Killraven and the Guardians share the same timeline, christened "Earth-691". The relationship to the mainstream timeline, Earth-616, is unclear. The Handbook also established the Killraven of the 2002-2003 mini-series Paradise X as the "real" (Earth-691) Killraven.
- The 1998-1999 miniseries Avengers Forever depicts Killraven as a member of an alternate future Avengers (Earth-9930) led by the Black Panther.
- Alan Davis' 2002 miniseries Killraven (Earth-2120) depicted an alternate-future variation of the original series.
- Killraven is mentioned in the Marvel MAX imprint. In the final issue of the 2006-2007 Wisdom mini-series, the Martians traveled interdimensionally to the main Marvel continuity, bringing Pete Wisdom's MI-13 co-worker and lover, Maureen Raven to London, England in a plot to kill Jonathan, her young son and the Earth-616 version of Killraven, because, as the Martian leader says, "On all Earths! Always! Every one of him is dangerous! Ruling council plan to invade all other Earths. So I urged this first expedition now before he is grown". Wisdom is forced to kill Maureen, sending the Martians back to their dimension and saving her son.
- In Marvel's Howard the Duck #2 (March 1976), Howard dreamt he was "Killmallard", a freedom fighter battling alien overlords who used tripods identical to those of Killraven's Martian opponents.
Hollywood trade stories in 2005 reported plans to adapt Killraven for a theatrical motion picture, with Marvel and Sony Pictures in negotiations with Robert Schenkkan to write a script.Sci Fi Magazine (Aug. 2005): "Brave New Worlds" (p. 33; side story, "We Are the Worlds") Rotten Tomatoes: News: "Sony to Bring Old-School Comic 'Killraven' to the Big Screen"
- Amazing Adventures #18-39 (May 1973 - Nov. 1976)
- Marvel Team-Up #45 (May 1976)
- Marvel Graphic Novel #7: Killraven, Warrior of the Worlds (1983)
- Killraven #1 (Marvel Knights, Feb. 2001)