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During the 1960s, writer Stan Lee noticed that the name's trademark from the Fawcett Comics character was available again, and decided that Marvel should own it (Marvel Comics, Captain Marvel... makes sense, right?). So he created a new superhero named that, one quite different from the previous ones. The new character first appeared in "Marvel Super-Heroes" #12 (December, 1967). Given the value of the name to DC and the utter obscurity of the Marvel version of the character, you'd think Marvel would cash in and make a mint selling the name back to DC at an enormous profit... except for the fact that he's called "Captain Marvel" and they're called "Marvel Comics" and you just can't let that kind of synchronicity slip away from you.
This "Captain Marvel" was an alien (from the Kree, a race that looked exactly like humans except for a blue-skinned minority that rules them.) His name actually was Mar-Vell and he was a captain in the Kree army. He came to Earth as part of mission to investigate Earth's space technology achievements (later justified by saying that Earth was located near a strategically important space warp.) Mar-Vell is sent to Earth while being monitored from orbit by the rest of his crew, which included his girlfriend Una and his superior, Colonel Yon-Rogg. Mar-Vell discovers he's the exact lookalike of an American senator, who has just been murdered, so he takes over his identity to further his mission.
However, it turns out that Yon-Rogg secretly hated Mar-Vell, mostly because he wanted Una for himself. So he tries to have Mar-Vell killed. This forces Marvel (who has Super Strength due to coming from a planet with higher gravity) to fight openly while wearing his Kree uniform, which caused people to mistake him for a new superhero called "Captain Marvel". He also became a target of a larger power struggle within the Kree government.
The betrayal from his own people (and the eventual death of Una) leads Mar-Vell to adopt Earth (and the name Captain Marvel) as his own. He had a brief relationship with Carol Danvers, a NASA security agent, who later becomes a superhero herself (Ms. Marvel). He gains new powers from an Earth scientist, and later, from The Supreme Intelligence, a supercomputer who is the Kree's true ruler. He also gained his more famous, red-and-black costume from it.
For a period of time, Marvel found himself accidentally "merged" with teenage singer Rick Jones (the same kid who was involved in The Incredible Hulk's origin) so that only one of them could exist in the universe, with the other one stuck in the dimension called the Negative Zone until the one on Earth struck together his "nega-bands" bracelets, causing them to switch places. (Writer Roy Thomas has admitted that this was done as a nod to the original Captain Marvel, who was a child who could turn into an adult superhero.) It was later revealed that this was part of a Xanatos Gambit by the Supreme Intelligence, who was really a Magnificent Bastard whose ultimate goal was to jumpstart the evolutionary potential of the Kree race via Rick Jones' genes. Eventually, Marvel finds a way to bring back Rick from the Zone and they resume their lives.
The "Captain Marvel" magazine lasted for 62 issues (May, 1968-May, 1979). Tragically, Marvel didn't live long after his series was cancelled. In a very rare case of a comic book character being Killed Off for Real, he died from a cancer he got from exposure to nerve gas during one of his adventures. His death was covered The Death Of Captain Marvel (Marvel Graphic Novel #1, April 1982, written and illustrated by Jim Starlin), and Mar-Vell's death is universally considered one of the most touching, well-written and dignified in the history of comics.
To keep the trademark over the character's name (especially given that DC Comics had since gained ownership of the original Captain Marvel character) Marvel Comics later created a new character who had nothing to do with the first, an African American woman named Monica Rambeau with the power to turn herself into Pure Energy. Monica first appeared in "Amazing Spider-Man Annual'" #16 (1982), created by Roger Stern and John Romita, Jr. She would soon become a member of The Avengers.
Monica was regularly featured in "Avengers" vol. 1 #227-294 (January, 1983 - August, 1988). With most of her appearances written by Roger Stern. She has had several subsequent appearances among their ranks. But typically in storylines involving reserve members called back to action. Not as one of the regulars. She also starred in two one-shot "Captain Marvel" publications, one in 1989 and the second in 1994. She has not been forgotten though as she has since had appearances as a member of Nextwave and the Marvel Divas.
In "Silver Surfer Annual" #6 (1993), a new character, calling himself "Legacy" was introduced. Created by Ron Marz and Ron Lim. He was Genis-Vell, the son of Mar-Vell, created via cloning by Mar-Vell's last lover, Elysius, one of the Eternals of Titan (Saturn's largest moon.) He would later take over his father's identity and become the new Captain Marvel, and starred in his own series. (Rambeau would change her named the Photon instead.) He is best known for having gone insane (from being given the same omniscience power as his father) and becoming both a hero and a menace until his death.
Genis appared in "Captain Marvel" vol. 4 (1995-1996), vol. 5 (1999-2002), and vol. 6 (2002-2004). For a total of 66 issues, most of them written by Peter David. He then appeared as a member of the Thunderbolts. He was killed in "Thunderbolts" #100 (May, 2006).
An accidental change of history had previously resulting in his gaining a "sister", Phyla-Vell, who would also take over the Captain Marvel identity for a while. More recently, Mar-Vell has been revealed as the father of Hulkling of the Young Avengers, the result of a dalliance with a Skrull princess.
During the events of the Marvel Civil War series, the original Mar-Vell reappeared, apparently having been accidentally transported from the past. He tried to fit in the present, knowing he would have to go back in time and die at some point... until it was revealed during the events of the Secret Invasion that he was actually a spy for the alien Skrull race -ironically the Kree's biggest enemies- named Khn'nr who had, like many other such sleeper agents, been brainwashed into thinking that he was the real Marvel. Still, he ends up embracing the Mar-Vell identity and becoming a true hero anyway. Before he dies.
The torch was then passed to Noh-Varr, a Kree Super Soldier from another dimension (originally known as "Marvel Boy"). Although he declared war on Earth at first, he was encouraged by the Skrull Captain Marvel to fight the good fight. He was manipulated to become "Captain Marvel" in the Dark Avengers, but left when he saw the team for what it really was. He has since gotten in contact with the Kree Supreme Intelligence and been appointed Earth's protector, taking "Protector" as his codename.
Recently, it has been announce Captain Marvel would return in the Summer of 2012 and later revealed Carol Danvers.
- Affirmative Action Legacy - Monica Rambeau and Phyla-Vell
- Twofer Token Minority - Monica is female and black, Phyla is female and gay
- Back From the Dead - Mar-Vell (not really.)
- Captain Superhero
- Darker and Edgier - About halfway through Genis's run under the name, his title was retooled from a comical series about the relatively earnest Genis to a dark series in which Genis became a Reality Warper with a god complex.
- Distaff Counterpart - The ironically more popular Ms. Marvel.
- End of Series Awareness - During Peter David's run, Rick Jones developed 'comics awareness', knowing he's in a comic book and that it was about to be cancelled. The final issue of the series was entirely about the fact that it was the final issue of the series.
- Fourth Wall Observer - Rick Jones, long-time superhero sidekick, has developed 'comics awareness' as detailed in Captain Marvel #60.
- A God Am I - Genis-Vell during his crazy period where he restarted the universe.
- The Good Captain
- Half-Human Hybrid - Captain Marvel never met any of his children: Hulkling was kept by the Skrulls, and Genis and Phyla were created using his DNA after his death.
- Hyper Awareness: His Cosmic Awareness.
- I Have Many Names - Common trait among those that take 'Marvel' in their title, outside of the original Mar-Vell himself, is that they will eventually have to change their alias at some point.
- Ho Yay - Phyla-Vell and Moondragon. Also Moondragon and Rick Jones' wife Marlo.
- Killed Off for Real - One of the comicbook examples that actually stays, unlike the other Cap.
- Never Live It Down - Mar-Vell is best known as "that guy who died from cancer", both in-universe and out. As a career soldier, he (actually Khn'nr) wasn't happy to find out he died on a sickbed instead of in battle.
- Nextwave- Monica Rambeau was the leader of the group. She used to lead The Avengers as well.
- Pieta Plagiarism - The cover of The Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel is very explicitly based on the Michelangelo work.
- Punny Name - "Phyla-Vell" is a taxonomical pun off of "Genis-Vell" ("phylum" and "genus", respectively)
- Rasputinian Death - Genis-Vell about a year after joining the Thunderbolts as resident Game Breaker
- Reality Warper - Genis-Vell
- Reed Richards Is Useless - A variant: Rick Jones comes to Reed and the other superintelligent superheroes of the era and asks them to use their big showoffy brains to cure Mar-Vell's cancer. They come to the uncomfortable realization that they could have been doing that for everyone in the world the entire time.
- Spider Sense: Cosmic Awareness, once appointed Protector of the Universe, Mar-Vell seemed to control it well enough that whenever universal threats or changes occurred that related to him he could but perceive them. When Genis took the power on it drove him crazy because he couldn't fully control it and kept getting more information then he needed on possible outcomes.
- Time Travel Escape - Mar-Vell (not really.)
- Twofer Token Minority - The second Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau. Done as a pretty earnest attempt to create a strong Twofer superhero.
- Phyla counts as on as well.
- Writing Around Trademarks - The reason why Marvel Comics makes sure to publish a comic with a character named Captain Marvel in it at least once every few years.