Ranking - Live Kree or Die!

Live Kree or Die!
Iron Man #7, Captain America #8, Quicksilver #10, Avengers #7 (1998)
Written by Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, John Ostrander and Joe Edkin
Drawn by Sean Chen, Andy Kubert, Derec Aucoin, George Perez
Inked by Eric Cannon and Sean Parsons, Jesse Delperdang, Rich Faber, Al Vey
Colored by Steve Oliff, Jason Wright and Digital Chameleon, Joe Rosas, Tom Smith
Lettered by Comicraft, Todd Klein, Albert Deschesne and Richard Starkings, Dave Lanphear
Edited by Bobbie Chase, Matt Idelson, Mark Bernardo, Tom Brevoort

 

In the Marvel Years Rankings, we randomly select one story (anything from a single issue to ??? issues that make up a single story) to look at, with the ultimate goal of ranking every single Marvel comic book story from best to worst. The rankings are subjective and highly unscientific. They’re intended to be a fun way to kick off discussion, and introduce readers to new stories.

 

Backstory

-In the Operation: Galactic Storm storyline, the Supreme Intelligence (the leader/godlike figure of the Kree alien race) committed genocide against its own people. In response, some of the Avengers killed the Supreme Intelligence. However, the Kree leader didn’t actually die and managed to get away at the last second, unbeknownst to the Avengers.

-Carol Danvers has had a spotty past as a superhero, experiencing almost unheard of levels of traumatic memory loss, power loss, and brainwashing. Carol has been dealt one of the worst hands a superhero has ever been dealt. Now, finally an Avenger again she feels her membership on the team slipping away as her powers once again begin to wane.  
 

Summary

The Kree border on extinction after the genocide committed against their people. Not knowing that the Supreme Intelligence is to blame, a rogue group of Kree survivors (calling themselves the Lunatic Legion) plot revenge against all the people of Earth and specifically the Avengers. Their plan? To use their Omni-Wave Projector to alter all humans on Earth into Kree.

Meanwhile, Carol Danvers (Warbird, at this time) is struggling with erratic superpowers and the alcoholism that she can’t yet admit to. She and Iron Man stumble onto the Kree plot, but an inebriated Carol risks lives during the conflict. Later, she and Captain America fail to stop the Kree due to Carol’s carelessness. She’s captured by the Kree as a result of this, but rescued by Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye.

Poor judgement, faulty powers, and an unwillingness to admit to her drinking problem are a number of factors that lead to the Avengers unanimously voting to kick Carol out of the team. She’s forced to sit out the final conflict as the Avengers save the day. The series ends with Carol considering the drink in her hand.

 

Review

Live Kree or Die! is a refreshing event/crossover conflict in how much it values character over plot. The best and worst thing about this four-series crossover is just how inconsequential the Kree plot to destroy the Earth actually is to the story’s narrative. That threat is simply there to give the Avengers something to do while Carol spirals further and further down towards rock bottom.

As such, this crossover is really novel in how it plays with its stakes. In a given action scene, you’re worried less about whether a villain will be able to pull off its evil plans - but rather in simply rooting for Carol to pull her shit together. The threats come as much from Carol’s impaired decision-making as they come from the Kree’s Lunatic Legion.

The dialogue relating to her alcoholism can be a bit heavy handed from time to time, but I overall liked the way the creators dealt with her dependency issues. This is far from a moving text capable of making you reassess your own issues, but its given due attention and plays out well in the world of superhero shorthand.

On an issue-by-issue level, this crossover scores a 3 out of 4. The Iron Man, Captain America, and Avengers issues are all wonderfully composed pieces by their respective creative teams.

The issues all function as both standalone stories and as pieces of a greater narrative. The writer of each issue understands both their own characters and their guest stars equally, and gives both satisfying arcs. The artists of all three tales likewise deliver top-notch execution, all illustrating their chapters with equal attention to high-intensity action and low-key character drama.

The one dud of the four is the Quicksilver issue. The art isn’t nearly up to the caliber of the other three, and neither is the disjointed script. This is an issue that could have been excluded from the story without the plot losing much of consequence.

This crossover scores big for its attention to character and its strong individual issues. One chapter is clearly lesser than the others, and all chapters suffer from a bit of dated writing styles (overly wordy narration/recapping, occasional on-the-nose dialogue). Additionally, readers expecting crossover =  consequential threats will be disappointed by the backseat the villains take in the story. But if you can redefine your idea of how crossovers should play out, this is an engaging event.

 

New Reader Friendly? 

I'm sure some of that Kree/Supreme Intelligence backstory seems needlessly complex, but it actually flows and is explained quite simply. If you're interested based off of my review, go ahead and give the story a shot.

 

Ranking

I feel like Ultimates: The Republic is Burning acts as the start point for the “great” section of our list, with X-Men: Second Genesis acting as the end point for “good”. Live Kree or Die! is a story that belongs squarely in that “good” section of the list. As such, I’m putting it under Second Genesis but over the not-as-good Iron Man: Sunfall.

1. Spider-Man: Origin of the Hobgoblin
2. The Punisher by Greg Rucka Volume 1
3. Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn
4. Avengers Undercover
5.
Superior Spider-Man: A Troubled Mind
6. Ultimates: The Republic is Burning
7. X-Men: Second Genesis
8. Live Kree or Die!
9.
Iron Man: Sunfall
10. Iron Man: Rasputin’s Revenge!
11. Thor: Peace on Earth
12. Marvel Team-Up: Night of the Dragon
13. Iron Man: Old Soldiers
14. Avengers: 1959
15. She-Hulk: Heroic Proportions
16. Deadpool: Funeral for a Freak
17. Hulk: And Now...the Wolverine!
18. Avengers: In a Strange Land

 

What do you think? Agree or disagree with the ranking? Still need to read it yourself to find out? These issues are all available digitally free for Marvel Unlimited subscribers and for purchase at Comixology. The series is also available in a number of collected editions, including the paperbacks Avengers: Supreme Justice and Avengers Assemble Vol. 1 and the hardcovers Iron Man by Kurt Busiek & Sean Chen Omnibus and The Avengers by Kurt Busiek & George Perez Omnibus Volume 1.