Marrina’s Head: From the Marvel Vault #1

Defenders: From the Marvel Vault #1
Sep 2011

In late 2010, Marvel announced a series of books based on previously unpublished and/or partially finished work found during the big office move that same year. Five “From the Marvel Vault” one-shots were published, including Doctor Strange, Gambit/Champions, The Hulk/Human Torch, Thunderbolts and this doozy. The backstory of this comic claims unused Mark Bagley pencils with a Fabian Nicieza script (since lost) were re-purposed by Kurt Busiek, who guessed what was supposed to be happening. The result is a freakishly plausible-yet-puerile story that is in fact, so brilliantly done that I’m not entirely convinced he just “found” these pencils [EDIT: See Comments below for something convincing from Kurt Busiek himself!] . Marrina appears in one panel as a floating head.

After the Defenders are shown in a series of bizarre dream sequences, it is revealed that they are actually trapped in the clutches of some sort of bizarre dream sequence-inducing creature straight out of the Lovecraftian Bestiary. Namor is the first to break free from its direct control in a manner highly reminiscent of a similar scene from Fred van Lente and Greg Pak’s Incredible Hercules #118 where Herc breaks free from Nightmare’s nightmare machine. Even after detaching himself from the creature, Namor still experiences forcible mental imagery, one of which is a set of five floating heads. In addition to his wife Marrina, the other four heads are his cousin Byrrah (on top), his other wife Dorma (who I believe is miscolored as human), beloved cousin Namora and his dad Leonard McKenzie, all dead at the time this was drawn. They are shown in one panel angrily shouting some kind of approbations down to Namor, bitter reminders of what Namor prefers to retain as his “sweetest memories.”

Look familiar? Alpha Flight fans remember the 1990s Namor: The Sub-Mariner series where we saw a pairing of Namor’s former wives Dorma and Marrina in dream sequences quite a few times:

Hallucinations of Dorma and Marrina in Namor: The Sub-Mariner #1 (1990)

Illusions of Dorma and Marrina from Namor: The Sub-Mariner #36 (1993)

Memories of Dorma and Marrina in Namor: The Sub-Mariner #49 (1994)

And Marrina as a floating head in Namor #61:

Spirit of Marrina (head only) from Namor: The Sub-Mariner #61 (1995)

All of which are likely the inspiration for this appearance. Regardless of my slight skepticism about Busiek’s claims, this book is simply a hoot to read and re-read, and I’m glad Marrina made it in from the supposedly lost story that might never have seen the light of day. This turned out to be one of the most interesting and enjoyable comics in my Alpha Flight collection.


12 Responses to “Marrina’s Head: From the Marvel Vault #1”

  1. flightpath07 / dredd sweet Says:

    To each their own. Although this is treasured amongst Flight fans for its somewhat-unexpected Marrina appearance, as a classic-Defenders fan I found this issue to be sorely lacking. This stand-alone issue is a LONG way from the Defenders teams who cared for and about each other, the non-team that maybe became the closest thing to family that many of its members had. I guess i am more of a fan of the Daimon Hellstrom-Gargoyle-Beast-Iceman-Hellcat days than i am of this lineup. Which probably explains why i am detesting the new Defenders series Marvel has put out, as well – utter uninteresting rubbish. Peace out.

    • rplass Says:

      Aw, I thought it was a lot of fun. Busiek was just having a good time and I was very entertained. If I were a hardcore Defenders fan, I might have another opinion but this isn’t !!

  2. flightpath07 / dredd sweet Says:

    NOT suggesting that all of the Defenders i listed above, btw, were all on the team at one time. Shoulda included Clea, Doc Strange, Overmind, Valkyrie, and especially Nighthawk in that list as well; my bad.

  3. Kurt Busiek Says:

    Regardless of my slight skepticism about Busiek’s claims, this book is simply a hoot to read and re-read, and I’m glad Marrina made it in from the supposedly lost story that might never have seen the light of day.

    Very glad you liked it! And honest, the origin of that issue is exactly what we said it was. Fabian (possibly with the help of his brother, Mariano) plotted it very quickly in order to give Bags something to draw at a time he had a hole in his schedule, and what with hard-drive crashes and machine upgrades over the years, had no copy of the plot left. Marvel didn’t have one either. Neither Mark nor Fabian remembered any story details, so I winged it.

    [Let’s face it: If the story was planned to be about four college students taking over the Defenders’ minds by accident, would any of us be quite so inept as to never show them?]

    It was a ton of fun to script, and I thought it came out well, but the story pretty much came from that one panel with the montage of ordinary faces in it, and me trying to figure out how I could have that panel mean something…

    • rplass Says:

      Hey, thanks for the comment! The panel with the ordinary faces is this one:

      (click to enlarge)

      • Kurt Busiek Says:

        That’s the one!

        We also had a couple of characters redrawn, here and there to make them work for the new story. I’m not 100% sure Shalla Bal was Shalla Bal in the pencils, and Dorma may have been Andromeda or Tamara, or someone else who’d have required a lot of explaining.

  4. flightpath07 / dredd sweet Says:

    Hey, thanx for dropping by with your comments, Mr. Busiek! Despite not being in love with the issue in question, I deeply respect your talents.

  5. Phil Says:

    Off Topic-ally echoing FP’s sentiments above, as a big fan of your writing I was overjoyed when you brought The Master into the Kang Dynasty arc in Avengers and made him a force to be reckoned with in the MU, as well as your continuity nod towards Marrina’s fake death.

    • Kurt Busiek Says:

      Glad you enjoyed that — I was getting a lot of questions about Marrina being dead that I figured as long as I was using the Master I should remind people that she’d already been established as not-dead. It’s the sort of bit that can lead places…

  6. flightpath07 / dredd sweet Says:

    Hi Phil! *waves enthusiastically, accidentally ripping the mouse right out of the computer and spilling the keyboard to the floor*

  7. Chris Says:

    And even more off topically, thank you Mr. Busiek for including Sasquatch and Northstar in the last two issues of Avengers Forever. Would love to see Sasquatch join the current Avengers someday but I know that’s out of your control. Does Mr. Busiek have a favorite Alphan?

  8. Kurt Busiek Says:

    I think it may have been Carlos who added Sasquatch and Northstar in — I probably said to add in a variety of character, including some Alphans, but let him pick who he’d most like to draw.

    And if I had to pick a favorite Alphan, I guess it’d be either Sasquatch or Talisman.


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