Issue(s): Avengers #266
..so a lot of credit probably goes to John Buscema and Tom Palmer.
The story starts with the Silver Surfer surveying the damage done by the Beyonder. A huge chasm has been torn through the Rocky Mountains, creating an instability that is threatening to tear the Earth apart.
The use of the Silver Surfer is intriguing. He was shown in a conceptual panel in Secret Wars II #4 but then not actually used in the series until his inconspicuous appearance in issue #9, where he might as well have been Daredevil for all the value he added. This is a guy in Phoenix and Molecule Man's power class, more cosmic than anyone else on Earth at the moment, and as a stranger in a strange land, the character most likely to have related to Beyonder's problems. But they never really got to meet. The Surfer says here that he had detected the Beyonder "in recent weeks" but "somehow this entity eluded me". Cosmic awareness isn't what it used to be. Captain Marvel, who has tracked him down to see if he'll help the Avengers and the FF fix the problem, has to explain everything to him, which means even as of Secret Wars II #9 he didn't know what was going on (which either really makes his participation in the baby killing scene suspect or provides an explanation for it, depending on your point of view).
The Surfer by himself is unable to repair the damage done by the Beyonder. I'm glad no one raised this question in front of him, but i wonder what would have happened if the Earth was torn apart. Would the restriction Galactus placed on him (or his board) have been lifted, or would the Surfer have been stuck floating around a pile of rubble for all eternity?
Anyway, Captain America gets the idea to ask the Molecule Man to add his powers to the Silver Surfer's. The Molecule Man was injured during his fight with the Beyonder, but we learn that he's still been holding the world together while resting at an army camp. When they get worried that the army is going to hold them, the Molecule Man turns their tent into a hot air balloon that Volcana can heat up to escape. But the Silver Surfer manages to locate them, and the Avengers send Captain Marvel to talk to them. Which was a bad move.
Volcana is overly protective of the Molecule Man in normal circumstances, and Captain Marvel is the one who aggravated the injuries caused by Wolverine in the first Secret Wars (the Molecule Man was more sanguine about meeting Wolverine again in Secret Wars II #9). It's interesting to think that, from Volcana's perspective, the Avengers and the other heroes are the bad guys here. She's was only a "supervillain" for a short period of time and due to really weird circumstances, and all she's cared about is "Owie", who the heroes have attacked on several occasions.
But regardless, the Surfer and the Avengers manage to get Volcana and the Molecule Man to the ground and make them realize that they don't intend them any harm (except maybe Sub-Mariner, Hercules, and She-Hulk, who have less sophisticated ideas about diplomacy).
Molecule Man tells the Avengers that he doesn't know that he has enough power to fix the planet, and if he does it he's likely to kill himself or burn out his powers. When Captain America points out that if he does nothing he'll die anyway along with everyone else on Earth, the Molecule Man reveals that he's got the option of creating a little capsule for himself and Volcana and floating away to build a life for themselves elsewhere.
However, in part due to the fact that they'd miss F Troop reruns (thank god this story was written before DVD box sets were invented), the Molecule Man agrees to do it. Actually, thank god for F Troop, since the Wasp's arguments about Sak's and Cape Cod weren't doing it.
Ok, F Troop was a minor consideration. It's really because he doesn't know if Volcana could handle having to start over on a new world.
I love his "Uh-huh" and his more-cosmic-than-thou comments.
Molecule Man opens himself up to the Silver Surfer, and the two of them engage in the very impressive task of rebuilding the Rocky Mountains. It's a much more impressive sequence than the practically throwaway scene where they were destroyed in Secret Wars II.
There's probably some geological points to make here about the fact that the Rocky Mountains, which were formed over millions of years, must look very different in the Marvel universe after this.
When it's all over, the Molecule Man seemingly has lost his powers, and even the scars on his face are gone (which maybe should have been a clue that something was up).
However, after the Avengers say thanks and goodbye, it's revealed that he really still retains all his powers; he just didn't want the Avengers and FF to know about it.
The addition of the Silver Surfer's powers actually removed all the risk from his actions. The Surfer, sensing the honor and bravery in the Molecule Man's actions, promises to keep the secret. I'd compare the Silver Surfer's decision to allow the Molecule Man, previously an actual evil super-villain that the Surfer fought previously, to keep his power versus his decision to help kill the Beyonder baby, but i think that horse is dead enough.
The issue ends with what feels like a rebuttal to Jim Shooter's depiction of married life. Here, the Molecule Man's decision to spend his life in his apartment with his girlfriend feels like a good thing.
As usual, in addition to all of the above, Roger Stern gives us nice character moments, both continuity-minded (like having Namor give his fellow ex-Defender the Silver Surfer a special greeting) and just pure character, like this one with Hercules...
...or this scene showing Captain Marvel acting a little un-Avenger-ish. I didn't mention in my lengthy tribute to Monica in last issue's entry that she also serves as a point of view character in Roger Stern's run, allowing us to see the amazing things that we constantly experience in the Marvel universe through fresh eyes.
Finally, at risk of showing an obsessive Hercules focus (and why not!?), here's some flirting with She-Hulk.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place in the immediate aftermath of Secret Wars II #9. Captain Marvel says that aside from the Avengers and the FF, "the others either left for their own reasons or we sent them home!". As i wrote in Secret Wars II #9, in some cases i take the word "sent" very literally, as in Phoenix teleported them to the exact point she took them from.
Crossover: Secret Wars II
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBlack Knight (Dane Whitman), Captain America, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Hercules, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Molecule Man, Mr. Fantastic, She-Hulk, Silver Surfer, Sub-Mariner, Volcana, Wasp
fnord, I think maybe you should bump the historical significance up some. After all, this is the epilogue to the Secret Wars/Beyonder meta-plot that was a huge part of almost all of Marvel's output for the prior two years. It's closing the books on an entire mini-era.
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 29, 2015 11:52 PM
Thanos, i recognize what you're saying, but i think Secret Wars II #9 really gets that credit. This epilogue is a great addition to the story, but it really just resolves a loose end from the fight in that issue. If it was never addressed it would be like the millions of fights that end with New York City, for example, being smashed to pieces, only for it to pop up again later. I also generally don't add additional points for being the end of a story. This and/or SWII #9 are really just the end of a crossover, albeit one that touched the whole line for a long period.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 31, 2015 10:41 AM
Well, I guess I agree, in that now that I think about it, that's probably not enough to justify bumping the rating up per the standards you use. I disagree on the standards THEMSELVES, but that's a whole other kettle of fish. :)
Would you then consider listing "end of Secret Wars II" next to the issue in the listings? You do the same with "Acts of Vengeance begins" (but not "Acts of Vengeance ends", which I find a bit odd).
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 31, 2015 3:59 PM
Thanos, i try to use the descriptions on the category pages sparingly, and really just for major milestones. When it's not obvious when a crossover begins, it's also helpful for placement purposes (i.e. it's obvious that Secret Wars II #1 is the start of Secret Wars II, less obvious that Avengers Spotlight #26 is the start of Acts of Vengeance). And the ends of crossovers don't seem to be worth calling out on the main pages for the same reasons i don't usually award them Historical points, and i don't need it for placement purposes. If there's other reasons why i should add the markers for the ends of crossovers, maybe let me know in the forum and we can debate whether or not it would be useful for most people. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 1, 2015 4:09 PM
Bah, humbug. ;)
Posted by: Thanos6 | June 1, 2015 4:27 PM
"this is another case where you kind of wish that Secret Wars II was written by one of the core tie-in writers instead of Shooter"
Actually, reading this in real-time I had wished that SW II had been drawn by Buscema. The art was the really big difference to me at the time.
I was always amused by Monica's side of the story. She talks about how the Avengers were involved fighting the Beyonder and then everyone else shows up, as if every tie-in with all the other characters in SWII never happened. I know that's just good storytelling - she's telling the story as she knows it, but it also said something to me about the way the Avengers view the rest of the MU - if it didn't happen to the Avengers, it didn't happen.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 10, 2015 11:49 AM
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