Issue(s): ROM #72
Maybe he saw the cover to Secret Wars II #2. He's cooler this way, frankly. But Ditko relents and gives us the real Beyonder soon enough.
This tie-in is during the Beyonder's benevolent wish-granting phase, and Mantlo makes the interesting choice to leave ROM out of it entirely and focus on his supporting cast (who have conveniently moved in together as a makeshift family/support group after ROM left the planet). Other than a caption saying that their desire intrigues him, it's not said why the Beyonder has chosen to focus on Rick Jones, Cindy Adams, and Brandy Clark. One possibility is that he hasn't; since he's omnipotent he could potentially be performing this kind of experiment with lots of people and we're just focused on these three (In Secret Wars II #4, however, the Beyonder specifically includes Cindy and Brandy in a list of people he finds interesting. I guess Rick Jones was just lucky to be hanging out with two interesting people.).
The Beyonder is interested to know if granting a person their desire will satisfy them and make them complete, or just lead to additional desires, due to the implications for his own self. Rick and Brandy twist themselves into knots at the mere thought of being granted wishes ("What if we wish that you end hunger and disease and it results in overpopulation, and then war, and then the extermination of the human race?!?!?" "What if we wish for the resurrection of Cindy's parent and they come back as zombies?")...
...but it comes down to Rick getting super-powers (a nice Hulk/Captain Marvel amalgam)...
...and his cancer cured, Brandy getting her Starshine armor back...
...Cindy's brain is purged of the Dire Wraith mind and, yes, her parents returned to life. It turns out that the Wraith that killed her parents isn't dead, so the Beyonder sends Rick and Cindy into Limbo to get it...
...so he can pull out their life essence. And as far as we know, they don't come back as zombies, although this is suspiciously their last appearance so maybe they ate Cindy's brains off panel.
Rick and Brandy then get cold feet and ask for their powers to be removed again. But Rick would still like his cancer cured, please...
...and Brandy would like to be beside ROM (luckily he didn't take that request too literally and teleport her unprotected body next to him in the cold vacuum of space).
The issue sometimes gets a little weird, but it's definitely one of the better issues of ROM as well as a good Secret Wars II tie-in. I actually think the Beyonder's questing for completeness is handled better here than the main series, and while i don't think Rick and Brandy's reactions and questions are at all character-driven, Mantlo raises some philosophical questions that go beyond the typical super-hero comic. So i think this issue was a success.
Bob Layton's inks help Ditko here. Similar to when Tom Palmer inked him, they're so dominant that Ditko was basically doing layouts; there's a lot more depth to the pictures than when P. Craig Russell inks.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is a tie-in issue with Secret Wars II #4, and in that issue we see the Beyonder runs through a list of people he finds interesting and includes Cindy and Brandy, prior to his intervention.
Cross-over: Secret Wars II
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
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