Secret Wars II #8
Issue(s): Secret Wars II #8
And, being immortal, that is of course of no use to him.
While this is potentially an interesting topic, it's undermined by the fact that the Beyonder is only consorting with Earth mortals. Since Jim Shooter is really trying to say something about the human condition, that's understandable, but the fact is, the Marvel universe is full of a variety of lifeforms, many of which have appeared in this series, so it's fair game to ask why they aren't reaching out to the Beyonder. Eternity or the Living Tribunal may not quite be at the Beyonder's level (for the purposes of this story) but they're in a much better position to tell an immortal entity with infinite power how to find a purpose than Spider-Man or a random waitress. As for the Molecule Man, who the Beyonder has been going to for advice, he's at the Beyonder's approximate power level, but he's a barely functional human being let alone someone that can advise a true cosmic entity.
And the use of the Molecule Man is probably my favorite thing about this series. Jim Shooter revamped the character in his Avengers run to be a nerdy schmuck instead of a generic villain, and we learn in this issue that it was the event that gave the Molecule Man his powers that caused the Beyonder to become aware of our universe (perhaps even what really happened there is the Molecule Man accidentally tapped into the same source of power that the Beyonder has).
And Shooter revamped the Molecule Man again in the first Secret Wars series (again, note, through the Beyonder's power, although while it was in Dr. Doom's hand). So he does feel like a part of this story that belongs, unlike, say, the random attacks from the X-Men...
...and the New Mutants...
...that feel shoehorned into this book.
But back to Molecule Man. As i said, i like the use of him as really the only other major character in this series. There's an interesting contrast between the two ominipotent beings, one of whom has settled into (what Jim Shooter depicts as) a schlocky homelife, while the other is searching for a deeper meaning in life. It's unfortunately poorly developed in the cluttered mess of guest cameos in this series, but you can see what Shooter was trying for.
The Molecule Man convinces the Beyonder to wait 24 hours before destroying the multiverse. The Molecule Man doesn't expect anything to change in that time, so he starts preparing to hide from or protect himself from the Beyonder's destruction or, failing that, to fight him, but a conversation with Spider-Man actually does change the Beyonder's mind.
And that's ruined when the Beyonder shows up again at Molecule Man's apartment and he attacks him.
What follows is one of the more horrific scenes in this series.
Volcana, who when introduced in the first Secret Wars was an interesting new female villain, certainly with plenty of power, and there's no reason she couldn't have had as high a profile as Titania (who has roughly 70 appearances post Secret Wars II to Volcana's less than ten). And the reason is surely this series; her role here has been the fat, kinda dumb 'housewife' (they're not actually married) that the Molecule Man is squandering away his existence with.
And while she isn't meant to believe anything she's saying in the above panels, her real motivation is that she thinks the Beyonder is jealous of her relationship with the Molecule Man.
No one reading this series thinks that the Beyonder is jealous of the Molecule Man because of Volcana. And if the idea is that the Beyonder is jealous of the Molecule Man's happy home life, which might make more sense, that also doesn't come across at all.
Still, while it's an uncomfortable and weird scene, it definitely has impact, and with it the Beyonder gives the Earth another stay of execution.
But after another encounter with the New Mutants and Spider-Man (depicted in their own books) the Beyonder is still unhappy with the universe, and it's at that point that the Avengers show up.
This will be continued in the Avengers tie-in.
One thing i didn't mention in all of the above is the Beyonder's encounter with the Hulk, who he observes is, like him, all power and no purpose right now since he's been separated from Bruce Banner. But the Hulk is actually talking and acting more intelligent than we've seen so far in John Byrne's run (except, possibly, the Marvel Fanfare issue) where he's just been a raging, roaring monster.
And that's the final problem with this series that i'll mention for now. Shooter isn't a great writer, but at his best he's decent. And with Secret Wars I he was able to devote enough time to each character that he could get their personalities and current statuses at least roughly right. Not the case here. The characters all feel like cardboard cut-outs (a feeling reinforced by Al Milgrom's art), and it's very difficult to place appearances within their regular series.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The tie-ins for this issue are New Mutants #37, Amazing Spider-Man #274, Avengers #265, Uncanny X-Men #203, and Fantastic Four #288. The first two of those take place during this issue, before the Avengers attack him at the end, and then the Avengers portion continues directly in the Avengers issue. For the Hulk, i've placed this after Hulk #319 but before Marvel Fanfare #29 with the idea that some time after #319 he starts to develop his own intelligence.
Crossover: Secret Wars II
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): showBeyonder, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Cannonball, Captain America, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Colossus, Hercules, Hulk, Karma, Magik, Magma, Magneto, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Molecule Man, Rachel Summers, Rogue, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Spider-Man, Storm, Sub-Mariner, Volcana, Warlock, Wolfsbane, Wolverine
The main reason for Volcana's low profile is that the status quo of Molecule Man and her doesn't lend itself to writers to do anything with. Molecule Man is way too powerful to be anything other than a solo villain, so to use Volcana, you need to split them up. Also, Volcana never displayed an overtly villainous personality, unlike Titania.
Having said that, I did like her look and color combination in Secret Wars. However, to use her as a villain, you really need to someone dispose of the Molecule Man and develop what it was about her that made Doom originally recruit her out of all the people he could have potentially recruited from that Denver suburb on Battleworld.
Posted by: Chris | November 11, 2013 9:42 PM
The closeup on Peter Parker's face looks suspiciously drawn by somebody else.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 13, 2013 6:56 PM
The first comics I collected, back when I was 7, were Transformers. Those comics were full of ads for Secret Wars II. I wasn't interested in reading about superheroes at the time, but I was fascinated by those ads, and tried to piece together what was going on in them as they were updated month by month. I had vivid memories of the ads for issue 8, which featured a giant Beyond crushing a building while a bunch of heroes fought him. It looked really cool.
I stopped with Transformers and comics all together by the time I was 8, but when I finally got into superhero comics a few years later (on the strength of some Inferno issues of X-Men and X-factor, of all things. Blame the awesome cover to X-Factor 39), one of the first back issues I tracked down was Secret Wars II #8. I was expecting something really spectacular, especially after my first taste of superhero art was Walt Simonson and Marc Silvestri.
I was really bummed out by what I read. I spent a lot of time rereading that issue, trying to figure out what was wrong with me that it seemed so off, that the art looked so bad, that the characters didn't seem like themselves. I couldn't believe that Marvel would spend so much effort advertising something that was so awful.
I never bought another issue of Secret Wars II, though. I tried the Spider-Man versus the X-Men issue of Secret Wars I, and while it was better, the quality and off characterizations were enough to scare me off that series, too.
Posted by: Charles R | January 13, 2016 6:39 PM
Perhaps the Hulk is really growling, but the Beyonder can understand the growls?
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | November 24, 2016 10:31 AM
@Mark, I'm going with Tom Morgan in his past capacity as a Romita's Raider
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | June 7, 2017 12:39 PM
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