Secret Wars II #3
Issue(s): Secret Wars II #3
The Beyonder is solicited by a prostitute named "Toots".
When he tries to pay her with gold, and demonstrates his other bizarre powers, she runs to her pimp, who gets his boss, a guy named Vinnie Corbo.
Vinnie has more sense about him than any of the heroes who've encountered the Beyonder so far (giving a pass to Mr. Fantastic because he was interrupted by his wife). He recognizes the guy's power level and instructs Toots to make sure he's taken care of while Vinnie prepares things.
Vinnie takes the Beyonder under his wing, teaching him the basics, like how to eat and the joys of group sex...
...as well as the important things, like how to run an organized crime business. The Beyonder helps Vinnie out as well.
Now, you think you know where this is going. The Beyonder is going to get corrupted by an ambitious criminal who's going to use him to do Bad Things, but no. It turns out Vinnie Corbo has a heart of gold (when he's not exploiting prostitutes or selling people drugs), and when the Beyonder rises high enough in the organization, Vinnie tells him he's taught him all he can and he sends him off on his own (i love how he's wiping away a tear in that last panel).
The Beyonder goes on to take over all of organized crime...
...and finds even that to be too easy, so he then takes over the world, and every molecule in it.
Actually, there's one exception: the Molecule Man. Earlier, the Beyonder describes the Molecule Man as "the greatest among you". And now the Molecule Man seems immune to at least a passive attempt by the Beyonder to control him (the Beyonder says he could deal with him later if he wanted to). The Molecule Man notices what's going on but dismisses it as a phase that the Beyonder is going through so he doesn't do anything about it except restore Volcana's freedom (allowing Shooter to show his contempt for marital bliss, i guess).
The Molecule Man turns out to be right; the Beyonder eventually gets bored of controlling the world and he releases everything from his control, "leaving naught but the vaguest shadow of a memory of his conquest -- and that only in the subtlest of minds!".
The Beyonder is at least partially influenced to release the Earth by a cyborg called Circuit Breaker, who tells him that she hates robots because "for all their intricate programming, they have no true free will..." etc., and he sees the parallel with his new subjects.
Circuit Breaker is from the Transformers comic book, and her appearance here is Exhibit #2 in the case that the Transformers comic takes place in the Marvel Universe (Exhibit #1 being Spider-Man and Nick Fury's appearance in Transformers #3). It's not entirely ridiculous for fans to have assumed that this was the case. From Conan to the Micronauts, Marvel had incorporated licensed materials into their core universe and these sorts of crossovers certainly indicate that the same thing was going to happen with the Transformers. But now it's generally understood that the Transformers live in a parallel universe that happens to have a Spider-Man and a Nick Fury and a Savage Land and whatever else, but it's not the "real" universe. And what's happening here, i guess, is that the Beyonder is popping over into that other dimension for a spell. The real reason she's appearing (aside from some cross-promotional synergy) is that Marvel wanted to make sure they retained the rights to the character by having her published somewhere prior to the Transfomers series to prevent Hasbro from claiming ownership. See also Death's Head.
As for Toots, well now that she's had someone treat her with respect...
...she's decided to stop hating herself and not be a sleaze anymore.
Sure, it's just that easy!
So anyway, the Beyonder has taken over the world and then decided it's not for him. So i guess the series is over, right? Well, not quite. After going to the Avengers for guidance and instead making a mess of things (covered in more detail in Avengers #260), he decides that having already taken over the world the easy way, he decides that maybe the fulfillment lies in the trying, not the doing, so he decides to hire "the Avengers' lawyer".
I've been trying to approach this series with an open mind. There's nothing inherently wrong with the basic "what is desire?/what is the meaning of life?" theme, and i'm willing to go along with that and ignore the first Secret Wars if there's a good story to be had here, but Shooter is completely whiffing it. I guess this is supposed to be the "all powerful being gets caught up with some sleazy folks" issue but all of the crime and debauchery is neither shown as a bad thing or a good thing. It's just.. there. The Beyonder cheerfully walks around and collects his kickbacks from Vinnie's underlings who smile and joke with him. We're all friends here, having a good time. And Vinnie is a great fatherly influence, not a bad guy at all as far as we can see. Part of the problem here is the art -- everyone in this book is a sketchily drawn grinning idiot -- but the real problem is that for all his lofty goals, Shooter doesn't really have anything to say except the banal "achieving your desires doesn't mean you'll be happy", which is delivered with the subtlety of a hammer. There's nothing to recommend here.
One note on that. A blurb in the lettercol for Avengers #259 calls this issue "the most totally crazed book since the original Howard the Duck". Between that and the parody of Steve Gerber in issue #1, it's clear that this book is going for something satirical. It's not working for me (or, i think, for anyone) but i never really grokked the Howard the Duck series and there could be a similar problem here, compounded by the fact that despite my best intentions i'm not getting past expectations set by the fact that this is a sequel to Secret Wars. It's certainly a lot easier to see this series as a failed attempt at satire than a cosmic adventure story. Still doesn't work, but it explains it, i guess.
In this issue, the Beyonder gets the 80s-tastic look he's generally know for. The clothing style is specifically designed to be "the mod, with it look - like Duran Duran or somebody".
And the face and hair is "like Michael Jackson or somebody".
This is all per Vinnie, the oddly hip mobster with a heart of gold.
The Beyonder also tells Vinnie his history. It includes mainly a recap of the first Secret Wars, and you can be forgiven if your eyes glaze over at this 83rd recap of the original maxi-series, but there's actually a number of interesting tidbits here since it's being told from the Beyonder's perspective. It's the most valuable part of this issue, actually.
First, we get the closest thing we can have for an "origin" of the Beyonder, which is that he literally was his own universe, and then there was an "event of great magnitude" that opened a pinhole to our universe. We'll later learn that the event was the accident that gave the Molecule Man his powers, but not yet. However, the Beyonder says he observed Earth, specifically, "for years as you reckon time". The Beyonder was especially intrigued by the fact that Earth people were "incomplete" and had "desire".
I guess you can reason that the focus on Earth and humans as opposed to, say, Eternity, or the Celestials, or just the universe as a whole instead of these tiny things called humans on Earth, was due to the Molecule Man being part of the trigger event.
And i guess it also kind of explains why his next move, years later, was to gather up a bunch of super-heroes and villains and have them fight each other.
Galactus was always an anomaly in Secret Wars, and there's a not-quite explanation of it that also provides a surprising fact regarding how everyone actually got to the Battleplanet:
Of the many who dwelt upon or visited Earth while I watched, I chose a few beings of great power, presence and palpable desire!
From what we've learned of the Beyonder in this series, it makes a lot more sense that the Kirbytech device in Central Park was created by Galactus, not the Beyonder. This is a tantalizing little factoid that i wish was expanded upon; did Galactus know that he was being manipulated? Did he even remember doing it? Was it Galactus or the Beyonder who picked which villains should come along? And since all of the heroes (except Cyclops) fall into the category of "other beings to come if they chose", would the Beyonder have been ok if all his participants were villains?
We also learn that the Beyonder is a pretty reliable narrator. Sure, he says that when he possessed Klaw while trying to get his power back from Dr. Doom, Klaw "attacked Doom in a manner which I do not comprehend - subtly, psychologically, plaiyng upon things of the human mind called fears and doubts!". But in terms of the basic physical events of Secret Wars, his observations are a lot less child-like than you would expect given this series. I still say he should have at least understood what eating was.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: At one point in this issue, Vinnie, Toots, and the Beyonder are in a restaurant; a scene with them in the same restaurant is shown in Fantastic Four #282, so FF #282-284 takes place concurrently with this.
Avengers #260 takes place during this issue. The three tie-ins for the month are Daredevil #223, Hulk #312, and Avengers #260. At the end of this issue, the Beyonder says he's going to visit Matt Murdock "right now". Per that shot of all the heroes and villains bowing to the Beyonder, this takes place after the debut of Iron Man's new armor in Iron Man #200 (although i should note that i'm not counting that image as an actual character appearance for anyone). I'm using the world-mindwipe in this issue to greater effect than intended; see New Avengers: Illuminati #3 for more on that.
Crossover: Secret Wars II
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
"Layton" shows up on a sign in one of these panels, but I don't know if Bob Layton had anything to do with this.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 23, 2012 7:49 PM
This is actually the start of the good Secret Wars material, far as I am concerned. The antics of the beyonder are surprising and funny, in sharp contrast to the previsibility and unconvincingness of most of the original Secret Wars.
It helps that Mike Zeck is nowhere to be found in SW II.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 11, 2012 11:57 PM
Even if I like the story of Secret Wars "I" better than II's, I can like what Shooter was trying to do. It was kind of slow, but I can like it.
But since I enjoyed the art on the first series and cannot tolerate Al Milgrom's art in this one (especially after seeing what could have been with the original pencils of the first issue before it was re-assigned to Milgrom), I find it strange that someone would find the absense of Mike Zeck on the second series as a good thing.
Posted by: Cesar Hernandez-Meraz | June 14, 2013 5:27 PM
Fnord, you refer to the be Beyonder getting "a new face and hair" in this one. It's been forever since I read it; is there really any mention of the Beyonder's face changing? If so, it completely slipped past me back when this came out. In fact, since his body is a duplicate of Captain America's, it always annoyed me that when Cap and the Avengers later encountered him Cap never noticed that he was fighting his identical twin. I thought Shooter was trying to tell us that a Jeri Curl was enough of a disguise to fool a guy that you look exactly like.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | October 11, 2013 9:31 PM
Jay, the face changing is my own interpretation. The mobster Vinnie just comments on the hair changing. As you say, it's hard to tell thanks to the art, but it does look to me that the face changes too. The shape of the nose. Definitely the eye color.
That said, it's possible that a Jeri Curl is enough of a disguise to fool me, anyway.
Avengers #261 does have the Wasp and Cap commenting on how the Beyonder moves like "and even looks a little like" Cap, but you're right that that's different than Cap saying, hey, this guy is me with a different haircut.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 12, 2013 9:56 AM
Considering all the weird changes he went through without too many people knowing the truth, it's probably no surprise the Beyonder went with the Michael Jackson look. Even by 1985/1986, he had a lot of controversy over his nosejobs and pailing skin due to a disorder.
Posted by: Ataru320 | October 12, 2013 4:02 PM
I like the concept that the Beyonder wants to know more about earth but the execution is a bit clumsy. I think 9 issues probably isn't enough to say everything that Shooter wanted to say. The art is horrible and I prefer Zeck on SWI. I wish Sal B. could have done it as he'd be perfect for the job.
Posted by: JSfan | May 19, 2015 8:16 AM
Fnord brings up a good point. Ben DeRoy doesn't make a true human body for himself, it's imbued with his powers. He shouldn't have hunger pangs, nor should he need to move his bowels, as Pete showed him in SW2 #1.
Also...did he manage to subjugate Doom?
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | May 19, 2015 9:13 AM
Man, as a lifelong Transformers fan, Circuit Breakers appearance here is really weird to see. Also, since she belongs to Marvel (although her civilian identity of Josie Beller belongs to Hasbro), we've been deprived of her on the Transformers side of things for a couple of decades now. She's a great example of an "eternally lost in limbo" character. And a strong female character at that!
The story I've read was that the Transformers, like most of Marvel's licensed comics back in the day, was originally set in the proper Marvel Universe. They were set in Oregon to keep them (mostly) away from the main action going on in all the other comics. However, it quickly became apparent that the Transformers civil war would be too big to go unnoticed by the various superheroes and villains and the Transformers themselves could easily throw things into chaos in the general Marvel U, so they quietly got shunted off into a separate reality by issue 10 or so.
All that said, is it possible that this could be a Marvel Universe version of Circuit Breaker? I mean, despite the editor's note, she never mentions the Transformers by name, referring to them only as "robots". The Marvel U has no lack of robots running around. She could have been a victim of Ultron's for example. I know I'm trying to "No Prize" an explanation here, but it wouldn't be an impossibility...
Posted by: Bill | May 29, 2015 10:56 PM
Look on the bright side, Bill; Marvel's finally allowed IDW to include the Circuit Breaker appearances in their reprints, so I got to see her blasting the hell out of Unicron firsthand.
And hey, G.B. Blackrock's started showing up in their new stuff!
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 29, 2015 11:04 PM
Sure, they start including the Circuit Breaker appearances after I stop getting the reprints (because I'd stopped being into the original Transformers comic by then.) The Spider-Man appearance was probably to deliberately tie the series to the Marvel Universe as normal, but then "Transformers" sold way more than anybody expected, leading to the on-going monthly title from the bi-monthly miniseries. They had to adjust things from there and Marvel's Circuit Breaker was a casualty.
I suspect Vinnie was named (and possibly modeled) after Vinnie Colleta, the inker and defender of Shooter who was reputed to have mob connections.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 30, 2015 1:55 AM
Circuit Breaker was a cool character. As both a Transformers fan and a Marvel fan, it's always driven me crazy that she's fallen through the legal cracks.
Thanos6, she's back in reprints now? I may have to look into picking those up. The only actual issues I have anymore are the first 8-ish and the final 15 or so. It would be nice to fill out the collection...
Posted by: Bill | May 30, 2015 5:16 PM
Since Circuit Breaker's pivotal role here - along with the very explicit placement references in the Transformers comics, including the importance of the Savage Land in the creation of the Dinobots - makes it impossible to completely extricate the continuity, my preference is for a "hypertime" explanation of the Transformers (G1) and Marvel Universes. They came into a period of alignment, at which point their histories and realities were intertwined in a way that they always *seemed* so. The universes eventually fell back out of joint, but it didn't destroy their shared history. Death's Head might therefore be a "native" to 616 who was able to continue interacting with the Transformers at least for a little bit (until 2005?) at which point he was shunted back into 616. Or something. That's my personal head canon.
The "merged universes that seemed like they always were one" phenomenon has happened in other storylines (e.g. WWIII), so i'd assume it's happening lots of times in 616 and other fictional universes, but it's only occasionally 'recognized' and explained overtly.
Posted by: cullen | May 30, 2015 8:12 PM
@Bill: IDW reprinted the whole Marvel series in 6 volumes called "Classic Transformers." At first they weren't allowed to reprint issues with Spider-Man or Circuit Breaker (though non-enhanced Josie Beller is fine; go fig) in them, so they substituted text descriptions of the missing issues' plots instead. By volume 5, however, they had worked out a deal, so they were allowed to reprint stories with Circuit Breaker in them from that point forward.
Good thing, too. It's one thing to cut her first few appearances, after all, but it would have been quite another to remove the *entire final act* of the long Unicron story which is basically the entire point of the last volume and a half, and in which she and Blackrock play a completely pivotal role.
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 30, 2015 9:42 PM
"From Conan to the Micronauts, Marvel had incorporated licensed materials into their core universe and these sorts of crossovers certainly indicate that the same thing was going to happen with the Transformers."
This makes me wonder if GI Joe ever had anything that brought them into the MU.
But on a note for this issue, a lot of time clearly passes in this issue - the Beyonder learns the criminal enterprise, then takes over the world. I know there's a sliding time scale, but it seems like the whole MU has to come to a halt for a long time for this to happen. Just a mess. I fully agree with the D grade.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 31, 2015 9:22 AM
No, I can't recall anything linking G.I. Joe to the Marvel Universe...except the couple of G.I. Joe/Transformers crossovers (while Marvel had both licenses). However, even those don't work, for a variety of reasons, if one thinks about it. Best to just go with Cullen's hypertime" explanation.
Posted by: Bill | May 31, 2015 5:38 PM
Regarding G.I. Joe... ASM #268 (which ties into the previous Secret Wars issue and is the last appearance of the Kingpin before this issue) features an appearance by a "Sergeant" who is very obviously Duke from the Joe team, although he's not named as such.
Posted by: Dan H. | September 7, 2015 3:37 AM
Thanks for pointing that out, Dan. I've added a scan of Duke on the Amazing Spider-Man #268 entry.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 7, 2015 9:56 AM
According to Back Issue #82, the Beyonder's outfit was based on something that Bill Sienkiewicz used to wear.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 20, 2015 11:07 AM
One of my favorite comics ever, so I am in the minority here but don't care that much.
I felt real bad for the street walker, and was glad that she had reformed.
I see some people and even Marvel pitched it as being satirical, but for the time villains just didn't take over the earth in such of a short time this side of What If? so it was amazing (and yes, unbelievable- but he's GOD, right?) for its time.
Vinnie was an underrated character, and I loved when The Beyonder burst in The Kingpin's office.
This issue was a major step in The Beyonder's evolution- and see my comment from #1- take away the superhero/crossover stuff and this could be seen as a serious idiot God story.
Posted by: Damian H | October 5, 2015 12:52 PM
Oh, and thanks for being the only other person in the world who noticed that The Beyonder said Galactus gathered the super-villains before Secret Wars. It took me 1 reads before I actually slowed down and read the captions on that page (I used to think it was a repeat, but it's unique). It is not listed on any wiki, wikia, or anywhere I can tell. Most people think The Beyonder just gathered everyone.
And yes, I read it as The Beyonder only drafting the villains to fight since they would slay their enemies with no moral objections. Not sure why he forgot about what "evil" is once SWII started, though.....
Posted by: Damian H | October 5, 2015 1:07 PM
Nitpick - you mention Cyclops as the one person on the "hero" team who didn't follow the "come as they choose" convention, but wouldn't that include Magneto also? Or did he actually go through the Central Park gateway?
Posted by: Dan H. | October 6, 2015 9:54 AM
Correct that Magneto was not shown entering through the Central Park gateway. I didn't want to load up the parenthetical aside with caveats. It's possible that all the characters were collected by Galactus (who maybe thought of Magneto as a villain!) and then were sorted after the fact by the Beyonder, regardless of how they were collected.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 6, 2015 11:31 AM
Yeah, like I said it was a nitpick and you're actually probably right that it was the Beyonder's call who went where (even though he would struggle to understand "good" and "evil" later on, the only other choice is Galactus who has repeatedly claimed to be "amoral").
Boy, that really opens a can of worms though, doesn't it? If Cyclops was considered important enough to reach out and grab, then why not scoop up the Vision and Scarlet Witch? Or the Defenders? Or Namor? Or Doctor Strange? Or Alpha Flight? Or Wonder Man? To say nothing of all the villains who didn't make the cut...
I wonder if there was a miscommunication along the line somewhere in that Shooter was expecting Cyclops to enter the arena in New York and wrote that first issue (and plotted the series) thinking he would be with the X-Men? Because he's the only real problem - Magneto is easy to explain away. But Cyclops was very definitely not hanging around the X-Men by the time of #180, yet he'd only been written out of the series five issues prior and Shooter may not have realized he'd be nowhere near New York. His conversations with Claremont might have simply been about leaving Kitty back on Earth and Claremont didn't realize Shooter was planning to include Cyclops until it was too late. So they had to later come up with this bit about Galactus selecting people (instead of the villains being grabbed by reading the thoughts of the heroes and deciding who would be appropriate antagonists, which is what I'd always figured was the case, especially after the later Dr. Doom explanation, since the Beyonder specifically went looking for him and had to pull him from the future. Same deal with Kang, who wouldn't have existed in this time period either and would have had to be "recruited").
Posted by: Dan H. | October 6, 2015 1:02 PM
Shooter and Claremont would have known where Cyclops was at prior to "Secret Wars." Arguably, that might have been the point. Cyclops is essentially retired, but he'll be back for special events. BAM, here's a special event for him to be at, stolen away from his own honeymoon.
"Secret Wars" made a (very vague) attempt to create an analogy with actual war. Scott was called away from his new wife, Reed's old wife was heavily-pregnant, the Torch and Colossus fool around with local girls. And the end of #11 had everything coming down to Peter - a young Russian far away from home, at war in the mid-80s - deciding to fight. I don't recall any other scenes that made sense, maybe Thor's brief visit with the Enchantress or something, so I'm not saying it was a well-done analogy.
The reference to Galactus making this happen never made sense. I did notice it way back when, but immediately dismissed it. How many characters on Battleworld had he ever met?
But you gotta love Toots' change-of-heart. She makes a big old speech about how she stopped hating herself all because one man (the Beyonder) treated her with respect, and her job duties were never mentioned or even implied. Quite possibly the most unrealistic scene in the entire superhero genre.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 12, 2016 10:23 PM
I always took it that since Galactus wouldn't even differentiate between most of these lower life forms that the Beyonder picked his favourite characters and made Galactus go and collect them. Why? It's shown in Secret Wars II that the Beyonder has unimaginable power and is 'omniscient' when he wants to be, but he's limited by his own character. Like the Molecule Man who failed to recognise his own potential until shown by Doom, I think the Beyonder doesn't truly grasp what his power means. If he wanted to understand desire, he could just use his power to know what it means but he just doesn't get it. Given how Secret Wars II plays out this seems fair enough. At the point of Secret Wars the Beyonder is at the earliest stage of his development. He just grabbed the big cool one and had him do everything with cool machines. (He shows a love of those starting with this issue).
Posted by: Benway | April 12, 2016 10:38 PM
That makes perfect sense, but without intending disrespect, it's a stupid explanation. The Beyonder doing this through Galactus was never mentioned anywhere else ever, through all the interminable recaps of "Secret Wars I."
Again, no offense intended. You're making sense of the (stupid stupid) stories that exist. It's more likely that Shooter was just trying to make the latest recap sound different, throwing in details that he immediately forgot about and no one else ever picked upon. Mark Gruenwald or Steve Englehart could have done a semi-decent 'why Galactus brought everyone to Battleworld' arc. Shooter was just writing the latest issue of "Secret Wars II."
Posted by: ChrisW | April 14, 2016 2:46 AM
I am not sure whether the mobster is based on Colleta.Seems like college wouldn't appreciate that and he doesn't look like any of the pictures that I have seen of him. He does seem to resemble Stan Lee.Personally I prefer it that way especially because of the strong satiric streak in this series.
Posted by: Mizark | August 25, 2016 10:14 AM
I'm basing my suspicion on the name similarities, that Colletta was reportedly in touch with the mob - not unheard of in the comics field - and he was a big Shooter supporter, so he'd be one of the long-time people Shooter could turn to. I like your point about Stan, that Vinnie is quite possibly a merger of both. At home in the rough-and-tumble streets of NYC, he's not comfortable in the glamorous world Stan (and the Beyonder) reached.
I get the points you and others make about this series' satire, I just don't think it's particularly satirical. I think Shooter genuinely believed he was making sincere points about life, the universe and everything, and whatever his qualifications as a writer, he was intelligent and insightful enough to incorporate those points into "Secret Wars II."
Posted by: ChrisW | March 15, 2017 9:34 PM
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