Sep 21, 2015

Secret Wars II: Not as Bad As You Remember, Part 4

Secret Wars II: Not as Bad As You Remember
Part 3: Can’t Buy Dazzler’s Love
Ben Smith

It’s time for the introduction, but my mind is blank. Go back to one of the introductions for the first three parts, I’m proud of those. Maybe math is the answer. You can’t ever go wrong with math. I never understood why kids in school found math difficult, they give you all the answers, or at least how to get them. (I had more trouble figuring out the themes in books like "I Am the Cheese.") Secret Wars + Jim Shooter + Mike Zeck = massive sales success. The Beyonder + leisure suit + jheri curl + (a possibly insane, it’s unclear by that point) Jim Shooter = massively disappointing sequel.

The problem with math is that it’s boring, and it sucks. Nobody likes math, except weirdos. If math is so great, why did it never get high on heroin and write “Smells like Teen Spirit?” Because math lies, that’s why. Math would tell you that Secret Wars II was a disappointment, but math got wedgies every day during school. Don’t listen to math. Listen to your high school art teacher, who was most likely high on LSD when he wanted you to paint a unicorn rodeo.

I say math is wrong. Now, let’s paint the unicorn rodeo that was Secret Wars II. Who’s with me?! (No one? Fine!)

Secret Wars II #4
Scripter: Jim Shooter; Penciler: Al Milgrom; Inkers: Leialoha and Rubinstein; Editor: Bob Budiansky

The Beyonder swaps spit with a beautiful actress named Sharon Ing, on his way out the door. He has other business to conduct, but she’s sprung on that sweet Beyonder loving and doesn’t want him to go.


Regardless, he heads downstairs and hops in his convertible automobile. Not wanting to wait for traffic to clear, he merely uses his powers to send the car soaring through the air.

The one from beyond is developing a better understanding of the nature of desire, so he decides to conduct some more pointed experiments of gratification. He revives Algrim the Elf, because of his overwhelming singular desire to kill Thor. (Tie-in alert!)

As he runs down a list of other various characters in the Marvel Universe and their desires (more tie-ins, including the greatest hero of all, ROM: Spaceknight) a trio of Air Force jets descends upon him. The flying car is on a flight path that takes it on a direct course for the White House, so they have orders to shoot it down.


The Beyonder,takes this attack all in stride, and decides to switch vehicles with one of the Air Force pilots, because he likes his better. The Beyonder speeds off in the F-16 fighter, while the smoking car sets down at the nearest garage, with one bewildered pilot.

The Beyonder wants to visit Owen Reece (The Molecule Man) and lands the jet on the street outside his place in a suburb of Denver. Owen invites him in, and Marsha (Volcana) says hello on her way out to a dancercise class. Owen disintegrates the jet, since he’s trying to keep a low profile. (The life of Owen and Marsha would make a decent reality show. Well, maybe not, since all they do is sit around and watch television. If you could watch a reality show about the life of any comics creator, who would you pick?  Not because you like their work, but because you think it would be the most entertaining option. It has to be Alan Moore, right? For the wizardry alone. I wonder what his house looks like. We need a comic creator version of “MTV Cribs.”)

This time, the Beyonder is interested in the nature of love. Owen does the best he can to explain love, about how Marsha cared about him as a person, and not because of what he can do or what he could give her. Eventually, her affection helped him move past his own self-doubts and he was able to love her back. A mutual love that is greater than the sum of its parts. Ultimately, his statement is that love is great, but it should be mutual, and it should be real.


The Beyonder teleports back to check in on Sharon Ing, who has committed suicide because of her overwhelming love for him, that he did not reciprocate. (Wow, that’s a pretty heavy topic for a superhero crossover. The only thing worse would be watching a puppy clubbed to death.)


He revives her, and questions her about why she loves him so much. She explains it’s because of what he does to her, how he makes her feel, what he can do. (All the things Owen said were bad signs, for those paying attention.)

He’s not impressed and decides to move on, scanning elsewhere for a suitable candidate to attempt to find real love. After scanning the entire world, he focuses in on Alison Blaire, otherwise known as the mutant songstress Dazzler. (Shooter was one of the main proponents of the creation and push of Dazzler. Dazzler was originally supposed to be a full multimedia effort, with a real artist named Dazzler releasing an album alongside the subsequent comic detailing her heroic adventures. That fell apart, but Shooter refused to admit defeat, forcing her into a seminal X-Men run by Claremont and Byrne. I love that dogged determination by him. Never let disco die! Anyway, nobody cared about Dazzler, but dammit, he’s going to have the Beyonder say she’s the most interesting woman on the planet, so you can all go to hell.)

Sharon is heartbroken and angry over this continued rejection, leading to this odd panel of her waiting for the elevator.



Elsewhere, Alison is the passenger of a bounty hunter, bringing her in on some unnamed charges athat are outstanding against her, which she seems more than willing to try and clear up. But the Beyonder teleports her out of the truck, and into a bubbled habitat in the vastness of space.



Confused and scared, Dazzler attacks him, obviously to no avail. He’s able to calm her down and explain who he is. and what he’s been doing. (Cue ‘80s-style recap of previous events.)

After all that, now his goal is to experience love, and has picked her out of all the women in the world to try and give it a shot. He begins to court her as best he knows how (give him a break, just last issue he was romancing prostitutes) first by taking her to a secluded igloo out in the artic, for a little bearskin-covered cuddling. (What man hasn’t wanted to jump straight to naked bearskin covered cuddling? No man I want to know, that’s for sure.)


When she turns that down, he tries a horse-drawn carriage and flowers. Next he tries a carnival in Rio, and then lunch in Paris. (I love that the Beyonder is just as clueless as most guys, trying to win her with fancy things and exotic places. Wait, that probably works most of the time. Whatever. Look, in my opinion all any woman needs is a near mint copy of the first appearance of their favorite superhero. The rest is just gravy. Mmmm, gravy…)

Having thus far continued to strike out, the Beyonder takes her to a mountaintop, and hits her with some lines about how wonderful and special she is down to the very essence of her being, and it’s starting to work.


She wakes up the next morning in his house in the South of France. She heads downstairs and meets him for some breakfast, when he decides that he must get her a gift.

He teleports to Edmonton, Canada, right after Omega Flight has withdrawn from a battle against Alpha Flight (if the prospect of that doesn’t get your blood pumping, then you’re normal). Canada’s greatest superteam immediately attacks the powerful stranger, because that’s what heroes do in the Marvel Universe. (Puck tumbling into action cracks me up. It’s great that they made a little person a superhero, but I don’t know why they decided to have him tumble around like an idiot. It’s an offensive stereotype, and my feelings have absolutely nothing to do with me being short and a former gymnast. Will I get in trouble if I say Puck is the worst? I don’t care.)


The Beyonder defeats them quickly and easily, because they’re Alpha Flight. He digs into Shaman’s bag. (Poor Native American fans, with only Shaman or dead Thunderbird to represent in comics. Was Forge created yet? It doesn’t matter if he was.) First he pulls out a full-grown woman (which I find hilarious) that turns out to be Shaman’s daughter Talisman. Then he finds the gold ring he was looking for, and bounces out. Deuces, Canada.
The Beyonder returns to find Dazzler in the midst of storming out. She’s had enough of this and wants to return to New York. He obliges her, and teleports them both there instantly.
This only continues to make matters worse. She appreciates all his gifts and trips, but she doesn’t want them when they come so easily. She wants to get back to her life, to get back to her dreams.

So of course, he puts her in the middle of a sold-out arena where she’s the headlining act. As enticing as that is, she’s still not interested, and wants him to put them right back where they just were.


He does, and is almost immediately surrounded and attacked by the Avengers.



The Avengers press their attack and actually overwhelm him. When they ready themselves for the uncharacteristic killing blow, Dazzler intervenes, distracting the Avengers long enough for the Beyonder to teleport them away.


She is reasonably suspicious of the Avengers uncharacteristic behavior, and the one from beyond admits that they weren’t real, only constructs he used to try and prove that she cares about him. (Ah, the old sympathy ploy. My favorite move for the first 20-25 years of my life. It is not a good move. Utilize better moves, youth of the world.)

Dazzler admits that she was concerned for him, but he’s still just too powerful for a normal person like her. To prove his commitment, he grants her half of his power, so that they can truly be on equal footing. Transfixed by her new power and awareness, she momentarily loses herself in him. But she quickly regains her thoughts, and flees. Overwhelmed, she returns the power to him, without realizing that she will fall to her death without it.

She does exactly that, and the Beyonder stands over her dead body, distraught that she would not love him no matter what he did. (Welcome to humanity, pal.) In his rage and grief, he lets out an energy bolt that winds up destroying a nearby galaxy. (I can only hope it was a galaxy of broccoli people, joining the asparagus aliens obliterated by Dark Phoenix.)


After he calms back down, he revives and heals Dazzler. She finally admits her love for him, and wants them to get married immediately. For a moment, he is happy, but he comes to his senses, and reveals that he was controlling her. Like Owen had said, it’s not any good if it’s not real, and he releases her from his influence.


She will remember nothing of what has happened, believing that they merely had some adventures together. Instead, he will be the one that is left to try and forget her. (Nothing heals a broken heart like strippers and hookers, big guy.)

The Beyonder has learned the biggest lesson of all about being a human man: repeated crushing rejection from beautiful women. (As my friend once told me, every relationship you have in your life is merely a process by which you determine what you want in a perfect significant other. He was high and listening to “Pretty Hate Machine” though.)

I can’t help but notice the lack of Matt Murdock in this issue, which was teased at the end of the last chapter. Up to this point, I haven’t felt any of the side stories that appear in the main series to be overly distracting from the primary narrative, but this is the biggest disconnect so far. And yet, despite my hyperbole about the previous issues, I found this to be the most enjoyable one to read so far. As interesting conceptually as it has been to center a heavily marketed event series around a cosmic being learning to poop, it didn’t always make for the most engaging storytelling. Now that he’s moved past the basics of eating and sleeping, we can get into the real meat of being human, like love and the need to be loved.

The Beyonder has had his first brush with true rejection. That can’t be good for the human race.

Next time, more leisure suits!

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