Oct 19, 2015

Secret Wars II: Not as Bad As You Remember, Part 8

Secret Wars II: Not as Bad As You Remember
Part 8: Women, Am I Right?
Ben Smith

It’s been a long and strange journey, but here we reach the penultimate issue of the landmark failure that was Secret Wars II. The Beyonder has tried everything to fit in with society, up to and including rocking a jheri curl, which worked for Ice Cube, but not so much for an omnipotent being from another dimension. He’s loved, he’s lost, he’s had sex with multiple prostitutes. What could be next in his ongoing maturation process as a sentient being? Anger, anger is what’s next.

Only two more to go and then it’s beer time. (Ha, as if anyone could be sober and do this.)

Secret Wars II #8
Scripter: Jim Shooter; Penciler: Al Milgrom; Inkers: Steve Leialoha; Editor: Bob Budiansky

The Beyonder visits with Owen Reece, the Molecule Man.

The Beyonder is angry that his repeated attempts to find purpose have continued to leave him unfulfilled. Owen decides to try a little therapy, and prompts the Beyonder to talk about his “childhood,” which is really just another excuse to recount the events of the series so far.

Interestingly enough, they discover that the event that made the Beyonder aware of the multiverse, was the accident that turned Owen Reece into the Molecule Man. (A plot point that Jonathan Hickman would use to great effect in his Avengers run, in the lead-up to the 2015 Secret Wars event series.)

They continue their examination of the events of the past, including his courtship of Dazzler, and the Beyonder gets pretty hostile about Molecule Man’s unintentional flaunting of his relationship with Volcana. (Speaking of the new Secret Wars, currently halfway over as of this writing, Marvel really is showing DC how to properly do an epic multiverse story. Crisis on Infinite Earths is awful, and everything they’ve done since then has been akin to apes throwing poo at a wall. They’re so inept. How is anyone a DC fan? I ask that sincerely. How do you do it?) (Ben is wrong of course. Crisis on Infinite Earths is the pinnacle of event storytelling, right up there with JLA/Avengers. Only a complete moron would think Crisis was awful, and then spend nine weeks talking about Secret Wars II. And only a bigger idiot would give him the space to do it. -Cranky Editor Man)

They finish rehashing past events with nothing being solved, and Beyonder seems to get riled up again when Volcana returns to the room.

Molecule Man suggests that it’s probably his immense power that is keeping him from finding fulfilment, and suggests he lets himself become mortal.

The Beyonder thinks he’s just suggesting that so he can find a way to kill him, but then calls him too big a wimp to try.

The Beyonded decides to destroy all existence instead. (The inevitable moment we’ve all been waiting for. Any outsider that would spend any significant amount of time with humanity would ultimately come to the same conclusion: we must be destroyed. I’m surprised it took him this long.)

The Molecule Man pleads with him to think it over, and the Beyonder agrees, giving them 24 hours.

The Beyonder pops over to a luxurious San Francisco hotel, uses his powers to have them kick out the penthouse suite guests, and then makes his waitress fall in love with him at dinner.

No matter what he does, the anger won’t subside, and so he causes an earthquake. (I’ve said before about how the Beyonder's maturation as a sentient being somewhat emulates a real human’s growth. Following that line of thought, this would be the age in which most human beings are old enough to understand just how terrible the world really is, driving them to anger and bitterness. Human beings are just the worst, they really are.)

He asks the waitress why life means so much to mortals, and she responds with “maybe it’s because life’s so short.” The Beyonder is annoyed by this reoccurring concept of mortal life and death, and cruelly toys with the waitress before sending her away.

Suddenly, he is attacked by the X-Men.

All attacks by the X-Men should be accompanied by the target saying, “Oh, for Pete's sake--! Get real!” Because the X-Men are bumbling idiots, you see.
The Beyonder easily subdues Magneto, Colossus, and Shadowcat. Rachel Grey uses the power of the Phoenix and makes a spectacular show of things, but is easily defeated as well.

There’s never been a sufficient reconciliation of this version of the Phoenix force has there?
The Molecule Man, watching the events unfold from Denver, begins to panic, and uses his immense power to create a hard bubble to protect them and the city. In case the Beyonder carries through on his threats to destroy everything.

The Beyonder happens to see it as he floats by, and destroys it, mocking the Molecule Man for his efforts.

The Beyonder briefly encounters the Hulk, who recently was split into a separate being from Bruce Banner. (I’m not sure what this was for. Maybe it was to further emphasize the theme of the issue, with the Hulk’s loss of a human mind and therefore his mortality. Or maybe it was just to highlight the new status quo of the Hulk books so that readers will go out and buy them. Let’s say both.)

The Beyonder pays another visit to Spider-Man, as the best representative of humanity (even though Peter Parker makes a point of saying he can’t use the bathroom this time). The Beyonder is still confused by the passion for life and fascination for death among mortals.

Spider-Man describes to him how he recently saved a man from jumping to his death, and how when he swung by to grab the man, the man actually reached out for him. He speculates that perhaps confronting your morality is when you feel the most alive.

The Beyonder extrapolates that to mean that all human existence is lent meaning by the finiteness of life.

The Beyonder, angered again, storms off after calling Spider-Man an insect but also suggesting he may have talked him out of obliterating all existence. (If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told both of those things…)

The New Mutants try to attack him, but he shrugs them off easily. (The New Mutants have never been useful. They’re good for inappropriate telepathic orgasms, and that’s it.)

The Molecule Man hurriedly packs what he can, his latest plan is to escape to the Beyonder’s former realm, which remains empty.

Volcana tells him to stop, and to show some guts for once and make a stand.

The 24 hour deadline approaches, and the Beyonder has decided that maybe he should give mortality a try. He decides to apologize to the Molecule Man for his behavior, but when he returns to Owen’s home, he is immediately attacked. The Molecule Man gives him everything he’s got, but the Beyonder is unfazed.

Before the Beyonder can retaliate with all his renewed anger and fury, Volcana jumps in the way. She begs the Beyonder to spare her, to kill Owen if he wants, but to save her. She offers herself to him, and calls her former lover a worm, and says that she never loved him.
It’s like my first wedding night all over again.
The Beyonder kicks her away, calling her a grotesque cow, and she runs out the door. The Molecule Man collapses in agony. (Volcana has to hold the record for the most times a character has been referred to as a cow. Not even the Skrulls have been called cows as often, and they were actual cows in one story.)

The Beyonder mocks the traumatized Molecule Man, as he curls up on the floor in agony. The pitiful display has convinced the Beyonder not to become a mortal, but fortunately cheered him up enough not to destroy the multiverse.

Outside, Volcana drives away in tears. She figured if she made a big display of betraying Owen, that the Beyonder might not be jealous of him anymore. If he’s not jealous, maybe he won’t be so angry about his inability to find a place in the world. She drives off, planning to contact the Fantastic Four or the Avengers about what happened.

Despite a generous serving of Molecule Man in this issue, it felt very much like the lead-up to the end of the series. It was probably inevitable that the Beyonder would eventually become unhinged and threaten to destroy the universe, this is comics after all, but it didn’t make for the most compelling of reads. It does set up a lot of what’s going to come up in the finale though.

However, this continues to be one of the most unorthodox crossover comics you could possibly imagine. Most of the appearances by actual heroes of the Marvel universe in this issue were only to show how ineffective they are in this particular situation. The central characters of this chapter were a god that has decided to destroy all of existence, and a former villain that does just about anything he can to avoid the situation out of fear and cowardice. As I’m sure I’ve already said before, you have to appreciate this series for its ambition, if nothing else.

Next week, dead babies!

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