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Secret Wars II #9: Review

Mar 1986
Jim Shooter, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

God in man, man in god

Review & Comments

4 stars

Secret Wars II #9 Review by (October 25, 2016)
Some of the assembled heroes are carried forward from last issue:-
The Avengers are fresh from there and the Av#265 tie-in but have now added Wasp (after the Fantastic Four #288 tie-in) and guest Thor who since our #5 has been in his #360-362 (harrowing Hel to rescue mortal souls), #363 (a tie-in after #6 featuring Power Pack, Beta Ray Bill and Kurse) and #364-365 (part of the frog-Thor story).
The X-Men are here after last issue and tie-in Uncanny XM #203 and still have no Nightcrawler and Storm. They also show up initially without Magneto, probably so as not to antagonise the other heroes too much, but he's in later panels.
The New Mutants of course were deleted from existence in tie-in NM#37 within last issue.
Spider-Man has managed to squeeze some stuff in between the Amazing SM #274 tie-in within last issue and this 1. Spectacular SM 112 was a Xmas story and ASM#275-276 was a 2-part Hobgoblin story. In between he cameoed in Power Pack #21.
But Hulk just comes straight from last issue.

Most of the other heroes have been in this series before:-
Alpha Flight's apps since #4 (AF#28, Hulk #313, AF#29) were mentioned last issue because they also involved Hulk.
Silver Surfer had a cameo in #4 but hasn't done anything since.
Since we last saw them in #5 the West Coast Avengers have sort-of gained Firebird and Thing during their #5-9. Except Thing has only just been badgered into accepting membership in #9 and Firebird has given up waiting to be asked and decided to leave. In the meantime Tigra made a deal with the Cat-People, Hank Pym reconciled with Ultron-12 who was then killed by Ultron-11, and the team had a showdown with Master Pandemonium.
In the middle of that Iron Man and Wonder Man took some time off to fight the Banner-less Hulk we met last issue in Hulk #316..

The Fantastic Four were also in our #5 followed by the FF#285 tie-in and Mr Fantastic popping back for #6. Since then while staying with the Avengers they've been involved in the return of Jean Grey in FF#286/New Defenders #152(another tie-in)/X-Factor #1, cameoed in the Squadron Supreme crossover in Captain America #314 and the origin of the new female Yellowjacket in Av#264, and witnessed the return of Dr Doom in FF#287-288 (with Beyonder appearing in the #288 tie-in after last issue).
Cloak & Dagger met Beyonder after #6 in a tie-in #4 of their 2nd series. Since then they guested in Power Pack #19 for Thansgiving and returned to their war on drugs in their #5.
Technically Power Man & Iron Fist were last in this series in #2 but they too had a tie-in after #6 in PM&IF#121, and I discussed the time-travel complications of those 2 apps in #2. But I didn't mention that IF was replaced by a H'ylthri imposter in #120. Since then the duo have only been in their #122 where they ended the dragon Chiangtang plotline. But IF here is still the imposter.
I could also say here that Mephisto since #7 has only been in the tie-in ASM#274 mentioned above.

The only heroes who haven't been here before are Vision and Scarlet Witch who appear between #6 and #7 of their own limited series. I've mentioned #6 before as Magneto and various Avengers went there for Thanksgiving dinner.

Various authorities claim Starfox is in this issue but I can't see him, and he left the Avengers and went into space in #261.

Nearly all the heroes who currently had titles running are represented here, plus Silver Surfer who was between series. But there are heroes with titles who are missing, including some who have played a role in this series:-
Dazzler (possibly left out because her series is just ending) and Power Pack featured in the series itself as well as their own tie-ins. Daredevil and the Micronauts had their tie-in issues. Even the original X-Men, who are now back as X-Factor, tied in as part of the New Defenders.
The only characters with current series who never interacted with this 1 are Punisher and the Eternals.

Phoenix claims she still has some Beyonder-power left from UXM#202, even though she returned it all in UXM#203.

We never see Phoenix fully cure NM but they are back in NM#38 after this issue.
But this leads to a continuity problem with Thor. In NM#38 Mirage meets frog-Thor, so that must be within the frog-Thor story Th#364-366. But Thor here in #9 is the bearded Thor which he doesn't become until between Th#366 and #367. Ignoring the beard and putting Thor before the frog-Thor story has its own problems.

There is 1 last tie-in, an epilogue in Av#266. All but the (East Coast) Avengers, Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer have left. Beyonder's blast didn't just destroy the Rockies, it threatens to tear the planet apart. Surfer tries to mend the planet but can't. Then injured Molecule Man joins them. He has been using his waning power to hold the world together. He joins forces with Surfer and they manage to repair the damage (including restoring the Rockies), but it drains MM of power. Except he only pretends that last bit so the heroes will leave him alone.

But this is not the end of the Beyonder. The FF will discover his new universe in FF#319, along with a new explanation for his origin and a new destiny for the character as a Cosmic Cube called Kosmos.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Secret Wars II #9 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Beyonder intends to destroy the multiverse but knows that for his aloneness to be once more complete he must also destroy his memory of it, which won't be as easy.

Meanwhile Marsha Rosenberg has been trying to get through to the Avengers but keeps being put on hold by their hotline. Eventually she manages to get them to hear that she's talking about the Beyonder and she's put through, but only to the Fantastic Four who are staying at Avengers Mansion since the Baxter Building was destroyed (FF#278). Mr Fantastic tells her that the Avengers are off fighting Beyonder (Av#265).

Marsha explains she's been living quietly with Owen Reece/Molecule Man in Denver until Beyonder turned up. Now he wants to kill Owen and destroy the universe. She stalled him for a bit (last issue) but since then she's been trying to call the Avengers.

The FF set out for Denver but suddenly find themselves whisked to the Colorado Rockies instead. There they find a great assemblage of superheroes:- Avengers and West Coast Avengers, Alpha Flight, Spider-Man, Hulk, Vision & Scarlet Witch, Cloak & Dagger, Power Man & Iron Fist and Silver Surfer along with Marsha Rosenberg. Then The X-Men join them and Phoenix explains that it was she who brought everyone here to defeat Beyonder.

Marsha offers to join them with the Volcana power that Dr Doom gave her in Secret Wars I #3. But now that Phoenix has extracted all the info about Beyonder from her mind they send her back home to safety because she's only an amateur superheroine.

The object of their concern has created a new underground base for himself further north in the Rockies. He tries to sort out what he really wants to do by voicing his thoughts to tape. When he came to Earth from the Beyond-Realm, where he had been all there was, he had discovered multiplicity. And all these individual beings felt incomplete, which led to desires. And now that he knows he's not alone he too feels incompleteness and desires. But he is omnipotent and so everything in the multiverse is as he wants it to be, even if only because he hasn't changed it. He can have anything he desires but he doesn't know what he wants.

When he was all there was in his universe he felt no incompleteness, and so no annoying desire. So he had logically come to the conclusion that he should destroy everything. But his memory of the multiverse would still make him feel incomplete. He would have to return himself to the state before he found the multiverse. But he can't actually remember anything before then. Did he come into existence at that point? Or did he exist before then but was unaware? If he wipes out this reality will the result for him be peace or death?

And he also remembers all the mortal lives he has come across, and the persistent idea that it is their very mortality that gives their lives meaning. And he decides to make himself mortal, even though it will leave him vulnerable. This will require him to be born into a human body. He rejects the 9-month approach using a human female, and instead magics up a huge Jack Kirby machine.

But he wants to test it before using it on himself. He remembers the New Mutants who he wiped out of existence in NM#37. He gathers up the faint traces that remain of them and casts it all into the machine. He sets it to evolve them to adolescence and mere moments later they all pop out of the end, costumes included. But they are mindless zombies. He adjusts the device to recreate him with mind and memories intact.

The final preparatory step is to create a vessel to store his power in. Then he reverts his current human-like body to his energy form. The energy goes into storage except for a tiny amount which is fed into the machine. And he comes out as a grown man - but mortal.

He immediately panics and dives into the storage tank. The energy destroys his mortal body but recreates him as a human god again.

Meanwhile back in Denver Marsha remembers how she saved Owen's life by pretending to betray him to the Big B. She reckoned that B only wanted to kill Owie because he envied their close relationship. Reece had been devastated, and Marsha enters the apartment to find it trashed. But Owen is sitting in an armchair seemingly OK.

He tells her how he almost committed suicide, but then thought to himself that if he was that weak then he didn't deserve her love in the 1st place. He found the strength to survive on his own. And then he realised that losing his need for Marsha freed him to truly love her for the 1st time. And the lovers are reunited. (Presumably he also worked out along the way that Marsha had only pretended not to love him too.)

But Owen has also found the courage to face Beyonder again as Molecule Man. Something that Eternity and the other cosmic beings seem unwilling to do.

Back in his underground lair Beyonder remembers the unbearable feeling he'd had that every mortal moment was unique and fleeting. But now the sameness of his immortal moments seems unbearable too. He steels himself and puts himself through the process again. And this time he doesn't wimp out. He revels in tiring himself out with that unexpected thing - exertion.

And at this point Mephisto attacks with a horde of demons. He revels in torturing the helpless mortal body. And despite B knowing that it's all illusion, because Mephisto has no physical power on this plane, he still feels the pain. (But surely the demons can be real and do real damage?)

But anyway mortal Beyonder battles towards the vessel containing his power. Mephisto surrounds it with (illusory) flames which (appear to) sear B's flesh as he reaches out to it. B forces his arm through and into the vessel. And he's Big B again. And Mephisto and his demons have gone.

Now back to the assembled heroes. Phoenix has brought them to the spot above Beyonder's lair, which is 8-9 miles below them. Molecule Man teleports to join them with Volcana.

Bur B detects them and decides to send the New Mutants against them. He recreates the techno-organic Warlock, who wasn't restored by his machine. Then he programs their heads with instructions to fight the heroes and transports them to the surface. Because B erased all memories of them in NM#37 no-one recognises them, not even the X-Men.

Warlock forms himself into armour to enclose Doug Ramsey/Cypher and leaps into battle alongside Cannonball, Magik, Magma and Wolfsbane. But Mirage and Karma recognise that Phoenix is the greatest threat. Mirage causes Rachel Summers to think the Phoenix-power is turning against her, which allows Karma the opportunity to take control of her body. The others get beaten by combinations of heroes, and Karma & Mirage get taken out by Cloak, Invisible Woman and Scarlet Witch.

Phoenix then examines the minds of their foes and learns who they are and what happened to them. For the moment she pacifies them, but swears to put them right later.

But for now Molecule Man takes the heroes down to Beyonder's hideout. B was using the NM as a delaying tactic while he modified his machine again. This time it would make him mortal but with his power intact - like MM but more so. But he hasn't finished his mods when the heroes arrive.

He erects a quick barrier to hold them off but the strongest of them smash through it. So he strikes them down with his power, leaving only Captain America and Molecule Man standing. So now B and MM clash across the whole multiverse. Owen is losing, but he's also draining some of Big B's power. The other heroes recover and all pile on the weakened Beyonder.

But Reece weakens too soon, and Beyonder hurls him and all the heroes away into a pile. And then he fires a blast at them which leaves a scar where the Rocky Mountains once stood and continues on through space forever.

Now B is alone once more to finish fixing his machine. He sends his energy once again into storage while a small part of it enters the machine to again create a baby human. But this time the stored energy is siphoned into that child.

But Owen Reece had retained enough strength to shield the heroes from the blast, and they recover at the far end of the gouge in the Earth's surface. And he was also able shunt all the other living things out of the path of the blast into sub-space, in stasis to be retrieved when it's safe. But the fight has left him badly hurt.

Phoenix takes over and teleports everyone back to Beyonder's lab where they find the baby in the machine. The heroes immediately deduce that the child is the Beyonder, but then argue about killing a baby - especially Marsha and Owen. Spider-Man's spider-sense detects that the machine's defences are going to react against them, giving Sue Richards enough time to erect a forcefield to protect them from the blast.

The heroes now leap to wreck the machine, but Mr Fantastic stops them because they might let Beyonder's energy loose to destroy everything. But Molecule Man fires past him and breaks the machine apart. Energy spews out of it, and white light consumes the world.

But then the world is recreated from the light. Everyone's alive except the baby. Cap realises that it must have been Owen who saved them all. But Reece thinks the effort has permanently damaged him. However Marsha forgives him for what she knows he had to do.

Then we have an epilogue in the Beyonder's realm. It seems that MM achieved his miracle by siphoning all the Beyonder-power back there. It came through a small hole from the Marvel Universe and acted like the Big Bang. It created a universe that eventually resulted in sentient mortals. Thus the Beyonder got his wish.

To be continued in AVENGERS #266.

Al Milgrom
Steve Leialoha
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Al Milgrom (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Bruce Banner)
Invisible Woman
Invisible Woman

(Sue Storm)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)
Silver Surfer
Silver Surfer

(Norrin Radd)

(Peter Parker)

Plus: Cannonball, Wolfsbane.

> Secret Wars II: Book info and issue index

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