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Secret Wars II #1: Review

Jul 1985
Jim Shooter, Al Milgrom

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4 stars

Secret Wars II #1 Review by (August 1, 2016)
Molecule Man met Marsha on Battleworld after Dr Doom transformed her into Volcana, and they fell in love there.
MM can't recognise Beyonder by his bodily form as he didn't have such a thing in Secret Wars I. So he must recognise his energy signature (as they often say).

Prof X is recuperating from a beating in Uncanny X-Men #192. In New Mutants #28 he sensed the approach of Beyonder during his mental battle to mend the mind of his son Legion. Now he detects that Beyonder has arrived.
In NM#29 Magma and Sunspot were forced to fight as Gladiators in LA. Cannonball and Magik went to rescue them, with help from Sam Guthrie's girlfriend Lila Cheney and Dazzler (who was 1 of the Gladiators in the Beauty And The Beast mini-series). The issue ends with the scene here where Magneto fetches those 4 from the arena. Magma and Sunspot stay to save the lives of hostages.
And in UXM#195 in the Morlock tunnels Rachel Summers gets a psychic call to bring the X-Men she's with back to the Westchester school. But the call is from Magneto, which explains why they burst in ready for a fight.

The X-Men here are Colossus, Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers, Rogue, Shadowcat and Wolverine. Storm is away in Kenya since UXM#193 where she's gone to re-evaluate her life now she's no longer a mutant. Cyclops had married Madelyne Pryor and left the team before Secret Wars I.

Rachel Summers is from the Days Of Future past alternate future where she inherited her mother Jean Grey's mental powers, but she came to the present in NM#18. In that future she was a Hound used to track down other mutants for the government.

Illyana Rasputin spent years in Limbo (the Magik mini-series) being trained and corrupted by Belasco. She returned as Magik, but also with the so-far hidden alternate Darkchilde persona.

Lila Cheney is an interstellar thief and rock singer introduced in NM Annual #1. Dazzler is her backing singer at this point (although she still has her own comic series, here between #38 and #39).

Chris Claremont began turning Magneto into less of a villain in NM#23-29 while he too was recuperating on a desert island with Lee Forrester.

Captain America has been in England with Captain Britain in CA#305-307.

Tony Stark has been working on a new Iron Man armour in IM#195-196. It will eventually be the armour he uses in #200 when he becomes IM again.

There are 4 official tie-ins that follow this issue:-

NM#30 In Limbo Shadowcat uses Illyana's Soulsword to turn her back from Darkcilde to Magik. The group continue the Gladiators plotline. Invisble Beyonder follows them, interested in Rachel and Dazzler. After a confrontation with Rachel he leaves. (The Gladiators story then concludes in #31.)

UXM#196 Beyonder continues to invisibly follow Rachel (and she continues to detect him) as the X-Men track down the students who attacked Prof X in #192. Beyonder decides he needs to become a human.

CA#308 Beyonder follows Cap too as he defeats Dr Malus and helps reluctant new supervillain Armadillo. Impressed he decides to use Steve Rogers as his model for a human body.

IM#197 Beyonder isn't in this. Cadwall realises he still has the power Beyonder gave him and recreates Thundersword, this time without the weakness - dependence on the thunderbolt weapon. But IM defeats him again. He's never heard from again.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Secret Wars II #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
A being enters this universe and heads for Earth. His crashlanding in hills outside Denver is seen by Owen Reese, who just returns from his balcony to rejoin his sweetheart Marsha Rosenberg watching a Hogan's Heroes rerun. But then the TV goes off and there's another loud noise. Large chunks of hillside are flying past the apartment.

Marsha turns into Volcana and blasts 1 of the chunks apart, but also sets fire to their carpet. Owen uses his Molecule Man powers to douse the flames, and then leaps out into the passing rock storm. He locates the spot where he saw the landing and levitates that piece of hillside to him. Standing on it is a humanoid form that MM recognises as the Beyonder.

In Moira MacTaggert's home on Muir Island in Scotland the recuperating Charles Xavier wakes screaming that the Beyonder is here. The New Mutants (Cypher (mistakenly with black hair), Legion, Mirage, Warlock and Wolfsbane) run to him and Prof X tells Moira to take them to (relative) safety with Magneto and the X-Men. But he faints while trying to telepathically contact others (possibly the Illuminati).

But the message gets through to Captain America, who's on a commercial flight from London to New York. However Prof X could only locate the danger somewhere in the Western US, so Cap uses Avengers Priority to divert the plane to Los Angeles.

En route he recalls the events of Secret Wars I. The extradimensional Beyonder created the Battleworld planet and transported superheroes and supervillains to it. He pitted the 2 sides against each other, promising to grant the wishes of the survivors. Dr Doom ignored the subsequent war and instead stole the Beyonder's own power. But human Doom couldn't control the power, and the Beyonder reclaimed it.

Back in Denver Owen and Marsha are playing host to Beyonder, who's taken a musclebound form with a composite costume modelled on many supercharacters. He says he's come to Earth to understand life. Owen agrees - understanding set him free. Since he gained his powers (Fantastic Four #20) he let self-doubt limit his control over molecules, but in SWI#11 he learned that he could do anything (which he demonstrates by turning a sculpture into an apple). But now that he knows he's omnipotent he's content with a simple life with Marsha.

Beyonder's lack of knowledge reduces his use of language to an almost Hulk-level but with bigger words (strangely he was more fluent in SWI). He expresses a desire for experiences. Marsha suggests LA as a place you can experience everything. Owen suggests a less conspicuous body. Beyonder leaves, and the couple settle down to watch a Laverne and Shirley rerun.

At the X-Men's Westchester school Colossus and Nightcrawler face Magneto who has received a psychic message from Prof X to come and lead the team in this crisis. They also got the message, but when the rest of the X-Men (Rachel Summers, Rogue, Shadowcat and Wolverine) burst in they're all very unsure about trusting a man who's tried to kill them multiple times. But they agree to follow him (but keep on the lookout for treachery).

Their private plane is being repaired so they face a long drive out west. But Magneto uses his control of magnetism to levitate their limousine there.

It's very early morning in LA as Beyonder arrives as a floating ball of energy. He overhears Stewart Cadwall, a writer for a TV cartoon and other TV series, complaining to his agent on the phone that he's sick of writing unrealistic violence - he wants to write realistic violence. Beyonder enters the apartment of Stewart and his girlfriend Marian and takes the form of Owen Reece, complete with the facial scars from Owen's origin accident.

Beyonder's dialogue has improved. He explains that in his dimension he's all there is. Now he wants to understand how things can be separate and different. He demonstrates his omnipotence by turning Stewart's desk and computer into a pile of apples.

The X-Men have arrived in LA too, so that Magneto can interrupt a secret gladiatorial combat amongst mutants. He persuades New Mutants Cannonball and Magik to come with him, along with Dazzler and Lila Cheney. But Magma and Sunspot of the NM elect to stay - and those were who the others came to rescue. Magneto says the Beyonder is more important, and asks Rachel Summers to locate him telepathically.

Cadwall diagnoses Beyonder's problem - he can do anything he wants but he doesn't know what he wants - more, he doesn't even understand what wanting is. Stewart suggests that if Beyonder wants to see what it is to have a desire fulfilled he should give him a superpower. Beyonder zaps Stewart and the Shazam award he's holding, turning him into golden-armoured Thundersword with his magic thunderbolt. Thundersword  leaps out of the apartment into midair, and his winged horse Boromir appears beneath him. They ride off into the sunrise and Beyonder follows as energy.

The whole X-pack are in the (apparently enormous) flying limo and Rachel is scanning the whole of western US for the Beyonder (they don't know he's in LA). She is hampered by not knowing what she's looking for, and by her ex-Hound's dislike of using her telepathy to hunt someone. But she does detect the power of Thundersword and they guess that he's Beyonder.

They find him trashing NBC Studios. As Cannonball and Rogue prepare to fly to attack he slices through the car with his thunderbolt. Magneto holds it together magnetically and uses Rachel to mentally pass on his commands. He sends Cannonball after their foe, and Nightcrawler, Rogue and Shadowcat to outflank him. But Thundersword scatters them all. Colossus and Wolverine catch hurtling Cannonball as he crashes through a MacDonalds window. Stewart Cadwall decides to destroy that symbol of mediocrity too. And accidentally sets fire to a next door motel, which Rachel telepathically empties of guests.

Meanwhile Captain America is heading this way in a cab.

And in the West Coast Avengers HQ Tony Stark and James Rhodes are working on a new Iron Man armour. They hear about the battle and Rhodey dons the current IM suit and sets out to help.

Cap arrives and saves a mother and son from the motel. Then he notices Magneto and Dazzler and hopes they'll follow up on his next action. He throws his shield at Thundersword, who parries it with his thunderbolt. The resulting klang (plus other noise) powers Dazzler up to emit blinding light at the enemy. And Magneto throws used cars at him. But Cadwall treats them with the same disdain he has for the rest of American culture.

A chunk of broken car stuns Lila Cheney. Rachel tries to mentally check she's OK but there's some source of psionic interference messing with her abilities (which  also prevented her checking Thundersword's identity earlier). She mentally probes for the source of that, and finds the real Beyonder who now appears as Owen Reece again.

He's most interested in Magik. He reaches into her heart and turns her into her demonic self Darkchilde. Panicked Illyana Rasputin summons a stepping disc and takes Cannonball, Dazzler, Kitty Pryde and Rachel to Limbo.

While Cap continues to fight Thundersword, Wolverine thinks Beyonder has taken the youngsters away and he attacks him while Magneto, Lila Cheney and the other X-Men try to restrain him. Logan stabs Beyonder with his claws, and Lila uses her power to teleport them away. Cap is distracted by this (that never happens!) allowing Thundersword to knock him down.

But as he's about to strike the killing blow Iron Man joins the fight and blasts him. And Cap recovers and strikes too. Then IM carries Cap away, and simultaneously detects that the thunderbolt sword is Thundersword's power source. So they dive back and Steve Rogers throws his shield to knock the sword out of the villain's hand. (And Jim Rhodes is a bit disconcerted when Cap calls him Shellhead.)

The golden-armoured superguy reverts to chubby Stewart Cadwall and the flying horse vanishes. Beyonder ignores his pleas to turn him super again. He's more concerned with the realisation that being stabbed by Wolverine was an experience but watching Cadwall wasn't, so now he will seek personal experiences. And he disappears.

Cadwall too has a realisation - he's just destroyed NBC Studios (and offpage the animation studio) that he writes scripts for. Captain America leaves Iron Man to hand him over to the police, and suggests recommending psychiatric care. They can't do anything about the Beyonder now. Steve will call Charles Xavier to report what's happened to his X-Men.

But Steve doesn't realise that part of the invisible Beyonder is following him. (Another part will follow Rachel Summers around.)

Al Milgrom
Steve Leialoha
Christie Scheele
John Byrne (Cover Penciler)
Terry Austin (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Piotr Rasputin)

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Anna Marie LeBeau)

(James Howlett)

Plus: Cannonball, Wolfsbane.

> Secret Wars II: Book info and issue index

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