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Secret Wars II #7: Review

Jan 1986
Jim Shooter, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Charge of the dark brigade

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Secret Wars II #7 Review by (October 12, 2016)
Thing's spiel to Hertneky brings us up to his fight with Beyonder in Thing #30. But in this issue Ben is filming on a tropical island and in his #31, published in the same month, he's also on a tropical island where filming is going on. This is too much to be a coincidence so it makes sense to amalgamate the 2 things. (On the other hand the films appear very different, and Thing's role is too.)
Hopper will make 1 further app in Fantastic Four #296 where he flies a mutated Thing to Monster Island after the end of his series.
Ben doesn't mention the West Coast Avengers but they appear in his thought images. So this is presumably after at least WCA#3-4 where he 1st meets them. Analysis with the Marvel Chronology Project suggests the sequence Th#30, WCA#3-4, Th#31, this issue, Th#32, WCA#5-9 before #9 of this series.

In the comments on #5 I followed the X-Men and New Mutants to Uncanny XM #200 which ended with Lilandra and the Corsairs taking Prof X to try to save his life, and Magneto left in charge of the teams.
Magneto took the NM for their 1st classes in NM#35. Most of them joined the XM in UXM#201 as visiting Cyclops tried to take team leadership back from Storm. And in space the fugitive Starjammers couldn't get healed PX back to Earth for the moment.
Then after various X-Men appeared in Marvel Fanfare #33 and Power Pack #19, and Magneto confronted his daughter again in Vision & Scarlet Witch (1985) #6, Maggie and the XM did Heroes For Hope in Africa. And Rachel Summers, now Phoenix, had a cameo in Dazzler's penultimate issue #41.

Spider-Man hasn't been seen in these pages since #2. I described then much of what he's been up to in the meantime. But his very last app before this was Web Of Spider-Man #13 where he finally lost his temper with J Jonah Jameson.

We don't see 99 identifiable villains in this issue, but we do see too many to comment on. However there are some things worth saying.

This app by Dr Doom is problematic in the same way that his starring role in GN 27: Emperor Doom was. Dr Doom as such doesn't exist in this period. Between FF#260 and #288 his body was destroyed and his mind was transferred to an innocent bystander.
This period includes Secret Wars I. In FF#288 (following #8 of this series) Beyonder will restore Doom to his body and send him back to take part in SWI. The Beyonder of that time will then send him forward to FF#288 to continue his life. But this doesn't explain his presence in this issue and EDoom.
Possibilities include:- It was a Doombot in these 2 issues. Beyonder included them in the enforced time-travel trip. Doom used his own time machine afterwards. The Marvel Chronology Project has indefinitely postponed making a decision. But they have placed the 2 apps after FF#288, which tacitly endorses the Doom's time machine option.

Near this time there are 2 versions of the robot Ultron in simultaneous existence - MK 11 and Mk 12 both appearing in WCA. The discussion mentioned earlier with the MCP about Thing places this Ultron between WCA#4 and #5. At this point Ultron-12 is the only 1 active, and he has not yet turned good. Ultron-11 is still compelling people to take his head from New York to his California lab so he can get a new body. (See SWI, Thing #21-22 and FF#277 and a flashback in WCA#7 for how he got in that situation.) So the Ultron here is Mk 12.

Juggernaut is a long-time X-villain (and Prof X's stepbrother) here between Uncanny X-Men #194 and #217. Before that he was in Marvel Team-Up #150 with his pal Black Tom Cassidy (cousin of sometime-X-Man Banshee). The castle referred to here is Cassidy Keep which Tom lost to Sean/Banshee in a gambling game.

Electro on the other hand is a long-time Spider-Man villain. He was already a prisoner in Project Pegasus in his last app in Power Man & Iron Fist #113, possibly after his capture in Falcon #4. But that wouldn't explain his other apps in Code of Honour #3, a flashback in Avengers: Initiative #27 and the Marvel 1985 mini-series.
Presumably the villains all get transported back to where Mephisto got them from, so Electro winds up back in jail. He's an escaped prisoner in his next app Amazing SM Annual #21 - in time for Peter Parker's wedding to Mary Jane Watson. But he gets captured again.
Project Pegasus was invented in Marvel Two-In-One #42 as a base for researching energy sources. But as it says here it housed energy-manipulating criminals as both prisoners and research subjects.

In the long-time villain stakes Baron Mordo belongs to Dr Strange. In his last battle in DrS#49-51 he and Strange wound up back in WWII where Mordo's grandfather was trying to use the the young Mordo's future magical prowess to help Dormammu help Hitler. He'll return in DrS(1988)#9 for a long-running plot where he'll commit dastardly deeds in order to earn a cure for his cancer.

Absorbing Man and Titania met in Secret Wars I. Crusher Creel has been in the 1985 mini-series since then. But now we see that they are still a couple, and will continue so eg into their next app Avengers #270 as they are recruited into the next incarnation of the Masters of Evil ready for Baron Zemo's assault on the Avengers.

The next apps of Spider-Man and the X-gang will be in tie-ins to this issue as Beyonder teaches people their true roles in life.
In NM#36 Beyonder takes Magik's Darkchylde side away. But this weakens the dimensional walls keeping demons out, and Illyana has to take her dark side back to save her chums.
Puma has been raised to fight the predicted Beyonder. In ASM#273 he enlists Spider-Man's help but B delays things by transporting Puma to Japan.
Phoenix also tries to kill Beyonder in UXM#202. She fails but he responds by giving her the power to do it if she wants. Alternatively she can save the X-Men from the Sentinels he's brought from the Days of Future Past alternate future. She chooses the latter.

In New Defenders #152 (the last in that series) B gives Moondragon some of his power as she battle the Dragon of the Moon for control of her mind. Although she seems to lose to the Dragon the Beyonder-power enables her to subvert things so that things work out in the end, even as she dies (a temporary Marvel death).
(This series was actually concluded so that Angel, Beast and Iceman could join Cyclops and the returned Jean Grey as X-Factor.)

Finally SSM#111 Puma is back from Japan and because it is his ordained role to kill the Big B the universe gives him the power to do it. But a moment of doubt takes the power away.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Secret Wars II #7 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Mephisto expresses his concerns to his beloved Death (who got killed and replaced by Dave at the end of last issue - but presumably Death is still Death whoever it is). He must find a way to destroy Beyonder in case he kills Death again. (He's also just plain annoyed that Beyonder is so much more powerful than him.)

The Big B donated a large chunk of his energy to kill Death. Mephisto has captured that energy before it can return to its owner. He noted that when Dr Doom stole some of B's energy in Secret Wars I #11 the Beyonder was vulnerable. M hopes that this is true again. He has built a huge machine he calls  Beyondersbane to temporarily house the energy, and intends to use it to kill the cosmic being. When he asks Death if it will work she goes all ambiguously oracle on him.

The object of his worry has retired to a deserted Pacific island to think (after his attempt to be a superhero champion of life failed last issue, and his ocean base was destroyed in Power Man & Iron Fist #121 ). But his reverie is interrupted by Ed Strunk, a middle-management guy who has similarly come to a larger, populated island to 'find himself'.

And on a 3rd island Thing is starring in an alien invasion movie. But he and his crew take a break when the flying-boat mailman Hopper Hertneky delivers a crate of his favourite beer. But Ben Grimm crushes most of the brews in anger when Hopper mentions his wrestling bout with Beyonder (Thing #30). Ben explains to Hertneky his history with the B.

Beyonder abducted a load of superheroes and villains to Battleworld (SWI) On that planet Ben discovered he could switch between Thing and human at will, so he stayed there for a while after everyone else went home. But events caused him to give up his human side completely (Th#22) (after discovering that he'd always been able to switch, but a mental block had stopped him).

When he returned to Earth in Fantastic Four #277 he discovered that his girlfriend Alicia Masters had taken up with his best friend Human Torch. (We don't know at this time that this Alicia is really a Skrull replacement Lyja.) So Ben quit the team in Th#23. (He doesn't mention that he'd already decided it was over with Alicia on Battleworld.) (He also doesn't mention another reason he quit the FF - in Th#23 Mr Fantastic told him he'd long known about Ben's mental block.)

Thing covers the succeeding issues of his own mag. He'd joined the Thunderiders stunt-bikers, and then the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation of enhanced wrestlers. Including the fight with Beyonder who he blames for losing Alicia and his human side because of the abduction to Battleworld. He tried to kill B in the ring but couldn't bring himself to do it.

Meanwhile on desert island #1 Beyonder has been ignoring Ed Strunk. But Ed interprets this as a zen thing and adopts B as his guru. Strunk leaves and comes back with loads of others (1 of whom looks suspiciously like Al Milgrom) who proceed to sit around thinking.

Meanwhile again, Mephisto has sent demon Bitterhorn to recruit supervillains. We see him promise Juggernaut to get his pal Black Tom Cassidy his castle back. Visiting Electro in prison in Project Pegasus and promising his freedom. And meeting Baron Mordo in a mystic dimension with a promise of power. And Absorbing Man and Titania.

Each time they shake hands on the deal the villain is linked to Beyondersbane. Mephisto's plan is to send all the villains against Beyonder. If he attacks 1 of them or allows 1 to touch him then his own energy will flood into him and B will be destroyed by the feedback - taking Earth and 1/3 of the universe with him, but c'est la vie.

Death silently indicates doubt whether this will be enough. So Mephisto further explains that the cosmic powers seen last issue have agreed to the plan, and Eternity will fire the weapon adding all the power in the universe to the mix. And Death will get all those who are killed, and Mephisto himself will get his share of those souls.

A demon arrives to say that Bitterhorn has gathered the requisite 99 villains.

Word of guru Beyonder has spread to the media and reporters arrive on the island. Ed Strunk elects himself B's spokesman. Owen Reece sees it on TV and it disrupts his game of Trivial Pursuit with Marsha Rosenberg and some friends. Spider-Man sees it too, as does Magneto with the New Mutants and X-Men (but no Prof X). Thing even sees it on his movie island.

Mephisto has a problem. The Beyondersbane is unstable and will melt down in a short while. But he has the villains ready, and Eternity has almost finished aiming the weapon at Beyonder. But then Big B announces that he's leaving the island because he's lost the solitude he came for. Mephisto panics because there won't be time to re-aim the weapon before it self-destructs.

So the demon appears to Thing as if in a dream in the guise of some of his friends and stokes up his hatred of Beyonder, and as Ed Garner of the UCWF he gets him to sign a contract for a match against B - a contract which temporarily increases his strength a hundred times. When Ben Grimm wakes he immediately swims the 115 miles to Beyonder's isle and angrily smashes his way to his enemy. Beyonder doesn't respond, but it is enough to keep him there.

Beyondersbane is aimed and Mephisto sends his villains to attack. Thing sees them running towards him and is torn between killing Beyonder and saving him. Beyonder is torn between killing them all, letting them kill him if he's so bad, and just teleporting off. Mephisto doesn't want B to escape, but on the other hand what if he survives and tracks the mastermind down?

In the end Ben's inherent good nature wins out and he uses his enormously enhanced strength against the supervillains attacking on foot. And none of them get through to touch Beyonder. But then the flying contingent zooms in. But Thing throws Absorbing Man at them, and the enhanced power that Crusher Creel absorbs knocks them all out of the sky.

There are still a few villains left standing, so Mephisto desperately tears up the contract that gave Thing the extra strength. But by then only Juggernaut is left. Juggy easily beats the normal-powered Thing, and advances on Beyonder. But with his last ounce of strength Ben grabs Cain Marko's foot and holds him back ...

... and time runs out and the Beyondersbane goes into meltdown and all the villains return whence they came. Death leaves Mephisto in a huff, and the damned souls get a measure of comfort from their lord's displeasure. Eternity returns to being the universe, and the other cosmic beings go back to their own roles. And Owen Reece/Molecule Man is relieved for the moment, but fears that he's going to have to get involved before the end.

The stolen Beyonder-power is dispersed but will eventually find its way back to him. And Thing collapses spent. But Beyonder has a revelation. Ben Grimm rediscovered that his true role in the universe was as a hero. Maybe his own role is to teach others to find their roles.


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


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Absorbing Man
Absorbing Man

(Crusher Creel)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)
Spider-Man
Spider-Man

(Peter Parker)
Thing
Thing

(Ben Grimm)

Plus: Alicia Masters, Mephisto.