You know, the phrase “It was all a big blur” is one that most people probably associate with a drunken night (or several, perhaps) in college, not to reading a comic book when you are eight years old. Then again, I may not be the only person who will say this about Secret Wars II.
Published in 1985 and 1986, Secret Wars II as the direct sequel to the blockbuster Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars event that had come out in 1984. In that original series, an omnipotent being named The Beyonder swipes all of Earth’s heroes and villains and transports them to Battleworld, where they do an enormous amount of fighting (and Spider-Man gets the infamous alien costume). In the sequel, The Beyonder comes to Earth in human form and learns about being human.
I have to be honest–I only ever owned issue #6 and even then didn’t buy it voluntarily because it was another birthday party favor. And I don’t know if I read it thirty years ago when I first got it. Even if I did, I probably didn’t understand what was going on. I remember looking at the cover and thinking that the issue was probably important because it said that it was “#6 in a nine-issue limited series” (that and DC’s “miniseries,” “maxi-series,” or “Anniversary” banners were catnip to me back in the day … and still kind of are) and the cover showed this guy busting past a group of Earth’s mightiest heroes, saying, “Move over heroes, The Beyonder’s here!”
But really, up until I read this comic for this very blog post, I didn’t know what the comic was about. And quite frankly, I still have no idea what is going on. It seems that The Beyonder has come to Earth, closed on some property, built a huge house/headquarters, filled it with a ton of stuff like cars and planes, and then decides to help out Power Pack (which I assume plays out in greater detail in Power Pack #18, which is an official crossover issue). Meanwhile, Dave, a reporter from a local newspaper interviews him and The Beyonder tells the reporter all about who he is and how he came to be. But then he basically hires the guy as his PR man, they set up and organization, and The Beyonder decides he will “fight for life.” he doesn’t know what his role is or should be, and The Watcher along with superheroes think he might be dangerous. He then decides to eliminate Death and despite the objections every celestial being, succeeds. Then Molecule Man and Dave plead for him to bring Death back because it has completely upset the balance of the universe and then he makes Dave into Death and disassembles his new house.
And that’s the most succinct summary I could come up with.
Because honestly, the issue is almost what it would be like if a kid were given super powers and had free right. Think of Tom Hanks in Big. Plus, The Beyonder does kind of look like and eight-year-old dressed him. I don’tknow if that many grown men wore a curly mullet and that appears to be a vinyl jumpsuit (seriously, it’s like the guy saw a windbreaker and said, “No. I want the whole outfit to be that”), but then again, I have seen grown me in cropped muscle tees and acid-wash jeans. God, the Eighties were blindingly awful.
Anyway, if I am going to pick something positive out of the story that Jim Shooter wrote, it’s that it is kind of like a kid trying to “act bigger” than he is–like it’s his first day of high school or something–and the art by Al Milgrom is workmak-like. Otherwise, I can see why Secret Wars II was something I forgot as soon as I acquired it and why it’s more of a punchline than a fondly remembered story.
Next Up: We finish “Comics Prehistory” with G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #48
I LOVE your posts. I always get excited when I see you’ve posted something new. Thank you for more excellent writing and the fun, insightful reflections!
Secret Wars II was horrible. Al Milgrom’s art was probably the worst of his career. Every issue had tie-ins with other issues, hoping to drive more sales. I collected the whole thing, but only read it once.