Sunday, May 19, 2013

1980: Marvel's Two Writing One Part II: "Pow, Bang, Zoom... Straight to the Moon...Dragon"

By Jef Willemsen (

After collaborating with Mark Gruenwald on that quirky Impossible Man story in Marvel Two In One # 60, Ralph Macchio took a little break. This allowed Guenwald to pen a three part space opera that featured stolen planets, Thing spanking bald women and a transgender love story for the ages...

Let's dive in... Literally. Marvel Two In One # 61 opens with some New York harbor workers dredging up an oddly familiar looking cocoon that immediately bursts open, revealing a fiery figure that  quickly flies off...

"My metamorphosis is complete. My destination is near."

Those feet belong to one of this issue's guest stars: Her in, erm, her first appearance. However, for a fresh face, she already had quite a bit of the backstory. For one, she started out in life as man. But we'll get to that later. After taking off, she flew straight into the living room of Alicia Masters, who was just sitting down for a romantic dinner with her boyfriend, the Thing.

"It is for you I have come, Alicia Masters."

So, what does an orange skinned superwoman need with a blind sculptress? Well, here's where it gets a little complicated and continuity heavy, aka: exactly the type of story Gruenwald liked to indulge in.

Her's origin story started wayyyy back in Fantastic Four # 66 & 67, in which the FF fought thecriminal superscientists known as the Enclave. In their Citadel of Science, the evil eggheads had been working on 'Him', a genetically engineered, super powered being they deemed to be 'the perfect man'... And how does one create this ubermensch? Why, by growing him to adult size in a cocoon, of course...

"I am about to be... born!"

Incidentally, the Enclave had also kidnapped Alicia, so she happened to be present when Him emerged. He soon turned on his evil masters and left to discover the world on his own... Eventually venturing out into space and adopting the identity of Adam Warlock.

Not deterred by this colossal failure, the Enclave tried to create another perfect man in 1977's Hulk Annual # 6. But this time they were interrupted by the Hulk and Doctor Strange, causing the cocoon to open prematurely... And this guy popped out...

"Paragon? Yes, that is my name. For that is what I am... A paragon of mankind: the future and the destiny of all humanity."

Yes, of course, Paragon... in the future, we will all follow your example and dress like an ancient Egyptian with golden go go boots. Anyhoo, Paragon fought Strange and the Hulk for a bit, before pulling a Him and turning on his creators as well. He sunk their entire headquarters to the bottom of the sea and retreated into his cocoon to meditate on the question what his purpose in life ought to be. 

During that little restorative nap, Paragon still had access to the Enclave's computers through his cocoon. He used them to learn about the world and... the existence of Him. All of a sudden it hit him: he was the second perfect human. So not unlike Adam and Eve, he figured his goal in life would be to mate with Him and start the perfect race. In order to do so, Paragon underwent an extensive physical transformation and emerged from the cocoon as Her, the perfect female counterpart to the perfect man: Him. 

... Only in comics.

But now that Her was ready to go, she still had one tiny little problem: where in the world is Him? That's why she all but kidnapped Alicia. After all according to the Enclave's history of Him, she was one of the last people who saw him. Alicia had no idea where Him had gone.

Luckily our next guest star had all the answers (... as usual).

"Share your knowledge, telepath"

Of all people, Moondragon showed up to help Her find Him... She had a bit of bad news though: Him, or Adam Warlock rather, had died in battle against Thanos of Titan and was buried on Counter Earth. Her didn't seem too troubled her perfect mate was dead... She claimed to be able to raise the dead and insisted they left for Counter Earth immediately.

However, that's when Ben finally caught up with them. But despite getting back up from Starhawk of the Guardians of the Galaxy, he was yet again unable to stop Her and Moondragon from leaving Earth with Alicia. But at least he now knew where to look for them...

How Ben and Starhawk get to a planet on the outer side of the Sol system, you ask? Easy! That is, if you know how to bring in established continuity to your advantage...

"Nope. That's a Skrull saucer we snatched a long time ago."

I'll say... 

The last time the team boarded this particular craft was back in 1961's Fantastic Four # 2, when the FF defeated a Skrull infiltration team and turned them into cows... (No, really!). Before long, they were whizzing off to Counter Earth too.

Ahh, how to explain Counter Earth... Created by the High Evolutionary back in the early 70s, Counter Earth and its inhabitants were almost identical copies of our world. It was on this odd little ball of mud that Him transformed into Adam Warlock, became the Evolutionary's prized pupil and slowly took on a Christ like role... That alone was reason enough for him to be laid to rest there.

However, as Moondragon's space ship approached the location of Counter Earth, they passed its moon (actually the base of the High Evolutionary) only to make a startling discovery...

"Counter-Earth has vanished!"

They decide to board the Evolutionary's lunar headquarters to look for clues. But they are quickly overpowered by the base defenses, albeit it ever so momentarily.

"We are detained no longer."

In an interesting, added subplot, being in the presence of the extremely powerful Her made the usually smug and overbearing Moondragon feel a bit... inadequate. She even began to wonder if she really was a 'goddess', if she couldn't match Her's might. As she contemplated this, the group ran into the lifeless body of the High Evolutionary, just as you know who finally caught up...

As always, Ben rushed to judgement a bit too quickly, thinking Her and Moondragon were responsible for the Evolutionary's unfortunate fate. Once again, Alicia was unable to stop a fight from breaking out, this time because no one could hear her yelling with that classic fishbowl spacehelmet over her head. Starhawk focussed on Her, while Ben tangled with Moondragon who suffered a few blows to her ego... among other things...

"Accordin' to some 'a my pals in the Avengers, ya had this comin' to ya for some time now.
And bashful Benjy is just the guy to give it to ya!"

Well, Ben, between you and me, you're probably the first guy period to give 'it' to Heather Douglas. Ow, and the woman wrestling with Her in mid-air is Aleta, the wife of Starhawk who co-habits his body...

So, for those of you keeping score at home... We have a transgender woman fighting an essentially Siamese twin husband and wife couple, while in the corner a rock monster is spanking a bald lesbian on a fake Moon at the opposite side of our solar system.

God, aren't comics great?

Next, the search for Adam Warlock's grave site, not to mention the missing planet continues in part III of Marvel's Two Writing One: Kowtowing Counter Earth

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