Sunday, May 19, 2013

1980: Marvel's Two Writing One Part III: Kowtowing Counter Earth

By Jef Willemsen (

When we last left Benjamin J. Grimm, he was chasing after his girlfriend Alicia Masters who had joined Moondragon and 1980's sensational character find Her in a search for the grave of Adam Warlock. The deceased hero's final resting place was on Counter Earth... but the planet had disappeared... and its creator the High Evolutionary was dead. Now what?

After an extended fight scene between the Thing, Starhawk, Her and Moondragon Alicia finally managed to calm everyone down. With a little help from Moondragon, Her proved she really was able to revive the dead when she reunited the High Evolutionary's mind with his body.

One fancy lightshow later and the human once known as Herbert Edgar Wyndham was a-okay... But pretty peeved when he discovered someone had stolen his planet...

It doesn't take long for Wyndham to discover a faint energy trail that would undoubtedly lead him to whoever nabbed his world. And, with no time to drop Alicia, Ben or the others off, the Evolutionary fired up the engines of his mobile moonbase and gave chase... which leads to the final chapter of this space od(d)-essy: Marvel Two In One # 63 in which we discover who made off with Counter-Earth in an impressive recap/splash page....

Take a minute to read up, go on... I'll wait.

With Counter Earth found, the question remained who took the world in the first place. Sensing the smaller orbs were actually manned tow ships, the Evolutionary teleported the heroes to the command ship, where Moondragon soon got another not so gentle reminder she wasn't all that...

"Once again, my power looks second-rate next to hers!"

Ow, don't worry about it Moonie... to those giant aliens, you  and Her both look insignificantly small. Still, sometimes you really are your own worst enemy, as Moondragon continued to berate herself.

Speaking of the control room, that's where the High Evolutionary, Ben and Alicia got teleported to by the ship's commander, Sphinxor... Who didn't need any universal translator to pick up an alien language. Heck no, he learned English by watching American sitcoms. And hilarity ensues...

Looks like the gang's all here... Time for Mark Gruenwald to go into exposition overdrive...

"My ringshippers and I were contracted to move your planet by a race of beings called the Beyonders."

Wait, there's more than one of those guys?

No, no worries... it isn't thát Beyonder. Heck, he wouldn't show up for another four years and the first Secret Wars. No, the Beyonders are a mysterious race from, well, beyond, whose curiosity was piqued when they watched the Evolutionary built his own world.

They just had to have it... And Sphinxor was happy to oblige, manipulating Warlock and his soul gem to make sure he wouldn't oppose their plans. Turning mad in the process, Warlock seemingly slew the High Evolutionary before leaving Counter Earth forever so Spinxor could work in peace.

"Okay, story time's over! Now can we clobber these stilt-leggers, take yer planet and go home?"

Well, no, not exactly. The Evolutionary, always interested in discovering new lifeforms, was intrigued by these Beyonders and struck a deal. He'd allow Sphinxor to deliver Counter Earth to the Beyonders, if he was allowed to meet them... and, of course, before delivery Her would be allowed to revive Warlock so she could start that whole perfect race this entire enterprise started out with.

Beaming down to his gravesite on Counter Earth, Her worked her magic and Adam Warlock lived again! Well, sort of...

"Return to your dank grave, o love that can never be mine! I am undone!"

Ain't that a kick in the head? What no one could have known was that moments before Warlock died in Marvel Two In One Annual # 2, he was visited by his younger self. And, in a truly cynical and cyclical scene, Warlock the younger absorbed his older self into the soul gem.

'My life has been a failure! I welcome its end!"

Of course, if she'd known about the gem, Her would probably have tried to track down its then current owner, the elder of the universe called the Gardner. But for now, all the heartbroken super being could do, was cut her losses and leave, unsure what her goal in life was now that she's truly all alone...

"Well baby... it's over. We can go home now."

So, in the space of a mere three issues, let's review what Gruenwald had achieved, apart from telling an entertaining, bitter sweet lovestory.
  • Solved the dangling 'Paragon-in-a-cocoon' plot thread by having him come out as Her.
  • Set up Her as a mighty, new cosmic character for anyone to play with. Eventually he'd mostly use Her himself over in Quasar, but still.
  • Explained Adam Warlock's odd behavior in his old solo book and also revealed why his infinity gem suddenly started lusting after souls. 
  • Added a bit of depth and self doubt to Moondragon, even though that proved short lived once Jim Shooter used her a year later in Avengers
  • Resurrected the High Evolutionary.
  • Got rid of Counter Earth, a place no one had been using for several years anyway 
  • Introduced the Beyonders, a race that years later would turn out to, according to their entry on Wikipedia, "study the Marvel Universe with amusement and curiosity."
  • Having the Evolutionary meet the Beyonders set up his mental instability that would lead to 1988's Evolutionary War crossover. 
All in all, not a bad job... And that was just Gruenwald writing by himself!

Issue # 64 of Marvel Two In One marked the return of co-writer Ralph Macchio, artist extra ordinaire George Pérez and the first chapter of the Serpent Crown Affair, as we'll see in part three of

Marvel's Two Writing One: Heavy Is The Snake Head That Wears The Crown.

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