Secret Defenders #16

Issue Date: 
June 1994
Story Title: 
Strange Changes: part the second: Resurrection Tango

Tom Brevoort & Mike Kanterovich (writers), Bill Wylie (pencils), Tony Denzuniga (inks), John Costanza (letters), John Kalisz (colors), Craig Anderson (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Deadpool manages to roll himself through safety, and lands back on the ground, continuing the battle against Malachi’s monsters. Dr. Druids reveals himself to Shadowoman, and hasn’t deserted the battle like Luke feared. He had only transformed himself into his astral form, so he could find the monster’s weak spot: Shadowoman has to transform her self into her shadow-form, as the monsters are merely illusions and the shadow can defeat them. Jillian does as told, and the monsters vanish. Dr. Druid later apologizes to Luke, and convinces both him and Deadpool to continue in the battle. They first return home, where Dr. Druid needs to prepare a better teleportation spell. Meanwhile, Malachi returns home, and remembers the sad story how her beloved Korahn turned into a statue. With the combined forces of the Moebius Stone, she hopes to revive him. At the same time at Druid’s home, Shadowoman reveals to Luke how she and Dr. Druid met, and what their shared past is. Later that night, Malachi goes to the graveyard. There, she kills a boy named Cody Fleisher, and makes the boy’s life force turn into her own body, so she can live longer and be longer with her beloved once he’s restored. After a battle with Shadowoman and Dr. Druid, Malachi manages to get a powerful ring from a corpse, the last missing piece for the complication of the Stone. Once activated, the beams coming from it hit the corpse of Cody, and he arises as a zombie-like creature! He joins forces with Deadpool and Luke, and face Malachi together. However, she has opened another portal, and this is like Druid feared would happen: Malachi has unraveled the very fabric of time itself!

Full Summary: 

Deadpool, Luke and Shadowoman are still fighting the creatures that, with the help of Malachi, have come to life from statues. They tried to call out to Dr. Druid for help, but he has suddenly disappeared, and Luke fears that he left them there to die! Deadpool manages to jump down before reaching the portal, which closes. Wade tells Luke to talk less and show a little more action. He takes out his sword and starts slicing.

Luke throws a statue at the monsters, not liking Wade’s attitude. But, Luke admits, he didn’t expect better from a lowlife, money-grabbing mercenary like Deadpool. The statue hits a monster, which falls down. Deadpool defends that the “money-grabbing” remark goes both ways: he asks Luke how much Druid paid him for this job. Luke thinks about it, but remains silent. Shadowoman tries out her shadow powers against the creatures, but bring no harm and are useless. She isn’t surprised by that. She thinks that they better come up with a plan fast, or else they will be the ones hanging on the museum walls!

Deadpool admires Shadowoman’s guts. Granted though, he jokes, the monsters are about to decorate the architecture! Luke agrees, as Shadowoman is nothing like that turncoat boyfriend of hers, who deserted them. Luke continues the battle, swearing that, if he ever gets his hands on Dr. Druid, the man will feel like the monsters he tackles! Wade jokes and thinks that Cage is just afraid that Druid’s check will bounce. Luckily, Wade has thought of a solution: that’s why he only takes American Express!

While they continue fighting, none of the heroes notices the astral form of Dr. Druid floating above their heads. Druid is a bit disappointed in Cage. He remembers that, when Malachi’s attack began, he merely rendered himself immune to detection. While hovering above the battle, Druid hopes to be better able to detect the true meaning of all this. Druid takes a look around, and it’s like he expected. He notices a lot of bricks on fire, something that the heroes can’t see.

Druid thinks that, even with the greater portion of the Moebius Stone at her disposal, Malachi’s store of surplus mystic energy was insufficient to effect a true corporal manifestation of these masterworks. Druid thinks that what his allies intend to do is little more than light and shadow, an oddity of perception, and he thinks it’s something that Shadowoman can undo with ease using some of her abilities.

Druid telepathically reaches Shadowoman’s mind and she hears him. Druid tells Jillian to cast her shadow-self wide about the room. She must obfuscate the walls and pedestals where the objects once stood. Shadowoman is surprised that Druid is still there. Deadpool and Luke are surprised as well. Shadowoman does as Druid says, and stretches her shadow-form large across the entire room, but fails to understand how this will help.

Druid explains that the foes they face possess no inherent substance: they are merely illusions! And, in much the same manner that a hologram will vanish if the laser beam which it is formed is broken, so too, Druid thinks, will these creatures disappear once the source of their unlife is obscured. Dr. Druid is correct. Once Shadowoman’s shadow-form touches the monsters, they turn into mist and disappear!

Deadpool and Luke admit that they are impressed. Druid goes back into his body and is asked by Shadowoman asks if it’s correct when she thinks they were never in any real danger. Dr. Druid thinks quite the contrary. He explains that Malachi’s minions were meant only to delay them, but they were quite capable of carrying out their lethal intensions. But Druid hopes that everyone now has more faith in him. He even congratulates Malachi on the good escape plan, as she is completely out of sight.

The museum’s alarm continues to go off. Dr. Druid tells the other that they must follow Malachi wherever she goes. Once he makes physical contact with the Moebius fragment, Druid should be able to trace its mystic trail. But first, Druid wants to return to his townhouse. He believes that the Celtic power held within the artifacts he finds on the floor will affect their transport. Deadpool has had enough of the alarm and tosses a disc against it, destroying it. They let the alarm go off almost since they got here, and he fears that the police will show up sooner or later.

Luke stops Druid, defending that he just lost one heirloom, and won’t let Druid messing with another one. Druid informs Luke that his services are no longer required, and that he can leave. Druid promises Luke that his fees have already been delivered to the offices of the American spectator. He even warns Luke that he better hurries in his departure. He sarcastically smiles, and informs Luke that the authorities frown upon ex-convicts being found at the site of a break-in. Luke won’t be scared away that easily. Until they’ve got the museum’s rock back, Luke will follow Druid wherever he goes. That’s fine by Druid.

Druid tells everyone not to fear, as he has no intentions of purloining these holy relics. He concentrates, and energy starts floating out of the doctor. He informs to go stand in a circle so he can easily teleport them out of there. Everyone does, but Wade doesn’t feel all that comfortable, once he starts hearing Druid speaking out a foreign spell. Police officers finally arrive and pull out their guns, ordering Druid and the others to freeze. Druid has just finished his spell, and everyone teleports away! The cops are startled, and don’t think that their captain will believe them.

Malachi’s palace…

Deep within the bowls of the Earth, Malachi arrives back home. This excursion proved more costly to her limited resources than she’d anticipated, thanks to Druid and his followers. But, she is pleased that at least the fragment is still in her possession. She promises someone called “Korahn” that the deed is almost done. She walks over to a statue of Korahn, and greets her beloved. She knows how much he has waited for so long. But she knows their love will see them through, as it always has. She remembers.

It happened so long ago, yet Malachi recalls with vivid clarity the day Korahn took her as his disciple, and lover. They thought to challenge the Gods themselves in their arrogance; such was their ardor. She remembers how young they were. And for all their knowledge, unwise in the ways of the world. Still, when they smiled at each other, their passion burned bright as any throughout time ever had.

But time is the enemy of all things fresh. Malachi remembers how Korahn sought to prolong their passion through the use of the fabled Moebius Stone of Agamotto. With its energies empowering both Malachi and Korahn, both their love and lives would transcend the limitations of time itself! They braved the scared temple of Agamotto, bested the guards and attendants and secured their prize!

But before they could incant the rune that would free them from the confines of mortality, Agamotto’s guardian was upon them! Korahn protected Malachi with his life while the guardian emerged. So telling was Agamotto’s wrath at their trespass that his sentinel shattered the talisman, scattering the fragments to the far corners of the Earth. Korahn stood before the guardian’s attack, and fell, shielding Malachi from his terrible power.

His business concluded, Agamotto’s guardian departed, failing, in his haste, to detect the single Moebius fragment Korahn had concealed upon his person. He gave that fragment to Malachi, so that she could live throughout the ages. But now, the Stone lies nearly restored in Malachi’s hand, and once it’s completed, Korahn will live again!


Druid and the others arrive at his home. He tells his companions that they can relax, while he completes the preparations that are required to seek out the Stone, and he warns them to not touch anything. Wade jokes that Druid is actually a nice guy: a true Donahue, by way of Boris Karloff. Luke notices that Shadowoman doesn’t look too comfortable with Druid’s sleight-of-hand act. He asks Shadowoman how she met the doctor.

Shadowoman reveals to everyone, if they want to believe it or not, she and Dr. Druid were lovers once. It’s the same old story, but maybe a little older than the others might think. Shadowoman explains that, even when she was young, she always had an interest in the occult and the arcane. So, when Anthony Druid appeared as a guest lecturer during her graduate studies at the University of San Francisco, she felt compelled to attend. And Druid’s words washed over her like a gentle spring rain. She fell an immediate bond form between the two of them. It was like Jillian had known Druid for all of her life. She had to learn more. So, she approached Druid after the lecture. It quickly became apparent that, whatever connection was between them, it ran both ways.

Intrigued by a psychic link between them, Druid offered Jillian to use his mindpowers to determine its origin. Fears of sexual misconduct on the contrary, Jillian agreed. For some reason, her trust in Anthony was total. And, when Druid turned his third eye upon Jillian’s soul, they found out why: they had shared history!

Centuries ago, just after the time of King Arthur, a wandering Celtic alchemist met an English noblewoman. They fell in love. Those two people were Jillian’s and Anthony’s past selves, in the cycle of reincarnation. Though, the past affair was torrid and brief. Unions between good Christians and those of the Pagan Celtic faiths were considered sacrilegious, and forbidden. The noblewoman’s brethren slew the alchemist for defiling his sister. With his dying breath, the alchemist vowed he would find his lost love again, in that life… or the next!

Jillian remembers how aghast she felt when discovering these facts, but she couldn’t deny how she felt. They became involved… again. But, as time went by, Jillian discovered that Anthony was actually in town for far more than just a simple lecture tour. He had come to repossess a trove of mystic artifacts that were left behind by a certain Mister Magnus. Despite Druid’s protestations, Jillian tagged along.

It seemed like a simple salvage operation, until, in her own ignorance, Jillian disturbed a series of protective wards loosing some monstrous demon. A great shard of cold passed through Jillian’s body as it lunged. She felt a rending. A tearing. Then… nothing. The last sight she saw was Druid springing to her defense, though it was a moment too late. She awoke hours later, only to find Anthony standing over her. The demon had not killed her. Instead, its touch had somehow granted her special shadow-powers. The costume came later, though it just seemed to feel right. She returned with Druid to Boston, so he could study her condition at length. And she has been with him since.

Luke thinks that the fact of Shadowoman being the reincarnation of a long-dead British princess seems a little bit far-fetched. Shadowoman corrects that Luke has got it backwards: she was the alchemist, and… Anthony was the noblewoman!

Dr. Druid enters the room, and warns everyone that everything is ready. He notices Deadpool holding a golden icon, and asks him to put it down gently. Wade jokes that he was just admiring the handwork. Dr. Druid notices that Luke has been talking to Jillian. He corrects that what happened was much more her doing. He tells Luke that he would be better off following his instructions from now on, or a similar fate, or even worse, might happen to him as well.

A cemetery on the outskirts of Seattle, Washington…

Some kids are hanging out at the cemetery, like they always too. They are bored, and think that they should either get themselves some girlfriends, or a life. Frank asks Cody what he thinks will happen to him after he dies. Cody doesn’t think anything will happen. He thinks that, when you go, you’re gone for good. Just put into the ground to rot. The other kids find that depressing. Cody doesn’t agree. He knows that when you’re dead, you have no consciousness, unaware of what’s happening. It’s just like going to sleep. But then, it’s the big sleep!

Cody stops talking. He hears someone coming. The others hear it too, and hope it isn’t Carey, as the boy kicked his butt up and down here last week. An in a pink glowing figure approaches the boys, and jokes that youth is, like always, forever wasted to the youth. Still, their interest in the hereafter intrigues the person. It’s Malachi! She tells the boys that she has learned a great deal about death throughout the years. She asks the boys if they would like a sample of her knowledge.

Malachi runs over to the boys. She tells them that the first thing they need to comprehend is that the full flavor of the afterlife cannot be conveyed through mere words. It must be perceived… first handed! The boys start to panic a bit. Malachi notices Cody, and senses that he’s a strong one. She grabs the boy, and kisses him! The other boys kid around and cheer for their friend, but Malachi is interested in something else. Cody’s life force starts floating into her body! Cody turns out, and dies. Malachi smiles at Cody that his wish has been granted, and now he knows what death is like.

The two other kids run away, and Malachi leaves as well. She mentions that thanks to the power of the Moebius Stone, which hangs on her neck, Cody’s other life-years have now been added to her own. Now, all that remains is to liberate the final fragment from the Stone’s place of entombment. A voice shouts that he can’t allow that to happen! Malachi looks up, and notices that her enemies have arrived. Dr. Druid, Deadpool, Luke and Shadowoman all land down in front of her.

While the other three move over to action, Druid warns his friends that Malachi can’t reach the crypt, or else Pandora’s Box will be opened upon them. Wade tells the doctor not to worry, as in two-and-two, Malachi won’t have a leg anymore to stand on. Malachi is impressed by Deadpool’s confidence in himself. She is also surprised that the heroes have survived her illusion attack in the first place, but won’t let that happen again. She points out her hand, and attacks the heroes with a powerful spell, which sends them flying!

Malachi shouts that the final piece of Agamotto puzzle lies near at hand. With all but that small portion at her disposal, Malachi opens another portal to escape through. She also uses another spell to transform the tombstones around the heroes, and they turn larger and start attacking. Luke asks Deadpool if he has got any ideas. Wade has only two, and he’s out of bubble gum! Luke already thought so. While he starts fighting, he warns Wade to take down the ones on the left, while Luke will concentrate on the right.

Wade agrees, and starts shooting at the gravestones, destroying them. What he wouldn’t give for a Tolliver contract right now! Sure, Tolliver would just send Wade out to take down killer cyborgs, or Amazon woman with heavy artillery, but you’ll never hear Tolliver complain about dealing with walking statuary, or the painting that ate Paris!

Luke can appreciate the sentiment, but not the specifics. All that’s missing from this scene, he jokes, is the crypt-keeper shouting “boo” from the shadows. There’s nothing else to do for them than to just punch around until each tombstone is demolished. So, Luke continues doing that. There’s a tag-line, if Wade ever heard one. He can see it all now “he’s a Hero For Hire, getting his hands dirty the only way he knows how!” Probably goes a hundred mill! Wade jokes that even little action figures will be made out of Luke.

Meanwhile, Shadowoman realizes that Malachi’s platoon can’t do anything against her shadow-form. So, she changes and takes on that form. She knows that Cage and Deadpool can mop up there, as, after all, these things are just a diversion. She flies around in her shadow-form, and notices that Druid has disappeared again. Though she thinks there’s no doubt Druid is taking the battle to Malachi’s backyard. She senses Malachi in a nearby house, and Shadowoman thinks she better goes inside it as well.

Malachi reaches a room, where a large grave is situated in the middle. This is where her journey ends. She’s a bit disappointed that it doesn’t end in a palace of shinning gold, but she deals with it. She opens the grave, and sees a corpse, holding a glowing ring she wanted. She takes it off the corpse’s finger, and tries to put it on hers, but then… a hand knocks it away!

It’s Shadowoman! She doesn’t understand that all this mess is about this little ring. Malachi won’t let Shadowoman stop her, and uses a magic blast to push Jillian down. The ring falls out of her hands, and Malachi manages to catch. She laughs, thinking victory is hers. Unfortunately for her, Dr. Druid enters. He warns Malachi that the power of the ring is too powerful for any magician to be master of, and the energies that will come of the ring once it’s used will consume the entire world.

Suspecting that Druid wants the ring for himself, Malachi ignores his warnings. She brings the ring closer to the Stone hanging around her neck. Energies come out of both, and even float outside the building. One of the rays hits the body of Cody. He gets revived, and is turned into a zombie! And Cody is in a very bad mood now that somebody disturbed his sleep!

Cody gets up and, at that moment, Luke and Deadpool arrive. Luke is startled, and wants to know what the thing is. Deadpool jokes that it’s either some leftover George Romero cadaver, or else it’s Luke’s mother! Cody shouts that the will of Agamotto is challenged. He puts his arm through his stomach, and green blood emerges. Cody shouts that the needed weapon must be drawn. He shouts that as one almighty fashioned woman from man’s rib, so shall the instrument of vengeance be forced from the stuff of his body.

Cody pulls out one of his ribs, and it transforms into a powerful sword! He shouts that everything must be slain in two, and that the he, the pale horseman, stands ready to carry out Agamotto’s judgement. He wants the Sword of Bone to bite deep into the flesh of their enemies. It’s as Agamotto has decreed: no man shall stand before it!

Cody slashes his sword around, and destroys all of the tombstones. He goes into the house, where Malachi and the others are. A curious Deadpool and Luke decide to follow him. Once inside, they find Malachi fighting Dr. Druid. She stops fighting, surprised to see the boy she killed restored back to life. Cody Fleisher introduces himself, and orders Malachi to drop the talisman and to reveal what happened to him.

Malachi describes Cody’s fate as an unforeseen by-product of the Stone’s power. Malachi tells Cody that this battle doesn’t concern him, and that he’s better off staying away. Dr. Druid warns his allies to stop Malachi, as she’s too dangerous with the Stone. Malachi tells Druid that his costumed minions have arrived to late. Dark energy starts filling the entire chamber, and it floats around Malachi.

A huge purple portal opens, and Malachi shouts that it’s time that her beloved Korahn is restored back to her. Dr. Druid warns Deadpool, Luke and Shadowoman that this is the moment he feared: Malachi has unraveled the very fabric of time itself!

Characters Involved: 

Deadpool, Dr. Druid, Luke Cage, Shadowoman (all Secret Defenders)


Cadaver (Cody Fleisher after his death)

Frank and another youth

Murph and another unnamed police officer

various creatures (all unnamed)

in Malachi’s flash-back:


Korahn (her beloved)

Agamotto’s guardian (unnamed)

In Shadowoman’s flash-back:

Jillian Woods (before becoming Shadowoman)

a younger Dr. Druid

Shadowoman’s classmates (all unnamed)

a demon (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

First appearance of Cadaver, who actually becomes a main character for Secret Defenders in the upcoming issues.

“Mr. Tolliver” is the man Deadpool used to work for, as a few times shown before this issue, for example New Mutants (1st series) #98 and Nomad (2nd series) #4. However, as later revealed in Cable (2nd series) #6, Tolliver was later just an alias for Cable’s now deceased son, Tyler, who wanted his father dead.

“A man’s rib creating a woman” is how the Christian Bible states God created the first woman: he used a kidney from Adam, the very first man on the world, and used it to create Eve, the very first woman.

Born Willian Henry Pratt, Boris Karloff was a film actor known best for his work in horror films, most famously being Frankenstein’s monster.

Donahue refers to Phil Donahue, a daytime talk show host who hosted "The Phil Donahue Show" from 1969-1996, which set the trend for the talk show genre that followed.

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