Secret Defenders #17

Issue Date: 
July 1994
Story Title: 
Strange Changes: part the third: On Borrowed Time

Tom Brevoort & Mike Kanterovich (writers), Jerry DeCaire (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks), John Costanza (letters), Jim Hoston (colors), Craig Anderson (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

The power of Malachi and the Moebius Stone can be felt across the entire world, and brings destructive effects with it. Meanwhile, the Secret Defenders do their best to take the Stone away, though that’s easier said than done. Malachi creates more monsters to keep the heroes occupied, while she concentrates on restoring her beloved Korahn’s body. The monsters are once again hard to defeat, since they are illusions and keep coming back even when killed. But once Shadowoman remembers how she defeated them earlier with her shadow powers, the creatures are easily defeated afterwards. Cadaver and Luke try to defeat Malachi, but neither power does much damage. Luke gets depowered, and ages backwards to the time he was before he underwent the experiment at the prison that gave him his powers. Deadpool helps Luke out and lets him borrow one of his swords. During the confusion, Malachi continues on what she set out to do and restores Korahn’s body, but he isn’t pleased with it. While he was dead, she saw the error of their ways and wants to continue taking the long journey that begins after you die. Malachi refuses, but Deadpool kills the man anyway. Malachi refuses to live on without Korahn’s love, and wants to die with him. She threatens to commit suicide but, thanks to this, the effects of the Stone’s power become even stronger and threaten to destroy the entire space-time continuum! “Demon” Strange shows up to meddle with things, and claims that Druid can’t get the Stone for himself. Druid manages to convince all of his allies that the demon isn’t the real Dr. Strange, and that he can undo what Malachi did once he gets the Stone. Luke manages to grab the stone and throws it to Druid. Together with his own powers, Anthony undoes all the evil Malachi brought upon the world, and it gets restored back to normal. Malachi disappears afterwards, as does the Moebius Stone and Luke gets his powers back. Even the world gets back to normal. The only thing that’s left of the Stone is a small, depowered fragment that Luke wants to take back to the museum he was supposed to guard. The demon transports everyone back outside, but Druid swears that he will have his revenge on the real Stephen Strange for invading his mind, since he is nobody’s lackey. Meanwhile, Stephen smiles and, since he is too busy, hands over the Secret Defenders to Anthony. At the same time, elsewhere in Texas, a strange body has been found. The police have been called, and the captain thinks it’s time that they called in Midnight Eye and pay a visit to Dr. Anthony Druid.

Full Summary: 

Time waits for no man. This simple proclamation has never proven truer for the people of Seattle, Washington, where, like everywhere else on the planet, the Earth starts to fall apart. Here, foliage grows at an accelerated rate, erupting through cab and asphalt alike, much to the chagrin of those whose livelihood depends upon the road, like truckers. Miles away, in the suburbs, Charles McIntyre returns home from a day of kindergarten, a full thirty years older than when he set off that morning! Downtown, buildings collapse inward upon themselves at brick spontaneously reverts to its constituent elements: mortar and unbaked clay prove insufficient to support the height and weight of such towering structures.

Witnesses to this event, their words either slowed or accelerated beyond comprehension. They find themselves entangled in a figurative tower of Babel, unable to communicate their thoughts even to those willing to listen. Further out, in a farming country, Nate Spaulding watches in wonder as crops bloom wither and die in the vine, the cycle of life repeating itself far faster than he could ever hope to harvest. The locals will not know the taste of fresh corn this season, if ever again. In rest homes, the once-infirm dance and frolic, the weight of years miraculously lifted from their shoulders.

Time waits for no man… save the one that wields the Moebius Stone! The mausoleum seems to shimmer and fade as ancient energies, long contained, are released. A triumphant Malachi holds both Dr. Druid and Shadowoman captive, and is overjoyed now that her centuries-long quest has finally been completed. Even the reconstructed talisman is now within her grasp. Finally, she possesses the energies that are required to restore her beloved Korahn to life, despite the well-intentioned meddling of the attacking Defenders.

Luke warns Malachi to give it up, as Druid was right when he said that nobody could handle so much power. The best she can hope for is that she doesn’t accidentally tear up the space-time continuum! Deadpool agrees on that. Wade warns Malachi that if he were her, he would listen Luke, even though he may be a slack-jawed through case and, if Malachi doesn’t, he will get back up again and kick her butt right after he’s got that mountain of his back. Malachi has trapped the heroes inside the energies, and the gravity is heavier than on the normal Earth. Luke asks Deadpool to shut up for just a few minutes, as they’ve got to do something. He notices Cadaver, and something seems to be wrong with him.

Cadaver himself is still struggling with the fact that he has transformed, and has memories as his time as Cody Fleisher. But he also realizes his new role as the avatar of the great Agamotto, and that he is supposed to be the guardian of the Moebius Stone. He collapses, and keeps struggling with memories. Luke notices that the kid’s down, and notices that Malachi has apparently created new monsters for them to battle. He warns Deadpool to watch his back. Luke doesn’t want to waste time with these freaks; the only one he wants to beat is Malachi. But the problem is that, no matter how much monsters he tackles, two come back to take their place!

Deadpool jokes that, apparently, Luke hasn’t been paying attention. Wade has noticed that Malachi is using the Stone to turn time on its back. It’s kind of like that girl Wade used to go out with. Malachi is un-destroying these monsters of her as fast as he and Luke break them. They keep going and going and going. Wade continues the battle, and thinks that he recognizes one of the monsters as Donna Reed. One of the monsters put his axe in Cadaver’s face, attempting to kill him. But, since he’s already dead, Cadaver stands up again and laughs at the monster, punching him in the face.

At the same time, Malachi points her attention to the captured Dr. Druid and Shadowoman. She mocks Anthony that he was a noble adversary, but she mentions the act of empowering the temporal vortex has left her somewhat drained. So, she wants Druid to wither and age and the reminder of his lifespan added to hers.

Suddenly, Shadowoman manages to slip through the chains! Jillian admits that she doesn’t know how she’s doing this exactly. She just felt like moving forward, and now she is. She thinks she best to remember asking Druid about this, if they ever get free, that is. Druid notices that Shadowoman has engulfed Malachi in the stuff of her living darkness. And, in doing so, Jillian has bought enough time for him. It’s time for Druid to turn his Third Eye inward, accelerate the birth and rebirth of his body on a cellular level, to affect, in effect, rejuvenation! After doing that, Druid seemingly turns much younger than he was before!

Malachi manages to defeat Shadowoman, as her powers are greater than Jillian’s. Shadowoman notices Druid, and is surprised. Malachi warns Jillian that she best starts worrying about herself now. Malachi opens a great attack, and the vortex grows even stronger. While everyone else of the gathered Defenders, including Cadaver and Druid, have the greatest problem of standing on their legs. Shadowoman screams it out from the pain!

Cadaver has seen enough, and releases an energy attack upon Malachi, hoping to defeat her. Deadpool notices this, and tries to figure out why he let himself talk into this mess. Jillian falls down, and Anthony catches her. Jillian thinks that she shouldn’t have survived Malachi’s attack, but isn’t sure. Anthony tells his love that she’s right. But he doesn’t seem that this is the right time to talk about it, but promises to do it after the battle is won. Jillian angrily grabs Druid by his throat, demanding to know what he did to her.

Malachi notices their argument, and jokes that apparently Druid’s student doesn’t know about her true potential. It even appears that she and Druid are not all that different. She wants to know for what reason Druid wants the Stone, and how he should use it. Druid tells Malachi to shut up, and warns her that she doesn’t want to see him angry. Malachi warns Druid not to threat her, and not even try to attempt to distract her while Cage attempts to strike from behind. She turns around and attacks Luke, asking if he wants the Moebius Stone. He can have it, and she attacks Luke with it.

Luke screams, and he starts aging backwards! He starts having the costume he wore from his time as a hero for hire, and then his strength starts fading away, back like it was before that experiment at Seagate Prison, that made Luke the man he is today. He… is powerless! Deadpool notices the change, and throws his sword at Luke so he isn’t weaponless. Wade doesn’t care about Luke’s well-being, but thought it might be funny to see him try handle his pig-sticker.

Cadaver moves closer to Malachi, demanding the Stone. Malachi answers that, if Cadaver is truly Agamotto’s handiwork like he claims to be, he would already know that she has already drunk deep from the well of his vengeance, and didn’t like it very much. She realizes Cadaver might once have had a chance against her, but not today when she has so much power to wield. She attacks Cadaver, throwing him across the room.

After this, she finally uses the Stone’s energies to restore Korahn’s body! The plan works, but Korahn isn’t too happy and wants to know why he has been pulled away from the place of rest he was in. Malachi replies that she did like planned, and so that they could always be together. Korahn reveals that thanks to his death experience, he has seen the error of their evil ways. He adds that death isn’t the end of all things, but the beginning of a long, glorious journey to explore the cycle of life.

Malachi isn’t certain if she wants to lose Korahn’s love again. She cries, and puts her head on his body. Deadpool sneaks up from behind, and puts his sword in Korahn’s body, and it turns into ashes. Malachi can’t bear to be apart of her beloved again. She wants to join Korahn on his journey, and by that plans on committing suicide.

The entire place starts tearing apart. Dr. Druid realizes that, thanks to the vortex Malachi opened and is now trying to destroy, she might destroy the entire space-time continuum as well, and they can’t let that happen. Druid suspects that he’s the only one who possesses the power to do the job. Druid hesitates, thinking about the power the Stone holds, and if he’s truly ready to put all the things that went wrong right again: Jillian, Nebula and the Avengers… will he be able to do it?

Suddenly, a powerful energy beam attacks Druid, telling him that his role in this is over. The Defenders gather, and try to help Druid get back up. It’s the demon Strange, and he shouts that the Moebius Stone belongs to none other than to him. Deadpool knows the name of Strange, but the look is unfamiliar to him. Druid warns everyone that Strange mustn’t be allowed to get the Stone.

Cadaver tries slicing Strange apart, but it doesn’t work. The demon quickly recovers himself, and strikes back at Cadaver. He picks up Cadaver’s sword, which he had dropped, and is intrigued by it. But somehow, the touch of Strange makes the sword rebel against him, and attacks the demon! Deadpool suggests that he gives up and calls it a night, as he is missing Letterman on TV as they speak.

Shadowoman warns Wade that if they are really dealing with Dr. Strange, they must be very careful as Strange is a powerful man. Wade thanks Jillian for the warning, but jokes that he’s a very hard man to kill. He fights the demon. The demon laughs, mentioning to the Defenders that their weapons are useless against him. He would have even spared their lives in return for their loyalty to him, but not anymore.

Meanwhile, Luke notices that everyone seems to be ignoring him. He can’t blame the others as his powers are gone, but maybe he can use that to his advantage, and starts sneaking around.

Demon Strange powers up, and combines his magnificent powers to defeat both Deadpool and Shadowoman in one single blow! Cadaver gets up and fights the demon again, explaining that he has lost the power to wield Agamotto’s magic skills, and therefore his sword turned against him.

Since the demon and Cadaver are too busy settling old scores, Luke manages to grab the Moebius Stone. Druid notices and begs Luke to throw it back to him. Luke isn’t certain after the way Druid left them at the museum earlier. Druid tells Luke to think about it and, if he doesn’t get the Stone, Malachi will. Luke remembers that he used to know Dr. Strange, and he admits that the creature claiming his name isn’t the real doctor. So, he throws the Stone to Druid, and he grabs it.

When he senses the Stone’s power, Druid thinks about all that he could accomplish with it, if it wouldn’t be for this mess. Demon Strange notices that Druid got the Stone back, and wants to know what he’s doing and to throw it back to him. Druid explains that, to prevent evil forces from grabbing the Stone, he must inward the Stone’s powers inside itself. He wants the Stone’s state of being regress past the day its creation. Let that what was… be no more! Energy floats out of the building.

And, across the globe, the effect of the Moebius Stone’s power melts away, like snow come spring. The road is once more clear and straight. Any other commotion seems to be no more than a momentary daydream. Parents and children are joyfully reunited. Nobody should die before their time. Buildings get restored, and stand the way they used to. A testament to man’s triumph over forces of environment. Conversation again becomes a possibility.

And for some, a certain certainty come the harvest. Life, in all its diversity, continues its steady march forward. As does time and death. From that one, final certainty, there shall be no further reprieve.

Meanwhile, demon Strange feels that the Stone’s powers have been unmade, and that he has been denied. Malachi has disappeared. Shadowoman warns everyone that it looks like the demon is suiting up for round two. He splits the floor open, and the heroes fall through it. Luke isn’t pleased with the outcome, as they didn’t even get a “thank you.” Jillian tells Luke that at least he got his powers back after the Stone shattered, plus he got a special de-powered fragment of the Stone to take back to the museum. Luke doesn’t think that’s enough and warns Jillian that, the next time they need help, they can go to Spider-Man.

Druid warns the demon to warn his master Stephen Strange that he will pay for making him do his dirty work. Druid swears that this isn’t over, as he is nobody’s lackey. Dr. Stephen Strange shall pay, and regret the moment he invaded his head.

Meanwhile, at his new living quarters, Stephen hears Druid’s threats thanks to a viewing possibility he created out of the water fountain. He’ll see if a battle between him and Druid shall come, but is glad that thanks to the demon’s actions, he has learned what he needed and that the decision he made is a good one. The Secret Defenders belong to Druid now, and Stephen tells Druid to enjoy his dreams.

Later, in South Central, Texas…

Police officers are carrying a mutated body. It’s horrible to look at; it even smells bad even when covered under a blanket. The captain is being interviewed, and doesn’t know what to make of it, as this town used to be so quiet. He knows that once is an accident, two might be a coincidence, but there’s only so many times that a man can die, his lungs filled to bursting with maddened insect, before a pattern emerges!

The captain thanks Constable for the briefing and promises that the check will be in the mail. He and his men will take it from there, and it looks like they’ll have to call in the help of a specialist. He reports back to the base, and wants to arrange a transport to Boston. He’s got a job for “Midnight Eye,” It’s time for them to contact Anthony Druid!

Characters Involved: 

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




Dr. Strange

Strange II (the demon)

Charles McIntyre, Constable, Eddie, Nate Spaulding, Ms. Moynihan, unnamed police captain

Story Notes: 

The fate of Malachi’s beloved, Korahn, was first revealed last issue.

Cody Fleisher was transformed into Cadaver thanks to Malachi’s kiss last issue.

The Seagate Prison experiment Luke mentions can be found in Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #1.

Demon Strange getting Agamotto’s powers at his command can be seen in Dr. Strange (1st series) #99. More about the demon and what Stephen learned from him can be found in Dr. Strange: Sorcerer Supreme Annual #4.

Donna Reed was an American actress, best known for her role as the wholesome housewife Donna Stone in “The Donna Reed Show,” which ran from 1958-1966.

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