Secret Wars II #6

Issue Date: 
December 1985
Story Title: 
Life Rules!

Jim Shooter (writer / editor-in-chief), Al Milgrom (penciler), Steve Leialoha (inker), Minnie Hands (colorist), Rick Parker (letterers), Bob Budiansky (editor)

Brief Description: 

The Beyonder tries to be the ultimate champion for life, helping other heroes and ordinary citizens alike. He comes to the attention of a luckless journalist, Dave, who quits his job to try and help the Beyonder organize his heroics. When accosted by a suspicious Captain America and Mr. Fantastic, the Beyonder gets the idea that the ultimate act of championing life would be the destruction of Death. He indeed kills the personification of Death on Dave’s urging after Mephisto traumatizes him. However, the act costs the Beyonder a lot of power. When the Molecule Man realizes what has happened, he berates the Beyonder for stealing away humanity’s destiny, indeed all meaning of life. Dave realizes he is right and begs the Beyonder to restore Death. However, that can only be done if a sentient being sacrifices himself, becoming Death in effect. Dave sacrifices himself and becomes Death when the Beyonder kills him. The Beyonder destroys his HQ and decides he might try to do the job on a smaller scale for a while.

Full Summary: 

Sparta, Illinois:
The “one from beyond” goes through all the legal channels to obtain a property lot, gets his building permits and then constructs and builds a futuristic headquarters. He then inspects his handiwork from the inside, the communications center, the garage and hangar, the conference room, the gardens and the den. He is brimming with enthusiasm over starting his new career.

Dave, a reporter, notices the new addition to the skyline and blows off an advertising customer to get there as soon as possible.

In his comm center, the Beyonder sees the Power Pack kids and their alien friend Kofi getting in trouble and decides to intervene.

Dave has just arrived outside and sees him flying away.

In New York, Power Pack have followed Franklin Richards’ precognitive dream to find a certain elevated train which is attacked by the Gang Squids with a Snark laser gun. As it The falls, Alex Power degravitizes the train and the flying Julie tries to push it back onto the rail. Their younger brother Jack notices one of the gangsters aiming the Snark gun at them and Alex orders Jack to create a cloud cover for them.

That moment, the Beyonder arrives, takes out the gangsters and fixes the train. The Power kids thank him. He commends them on their good work and flies away.

Soon he returns to his citadel. Dave, who has been waiting outside, shouts for his attention. He believes he didn’t hear him but suddenly a door automatically opens for him. He hesitantly steps forward. A moment later, a mechanical scoop collects him and his car. Dave is transported to the Beyonder, who greets him and asks what he can do for him. Dave’s questions burst out. Who is he? How does he fly? How did this building get here so quickly?

The Beyonder replies patiently. People call him the Beyonder. He’s a champion of life. He’s from… wait! He manifests a gadget to visually accompany his story. He loves gadgets. He calls this one the mento-projector.

The Beyonder’s story:
He narrates his story, accompanied by the images of the projector. He existed in his own universe until a small hole let him see the other universe. Earth fascinates him.

Another image shows him on Park Avenue. He had taken human form to study humans.

Another image shows him depressed after learning of desire but being unable to fulfil it. Then he heard about a sorcerer who might be able to help him. He met Dr. Strange, who showed him the path to enlightenment he himself follows, so the Beyonder might become like him… a champion of life.
End of story.

Baffled, Dave asks what that means. The Beyonder lectures him that there is an ongoing struggle between life and death. Ultimately, either all things will die and the universe will reach a state of total entropy or all inhabitants will evolve into immortal godlike beings and death will be vanquished. He is siding with the forces of life. It helps to think of Death as a being who is in constant struggle with other beings that represent life.

On a screen, he shows Dave the representations of some of the cosmic beings: Chaos, Order, Eon and their foe Death. Death has no allies but lovers, such as Mephisto. The In-Betweener divides these forces and is the division between the personifications. Eternity is the sum of all these, the Living Tribunal stands apart and is the judge.

Are those guys for real? Dave asks stupidly. The Beyonder explains that they are conceptual beings. Substantial as an idea, yet powerful beyond imagining. Those were their essences pressed into representational forms that he can relate to.

Dave admits this is over his head but he understood that the Beyonder is out to preserve life. He is one of the good guys! Dave thinks that’s great! He’s always dreamed of doing what the Beyonder is doing. Something noble… important. The heck with journalism! He wants to help him. Here’s what he has in mind…

The next day, Perth, Australia:
Huge tsunamis thunders toward the port city Perth, to be dramatically stopped by the Beyonder, who is trying to think of a better battle cry than “for life.” Moments later, he returns to his home / HQ, which is now teeming with people.

Sitting at a comm console, Dave informs him he hired two dozen phone reps this morning. The rest of the people here are clerical, accounting, ad men and media buyers. He gets a call from the governor, who is interested in doing lunch.

Dave turns back to the Beyonder and explains that tomorrow they will be hundred percent operational: A. getting the word out about him, B: screening the calls that will come in and C. prioritize the requests for his help. He has to run to make some arrangements for the press conference. But it’s a great thing, a real purpose in life, isn’t it? The Beyonder agrees. Speaking of which, there is something he must take care of.

Flying off, the Beyonder muses that he doesn’t need the organization any more than his gadgets, but Dave doesn’t need to know that. He’s so happy to have found his purpose. He wonders though if he has really found his. It seems like he should be doing something more.

In a modest apartment in a Denver suburb, Owen Reece aka the Molecule Man returns home from work to find his girlfriend Marsha Rosenberg has already cooked dinner. They kiss and she notices he is upset. Owen shows her a newspaper which shows the Beyonder fighting for life. He’s got the feeling this will lead to trouble and wishes the Beyonder would just relax and keep a low profile. He’s not going to find happiness this way.

He notices the wilting flowers and recalls he wanted to bring her new ones. That moment, they realize dinner is burnt. Despite himself, Owen uses his powers to fix the mess.

Later, they are eating in front of the TV and Marsha realizes something is wrong. She insists he tell her. He relents and explains the Watcher is here. Owen raises his voice, announcing he finds it pretty darn annoying.

Marsha doesn’t understand and Owen demands he make himself visible. The Watcher obeys, though he had hoped Owen would join him on the astral plane so they might converse in private. Turning his back, Owen replies he has no secrets from Marsha. Besides, he is ignoring him. Go away! When he refuses to listen, Marsha offers to listen instead.

The Watcher’s narration:
He has watched everything that transpired on Earth. He saw Owen Reece’s humble beginnings. Despite his frailty and timidity, the Watcher saw his potential. Reece grew into a weak, wretched adult, bitter and lonely after his mother’s death, brimming with hatred and fear. One day, there was an accident at the nuclear facility where he worked. A burst of energy didn’t kill him but instead unlocked his inner potential. This was the true birth of Owen Reece, an event that shook the multiverse to its foundations.

Discovering that he had power, Reece renamed himself the Molecule Man and set out to revenge himself on all who had belittled or persecuted him. Instead of realizing his potential, he clung to his petty emotions, like he used to cling to his mother’s aprons. His self-doubts and fears served to deny him his true omnipotence. He subconsciously created artificial limits to his powers. Thus he was vulnerable. The Watcher abandoned his sacred oath never to interfere and, for the sake of the universe, aided the Fantastic Four in subduing him. Then he took him prisoner. The Watcher reinforced his mental blocks to keep him vulnerable.

Eventually, Reece escaped his extradimensional prison and returned to Earth, still a threat, but a relatively minor one. Thus he remained fearful and limited until Doctor Doom broke down the barrier of his mind and for the first time Owen Reece became aware he was the most powerful being in the multiverse.

And now that hat he knows he is mightier than all other beings, he has sought only peace within himself, joy in simple things and the utter happiness of love.

Uatu admits that in one stroke Doom unfettered Owen’s true nature and exposed Uatu’s folly. He was weak and fearful. He should have—

Enough already! Owen interrupts. He tells him nothing important is happening here except dinner and a quiet evening of watching TV. The Watcher admits he needs his aid. The one from beyond has embarked on a most dangerous course. Only Owen can stop him.

Isn’t that breaking his oath again? Owen asks. Uatu explains that all Watchers gathered and decided that action was required to avert the impending catastrophe. He kneels down in front of Owen and begs him to act.

Owen explains he really doesn’t want to get involved. Find someone else. Uatu announces he will try. But without his help, he fears for all existence.

Meanwhile, the Beyonder continues doing good. He brings food to a famine-stricken village in Africa, then saves a child’s life by giving research assistance in a lab in Pennsylvania. Later in another galaxy, he saves a spaceship that has broken down.

Finally, he rejoins Dave at the HQ, who having read the headlines informs him they are a hit. He notes that the Beyonder isn’t as enthusiastic though. The Beyonder admits he doesn’t know what his role is. Dr. Strange is in tune with the multiverse. He knows what to do. He knows his role. For some reason, he hasn’t been able to discern his role. But he must have one or he’ll fall in despair again. He looks at the screen to see trouble in New York…

… namely Kurse attacking Beta Ray Bill. The Beyonder figures Kurse is mistaking Beta Ray Bill for Thor. He muses out loud he should save Bill, especially since he is the one who reanimated Kurse. But right now he is not sure what to do.

As he hesitates, Dave shakes him out of his stupor by announcing they have visitors, namely Captain America and Mister Fantastic. After the two heroes enter, Reed Richard gets straight to the point. They have seen his activities and believe he means well, but where will this lead? Eventually, people will come to rely on him. Their lives will revolve around him. What he’s doing and not doing will be all that matters. Angrily, Cap asks if he understands the concept of freedom. There’s something disconcerting about him taking care of everyone on the planet. Something reminiscent of Big Brother watching. Freedom is the most precious thing a man can have. It must not be compromised.

He understands, the Beyonder replies, but… What? Cap asks. The Beyonder continues there is nothing for him. No place in the universe. No suitable purpose…

Dave gets worried. He puts on the projection helmet to show everyone what he believes the heroes are really thinking: The Beyonder stealing their thunder and becoming the greatest hero of all. He assures them they are in the business of helping people, fighting for life! Only death itself has anything to fear from them. He hopes that’s true, Cap replies.

The Beyonder promises to think over what they said. The heroes leave. Outside they wonder what to do. Cap asks if they should take action. Reed believes in the final analysis it will make no difference. Cap’s gut says to wait and hope for the best.

On his viewscreen, the Beyonder sees that Beta Ray Bill has escaped death at Kurse’s hands by reverting to his civilian (if alien) guise. Indeed, Kurse has lost interest in the unconscious Bill. At least he doesn’t have to make a decision about Kurse yet. Not until he finds the real Thor. Dave impatiently reminds him of the press conference.

Soon, the Beyonder informs the press he just wants to help, not become a Big Brother or-- Dave jumps in, explaining his friend and partner is too modest. Why doesn’t he show them what he can do? The Beyonder briefly levitates everyone in the room.

Dave continues, talking about the struggle between life and death. They are siding with the forces of life and will not stop until death is vanquished. Glowing with energy, the Beyonder agrees. They are going to vanquish Death! Seconds later, the journalists race to write their articles.

The Beyonder thanks Dave for inspiring him. He finally realizes he is bigger than the multiverse. As long as he is here, the way of the multiverse is his way. His presence affects the multiverse a great deal. There’s really only one role worthy for him as a champion of life. He searches around with his powers, then decides that it can be done. It’s a big step and, once it’s done, it’s forever… but he will do it.

Sometime later, Mephisto learns of the Beyonder’s plans. He curses for there is no time left for him to prevent this.

The next day, in an elegant St. Louis restaurant, the Beyonder introduces Dave to Death, or her physical incarnation at least. He informs Dave she is here to have a drink with them. Her last. Once she’s gone, of course, some changes will have to be made. All living things will have to be modified a bit. Predation will be history. So will grazing, for that matter, and fungi will have to change. It’ll take some work but it will be worth it.

He pours a glass of wine and changes it with his power then hands the drink to Death and orders her to drink. Dave asks if he is sure about this.

That moment, Mephisto orders his troop to attack, now that so much of the Beyonder’s power is inside that cup. He asks his beloved Death to set the cup aside, out of the Beyonder’s reach.

Instead of attacking the Beyonder directly, Mephisto goes for Dave and takes him hostage, hoping to get the Beyonder to bargain for his friend’s life. The Beyonder retorts that Mephisto underestimates him. Even a fraction of his power is enough to blow apart his horde, get Mephisto to submit and free Dave. Dave is almost hysterical and figures whatever Mephisto tries to prevent must be good.

That moment, the Watcher and the Elders of the Universe appear and ask for an audience. The In-Betweener remarks that Mephisto was right. Without Death, life will lose all meaning.

Dave figures they just want to keep on sparring with Death at the expense of the lesser beings. They are the real champions of life. They know what to do and are going to do it.

Eternity steps forth. It is his destiny that is being considered. He would have the cup pass from Death, please. Dave is sorry but his mind is made up. They are conceptual entities, not even real. They can’t conceive of what death is to actual beings.

Dave hands Death the cup. The Beyonder warns him there is a lot of his power in there. Once this is done, he won’t have enough power to undo it. Dave doesn’t see the problem.

And Death drinks… and crumbles to dust. Mephisto screams in despair. The powers of the universe sense the absence of Death rippling through the ether like a shockwave.

At that moment in the Molecule Man’s home, Marsha wonders when he replaced the flowers. Owen Reece examines them. Those are the flowers that were already wilted, he pronounces. Horrified, he realizes what happened and teleports away.

To reappear at the Beyonder’s side. He politely tells the presences he’d like to speak to the Beyonder and his friend alone. The powers comply and Owen asks the Beyonder why.

He explains that fighting on the side of life meant vanquishing Death. It was the only role big enough for him. Now nothing can die! Reece spits. With all his power, he can’t even kill that rose, he demonstrates.

The Beyonder doesn’t see anything wrong with that. Owen asks why he should bother watering it or even eat. Why bother with anything? It’s over. There’s nothing left to do. The Beyonder brought them their destiny and they are stuck with it Angrily, he teleports away.

Dave realizes what they have done. He shakes the Beyonder and begs him to bring Death back. The Beyonder insists he can’t. The only way would be killing someone and that’s beyond his power now. Dave can’t believe that. The Beyonder amends, maybe if some sentient creature were willing… to become Death. For, from that, death it would rise again.

Dave realizes he always wanted to be somebody. He tells the Beyonder to do it. The Beyonder kills him and he turns into Death… and then disappears.

Later, the Beyonder destroys his HQ, considering that part of his life over. He still has to find a role for himself. He figures maybe he can help a little, be a champion for life with one hand tied behind his back, sort of. He realizes that he is exhausted.

Characters Involved: 


Molecule Man

Energizer, Gee, Lightspeed, Mass Master, Tattletale (all Power Pack)

Mr. Fantastic
Captain America


Chaos, Eternity, Gardener, In-Betweener, Living Tribunal, Order

Story Notes: 

This is a follow-up to the popular Marvel Superheroes Secret War maxi-series.

The Squids found the Snark gun in Power Pack (1st series) #17

The Fantastic Four and the Watcher fought the Molecule Man in Fantastic Four (1st series) #20.

Doom enlightened the Molecule Man in Marvel Super-Heroes Secret War #11.

The Beyonder animated Kurse in issue #4.

The story is continued in Cloak and Dagger (2nd series) #4, Power Pack (1st series) #18, Thor (1st series) #363, Micronauts #16 and Power Man and Iron Fist (1st series) #121.

Written By: