Secret Wars II #9

Issue Date: 
March 1986
Story Title: 
God in Man, Man in God!

Jim Shooter (writer), Al Milgrom (penciler), Steve Leialoha (inker), M. Hands (colorist), Rosen and Parker (letterers), Bob Budiansky (editor)

Brief Description: 

While the Beyonder considers how to best destroy all of creation, Volcana is trying to reach the Avengers. Suddenly, she finds herself teleported elsewhere, along with most of Earth’s heroes, courtesy of the X-Men’s Phoenix, who still has some residual power of the Beyonder. After Phoenix has gleaned what she wanted to know from Marsha’s mind, she teleports her back to her apartment. There she finds Owen Reece not as broken as she had expected. He explains that her seeming abandonment almost destroyed him but then led him to do some soul-searching. He still loves her but now knows that he isn’t utterly dependent on her. He announces that they have to help the heroes destroy the Beyonder. In the meantime, the Beyonder has come to the decision that he has to try become mortal. He creates a machine to change him into a mortal. To see if it works, he has it recreate the New Mutants, whom he had killed, from scratch. However, the process has left them emotionless zombies. He fixes the machine then puts a large part of his power into a container and has the machine give birth to him as his own adult son. The experience instantly overwhelms the mortal Beyonder and he immediately takes back his power to become his original self. However, having once tasted mortality, he wants to do it again. He does and tries out his new limits. However, Mephisto chooses that moment to attack. Eventually, the Beyonder realizes the attack’s an illusion and takes his power back. He decides he has to find another solution: become mortal while retaining large part of his power. He makes the necessary alterations to the machine. When he realizes the heroes want to attack, he sends the New Mutants to distract them. However, the heroes quickly capture the kids. They confront the Beyonder, who reluctantly unleashes a blast to kill them. Believing the heroes dead, he continues his work. However, the Molecule Man has used the last of his power to save the heroes and the rest of Earth that would have been damaged. When the heroes reach the machine again, the Beyonder is already in embryonic form, soon to be reborn. The heroes discuss the ethics of killing a child, not to mention the problem of releasing all that energy. The Molecule Man interjects and kills the embryo, then funnels the power unleashed into the Beyonder’s former dimension, where the explosion acts as the Big Bang and over time a new universe is born.

Full Summary: 

Somewhere deep in space, the one from beyond contemplates all existence. He intends to destroy it. No, erase it. Everything must go. Even his memory of it. That’s the tricky part.

Meanwhile, in a roadside café in Colorado, Marsha Rosenberg aka Volcana tries to get in touch with the Avengers hotline using a payphone while ordering some donuts. After finally getting through and swallowing, she tells the operator she’s got to talk to the Avengers. The Beyonder is about to wipe out the entire universe!

The operator becomes alert at the name and passes the call on to Mr. Fantastic, who explains that right now only the Fantastic Four are at Avengers Mansion, as the Avengers left the mansion some time ago in search of the Beyonder. Does she know where he is? Marsha replies he was at her apartment yesterday. She lives with… used to live with the Molecule Man. She explains how Owen had pretty much given up using his powers. They were just another suburban couple. Some time ago, when the Beyonder came to this world, Owen befriended him. Yesterday though he was about to kill Owen and destroy all existence. She sort of tricked him and stalled him. She’s been trying to call the Avengers ever since, but the lines are always busy.

Mr. Fantastic promises they’ll get to her as soon as possible. Quickly, he tells his team there is a crisis with the Beyonder. Since they no longer have their pogo plane, it will take hours for them to get to Colorado. That moment, though, they and many other heroes are transported somewhere else, namely the Colorado Rockies.

The Torch quickly identifies the other heroes as the Avengers West and East, Spider-Man, Alpha Flight, the Silver Surfer, Cloak and Dagger, Power Man and Iron Fist. It’s like a convention of Who’s Who in Super America!

No Who’s Who is complete without the X-Men! Rachel Summers announces as the X-Men make a dramatic entrance. She reveals that she gathered them here. Captain America figures it’s to stop the Beyonder, in which case they can put aside their differences with the X-Men. For now. That’s real big of him, Wolverine mocks.

Rachel reveals that she has some residual power given to her by the Beyonder and stresses they need each other.

Volcana, whom Rachel has also brought, pipes up that she can help too and demonstrates her lava powers. Rachel explains she brought her here for info about the Beyonder which she already gleaned from her mind. It would be best for her to be returned home. Reed Richards agrees and Rachel uses her surplus power to transport Marsha home.

Hesitantly, Marsha enters the apartment she shares with the Molecule Man. She recalls how she seemingly betrayed and abandoned Owen to make him seem too pitiful to the Beyonder to kill him. It worked. However, Marsha hopes he didn’t harm himself afterwards.

The apartment is a mess, his teddy is torn apart, then she sees Owen and screams.

Meanwhile, several hundred miles to the north in a helicopter created from thin air, the Beyonder wanders aimlessly but not even the gadgets entertain him. Deciding he needs a private place to think, he creates an underground sanctum. He sits down then decides to get his thoughts on tape.

He recounts how he came from – was – a realm beyond the multiverse. He accidentally learned of this strange multiverse where everything is incomplete and constantly trying to remedy this. The driving force of all existence is desire. Since he’s become aware of the existence of this multiverse, even he is no longer one alone. He is aware of others, therefore incomplete and therefore he knows desire.

This leaves him pretty screwed up. He is in a unique situation, as he is omnipotent. Reality isn’t real to him. Everything he says is, is. If he says cows have wings, they do. His imagination and reality are indistinguishable. Maybe he has just dreamed everything up including wingless cows, but it makes no difference.

So he knows desire, because he is incomplete, but what does he desire? What does he need? Nothing! Maybe literally. He was free of desire back when he seemed to be all that was therefore erasing the rest of existence seems logical. But as long as he conceives of other things, they exist in a fashion, because his thoughts equal reality. Can he erase his own mind? And if he does, is he dead? He doesn’t remember anything before the multiverse revealed itself to him. Was he alive before then and just unaware or was he born in that instant?

He keeps thinking about all the mortal beings whose lives he’s touched. He just can’t shake the doubt that they have something important he is missing. He can’t go on like this. He must do something. Should he wipe out all existence and risk godsdeath or try to taste that something which mortals have? There’s only one way to do that – by risking mortal death. The Beyonder curses. He may regret this…

He has taken human form but he has never truly become mortal. He probably should do it like everyone else, by being born in a human body. Getting a human woman for the job would be too messy and take too long. He creates a huge machine to do the job. He figures he should test it first. He decides to gather all the wisps of energy and shadows of thought that are left of the New Mutants and feeds them into the machine.

The machine gets to work growing appropriate bodies to house the essences of the New Mutants. It only takes seconds to take the maturation to the point desired, in this case adolescence. As an additional touch, even the costumes and hairstyles are recreated.

He examines them to find they are fine except the process left them sort of empty inside. At least he won’t have any trouble until he figures out what to do with them. He makes modifications to the machine to prevent the same thing happening to him.

Soon the Beyonder is all set and creates a vessel in which to store his power, while he tries the experiment.

No sense stalling, he decides. There is a blinding flash as the Beyonder’s body turns into pure energy, which enters the vessel while one tendril – his essence – enters the machine. Quickly a human body gestates, grows to adulthood and is born – as his own son.

The Beyonder is shocked at the effect, plunges his hand inside the energy containing vessel and returns to his prior state.

Meanwhile, Marsha finds Owen Reece, who was dozing in the easy chair. He greets her mildly and she is relieved he is alright. He is puzzled at that comment. She points out the state of the place. She feared he’d do something to himself. He admits he was a little upset at first. He was totaled, he amends, and for the first time she wasn’t there to fix it because she had caused it. So he wanted to die. Then it suddenly occurred to him: If he was nothing without her, what had she ever seen in him? So he had the choice to kill himself or find something in himself that is worthwhile. He didn’t find anything, but he figured what did he need? The strength he had when she was with him. It seemed easier just to quit, but he didn’t. He knows now that two people who aren’t okay by themselves aren’t any good together. In a way, he’s glad she left.

Marsha asks if he doesn’t love her anymore. He kisses her and tells her he loves her more than ever now he doesn’t need her anymore. She thinks she understands.

Surprisingly, Owen announces they have to help save the world. Marsha asks why one of the cosmic powers can’t do it. They are all too afraid, he replies. Except maybe Mephisto and he is no reliable guy. No, he has to do it. Alone, if necessary.

In his headquarters, the Beyonder marvels at the rush he experienced before. He was aging! Every breath seemed like an event. Each second unique – irreplaceable! It was unbearable and yet now the oppressive sameness in this form is unbearable. He’s got to try it again. He divests himself of his power and again has his essence enter the machine… To be reborn as his son.

He experiments with his now very human strength, experiencing limits for the first time. He wonders what it is like to be out of breath and runs until he is exhausted.

That moment, Mephisto and his demon horde teleport in. The Beyonder realizes he is helpless as the demons attack and capture him. Mephisto muses about how to best torture him. He vomits maggots on the helpless Beyonder’s face. They engulf the Beyonder completely and bite. This can’t be real! he groans. Oh yes it can, Mephisto cackles.

But the Beyonder recalls Mephisto has no power over humans on this dimensional plane, meaning this is all illusion. He stalks toward the vessel holding his power. Flames surround it. He feels Mephisto’s magic burning him as he reaches for the power. Mephisto still tries to convince him but the Beyonder prevails and turns into his old omnipotent self.

Mephisto and his creatures instantly disappear. The Beyonder realizes he has many enemies. How can he protect himself, if he turns mortal again? Must he annihilate all else?

In the meantime, the heroes have arrived above his headquarters. Phoenix senses the Beyonder eight or nine miles below. Let’s break out the picks and shovels! Spider-Man jokes.

The heroes turn to Reed Richard for their next step, only to be surprised by the Molecule Man, who announces he can get them there. Hawkeye immediately announces his suspicions. The Molecule Man retorts this is not the time discussing his sordid past. They need him. Hawkeye remains unconvinced but Reed sees his point. With him, they at least have a small chance. Unexpected help comes from Wolverine’s quarter, who announces his past ain’t pretty either, but he likes long odds better than no odds.

Below, the Beyonder is aware of their presence. He has figured out what changes to make to his machine but still has to alter the device. He considers the New Mutants. He reconstructs their alien teammate Warlock to complete the team, then programs them all to defend him and sends them above.

The heroes are surprised but don’t recognize the mutants, as the Beyonder recently killed them and erased all trace of them. As such, the heroes are not prepared for the teenagers’ attack. Wolfsbane goes for Tigra, Cannonball manages to momentarily flatten the Hulk, Warlock attacks the Fantastic Four, Magma scatters several members of the Avengers and Alpha Flight and Magik faces Thor, Captain America and the Black Knight.

Mirage and Karma identify Phoenix as the greatest threat and attack together. Mirage confronts her with her fear of her losing control of her powers, while Karma attempts to possess Rachel.

It takes Iron Man, Hulk, Namor and Wonder Man hitting at once to stop Cannonball in flight. The Thing tackles Wolfsbane, while the Silver Surfer and the Vision drop Magma. Magneto stops Warlock and the Invisible Woman, Scarlet Witch and Dagger take down the two psychics paralyzing Phoenix.

A little later, Phoenix reads the kids’ minds and reveals their identities and how the Beyonder has made everybody forget them. He recreated them and used them as pawns. She will later try to undo the damage done to their minds but right now she wants to make the Beyonder pay!

Seconds later, the Molecule Man’s power rips a shaft through the ground, taking them downwards.

In the Beyonder’s lair, he makes alterations to his machine to recreate himself as staying all-powerful, while being mortal. That moment, the heroes arrive. He assures them he is not interested in destroying things anymore. Then why did he send his kid stooges after them? the Torch demands. Only to delay them, he assures them.

However, the heroes led by Phoenix, Molecule Man and Thor break through his barrier. They ignore his pleas that he doesn’t want to fight and he realizes that if he teleported himself and his machine away they would just follow. All right, then so be it! An energy blast takes out the heroes. He sure he wants this? he challenges the Molecule Man, who is convinced by now that the Beyonder is a selfish god. He dies or they do. They begin a battle felt all through the multiverse.

Meanwhile, the heroes have recovered. They join the battle as the Molecule Man threatens to be overwhelmed. He had a chance, the Beyonder admits grudgingly, but it’s over. He tosses Owen to his friends. He intends to finish them all in one shot because he hates having to do it. They are all history!

The Beyonder’s deathstroke rends the Earth and space, destroying everything in its path utterly. On Earth, where once the Rocky Mountains stood, is now a steaming fissure.

Meanwhile, in the Beyonder’s lair, he sulks about, now having to stabilize orbit due to the planet’s loss of mass while making the final adjustments to his machine. He can hardly contain his impatience. He needs humanity in addition to his omnipotence!

He begins the process, his essence flowing into the machine to be reborn as human while the bulk of his power is stored in a vessel. As the Beyonder’s new body begins to form as an embryo the powers is sent to the form to merge with its cells.

At the site of the destruction, the heroes stir. An exhausted Molecule Man announces it’s a good thing he is not as heroic as they are or he’d have given everything in the battle. Then he wouldn’t have been able to shield them. He adds that he put everything living out of the blast’s way and stored it in subspace. Captain America cannot believe it. Owen laughs that he has power on a level beyond them and the Beyonder has power on a level above him. But this hurt him badly. Phoenix assures him they’ll take it from here and teleports them into the Beyonder’s lair.

They are surprised to not find him but the machine instead. Mr. Fantastic wonders why he is growing a new body. Owen shouts he is vulnerable. Kill him! Kill a baby? Volcana asks disturbed. Some heroes like Namor and Wolverine side with the Molecule Man. Others like Wonder Man, the Invisible Woman and the Scarlet Witch cannot stomach the idea of killing a child. Mr. Fantastic suggests they take a moment to figure out what’s going on here.

Suddenly, Spider-Man shouts a warning. There is danger coming from the machine. Indeed, an inbuilt defense mechanism almost blows them up. Only the shield of the Invisible Woman, aided by Phoenix and the Silver Surfer, saves them. Sue Richards sinks down, exhausted.

Several heroes decide to destroy the machine but Mr. Fantastic stands in their way. He reminds them that not only is a child being formed in there but that device contains the power of the Beyonder. If they destroy the machine, the energy might destroy everything. They have to wait out the process and reason with the Neo-Beyonder.

No! Owen Reece shouts and blasts the machine. He must die! Power emits from the machine and the child screams as the end begins. There is only whiteness, but then everything is back to normal.

Reed isn’t sure what happened. He gives orders to find the child. Seconds later, the Surfer finds the baby and cradles the dead form. The heroes turn away, horrified.

Marsha addresses Owen, who tells her he had to do this. She assures him of her love. Captain America addresses him and thanks him for preventing the end of the world, though he wishes there had been another way. So does he, the Molecule Man replies and admits he pushed himself too far. He lost his power and may never heal.

He thrust the power conduit into the Beyonder’s former dimension. Like a Big Bang, a universe is formed, planets form and intelligent life emerges on some of them, finite existences giving meaning to the infinite… and so finally the Beyonder’s desire is fulfilled.

Characters Involved: 


Molecule Man

Colossus, Nightcrawler, Phoenix III, Rogue, Shadowcat, Wolverine (X-Men)
Cannonball, Cypher, Karma, Magik, Magma, Mirage, Warlock, Wolfsbane (New Mutants)
Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, She.Hulk Torch (Fantastic Four)
Black Knight, Captain America, Captain Marvel II, Hercules, Thor, Wasp (Avengers)
Hawkeye, Iron Man, Mockingbird, Tigra, Wonder Man (Avengers West Coast)
Aurora, Box, Northstar, Puck, Sasquatch, Shaman, Talisman (Alpha Flight)
Scarlet Witch, Vision,
Silver Surfer
Iron Fist, Power Man
Cloak, Dagger

Mephisto’s demons

Story Notes: 

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

The Beyonder eradicated the New Mutantss in New Mutants (1st series) #37.

There is an epilogue in Avengers (1st series) #266.

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