Wonder Man #8

Issue Date: 
April 1992
Story Title: 
Operation Galactic Storm part 11, Death Adrift

Gerard Jones (writer), Jeff Johnson with Stephen B Jones (pencilers), Jan Anton Harps and Art Nichols (inkers), Joe Rosas (colorist), Pat Brosseau (letterer), Evan Skolnick (assistant editor), Fabian Nicieza (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

The Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, the Vision, the new Thor, Captain Marvel, Living Lightning and Starfox are on a Shi’ar planet, where Lilandra is supervising the shipment of a deadly weapon into the Kree solar system by the Starjammers. However, Corsair, leader of the Starjammers, wants no part in this, as he knows they have to travel through Earth’s solar system - his old home - and it will be put in danger. However, Raza is a Shi’ar himself, and offers his services to Lilandra to transport the device so that he can help save his people. The Starjammers prepare to depart with the weapon, and Wonder Man tells his teammates that they have to stop them. Grabbing the Vision, Wonder Man flies out into space after the Starjammers, avoiding the Shi’ar officers who start to shoot them down. Wonder Man tears his way into the Starjammer, arguing with the vision as he does so. They make their way through the vessel, discussing their current way towards each other. The Starjammers receive a message from Lilandra that Wonder Man and the Vision have followed them, and the Starjammer soon locate them, and engage them in battle inside the weapon that the Shi’ar plan to use against the Kree. Eventually the fighting ceases long enough for Wonder Man to convince the Starjammers that what they are transporting is not a portal for the Shi’ar, but a bomb to destroy the Kree. However, they are almost at the stargate. There isn’t enough time to repair the damage done to the weapon from the battle, so the Starjammers, back in their own ship, detach the weapon from their traction as they pass through the stargate - and with Wonder Man and the Vision trapped inside the weapon, they float aimlessly through space inside the giant bomb - with no way of getting home.

Full Summary: 

On a lifeless planet in the Shi’ar homeworld solar system which serves as a weapon testing facility, ‘Oh man, that…is big’ Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man gasps. He stands in awe with two teammates from the Avengers West Coast - Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch and Miguel Santos a.k.a. Living Lightning. With them are Eric Masterton a.k.a. the new Thor and the Vision of the Avengers East branch, and inactive Avenger Captain Marvel a.k.a. Monica Rambeau. Lilandra, Empress of the Shi’ar Emprie stands on a platform above them as they look at a large vessel nearby. ‘Ground crews, move to safety! Stand by to de-power magnetic tethers! The nega-portal is prepared for launch’ Lilandra declares, when suddenly, another vessel appears. ‘Starjammers! To your vessel!’ Lilandra exclaims. Captain Marvel remarks to the other Avengers that it took some politicking, but they finally convinced Lilandra to meet with them. ‘Even if it meant leaving the Shi’ar homeworld to do so’ the Scarlet Witch remarks.

‘What’s this?’ the new Thor asks as the alien Starjammers march towards them. ‘Maybe the cavalry arriving’ Wonder Man suggests, while the leader of the Starjammers, Corsair, shouts ‘NO!’ and reminds Lilandra that he is an Earthling, and will not ferry a piece of military machinery of this size, of this unknown nature, through his old solar system. ‘tell me, Corsair…do you truly believe that your sentimentality for your home planet is more important than my people’s total war with the Kree?’ Lilandra enquires. ‘There must be other ways to end this war than to sneak weaponry from stargate to stargate’ Corsair suggests.

Wonder Man tells the Vision that Corsair is right, even if he doesn’t know what kind of portal that thing is. ‘Dropping a weapon like that into Kree space will kill negotiations! And that could mean killing billions!’ Wonder Man exclaims. The Vision points out that Lilandra rules by rationality, that she has no doubt calculated the costs and benefits of such a step, so this is no doubt her most efficient course. Lilandra turns to the rest of the Starjammers - Ch’od, Raza and Hepzibah and asks if Corsair speaks for them all, or if they have their own opinions. Raza replies that they regret letting their friend Corsair down, but they understand Lilandra’s position. ‘The Shi’ar face annihilation, and if only this device and stop the Kree…’ Raza’s voice trails off. Hepzibah points out that, in any case, it isn’t for them to debate politics - a job is a job. Corsair just hangs his head. ‘Well, this is one job you’ll do without me!’ Corsair exclaims as he turns and strides away.

‘Mmm. First we lose Binary…now Corsair…’ Ch’od points out. Lilandra tells the trio that they will simply have to pick up the slack, as the device must be delivered through the Kree stargate. ‘And that, surely, will not prove too difficult even for a diminished force of Starjammers!’ Lilandra exclaims. Lilandra states that since Thor’s battle with Gladiator destroyed their stargate, the Starjammers will need to travel to the Pan/os’yen system and use the gate there. ‘Now - prepare to launch!’ she orders, and shortly, the Starjammers depart, carrying the large Shi’ar object in its tow.

Wonder Man exclaims that Corsair is washing his hands of this, and that they have got to stop Lilandra, but Wanda points out that they don’t know the whole situation and they can’t risk losing the cooperation of the Shi’ar by leaping in and stopping their plan. ‘Wanda - you don’t know weapons! I do, remember? I made them. I sold death for years’ Wonder Man exclaims as they look into each other’s eyes. ‘Weapons like that demand to be used! You bring them out as a threat, but somehow or other events get out of hand and you - NO!’ Simon exclaims as the vessel moves further from sight. Starfox, another inactive Avenger, appears with his comrades as they all look up in shock. ’Oh, Lord…no’ Simon utters, very concerned.

Suddenly, ‘Wonder Man, what do you -’ the Vision exclaims as Wonder Man grabs the android by his cape and tells him to “can it”, as he announces that he is going with them, and he has a feeling he will need somebody who can help him infiltrate. ‘You’re nuts! You can’t!’ the new Thor calls out, while Wanda tells Simon not to go. Holding the Vision by his cape still, Wonder Man leaps out the air lock, and jumps after the Starjammer. ‘Halt!’ a Shi’ar officer calls out. ‘Tell me how to halt in mid-jump, buddy…and I still wouldn’t do it!’ Wonder Man calls back, while the Vision tells his “brother” that he assumes he has a rationale for this. ‘Bring them down!’ a Shi’ar officer orders, and they begin firing at Wonder Man and the Vision.

Wonder Man dodges the explosives, while remarking ‘My “rationale”? Lives, man! Saving lives!’ as ha drags the Vision behind them through space, while quickly approaching the Shi’ar vessel. ‘Then in fact you have no rationale at all. Only a reflexive emotional response’ the Vision points out. ‘Blast you - I have to do this! And if you still had a trace of my mind - my soul - in your lousy programming, you’d see that!’ Wonder Man exclaims as he tears at the hull of the Shi’ar vessel. ‘Then it is best for the efficiency of my performance that I do not’ the Vision points out. ‘Efficiency…I won’t let people die in the name of efficiency!’ Wonder Man exclaims angrily as he tears his way into the vessel, the nega-portal.

Air begins to rush out the hole, and Simon declares that there is higher pressure in here, that this place has an atmosphere. ‘You appear irrationally disturbed by the knowledge that my consciousness is no longer partnered after your own, Wonder Man’ the Vision points out. ‘Shouldn’t I?’ Wonder Man shouts, before wondering why the Vision would ever understand. A door up ahead is closing, and Simon tells the Vision to get through it. Wonder Man races over ,and holds the doors open with his impressive strength, while the Vision floats through the wall. ‘This is a dangerous preoccupation if we intend to function together’ the Vision points out. ‘I know, blast it! But you don’t know what it’s like to die and come back!’ Wonder Man exclaims, before making it through the doors.

Wonder Man tells the Vision that when you are haunted by death, seeing any part of you alive makes you feel immortal. ‘I can’t have kids, you know - I’m just an ionic energy…thing. When your mind was based on mine, you were the closest thing I’d ever get to a son’ Wonder Man exclaims, adding ‘And when she fell in love with your mind…I could feel a little closer to her’. ‘Of what “she” do you speak?’ the Vision asks, matter-of-factly. This angers Wonder Man and he scowls: ‘Your wife, you mechanical clot-head! Wanda!’, before suggesting they try to find their way through this monster, and he leads the way down a corridor of the nega-portal, with the Vision floating behind him, remarking ‘You continue to invest emotion in Wanda’.

‘What do you expect? It used to tear me up, seeing her in love with a computerized version of my personality…but at least - in a way - it made me feel she loved me’ Simon replies, adding that when Wanda started showing an interest in the real him, it was complicated, but it felt good. ‘Made me think I could win her away from my own earlier self. Like I was making progress…as a human being’ Wonder Man explains. The Vision tells Wonder Man that if he is troubled by such self-defeating thoughts, to know that he has no emotional interest in Wanda. ‘That’s supposed to make me feel better’ Simon asks, frowning. ‘I’d just gotten over my crush on her when you had to go all-the-way robotic…and make her suddenly seem available again!’ Simon declares, while pointing out that he now has other women in his life, normal women, well, sort of, - as normal as a starlet and a screenwriter can get.

Wonder Man tells the Vision that he doesn’t know if he wants to be messed up with a super heroine again, as he wants to create a real life for himself. ‘But then I see her still stuck on you - just a plastic shell of a man - and I know that I’ve got the mind, the soul, that she fell in love with when she fell for you…and I have to wonder…’ Simon’s voice trails off. ‘The ability of the human mind to complicate its own processes continues to baffle me’ the Vision states. He adds ‘Surely if you would simply shut down these passionate responses and act in a manner incremental to your conscious -’ he begins, when Simon shoves his hand over the Vision’s mouth, ‘Do my the biggest favour anybody ever did, Vision. Just shut up for once!’ Simon exclaims, before telling him to come on, as he has gotta do something. Simon carries on down the corridor, muttering that one of these passages has to lead to the bomb-works, and announcing that they are going to find it and shut it down.

On the Starjammers’ vessel, Lilandra speaks to them via communicator, that it is confirmed, their sentries have found no sign of Wonder Man or the Vision on the planet, and can only assume that they are riding in the nega-portal. Raza informs the Empress that their remote scopes detect nothing on the exterior. ‘And as I scan the interior…wait. A blip of ionic energy!’ Raza exclaims. ‘That pseudo-human Wonder Man! If he sabotages the portal, the Shi’ar war effort will be devastated!’ Lilandra declares, while Hepzibah remarks that she suspects their contract for this mission will be worthless. ‘Then what are we waiting for? Program the auto-pilot, Hepzibah…and let us stop them!’ Ch’od exclaims, as he, Raza, Hepzibah and the small alien called Cr+eee suddenly teleport away, into the nega-portal, where Wonder Man exclaims ‘Blasted thing just twists forever. Have you seen anything that looks like a control mechanism?’ he calls out to the Vision,.

‘Nothing. Which, I maintain, may be for the best’ the Vision replies. ‘That it is, Avenger!’ Raza exclaims as he and his teammates materialize above the Vision and Wonder Man. ‘Had you found the portal, we’d all be facing an angry Empress Lilandra’ Hepzibah declares, while Ch’od exclaims that only the Avengers will have questions to answer now. Wonder Man punches Raza, knocking him back, and tells the Vision not to let the Starjammers take him. ‘I don’t care whether you agree with me or not -’ Simon begins, but the Vision tells him to say no more, as there is no benefit in being captured now. With that, the Vision becomes intangible when Ch’od tries to punch him, so the alien just falls through, while the Vision releases optic beams at Hepzibah, knocking her backwards.

‘What turning immaterial?’ Ch’od exclaims, while Wonder Man punches Raza against the wall, and tells him to put his sword down and listen - only for Ch’od to slam his fist into Simon’s back. ‘That’s what I like…something solid!’ Ch’od exclaims. Hepzibah fires a gun at the Vision, striking him in the back, before he tells her to beware of firing weapons here. ‘Surrender and I’ll stop firing, Earthling!’ Hepizbah replies. Wonder Man looks at Ch’od and asks him if he knows what he is towing here. ‘Our livelihood, Wonder Man’ Ch’od responds, while Raza adds that if his Empress knows of what she speaks, then also the survival of the Shi’ar race - his race, and he leaps towards the Vision, who is once again firing optic blasts at Hepzibah, who this time dodges them, and the blasts strike the nega-portal’s wall. ‘No! You’ve damaged the circuitry! If you’ve disabled this portal -’ Raza exclaims as he slams a fist into the Vision’s neck.

The vision spins around and punches Raza aside, stating that the “disabling” of this “portal” should be the least of their worries. Raza falls to the floor, while the Vision announces that if their discoveries, while in the company of the Shi’ar are true, then the implications of damage to these mechanisms are far more ominous than - he is interrupted when Ch’od slams his fist into Wonder Man’s face, while Wonder Man shouts ‘Blast it…Vision…just tell them!’, as Raza declares that they hold the Avengers responsible for any damage done to this device, and all the harm they bring thereby to the Shi’ar efforts to end this war. ‘Please…I must ask you to listen!’ the Vision states as he shoves his intangible hand through Raza’s chest, causing the warrior to cry out in agony.

‘Raza! You’ve killed him!’ Ch’od gasps, but Wonder Man explains that the Vision is real good at the half-materialized-hand-in-the-chest bit. ‘Just like I’m real good at this!!’ Wonder Man shouts as he punches Ch’od hard in the face. ‘Now. Before you talk about responsibility - hear me out!’ Wonder Man tells the Starjammers. ‘As you…wish…’ Raza utters as he tries to get to his feet. Hepzibah suggests they make it brief, ‘And don’t think we will change our minds’ she adds. Hepzibah announces that the Starjammers have learned to respect Earth’s heroes, but that they have also learned to expect them to meddle in affairs beyond their province. ‘And beyond your comprehension! Do you have any idea what sort of crisis the Shi’ar are facing against the Kree’ Raza calls out as he and his teammates regroup.

‘Yes! A pretty good idea. But do you have any idea what role you’re playing in that crisis? Do you?’ Wonder Man asks, before adding that the Starjammers don’t, as the high command never tells the flunkies when they’re packing something this big. ‘Did Truman tell the crew of the Enola Gay that they were dropping the first atomic bomb on Japan? Did he tell them what kind of destruction they were bearing? Never. Because no commander wants to risk a conscience fouling up his tactics!’ Wonder Man exclaims. Hepzibah replies that the Avengers are masters of dramatic overstatement. ‘To compare this Negative Zone portal to the deadliest weapon ever used by your species -’ she begins, but Wonder Man cuts her off, asking if she really believes it is just a “portal”.

‘It’s a bomb!’ Wonder Man exclaims, announcing that this entire complex is a “nega-bomb”, turning the power of the Negative Zone into a pure, destructive force - a force that can destroy the Kree galaxy, that can kill billions. ‘Now, tell me about responsibility! Tell me this is just a “job” that you’re just following “orders”!’ Wonder Man exclaims. ‘You can’t, can you? Now that you know…now it’s your decision - to kill - or not to kill!’ he adds. ‘If this is true…then you are right’ Hepzibah tells him. She adds that this is too great a decision for them to shirk, and that to pretend helplessness would be arrogant. Raza points out that if the Shi’ar are in danger, then his race is in jeopardy. ‘Then let the Shi’ar do their dirty work. ‘Why did Lilandra hire us? To keep her hands clean? I won’t have that much blood on my hands’ Ch’od states.

‘It would be…an enormous amount of blood’ Raza admits. The Vision states that these are not rational arguments for the resolution of such a dilemma. ‘No kidding. They’re heart arguments. Gut arguments. Soul arguments. And that’s what I like about them’ Wonder Man replies. He and Raza shake hands, and asks for time to talk it out. He asks the Starjammers to stay out of the stargate until they can make a real decision. ‘Yes. We can give you that much’ Raza replies, before deciding that they should examine the damage here, as it does them no good to discuss the use of this bomb if it is disabled ‘Or about to detonate’ Wonder Man points out. Raza examines his watch and announces that it is 21:24. ‘at our rate of travel, we should now be approaching -’ he begins, until a wide-eyed Hepzibah interrupts: ‘The stargate!’ she exclaims.

‘Raza, we’re not travelling at our original rate! When this emergency struck, I programmed us for top speed!’ Hepzibah reveals. Indeed, the Starjammer, towing the nega-portal, approaches the stargate, energy rippling around it. ‘We must change course immediately!’ Hepzibah exclaims as she, Ch’od and Cr+eee rush away. ‘To the ship, then!’ Ch’od exclaims. ‘By the weapon - the damage! Can you -’ Raza calls out. ‘Yes! We’ll check it out! Just go!’ Wonder Man replies, before the Starjammers teleport back to their ship. The Vision asks Wonder Man if he can indeed repair this device, to which Wonder Man replies ‘Are you kidding? I don’t even know how this thing works!’, but that he didn’t want them delaying, for if they are going to blow, they better to id out here, in the Shi’ar fringe world, than in the heart of the Kree galaxy.

The Starjammers arrive back in their vessel, but Hepzibah exclaims that they are too late, as they are moving too quickly to avoid the stargate. Ch’od tells Raza that he will have to jettison the bomb. ‘But the two Avengers…’ Raza begins, before deciding that, as they themselves must see, it is two lives against billions. The Starjammer releases the nega-portal from it’s pull, and Wonder Man and the Vision are tossed about inside it. ‘Our course has shifted abruptly’ the Vision points out. ’Rather too abruptly to think we are still connected to our host ship’ the Vision adds, before pointing out that Wonder Man has won his argument, that this weapons journey has been interrupted, and they have not “blown”. ‘You must be pleased’ the Vision remarks, while the Starjammer is pulled into the stargate.

‘Oh, yeah, I’m just tickled pink. Except for one little thing…the fact that we’re all alone in a giant bomb, drifting through the Shi’ar galaxy…with no way to get home!’ Wonder Man exclaims, while the nega-portal falls away from the stargate, with nothing but swirling stars, drifting asteroids, and the coldness of space around them….

Characters Involved: 

Living Lightning, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)
Quasar, Thor II, Vision (all Avengers)
Captain Marvel II, Starfox (both inactive Avengers)

Ch’od, Corsair, Cr+eee, Hepzibah, Raza (all Starjammers)


Shi’ar officers

Story Notes: 

This issue follows Quasar #33 and continues in Avengers (1st series) #346.

Thor II destroyed the stargate in Thor (1st series) #445.

The Vision’s original body, with a brain based on Wonder Man’s brain patterns, was destroyed in the classic West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #42-45.

The Scarlet Witch finally started showing Wonder Man some real attention around Avengers West Coast #65, but only briefly. After that, things were complicated, until she resurrected him in Avengers (3rd series) #2, 11. They were in a serious relationship after that, until Avengers (3rd series) #41, when they decided just to be friends.

The other women in Wonder Man’s life at this point are ditzy “starlet” Ginger Beach and aggressive screenwriter Alex Flores.

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