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[WIR] X-Men II: Focussed Totality Is A Song Within Her When Ah'm Blastin'!

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
Uhhhh ... without giving spoilery details, Secret Wars II introduces a major change to one group of mutants, sooo ... it's your call, you are the one who has to read through this ... stuff.
You're talking about the New Mutants getting killed and resurrected, right? If that's just one event among many in that title, with the aftermath shunted to New Mutants, I figure to stick with the plan. If X-characters are vital to the narrative of Secret Wars II, we can reconsider.
To my knowledge, that's the first time that Cap's shield has ever been broken. It's become a sort of Worf Effect thing these days, but back then it was HUGE.

I never *did* find out what the "terrible secret" of Ben's transformations was.

I also don't know if theres ever been any followup with Molecule Man and Volcana to Enchantress or Lizard/Enchatntress, Lizard/Wasp, or many other short encounters that came from this.

Absorbing Man and Titania became a major thing, getting married at one point, and have been effectively inseparable. Her beating by Spidey has come up tho and her rivalry with She-Hulk's a regular feature. I feel like there should have been blowback between Jen and the Wrecking Crew and/or Doc Ock but I don't think there ever was. Doc being BROKEN by this experience resulted in a *fantastic* Spider-Man story tho. One of the best ever featuring him even.

So, lots of fallout from here.
And the real-world fallout looms even taller; Big Two cape comics as an industry have become crossover event-driven because of this series. That seems a little like if 80% of live theatres in the world were rebuilt to be in-the-round based on the response to one performance.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
And the real-world fallout looms even taller; Big Two cape comics as an industry have become crossover event-driven because of this series. That seems a little like if 80% of live theatres in the world were rebuilt to be in-the-round based on the response to one performance.
Interestingly, very few crossovers will ape the actual structure of Secret Wars : a stand-alone miniseries, with the whole line jumping forward in time to immediately address the consequences and new status quo nearly a year ahead. Indeed, the only major example I can think of is the 52/One Year Later pair over at DC, more than a decade ago.

The actual pattern that most future crossovers will instead adhere to is the one used by Secret Wars II (and Crisis on Infinite Earths) : the core miniseries takes place "simultaneously" with the rest of the line, with many direct tie-ins along the way.
 

Mr. Frost

Registered User
Validated User
I never *did* find out what the "terrible secret" of Ben's transformations was.
That was addressed almost immediately after he gets back to earth - and had actually been explained before Secret Wars even started.

See, all of Reed's early attempts to Ben Grim back to normal failed, but it took a mindscan from a rapidly-aged Franklin to finally figure out why: deep down, he doesn't want to turn back, because he thinks that Alicia only likes his rocky Thing form and would be driven away if he regained human form. Franklin explains this to Reed psychically (before turning himself back into a kid).
But Alicia wasn't on Battleworld with them, so the transformation wasn't as locked in. The wish-fulfillment field complicated things (and with Ben now alone on Battleworld, it's going to get a lot worse). When the Thing returns to Earth, he's decided to break up with Alicia (though the situation on her end is complicated at the time.) When Reed finds out about that, he finally explains things, thinking that now Ben can finally be cured. Ben doesn't take it well - partly because of how wierd his "vacation" on Battleworld got (With him being about the only real person around, Batteworld started conjuring up things from his subconciousness to fight, finishing off with "Grimm the Sorcerer", embodiment of his dark side and his human side.).
 

Spatula

More Ideas Than Time
RPGnet Member
Validated User
There is no avoiding Secret Wars II. It is everywhere! In any case, it’s also terrible, so I certainly don’t object to skipping the miniseries.

I think the crossover comparisons are similar to how the movie industry remade itself to be blockbuster-driven in the wake of the success of Jaws, was it? Or incorporating merchandising in the wake of Star Wars.
 

Unka Josh

Social Justice Chimera
RPGnet Member
Validated User
To my knowledge, that's the first time that Cap's shield has ever been broken. It's become a sort of Worf Effect thing these days, but back then it was HUGE.
Welllllll... except for the time the Living Laser vaporized it. It was back the next issue without explanation, though, so I guess it didn't take.
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
December 25, 1984

At the movies:


On the radio:


Beauty and the Beast 3 of 4

Despite still disapproving of her involvement in the underground theatre, Hank goes to see Alison again. They spend the day at the beach, Hank trying to say that when he's with her, he feels lost at sea, like he doesn't "know where I stand on this planet anymore!" She tells him to stop worrying about it and "trust the hand that fate deals us. . . . Don't think so much. Just live!" Taking her advice for a little while, Hank lets himself relax and have fun, but a few members of the adoring public ruin the mood:



They insist they don't care about the opinions of strangers, but both are lying, disturbed by the crowd's outrage. Alison needs to go back to the theatre after that, refusing to debate it when Hank tries to argue with her. As she leaves, he notices her leaking light again and is reminded that her lack of control over her light is a strong motivation for her to hide herself away.

Back at the theatre, Alex again gives Alison the "romance! . . . true comrades . . . code of trust" spiel and reaffirms that the death at last week's show was only an accident. The other fighters are sparring/exercising/ignoring the No Smoking signs, and Alex encourages her to join in. Hugo tells her to wait until the others are finished and work out on her own, on account of being new, but she does what Alex tells her instead. She shows off some impressive moves, winning everyone over. The whole troupe gather around and offer her compliments on her skills, so Hugo yells at them to get back to their training. Alex invites them to hit the showers and take the rest of the day off, and as before they go along with what he says. Hugo knows he's got a problem and warns Alex "we'll see who's the chump around here." That prediction will come true.

Talking with Ivich and Rocker later, Alison admits she's come to like certain aspects of the gladiator stuff, in particular their friendship, but is still a bit creeped out when the others show off their scars and give her a mace as a present. As they playfully start sparring, Alison futzes with her lights, inadvertently giving herself a reminder of Hank:



He's back at Heartbreak Hotel, wondering how Alison can look past how repulsive the gladiator fights are. Alex Flynn can make all the comparisons to football and boxing he wants, Hank will never accept what's going on there. Kate encourages him to keep trying, and gives Mickey some tough love too, while she's at it:



Before the show starts that night, the fighter who killed another at last week's performance, Horns, gets taken to task as Alison watches. Rocker and Ivich hold him down while Alex lets the showboat know that if he breaks the rule against killing again, the protection the rule provides to him will be withdrawn. He apologizes for making Alison watch that, but she assures him she gets it, telling him his rules make sense. Right before the curtain call, Hank shows up in Allison's dressing room, where she's decided tonight's theme will be Questionably Considerate Cosplay:



Hank follows his heart, as Kate suggested, by planting a kiss full on his girl's lips, then berates her for still going along with the fights in sequential panels. Alison, fearful that she's going to lose the title of Most Confused Protagonist, responds with a series of unconvincing justifications -- acceptance for who she is; an exciting, edge-of-your-seat experience; everything is perfectly safe; that one death was an accident; scars are beautiful in their own way; my powers are easier to control; the audience loves me. Hank is repulsed and smears lipstick on her face, as in finishing off her look with "war paint," and storms out again.

That's the first half of the comic: a bunch of wheel-spinning to bring us to essentially the same spot last issue ended on.

Contemptuous of the phony bullshit he was just served, Hank slinks around backstage until he finds a room with guards stationed outside. He climbs up to the rafters and gets into what turns out to be a chemist's lab, where he makes a less-than-shocking discovery:



Examining the fluid with the lab's equipment, Hank finds that the drug will, depending on dosage, regulate Alison's control over her powers, 'enabling them to create the illusion that being here in the theatre is 'curing' her.' He doesn't notice Hugo and a couple of his goons coming in behind him, though, and so they get the drop on him and inject him with a formula meant to drive him to out of control feral behaviour. Alison, now wearing a new outfit, is surprised onstage by the drugged Defender:



Find someone who loves you like this miniseries loves title drops.

While this is happening, Mickey finally psyches himself up sufficiently to go help the others. He asks Kate to come with him, but when she turns him down Link volunteers to help:



(Link has telekinesis and has been helping keep Mickey's "poltergeist" from wrecking the place worse than he already does)

Hank won't respond to her questions, so Alison has no choice but to defend herself. With practiced acrobatics and use of her lasers she's able to turn the tables, and the crowd's energy pushes her to attack in turn:




With the audience cheering wildly, Alison is driven to a mad aggression, declaring she "will . . . kill the Beast . . . !" Just in time to save himself, Hank regains enough of his senses to stammer an explanation about the drugs, and Alison stops herself. She runs over and embraces him, which of course pisses off the crowd. Hugo steps onstage and scolds his star for "teasing" the crowd and orders her to "finish him off!" She refuses, prompting Hugo to set some of the other fighters on her, but Alex intervenes before either of the heroes is harmed. Hugo is adamant that after being worked up like they have been, the audience won't be satisfied without a death, so Alex obliges them:



With Alison and Hank exhausted, unable to continue fighting, and Ivich and Rocker agreeing this is a worrisome development, the crowd and gladiator troupe all cheer the bloody coup.

The issue ends with Victor's lackey reporting that they've lost contact with the minder assigned to babysit the guy who claims to be his son but totally isn't. Victor decides he needs to get involved directly, then.

Script: Ann Nocenti
Pencils: Dan Perlin
Editor: Michael Higgins
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Next Time:

 
Last edited:

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
December 25, 1984

At the movies:


On the radio:


Iceman 3 of 4

Bobby falls through a black void and lands in a wooden crib, his parents looking down on him, delighted to finally have a child after putting it off for so long:



Unable to say anything except baby-talk, he's lifted out of the crib and swung around by his mother, gradually turning into a baby as she dances with him:



Cross at having to clean up the mess Bobby made, his dad orders him to head to school and become an accountant. Now fast-aging the other way, Bobby marches off and accidentally knocks over Charles, who invites him to join his school:



The Bobby's parents are back, reminding him that Jean's dead and is no proper role model for him. He starts to agree and return to the happy, boring "struggle for the legal tender," but a massive hand grabs him by the noggin and briefly drags him back to the hero life. Laynia's rejection sends him back to the books, though, but that makes him miserable, too:



His tears form into a huge body of water and threaten to drown him, so Brunnhilde the Valkyrie scoops him up and brings him to the Defenders. He objects, saying he's not ready yet, but the others just mock him for not being able to decide what he wants. Bobby cries out in anguish that he wants it to stop, to not have to think or do anything: 'I don't want to make decisions! I want a nice, comfortable womb to hide in! I want -- Void. Blackness. Oblivion.'

The young man disappears, then reappears with jacked Orko from He-Man:



The big guy welcomes Bobby to his realm, explaining that he's the embodiment of nonexistence, Oblivion. When things cease to be, they become part of him, or they're supposed to. He's got wants and needs, too, though -- he briefly absorbs Bobby into himself to show him what it's like to have everything stop and fall away, but as Bobby is put back together Oblivion explains he experiences that nothingness even as he maintains consciousness: "I FEEL EVERY RIPPLE IN THE SEA OF ETERNAL EMPTINESS . . . EVERY EBB IN THE TIDE OF ETERNAL NIHILITY. DEATH HAS HIS JOYS . . . AS DO LOVE, ETERNITY, AND THE COUNTLESS OTHER COSMIC DEITIES WHO PLAY THEIR PART IN THE DIVINE DRAMA. BUT, OBLIVION . . . HAS NOTHING." To temper his loneliness, he created a physical form, some servants, and a place to hang out.

Bobby's reeling from all the weirdness, but when his host brings up Marge he realizes Oblivion must be the guy sending villains after her. He admits it, but shows Bobby that Kali came back from her encounter with his runaway daughter injured and mindless. He created Marge in an attempt to have someone to keep him company who wouldn't just be a part of himself, but her independence led her to rebel and flee from him into the timestream, where he couldn't follow without terrible consequences. The hunters he sent after her before in the hope she could be brought back before her power grew too strong for his servants to handle. Kali was his toughest one, so brute force has failed, but persuasion might succeed -- since Bobby somehow made an impression on her, Oblivion offers to restore his dad to life and put his life back on the track it had been on if he gets Marge to return for him.

Bobby finds himself in a new place again, this time a small American town the narrator tells us Bobby's "imagined in his mind's-eye a hundred times over -- a town he's pined for when the pressures of the world -- of his own mutant stigma -- have been too much to bear." Despite walking around in his hero costume, which is basically just a swimsuit, all the people on the street greet him politely. Marge's "brother", Walter, waves Bobby down and brings him home to see her, and she insists he stay for dinner. Afterward they sit on the porch and Bobby tells her everything that's happened, including that her dad sent him to bring her back with him, but Marge assures him he's got nothing to worry about. They can stay in this town with her other family, where everyone but the two of them is a creation of hers, forever. Bobby can't go along with it, though:

Marge: "You're where you always wanted to be. I got this place out of your mind -- that first night we met. Please -- don't question any of it. Just be happy he made the mistake of sending you to me. I love you, Bobby. Oblivion and his lies don't matter here. We're together. . . . We're --"
Bobby: "Of course Oblivion matters! This isn't a game of make-believe, Marge! Oblivion has the power to --"
Marge: "Stop talking about Oblivion! You don't know how much he's hurt me . . . what he's put me through!"
Bobby: "No, I don't. But I do know this -- my father is dead! I'm not sure if I even exist anymore! I'm sick with grief . . . I'm confused . . . and I'm terrified. It's like I'm up to my neck in quicksand -- and I'm going down fast. Whatever the truth is -- whatever's going on -- the only way I'm gonna pull myself up out of this muck -- is if you come back with me."
Marge hates this idea, and when her family, the one she crafted herself, join in on Bobby's side, telling her she needs to do what's right, she sort of flips out:



She reduces them all to dust, then goes back to convincing Bobby to be with her: "we can be secure. Happy. Normal." She demonstrates how normal and secure everything is by wiping the town from existence as well, leaving nothing but empty wasteland all around them. Bobby bravely, but perhaps unwisely, tells her she's behaving like her dad, which snaps her out of the cycle of destructive tantrums makes her really mad. Threats are exchanged, Marge makes a villain costume for herself, and then grows fifty feet:



Calling herself Mirage now, she tries to erase Bobby, but doing that to a living being, as opposed to one of her creations, is harder than she thought; Bobby's able to resist the attempt. Confused about what's happening to her, Marge shrinks back down and rants about how she wants to be her own person, but her dad wants her to be just like him. Bobby notes, as he fends off the attacks she throws his way in misguided fury, that her situation and his own are not dissimilar. She can see it too, of course, and always did -- the fact he also struggled with his parents' influence even as he wanted to be his own person made her feel less alone, and now she feels betrayed. She wins the fight, but once Bobby's unconscious feels guilty. Quickly shifting blame to her dad, she zaps the two of them to Oblivion's realm, intent on making him pay for it. He's waiting for her, and tells his wayward girl that she's the one who'll be getting the spanking.

Script: J. M. DeMatteis
Pencils: Alan Kupperberg
Editor: Bob Budianski
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Remember that sci fi stuff from the first issue? The space war? The slave pits? Yeah, that's all been dropped and will never be referenced again. Maybe all that was an idle fantasy created by Oblivion to relieve his boredom, but it feels more like a midstream change in direction. This existentialist stuff is better than yet another Star Wars derivative, though, so I'm okay with it.

The surreal sequence opening the issue is the highlight, and the therapy-fight with the baby cosmic entity stands out, too. I'm actually really liking this story, strange as it is.

Next Time:

 
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