By guest columnist Mark Ricard
After a long wait and a extra issue,Secret Wars 9 came out and finished the long “epic event” that Jonathan Hickman had started nearly four years earlier in the pages of Avengers and New Avengers. This article is not so much a review of the event but all of the things in Hickman’s run. This was supposed to be a conclusion to all of the story threads that he had begun from Avengers and New Avengers in the last three years. However it left many unanswered questions plus quite a few continuity problems. This paper has a twofold approach. I will try to address the unanswered questions that Avengers and Secret Wars have left unanswered and it will also ask how they are related to questions in terms of the continuity of past stories. First I will start with the Beyonders.
It was revealed at the start of Secret Wars that the Beyonders were the cause of the Incursions that were destroying the multiverse. They used the Molecule Man as a “bomb”, to destroy each timeline in which he exists. In essence their plane was to destroy the multiverse. This leads to to two unanswered questions. First and most importantly,why did the Beyonders want to destroy the multiverse? Given that this is what started the entire story,it is the most significant unanswered question in the series. Yet we are never given any motive or background about these enigmatic creatures. Secondly do the Beyonders exist outside of the multiverse? If they do, then where?
- 1.2 Continunity Questions
The Beyonders were originally created by the late Mark Grunewald in Marvel Two in One. They used the alien race called the Spihinxtors to take away Counter Earth from the High Evolutionary. One gets the impression that the editors wanted to get rid of Counter Earth and created the Beyonders as plot device to remove a unwanted piece of the Marvel Universe out of continuity.
The Beyonders were next mentioned in Steve Engleheart’s run on the Fantastic Four. It was first discovered that they created the Savage Land with the help of the alien race called the Nuwali. Why they chose to do this was unexplained. Technically they seemed obsessed with Earth for some reason. There motives are however vague. Here was a chance to explain a loose thread in continuity that was never addressed. Hickman never cleared these points up. It is true that neither of these stories were his but a story this long could have taken the time to tell us more. In Fantastic Four 319 is always revealed that the Beyonders were the creators of the Cosmic Cubes that exist in the Marvel Universe. Which leads us to part 2.
2. Molecule Man and the Cosmic Cube
Cosmic Cubes existed in the Marvel Universe since the days of Lee and Kirby. The origin was not explained or at least retconned until the story mentioned above. The cubes can develop sentience and evolve in living creatures. This has happened before. Three times. First there is the Shaper of Worlds who developed from a Kree made cosmic cube. He and his assistant Glorian have appeared a number of times. Their whereabouts are explained in Silver Surfer 13-15 by Dan Slott and Mike Allred. There is also another being who is unaccounted for. His name is Kubik. Kubik evolved from a Cube that was created by the organization known as AIM. The character has not been seen in this story. In fact he has not appeared since Fantastic Four Annual 27 according to Marvel Wiki. The significance of this character lies with the Beyonder and the Molecule Man.
The Molecule Man’s origins were retconned in 319. There it was explained that his power was from half of a Cosmic Cube. The power of the other half was in a entity called the Beyonder. Judging by the way he has been written by Hickman in this event, the Molecule Man is more like the Shaper of Worlds. Someone with vast power who needs someone to direct it because he cannot use it himself. Technically this is a change from what readers were told before. This leads us to a discussion of a entity called the Beyonder.
3 The Beyonder
The Beyonder was originally a character created by Jim Shooter for the the first two Secret Wars events. This recent event was named for those stories. Originally he was a powerful alien who existed in his own dimension, this was changed in the retcon as described above. After that story the Beyonder took on a new form as Kosmos and Kubik became his mentor. This was seen in Fantastic Four 25 and 26. Sometime later Kosmos/Beyonder appeared again using the name Maker. This was in Thanos 8-10. In these issues we find that the Maker/Beyonder was incarcerated at a prison called the Kyln after committing violent crimes against the Shiar Empire for reasons the Maker itself did not understand. The character Oracle had tried to psychically shut down the mind of Beyonder/Maker. We also learn that the Maker has taken over the prison and does not remember his/her identity. Thanos eventually defeats her and psychically erases Beyonder/Makers. Thanos explains that though the mind is erased the essence and or energy of the Beyonder still exists inside the body. And that energy must be contained within it.
Later in the Annihilliation Event the Kyln is destroyed. Thanos sends the Skreet to go back and check if the body is alive. It is. This was in Silver Surfer Annihilation issue 3. That is the last time the Beyonder was seen in physical form. According to the Secret Wars 2015 Handbook the Beyonder is a “child Unit”. This is consistent with the earlier story in 319. However the connection between Molecule Man, his powers and the Beyonder has yet to be mentioned. We could assume that Kubik and the Shaper were lying to them. But then what was their motive? The point is that if the Beyonder/Maker’s power is part of or linked with Molecule Man then it must be explained how it relates to the plans the Beyonders had for the Molecule Man. There is also the unanswered question of why the Beyonder chose to take on mortal form again. Though that is not directly related to the issues of the Secret Wars.
The link between these characters is something that should have been explained.
References for parts 1-3.
Secret Wars Official Marvel Comics Guide to the Mulitiverse 2015 Marvel Comics
4. The Builders
Jonathan Hickman introduced a new alien race to the Marvel Universe called the Builders. The are alleged to be the oldest race of beings in the universe. They also supervise or destroy other races that they see as troublesome. The Builders believed that Earth was such a race. Earth is the source of the incursions mentioned before. This leads to the first unanswered question. How did they know this? It was not explained in the story. The other problem is the relationship between the Builders and the Captain Universe power. They say the Captain Universe force was the founder of their race. The Problem with this is that the Captain Universe power is currently originating from the Microverse. This shown as far back as Micronauts V1 31,and 35. The power itself originates from the Sword in the Star. The only way this can be consistent is if the Sword in the Star is the founder of the race. Finally what the fate of the Builders was both during and after Hickman’s Secret Wars is unclear. They have not been mentioned again.
4.2 Builders, New Universe, Captain Universe and the White Event.
The New Universe was reinvented by writer Warren Ellis in the Marvel series, New Universal. A White Event occurs that bestows people with superpowers. The powers originate from the Superflow. The Superflow exists outside of the ordinary Mutliverse. When the event occurs it gives four different people four specific powers. These are the Starbrand, Nightmask, Cipher, and Justice power. In the current storyline Hickman has only shown the first two of these. The latter have yet to appear. Furthermore he has tied the origin of the Superflow and these powers with the Builders. Consistent with this in Avengers vol 5 6. we learn the Captain Universe force is related to this power. The current recipient of the Captain Universe power translates the Nightmask’s speech. She explains that they are part of the same force. This makes sense since it was the founder of the Builders who now control the Superflow. However it was not explained further.
There is a way to connect the history of the Captain Universe/Enigma Force with the powers in the New Universal powers. If Marvel is interested in how to do this they can contact me. It will not be explained in this paper.
References for 4
5. Other unanswered questions
There are a few other unanswered questions that need to be addressed. Do the Celestials still exist? What about the living Tribunal and other abstract entities that were said to be destroyed by the Beyonders. Do we still have a mutliverse? And if we do,then in what ways does it differ from the Multiverse we had before this event? Perhaps some might think that expecting all those pieces to be put together seems to be asking too much. However remember that A) This was supposed to be the event reshaped Marvel Continuity the way Crisis on Infinite Earths did with DC Comics and that B) Marvel had nearly 3 years and over 80 some issues in which to tell this story.
Readers might also be interested in Zeno’s articles on Hickman and the New Universe