Throughout my pre-teen life the local 7-11 was the place to be. This is where I spent my hard earned cash on soda, candy, and Slurpee’s (Slurpee’s were a twelve month available frozen drink). This one particular day I walked the few blocks to the convenience store to purchase one and a pack of baseball stickers. I got neither. The store just remodeled, and although they were open during the renovation the news rack was now in the front of the store. I don’t know if they moved this due to thievery or a new company wide design but now I was able to see the comic books as I walked through the door.
The comic books were separate from the magazines by a small partition and that’s when it caught my eye, the cover of New Mutants #15. I have been in a comic book store before but never did I spend the time looking through the superhero genre, I was always happy with “Richie Rich” and “Casper” off the three for a dollar rack. This was something new to me, something different, something amazing. I made my way to the small selection and I picked up the book to look through it. I had to have it. I made my way to the counter and bought the issue. Making my way home with my purchase wrapped inside a brown paper bag the Slurpee and stickers were becoming a distant memory.
Once home, I went to my room, plopped onto the bed and removed the comic book from its encasing. The brown paper was flung to the floor and the comic was thrust above my matted covers. I read it and it made my “Richie Rich” and “Casper” comics a thing of the past. I have read numerous comic books before with Superheroes; most notable were Sub-Mariner #38, TOS #97 and #99 but none were like this. This was about kids a little older than me and they had super powers.
I read the whole thing multiple times trying to get every ounce of enjoyment out of my sixty cents. On page two I found something interesting. A small notation was written out “*See X-Men #180 and The Secret War for Details—L”. There was more to the story than I thought. I couldn’t get them right away since my Mom would be home from work soon; waiting till the next morning was my only option.
The next day I woke, watched my Saturday morning cartoons and once I knew I could get out of the house I made my way back to the store. With about five dollars I picked up copies of Uncanny X-men #177 and #180, Amazing Spider-Man #251, Avengers #242, Iron Man #175 and #182 but, I couldn’t seem to find out where the Secret Wars was. I asked the person behind the counter and I was told that “whatever comes in comes in”. I didn’t know that this story wouldn’t begin for another month and a half. I wanted to buy more but I didn’t have the money, after all, this time I wanted a Slurpee. I took the books home, went down into the basement, turned the TV on, and read my comic books during the Saturday Matinees.
Looking at that same book I purchased all those years ago, it is nowhere near the condition the comic was originally in. I opened the cover for nostalgia and on the first page were three panels with the first words uttered by Captain Marvel “Oh… My…” “…Stars!”. The second and third page was a spread of all the heroes in some sort of Space capsule looking out on the universe. At this point we already knew they disappeared and reappeared in Central Park but what happened between those issues was unknown, until now. This was the series to find out. Page four introduced those Heroes by name, Magneto among them, and for me even though I learned who they were in the past couple of months I liked the rehash. It was the villains I needed a little more information about and I got that on the following page.
I continued to turn the pages in awe. The artwork catapulted me and the story kept me flying. Thor said it best on Page six “Swept away… Like dust before some unseen, Giant Hand!” describing the panel on the page which has every single celestial body twinkle out. In a separate location the Villains were just as awestruck as their counterparts. Immediately they have problems in the form of Ultron whose purpose is to destroy all human life. Ultron begins to attack those around him and only with Doctor Doom’s guidance does Owen Reese (The Molecule Man) slam the robot into the Mighty Galactus who seems unaware of them until this moment. Galactus raises the robot to eye level and snuffs the energy from him like a child blowing out a candle. As much as there was a question why Magneto was with the Heroes, then why was Galactus amongst the Villains. Wasn’t he a force of nature, a cosmic entity above such petty nuances?
It was page ten that things become clearer. The Beyonder speaks. “I am from Beyond, Slay your Enemies and all you Desire Shall be yours! Nothing you Dream of is Impossible for me to Accomplish!” The wavy talk bubble shows not weakness but power. Galactus (for some reason in this panel he is blue) refuses to play and flies off into the heavens to confront the all powerful believing his hunger should be cured immediately and Doom…well Doom is Doom and he follows. They are denied and swatted back to the planet below.
This comic book was the first of many huge crossover stories to come; they even followed with a more comprehensive, less successful Secret Wars II. Secret Wars wasn’t the first limited series by Marvel; that would be “Contest of Champions” (June 1982). Nor was it the first limited series which would be the Maxi-Series Cerebus by Dave Sim (1977-1994) or DC’s first limited series “World of Krypton” (1979).
The success of the limited series was unknown. It was the desire of Marvel that wanted a toy line to rival DC (Kenner’s Super Powers Collection), which had one already in the works that brought about this 12 issue maxi-series, a series that helped form the comic books I collect, even to this day. The Beyonder was this entity that had the power to create anything and everything. It was almost a way for Marvel to bring God into their comic books without offending anyone. Over the next year I couldn’t wait for each subsequent issue to come out.
My Mom had an instant disliking to this new hobby of mine and found any excuse not to allow me to have it. Being a child of a divorced family, some comics were transported to my father’s place for their safety. I even had a friend purchase and deliver a comic book for me when I couldn’t get out of the house to pick it up and left it in my back yard, minus a backing board or bag (7-11 didn’t sell them and I was unaware they existed at this point). It rained that night causing some water damage, the book was still readable but issue #7 of “Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars” was my first damaged comic book.
Since this series I was always curious about what drives the all so powerful. When Doom defeated the Beyonder and became like a God (issue #10), he seemed more benevolent, unlike Thanos years later with the Infinity Gauntlet whose sole purpose was to please Death. What drives these beings, these omnipotent gods? Where is the Beyonder today? Over the following years after Secret Wars they did use the Beyonder in different forms, something I will not get in here. Marvel has had a recent history of storyline of epic proportions, House of M, Secret Invasion, Civil War, Siege, and most recently Fear Itself and although they were grandiose they didn’t compare to the stories of my youth.
There was something about the close continuity of the stories in the eighties. Two trade paperbacks I picked up were Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle and X-Men the Dark Phoenix Saga so I can tell you I am pretty stoked about the hint they gave in Marvel Point one with the onslaught of the Phoenix force traversing the universe. Will this cosmic force be good, evil, or just an omnipotent being that needs to be handed a defeat by Marvels’ ever vigilante Heroes.
Thanks for reading