MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS #12, Marvel Comics, April 1985
Secret Wars was the first crossover event I ever read, and definitely one of the first ever published. And though it's a very simple premise, it's that simplicity that makes it work. Basically, a godlike being from another dimension, the Beyonder, peeks into our own and sees something he does not understand: Desire.*
He decides to pit various motivations against one another on a piecemeal planet created from bits and pieces of planets throughout the galaxy. On the side of "good" (unselfish desire), you have all the best Marvel heroes (except Daredevil... jeers!). On the side of evil (selfish), you have an about equal number of Marvel villains. Oh, and you have Galactus the Devourer of Worlds pretty much by himself. Whichever motivation wins is the more powerful and will be rewarded with their heart's desire. The Beyonder has clearly seen one classic Star Trek episode too many, but that's what makes it a "universal" story.
How'd it end?
In the last issue of this 12-part mini-series, Doctor Doom revels in his victory. The heroes were all killed at the end of #11. It's not a mistake. Not a dream. Not an alternate universe. He's used his scientific know-how to usurp the powers of the Beyonder (the planet itself responds to desire so that you can manipulate reality there) and nuked the heroes' base. This is all that's left:
And Captain America's shield is more indestructible than Wolverine's skeleton! In case you needed it proven, this proves that Dr. Doom is the meanest, baddest Marvel supervillain of all time. His second order of business is to make himself handsome again. His third is to start maybe planning on getting his mom's soul out of Hell. Great set of priorities there.
The only villain that has remained loyal to Doom is Klaw, a crazy guy made of solid sound, and he puts an idea just as crazy into Doom's head: Imagine, if you will, that Colossus' alien girlfriend from earlier in the series, the healer Zsaji, arrives on the scene and finds the various bits and pieces of our heroes. A Hulked-out thumb here, a Spider-ass there. And among these, there's Colossus' almost intact body. Imagine she's seen the classic Star Trek episode "The Empath" and that she gives her life to bring Colossus back to life. Imagine he's seen Reed Richards operate an alien healing machine in a nearby compound and that it was enough to let him resurrect Richards with it ("less shredded than the rest"). Imagine Reed then resurrects everybody using that technology. Far-fetched? Yes. But if Doom can imagine it with his Beyonder powers, then it could happen. What if it has?
When he starts doubting, he immediately uses reinforcement techniques: "No... NO! They are DEAD!" And then...
Oh my (thunder) god, he's made it happen.
After that, he starts to lose control of his powers, so he gives a tiny bit to Klaw while he tries to contain the rest before he blows up the universe. Klaw pretty much uses it to create monsters for the heroes to fight, but he's got another agenda. When Captain America gets through the defenses, Doom disintegrates him. But Klaw resurrects him again... and again... and again! In that moment of confusion, the Beyonder shows its hand: It was hiding inside Klaw and now grabs its power back and sends Doom and Klaw "away".
And after that, it's all about picking up the pieces. Captain America, the baddest mo-fo on the heroes' side fixes his shield using willpower alone, and everyone but the Thing goes home. Since he can wish himself human here, he wants to explore the planet a little before going back. Meanwhile, the villains have left thanks to Molecule Man moving a chunk of Denver through space. And of course, they're all at each others' throats. The funniest part of that section is Thor villain Enchantress calling up a water elemental in a bathtub:
When she isn't happy with the creature's attitude, she FRICKIN' TRIES TO DROWN THE POOR THING! Yes! She's drowning a water elemental! Ok, ok, she's actually boiling her alive. Like that's better? That Enchantress is one mean b****!
Let's take a quick look at what changed after Secret Wars. After all, these things always advertise that "nothing will ever be the same again", right? So here's a quick rundown:
-Deaths: None permanent, and none that even appear to be permanent (even Kang's).
-New characters: Spider-Woman II (pretty cool), Titania & Volcana (ok villainesses)
-She-Hulk joins the Fantastic Four (good stuff!)
-Spider-Man gets the black costume which will become Venom (good until it became bad)
-Colossus and Kitty Pryde, splitsville (good, she's mine, ALL MINE!!!)
-Professor X gets to walk and wants to lead the X-Men in the field (in an awful yellow costume, no less; this was not a permanent change)
-The Thing's comic gets a new status quo, with him hanging out on Beyonder World (I bought exactly 1 issue)
Overall, I guess it's most important for how Venom was introduced, but I think you can see why it wasn't used as his origin in the movie! I dunno. Can we hope for as much in the endings of both Secret Invasion and Final Crisis?
*If you've ever seen the Super-Friends episode "The Last Challenge" (totally recommend the Challenge of the Super-Friends DVD by the way - it's rad!), your eyes may be open as to where Jim Shooter took the "simple" idea for Secret Wars. Godlike being takes heroes and villains to another world where they fight it out? Yeah, real original Jimbo.