Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Story & Pencils: John Byrne
Inks: Karl Kesel

I guess there are three types of crossovers between comicbook characters.

1. When two characters from the same publisher meet, which can happen alot, because it's relatively easy to do.

2. When two characters from different publishers meet. This is very difficult, because it requires two business competitors to work together.

3. When two characters from different publishers meet, without the other side's permission.

That third one is actually not so unusual, and can get quite interesting, this issue being a prime example.

Having spent years producing type-1 crossovers for Marvel Comics, writer-artist John Byrne switched sides to competitor DC Comics where, along with his old friend Mike Carlin, he looked-after the revamp of their most famous product Superman.

I guess after ten issues he'd gotten a little comfortable in this new gig, so much so that he snuck-in a brand-new crossover-issue with Marvel's now-completed Secret Wars II saga.


Or did he? That sure does look like the all-powerful godlike Beyonder on the left above, and John Byrne would certainly know how to draw him. He'd already pencilled the one from beyond in no less than four official crossovers while still working for Marvel about a year earlier. Visually, the only difference that I can see is that this guy has stubble, which is hardly an inconsistency.

Of course, he never refers to himself as "the Beyonder" for obvious legal reasons, and the character never introduced himself as this in his Marvel adventures anyway. (although he did recognise that others used it) Here he gives his name as the anagrammatic "Ben DeRoy", describes himself as having come from "yonder", and causes no end of chaos as he grants various passers-by whatever they thoughtlessly wish for. All very Beyonderish, as of course is his presence in a different universe.

However, on this visit to the Daily Planet, he steals Lois Lane away from Clark Kent, takes her on a lunchdate, and asks her to marry him, the cad. (having just met him, she answers yes, the minx)

Hmm, actually that's not so Beyonderish, in fact his entire attitude here is uncharacteristically sinister.

Still, I'd place these events after The Incredible Hulk #312 and before Secret Wars II #4, because his stubble suggests that a long night has just passed, and he seems to be in the early stages of looking for love. Also, his rampant wish-fulfilment for those around him doesn't reflect his subsequent learning curve in Rom #72. Yep, that's definitely when this issue must take place.

Well, until page 13 anyway, when the man of steel finally confronts him, and this familiar stranger turns out to have actually been Mr Mxyzptlk in disguise all along. Sadly, from that moment on, the remaining nine pages are a Mr Mxyzptlk story, which never do very much for me. Sorry, Mr Mxyzptlk.

Still, it was nice to believe that I was reading Secret Wars II again, if only for half an issue.

(sometimes available here)
(with thanks to Herschel)


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