The Beyonder

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The Beyonder

(pop culture)
Hailing from a parallel universe in which he was the only sentient creature, the omnipotent being known as the Beyonder is one of the quintessential outsiders of superhero comics—and possibly one of the silliest and most blatantly commercial. The character was created by Marvel Comics editor in chief Jim Shooter as a jumping-off point for marketing action figures of the various Marvel superheroes and supervillains the Beyonder was to encounter. The Beyonder was blissfully unaware of the existence of other intelligences until lab worker Owen Reece caused an accident that transformed him into the matter-transmuting Molecule Man— and opened a passage between Earth and the Beyonder's so-called “Beyond-Realm.” The Beyonder's first glimpse of Earth triggered a sense of incompleteness and desire that he never before experienced. Desperate to resolve his new feelings, and perplexed by both the behavior and the motivations of humanity, the Beyonder spirited a large group of the Marvel Universe's superheroes and supervillains to a planet called Battleworld (the Beyonder's own creation). Here he observed the ensuing carnage and promised to grant the victors their every wish. But the Beyonder soon found himself rendered powerless, at least temporarily, after Dr. Doom activated a device to siphon off his energies; after regaining his full power, the Beyonder returned his superpowered playthings to Earth, as seen in the maxiseries Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars (1984–1985) and numerous tie-ins. His sense of existential desire still unsated, the Beyonder subsequently came to Earth, donning and discarding a succession of new human physical forms—his templates included the Molecule Man, Captain America, and finally an unnamed civilian who bore an eerie resemblance to Michael Jackson (circa Thriller)—during his peregrinations across the United States. As he traveled, the Beyonder casually bestowed almost unimaginable power upon both ordinary people (like television writer Stewart Cadwall) and superheroes (such as Spider-Man). Confused by the vicissitudes of free will, the Beyonder sought the counsel of heroes and bad guys alike; acting on the dubious advice of a petty crook named “Vinnie,” the Beyonder seized complete control of the minds of every human being on Earth, but found no satisfaction in the deed. The Beyonder then tumbled into despair over the apparent futility of life, until the sorcerywielding Dr. Strange convinced him to devote himself to superheroics, though both Captain America and the Fantastic Four pointed out their fears that humanity may grow dependent upon the Beyonder's beneficent guidance. The Beyonder then destroyed Death itself, only to undo the deed following a clash with an angry Mephisto—and after reaching the realization that Death is necessary if life is to have any meaning. Sinking into nihilism, the Beyonder decided to restore his earlier emotional equanimity by destroying everything in the multiverse except for his own “Beyond-Realm,” only to have to face the massed forces of Earth's superheroes, whom he easily defeated. He even killed the New Mutants, though he restored them to life with his godlike powers and ultimately spared the multiverse. Still a seeker at heart, the Beyonder briefly became mortal, during which time the Molecule Man apparently killed him, forcing his vast energies into another dimension, where they created an entirely new universe in the Secret Wars II miniseries (1985–1986) and numerous tie-ins. But the Beyonder evidently survived this new “Big Bang,” going on to explore the cosmos in his newly adopted female identity of Kosmos, along with a young protégé named Kubik, who started life as a reality-altering Cosmic Cube created by A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics). In 1997 the Beyonder branched out into the alternate universe of television, appearing as the driving force behind the multipart “Secret Wars” arc in FOX's Spider-Man animated series. Although the Beyonder tends to spread havoc wherever it goes, it does so out of ignorance rather than malice; like a tornado, the Beyonder is more a force of nature than a willfully malevolent adversary.