Wednesday, May 6, 2015

5 Reasons You Should Care About … Molecule Man

Molecule Man, Molecule Man / Doing the things a molecule can / What’s he like, it’s not important / Molecule Man

Among the common threads of Marvel’s Secret Wars stories is Owen Reece, the Molecule Man, the supervillain scientist who, at times of mental clarity, would really much rather have a nice, quiet, suburban life, except the Beyonders keep mucking it up for him.

The basics: Molecule Man was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and first appeared in 1963’s Fantastic Four #20.

1. He’s a god, man: The nuclear mishap that gave MM his powers allows him to control matter at the molecular level, hence the name. It basically means he can do whatever he wants, though there was a time when he believed his powers could not affect organic matter, to the point that the Fantastic Four disguised themselves as statues to trick him into defeat. How he hadn’t destroyed the world prior to the latest Secret Wars and why he’d rather not be a supervillain with that skills set is Beyond me.

2. He and Harry Potter have a couple things in common: In addition to powers, the accident gave MM lightning bolt scars all over his face, like if Voldemort had designed Mike Tyson’s face tattoo. MM also occasionally uses a wand, which turns out to be unnecessary, because THE MAGIC WAS IN HIM ALL ALONG! Actually, for a while, MM’s consciousness resided in the wand, and he would try to possess whoever held it, from Reed Richards to a hobo to a little girl to a snake.

3. He may find himself living in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife: MM met his future wife, Volcana, during the first Secret Wars. She was an Earth woman who’d been pulled to Battleworld and, while there, was given lava powers by Dr. Doom. After the war, they found a nice little place in Denver (Both are native Coloradans). They separate for a time in the ’90s, and he attempts to win her back by carving her likeness into Mount Rushmore. Your move, Lloyd Dobler.

4. Every time he gets out, the Beyonder pulls him back in: In the gift that keeps on giving, the accident that gave MM powers also caused a dimensional rift that allowed the Beyonder to discover the 616 reality (or maybe the Beyonders caused the accident so MM could destroy reality; more on that later). MM had retired from villainy before the first Secret Wars, but he was still among the baddies pulled to Battleworld by the Beyonder. Later, in Secret Wars II, the Beyonder shows up at the Reeces’ doorstep, during his wacky quest to understand humanity, and MM ends up engaging in a fairly epic battle with the extradimensional entity, to the point where he appears to have exhausted his powers. The two characters even merged for a time in the ’90s, forming a Cosmic Cube.

5. He’s a multiversal bomb: In New Avengers #33, the last issue before Secret Wars, MM explains that he is the same in every reality, and in every reality, he is the Beyonders’ tool for the destruction of that reality. As such, Dr. Doom has been going from reality to reality killing Molecule Men with the help of the doomsday cult he built for himself. Not that it did any good.

Read this: 1985’s Secret Wars II, in which the Beyonder tries to crash on the couch of his good buddy Molecule Man, and Spider-Man teaches the Beyonder how to poop (not a joke). A Stan-and-Jack creation though he may be, Secret Wars scribe and former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter had a big hand in crafting MM’s personality beyond that of generic purple-and-green-clad villain.

Watch that: Marvel’s kid-friendly Super Hero Squad Show, which ran from 2009-11 and is available on Netflix. Specifically watch the episodes “Villainy Redux Syndrome,” in which the retired and mistakenly summoned MM frees Dr. Doom, MODOK and the Abomination from prison, and “When Strikes the Surfer,” in which MM gives Nebula a new mouth after her old one was removed by an Infinity Gauntlet-fueled Silver Surfer. Volcana also appears in both episodes. No sign of the Beyonder, though. Comedian Fred Stoller voices MM in both episodes.

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