“Secret Wars II” had neither secrets nor wars. Instead, it is the story of a god, the Beyonder, who longs to understand humanity. After visiting his friend Molecule Man, he travels the world of Marvel and learns about food, money, and sex. A mobster named Vinny teaches him how to put on pants. Eventually, the Beyonder takes over the world but is dissuaded by a woman named Circuit Breaker looped in from Marvel’s ongoing “Transformers” comics. The most infamous scene in the series comes earlier when Spider-Man offers the Beyonder a drink of water. The Beyonder asks if it will “relieve this strange pressure—this fullness I feel in my lower abdomen?” In response, Spider-Man points him towards the bathroom. Upon finishing his task, the Beyonder cries, “the experience is consummated!” He then vanishes in a flash of light to go bother Reed Richards.
In Shooter’s defense, “Secret Wars II” was meant to be ridiculous. While the original “Secret Wars” was pure capitalist product, “Secret Wars II” critiqued the excesses of the Reaganite 1980s. The Beyonder mirrors the hunger of the people around him. He changes his clothes, transforms buildings into gold and makes the population of Earth worship and obey him. But true happiness lies just out of reach. Despite its ambitions, “Secret Wars II” was let down once more by glacial pacing and bad writing. Sean Howe called it “an endless shaggy dog tale.” Jay Edidin went even further, blasting it as “the twisted reflection of everything that is wrong with shared universe superhero comics in the mid-1980s.”