Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lost In Space


Name This Marvel Villain??

This limber lady isn't your garden variety villain, in the sense of wanting to conquer the world or launching a twisted scheme. But her cosmic power has given Shanga, the Star-Dancer, a sense of entitlement as far as the realization of her wishes is concerned--and she thinks nothing of inducing fear or taking human life, even for something as simple as satisfying her curiosity.

Exploring space so far from her homeworld that she became hopelessly lost, her encounters are dictated by a strange inner sense common to her people--a sense which brought her to a small town on Earth, where she decided to dissect a random human in order to further provide a clue as to why she was drawn to our world. Fortunately for Hartsdale, Massachusetts, its current tourists include Alicia Masters and her powerful boyfriend (at the time), the Thing. And since this is a team-up story in Marvel Two-In-One, it turns out Hartsdale is home to a famous though reclusive resident who fought in the war:

Elton Morrow, the Blue Diamond, whose skin never lost its diamond hardness but who decided to return to a career in anthropology instead of continuing his life as a costumed hero. Now in his early '70s, it seems unlikely he'll be able to help Hartsdale against the Star-Dancer--whose first step is to create an impenetrable dome over the town, to prevent any interference while she conducts her deadly experiments. That doesn't make the Thing too happy, now that the dome separates him from Alicia:

Meanwhile, the townspeople, in their panic, conclude that the alien is menacing them because one of the Fantastic Four is here, and so they take Alicia captive and threaten her life unless she sends the alien away--which of course she's powerless to do. At this point, I doubt any of us would blink an eye if the Star-Dancer dissected every one of these irrational idiots. But even though the Thing is still trying to batter his way inside the dome, Alicia still has a hero ready to come to her rescue:

The Diamond's defense of Alicia doesn't last too long, though, as he's soon stricken with a heart seizure and falls to the ground. And he's helpless to stop the Star-Dancer as she descends and chooses her subject--none other than Alicia. Yet by now, the Thing has busted an opening in the dome and rushed to the scene, where he engages Shanga in what to her is a one-sided battle. Indeed, given her power, it brings to mind the Thing's battle with the Silver Surfer--and just as the case was then, the Thing's resolve not only allows him to stay in the fight but also to prevail, if only briefly:

Fortunately, Shanga is diverted from unleashing her wrath by the Blue Diamond, who offers his dying form for her scanning procedure. And once Shanga begins, she makes a startling discovery:

Sensing the Diamond's death is imminent, she transforms him into a virtual living diamond, with all the strength and vigor of his youth. And she extends an invitation to the Diamond to join her in her travels, which he accepts. Which leaves Alicia to mark the story's end with this profound observation:

"Ben, it's hard to put the pieces together--to understand everything--but I think we witnessed something beautiful this afternoon!"

Sure, Alicia--if you don't count the angry mob that was dead set on executing you with a bullet to the head to save their own skin.

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