Friday, August 16, 2019

When Strikes Everything... And Nothing!

If there's a Marvel character whose raison d'ĂȘtre has been and remains a head-scratcher, I'd probably be in agreement with you in putting the In-Betweener at or near the top of the short list. Springing unsurprisingly from the mind of Jim Starlin and sharing the fashion sense of the Zodiac member, Gemini, the In-Betweener is an abstract entity who was created by and often takes his marching orders from the entities known as Chaos and Order, but is just as liable to act on his own initiative when becoming aware of a situation which requires his intervention to restore "balance."

But how to describe him? Starlin would script him thus: "I am truly the In-Betweener, he who walks betwixt all concepts such as life and death... reality and illusion... good and evil... logic and emotion... god and man... all these things do I know and can effect, yet never do they touch me!" "He is the barrier between dichotomies. He is the separator of actualities." Steve Englehart, in Silver Surfer, pretty much stuck to Starlin's definition but added: "I am everything, for I am nothing! I am a concept... of concepts!" Good heavens. Boiled down, we can presume that the In-Betweener is a being that can essentially act with impunity, affecting but not being affected by--which would put him in the company of other abstracts like Love, Chaos, Hate, Death, Eternity, Infinity, Order, et al., but with the distinction of acting as a virtual operative and being immune to the effects of, say, an assault from the Infinity Gems. He's quite unique. (Of course he would respond with "...but yet common and unremarkable!")

We first learn of the In-Betweener when he acts on behalf of Chaos and Order (as well as the Magus) to seek out and transport Warlock to his realm* where Chaos and Order will prep him to become the Magus:

*Even the In-Betweener's domain is difficult to define: "...that space between fact and fantasy...the land between reality and illusion, time and space!" His writers must have a ball scripting him.

Once the affair with the Magus is concluded, the In-Betweener turns out to be a natural foe for Dr. Strange, a sorcerer whose studies and experiences have touched on many of the concepts the In-Betweener walks between. Strange's foe has decided to take part in the plans of a trio of sorcerers called the Creators, who devised a cosmic "wheel of change" to alter the cosmos to their will. But in battling the Creators, Strange damaged the wheel, thereby setting the stage for his confrontation with the power behind the Creators.

Once face to face, Strange finds that he can reason with the In-Betweener--that is, to a point. After all, he's dealing with a being who stands between reason and rejection.

And so on arrival, Strange finds his adversary isn't so accommodating.

And so the battle begins--one that Strange, in spite of his resolve, finds himself hard-pressed to wage against someone like the In-Betweener. On the bright side, however--for the reader, at least--the nature of this conflict is made to order for artist Tom Sutton.

Yet despite how things look for Strange, the In-Betweener has underestimated him--for just as was the case with Strange's battle against Satan, his ability to think clearly and rally is bolstered by the support of those who yet have confidence in him to prevail in his struggle, even while fighting within a domain which by its very nature is intended to prod those trapped in it to surrender.

You'll need to read the rest of Roger Stern's story to find out if Strange manages to restore the balance of his universe. (We're all feeling reasonably balanced, aren't we? Well, there may be a few exceptions...) As for the In-Betweener, he's headed for even more trouble.

The In-Betweener goes up against two of Marvel's biggest guns!
Care to take a guess? (No peeking!)


lordjim6 said...

Are we really allowed to guess?

Comicsfan said...

Absolutely, lj6!

Anonymous said...

I bet Starlin got the idea for this character from the old song, "Accentuate the Positive" with it's lyric "Watch out for Mr. In-between".
Don't ask me what that means. I thought Starlin was plotting this storyline, or had something to do with it, but maybe I remember wrong. It was a pretty crazy little arc. Remember Dr. Stranger Yet?
Interesting art by Sutton. I think he mostly did horror stuff.


Comicsfan said...

Dr. Stranger Yet, now that takes me back.

Anonymous said...

M.P., Starlin started off the storyline, which came out of all that Dr Stranger Yet business. The pic at the top of this piece is from the cliffhanger splash at the end of (I think) Doc #26, written and drawn by Judo Jim, looking better than ever inked by the mighty Rudy Nebres.

Starlin got bumped from the book quite abruptly - it was disappointing at the time to get the next issue of what looked being his third great Marvel epic of the 70s only to find it by a completely different team.
Mind you, as it turned out Stern and Sutton did a pretty good job, although I believe they picked it up without any idea of what Starlin had planned.


Anonymous said...

Maybe it was around the time Starlin decamped for D.C. comics. It would be interesting to know why.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...