Avengers Two : Wonder Man & Beast #3

Issue Date: 
July 2000
Story Title: 
It’s Alive

Roger Stern (writer), Mark Bagley (penciler), Greg Adams (inker), Sharpefont & PT (lettering), Tom Smith (colorist), Tom Brevoort (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

At a gala benefit, Wonder Man and Beast are attacked by a stone giant under the control of Simon’s old enemy, Lotus. She has hypnotized Bob O’Bryan, who controls the creature, and Lotus uses the giant to fly them away from the building. Wonder Man follows, and Hank acquires a helicopter from a hapless news crew. Wonder Man is still trying to figure the wherewithal of Lotus being back from the dead, as he and the Colossus clash high above a freeway. He manages to tear one of the creature’s limbs off, and is about to use it as a baseball bat when the limb frees itself from his grasp and attacks him. As Diane Cummings explains Bob O’Bryan’s story to Beast, Wonder Man struggles against the giant. Beast takes matters into his own hands, and makes a play for Lotus, who is being carried by the creature. She tries to mind control Hank, but he’s strong-willed enough to not fall for her charms. He knocks her unconscious, which sends the Colossus plummeting towards the freeway. Hank saves himself, Bob and Lotus, while Wonder Man manages to divert the giant to safety, ultimately saving many people below. Despite his efforts, Simon still doesn’t feel like he deserves his good fortune, and it takes the appearance of a former obsessed fan to make him realize that he can learn from his mistakes and make better sense of the future. He decides to set up Second Chances, a foundation to help people in similar circumstances as himself. Finally, Wonder Man is at peace with himself and he joins Hank for a well deserved surfing session.

Full Summary: 

After being summoned by Lotus, the massive stone Colossus tears through the wall and smashes Wonder Man in the face with its huge fist. Simon is more than surprised by its appearance. Bob O’Bryan had told him that ‘It’ had been destroyed. The only ‘It’ he ever ran up against was the robot copy Bob built for their movie. This is no robot, and its fists are extremely solid. “Kill Wonder Man,” says the monster as it pummels Simon into the ground with astonishing power.

Beast jumps into the fray, but is swatted away like he’s nothing. Diane Cummings shakes her husband, and asks if he can hear her. He has to stop this. Bob is oblivious to her presence, repeating the words, “Kill Wonder Man.’ Before Diane can try again, she is karate chopped from behind by Lotus, who stands face to face with Bob. She tells him that her will is his will. He must get them out of there while Wonder Man is down. Bob obeys, and the giant creature picks them both up and takes to the air. Lotus figures she’ll deal with Wonder Man later.

As Hank rushes to check his friend is all right, Mac Sanders reports on the incident. Wonder Man is furious, and asks where they are. Hank informs him they’ve gone; together, one assumes. His view was partially obscured, but he thinks the creature scooped up Bob as well. Diane then appears, and confirms that it did. She says Lotus has him under some sort of spell. Simon asks her not to worry; he’ll save him. Lotus won’t get away with this.

Before Hank can object, Wonder Man flies off at speed, leaving Hank and Diane behind with the other guests. Diane says she can’t believe It is back. “Back?!” queries Hank.

Flying over Hollywood’s famous sign, Lotus wonders how Simon found out. He shouted to the entire room that she had backed the Armed Response attack squad. The only ones who could link her legitimate holdings to criminal activity are either dead, or under her thrall. Somehow, yet Wonder Man seemed to know everything. She thinks it was maddening enough when he disrupted her filmmaking. That production company was the perfect cover, but this… She’d planned to tail him from the charity gala, and then use O’Bryan to use It to destroy him. Her plans have now changed. Her entire operation is in jeopardy, all because of this infuriating Avenger.

Simon’s head is still ringing from the pounding he took, but at least he now knows who’s out to get him. He still can’t get over Lotus turning up, though. He saw the Black Talon kill her at Mephisto’s command when they were trapped in Hades, didn’t he? He knows that Mephisto tricked him with a phony Enchantress and Executioner, and with his parents’ ‘ghosts.’ He actually made him forget his mother was alive. Maybe, he thinks, that he only pretended to have Lotus killed, or maybe he brought her back to life like Wanda helped him. His mind races with possibilities as he pursues the creature.

He knows that Lotus claimed that Mephisto was her lover, just before she boasted about her crimes. He guesses he should have investigated more after he and Hank escaped Mephisto’s realm, but it didn’t seem to matter then. Lotus was dead! However, they’re both alive now and she has plenty to answer for.

Back at the Maria Stark Pavilion, Mac Sanders awaits his cameraman by the news helicopter. Unfortunately, Hank desires the aircraft more than Mac does, and takes it. Diane joins Hank and promises she’ll explain later. Hank orders the pilot, Gus, to follow the statue. They must rescue this fair lady’s husband. The petrified pilot does as he is asked, and the helicopter takes off in pursuit.

Meanwhile, Lotus has a dilemma. She calls for the Colossus to take them to the mountains, as Wonder Man tries to avoid the giant’s flailing fists. She knows that she must allow Bob O’Bryan a little more leeway, but if she loosens her hold on him too much, she could end up helpless in Colossus’s grasp.

Simon remembers how when they worked together at Delazny studios, O’Bryan told him about his experiences controlling It. Maybe he can free him from Lotus’s spell. He manages to get in close enough to finally do some damage. He smashes through the giant’s arm, snapping it free, and he quickly turns around in order to catch it. If he can just break Bob’s concentration, maybe this plan might succeed. He uses the arm as a baseball bat, and Lotus quickly senses the danger. She reasserts her control over Bob and orders him to use his control. He mentally commands the arm itself, which pulls itself free of Simon’s grasp. It then swings around and heads right back at him. He only narrowly avoids being walloped by it.

The helicopter carrying Hank and Diane approaches the battle. Hank asks how the extremities can possibly move by themselves. Diane informs him that it’s something to do with psycho-kinetics. She explains that the Colossus was carved from solid stone years ago by a Russian sculptor. Apart from its size, it was an ordinary statue; until it was animated by creatures from another world.

Some months later, Bob was injured in a freak accident. During his recovery, he discovered he could let his mind fly free of his body, and animate the statue through force of will. As It, the Living Colossus, he wrecked the plans of some crazed terrorist called Dr. Vault, and even prevented another alien invasion. Then, the Hulk came to town. Working through the Colossus, Bob tried to stop the Hulk’s rampage but, right in the middle of everything, an outside force took over the stone body. The Hulk wound up turning the statue into so much landfill, and they thought that was the end of it.

As they chat, the arm does some major damage, finally connecting with Wonder Man, who drops like a sack of stones to the highway below. He crashes into the front of a truck and continues into the asphalt. The shocked trucker wonders if it’s a meteor or something. He looks out his window and realizes it was no meteor. He exits his truck and rushes over to help Simon. He helps him up, but is surprised to find Simon has red eyes.

Suddenly, the massive arm comes hurtling towards them, so Simon grabs the trucker and pulls him clear of danger. Hank has listened to Diane’s tale, and realizes that her story still has legs. He leaps from the helicopter and lands on the creature’s back. He clambers across its shoulders towards Lotus, and suggests that she surrenders. Lotus has other plans.

Wonder Man orders the trucker to stay down, and gets airborne again, heading right for the fist. He has a plan. He hits the super-dense fist just right, and it smashes into a thousand pieces. Simon figures that if he smashes up enough of the creature, Bob’s control is bound to slip. Amazingly, the arm’s remnants swirl all around him, before making their way back to the Colossus’s body. It’s reassembling, and Simon wonders if this could get any harder.

As Lotus uses her hypnotic powers on Hank, her control over Bob does indeed begin to falter. Lotus starts to turn Hank against his friend, telling him that Simon hates all mutants, but she loves him. Unfortunately for her, Hank has had his mind scrambled by the likes of Mastermind and Mephisto, and she is hardly in their league. He sucker punches her on the side of the head, knocking her out.

Hank asks O’Bryan to listen up. He has to snap out of his miasma. Simon flies by and asks what he’s doing. Hank realizes that the creature is pretty much discombobulated, and so he grabs Lotus and Bob before leaping into the air. Simon has a problem. The creature, which has no control over itself, is heading right for the highway. “Oboy!”

He follows the giant, grabbing its arm in his fist and redirecting it away from the highway, and into the side of a building instead. Hank manages to save himself, Bob and Lotus by grabbing onto the helicopter’s landing skids upside down. He congratulates Simon on his efforts, but apologizes for not applauding right now.

The stone giant is laid flat on its back, motionless. Lotus has been blindfolded, and is led away by police officers. Hank asks them to keep the blindfold on until S.H.I.E.L.D. can whip up something to keep her hypnotism in check. Before they depart, Simon asks Lotus just how she came back from the dead. He saw Black Talon kill her… Mephisto’s henchman. Lotus has no idea what he’s talking about. She informs him that she does know one thing. He exposed her criminal empire, and she won’t rest until she sees him dead - permanently!

Simon can’t believe that she knows nothing about her own death. Hank tells him to let it go. Clearly, her death was another of Mephisto’s illusions. “Why?” asks Simon, “And why clue me in on her operations?” Hank figures that maybe, it was just to drive him nuts. At least the info was real. Now, thanks to Simon, Lotus is going away for a very long time, which isn’t bad for an evening’s work. As Diane comforts her husband, Simon guesses it’s not.

Bob tells his wife that it’s like a fog has lifted. Lotus contacted him two months ago, supposedly to work on a new film. She used that contact to get him under her spell. She needed muscle for her extortion ring, and figured she could get him to pull It back together. It took two weeks of concentration, but she finally got him to do it. This disaster is the result. Simon assures him that he’s not responsible for this; Lotus is. “This isn’t your fault, do you understand?” Hank cuts in, and asks Simon if he understands. He and Wanda have been telling him much the same thing ever since he rejoined the living. Diane asks why.

Simon tells Hank that his and Bob’s cases are completely different. He was fully conscious and responsible for the mistakes he made, in all his lives. He embezzled from his family, he betrayed the Avengers… but he keeps getting forgiven. He’s even been brought back from the dead. Why him? Why not Thunderstrike or Captain Mar-Vell or Mockingbird? It doesn’t make sense to him. He’s had such a good life, and he doesn’t deserve it.

A car pulls up nearby, and a Cindy Knutz gets out. She tells him she used to think the same thing. Survivor’s guilt can drive you crazy, she explains. Obsessing over it does no good, and she knows all about obsessions. She introduces her self, and says that Simon probably doesn’t remember her, but she remembers him.

Cindy explains that she was about to be crushed by Red Ronin, when Wonder Man flew to her rescue. Another split-second and she would have been killed. She strokes Simon’s cheek, tenderly, and adds that she was lucky. He was there for her, in the right place at the right time. He saved her life in all sorts of ways.

Cindy continues to say that it’s because of him that she moved to California. When he was in show business, she joined his fan club. She wanted to see him, again and again. “Geez, I sound like a stalker,” she grins. She apologizes, but admits she was younger and a little smitten. She’s over that now. She’s seen firsthand how hero worship can get out of hand, but that’s not his fault.

Simon tells her that he’s certainly not worthy of hero worship. Cindy says he’s wrong. Maybe he has screwed up in the past, but who hasn’t? She’s studied his career, and he’s always come through when he was really needed (something Hank has tried telling him already). To Cindy, that’s more admirable than someone who’s impossibly perfect all the time. Sometimes, the past doesn’t make any sense, but its over. We can’t change it. She adds that all any of us can do is to learn from our mistakes, so that maybe we can make better sense of the future. Simon is speechless. He realizes Cindy is right, and she’s given him a great idea.

(The Century Plaza, fourteen hours later)
With Neal Saroyan’s help, Simon has called a press conference. He informs the assembled media that Neal has been negotiating for the release of his movies and videos, and countless new projects and endorsements. Today, he’s happy to announce that all proceeds from these endeavors will go to fund hi new foundation - Second Chances. It will provide help to those who have been overwhelmed by forces beyond their control. It will be a non-profit foundation, so he won’t make a dime from it. He’s proud to report that Neal has generously agreed to work for half his usual fee. Neal smiles, and figures goodwill like this - you just can’t buy.

Simon tells the viewers that life can be unfair. It is incumbent upon those who have been blessed with good fortune to help those who have not. We must use all of our second chances. To build a better future.

Walking along a beach promenade, Hank pats Simon on the shoulder, and tells him it was a most excellent presentation. He’s given the Scarlet Witch fresh reason to be proud that she pulled him back from the great beyond. Simon hopes so. He wants to make Wanda proud. He thinks she’s wonderful. He really doesn’t deserve her, but no one could ever deserve a woman as amazing as Wanda. He just hopes he lives up to what she sees in him.

Hank approves of his new attitude. He spent so long lecturing him to no avail, and a sweet thing like Cindy speaks up and all is rosy. What would Wanda say? he jokes. Simon replies that she’d thank Beast for laying the groundwork for the message to finally get into his thick skull. Now back on form again, the two friends grab their surfboards and head to the ocean.

Characters Involved: 

Wonder Man

Neal Saroyan
Bob O’Bryan

Mac Sanders and cameraman
Party guests, musicians and waiting staff
Cindy Knutz

It, the Living Colossus

Truck driver
Police Officers
Reporters and camera crews

(in flashback)
Black Talon

It, the Living Colossus

Diane Cummings and Bob O’Bryan

The Hulk

Red Ronin
Cindy Knutz

(on television)
Wonder Man

Story Notes: 

Bob O’Bryan built a robot copy of It, the Living Colossus for their movie in Wonder Man Annual #2.

Simon disrupted Lotus’s filmmaking in Wonder Man #2 - 3.

Bob O’Bryan was injured, animated the Colossus, wrecked the plans of Dr. Vault and prevented another alien invasion through Astonishing Tales #21 - 24.

The Hulk destroyed the Colossus (under Dr. Vault’s control) in Incredible Hulk (1st series) #244.

Hank was controlled by Mastermind in Amazing Adventures #12 - 13, when Mastermind planted the illusion in Hank’s mind that Iron Man had been killed. He forced him to join the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but Hank overcame his programming and defeated them.

Thunderstrike sacrificed himself in Thunderstrike #24, Captain Marvel succumbed to cancer in Marvel Graphic Novel #1 and Mockingbird died saving Hawkeye in Avengers West Coast #100.

Cindy Knutz was saved from Red Ronin by Wonder Man in Tales of the Marvels: The Wonder Years #1.

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