Since superheroes are all the rage Balladeer’s Blog’s “Script Doctoring” of Marvel’s handling of Foolkiller (Greg Salinger) continues with part fourteen.
FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE
This time around I rewrite The Defenders # 89 and bring to a conclusion this tale about the secrets behind Foolkiller’s costume and his Purification Gun.
Our hero and his fellow Defenders try to save countless universes from Thog the Netherspawn.
The name Foolkiller is based on the figure from 19th Century American Folklore.
DEFENDERS Vol 1: Number 89 (Nov 1980) – Doomsday to the Infinite Power – The original title was A Death in the Family, but I’ll deal with the death of Hellcat’s mother next time around.
This story picks up where we left off – the Defenders (Hulk, Valkyrie, Nighthawk, Hellcat and Foolkiller) are in the Everglades standing over the defeated forms of their demonic foes. The master of those lesser demons – Thog the Netherspawn -showed up to taunt our heroes that they unknowingly led him to the fulfillment of his plans to have worlds upon worlds and universes upon universes at his mercy.
Thog begins walking toward the interdimensional craft that he and his demons (disguised as human operatives called The Tribunal) followed the Defenders to. In order to prevent Thog from reaching his goal the heroes attack him. Foolkiller’s gun does the most damage because of the nature of the white energy blasts the weapon fires. Drawing additional power from the mere proximity of the craft Thog defeats them all, and when the Hulk tries to attack him again the Netherspawn catches his attacker’s big green fist in his own hand and fills the brute with pain.
With Hulk in a heap at his feet Thog, now standing in the doorway of the craft, faces and addresses him and the other Defenders, groggily pulling themselves up out of the swampwater. Now we get the Villain’s Rant, as Thog fills in the parts of the story unrevealed so far.
The interdimensional craft (see the last installment for details) was the creation of a race known as the Lords of the Nexus. Such craft enabled them to transport themselves anywhere in the Nexus of All Realities (which any Marvel Comics fan will remember has an opening on our Earth in a remote section of the Everglades).
That Nexus is a means of reaching not just other dimensions and other universes but also every conceivable parallel version of all those dimensions and universes: in other words the entire Multiverse. (I figured since the Multiverse was about to become a big thing in future Defenders stories I’d tie all this into it as foreshadowing.)
The Lords of the Nexus – exact origins unknown – inhabited a dimension/world at the center of all creation and was the only reality that had NO offshoots or parallel versions. This made their reality like the center of a wheel with all the rest of creation revolving around their realm.
For whatever reason the Lords took to roaming the infinite other realities, wiping out various entities out of motives known only to themselves. When their ages-long journey at last found them navigating the countless parallel versions of the Earth 616 Universe. Their first targets in those parallel versions were the countless other Thogs and their subordinate demons.
One of the other Thogs from those parallel universes managed to kill one of the crews manning the Multiverse-spanning vessels of the Lords of the Nexus. He planned on rounding up an army of Thogs from all of those other realities and launching a counter-attack against the Lords. He held the living metal “key” that activated the interdimensional craft he arrived in and had hidden.
Given the villainous nature of all the Thogs OUR reality’s Thog double-crossed the other Thog, killing him in his weakened state so he could use the Lords’ craft himself. The dead Thog had guarded against being tricked by OUR Thog, as what our Thog thought was the interdimensional craft was just an illusion conjured up by the now-dead one. That illusion faded, leaving Thog enraged and oblivious to the hidden location of the stolen vessel.
Because of the living metal and vegetation that the Lords of the Nexus constructed their weapons, uniforms and ships from, the craft was shielded from the perceptions of the Netherspawn. But as we know from issues of the Man-Thing, Thog always has various human agents bound to serve him in return for dark favors he granted them.
Running those “agents” were his subordinate demons, some of whom would interact with humanity in the disguised form of The Tribunal, seated around their ever-present conference table. One of those human agents was the military leader who went on to lead the Tribunal’s shock-troops in their attack on the Defenders in New York.
Following the Defenders’ battle with the Mandrill and Fem-Force in Colorado that military man had told the Tribunal demon running him about the event, mentioning all the details. The description of Foolkiller’s costume and gun made the Tribunal and Thog realize it must be a weapon of the Lords of the Nexus, rasing hope of finding either the lost craft or at least a different one to steal. They also realized the Purification Gun would be a great danger to Thog.
And so, as seen in plenty of previous chapters the Tribunal began shadowing the Defenders, eventually trying to obtain the Purification Gun by force in New York. And the rest we’ve seen in previous issues.
The living metal key to the craft also enables a being like Thog to generate all manner of eldritch energies, acting as his own power source, amping up the already considerable power-generating properties of the ore. With the craft in such close proximity once the Defenders unknowingly led him to it, that extra power enabled him to defeat them.
Now, with the Lords of the Nexus’ vessel at his disposal Thog plans to visit countless Earths first, killing every one of those Earth’s Man-Things just to enjoy slaying his arch-foe countless times. Some of those Earths he will rule as Hells, some he will subject to unspeakable experiments and some he will render uninhabitable and relish watching humanity die over and over again.
When he has finished toying with untold numbers of Earths he will move on to slay countless alternate Dakimhs and his world, then on and on through all of creation.
Foolkiller and the other Defenders have been ready for action for a time but were playing possum while Thog droned on. They attack him again inside the Lords of the Nexus’ craft but he trashes them and – since Foolkiller’s Purification Gun poses the greatest threat to him he gestures, blasting Greg into an energy field and thinks he and his gun are lost to the Nexus.
Next Thog begins his jaunts to other Earths, after he realizes he doesn’t yet understand how to operate the ship well enough to “weigh anchor” and leave our Earth. He can still travel to parallel Earths by entering the displays on the ship’s video screens, that’s how advanced is the science used by the Lords of the Nexus.
While the battered Defenders watch helplessly, they can observe Thog’s activities on the first parallel Earth on the viewscreen he entered. He tortuously kills that world’s Man-Thing then inflicts inhuman punishment on the planet after causing a mega-Earthquake to wipe out America, home of most of the world’s superheroes.
With the Nexus Lords’ key boosting his power Thog performs like a symphony conductor, using fire, ice and floods to exterminate the human race in just over an hour so as not to allow enough time for super-beings to even TRY to stop him. The Defenders see Thog reenter the ship from the viewscreen, but in another part of the labyrinthine vessel. Each hallway is lined with countless viewscreens like paintings on the wall.
Thog enters a separate viewscreen next and starts the process over again on another parallel Earth. This time the Defenders figure out how to enter the screen display, too, and Hulk, Valkyrie, Nighthawk and Hellcat attack the Netherspawn.
The heroes try in vain to stop him (think of the original Galactus Trilogy and the Fantastic Four’s futile attacks on Galactus ) but are defeated. Thog leaves them behind to be destroyed on the dying parallel Earth as he returns to the ship and enters another screen/ parallel Earth.
Foolkiller meanwhile, at last rematerializes on the Nexus Lords’ ship. He had been free-floating in the Nexus, surrounded by nothing but darkness and lack of sound. The odd designs on Salinger’s belt and at his neck were glowing as he materialized but are now growing dim, making him realize that those aspects of the four-armed Nexus Lords’ uniforms were safety devices designed to return the wearer to their ship in case of accidental slippage into the Nexus’ void.
He begins racing through the mazelike halls to try to rejoin his teammates, and at one spot catches sight of Thog destroying another Earth. On another screen he sees the dying world with the Defenders on it. Hellcat uses her Shadow Cloak to transport the Defenders back to the ship one at a time. Before Foolkiller can contact them they dive into the next viewscreen to attack Thog again.
Meanwhile, Foolkiller’s familiarity with the craft from his previous visits enables him to pick up where he left off long ago in deciphering the symbolic language of the Lords of the Nexus – at least as it relates to some aspects of running their interdimensional craft.
The Defenders, in the meantime, are being aided by that parallel Earth’s Man-Thing, since on this Earth they arrived before Thog could destroy him. It looks like Thog’s old enemy may prove his undoing yet again, but the Nether-Spawn’s new power enables him to destroy this Man-Thing as easily as the others, even with the Defenders fighting alongside him.
Next Thog destroys that Earth like the others before it and returns to the ship, this time destroying the viewscreen to prevent the Defenders from following him. Foolkiller has figured out enough of the metaphorical language of the Nexus Lords to line up another viewscreen with the stranded Defenders, enabling them to reenter the ship.
While Foolkiller uses his Purification Gun to enable the Defenders to last longer against the surprised Thog this time he keeps grabbing looks at the symbols on the instruments. Soon he has pieced together enough. (I figured for a nice change of pace from the usual “scientific genius figures out the alien craft” trope I would go with Salinger’s creative talents for poetry, music and song-writing to enable him to make the break-through.
Think of how he’s translating it as visual equivalents of the ST: TNG episode with Picard adjusting to the poetic, metaphorical language of the alien he is marooned with. At any rate he succeeds, hits the right controls to suck Thog into the Nexus’ vortex, blasting him into infinity.
As part of what he did the craft is absorbing itself, too, like a cartoon vacuum cleaner sucking itself into itself. (Or like serpent devouring its tail imagery if you want something a little more dignified.) He and the other Defenders leap out of the craft on their own world’s Everglades just a second before the craft disappears into nothingness.
With the rest of the Multiverse saved, the Defenders begin making their way back to Nighthawk’s yacht, oblivious to the sight of our Earth’s Man-Thing watching them from a distance. It is tilting its head, confused by its vague feelings of gratitude toward these intruders in its swampy domain. +++
I WILL ADD THE NEXT INSTALLMENT IN THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS TIME ALLOWS.
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