What The D'ast? Comet Man
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 09:02
(Editorâ€™s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Contributing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with Marvel Cosmic and its many denizens. Mr. Brewerâ€™s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CosmicBookNews.com. He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)
By Byron Brewer
I love introducing or re-introducing via this well-received column cosmic fanboys (fan geezers?) like myself to entities, minor and major, hero and villain, they may not have encountered before in the Marvel U.
For example, Cosmic Book News’ esteemed publisher, Matt McGloin, had never heard of Mercurio the 4-D Man before I dug him up for “What the D’ast?” The incident has repeated itself among fans dozens of times now as they discover old cosmic beings that could be used today in exciting ways – a practice I had hoped we would see when scribes Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning brought back first Darkhawk and later, via the Fault, Starstalker, the Mindless Ones, the Sphinx and Young Sphinx’s cronies (Man-Wolf and Bloodstone).
But I must confess, as versed as I like to believe myself in the Hallowed Halls of Marvel (Cosmic Wing), I had never heard of a “Comet Man” before, discovering him in one of the Official Handbooks – and yes, it did bother me!
Despite a 10-year hiatus from the late-1990s to mid-2000s from reading comic books, my knowledge – even while suffering seizures and migraines – never lessened … or so I thought. I am still my gang’s Mr. Trivia and I don’t need Alex Trebek’s cards to win at Jeopardy.
But Comet Man? Sounds more like a 1950s or 1980s DC character than something from the House of Ideas!
Still, there he was: Dr. Stephen Beckley, Comet Man! And created in 1987 when my comics reading was still pretty strong. Hm.
OK, Comet Man. Who was he? I had to know. And now that I do, I am ready to see him burst from the pages of some Marvel mag into the New Millennium.
For the uninitiated (like myself), Dr. Stephen Beckley was an astronomer and astrophysicist married to former astronaut Ann with a young son, Benny. The Beckleys were the creators of the Edmond Project, a joint effort by NASA and MIT to investigate astronomical events. At the culmination of the project, Stephen piloted a spacecraft that encountered an apparent comet passing through our solar system. He lost directional control of his craft, which was drawn into the tail of the “comet.” Intense heat from the spacecraft’s thrusters vaporized the ship and Bentley, but as his life was ending something strange occurred!
Back with us, Bentley finds within the heavenly body another spaceship piloted by an alien calling himself Max, a being from the so-called Colony Fortisque. Max claimed that his race has seeded planets in the Milky Way Galaxy and that it was thus responsible for the origin of human life on Earth. (No response from either the Celestials or Sise-Neg on this claim, lol). Max had employed Fortisquian technology to gather Bentley’s atoms and had reconstructed his body so as to bestow upon the terran various superhuman powers.
The unchristened Comet Man can teleport over vast distances, from Earth to any location in space. The limits on Comet Man's teleportation range are as yet unknown and is triggered subconsciously when he is in danger. He can utilize his teleportation power consciously through a “psiamplifier” device later given him by Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic is everywhere!). Unlike mutant Kurt Wagner, Comet Man can teleport himself into the presence of another person by concentrating on that person, even if he does not know where that person is.
Comet Man can also psionically project a portion of his own consciousness into the mind of another human being (somewhat similarly to Killraven). In this way, he can read the memories of that person and can influence their thoughts and emotions. Comet Man refers to this power as “thought pitching.” As a side effect of receiving psionic abilities, Beckley’s capacity for feeling emotions has increased. (There is no information on if he carries an extra box of Kleenex in his utility belt.)
Comet Man possesses superhuman strength, durability and a psychokinetic ability which allows him to fly, create protective fields and project destructive blasts.
Finding himself a prisoner of the secret intelligence agency the Bridge shortly after his return to Earth, Beckley escaped unaware that his wife and child were also captive. In a public fight with the Hulk, the news media dub this new strongman on the public scene “Comet Man.” Ann makes an escape attempt, taking Benny with her, but is accidentally killed when she makes contact with an electrical fence. Benny is subjected by the Bridge to a brutal series of tests and experiments in altering his own molecular structure in an attempt to duplicate Stephen Beckley's powers within his son.
Ultimately, Comet Man learned his own brother, John (with whom Benny had been residing during his escape to and training with Max at the Coloney Fortisque) was superior agent of the Bridge. John, when confronted by his brother, shot and killed himself -- though it is strongly implied that Benny used new-found powers to cause him to do so.
Beckley was a registered superhero during Civil War and was being considered by Tony Stark as a potential Initiative recruit when last seen.
This is one story I would love to see continue in the pages of Marvel Cosmic, and I thank Cosmic Book News for the space to finally introduce a cosmic character to myself!