Posted by:
Byron Brewer

What the D'ast? Leonard Tippit


(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with Marvel Cosmic and its many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of He welcomes both raves and opposing views.) By Byron Brewer It was the early 1970s and one of my favorite science fiction writers, Harlan Ellison, had broken media and was contributing plots to Marvel Comics. His second foray was a doozie and would forever change the life of one of Marvel-Earth’s “ordinary” citizens. In Avengers #101, Ellison again teamed with writer Roy Thomas to produce, along with artist Rich Buckler, the story of a man out of time. In the tradition of Hitchcock’s works, Leonard Tippit, a common accountant, was hit with uncommon circumstances so grave to the world that the Watcher even took an active role (as if that is unusual, lol). It all started when Uatu identified this 616 accountant as a being somehow belonging equally to all the possible divergent realities, learning that his continued existence would lead to a world-ravaging nuclear war on one of those Earths that would cross time to affect all realities and render each Earth a radioactive wasteland. Awaking from a series of nightmares, also induced by the Watcher, the accountant found the humble alien bedside and listened as Uatu told Tippit of his unique nature and the war that might occur in the future, but rather than reveal Tippit’s responsibility for this by merely existing Uatu told him that five other people across the globe were responsible and that he must kill these five people. If he didn’t, each one would have a child that would touch off a chain of events that would destroy every Earth in every alternate reality. The Watcher then opened the unlocked potential in each resident of Earth-616, what has been called by Marvel the “Destiny Force,” that same power used by Rick Jones in the Kree-Skrull War. As Tippit apparently possessed vast energies, rather than confronting him directly Uatu devised a plot to involve the Avengers. It would force Tippit to exhaust his energies in a series of small efforts, and allow the Watcher to then safely claim him. Now able to read these five people’s thoughts and dreams, Tippit realized they were good people and refused to kill them. The Watcher told him that he must do so or doom the futures of billions and billions. Tippit eventually complied, to save all futures. The Avengers indeed became involved when the Vision discovered that it was Tippit who used poison in a murder attempt against Communist chess master Comrade Sporadnik. After a brief bout with Vizh and Captain America, Tippit vanished in a golden glow. Somehow – presumably some hocus-pocus of the Watcher -- the Avengers beheld Uatu’s conversation with Tippit and set out to stop his murder spree. Tippit appeared in turn in Naples, Africaand Tokyo, at most locations meeting Avengers awaiting his arrival. But through the Destiny Force, the mutated Tippit always got off the necessary blast of power and vanished. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch awaited Tippit at his final destination, the home of Eliza Willis, a woman living a solitary life and raising prize roses for show purposes. Despite Pietro’s speed, Tippit was able to drain his fleeting power for one last blast and sent Willis into a coma. Attempting to teleport away, Wanda encased Tippit in a hex sphere and the resulting backlash of energy knocked a weakened Tippit out. After Tippit was brought back to AvengersMansionand fitted by Iron Man with a helmet device which dampened his energies, the Watcher appeared and stated he had guided Iron Man’s hand in building the machine. Uatu revealed Tippit to be the true threat to all reality and prepared to trap Tippit outside of time and space forever to negate the threat. To their credit, the Avengers (which counted Thor among its number at the time) were ready to fight the Watcher in Tippit’s defense, but the noble accountant asked them not to do so. Tippit said he had never been much in his lifetime, and he relished the chance to be important, just this once. “I will be the man who saved the world, all worlds,” said Tippit (or words to that effect; it was 1972!). Uatu locked Tippit outside of time and space then and he has not been seen since, to my knowledge. But with the meddling done by Adam Warlock to time and space after the appearance of the Fault in an effort to sew things together magically, who knows what effect that had on Leonard Tippit? Should our cosmic champions be preparing for another war, this one to be fought across all divergent realities?