Posted by:
Byron Brewer

What the D'ast? The Molecule Man


  (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 A very early villain of the Fantastic Four, Owen Reece was a small, frail little man whose origins almost mirror those of Spider-Man, albeit on a much larger scale. Reece was a lowly lab tech working at a nuclear plant owned by the Acme Atomics Corporation. One day, growing careless, Reece accidentally activated an experimental particle generator, which bombarded him with an unknown form of radiation. The radiation had a mutagenic effect on Reece, releasing his potential for psionic powers on a cosmic scale. Reece could now control all matter, even down to a molecular level, and all energy. The radiation also left markings resembling lightning bolts across Reece’s face. He named himself Molecule Man after his power to control molecules. The day after the accident, the present of Acme Atomics fired Reece for his carelessness. Angered, the lab tech covered the president and his desk with ice that he formed from molecules in the air. Reece became a criminal and was now out to use his powers to take revenge on a world he believed had belittled and persecuted him. Yet – and this was always a key to his personality – Reece was so filled with self-doubt, fear and self-hatred that he rendered himself vulnerable by unconsciously imposing limitations on his cosmic-level powers. He believed himself to be able to affect only inorganic molecules and thus unable to affect living beings with his powers, a false assumption. After a colorful criminal career and during a time when he was being held prisoner by the Watcher, Reece concentrated his powers and consciousness into a wand. After Reece’s death in space, the wand passed through the hands of a succession of holders until Reece’s mind recreated his mutated body and transferred his consciousness and powers out of the wand and into the body. He threatened to destroy the world, but was persuaded by Tigra to give himself up and seek psychiatric help. Amazingly, he did just that and, slowly, he began to change. He now had simple goals: true love, friendship and a good home. However, Reece found himself sent to Battleworld, the planet created by the Beyonder, as part of a small army of super-villains that were to engage in the first Secret War. Molecule Man fought for a time, but his leader, Doctor Doom, was eventually able to help Reece break through his mental blocks and realize that his power was greater than he had believed. Reece then used his powers to transport himself and most of the criminals back to Earth. Months later, the Beyonder returned, seeking emotional fulfillment. When he failed, the Beyonder threatened to rid himself of the problem by obliterating the multiverse. Reece attempted to save the universe by destroying the Beyonder, but his power was dwarfed by this entity. Ultimately, Reece joined forces with many of Earth’s superhuman champions to battle the Beyonder. In the midst of battle, the Beyonder unleashed an immensely powerful blast of energy which ripped open Earth’s crust and would have caused incredible planet-wide instability if not for Molecule Man’s power. For the last few years, Reece, secluded near the area he was born, led an isolated existence and had lost most of his ability to differentiate between hallucinations and reality. Here during the Dark Reign he was attacked by Norman Osborn’s Avengers; each is beaten in turn. It falls to Osborn’s aide, Victoria Hand, to convince Reece to restore everyone he destroyed and to stop being a threat. In return, she promised, he would be left alone in the future. The Sentry returned at this point, attacked Molecule Man and pulled him into the air, but is destroyed again by Reece. The Sentry immediately reforms himself and takes advantage of Reece’s distraction from an incoming missile to take control of his body. Apparently unaware that Reece had already promised to do so, the Sentry tells Molecule Man to restore everything or be killed. After Reece does so, the Sentry regardless disintegrates his body. Molecule Man’s participation in Secret War II was a total delight, especially his meetings with the MarvelU.’s higher order cosmic entities and concept beings. Reece talks to the Living Tribunal and Lord Chaos like they are all gathered for a PTA meeting! Brilliant! Here is one baddie-turned-goodie I would love to see again, maybe this time among the stars!