Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

So let’s talk Korvac, for a little while.

It’s kind of funny what little pockets of Marvel lore sort of break out and become well known. Obviously, the original Fantastic Four and Galactus story was the one that kind of put Marvel on the map- it had such an elegant resolution, so much more sophisticated that Reed gets his hands on the super-secret-weapon and just blows Galactus the &*%$ up, you know? It raised these questions about how we understand the universe, right and wrong. Like the Watcher says about Galactus: "Is a hurricane or a tornado evil? Should you destroy the weather?" (which, I might add, was another neat trick- making the Watcher, a character. Kind of like having the narrator suddenly start doing stuff).

I think the Kree-Skrull war has been a fan favorite, from way back and probably Claremont’s Dark Phoenix Saga sort of marked a new age for Marvel comics and the kinds of stories they were going to be telling. Still, there are a couple of rare gems in there that they like to play with, even if they never quite became household names to the average Marvel reader. I do really love that the High Evolutionary still makes appearances from time to time- his most recent being in Annihilation: Conquest (which I highly recommended- but in that way that like, you recommend Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to the HARDCORE Star Trek fans, not the on-again-off-again Star Trek fans. Like you have to be REALLY into Marvel comics to appreciate this series, I think. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try).

And I was dorking out when the Beyonder showed up in Bendis’ incredible New Avengers: Illuminati, with the white Michael Jackson jacket and everything. Secret Wars II. Wow. Now that was somethin’. Korvac I think is a nice little forgotten piece of Marvel storytelling. Well, okay, maybe that’s not fair. Because actually the Korvac Saga got some play back in the late 70’s. It’s hard to really describe what Kovac was all about though. Although, I’ve often wondered if an Ultimate re-telling of Korvac would be fun. Looks like Marvel is taking that route a little with the whole Captain America and the Korvac Saga thing.

I think the original Avengers story is worth picking up if you’re just looking for something to read, but, if I’m driving you nuts by now, I’ll just try to give you a sense of what Korvac’s deal is. You ever see Lawnmower Man? Stephen King film? The actual film has very little to do with the short story that it’s, supposedly, based on. Still I guess if I had to just pick some figure to compare Korvac to this might not be far off. OKAY- with that image conjured (for those of you that that even means anything too) here’s the story on this guy.

Born Michael Korvac in an alternate reality/timeline, the guy who would become one of the biggest threats the Avengers ever faced was a computer technician. Only thing was in Michael’s reality/ time, the human race had been conquered by a not-so-friendly alien species called the Badoon. Originally introduced in Silver Surfer, the Badoon have tangled with a variety of Marvel heroes, much like the Kree and the Skrull. The Badoon -intolerant and militaristic- caught Michael resting at his post and decided to ‘volunteer’ him for an experiment. They used advance technology to transform half of Michael’s body into a technological monstrosity.

Now, here’s where it gets weird (if you can believe that). The array of technology the Badoon outfitted Korvac’s body with did some weird stuff. Most notably, the equipment was designed to sort of analyze, and then, synthesize, any kind of energy that Korvac came into contact with. So Korvac is sort of this universal computer, designed to calculate the universal theory that links the entire universe together. It doesn’t matter if Dr. Strange hits him with a lightening bolt, Professor X tries to psychically read his mind or the Silver Surfer opens up a can of power-cosmic on him. If it exists in the Marvel Universe -magic, mutants, alien powers, weird cosmic whatever- than Korvac can ‘learn’ it. Sort of like he’s learning the universal code for everything.

Now, needless to say this makes Korvac a pretty unstoppable monster after a few run-ins with the who’s-who of the Marvel universe. Who he DOES run into, of course, after a whole series of bizarre events (that I could write a separate column about, really) leads Korvac to the mainstream Marvel Earth. Of course, it’s Galactus’ Power Cosmic that REALLY gets Korvac’s pistons churning. Once he gets a piece of that action the Avengers are like play things that he can smack around at his leisure. In fact, by then, Korvac isn’t even much of a machine anymore. He’s more like Eternity, Death, the Living Tribunal…he’s like a self-made cosmic entity. Sort of the living embodiment of the ‘universal equation of the universe’ kind of thing.

Long story short- no amount of cosmic-whatever can truly, TRULY bury the part of Michael that is human. And ultimately, his human longing for companionship does him in. I won’t ruin it for you in case you intend to read the original or the upcoming retelling of this whole bit. Now, I’ll leave you on this note.

I wasn’t that into Korvac until I read the following comic book:

What If? Volume 1, #32 dubbed "What if the Avengers had become the pawns of Korvac?", published April, 1982.

This comic book is…&*($ up IN A BIG WAY. I still have a bad feeling, just thinking about it. If you really want to get a glimpse of the kind of disturbing, surreal stuff that Korvac could have been capable of if the Avengers hadn’t put a stop to this thing read this. I mean, I’ve seen alternate realities where every Marvel character you knew and loved were blown to pieces. But have you ever seen one where the undisputed master of time and space just sort of CONSUMES entire worlds, incorporating forms and energy INTO him? Until everything, EVERYONE is MERGED into this freakish conglomerate of un-natural consciousness?

I can’t even describe it really. But yeah in case you feel like you can’t appreciate just how freaky this all is by all means look this issue up. It still just unsettles me.