“Am I mad to think that I may communicate with a living planet? That I may reason with a world enraged?” (Right there’s a clause that could be a nice Stan Lee-approved title, though “This World Alive!” chosen by Mantlo suits Rom, Spaceknight #69 (Aug 85).
From the cybernetic memory banks of Rom, spaceknight:
The battles of other worlds, their mysteries, have haunted my way. I, the poet, have born the scars of conflict stretched over two hundred years; even the banishment once and for all of Wraithkind has yielded no surcease since departing Earth.
Now have I begun searching for the signals of my own kind, the blossom of Galador’s youth wrapped like myself in unfeeling spaceknight armor. Indeed, the two lifeforms I sense faintly here are my first hope of finding fellow Galadorians since Starshine fell to Wraith treachery upon my first return to Earth.
That return filled me with great woe, for though I would again see the woman I had come to love, I now had the knowledge that mad Terminus had stolen my humanity for himself, only to fall to annihilation when Galactus threatened Galador. How I long for her golden spires! If there are any who may join with me, I must seek them out, that we may see our paradise together.
Landing from outer space, my Analyzer picks out two signatures analogous to Galadorian Spaceknights, So engrossed, I gradually realize: we face a world mind, upon an entire single biomass!
Memories are often attached to smells and flavors such as no spaceknight may partake in armor. Upon this world I could not smell the burning of follicles, which to me were constricting tentacles, but like skin, the surface contained pores. I become then an accidental invader, a foreign body---and soon, the target of antibodies, agents of a system that engulfed this world alive.
Strong emotions attach to incidence, and even through two hundred years of search and battle do I recall jubilation greatest—such as my discovery of fellow spaceknights---and most mind numbing horror---such as these remnants of my foes made pathetic in their powerless state.
My sickening discovery sends cyborg senses reeling: the terror of Wraiths embodied within slowly dissolving acids throughout the chamber I face! Strange! These arch enemies, deprived of their homeworld’s magic, share my circumstance of victimhood in the planet’s whims. I grant them release with his Neutralizer. Again, the world rages; I must abandon this “stomach” and its raw function to feed to find the brain of the living planet. Its awareness emanates...”from the worldmind of the entity called Ego!”
I answer formal inquiry, I am Rom of Galador, called by some the greatest among her spaceknights--- only to feel the focused “biomolecular assault” of merciless Ego.
This impresses Ego, who points out the suspended, similar life forms: Seeker and Scanner of the Space Knight Squadron! The cyborgs have become Ego’s studies; vehemently, I object that they are war-heroes who deserve to go home. *
Captured Seeker and Scanner beg me flee to safety; never!
Unconditionally I declare for their release. Ego scoffs. “Mine is the wrath of a world driven to madness by suffering beyond your comprehension!” Already was the planet dying from its battle with Galactus (in Thor #228); he was sent soaring out of control from Earth by the Fantastic Four (viewtopic) towards the raging forces of the sun! This star, however, instead triggered his photosynthetic rejuvenation, and so did Ego pull together his mass. Gaining control of the sidereal propulsion unit affixed by Galactus, Ego launches for another corner of the galaxy, to rest and to feed.
Ego feeds, not on other planets, “but I could quite easily feast upon those inhabitants of other worlds witless enough to land upon me!” He allows the Dire
Wraith infestation, watching them build defenses and awaiting a second army. He cursed his luck; only two such enemies arrived, yet they made a brave stand ---until Ego absorbed spaceknights and wraiths!
I promise this Neutralizer “can scar you within as the sun has scarred you without!” I empathize over the pain I inflict; “I must preserve the lives of my comrades.”
Fear shows upon the face of the Living Planet, and as soon as the whine dies, Seeker and Scanner fall released beside me, grateful, in need of support. Scanner remarks my inherent genetic superiority allowed to wield the power of the greatest of spaceknights, but all their hearts to me are great, their intentions as pure as mine.
Now we are interrupted with expulsion back through a pore to the surface.
Unsteadily, we brace for escape and further battle, but with his sidereal rocket, Ego retreats. Rather than pursue the superior powered being, Seeker mentions the Wraiths, but I can now break the terrific news that they’ve nothing left to do but go HOME!!!
---ROM, retrieved from cybernetic circuitry and documented by Publius Enigma of Galador.
*Honored warriors kept from their homeland by the command of an ego...whose ego? Fascinating.
It’s P. Craig Russell, inking Steve Ditko, featuring a menace created by Stan and Jack!