|First appearance||The Mighty Thor vol. 1 #134 (November 1966)|
|Created by||Stan Lee (writer)
Jack Kirby (artist)
|Full name||Herbert Edgar Wyndham|
|Team affiliations||New Men/Knights of Wundagore|
Telepathy, telekinesis, precognition & cosmic awareness
Vast matter & energy manipulation abilities
Wears a sentient superhumanly durable armor capable of regeneration
|This section requires expansion. (April 2010)|
The High Evolutionary was first mentioned in The Mighty Thor vol. 1 #133 (October 1966), and first appears in The Mighty Thor vol. 1 #134 (November 1966), and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. His minions appeared before him (but only alluded to him), in issue #132.
Fictional character biography
Herbert Edgar Wyndham was born in Manchester, England. While a student at Oxford in the 1930s, he took an interest in the work of genetic biologist Nathaniel Essex, and began experimenting with genetic manipulation, building a machine (that he called the genetic accelerator) with which he attempted to "evolve" the rats in his mother's London basement. While attending a genetics conference in Geneva, Wyndham was approached by a mysterious man (who was in truth the outcast Inhuman geneticist Phaeder) who handed to him papers containing blueprints for cracking the genetic code. With this information to bolster his experiments, Wyndham successfully developed a serum he dubbed "Isotope A."
Although expelled from the university for his single-mindedness, he finally succeeded in evolving his pet Dalmatian Dempsey into a humanoid life form with the intelligence of a chimpanzee. However, Dempsey was shot by poachers and Wyndham realized that such creatures as he would create would have no place in the human world. In partnership with scientist Jonathan Drew (father of Jessica Drew), Wyndham moved his experiments to the seclusion of Wundagore Mountain in the small Balkan nation of Transia. Discovery of uranium on the land (inherited by Drew's wife) provided vast funding, and they bought more land from local baron Gregor Russoff.
Assembling a "citadel of science" designed by German scientist Horace Grayson (father of the future Marvel Boy) and built by Moloid slaves supplied by Phaeder, the pair continued their experiment until Drew's daughter fell ill from uranium poisoning, and was placed into suspended animation to save her life. Subsequently, Drew's wife was attacked and killed by a werewolf (Russoff himself, victim of a family curse), and Drew left Wundagore. Wyndham, on the other hand, developed a suit of protective silver armor for himself and continued his work. Now joined in his work by research assistant Miles Warren (who would later become Jackal), Wyndham was able to make more and more radical breakthroughs, including the genetic acceleration of some local animals into the half-human, half-animal beings that he dubbed his "New Men".[volume & issue needed]
When Jonathan Drew returned to Wundagore where he was possessed by the ghost of the 6th century magician Magnus, he warned that the citadel had been constructed upon the place where the malevolent Elder God Chthon had been banished. He began to train the New Men in the ways of combat and chivalry of his time, until they eventually came to refer to themselves as the "Knights of Wundagore," and to Wyndham as the "Lord High Evolutionary". In 1958, Magnus' fears came to pass when Baron Russoff attempted to use the ancient magical tome known as the Darkhold to cure himself of his lycanthropy, inadvertently freeing Chthon from imprisonment. The Knights held him off and Magnus was able to re-bind Chthon. However on this same night, a pregnant woman named Magda sought refuge at the citadel and gave birth to twin children there. Although she fled after childbirth, the moment of Chthon's defeat coincided with the birth of the children, and the baby girl was touched with the demon's magic. Wyndham attempted to find foster parents for the children, but when met with failure, they were placed in stasis for decades until suitable candidates were found. Raised by Gypsies Django and Marya Maximoff, the twins grew up to be the superheroes Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, the latter wielding chaos magic as a result of Chthon's influence.
Wyndham eventually saw the world as a far too confining place, so he converted his scientific research citadel into a spaceship, exploring the stars with his New Men. He later settled his New Men on a planet, Wundagore II, while he stayed on one of the planet's moons and began work on a detailed replica of Earth to be located on the opposite side of the Sun. He recruited the Hulk to battle a revolt of his New Men on Wundagore II. He evolved himself into a godlike being, and devolved the surviving New Men.
The Evolutionary eventually returned to human form and finished his creation, Counter-Earth. Although Counter-Earth was supposed to be a temporary structure that would be evolved into a paradise, the Man Beast corrupted the process, and Counter-Earth became an imperfect world. By this time the High Evolutionary had adopted Adam Warlock and bestowed him with the Soul Gem, dispatching him to redeem Counter-Earth. The Evolutionary aided Adam Warlock against Man Beast and his agents.
Eventually, one of Galactus's Heralds discovered this Counter-Earth. Galactus declared that Counter-Earth was ideally suited for his sustenance (just as the real Earth). The Evolutionary faced Galactus in battle and lost, while the Fantastic Four and Gorr tried to prevent Galactus from devouring Counter-Earth; eventually the Impossible Man tricked the World Devourer to seek sustenance from the Impossible Man's world, Poppup, leading to a fatal condition. Out of compassion, the High Evolutionary saved Galactus by evolving him into living energy that was eventually re-collected by Galactus's world ship.
During the earliest phases of its construction, the High Evolutionary's Counter-Earth was aggressively targeted for 'collection' by the Beyonders (not to be confused with the Beyonder). Agents of the Beyonders manipulated Adam Warlock into murdering the High Evolutionary to allow theft of Counter-Earth, but he was revived by Moondragon and Warlock's counterpart, "Her."[volume & issue needed] When the Evolutionary discovered the disappearance of Counter-Earth, alongside the Thing, Alicia Masters, Starhawk, Moondragon, and Her, the Evolutionary pursued the Beyonders to rescue his world. When the Evolutionary arrived at the Beyonders' planet museum, he himself reported that his mind snapped when he witnessed the scope of their powers and how effectively insignificant he was compared to these alien beings.[volume & issue needed] It is this encounter that marks the beginning of the High Evolutionary's mental instability.[volume & issue needed]
Although the High Evolutionary claimed that the Beyonders considered Counter-Earth an "interesting but primitive work by a talented provincial," there has not been an explanation as to why they wished to interrupt the project even before the High Evolutionary had introduced life onto the new world. For unknown reasons the Beyonders placed all life on Counter-Earth into stasis,[volume & issue needed] and later allowed the planet to be destroyed during the Infinity Gauntlet conflict, although they could easily have prevented it.[volume & issue needed]
The Evolutionary War
The High Evolutionary had become increasingly unstable and maniacal. His attempt to end his life was prevented by his suit. He returned to Earth, hoping to find something strong enough to overcome his armor. He goaded the Hulk into attacking him, and Hulk succeeded in smashing his armor; the malfunctioning armor then devolved the High Evolutionary into a mass of one-celled organisms.[volume & issue needed] However, the suit's circuits reorganized and restored the High Evolutionary to his previous state. His death and subsequent rebirth gave the High Evolutionary a new insight into the future of mankind. Rather than being a benevolent yet distant protector, as he had been with his New Men, he would take a direct hand in molding the future of humanity, so that they might one day be as powerful as the Beyonders he had witnessed.[volume & issue needed]
The High Evolutionary later came into conflict with a number of superheroes, notably the reserve Avengers and Adam Warlock, when he tried to forcibly mutate (or "evolve") the entire population of the Earth with his "Evolution Bomb". The Avengers stopped him, though the High Evolutionary and Hercules were exposed to the Evolutionary's Genesis Chamber and became "more than a god," evolving out of existence.
The evolved essences of High Evolutionary and Hercules were harvested by the Celestials and imprisoned and manipulated for unknown purposes in the Black Galaxy. Eventually both were returned to human form, and the Evolutionary returned to space with the Knights of Wundagore. After his liberation, the Evolutionary decided that rather than advancing humanity, he would create all-new gods and immortals using the unique matter that composed the Black Galaxy, including the New Immortals, and the Analyzer. He and his creations were on-hand to witness the birth of a new Celestial, but viewing this event with all his hyper-evolved senses seemed to drive the High Evolutionary back to madness.
At one time, Ego the Living Planet was investigated by the High Evolutionary, who then observed as a titanic, cloud-like entity, which he tentatively designated "Super-Ego", absorbed Ego. The Evolutionary theorized that there was more than one Ego (a notion supported by its apparently erratic behavior over the years, the various origin stories known about it, and by the fact that an Ego appeared after this one was destroyed by its "parent") and that they might all stem from the "Super-Ego".[volume & issue needed]
His mental instability progressed to the point that the Evolutionary became infatuated with Shanna, wife of Ka-Zar. Infused with the power of the Savage Land's terraformer (commissioned by the Beyonders), she had become much like the Evolutionary himself: powerful, well-meaning, and mentally unstable.[volume & issue needed] The two became obsessed with each other, and nearly departed Earth to create a new world of their own, but Ka-Zar convinced Shanna otherwise.[volume & issue needed] The Evolutionary repented, agreeing to return Shanna to her normal state once he realized (despite his mania) that the relationship should not be pursued.[volume & issue needed] The High Evolutionary once helped to restore the Savage Land and its inhabitants after the engines that kept the volcanoes active were demolished by Terminus.[volume & issue needed]
In the Quicksilver series, it was revealed that the High Evolutionary's genetic code had become unstable, accounting for his periods of mania and aggression. The Evolutionary became more powerful and maniacal than ever, but Quicksilver was still able to reason with him. With the support of New Men Delphis and Bova, and after nearly losing his life at the hands of the Man Beast, the Evolutionary was able to restore himself to an un-evolved human state and mental stability using Isotope G.
The High Evolutionary is now an occasional ally of Thor and other superheroes. He confronted his mentor Mister Sinister alongside the X-Men when the villain took over his satellite-based device (which temporarily shut down the X-Gene of all Earth-based Mutants, devolving them into normal humans) and altered it, in a test-of-evolution scheme by force-evolving the entire global human populace.[volume & issue needed]
He was seen in the X-Men: Endangered Species one-shot as one of the nine villains Beast approaches to help him reverse the effects of M-Day. In the second chapter of the Endangered Species storyline, Beast attempts to reach Wundagore Mountain to locate the Evolutionary. The Knights of Wundagore confront and ultimately escort Beast inside, where the Evolutionary appears to him as a hologram, giving Beast only cryptic and mostly dismissive answers.[volume & issue needed]
During the Annihilation Conquest event, the High Evolutionary reappeared in Kree space, working on restructuring the Kree genome in a fortress inside a star. Adam Warlock brought Quasar and Moondragon to him after being overwhelmed by Phalanx warriors, who quickly invaded the Evolutionary's vessel. Once Ultron was revealed to be the leader of the Phalanx militia, the Evolutionary detonated the star, vaporizing his ship, Ultron, and the invading Phalanx warriors. He subsequently was captured by the Phalanx and forced to transfer the essence of Ultron into the body of Adam Warlock, apparently killing him. However, the High Evolutionary was aware that Warlock's consciousness had survived and implied that Warlock would "lead the way" for the new Guardians of the Galaxy.[volume & issue needed]
Recently, the Evolutionary has begun working with Magneto and Blob to determine why so many mutants were de-powered on M-Day. He developed a suit for the depowered Magneto that replicated his original powers, and Magneto led an attack on San Francisco as a distraction so that the High Evolutionary could gain a currently unknown object from inside of the Dreaming Celestial. After extensively examining the Dreaming Celestial, the High Evolutionary subjected Magneto to an extremely dangerous technological procedure in an attempt to restore his powers. It was a success.
Although not inhabiting Mt. Wundagore at the time, the Evolutionary still maintained a garrison there where Chthon re-emerged and slaughtered many of the remaining New Men.
Doctor Doom and Mister Fantastic later had the Future Foundation members gather the other geniuses to attend a symposium on how to defeat the "Council of Reeds" (alternate versions of Mister Fantastic who were trapped in this universe by Valeria a while back, possessing Reed's intellect while lacking his conscience). High Evolutionary was one of those given the invitation from Thing and the evolved Moloids.
He later drained the Silver Surfer's "power cosmic" into himself, rendering the Surfer mortal, and allowing the Evolutionary to control, and modify the star sphere of the civilization-destroying entity Galactus, allowing him to bestow life to dead worlds. The Evolutionary created a herald for himself, as well as a silver-coated biome of life on Earth, which needed only sunlight to survive, without the need to kill other animals. The Surfer, and the Fantastic Four unite with the armed forces to kill all the Evolutionary's creations, on the grounds that they consider harmonic life without greed and bloodthirst as "unworthy of existence". They again exterminate the Evolutionary's creations after he begins to terraform the Moon, on the rationale that it might affect tides and animal migrations. Galactus arrives, and the Fantastic Four cheer on the planet-devourer to kill Wyndham, but as the Evolutionary now serves an equal opposite "World Builder" function of creating rather than committing genocide on sentient civilizations, he allows the Evolutionary to leave with his star sphere to continue creating new life throughout the universe.
When the Evolutionary learned that the god-like Celestials were coming to Earth to judge whether humanity should continue to exist or perish, with the help of the Evolutionaries he systematically began to slaughter his creations, fearing that their unnatural presence may cause the Celestials to deem the planet unworthy.
The High Evolutionary has appeared in the 2015 Uncanny Avengers series. He has apparently created a new "Counter Earth," no longer inhabited by humans but instead by millions of New Men. The Evolutionary routinely exterminates the entire population of New Men when they ultimately fail to meet his standards of perfection, and then re-creates them.
Powers and abilities
The High Evolutionary has evolved his intelligence to the upper limit of human potential, and is the only human whose intelligence and knowledge has been listed as equal to certain cosmic entities. He is considered the leading geneticist in the Marvel universe, and is vastly knowledgeable in biology, chemistry, medicine, physics, engineering, human psychology, computer science, and cybernetics.
Due to experimentation on his own genome, his highly enhanced brain and cybernetic exoskeleton, The High Evolutionary has demonstrated god-like powers; such as the ability to evolve and devolve life-forms; matter manipulation at a subatomic level; matter creation; energy manipulation and projection; cosmic awareness; precognition; telepathy; telekinesis; extra-dimensional travel; and size alteration. On one occasion he managed to hold his own against Galactus for a prolonged time, before being defeated.
Of note, the High Evolutionary has forged weapons for his New Men that show some anti-mystical properties, as demonstrated by a lance wielded by the Beast that was actually able to damage the Darkhold.
His exoskeleton provides him with an uncanny degree of protection from attacks, and also provides life support (filtering/recycling his air and providing sustenance when needed). If he is badly damaged, the suit can heal his wounds, and can completely restore him to life using records of his genome and brain activity patterns, as in one instance when the suit restored him fully after he had attempted to commit suicide by destroying his own body.[volume & issue needed]
The Evolutionary's character has varied between that of a weary, well-meaning creator to that of a "mad scientist" who is willing to do whatever he considers necessary to further his goals of evolving a better, less-brutal world. He has great respect for the process of evolution, but is also deeply troubled by the immense amount of death and suffering required for such slow progress (see the Quicksilver series). Although menacing and arrogant during his maniacal phases, the Evolutionary's history also contains more than one example of his desire to be responsible, creative, and kind. Most Marvel writers have resisted portraying him as a standard-fare villain, thereby adding levels of sympathy and complexity to the character. The High Evolutionary has been manipulated and driven to insanity by both the Beyonders and the Celestials, cosmic races that have interfered with human evolution in the past, indicating that his work might perhaps be a threat to their own. Even at his most unstable, the Evolutionary has always demonstrated a paternal love toward even his most flawed creations: he rehabilitated Nobilus, has attempted to heal Count Tagar and the God Pack, and has spared the Man-Beast his life despite multiple attempts to murder him. At one point, he offered to (and did) restore the Savage Land after it was destroyed by Terminus, even though it had been created by the very race that had confiscated and then destroyed his own beloved creation, Counter-Earth.
The High Evolutionary played a key role in saving the Earth from Chthon, and rescued Galactus from death despite his attempts to consume Counter-Earth. He has served as a benevolent father figure to several characters, including Adam Warlock, Quicksilver, Spider-Woman, Wolverine, and Thor, often charging them with tasks that lead to their personal growth as individuals and heroes. Along these lines, he has taken a pointed interest in developing a sense of nobility and decency in his creations, most notably the New Men.
At times the Evolutionary has feigned indifference to the fate of others when his own safety is at stake, only to reveal a considerably more benign agenda later (see the Annihilation: Conquest series). More frequently, he has shown a sympathetic and protective concern for the defenseless: on several occasions he has gone to considerable lengths to protect young children, including the critically ill Jessica Drew, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, and Pietro's daughter Luna. He gave Magda shelter from the elements without hesitation, risked death to fight Galactus over Counter-Earth and literally begged Ka-Zar not to poison the Earth's biosphere with Isotope E out of compassion for the suffering it would cause. He tried to aid Magneto in reversing the effects of M-Day. He delayed an attack on the Silver Surfer to allow him time to save the life of Suzi Endo, who would briefly become his herald.
Though made personally wealthy by uranium deposits, the Evolutionary has also provided for a generous financial trust for the people of Transia, ensuring economic stability for the nation.
In other media
- In the X-Men episode "Savage Land, Savage Heart" Pt. 2, the High Evolutionary appeared in a flashback, defeating and imprisoning Garokk in the Savage Land. Later, in the episode "Family Ties," the High Evolutionary (voiced by James Blendick) is shown to be the Master of Wundagore. When Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch came to Wundagore to find Lady Bova, he was unsure it was them at first until he used his machine to find out it was them. After Lady Bova reveals that Magneto is responsible for their mother's death, the High Evolutionary told them that he was at a nearby cemetery and sends some of his warriors to accompany them. When Magneto is taken down, the High Evolutionary's New Men restrain Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. When Wolverine attacked, knock-out gas filled the area causing him, Magneto, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch to become prisoners of the High Evolutionary. He seeks to create a superior generation of his New Men by using mutant DNA, mutating humans into beast-like beings, instead of experimenting on animals. He sets up a trap to capture Magneto. After he reveals that fact and mentions to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch that Magneto is their father, he takes Wolverine and uses his genetic machine to turn him into a werewolf-like monster. When Professor X and Beast arrived in Wundagore, the High Evolutionary instructed his New Men to bring him Beast. After a brief fight with the X-Men, the High Evolutionary escapes with his New Men. The effects he caused on the valley his fortress was in were reversed as was Wolverine's transformation.
- The High Evolutionary appears as a principal villain, along with Venom and Carnage in the 1999 series, Spider-Man Unlimited, voiced by Richard Newman. In this series, the High Evolutionary, disgusted with the behavior of human on Earth, believed that a greater genetic diversity heightens survival traits. He left Earth to travel to Counter-Earth to begin anew, but found the same destructive tendencies that Human's had plagued his Earth. The High Evolutionary then proceeded to created a new society, with his human/animal creatures loyal only to him called Beastials (Half-humans, Half-animals). The High Evolutionary also created an elite squad of Beastials called the Knights of Wundagore (who were Sir Ram, Lord Tiger, Lady Ursula, and Lady Vermin), who also use the Machine Men as law enforcers to keep the humans in order. The New York City on Counter-Earth is divided vertically with humans living on the bottom and the Beastials living miles above the street, ruling with an iron fist. The High Evolutionary's plan was simple, to turn this planet into an earthly paradise, no matter what it takes, that is until Spider-Man and the Symbiotes led by Venom and Carnage arrived. In the second to last episode of the series, it was revealed to the High Evolutionary that he is the grandfather of Karen O'Malley and that he experimented on her when she was young. The High Evolutionary was injured during the series finale in a fight against Spider-Man, a heroic Green Goblin and The Rebellion, led by Karen and John Jameson.
- The High Evolutionary appears in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "The Devil Dinosaur You Say!", voiced by Jonathan Frakes. Wolverine encounters the High Evolutionary on Dinosaur World. The High Evolutionary promises to help Wolverine get back to Earth if Wolverine helps him capture Devil Dinosaur in exchange. It is revealed that he plans to sell all the primitive tribes including Moon-Boy to make a profit as he comments that humanoids shouldn't co-exist with dinosaurs. Devil Dinosaur and Wolverine later storm the High Evolutionary's ship which results in the tribesmen getting free and the headquarters being destroyed, but the High Evolutionary escapes from Dinosaur World in his escape pod.
- The High Evolutionary appears in the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episode "Future Shock", voiced by Corey Burton. At some point in the future, a gamma meteor struck Earth when the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. weren't around. This caused humanity to regress back to the primitive times until the High Evolutionary was able to be their salvation by turning them into Animal Men. When the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. arrived in this time upon Leader tricking Skaar into going into a temporal distortion wormhole, they end up attacked by some Lizard Men until the High Evolutionary arrived where he explained what happened to Earth. Afterwards, the High Evolutionary traps Hulk in an energy cage and devolves A-Bomb, Red Hulk, and She-Hulk. The High Evolutionary retreats with Hulk upon finding that Skaar can't be devolved. Upon some advice from Leader (who is trapped on bathroom duty after he tricked Skaar), Skaar leads his devolved teammates into finding the High Evolutionary's lair. At his lair, the High Evolutionary uses his Evolution Chamber to evolve Hulk into an appearance that makes him smarter and have bat-like wings. When Skaar and his devolved teammates attack the High Evolutionary's lair, Evolved Hulk turns on the High Evolutionary stating that he would be superior to the High Evolutionary. Skaar and Evolved Hulk fought the High Evolutionary after Skaar had evolved Red Hulk in the evolution chamber. After A-Bomb and She-Hulk are evolved, the High Evolutionary devolved Hulk back to his original state. Skaar ends up destroying the High Evolutionary's staff where it's power regresses the High Evolutionary as a baby which ends up in the care of the arriving Lizard Men. The Agents of S.M.A.S.H. then return to their own time to make sure that they get back to Earth and prevent the gamma meteor from impacting Earth.
- The High Evolutionary appears in Marvel: Avengers Alliance. He is seen in Spec-Ops #21 where he, Mister Sinister, Lizard, and Stegron end up in a power struggle against Sauron and A.I.M. in the Savage Land. The High Evolutionary is also responsible for using Iso-8 on some dinosaurs resulting in the creation of the Iso-Saurs.
- X-Factor Annual #3
- Punisher Annual #1
- Silver Surfer Annual #1
- Fantastic Four Annual #21
- Thor #135
- The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22
- Avengers #186
- Web of Spider-Man Annual #4
- Thor #134-135
- Tales to Astonish #94-96
- Marvel Premiere #1-2; Warlock #1
- Warlock #3, 5, 8
- Fantastic Four #172-175
- Punisher Annual #1; Silver Surfer Annual #1; New Mutants Annual #4; Fantastic Four Annual #21; Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22; X-Men Annual #3; Web of Spider-Man Annual #4; West Coast Avengers Annual #3; Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8; Avengers Annual #17
- Thor #406-408
- Thor #419-425
- Heroes for Hire & Quicksilver Annual 1998
- Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #24
- Uncanny X-Men #500
- Uncanny X-Men #507
- Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man #2
- Mighty Avengers #21
- FF #3
- Silver Surfer limited series 2011, issues 1-5
- New Warriors Vol 5 #6
- Uncanny Avengers #1-2
- Fantastic Four Annual #23
- Fantastic Four #175
- Spider Woman #1
- Quicksilver #1
- Ka-Zar vol. 4 #14
- Silver Surfer limited series #1 (2011)