Who Is The High Evolutionary in Marvel Comics?
Evolution is a slow, gradual process. Over the course of millennia, a species can improve itself and increase its chances for survival. But what if evolution could happen faster and more efficiently?
That’s the main question driving the High Evolutionary’s work in Marvel comics. Soon, this super-villain’s scientific schemes will debut in the MCU with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Before that, let’s take a look at the High Evolutionary’s own comic book evolution.
High Evolutionary First Appearance
Herbert Wyndham, AKA the High Evolutionary, first appeared in Thor #134 (1966) as a Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation. One of his first acts of villainy was to abduct Jane Foster so she could educate his genetically engineered soldiers.
At university, Wyndham’s focus was genetics. Much like Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Wyndham sought to manipulate the life around him. With the help of the disguised Inhuman Phaeder, Wyndham unlocked the genetic code — allowing him full control of genomic expression. Because of his narrow-minded focus, Wyndham was also subsequently expelled from Oxford University. Despite this setback, he developed his genetic accelerator that could speed up evolution. This device was the true start of the High Evolutionary’s many nefarious plans.
Surprising Marvel Connections
Now that he had the information he coveted, all Wyndham needed was a place to conduct his experiments. A fellow scientist, Jonathan Drew, offered a new base of operations. His wife had recently inherited some land in Transia, near Wundagore Mountain. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Mount Wundagore is the birthplace of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. One of Wyndham’s creations, Bova, actually delivered the Maximoff twins.
Before that chaotic birth, Dr. Drew’s wife was killed by Gregor Russoff — the monster known as Werewolf by Night. Drew’s daughter, Jessica Drew, also fell ill from uranium exposure. Years later, she would re-emerge as Spider-Woman, thanks in part to the High Evolutionary’s gene treatments. After the murder, Russoff tried using the Darkhold to cure himself but instead he freed Chthon (on the very same night of the twins’ birth!).
Over the years, the High Evolutionary has caused mayhem in the Savage Land, he’s siphoned the Power Cosmic from the Silver Surfer, and of course, mentored Adam Warlock. More on that dangerous duo in a bit.
What Are The High Evolutionary’s Powers?
In addition to his vast intellect and not-so-forbidden knowledge, the High Evolutionary has amassed various super-abilities. He has been an antagonist toward the Avengers, the X-Men, the Champions, and the New Warriors. So what kind of threat could some super-smart guy possibly present?
Well, that enhanced intelligence has also led to an armored suit. This suit basically fused with the High Evolutionary himself, becoming a constant fixture of his presence. With his suit, he has access to psionic powers, energy manipulation, flight, and a level of healing that makes him nearly immortal.
The High Evolutionary and Mount Wundagore
Suit aside, the High Evolutionary’s lab experiments are enough to make him a universal threat. Once he knew how to speed up and manipulate evolution, he created the New Men. These genetically altered beings are humanoid animals. A whole menagerie of New Men lived on Mount Wundagore under the High Evolutionary’s rule.
From the New Men, the High Evolutionary assembled the Knights of Wundagore, an elite squad of soldiers loyal to him. However, one of the Knights, Man-Beast, eventually rebelled.
The High Evolutionary’s Counter-Earth
Though his main specialty is experimenting on living beings, the High Evolutionary has also worked on societal objectives. Using the Infinity Gems (known as the Infinity Stones in the MCU), he created a paradise free from evil — the Counter-Earth.
Like the name implies, Counter-Earth was the opposite of Earth-616. Located on the opposite side of the sun, this planet quickly attracted the attention of Galactus, the Beyonders, and Man-Beast. To spite his creator, Man-Beast made sure evil found its way into Counter-Earth. At this point, the High Evolutionary oversaw the rebirth of the cosmic godling Him, whom he renamed Adam Warlock. This all-gold, all-powerful being became the protector of Counter-Earth.
It’s possible we might even see Counter-Earth in the MCU, since the GotG Vol. 3 trailers show the Guardians in some sort of otherworldly suburban setting, meeting humanoid animals. Plus, the connection to the Beyonders might hint at things to come in the Secret Wars.
The High Evolutionary in the MCU
The MCU’s High Evolutionary seems to be based in space rather than somewhere terrestrial, but even in the comics he eventually relocated upwards. Also, we’ve seen how the Maximoff twins gained their abilities through HYRDA experimentation rather than the High Evolutionary. Again, anything is possible in an MCU adaptation.
As for the High Evolutionary’s most famous creations, the New Men, it could be that Rocket Raccoon is somehow connected to them. In the comics, he and Lylla the otter are sentient creatures from Halfworld but the MCU often twists origins a bit. After all, there are still plenty of other excellent Marvel groups left who are connected to genetic storylines.
No matter how the MCU spins it, the High Evolutionary will leave a profound impact on our favorite Marvel heroes — perhaps even the Multiverse.
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