High Evolutionary

High Evolutionary


caption=The High Evolutionary as seen in "Annihilation Conquest" #1
artist Tom Raney
character_name=High Evolutionary
publisher=Marvel Comics
debut="The Mighty Thor" vol. 1 #134 (November 1966)
creators=Stan Lee (writer)
Jack Kirby (artist)
alter_ego =
full_name =Herbert Edgar Wyndham
species =
homeworld =
alliances = New Men/Knights of Wundagore
partners =
aliases = HE
supports =
powers =Superhuman intelligence
Mental powers
Wears a sentient superhumanly durable armor capable of regeneration

The High Evolutionary is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appears in "The Mighty Thor" vol. 1 #134 (November 1966), and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Fictional character biography

Herbert Edgar Wyndham was born in Manchester, England. While a student at Oxford in the 1930s, took an interest in the work of heretical 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 (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." [recounted in "X-Factor Annual" #3]

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. Dempsey, unfortunately, 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. [recounted in "Punisher Annual" #1]

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. [recounted in "Silver Surfer Annual" #1] 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. [recounted in "Fantastic Four Annual" #21] Now joined in his work by research assistant Miles Warren (future supervillain the 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".

When Jonathan Drew returned to Wundagore, 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". [recounted in "Thor" #135 & "Amazing Spider-Man Annual" #22] 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 the demon; 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. [recounted in "Avengers" #186 & "Web of Spider-Man Annual" #4]


In the modern era, the High Evolutionary encountered the Asgardian thunder god, Thor. Alongside Thor, the Evolutionary battled the Man Beast (one of the New Men) and his evil New Men. ["Thor" #134-135]

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. ["Tales to Astonish" #94-96]

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. ["Marvel Premiere" #1-2; "Warlock" #1] The Evolutionary aided Adam Warlock against Man Beast and his agents. ["Warlock" #3, 5, 8]

Eventually, one of Galactus' 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, but the Fantastic Four and Gorr tricked the World Devourer to seek sustenance from an uninhabited world leading to a fatal condition. Out of compassion, the Evolutionary saved Galactus by evolving him into living energy that was eventually re-collected by Galactus's world ship. ["Fantastic Four" #172-175]

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." 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. It is this encounter that marks the beginning of the High Evolutionary's mental instability.

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 and later allowed the planet to be destroyed during the Infinity Gauntlet conflict, although they could easily have prevented it.

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 and end his miserable life. 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. However, it was only a matter of time before the suit's circuits reorganized and restored the High Evolutionary to his previous state. His death and subsequent re-birth 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.

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" (in the crossover storyline "The Evolutionary War"). 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. ["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]

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. ["Thor" #406-408] 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. ["Thor" #419-425]

At one time, Ego 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 the apparently erratic behavior of the believed-to-be unique living planet 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".

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 herself: powerful, well-meaning, and mentally unstable. The two quickly became obsessed with each other, and nearly departed Earth to create a new world of their own, but Ka-Zar convinced Shanna otherwise. The Evolutionary repented, agreeing to return Shanna to her normal state once he realized (despite his mania) that the relationship should not be pursued.

Current whereabouts

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. Since this encounter, the Evolutionary has been restored to full sanity and no longer wishes to evolve all life on Earth to a more advanced state.

The High Evolutionary is now an occasional ally of Thor and other superheroes. He recently confronted his mentor Sinister alongside the X-Men when Sinister took over his satellite-based device (which temporarily stripped all Mutants of the X-gene that grants them their powers) and altered it to mutate large sections of the populace.

He was seen in the "" one-shot as one of the nine villains Beast offers to sell his soul to in order 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.

Spider-Man spoke to him during on whether he could do anything to save the life of Aunt May. He could give no useful help.

During the "Annihilation Conquest" event, the High Evolutionary appeared in Kree space, inside a vessel existing right next to a sun. 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.

Recently, he has begun working with Magneto and Blob for a currently unknown purpose. He developed a suit for the depowered Magneto that replicates 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. [Uncanny X-Men #500]

Powers and abilities

The High Evolutionary is currently considered the leading geneticist in the Marvel universe, this position is challenged only by Noah Black, Arnim Zola and Wladyslav Shinsky. Due to experimentation on his own genetic code, his highly evolved brain and cybernetic exoskeleton, The High Evolutionary has demonstrated god-like powers; ability to evolve and devolve life-forms; matter and energy manipulation; matter creation; energy projection; cosmic awareness, telepathy, telekinesis, extra-dimensional travel, and size alteration.
Kubik has mentioned the High Evolutionary as being among "the ascended ones", figuring alongside cosmic entities such as The Stranger, Galactus, the Celestials and the Vishanti for instance ["Fantastic Four Annual" #23] .

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 his stored genetic codes, as in one instance where the suit restored him fully after the Hulk had beaten him into goo.


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. 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, [Spider Woman #1] Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, [Avengers #186] and Pietro's daughter Luna. [Quicksilver #1] He gave Magda shelter from the elements without hesitation, [Avengers #186] risked death to fight Galactus over Counter-Earth [Fantastic Four #175] and literally begged Ka-Zar not to poison the Earth's biosphere with Isotope E out of compassion for the suffering it would cause. [Ka-Zar, 3rd series, issue #14]

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.


*"Alpha Flight" vol. 1 #113 (flashback)
*"Annihilation Conquest" #1-6
*"Avengers" vol. 1 #186, 187, 234, 380-382
*Giant-Size Avengers vol.1 #1 (flashback)
*"Evolutionary War" 1987 annuals:
**"X-Factor Annual" #3
**"The Punisher Annual" #1
**"Silver Surfer Annual" #1
**"New Mutants Annual" #4
**"The Amazing Spider-Man Annual" #22
**"Fantastic Four Annual" #21
**"Uncanny X-Men Annual" #12
**"Web of Spider-Man Annual" #4
**"West Coast Avengers Annual" #3
**"Alf Annual" #1
**"The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual" #8
**"Avengers Annual" #17
*"Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #47
*"Excalibur" vol. 1 #51, 113
*"Fantastic Four" #171-175, 176 (behind the scenes), 178, 179
*"Fantastic Four Annual" #23 ("Days of Future Present")
*"Fantastic Four Unlimited" #9
*"Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" #24 ("")
*"Gambit" vol. 3 #½ (behind the scenes)
*"Guardians of the Galaxy" #57-58
*"Heroes For Hire" vol. 1 #15-17
*"Heroes For Hire/Quicksilver Annual ’98"
*"Incredible Hulk" vol. 1 #149, 158, 179, 266
*"Iron Man" #111 (flashback)
*"Ka-Zar" vol. 4 #12-14
*"Marvel Premiere" #1, 2
*"Marvel Spotlight" vol. 1 #32
*"Marvel Two-in-One" #30, 62-63, 74
*"The Mighty Thor" vol. 1 #132-133 (behind the scenes), 134, 135, 317 (behind the scenes flashback), 406-408, 417, 419, 420, 422-425, 448-450, 472-484, 486-489
*"The Mighty Thor Annual" #19
*"Quicksilver" #1, 7-12
*"Rune" vol. 2 #2
*"Scarlet Spider Unlimited" #1
*"The Spectacular Spider-Man" vol. 1 #142, 143 (behind the scenes)
*"Spider-Man: Dead Man’s Hand" #1
*"Spider-Woman" vol. 1, #1, 20 (flashback), vol. 3 #6 (flashback), vol. 4 #1
*"Spider-Woman: Origin" #2
*"Strange Tales" vol. 1 #178
*"Tales to Astonish" vol. 1 #94-96
*"Thanos" #2
*"Uncanny Origins" #2
*"The Uncanny X-Men" #379, 380, 500
*"The Uncanny X-Men Annual ’99"
*"Warlock" vol. 1 #1-3, 5, 8, 15
*"Warlock and the Infinity Watch" #1, 3, 4
*"Wolverine" vol. 2 #149 (behind the scenes)
*"" #3
*"X-Factor" vol. 3, #21 ("")
*"" #99


*"Earth X" #11
*"Marvel Adventures" #15
*"Spider-Man Unlimited" vol. 2 #1, 2, 4
*"What If" vol. 1 #32, vol. 2 #1


*"The Mighty Thor Annual" #4 ("The Mighty Thor" #132)
*"Marvel Spectacular" #4-6 ("The Mighty Thor" #133-135)
*"Giant-Size Spider-Woman" #1 ("Spider-Woman" vol. 1 #1)
*"Spider-Man Family" #1 ("Spider-Woman" vol. 1 #20)

In other media


"X-Men: The Animated Series"

In the "X-Men" episode "Savage Land, Savage Heart" Pt. 2, the High Evolutionary appeared in a flashback fighting Garokk and traps his essence in the ground of the Savage Land. In "Family Ties," he is shown to be the Master of Wundagore. 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, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch, revealing to the twins that they are Magneto's children. During this episode, he does turn Wolverine into a werewolf-like monster. 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.

"Spider-Man Unlimited"

In the "Spider-Man Unlimited" animated series, the High Evolutionary (voiced by Richard Newman) had created Beastials, half-humans, half-animals on a planet called Counter-Earth with The Knights of Wundagore (who were Sir Ram, Lord Tiger, Lady Ursula, and Lady Vermin). In the second to last episode of the series, it was revealed to the High Evolutionary that he is the grandfather of the character Karen O'Malley. The High Evolutionary was defeated during the series finale in a fight against Spider-Man and The Rebellion.


External links

* [http://www.marveldirectory.com/individuals/h/highevolutionary.htm High Evolutionary's entry at MarvelDirectory.com]
* [http://www.geocities.com/marvel_villain/evolutionary/evolutionary.html High Evolutionary's entry at Villains of Marvel Comics]

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