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Kismet

Contributed by Ronald Byrd

The being now known as Kismet began life under quite a remarkable set of circumstances, the second attempt by the geneticists and would-be conquerors known as the Enclave to create an artificial life-form intended to be the prototype of an army of super-beings. However, like their first creation Adam Warlock (initially known as Him), the being who would become Kismet proved rebellious and dangerous; also like Warlock, Kismet was in this initial form male, an Arabian-looking man called Paragon. After destroying the Enclave’s Citadel and clashing with the heroes Doctor Strange and the Hulk, Paragon placed himself within a cocoon of suspended animation; learning via the Enclave’s computer systems about Adam Warlock, Paragon concluded that as unique beings it was their destiny to mate and produce the perfect race envisioned by their creators. He emerged from his chrysalis months later, having solved the inherent procreative incompatibility via a transformation into the golden-skinned woman later to be called Kismet but known, originally and awkwardly, only as Her, one of comicdom’s earliest transgender super-heroes and perhaps the only character, in comicdom or real life, to make the gender change for the express purpose of procreation. What this move implies about Paragon’s initial sexual outlook is, of course, left for the readers to deduce rather than to learn; for the 1970s this was radical enough.

Unfortunately for Her, Adam Warlock had apparently died in the interim, so she set out for space to find another mate. Evidently having no luck at this endeavor, her adventures later brought her back to Earth, where, as it happens, Adam Warlock had returned to life; however, the brusque Warlock disdained Her’s talk of destined offspring, leading her to seek out other mates among Earth’s super-heroes. These chosen few were implanted with pods of genetic material intended to combine Her’s genes with their own to produce super-children, but the male super-heroes, unwilling to serve as incubators, had the pods destroyed, and the heroic Quasar convinced Her that she was doing herself a disservice by her obsessive desire to procreate, noting that “biology is not destiny.” Her, now renamed Kismet, became attracted to Quasar and for a time accompanied him in his duties as Protector of the Universe before again setting off for adventures in space.

As a postscript, in one alternate future, Kismet became pregnant with Quasar’s child, presumably through the traditional method as opposed to the use of reproductive pods, but her efforts in protecting Earth against invading Martians during the War of the Worlds weakened her, and Quasar entrusted her to the care of the Sisters of Mercy, an intergalactic holy order on the planet Vesper. The child was wrested away from Kismet at birth by the cosmic malevolence Era, who, having already manipulated Quasar to his death, for his own purposes left the child, named Stakar, to be raised by the human-like inhabitants of Arcturu. In a truly bizarre variation of his mother’s early gender-bending life, and one which occurred years before the writers revealed that Kismet was his mother, as a young man Stakar and his foster sister Aleta were combined into the form of the cosmic-powered Starhawk; until late in his career with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Starhawk could either exist in his male form or allow Aleta to assume his place in existence, but the two could rarely exist at the same time. This gave the impression that Starhawk could assume a female form at will, but the two were in fact separate individuals, even having children during brief periods of co-existence. The situation was complicated but did not actually involve any genuine gender identity issues. As for Kismet, she spent a millennium as a sister on Vesper before finally being reunited with Starhawk.

Kismet created by Mark Gruenwald and Jerry Bingham.  First appearance is in Marvel Two In One #61, 1980. Art by Bingham, Gene Day, and Ben Sean.

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July 18, 2021
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