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Paradox

By Ronald Byrd

In the 22nd century, the Terran Empire holds several planets under harsh colonial rule. Its interests are protected by the Interplanetary Security Agency, which includes several genetically altered superhumans. The most effective and unpredictable of them all is the shape-changing bisexual Paradox (Mark Esterhase), who suffered severe radiation poisoning on a mission and was saved via the introduction of alien genetic material that allows him to transform from one species to another in order to stave off the radiation’s effects. An antigravity dancer in his cover identity, Paradox’s frivolity and hedonism hide suspicion and bitterness toward the organization that transformed him. When his lover, a rebel Lunan named Catherine Delys that he met in the course of a mission, is killed by Terran guards, Paradox rebels against the I.S.A. and sides with the rebels of Saturn and the other worlds.

Art by Val Mayerik

In addition to Paradox himself, Bizarre Adventures #30 features two more gay characters, mutated female members of Paradox’s ISA Strike Squad on Saturn: Razor, who possesses claws and laser-vision, and her lover, the blind “telempath” Ice. Oddly enough, Paradox was created by Bill Mantlo, whose later portrayal of Northstar in Alpha Flight would prove so dissatisfactory.

Paradox can change his shape to that of any human or humanoid alien and even take on animal form, such as a black cat; when in the form of a member of an alien race, he can manifest the appropriate powers. He is also a highly skilled dancer, acrobat, and spy, with access to the advanced weaponry of his era.

Paradox first appeared in the black and white Marvel Preview magazine #24 (Winter 1980) and then in Bizarre Adventures #30, which seems to be a continuation of Marvel Preview. This male-male kiss in this story may be the first depicted in a publication from either of the Big Two companies. This issue likely hit the stands several months after Jim Shooter’s notorious YMCA near rape scene in The Hulk #23. According to the indicia Shooter had not yet been made an executive at Marvel.

Paradox created by Bill Mantlo and Mike Vosburg.

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July 31, 2021
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