Tales of Suspense #53: "The Way It Began..."

Tales of Suspense #53
"The Way It Began..."
May, 1964

Story Plot: Stan Lee
Script and Art: Larry Lieber
Inking: Paul Reinman
Lettering: Artie Simek

In an operating room, doctors work hard to save a life.  With the
patient's heart getting weaker, they must move fast.  Unbeknownst to the
physicians, their progress is being observed by the Watcher.  His
advanced mind contains such vast knowledge that he could tell them how to
save the life of the patient.  He must resist the temptation to do so,
and not interfere with the destiny of others.  This is his curse, to
forever observe and record what transpires in the universe.  This was not
always the case, for in the distant past...

Before the Earth came into being, the race who would someday be known as
the Watchers resided in a far away galaxy.  Theirs was a peaceful race
who lived in ornate floating cities.  With their superior intelligence
and honesty, they had not gone to war or known hatred.  Their possessions
were on display, with no fear of it being stolen.  With their scientific
minds, they were able to discover the key to immortality.  The Delta-Ray
Baths would keep them fit for centuries.  Uatu and his father were
members of the government.  One day, Ikor decided to share their
knowledge with those races less fortunate than their own.  Emnu
disagrees, and sees no reason why they should share their hard-won way of
life with others.  It is Uatu who persuades Emnu to go along with their
decision.  The members of the High World Council prepared themselves by
absorbing cosmic anti-matter isotopes and travel faster than any

With the treatments completed, they begin to concentrate, and their forms
become living energy.  This energy is guided by their mental commands,
and they are able to make the journey at almost the speed of light.  Even
at such a speed, it would take them less than a year to reach the nearest
inhabited planet.  Prosilicus has a primitive civilization by their
standards, and they are eager to advance their progress by centuries.
The Prosilicans see the group materialize upon their world, and are given
the secret of nuclear energy.  When they ask what that is, the
Prosilicans learn that the power of the atom can warm their homes at
little cost, be used to fight disease, and enable their vehicles to run
for months at a time.

The gift is accepted and Uatu congratulates his father on their good
deed.  With their task completed, the group leave Prosilicus to watch the
multi-dimensional eclipse.  On the planet, the Prosilicans began
harnessing nuclear power, but the ways in which it was used differed
vastly from the aliens' intent.  Soon, nuclear war broke out on
Prosilicus, with the price being exacted by all who dwelled on the
planet.  Those who had provided the gift were observing two dimensions of
time and space passing one another.

Once the phenomenon had ended, the travelers made their way back towards
Prosilicus.  They cannot believe their eyes, for the entire civilization
has been wiped out.  The few survivors regard the aliens as monsters who
gave them the evil known as nuclear energy.  They had thought that the
Prosilicans would use the atom's power for peaceful purposes, but were
wrong.  Now it is Emnu who chides Ikor for his generosity with the
Prosilicans.  Now, he knows that the Prosilicans were not ready for such
a gift, and despite his best intentions, Ikor had caused them great harm.
As penance for what happened on Prosilicus, he decides that he and his
race will never again interfere with any others in the universe.  They
will be a race of Watchers -- observing and recording, but never
participating in the matters of others.  Since that time, several eons
ago, they who had discovered immortality... they who had thought
themselves the most advanced and civilized would now be known as the
Watchers.  This would ever be their destiny...

This story was reprinted in Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #9.

This story was retold in Silver Surfer #1 by Stan Lee, Gene Colan, and
Syd Shores.

"The Way It Began..." was also the story title for Fantastic Four #126.

In Star Trek: The Original Series, Delta Rays had a less than beneficial
affect on Captain Christopher Pike in "The Menagerie."

I wonder if Emnu was related to Xemnu the Titan?

Would such an alien go along with the policies of his race for

The Prosilicans are green skinned, have pointed ears, and have Mohawk

While Ikor and his brethren saw the benefits of nuclear energy, the
Prosilicans found the dark side of this gift.

The multi-dimensional eclipse looks suspiciously like the Crisis on
Infinite Earths caught in a giant "X."  (Holy Children of The Atom,

The Guardians of the Universe were another long-lived race who also
suffered setbacks, most notably the creation of the Manhunters.

Steve Chung
"The Way It Reviewed..."