Part egomaniac, part tragic victim of his unbounded desire for advancing life, the mad scientist who becomes known as the High Evolutionary has a connection to many Marvel heroes and villains – both terrestrial and cosmic. Although the High Evolutionary may not be the most popular character in the Marvel Universe, he is still an important one.
The brainchild of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the High Evolutionary first appears in The Mighty Thor #134. In flashback stories from various later comics we eventually learn his story. Originally known as Herbert Edgar Wyndham, an English scientist, after an encounter with the Incredible Hulk Wyndham alters his DNA with a serum called Isotope D. This has the effect of speeding up his evolution. Before he changes himself into a meta-human, however, Wyndham’s greatest success was a machine he created called the genetic accelerator. With this device Wyndham unsuccessfully attempted to transform rats into higher lifeforms in his mother’s basement. After encountering the Inhuman geneticist Phaeder – who gives him the secrets of the human genetic code – Wyndham is finally able to transform various lower lifeforms (rats, dogs, wolves) into a species he calls New Men. Since then, he has met Adam Warlock (Marvel Premiere #1), fought Galactus (Fantastic Four # 172-175), and was the main protagonist behind the ‘Evolutionary Wars’ (the 1988 Marvel cross-over event).
In my earlier post on the Celestials (see: here) I speculated that their key issues will be seeing a jump in value since the next phase of Marvel movies will expand the scope of the existing Marvel Universe by including more and more of these cosmic characters. As stated above, the High Evolutionary doesn’t quite have the name recognition levels of, say, a Doctor Doom or a Thanos, but over the years he has shown up in many significant story arcs.
Although, as of this writing, the High Evolutionary has not been explicitly mentioned by any Marvel spokespeople as slated for a big screen appearance, I can’t help but think he will eventually show up in a Marvel Movie. In the comics, the High Evolutionary once observed the birth of new Celestial. That would be an awesome scene to capture on film! So I think that when the High Evolutionary shows up in a Marvel movie, his key appearances will likely rise in value.
The standout keys for this character however are not abundant. Having many appearances, very few are actually of collectible status. Nonetheless, on the pull list of important issues in the High Evolutionary’s history, we can cite the following:
This issue picks up right after Thor’s battle with Ego the Living Planet. Returning to Earth, Thor’s girlfriend Jane Foster is captured by the High Evolutionary’s Ani-Men and taken to a base in the mountains of Wundagore. When Thor demands to see Jane, the High Evolutionary shows him that she is fine, but his genetic experiment on a wolf goes astray leading to the birth of the fearsome Man-Beast. This is the very first appearance of the High Evolutionary and 9.6 graded copies have already broken the $1, 000.00 dollar mark. I’d aim for a 9.0 (still under $200.00 and showing a very decent 73.3 per cent return on investment since 2005).
The Man-Beast is almost as strong as Thor, but with the help of the High Evolutionary he and his Ani-men he is finally subdued. After the battle the High Evolutionary reveals that he is a human being and recounts his origins. At the end of his origin story, the High Evolutionary’s mountain base transforms into a rocket and he leaves the Earth with his creations. Best return on investment is CGC 9.4’s. As of this writing, fair market value price for that grade on this comic is around $240.00.
This comic is Part One of the Evolutionary Wars story arc. The High Evolutionary has been living on other planets and has himself evolved since his encounter with Thor. Returning to Earth to collect evolutionary dead ends, the High Evolutionary sends his minions after the Moloids of Subterranea to sterilize them. When the Moloids send a telepathic cry for help, Jean Grey of X-Factor and Caliban the Mutant both pick up on the SOS. Learning of the High Evolutionary’s plan, Apocalypse beams onto the High Evolutionary’s ship to protest at his getting in the way of the survival of the fittest. The Evolutionary War begins. Eventually, the High Evolutionary’s attempts to direct the evolution of sentient life on Earth will result in the planting of a genetic bomb. He is stopped by various Marvel heroes, most notably the Avengers. 9.8 graded copies of this comic are still under $100.00 and up 8% since 2014.