Real Name: Mark Esterhase

Identity/Class: Alternate reality (Earth-80324) human mutate

Occupation: Antigravity danseur, mercenary;
    (formerly?) Interplanetary Security Agency (ISA) investigator (see comments)

Group Membership: Partner (and lover) of Monark Starstalker of Earth-7643;
    (formerly?) Interplanetary Security Agency (ISA) investigator (see comments), ISA Strike Squad (Fire, Ice, Razor)

Affiliations: Catherine De Lys (deceased), Carl Yaz Tremsky (deceased) of Reality-80324
        formerly Mr. Esterhase, Fire, Ice, Razor, Chief Stanhope;
        formerly? Earth-80324's Empire's colonial rebellion;
    Monark Starstalker, Ulysses of Reality-7643
    Corruptor, Flip, Unkillables (Marjorie Brink, Mortigan Goth/Immortalis, Madcap, Scavenger, Harold Sikes, Victor Slaughter, Suicide, Yi Yang), Venture Executives for Galactic Security (VEGS), Wolverine (Logan/James Howlett) of Reality-616; the X-Men (Beast/Hank McCoy, Cyclops/Scott Summers, Dazzler/Alison Blaire, Emma Frost) could be considered allies as they both fought Contagion in subsequent fights, but I don't believe they actually encountered one another (I believe Paradox was incapacitated when the X-Men arrived, and that the X-Men were out of it until Paradox's departure)
        formerly General

Enemies: Mr. Esterhase, Fire, Ice, Razor, Sebastian Seasons, Chief Stanhope of Reality-80324;
    Contagion, Driver Reese, General
Kosrouschah, Venture Executives for Galactic Security (VEGS), unidentified members (one of each) of the Pheragot, P'tah, and Scatter races of Reality-616;
    formerly Catherine De Lys;
    (formerly?) Interplanetary Security Agency (ISA; see comments)

Known Relatives: Mr. Esterhase (father, deceased), unidentified mother

Aliases: "Shape-Shifter Lad" (nickname from Wolverine)

Base of Operations: Mobile on Earth-616;
    formerly mobile in the Shi'ar galaxy of Universe-616;
    formerly mobile in Earth's solar system of Universe-80324;
    on Earth-80324, he lived within a shimmering tower of glass hundreds of meters high atop a luxury high-rise in the floating city New Houston (diplomatic capital of the Terran Empire)

First Appearance: Marvel Preview#24 (Winter, 1980)

Powers/Abilities:Paradox has been genetically engineered ("gene-spliced") with a number of other races. These are known to include the various colony races ("Servant Species") genetically engineered from humanity to exist on the other planets and/or moons in Earth's solar systems, as well as some paranormal humans with psychic powers; it is also possible that he has taken on other extraterrestrial races he has encountered, perhaps adapting their DNA on contact. Paradox can take on the form of a member of any of these races/species as well as the abilities inherent to each of these.

    Paradox has been seen to adopt a number of forms, not all of which have been clearly identified. His original Mark Esterhase form, while originally a trained and skilled warrior, suffers from radiation poisoning; he staves this off by transforming into various radiation tolerant species as needed. His Paradox form is similar but slightly varied from his original form, perhaps lacking its radiation poisoning. Jovians (dwelling on Jupiter) are large, broad, and superhumanly strong and durable; their massive nostrils filter oxygen from among the noxious gases of Jupiter. Lunans (dwelling on Earth's moon) are short, squat, and heavily muscled, primarily bred for work on Luna's mines. Mercurians glow white-hot and wear heat suits to keep their temperatures up in the thousands of degrees centigrade (see comments). Saturnians (actually dwelling on Saturn's moon Titan) are tall and reedy, with strange finlike crests on their appendages; bigoted Terrans refer to them as vegetables (or specific types of vegetables). Venusians are also tall and lean, but Paradox never demonstrated any specific abilities, nor were they included in the excerpt from Howe's "A Concise History of the Terran Empire" Edition of 2181; so we don't know much about their abilities.

    Other confirmed Earth colonies (the forms of which Paradox could PRESUMABLY adopt, though they were never seen on panel) include the Martians, who wear water-circulating all-concealing robes to protect them against their world's dust storms; Neptunians, about whom the Terrans laughingly say the less known, the better; and Pluvians (dwelling on Pluto), who are blue-skinned and swathed in fur (see comments). I don't recall any discussion of the planet Uranus having any colonies.

    Paradox also adopted Razor's specific genetically-engineered form, along with her abilities. He has further taken on several forms that don't specifically conform to the known Terran colonies of his reality, such as a couple female forms. Maybe they're Martian, Neptunian, or Pluvian, or maybe he can  take on other extraterrestrial races he has encountered, perhaps adapting their DNA on contact. He was shown, in the original stories, to take the form of a domestic housecat.

    Gene-spliced with paranormal humans with psychic powers, Paradox can, at least, close his mind to other telepaths at will. It is unclear what exact psychic powers Paradox has.





    Paradox is highly skilled at armed and unarmed combat, able to outmaneuver and avoid injury from an entire squad of trained security agents until he can take the whole group out.

    Paradox is a supremely gifted antigravity danseur of much renown. Performing solo or with others, he is skilled, agile, and a very artful dancer, at least within an antigravity field.

    Paradox wears and is highly accurate across long distances with his Wristlaser (designed by Carl Yaz Tremsky), mounted on his wrist and able to fire a tight but highly destructive energy beam.

    Paradox utilizes a Yaz-designed blocking device, which protects his living quarters from being bugged/monitored by outside sources.





Height: Variable; (standard Paradox form) approximately 6'0" (he appears just a hair shorter than Monark Starstalker, who is 6'1"); (original form) unrevealed
Weight: Variable; (standard Paradox form) approximately 170 lbs.; (original form) unrevealed
Eyes: Variable; (standard Paradox form) blue; (original form) unrevealed
Hair: Variable; (standard Paradox form) brown; (original form) brown

(Marvel Preview#24 (fb) - BTS) - A Terran (human) Mark Esterhase was a Terran (human) in Reality-80324, in which Terrans had colonized the remaining planets (and some moons) in Earth's solar system, genegineering various "Servant Species" to colonize these worlds.

(Marvel Preview#24 (fb)) - Mark Esterhase trained under Carl Yaz Tremsky at the Interplanetary Security Agency (ISA) academy.

(Marvel Preview#24 (fb)) - Yaz told Mark "Live and let live, Boyo -- but drop 'em half a cycle before they drop you."

(Marvel Preview#24 (fb)) - Mark Esterhase was mortally wounded while trying to stop Sebastian Seasons and his gang of spice smugglers on an asteroid, and was left behind to die. Bathed in radiation from the asteroid, Mark was rescued by ISA roborescue squad, brought to ISA Central on Terra.

(Marvel Preview#24 (fb)) - With radiation destroying Mark's cells and all other human cells as they were grafted into him, ISA scientists elected to gengineer him into some radiation tolerant species, using both paranormal humans (with psychic powers) and parahuman (such as those living on the various colony worlds). The process was successful, with Esterhase believed to have died by his parents; he became ISA agent Paradox, adopting a slightly altered Terran form as a disguise.





(Marvel Preview#24) - Unaware of Paradox's true identity, chief Esterhase (Mark's father) came to Terra and was assigned agent Paradox by ISA Chief of Operations Stanhope to investigate the death of Vincent De Lys, a Terran ambassador to Luna who had died after taking the drug Fireflyte (users of which combusted (referred to as "going 'ferno") if they did not take an antidote in time; Esterhase was appalled by Paradox's flamboyant behavior. While Esterhase gave Paradox intelligence en route to Luna, Paradox romanced a flight attendant. Arriving on Luna, Paradox adopted Lunan form and swiftly ditched Esterhase, meeting up with his old ally Yaz (who had received bionic parts following dueling injuries and had later been cast out of the ISA). Paradox revealed his nature and history to Yaz, from whom he obtained a wristlaser weapon. A Mercurian prostitute informed Seasons that Paradox had visited Yaz.
    Attending the funeral of Vincent De Lys (who is launched into space), Paradox observed and made a bond with his widow, Catherine.

    In Venusian form, Paradox attended Season's pleasure palace, earning Seasons' personal attention after winning 5 times in a row and being invited to the lower levels to take the "The Game" (Fireflite challenge); while Paradox was afflicted by Fireflite, Seasons' Lunan agents ambushed him, but he defeated them (killing one), and took the antidote, saving Catherine as well. Paradox escaped with Catherine while posing as a Lunan; she revealed the Fireflite antidote had to be renewed and directed him to Seasons as her source.

(Marvel Preview#24 (fb) - BTS) - Paradox headed to Season's after leaving Catherine, but found it closed.




(Marvel Preview#24) - Paradox returned to Yaz's shop, and found Yaz near death. Yaz revealed who worked him over and what he heard, then died; a Robocop tried to detain Paradox, who destroyed it before escaping in Lunan form. Heading to the Metalmines, Paradox took Lunan form to get close to Seasons and his men. Learning Seasons received orders from a woman, Paradox revealed his true identity to Seasons, then adopted Seasons' form and ordered his pilot to take off, then changed to Mercurian form to survive the ship's exhaust, which killed Seasons; the conversion to Mercurian also burned the Fireflite out of his system.
    After alerting the ISA to intercept the Fireflite ship and meet him at the Terran embassy, Paradox confronted Catherine, playing chicken with the Fireflite antidote capsules and forcing her to reveal her origins, which chief Esterhase and his people recorded; they took her in to prosecute her for treason after allowing her to ingest the antidote capsule. While appreciating Paradox's skill, Chief Esterhase tried to fatally deprive Paradox of Fireflite due to his unpredictability and unwillingness to take orders. Revealing his true identity (though Chief Esterhase was uncertain) and exposing Esterhase's addiction to Fireflite, Paradox prevented Esterhase from taking the antidote and left the room in Esterhase's form, allowing him to escape the ISA troops stationed there; Esterhase went 'ferno soon after.

(Marvel Preview#24 (fb) - BTS) - Paradox gave his version of events at a debriefing

(Marvel Preview#24) - Two weeks later, on Terra, Paradox performed before a crowd including Chief Stanhope, who subsequently arranged an ISA ambush on Paradox as an unpredictable liability; after taking out the ISA agents, Paradox convinced Stanhope that the ISA was much better off with him than against him.


(Marvel Preview#30 (fb)) - After the ISA tried to kill Paradox, he gained sympathy for the Servant Species, as he was also hated for being different; he visited Catherine in prison and fell in love.

(Marvel Preview#30 (fb)) - Terran guards, determined to prove there was a Lunan beneath Catherine's beautiful Terran body, skinned her alive. This event was key in Paradox deciding to secretly oppose the ISA and to liberate the "Servant Species" from the Terran Empire.

(Marvel Preview#30) - Enlisting Paradox to investigate a colonial rebellion, Stanhope sent him to Titan to make things safe for the Emperor prior to his annual colonial tour. When rude Terran teens sought Paradox's autograph, he adopted Saturnian form to scare them off, then happily signed a young Saturnian girl's book. He used the same form to avoid robo-reporters and then to enter and stir up trouble at a bar, during which he encountered and teamed up with his ISA contacts (Fire, Ice, Razor - when Ice identifies him as their contact) as the group took down a number of racist Terrans.


    Blocking his mind from Ice, Paradox led the group (ISA Strike Squad) into a trap at a rebel warehouse; the Saturnians' mindscreens allowed them to escape Ice's detection, and they slew her soon after their entry. After helping Fire and Razor escape in Jovian form, he killed Fire and revealed his true allegiance to Razor.  Defeating her in combat, he assumed her form, causing others to believe she slew him instead. Numerous Saturnian rebels voluntarily sacrificed themselves to lull the ISA into believing the rebellion had been smashed on Titan.
    The next phase, at an ISA command post on Titan, as the Emperor approached, "Razor" used her laser vision to destroy the consoles controlling the Emperor's descent, causing him to fall into Saturn's deadly atmosphere. "Razor" then revealed herself as Paradox and took out ISA forces that tried to stop him; on every colony world there was rejoicing. Paradox left Stanhope amongst the Empire's ruins, believing that the Terrans and Colonials would ultimately be forced to regard each other as equals and develop a new society.






(Wolverine: Best There Is#9 (fb) - BTS) - Continuing to view Paradox as a loose cannon, the ISA (see comments) sent him through the Fault (a rip in the space-time continuum lying between the Shi'ar and Kree galaxies) to spy on Reality-616, in hopes that he would never return.

(Wolverine: Best There Is#9 (fb)) - In unspecified alien female form, Paradox met Monark Starstalker at a ST'rugee (Space-Time refugee) bar in Shi'ar space. With Monark unaware of Paradox's true nature, the two hit it off and had a romance; Paradox revealed the truth before things could get "too far," and Starstalker tried to understand and be flexible. Paradox convinced Starstalker of the opportunities the situation offered, and Starstalker accepted and embraced the situation. Ultimately, the two achieved a successful partnership on multiple levels.

(Wolverine: The Best There Is#9 (fb) - BTS) - Because they had both come to Reality-616 via the Fault (through which the technonecrotic virus/material had also arrived), Monark Starstalker and Paradox were employed by VEGS (Venture Executives for Galactic Security) agents as bounty hunters to seek out whoever had obtained the technonecrotic virus and brought it to Earth. They also encouraged the notion that they had some past experience with technonecrotic material in their own realities.


(Wolverine: Best There Is#9 (fb)) - Paradox and Monark were sent to Reality-616's Earth to gain the material.

(Wolverine: Best There Is#9 (fb) - BTS) - Paradox and Monark lacked a ship to reach Earth. Taking a female form similar to General Kosrouschah's mother, Paradox seduced Kosrouschah, obtaining a spaceship as a wedding present. Paradox took the ship and left with Monark soon after.






(Wolverine: Best There Is#7) - As Wolverine met with Driver Reese, she suffered from a techno-necrotic virus. Monark Starstalker's falcon, Ulysses, severed her head as Monark and Paradox arrived (referring to Wolverine as "Little Man"), and a techno-organic/necrotic spider rose from Driver Reese's remains.

(Wolverine: Best There Is#8) - Paradox encouraged the cessation of the screeching of Driver Reese's remains. Wolverine's efforts failed, but Paradox destroyed Driver Reese's head with his wristlaser. Nonetheless, Monark noted that Wolverine wasn't infected after being skewered by the techno-necrotic spider, and Paradox noted he wasn't dying either. Paradox noted that saving him or killing him would be humane, but Monark elected to save him, as he may know something. As the spider continued to enlarge, Paradox dove in to grab Wolverine, but Wolverine pulled a spike out of his chest and leapt back into the fight. Fleeing, both Paradox and Monark were concerned as the immense spider ripped through the city street on which they had arrived. Paradox recommended a containment grenade, but Monark noted it had gotten too big for that. Wolverine then tore free from the inside out and, following Paradox's instruction to make it smaller, began cutting the spider apart. Paradox then took a series of techno-necrotic spider spikes through the right shoulder, left shoulder, and left leg; nonetheless, their assaults had been effective, and Monark urged Wolverine to get clear as he unleashed his containment grenade, which effectively contained the stem servers and replicated the containment protocols to all infected materials. With techno-necrotic infection likely within the next minute, Paradox refused Monark's offer to cut away the infected areas, as well as Wolverine's offer to kill him quickly, and instead achieved Mercurian form, burning away the infection from within him as his core temperature was over 700 degrees. Paradox and Monark revealed themselves to be from alternate realities, and all three headed to Monark's ship so he could replenish the nanites he lost making the grenade.

(Wolverine: Best There Is#9) - After changing to feminine form in his sleep, Paradox argued with Monark to try to convince Wolverine which of the two of them was more technologically advanced. Despite Monark's efforts to convince him otherwise, Paradox informed Wolverine they were bounty hunters searching for "a crazy guy with some controlled weapons-grade material," specifically the technonecrotic virus, a variation of Technarchy DNA, akin to the Phalanx mutation, "but not really alive. Or something." Ulysses clarified that it infected organic and non-organic hosts, imbuing them with a semblance of life. Wolverine suspected that, since he believed Contagion dead, that it was most likely one of his Unkillables who had made off with the virus from Contagion's lab.
    After Paradox and Monark revealed their histories, Monark noted they had lost track of the technonecrotic material north of San Francisco, at which point their stolen ship was assaulted by General Kosrouschah and his agents, including a Pheragot, P'Tah, and one of the Scatter. In (presumably) Jovian form, Paradox survived being pulled into open space, and cut the P'Tah in half and then blasted a whole through the head of Kosrouschah with his wristlaser. Ulysses slew the Pheragot, and Paradox decapitated the Scatter with Kosrouschah's space cycle, though Wolverine was infested with hatching creatures laid by the Scatter.

(Wolverine: Best There Is#10) - As the Scatter parasites tried to rewrite Logan's form, Paradox watched worriedly as Monark used his nannites to cure Wolverine, but Monark's nervous system briefly lost integrity, and was replaced by Ulysses, which controlled his form; Paradox was pleased with this, as he feared losing his love and dying alone.

(Wolverine: Best There Is#10 (fb) - BTS) - Paradox flew himself, Wolverine, and Monark/Ulysses to Wolverine's car; Paradox nearly crashed the Cutter's shuttle twice en route.






(Wolverine: Best There Is#10) - The three then traveled to Earth, and as Wolverine drove them to Contagion's former base, Ulysses explained how adaptive nannites were trapped within Wolverine, seeking to construct new forms. Paradox criticized their antique method of travel, and Wolverine became annoyed with both Paradox and Ulysses. As Monark began to regenerate, Contagion ambushed them shattering their engine block and hurling all three from the car as it stopped suddenly. They fell into a pit, and Paradox adopted Jovian form to grab the wall to slow his descent. In that form, Paradox hurled Wolverine at Contagion, then rushed Contagion himself, but Contagion's super-strong adaptations quickly dropped both assailants. Paradox assaulted him anew in Mercurian form, but Contagion drained his heat and then incapacitated him with infection-laden saliva; Ulysses was incapacitated as well, and Wolverine remained unable to move due to an adaptation of the Corruptor's control formula in his own sweat.










(Wolverine: Best There Is#11) - Contagion casually walked past what remained of Paradox, a scattered mess of limbs, amongst his other victims and former pawns as he related his own origins. Recovering, Monark attacked anew and was again incapacitated, but not before freeing Wolverine from the Corruptor's control formula, at which point the X-Men (Beast/Hank McCoy, Dazzler/Alison Blaire, Cyclops/Scott Summers, Emma Frost) arrived.

(Wolverine: Best There Is#12) - After Contagion's son, Flip, deactivated the technonecrotic virus, Contagion's victims, including Paradox and Monark, were largely freed and cured. The Corruptor further forced Contagion to contain his viruses, after which the Unkillables assaulted (and presumably slew) him. Harold Sikes then convinced Wolverine to let the group of Unkillables act as mercenary "problem solvers." Paradox further noted he and Monark would fly the Unkillables out of there, keep the Shi'ar ship Contagion had obtained, and then "blend in to the general weird here." Then they departed to do just that.





Comments: Created by Bill Mantlo and Val Mayerik.

    Carl Yaz Tremsky was almost certainly an homage to Carl Yastrzemski, Hall of Fame baseball player for the Boston Red Sox:

    Paradox references himself as part of the Interplanetary Security Agency in Wolverine: Best There Is, despite having betrayed the ISA and Terran Empire in Bizarre Adventures #30. Possibilities:

  1. Wolverine: Best There Is occurs after #30, and Paradox realigns with the ISA in the new society where Terrans and the Colonials have better relations.

  2. Wolverine: Best There Is occurs b/t #24 and #30...he apparently returns to his own reality at some point, or #30 is an alternate reality version from the one in Wolverine: Best There Is

  3. Paradox is falsely claiming still to be a member (like a disgraced FBI agent might claim to still be with the agency if he thinks it impress / intimidate those he is talking to - Paradox may not have realized the reality he is now in doesn't know what the ISA is), or he still thinks of himself as an ISA agent ("I didn't betray the agency, the other agents did! I'm the only one still living up to the ideals the agency was meant to stand for.")

  4. Someone never read Bizarre Adventures#30.   ;)

Pluvians would be natives of Pluto. I don't think it is confirmed that Paradox's society considered Pluto a planet; since they colonized Earth's moon (and Titan), they may have considered the dwarf planet useful for whatever reason. It is not clear in Paradox's Reality-80324 whether Pluto was demoted from it's long-standing planet status, as it was on the real world, in 2006. Google it for more information.


Thanks to MarvellousLuke for the image clean-up!

Profile by Snood.

No KNOWN connections to:

images: (without ads)
Marvel Preview#24 cover - Paul Gulacy - color reference
    Paradox intro/splash page (labeled pg.5)
    story pg. 16, panel 5 (Lunan form)
        pg. 24, panel 5 (Venusian form)
        pg. 41, panel 8 (Mercurian form)
    labeled page #55 (Mark Esterhase's original face);
    labeled page #57, panel 2 (Paradox dancing);
Bizarre Adventures#30, pg. 13, panel 4 (Saturnian form)
        pg. 24, panel 3-4 (Jovian form)
Wolverine: The Best There Is#8, pg. 10 - full body, but from above
    #9, pg. 12, panel 1 - alien female forms
        pg. 13, panel 1 - other alien form, with Starstalker in nanite form

Marvel Preview
#24 (Winter, 1980) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Val Mayerik (artist), Lynn Grame (editor)
Bizarre Adventures#
30 (February, 1982) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Mike Vosberg (penciler), Joe Jusko (inker), Dennis O'Neil (editor)
Wolverine: The Best There Is#7-12 (August, 2011 - January, 2012) - Charlie Huston (writer), Juan Jose Ryp (artist), Sebastian Girner (editor)

Last updated: 05/19/14

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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