The original Nightmask, Keith Remsen, was created by Archie Goodwin[note 1] and first appeared in Nightmask #1 (Nov 1986), a series which was published under Marvel's New Universe imprint. Remsen is a paranormal, one of the people affected by the "White Event", and has the ability to manifest himself in other people's dreams. Issue #1 was penciled by Tony Salmons, as lobbied for by editor Eliot R. Brown, who later explained, "I thought Tony was the quentisential [sic] dreamscape person because he is the last, best, natural delineator of a Ditko-esque world, aside from Steve himself." Goodwin was the initial writer on the series, but left after issue #4. As a consequence, the 'Gnome' storyline was abandoned and subsequently ignored until long after the series' cancelation, finally being resolved in Untold Tales of the New Universe: Nightmask (published in 2006). Like most of the New Universe lineup of 1986-87, Nightmask was unable to secure a stable creative team; one out of every three issues was a fill-in. The series was cancelled after 12 issues, although Remsen continued to feature as a significant New Universe character, with a supporting role (and occasional back-up stories) in other titles.
In 2006, Warren Ellis and Salvador Larroca introduced a different version of the Nightmask character when they revived the New Universe concepts in a new series, newuniversal. Izanami Randall, who first appears in newuniversal #1 (Feb 2007), is a young Japanese-American woman living in San Francisco. After the White Event, Izanami discovers that she has been appointed as the Nightmask and has gained the power to manipulate the "superflow", a "transuniversal space" through which dreams, ideas and telepathy interact with the physical world.
Fictional character biography
|First appearance||Nightmask #1 (November 1986)|
|Created by||Archie Goodwin|
|Alter ego||Keith Remsen|
|Abilities||Able to enter and manipulate the dreams of others, able to project illusions directly into another person's mind. He can also fire concussive energy blasts.|
Keith Remsen was an eighteen-year-old whose parents sent him to study with Doctor Horst Kleinmann, an expert on dreams. Kleinmann had perfected a way of entering dreams cybernetically, and was worried that Remsen's parents were trying to steal his research. Kleinmann planted a bomb which killed Remsen's parents, paralyzed his little sister Theodora ("Teddy"), and left Keith himself in a coma, where he remained until he was awakened by the White Event and his sister calling to him.
When he awoke, he gradually discovered that he had the power to enter people's dreams telepathically, which he used to assist in psychotherapy. His sister Teddy was able to communicate with him while he was in the dream state and served as his anchor to reality. He also fought Kleinmann in the dreamscape.
After the Black Event, in which the city of Pittsburgh was destroyed, Teddy was left in a coma, and Remsen became one of the first paranormally gifted people drafted into the military. His training and abilities earned him a commission and he was assigned to use his abilities to scan paranormal draftees for signs of mental aberration. Without his sister to act as his anchor, his dream self became more and more unhinged until he felt he could no longer tell the sane from the insane. This led him to approve Harlan Mook, a candidate with a dangerously unstable personality. Mook had a mental breakdown and attempted to assassinate the President of the United States (thwarted only because the unnamed President had developed paranormal regenerative abilities himself).
Remsen entered Teddy's dreams in order to release her from her coma. Though initially his Nightmask persona tormented Teddy in the same way it had all the dreamers he treated since the Black Event, Keith's love for his sister overcame the Nightmask persona, freeing Teddy from her coma and restoring the stability of his powers. Remsen stalked Mook in his dreams, baiting Mook to seek him out personally. Remsen killed Mook with a single gunshot.
An alternate version of Keith Remsen attempts to defeat the mutant Proteus within his dreams. The attempt fails and Proteus strikes back - Remsen appears to suffer a heart attack, it is unclear whether or not he survived.
The re-imagined New Universe called newuniversal presents two different versions of Nightmask:
- Izanami Randall is as a Japanese-American girl living in San Francisco, who gains the Nightmask glyph during the 2006 White Event. Izanami is pulled from the world into a transdimensional space called the superflow by an alien communication station just after receiving the glyph. The station informs her that she is one of the heralds of the paradigm shift which is in progress, sparked by the White Event; specifically, she is this age's Nightmask. It is the purpose of the Nightmask to help smooth the transition period of the paradigm shift due to the inevitable initial chaotic effects.
- Trull is the first Nighmask of the newuniversal imprint, and is introduced in the newuniversal: conqueror one-shot, set in the year 2,689bce (some years after the first failed White Event). Trull helped to found Latvian city of Zardath ruled by Starr the Slayer, bearer of the Starbrand. It is revealed that Trull, who might have once been good, is a wholly evil man who plots Starr’s death and desires to become king. Trull hunts down other superhumans and drains them of their minds and powers, a process that causes them to be monstrously mutated. The character Trull is named after the wizard who appeared as an enemy of the original Starr the Slayer, in Marvel's Chamber of Darkness series.
A new Nightmask appears on Earth-616 during the Marvel NOW! relaunch. This Nightmask is a dark-skinned, artificial human created by Ex Nihilo on the terraformed surface of the planet Mars. After a fierce battle with the Avengers, Nightmask is taken to Earth and given residence in Avengers Tower.
Nightmask reveals his true name upon Tamara Devoux (the current Captain Universe) deciphering its language, and reveals that the universe is dying, and that the White Event is coming. Afterwards, some strange lightning hits Earth. Nightmask accompanies Captain Universe and the Avengers to the ruins of a college where they encounter a college student that was transformed into Star Brand. Nightmask and Star Brand head to Mars to confront Ex Nihilo. The Avengers fight against Nightmask and Star Brand which results in Nightmask and Star Brand destroying the living consciousness of Earth. Iron Man imprisons them in the Sol's Hammer weapon.
- Archie Goodwin - Nightmask #1-2, 4, 8 (November 1986-December 1986, February 1987, June 1987)
- Cary Bates - Nightmask #3, 5 (January 1987, March 1987)
- Dann Thomas - Nightmask #6-7, 10-12 (April 1987-May 1987, August 1987-October 1987)
- Roy Thomas - Nightmask #6-7, 10-12 (April 1987-May 1987, August 1987-October 1987)
- Sandy Plunkett - Nightmask #9 (July 1987)
- David Wohl - "The Real Me" in Justice #25 (November 1988) [back-up story]
- Mark Gruenwald - "Night of the Mask" in D.P. 7 #25 (November 1988) [back-up story]
- Gregory Wright - "Madman" in The Star Brand #16 (November 1988) [back-up story]
- Fabian Nicieza - "Teddy Bare!" in The Star Brand #17 (January 1989) [back-up story]
- Tony Salmons - Nightmask #1 (November 1986)
- Ernie Colón - Nightmask #2 (December 1986)
- Alex Saviuk - Nightmask #3 (January 1987)
- Ron Wagner - Nightmask #4 (February 1987)
- Arvell Jones - Nightmask #5 (March 1987)
- Javier Saltares - Nightmask #6 (April 1987); "Night of the Mask" in D.P. 7 #25 (November 1988) [back-up story]
- Michael Bair - Nightmask #7 (May 1987)
- Keith Giffen - Nightmask #8 (June 1987)
- Mark Bagley - Nightmask #9 (July 1987)
- Mark Badger - Nightmask #10, 12 (August 1987, October 1987)
- Kyle Baker - Nightmask #11 (September 1987)
- Tom Morgan - "The Real Me" in Justice #25 (November 1988) [back-up story]
- Kieron Dwyer - "Madman" in The Star Brand #16 (November 1988) [back-up story]
- Ron Lim - "Teddy Bare!" in The Star Brand #17 (January 1989) [back-up story]
- Johnson, Dan (June 2009). "Sparks in a Bottle: The Saga of the New Universe". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (34): 25.
- Nightmask #1 (November 1986)
- The Draft (November 1988)
- The Star Brand #17
- The War #1-3
- Warren Ellis (w), Salvador Larroca (a). "Trauma" newuniversal 3 (2007), Marvel Comics
- Simon Spurrier (w), Eric Nguyen (a). newuniversal: conqueror 1 (October 2008), Marvel Comics
- Roy Thomas (w), Barry Windsor-Smith (a). Chamber of Darkness 4 (April 1970), Marvel Comics
- Avengers Vol. 5 #1
- Avengers Vol. 5 #3
- Avengers Vol. 5 #6
- Avengers Vol. 5 #7
- Avengers Vol 5. #8
- Avengers Vol. 5 #9
- Avengers Vol. 5 #17