Elders of the Universe
|Elders of the Universe|
The Avengers #28 (May 1966)
Elders of the Universe:
The Avengers #174 (August 1978)
Stan Lee (writer)
Don Heck (artist)
Elders of the Universe:
Jim Shooter, Bill Mantlo (writers)
David Wenzel (artist)
|Notable members||See Membership|
The Elders of the Universe are a group of supervillains appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The Collector was the first Elder to appear, and featured in Avengers #28 (May 1966), but the idea that he was a member of a group known as the Elders was not introduced until Avengers #174 (August 1978).
The Elders of the Universe are the last survivors of otherwise extinct races. Each discovered that they had potentially infinite lifespans, dependent on maintaining the will to continue living. They are thus known for their personal obsessions (such as collecting, contests of strategy or strength, and various fields of study), each of which is pursued fanatically. While the characters are not truly cosmic entities, all have achieved some cosmic level of power and knowledge related to their particular pursuit. The first encounter with the heroes of Earth occurs when the Collector came to Earth seeking to expand his collection. Later, the Grandmaster created the supervillain team the Squadron Sinister as pawns to battle the champions of the time-traveling Kang the Conqueror, the superhero team the Avengers.
Although thwarted, the Grandmaster and his fellow Elders take an interest in Earth, and the Collector has two separate encounters with the Avengers, the second ending with his murder by the entity Korvac. The Grandmaster also tricks the entity Death into playing a contest—again involving many of Earth's heroes—that he deliberately loses to resurrect the Collector. The Grandmaster usurps control of Death's realm, and after a battle between the Avengers and the Grandmaster's champions—the Legion of the Unliving—is tricked by the Avengers. An angered Death then prevents the Elders from ever entering her realm, which effectively makes them immortal and is the Grandmaster's true goal.
The Elder known as the Champion of the Universe has a brief encounter with many of Earth's strongest heroes. After defeating Colossus, Sasquatch, Wonder Man, Hulk, and Thor in hand-to-hand combat by knockout or disqualifying them for violations, he faces Benjamin Grimm of the Fantastic Four. Eventually realizing that the outmatched Grimm will never submit under any circumstances, the Champion concedes the match and offers Grimm his respect.
A group of eleven Elders later join forces and meet on Ego the Living Planet (who is also regarded as an Elder) in an effort to kill the cosmic entity Galactus, which would cause the concepts Eternity and Death to become unbalanced and end the universe. The Elders believe since they are now immortal they would be the only beings in the universe to survive and would be supreme beings in the new universe. The plan, however, is thwarted by Galactus' Heralds the Silver Surfer and Nova. Galactus captures and consumes five of the Elders (Champion, Collector, Gardener, Grandmaster and Runner) but three other Elders (Astronomer, Possessor and Trader) are sucked into a black hole and pass through it into a mystical universe. Two Elders avoid the wrath of Galactus and his hunger, The Contemplater and the Obliterator. Both meet with each other being seemingly the last known surviving Elders and plot their revenge against the universe.
Despite this setback, the eight Elders continue their plot against Galactus. While the five Elders within Galactus inflict a fatal case of "cosmic indigestion" upon him, the three Elders in the mystical realm conspire with the cosmic entity the In-Betweener to restore him in exchange for him returning them to their home reality and his promise to kill Galactus. Using the Silver Surfer, Mister Fantastic, and the Invisible Woman (whom Galactus had sent in search of the Infinity Gems), the In-Betweener is restored and he brings the Elders back to their own reality. Once there, the In-Betweener attempts to kill Galactus but discovers that he cannot do so. When he announces his intention to hurl Galactus into the black hole instead, the three Elders, who wanted to rescue their brother Elders from within Galactus, threaten him with the other five Infinity Gems to stop him. The In-Betweener responds by summoning Death and forcing her to negate them despite her vow. As a result, the Astronomer, the Trader and the Possessor and his Runestaff are apparently disintegrated. The ship carrying Galactus is then thrown into the black hole and passes through to the mystical realm where the In-Betweeners's creators, Master Order and Lord Chaos, force the five Elders within Galactus to exit his body, restoring the world-devourer. During the subsequent battle between Galactus and the In-Betweener, the quintet are eventually persuaded to help Galactus defeat his foe. Moments later, the five Elders use their Infinity Gems to instantaneously travel very far away from Galactus and his vengeance.
Another Elder, the Contemplator, allies with the space-pirate Captain Reptyl against the Silver Surfer, but is betrayed and apparently killed. The Contemplator is revealed to have survived—as a disembodied head—and goes on to attempt to rule the Kree Empire, but is seemingly destroyed by the peace-loving alien Cotati.
The five Elders that were previously consumed by Galactus (Champion, Collector, Gardener, Grandmaster, and Runner) are targeted by the Titan Thanos because they possess the Infinity Gems. The character humiliates each in turn (the Gardener is murdered) and captures the Gems. The Elder the Runner has an encounter with the hero Quasar during which the time being Eon describes the Runner as one of "the thousand or so Elders I'm aware of." Quasar also later confronts the Obliterator, the Possessor, and previously unknown Elders the Explorer, the Judicator and the Caregiver. It is also revealed that the Contemplator killed by Reptyl was in fact a Skrull, and not the true Contemplator.
The Grandmaster reappears and creates a new version of the Squadron Sinister. Courtesy of a phenomenon known as the Wellspring of Power—an interdimensional source of superhuman abilities—the Grandmaster increases the Squadron Sinister's powers and they battle the superhero team the New Thunderbolts. The Grandmaster is defeated by Baron Zemo, and the Squadron Sinister scatter and escape. Champion has an encounter with the heroine She-Hulk and aids her foe Titania by giving her the Power Gem, currently in his possession.
After Battleworld is destroyed at the conclusion of Secret Wars, the Elders examine the planet's remains, and find them to be teeming with Power Primordial in the form of an "Iso-Sphere". Their inability to come to a mutually beneficial agreement regarding ownership of the Iso-Sphere prompts the Elders into holding a winner takes all Contest of Champions which all but the Grandmaster and Collector are eventually eliminated from.
During the "No Surrender" arc, it was revealed that one Elder of the Universe originally went by the name of Grandmaster before being defeated by En Dwi-Gast and banished from the Earth-616 reality. Because of the Multiverse being rebuilt, this Elder of the Universe returned where he took the name of Challenger and assembled his version of the Black Order to go up against Grandmaster and his Lethal Legion.
Powers and abilities
Each Elder of the Universe possesses a fraction of what is referred to as the Power Primordial, remnants of the primordial energies of the Big Bang that still permeate the universe. The Power Primordial can be used to produce a wide range of effects, including augmentation of physical attributes (strength, durability, speed), molecular restructuring, creation of force fields, teleportation and numerous other abilities. Some Elders have incorporated this power into their singular obsessions and developed its potential in themselves (i.e. Champion, Runner) while others have to varying degrees mixed that power with tools or resources their obsessions afforded them (i.e. Contemplator, Grandmaster, Obliterator) or even largely ignored it as irrelevant or detrimental to their pursuits (i.e. Gardener, Collector).
Each Elder has developed skills related to their particular field of interest over a lifespan measured in billions of years. In their particular fields of endeavor (i.e. Grandmaster in strategy, Caregiver in medicine) they have essentially unrivalled superhuman levels of talent and expertise.
- Architect - Builder and designer of constructs.
- Astronomer / Seginn Gallio - Chronicler of stars, galaxies and other celestial objects and events.
- Caregiver / Rubanna Lagenris Quormo - Midwife and healer of cosmically significant entities. Aide of Origin.
- Carina Korvac / Carina Tivan - Daughter of the Collector and therefore considered an Elder of the Universe due to her bloodline.
- Challenger - A cosmic game player. He was the original Grandmaster before losing the title to En Dwi Gast.
- Champion of the Universe / Tryco Slatterus - Master of unarmed combat. Seeks out new opportunities to defeat the greatest fighters of various worlds and species.
- Collector / Taneleer Tivan - Collects artifacts and life forms (originally to protect them, now apparently for the sake of collecting itself).
- Contemplator / Tath Ki - Philosopher. Seeks to understand and explore the spiritual and mental aspects of reality.
- Ego the Living Planet - Joined the group during their fight against Galactus. Considered an honorary Elder, since he is the "last survivor" of his species in the sense that he is its only member.
- Elder Master
- Explorer / Zamanathan Rambunazeth - Traveler and explorer, seeks out new, obscure and/or difficult to reach places and events throughout the universe.
- Father Time - Time-manipulator. His defining purpose is not explicitly stated.
- Gardener / Ord Zyonz - Travels throughout the universe seeding worlds with plant life and biomes and shaping them to match his aesthetic ideals.
- Grandmaster / En Dwi Gast - A cosmic game player who seeks to master, excel at and invent ever more challenging contests of strategy.
- Judicator - Lawgiver who seeks out new and unique disputes and crimes to adjudicate.
- Obliterator / Maht Pacle - Hunter obsessed with pursuing and murdering sentient life as a form of sport. Obliterator became an Elder after systematically killing every other member of his species.
- Possessor / Kamo Tharnn - Librarian and scholar pursuing the acquisition, possession, cataloging and dissemination of all possible knowledge.
- Promoter / Xirena Awhina - Obsessed with the organization and promotion of new, unique and/or cosmically epic entertainment events.
- Runner / Gilpetperdon - Traveler and explorer focused on the freedom to see and experience the entire universe in person.
- Trader / Cort Zo Tinnus - A master negotiator obsessed with commerce, trade, profit and persuasion.
- Voyager / "Valerie Vector" - Daughter of the Grandmaster and therefore considered an Elder of the Universe due to her bloodline.
In other media
Team members of the Elders of the Universe have appeared throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Taneleer Tivan / The Collector, appears in the Thor: The Dark World (2013) mid-credits scene, portrayed by Benicio del Toro. Del Toro portrays the character in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) where, faithful to the source material, he is depicted as a cosmic being that collects items and rarities, and imprisons living creatures, from across the universe. His role is more integral to the film's plot as he explains Celestials and the Infinity Stones to the team. Del Toro reprised the role in Avengers: Infinity War (2018).
- Ego the Living Planet is the primary antagonist of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), portrayed by Kurt Russell. This version of the character refers to himself as a Celestial and as a god "with a small g", as opposed to an Elder. He is an unreliable narrator within the context of the film, so his self-descriptions are not necessarily factual within the narrative.
- En Dwi Gast / The Grandmaster, portrayed by Jeff Goldblum made his first on-screen appearance with a brief cameo during one of the mid-credit scenes from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017). Goldblum reprises the role in Thor: Ragnarok (2017), as the ruler of the planet Sakaar, and enforcer of gladiatorial battles between what he deems lesser life-forms, in an event called the Contest of Champions. Among the Warbound gladiators that the Grandmaster has in his games are: Bruce Banner / Hulk, Thor Odinson, Korg, and Miek. Brunnhilde / Valkyrie, the former leader of the Valkyrior army, is subservient to the Grandmaster during the events of the film.
- The Elders of the Universe are mentioned in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "When Strikes the Surfer." They are mentioned to have been disposed of by the Dark Surfer.
- Members of the Elders of the Universe appear in Guardians of the Galaxy.
- Avengers #28 (May 1966)
- Avengers #69 - 71 (Oct. - Dec. 1969)
- Avengers #119 (Jan. 1974) and 173 - 174 (July - Aug. 1978)
- Contest of Champions #1 - 3 (June - Aug. 1982)
- Avengers Annual #16 (Dec. 1987)
- Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7 (Jan. 1982)
- Silver Surfer vol. 3, #1 - 10 (July 1987 - Apr. 1988)
- Silver Surfer vol. 3, #15 - 18 (Sept. - Dec. 1988)
- Silver Surfer vol. 3, #19 (Jan. 1989)
- Silver Surfer vol. 3, #12 (June 1988)
- Silver Surfer vol. 3, #20 (Feb. 1989); 25 - 27 (July - Sep. 1989) and 29 - 31 (Nov. - Dec. 1989)
- Thanos Quest #1 - 2 (Sep. - Oct. 1990)
- Quasar #17 (Dec. 1990)
- Quasar #47 - 48 (Jun.- Jul. 1993)
- New Thunderbolts #15 - 16 (Jan. - Feb. 2006) and Thunderbolts #102 - 108 (July 2006 - Jan. 2007)
- She-Hulk vol. 3, #7 - 12 (Nov. 2004 - Apr. 2005)
- Annihilation: Ronan #3(August 2006)
- Al Ewing (w), Paco Medina (p), Juan Vlasco (i), David Curiel (col), VC's Joe Sabino (let), Mark Paniccia and Chris Robinson (ed). "God Mode" Contest of Champions #6 (24 March 2016), United States: Marvel Comics
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- Silver Surfer vol. 3, #5 (Nov. 1987)
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- "Marvel Studios Begins Production on Guardians of the Galaxy". marvel.com. 20 July 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
- "Marvel Studios Confirms Stellar New Cast Members of the Highly Anticipated 'Thor: Ragnarok'". News - Marvel.com.