Gladiator battles the Fantastic Four on the cover of Fantastic Four #249 (Dec. 1982).
Art by John Byrne.
|First appearance||Uncanny X-Men #107 (Oct. 1977)|
|Created by||Chris Claremont
|Team affiliations||Imperial Guard
|Notable aliases||Captain Universe, Cal Kramer|
|Abilities||Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, and durability
Gladiator and the Imperial Guard were created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Dave Cockrum as an homage to DC Comics' Legion of Super-Heroes, with all the Imperial Guard's original members created as analogs of Legionnaires. Gladiator was the analog to Superboy; the name "Gladiator" was a conscious homage to the Philip Wylie novel Gladiator on which Superman was partially based. Gladiator's name, Kallark, is a combination of Superman's Kryptonian and human names: Kal-El and Clark Kent.
The character first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #107 (Oct. 1977). Since then, he has been periodically featured in X-titles, Fantastic Four, Rom the Spaceknight, Silver Surfer, Nova, and New Warriors. His origin was revealed in War of Kings: Warriors #1 (2009).
He has played important roles in some of Marvel's major storylines, such as Operation: Galactic Storm (1992), Maximum Security (2001), and War of Kings (2009). During the Heroes Reborn era (1997), he starred in the three-issue Imperial Guard miniseries.
Fictional character biography
Kallark is a member of the Strontian race, and was born under Shi'ar rule. All Strontians are born with the capacity for great strength and various superpowers, but can only use them when they are completely devoted to a purpose. Fearing a Strontian rebellion, the Shi'ar emperor ordered Kallark, among other Strontians, to kill the Strontian elders. Only Kallark was devoted enough to carry out the order, and the others were killed when their wavering commitment rendered them weak. As a reward for his actions, Kallark was named the Praetor (leader) of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard.
When the X-Men come into conflict with the Shi'ar empire regarding the Phoenix entity, Gladiator battles them first at the command of Emperor D'Ken, and then at the behest of his successor, Empress Lilandra Neramani. He later aids the X-Men against several renegade Imperial Guardsmen serving a Shi'ar traitor, Lord Samedar.
While pursuing a band of shape-changing Skrulls, Gladiator arrives on Earth and mistakenly attacks the Fantastic Four. With the aid of Spider-Man and Captain America, the real Skrulls are exposed and captured. Meanwhile, Lilandra's sister, Deathbird, stages a coup and becomes the new Shi'ar Empress.
Gladiator briefly comes into conflict with the X-Men again when he is mentally controlled by a Warskrull, posing as Charles Xavier. He then encounters several members of the Avengers during the Kree-Shi'ar War.
Along with Beta Ray Bill, Ganymede, Jack of Hearts, Silver Surfer and Terrax the Tamer, Gladiator is captured by Tyrant with the intention of harnessing their power as a weapon for universal domination. Tyrant is defeated after the intervention of his creator, Galactus.
When many of Earth's heroes vanish after defeating Onslaught, Lilandra (who has resumed control of the Shi'ar) orders Gladiator and many of the Imperial Guard to help protect Earth. He later aids the X-Men again during an encounter with Galactus He is present when Galactus dies.
Gladiator battles Thor at the request of Zarrko the Tomorrow Man, but is defeated. He later came looking for the X-Men to help him fight against the Phalanx; however, his aggressive arrival led him to blows with the X-Men's Cannonball (Sam Guthrie), and while he was defeated by the young mutant, he managed to get the help of several X-Men in stopping the invasion.[volume & issue needed] Some time later, on Lilandra's orders, Gladiator returns to Earth and attacks the X-Men's home, but later learns that Lilandra was possessed by Cassandra Nova and frees her.
Liladra sends Gladiator to infiltrate the Kyln, an intergalactic prison, as a prisoner. He investigates rumors of a prisoner with the aid of Thanos and Star-Lord. The prisoner turns out to be an amnesiac Beyonder. Guided by the cosmic entity Living Tribunal, Gladiator fights the Champion of the Universe in an attempt to liberate the population of a planet the Champion had enslaved.
At the request of Lilandra, Gladiator returns to Earth on a mission to capture the Uni-Power and bring it back for evaluation. After an encounter with the Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four, Gladiator invites the Uni-Power to return to the Shi'ar Empire as their guest. Although the Uni-Power agrees, it is captured en route by Krosakis, an energy leeching warlord who forces the Uni-Power into his body to become Captain Universe. Gladiator attempts to stop Krosakis but fails, with the warlord finally beaten by the Silver Surfer.
Gladiator is then commanded to stop the conqueror Vulcan, who is determined to destroy the Shi'ar empire as revenge against former emperor D'Ken for murdering Vulcan's mother. Gladiator captures and delivers Vulcan to a Shi'ar prison facility.[volume & issue needed]
A Shi'ar agent, however, wishing a return to the days of D'Ken's rule, frees Vulcan and together with Deathbird the pair stage a coup and usurp Lilandra. Vulcan escapes with the aid of some rebellious Shi'ar and leads a successful coup against Lilandra, becoming the next Shi'ar Emperor. Gladiator does not like Vulcan, but is honor-bound to serve him.
Vulcan consolidates his rule over the Shi'ar - with Gladiator reluctantly assisting - as their forces destroy a race of ancient enemies, the Scy'ar Tal, and capture the rebel Starjammers. Vulcan begins to expand the empire, leading to a war with the Kree. When ordered to kill Lilandra, Gladiator abandons his post to protect her. During an attempt to return her to the throne, she is assassinated.
Vulcan is killed during a battle with the leader of the Kree, Black Bolt. With no one in line to inherit the throne, civil war threatens the Shi'ar empire. Gladiator accepts an offer to be Emperor to avoid further conflict.
Following the war with the cancerverse, Gladiator joins the Annihilators. With them, he protects Galador from the Dire Wraiths and opposes the Universal Church of Truth's attempt to revive the Magus. Gladiator's son, Kubark, also known as Kid Gladiator, is sent to Earth as a punishment and currently is enrolled in the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning to train and learn more about his powers.
Later, Gladiator attempts to contact Kubark's bodyguard Warbird about the Phoenix Force's return to Earth. Gladiator orders them to leave the planet, but the close proximity of the Phoenix prevents the message from reaching Warbird. He then orders the preparation of his ship so he could go rescue his son and sends Death Commandos to kill the Phoenix's host.
Powers and abilities
Gladiator possesses a number of superhuman capabilities as a result of his unique alien physiology including superhuman strength (capable of shattering a planet), superhuman speed, stamina and durability (capable of withstanding an explosion equivalent to a supernova), reflexes, heat vision (stated as "hotter than a star"); "frost breath," a regenerative healing factor, and warp speed flight (measured as "a hundred times the speed of light"). Gladiator's abilities increase and decrease in accordance with his level of confidence and he is vulnerable to a certain form of rare radiation.
In the alternate universe title Marvel Zombies 2, the character appears with other extraterrestrial beings "recruited" by the Galacti (the original infected heroes empowered by devouring the entity Galactus). He is killed while trying to eat the humans under the protection of the Black Panther and Forge.
Last Planet Standing
In other media
- Gladiator appears in the animated television series X-Men: The Animated Series, first appearing in Season 2, Episode 11 "Mojovision" but only as one of Mojo's robots programmed to look like Gladiator. The real Gladiator appears as part of the Phoenix Saga in Season 3, Episode 5, "Cry of the Banshee".
- Gladiator appears in the video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, voiced by Dave Wittenberg. He is among the Imperial Guard that works for Deathbird after she overthrew Lilandra, and the only Guard member fought who did not betray Lilandra; he is merely loyal to the throne rather than an individual. He has special dialogue with Iceman and Sabretooth (whom he mistakes for Wolverine). He can only be defeated by activating equipment around the battle area, thus weakening his invulnerability and giving the player the chance to hurt him.
- In The X-Men Companion, interviewer Peter Sanderson asks Gladiator co-creator Dave Cockrum, “How about the Imperial Guard? Can you give a key as to who’s who? The leader, Gladiator, is supposed to be Superboy…?” Cockrum answers, “Superboy, sure.” Later, Sanderson comments, “There’s the leader, Gladiator. Coming right from the Philip Wylie novel Superman was based on.” Cockrum replies, “That’s why we did that.” The X-Men Companion, “Interview With Dave Cockrum”, Fantagraphic Books, 1982, page 82.
- War of Kings: Warriors #1 (2009)
- X-Men # 107 - 108 (Oct & Dec. 1977)
- Uncanny X-Men #137 (Sep. 1980)
- Uncanny X-Men #155 & 157 (Mar & Apr. 1982)
- Fantastic Four #249 - 250 (Dec. 1982 - Jan. 1983)
- Rom Annual #4 (Jan. 1985)
- Fantastic Four #339 - 340 (Apr. - May 1990)
- Marvel Comics Presents #49 (May 1990)
- X-Men Spotlight on: Starjammers #1 - 2 (May - June 1990)
- Uncanny X-Men #275 - 277 (Apr. - June 1991)
- A 19-part crossover that ran through the Marvel titles Avengers; Avengers West Coast; Captain America; Iron Man; Wonder Man; Quasar and Thor between March and May 1992.
- Cosmic Powers #1-6 (1993)
- Imperial Guard #1 - 3 (Jan. - Mar. 1997)
- X-Men vol. 2, #90 (July 1999)
- Galactus The Devourer #5 - 6 (2000)
- Inhumans vol. 3 #3 - 4 (Aug & Oct. 2000)
- Uncanny X-Men #387 (Dec. 2000)
- Maximum Security #3 (Jan. 2001)
- X-Men #109 (Feb. 2001)
- Thor #34 - 35 (Apr. - May 2001)
- New X-Men #117 (Oct. 2001); #123 - 126 (Apr. - July 2002) & #133 (Dec. 2002)
- Thanos #6 - 10 (Mar. - Sep. 2004)
- She-Hulk #7 - 8 (Nov. - Dec. 2004)
- Captain Universe:Invisible Woman (Jan. 2006)
- Captain Universe:Silver Surfer & Captain Universe:X-23
- Uncanny X-Men #477-486 (Oct 2006 - July 2007)
- X-Men:Emperor Vulcan #1 - 5 (Nov. 2007 - Mar. 2008)
- X-Men:Kingbreaker #1 - 4 (Feb. - May 2009)
- War of Kings #4 (Aug 2009)
- War of Kings: Ascension #3
- War of Kings #5 (Sept 2009)
- War of Kings #6 (Oct. 2009)
- War of Kings: Who Will Rule one-shot (Nov. 2009)
- The Thanos Imperative: Devastation one-shot, 2010
- Annihilators #1-4 (2011)
- Annihilators: Earthfall #1-4 (Sept 2011 - Dec 2011)
- Infinity #3
- Fantastic Four #249 (Dec. 1982)
- Fantastic Four #250 (Jan. 1983)
- Thor vol. 2, #35 (May 2001)
- She-Hulk #8 (May 2006)
- War of Kings: Warriors #1 (Sep. 2009)
- Fantastic Four #250 (Jan. 1983); Hulk Annual (1997)
- Marvel Zombies 2 #1-3 (Dec. 2007)
- "Last Planet Standing" #1-5 (July–September 2006)
- Star Trek/X-Men One-shot (1996)