Scattered throughout the various Marvel universes are a group of cosmic
beings. They’ve held the Infinity Stones and plotted to end all reality.
They’ve crossed blades with the Silver Surfer, the Guardians of the Galaxy,
and the Mad Titan, Thanos. They are the last of their kinds, sole survivors
from the earliest civilizations in the universe. They have only three things
in common: a past shrouded in mystery, an endless life, and an intense, all-
consuming pursuit of an activity of their choice. Individually, we know
them as the Architect, the Champion, the Collector, the Grandmaster, the
Runner, the Trader, and many more. Collectively, they are the Elders of the
Universe. Apart from Galactus, the Elders are the oldest beings in the
universe, and they all possess cosmic power to some degree. Some Elders
are pretty obscure; you won’t find too many comics about the Gardener or
Father Time. Others are far more prominent: characters like the
Grandmaster, the Collector, and Ego have even appeared in the MCU. With a
vast scope of powers and a significant amount of influence in the universe,
the Elders make fascinating foes and allies.

6. THERE ARE OVER 1,000 OF THEM

Elders are traditionally the last of their kind, so of course, there shouldn’t
be too many of them wandering around the multiverse. Elders aren’t
always on the best terms with each other either, so they aren’t typically
seen in large groups unless a scheme is brewing. Needless to say, we
haven’t seen too many of them over the years. Less than 30 unique Elders
have appeared in Marvel Comics, and only a handful such as the Collector
and the Grandmaster have appeared in a Marvel film. From what we know
about the Elders though, there’s a potential to see many more in the future.
In Quasar issue#17 by Mark Gruenwald, the Elder known as the Runner
invites six of the world’s fastest individuals including Captain Marvel,
Quicksilver, and the Whizzer to compete in a race to the moon. Unsure of
the Elder’s motivations for the race, Quasar turned to the cosmic being Eon

for more information about the Runner and his intent. Eon tells Quasar that
the Runner should be harmless, specifically, that “He’s one of the more
harmless of the thousand or so Elders that I am aware of.” So we still have
over 1,000 powerful, immortal beings with odd, obsessive hobbies left to
discover. Exciting, right?

5.THEY KEPT THE INFINITY GEMS FOR A TIME

As if being a group of ancient, insanely powerful beings wasn’t enough, the
Elders of the Universe have had their fair share of overpowered objects
pass through their hand over of the years. One notable collection of objects
were the Infinity Gems, which six of the Elders kept before Thanos
collected them and created the Infinity Gauntlet. The Collector had the
Reality Gem, the Runner took the Space Gem, the Grandmaster kept the
Mind Gem, the Gardener had the Time Gem, the Champion held the Power
Gem, and the In-Betweener had the Soul Gem. Not every Elder knew the
true power that their respective gems possessed, which made most of the
gems easy targets for the Mad Titan. The two-issue miniseries Thanos
Quest by Jim Starlin recounts Thanos’ journey as he learns of the Soul Gems
power and sets out to possess all six gems. One by one, Thanos takes the
gems from the Elders. He takes the Champion’s gem after besting him in
single combat, makes a trade for the Collector’s gem, and plays one of the
Grandmaster’s games for his gem. Thanos used a power from one of the
gems he had already claimed to take the remaining ones.

4. THEY SURVIVED AN ATTACK FROM A “COSMIC CUBE”

In Brian Bendis’ Avengers Assemble vol 2 issues #7-8, Thanos summoned a
handful of the Elders of the Universe — including the In-Betweener, the
Champion, and the Collector — against their will. Such a feat is typically
beyond Thanos’ might, but the Mad Titan reveals that he is in possession of
a Cosmic Cube. Thanos gives the Elders a moment to react; the Champion
doubts the Cube is genuine, and the Collector naturally attempts to start

negotiations for a trade. However, Thanos only summoned the Elders to kill
them, and he promptly blasts them with the Cube’s power. It appears to be
a swift end for these Elders, although that would be far too easy a death for
cosmic level comic characters. As it turned out, the cube was actually a
man-made Cosmic Cube designed by the U.S. Army, which harnessed
interdimensional energy that Thanos didn’t quite understand. Instead of
killing the Elders, it transported them to the Cancerverse. The Elders met
up with the Avengers, who had a similar encounter with Thanos, and gave
the Avengers equipment from the Collector’s collection to bring them back
to earth and stop Thanos. In return for the Elder’s assistance, the Avengers
let the Elders keep Thanos and decide his fate.

3. THEY ARE COMMITTED TO A FAULT

An endless life is a daunting concept. As the Elders realized their lifespans
were almost endless, they chose an activity to give themselves purpose for
all time. Complete devotion to their pursuits helped focused their will and
gave them a reason to continue living when the rest of their kind died. As
this trend continued, the Elders eventually took names associated with
their chosen activity Collector, Runner, Caregiver etc. These commitments
did contribute to their longevity, however, placing one activity at the
forefront of one’s existence is bound to have some drawbacks. A notable
example of this was when the Runner refused to help an entire solar
system. In Defenders issue #143 by Peter Gillis, Moondragon recalled a
time when the Runner took her exploring across the galaxy. All went well
until they came across a sun that was about a decade away from going
supernova. As several planets in the system were inhabited, Moondragon
suggested they stop to warn the populated planet. Ever committed to
running free in the universe though, the Runner told her that even
something as simple as warning the inhabitants would go against his
mission. Without any further explanation, he simply told her that “all works
out for the best.” He certainly wasn’t hero material.

2.THE GRANDMASTER HAS A COLLECTION THAT RIVALS THE COLLECTOR’S

While one of the Elders’ signature traits is their all-consuming dedication to
their one chosen pursuits, they will occasionally dabble in one another’s
interests. In All-New Guardians of the Galaxy by Gerry Duggan, the
Guardians broke into a high-security bank to steal an item for an unknown
buyer. When they reached the rendezvous, all they found was a giant fish
floating in the middle of outer space. Inside the fish, however, was one of
the most impressive collections of rare items in the universe. Surprisingly,
the magnificent collection did belong to the Collector — it belonged to none
other than the Grandmaster. The Grandmaster proceeded to give the
Guardians on another mission: steal a Hujahdarian Monarch Egg from the
Collector. After they managed to steal the egg, they learned the heist was a
set-up meant to test the Collector, to see if he was truly himself after a
dramatic shift in the multiverse. Was the Grandmaster’s collection created
just another part of the test? The comics aren’t particularly specific on this
point. If that is the case, it shows that Elders can stray from their purpose if
a more pressing, cosmic-level issue presents itself. If not, the Grandmaster
may have become so obsessed with winning games that he needs someone
at their own favourite pastime.

1. ONE OF THEM KIDNAPPED CAPTAIN AMERICA

An Elder’s pursuit of purpose often leads them to some interesting
circumstances. For one lesser-known Elder of the Universe, this
meant facing off with Captain America. Father Time not to be
confused with the actual hero Father Time called himself the
“Dispatcher of Destiny.” Essentially, he searched the universe for
ways to mark certain events and to create legends. It’s a harmless
enough purpose in theory, although his interactions with the star-
spangled Avenger were far less than friendly. In Captain America
issue #383 by Mark Gruenwald, Father Time appeared on the 50th
anniversary of Captain America’s military career. According to the

Elder, it was the perfect time for the hero to complete his
transcendence to a legendary figure, which his fame had already
brought him to the brink of. All that was needed was a mysterious
disappearance and the process would be complete. Father Time
lured Cap through an interdimensional portal into the Realm of Myth,
where Rogers encountered legendary American figures such as John
Henry, Paul Bunyan, and even Uncle Sam. After facing off with Father
Time, Captain America and the Elder fell off a mountain into an abyss.
Cap found himself back in New York, unsure if the entire event had
been a dream.

Facebook comments:

Leave a Reply