Chris Peruzzi is a comic book superhero historian who is passionate about how today's comic book heroes are the new mythology for America.
What are the game changers?
Back when Scheherazade was telling her Arabian Nights stories she came up with Aladdin’s Lamp. The lamp was an object in the story of incredible power and was a true game changer transforming Aladdin from a street urchin to hero.
Objects like this are common in storytelling. King Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone and becomes king. A man accidentally buys a used Volkswagen that has racing stripes and turns out to be alive – then Herbie wins Monte Carlo. What we learn from these tales most of the time is that while the objects bequeath power or favors upon the protagonist, it usually is only a tool to bring out some truly awesome nascent power that was within the character all along.
In Marvel’s case, not so much.
Oh, there are objects just lying around the Marvel Universe that will bring great power with zero responsibility. Depending on the wielder, these objects have been used to create great good or great evil. I’ll introduce some of these things in a bit, however, what you should know is that they are artifacts of awesome power that, when brought forth in a story, should perk up your ears and allow you a moment of relief or dread.
For example, while it is not one of the power objects I’m going to talk about, Captain America’s adamantium/vibranium shield is a one of a kind tool that is virtually indestructible. In Captain America’s hands, it’s a weapon and tool used to defend liberty and justice. That same object in the hands of a villain like the Taskmaster (if you don’t know who he is, let me know and I’ll do a write up with four other obscure characters) becomes an object of fear and destruction. The Taskmaster can use the shield every bit as good as Cap – but where would he sling that shield and who would it harm?
When we look at these objects we should look at them in the same respect that any object in the hands of a skilled practitioner can be used as a weapon. When in combat with someone using a weapon, your job is to take the weapon away.
In the hands of a villain, it is his power and he’ll run.
In the hands of a hero, it is a tool and he’ll fight on.
Be on the lookout for these power objects when you read your Marvel stories.
The Book of Vishanti
Not all of the power objects in the Marvel Universe are used for evil. The Book of Vishanti, almost by definition, cannot be intentionally used for evil.
The book is the largest repository for all of the good, white magic in this dimension. It is written in several different languages and is blessed by the extra dimensional triad known as “the Vishanti”. The Vishanti grant power on mystical practitioners that they see as worthy – like Doctor Strange.
While the book itself limited mystical power (it’s been known to add its own pages when new spells are added), it still needs to be guarded and protected from people or immature magicians that may not be ready to use such power. While still a new practitioner, Doctor Strange used the book and attempted to resurrect his dead brother, accidentally making him a vampire. It is usually in the hands of whoever is the current Sorcerer Supreme within the Earth dimension as it’s been handed from the Ancient One to his disciple, Doctor Strange.
The counterpart to the Book of Vishanti, the repository of benevolent white magic, is The Darkhold, the ultimate book of evil black magic.
The Darkhold was created by the demon, Chthon. Originally, he created it to be a touchstone to this dimension. It is, in every sense, a thing of evil. It is the Necronomicon of the Marvel Universe. The use and possession of this book has been known to corrupt the wielder unless he has taken proper precautions and has significant strength of character to resist its influence.
The life of The Darkhold spans all the way back to the Hyborean Age of Conan, Red Sonja, and King Kull as well as the pre-cataclysmic continent of Atlantis. It is responsible for the creation (and destruction) of the vampires in the Marvel Universe and has also been known to confer cases of lycanthropy upon readers.
While there have been scores of redeemers that have attempted to tame and examine the evil within The Darkhold, very few have been successful enough to study the book unscathed.
A Cosmic Cube
Instant godhood – That’s what a cosmic cube can create. It literally can change reality. The holder of a cosmic cube needs only to think of what he wants and it happens.
People recently have become acquainted with a cosmic cube as being a power source and an object of destruction originating from Asgard. This power object was used as a weapon by the Red Skull in Captain America, The First Avenger.
The cube is more powerful than what Hollywood could dream up.
Originally, when the Cosmic Cube made its first appearance, it seemed to be a construct invented by the organization known as AIM, Advanced Idea Mechanics – led by MODOK or MODOC (Originally the acronym was Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing, which shortly changed to Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing). Under MODOK, AIM was able to extract an unknown energy from an unknown dimension and contained it in a cube. AIM lost the cube to the Red Skull. The Red Skull used this object to toy and torture Captain America. At one point, he used the cube to switch bodies with Cap in an attempt to destroy his reputation.
The cube got its most play when it fell into the hands of Thanos. Thanos used the cube to make himself into a god. When he seemingly abandoned the cube, giving the impression that he’d absorbed the energy into himself, it was an illusion. It was Captain Marvel who was able to get the cube and restore the universe with his cosmic awareness as a template.
What the cosmic cube actually is, for lack of a better term, is an egg.
Events similar to those that happened within AIM happened on the Skrull homeworld, creating the creature known as the Shaper of Worlds. The creatures that start as cosmic cubes are vulnerable and are molded by the forces that wield them. Therefore, the Shaper of Worlds has a very Skrull-like appearance because his mind and body were products of the Skrulls that held it. The scary thing is that we know that the being that the earth’s cosmic cube became was influenced not only by the Red Skull and Thanos but also by Captain Marvel and Captain America. Apparently, despite the Skull’s evil, the cube was more impacted by Captain America’s nobility and strength of character.
Earth’s cosmic cube evolved into a being known as Kubik – who like the Shaper of Worlds travels the universe looking for meaning to its existence.
The Infinity Gauntlet
Somewhere in the management of Marvel Comics there is a man who pitched the concept of the Marvel Superhero Squad – an adaptation of the Marvel heroes for small children. Ideally in the 600,000 foot view, this may have been a good idea. Get kids to know Marvel Comics. Introduce them to the Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, and Spider-man, as well as a plethora of others.
In theory, it’s a good idea… in theory.
With the creation of Marvel Superheroes for kids, you need to have villains that they can fight. And therein lies to true crime of what this show spawned. Marvel has very few villains that are not truly, seriously, demented and evil. The show tried to make Marvel villains into comedic bunglers. And it’s just not right to sugarcoat the natures of bastard characters like the Red Skull, Doctor Doom, and MODOK. These characters kill people... and like doing it.
Mostly, you can’t marginalize or make light of a character like Thanos.
Thanos schemed and successfully plotted the acquisition of the six “soul” gems. Why? Simply, it was to wipe out HALF THE LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE FOR DEATH. The collection of these six gems together made you nothing short of God. It was theorized that these gems were what was left over from the former being that was the ultimate power of this universe.
Each gem, by itself, would allow the owner to have some amount of power over some aspect of the universe: mind, soul, space, time, power, and reality. When they are used together, the power gem backs the other five. Thanos mounted all of the gems on the back of his glove and the collective artifact was known as The Infinity Gauntlet.
According the Uatu, the Watcher, the infinity gems (soul gems) cannot be destroyed. They must remain in existence to maintain the cosmic balance of this universe. Currently, the gems have been hidden by earth’s so called, Illuminati (Reed Richards, Iron Man, Professor X, Doctor Strange, Steve Rogers, and Namor) as protectors, swearing to never reveal their hiding places.
The Evil Eye
This spawned the legendary Avengers versus Defenders War.
This artifact through the manipulations of Loki and the Dread Dormammu led to the Defenders battling the Avengers in a typical misunderstanding that could only be undone through the team up of forces. Loki (blind at the time) attempted to use the Dormammu’s power to not only restore his eye sight but to also use the power of the evil eye to take over Asgard in search of the Evil Eye. Instead, Loki’s treachery was discovered by his erstwhile partner who used the eye to drag Earth into the mystic Dark Dimension.
Yeah, that’s how bad this thing is.
Aside from opening gigantic dimensional portals, it can create force fields, disintegrate objects, manipulate matter, and fire concussive force bolts.
It is currently in the care of Prester John of Avalon who has successfully kept it safe for a thousand years.
The Ultimate Nullifier
Okay, Marvel Fans, here’s a good trivia question – What’s the only thing that Galactus is afraid of?
Yeah, right the first time.
You got it. If you have an object of such incredible power that it makes Galactus want to pee himself, put it down gently and walk away slowly. You have too much power.
Listen, the first time I picked up a loaded gun the one thought that instantly came into my brain was that I would accidentally shoot myself in the head. Now, multiply that by say... a billion. That's how dangerous this thing is.
Now I know what you’re asking. You’re asking, “What does it do?”
NOBODY REALLY KNOWS! It’s that powerful!
Let me put it this way. It’s been theorized that this small, hand held weapon, can devastate anything it’s fired at – at the expense of the user’s life, if they are not focused enough on the target. It’s been postulated that a being with a significant amount of focus can fire it and eliminate an entire TIMELINE.
And I get nervous deleting posts on Facebook.
But the short answer is anything… ANYTHING… that can get the shock and awe of Galactus and get him to stop doing anything is power beyond your comprehension. Galactus has said, “It is as much a part of me as my heart itself.”
Don’t screw with it.
Marvel Power Objects on Amazon
There are more power objects out there than just these six. The Cosmic Cube is actually A cosmic cube - not THE - there are several and the things that hatch from them are even more terrifying.
I could have spoken about other more obscure things like the Wand of Watoomb, the Cask of Ancient Winters, the Orb of Agamatto, or the M’Kraan Crystal – but it would have been too much for one sitting and I have some consideration for my readers.
I figured that these are the things you really should know about in order to get a good appreciation of not only current stories but also on some of the more classic tales. I consider issues like Fantastic Four #50 and the entirety of The Infinity Gauntlet such stories.
These weapons or power objects do something to an ordinary story. They enhance it. They add zest. They up the ante and let the reader know that there’s more at stake than just a few thousand lives – usually, it means that it’s trillions of lives that are living on their knees for all of eternity. In the case of the Infinity Gauntlet that includes souls of the living and the dead.
While we don’t wish to see any of our favorite heroes gain the power of any of these objects, we certainly don’t want to see them fall into the hands of evil. And if it does, we definitely want to know what our protagonists will do in that situation.
© 2012 Christopher Peruzzi
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on September 21, 2012:
The best trophy room ever was in the graphic novel "Future Imperfect" with the Hulk. Rick Jones had everything you could imagine. Art by George Perez. Story by Peter David.
Domenick Dicce on September 21, 2012:
I am a fan of powerful objects when they are done right. Odin's trophy room in the Thor movie was a nice teaser of possible things to come.
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on July 31, 2012:
I see we need five more obscure Marvel Villains.
Not a problem.
And a profile on the Red Skull... Yeah, I can do that, too. One bio on Johann Schmitt coming up.
Dominique L from Oregon on July 31, 2012:
Oh! Oh! *waving hand* I don't know about Taskmaster, you should write about him. Also, completely off topic, I'm not a Captain America fan, but Red Skull seems really cool. Have you thought of writing something on him?
Your Hub is well done, and it was interesting to see all these things come together. I'm not a Marvel afficienado, and I knew just a little about some of this stuff, but it just never occured to me how they interact with each other. Now you mention it, The Book of Vishanti and The Darkhold are natural opposites that balance each other out, as it should be. Just never really occured to me before.
However, in your poll, I had to vote that the power objects are boring. I remember once being at a talk with some comic book writers and one of them said you should always fight the temptation to destroy the universe because then you have to keep doing it again and again and trying to top yourself until it gets out of hand, and I think this is the case with some of these items. Items like the Book Of Vishanti and The Darkhold (yes, I will keep talking about The Darkhold because, as far as I'm concerned, it is one of the greatest creations in the entire Marvel Universe) play off humans and can make a good story over and over and over. One universe destroying item makes a good story. Two and we're excited, not as much. Three? Yeah, I think we're done here.
So, sorry that I always seem to need to be contrary, just the way I am. I can't turn it off.
Patty Kenyon from Ledyard, Connecticut on July 30, 2012:
Awesome Job and a very Interesting read!! I loved how you brought classic tales such as Aladdin in the beginning and then worked your way into the superheros !!