Topher

In the last days we also got news from the upcoming second season of Runaways, and it seems like Hulu will be adding more elements from the comics… starting with one of the fan-favorite villains, Topher, portrayed by Jan Luis Castellanos. The fascinating and enigmatic Topher will introduce himself as a precious aid and ally to the group of teens on the run from their murderous parents, but of course, all that glitters is not gold, and he surely won’t make an exception. Even if he doesn’t glitter, as some modern writer would make us think. Spoiler warning for what follows…

Topher, surname unknown, was born some time before 1900, and by the age of sixteen his life changed forever: he was attacked and turned by a vampire, and by mutating he was doomed to look like a teen for all of his immortal life. He lived through the Great Depression, and in the 1940s he smartly played in the stock market and earned a fortune. It was during this time that he turned at least one person, who became his minion (another would have followed, so that he had an adult male and female as his servants). We know that he consumed also a mutant in 1979, but for most of the second half of the XX Century, he preferred to live away from the spotlight, hiding his vampirism, and living of his millions. Everything was great until 2001: Topher was among the many investors who lost everything in the Dot-com bubble, so he found himself on the road again. Along with his two minions, Topher turned to crime, taking what he wanted and when he wanted, living a nomadic life and always taking care of avoiding too much attention. He went from petty theft to petty theft until he tried to rob a convenience store in Los Feliz, California. It was here that he first met the Runaways, a group of superpowered teenagers who stopped him. As his minions escaped, Topher told his attackers a moving story about his origins: he pretended to be truly sixteen, and told the Runaways that his parents had been involved in a power plant accident that had turned them into super-strong beings, but that had also made them go mad. He also told them that his “parents” were the ones who had forced him to a life of crime, and that he wanted out. Most of the Runaways, recognizing in Topher’s tale a story similar to their own, asked him to join their group out of empathy; only Alex, their leader, saw through his lies, but for some reason he decided not to tell anything to the others, waiting for the moment Topher would have shown his true colors.

From his very first moment with the Runaways, Topher started to manipulate the group to his own purposes. Nico was the one who gave him a tour of The Hostel, their underground headquarters, and Topher was quick to seduce her, sharing a kiss with her in her bedroom. Nico, albeit intrigued by the handsome stranger, sent him away, as she was starting a romantic relationship with Alex, but the very next day, as Nico and Alex were discussing what happened, Topher did the same trick with Karolina… and Nico arrived they moment they were kissing. As Nico and Karolina started a fight, Gert intervened to calm the two of them, but Nico stormed out, followed by Topher. Finally managing to isolate one of the Runaways, Topher revealed his true nature, and tried to bite her… but as soon as Nico lost a drop of blood, the Staff of One emerged from her chest, impaling him. He healed in a matter of seconds though, and was stopped from killing Nico only by Alex, who hit him in the face with a burning torch. All the Runaways gathered to face him, but the vampire proved to be too strong for them: he defeated them one by one, without a sweat, until only Karolina stood standing. Topher revealed that, among all the Runaways, he wanted her to be his new minion, and she surprisingly offered herself to him: she was tired of running away all time, and of the impossible situation with her parents. Topher proceeded to bite her… not knowing that she was a Majesdanian, and that her blood absorbed solar power. Quite ironically, Topher burnt on the spot, reducing himself to a pile of ashes, killed by the very blood he wanted to consume.

Topher is a smart, manipulative and cold-blooded man, a cruel predator who uses any possible tool to stalk, trick and isolate his preys. As a vampire, he possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility and senses, he has retractable fangs and claws, and he can turn other people into vampires by injecting them with a particular enzyme while feeding on them; differently from other vampires, he showed the powers of withstanding attacks that would be normally lethal, such as been impaled with a wooden stick, to heal almost instantly from any wound, and to sense the state of the minions he created even from miles away. A beautiful monster who can be just as dangerous when he uses brute strength or when he emotionally manipulates his victims, Topher is a century-old vampire wise enough to keep his very existence a secret for decades, but who definitely didn’t lose his taste and skills for hunt during his years of seclusion…

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Cletus Kasady (Carnage)

We all saw this one coming, but it didn’t make it less tasty at all: during the end credits of Venom, Eddie Brock finally gets the exclusive interview he’d been speaking of during the finale, and we learn that he’s meeting the deranged serial killer Cletus Kasady, portrayed by the talented Woody Harrelson. Cletus promises that he’ll get out of prison and that there will be carnage… better, Carnage, as that’s the name comics readers have learnt to know him, fear him and love him with. Waiting for a sequel that makes a lot of promises, let’s take a look at the most deranged, violent and sadistic psychopath in the Marvel Universe.

Some people become monsters, some are just born that way, and Cletus Kasady undoubtedly belongs to the latter. Born in Brooklyn, New York City, he was the son of Roscoe and Louise Kasady, and although he wasn’t offered much love from anyone but Louise, he surely didn’t give any as well. As a kid, he was often left at his grandmother’s place. Things are unclear at this point, as sometimes Nana was said to be a fat woman in a wheelchair obsessed with Mary Poppins, some others as a thin and cruel elder who mistreated her grandson, but in a way or another, it’s a fact that baby Cletus grew tired of her, and pushed her wheelchair down the stairs, killing her. It wasn’t a matter of punishing someone mean to him, this as much was clear, as he also tortured, mutilated and killed Fifi, his mother’s dog, using a drill, while his mother was actually the only one who loved him. Roscoe, in fact, was scared of his own child, and barely looked at him. Then, Cletus tried to kill Louise by throwing a hair-drier in the bathtub as she was taking a bath, and this was clearly the point of no return. Louise snapped, and exasperated by her son’s violence she tried to kill him: Roscoe intervened to save his son, and during the struggle, Louise fell, hit her head and died. During the trial, however, baby Cletus told a whole other story, saying that his father was trying to beat him, and that his mother intervened to stop him, ending up killed. Nobody doubted him: he was a child, after all. With Roscoe Kasady in jail, Cletus was sent to an orphanage, St. Estes Home for Boys. His antisocial tendency didn’t make him the most popular boy in the orphanage, and everybody, from the other kids to the staff, bullied him. He showed them this wasn’t a good idea: when a girl laughed at him for asking her out, he pushed her in front of a moving bus, killing her instantly; then, he proceeded to murder the disciplinarian administration, and to burn down the entire orphanage, with all the other kids locked inside. Finally, he had come to embrace a new philosophy: life was meaningless, laws were words made up to make it look less scary, and he was in the world to seek the ultimate freedom… that is wanton, random and brutal chaos.

Consistently, Cletus Kasady became a serial killer, and he murdered at least fifty-five people before being arrested, even if he was found guilty “only” of eleven murders. Sent to Ryker’s Island, he shared his cell with Eddie Brock, a man radically different from him, and who came to despise him. With time, Cletus found extremely annoying all Brock’s blabbering about his “lost other“, and was about to kill him as well… but the “other” did come to the rescue, bonding with Eddie again to transform him into the powerful Venom, allowing him to destroy the cell’s wall and break free. Cletus couldn’t believe his eyes, and came close to the opening, only to come in contact with the Symbiote‘s abandoned offspring. The infant entered a cut that Cletus had made to his own hand out of boredom, and bonded with Kasady on a deeper level than Brock ever knew. The Symbiote was lost, and so was Cletus: together, they were whole. Together, they were Carnage. The new creature born from the symbiosis was terribly powerful, and totally deranged. Kasady believed that the Carnage Symbiote had been sent to him by chaos itself to better accomplish his mission, and he escaped prison with the precise intent to spread as much blood as it was possible. He chose his first victim, Gunther Stein, from the telephone book, and had dozens of other people follow him. He signed all crime scenes with his new name, Carnage, written with his own blood on the walls. He felt unstoppable… and apparently he was, as he effortlessly vanquished Spider-Man, who had come to stop him. In order to have a chance against this new foe, Spider-Man sought the help of the Fantastic Four and even of Venom, who hated his mad “son” even more than he did his nemesis. Even facing the combined might of all this heroes Carnage held his own, until he was incapacitated by sound weaponry and taken to the Vault, a prison designed for supervillains. He was, however, chaos incarnate, and nothing could hold him for long, not even the thick walls of the world’s safest prison…

Cletus Kasady is simply, totally and irredeemably mad: joyfully sadistic, he believes that life is a big, meaningless joke, and gives no value at all to it. People are his toys to play with, and death is the funniest hobby he can think of. As Carnage, his Symbiote gives him several superhuman powers, greater than Venom’s and Spider-Man’s combined: he possesses enormous strength and durability, superhuman stamina, reflexes, agility and speed, he can heal from virtually any wound, even lethal ones, and crawl on any surface, he can modify his appearance, size, and even colors for camouflage, and he can extend parts of his Symbiote like prehensile tendrils, even modifying their consistency and appearance to resemble blade weapons. With a connection to his Symbiote deeper than any other known one, Carnage is the ultimate serial killer, a deranged psychopath more powerful than any other known human-Klyntar hybrid, a sociopath driven by an insatiable blood lust that makes him the most prolific serial killer in the world… after all, life is nothing but a joke, right?

John Jonah Jameson III (Man-Wolf)

Definitely, the most unexpected appearance in Venom was the one of John Jameson, an astronaut known very well by comics readers… and who has only a disappointing cameo in the film. Jameson is the Life Foundation astronaut portrayed by Chris O’Hara, the sole survivor of the shuttle’s crash. He’s rescued by an ambulance, but since he’s “possessed” by Riot, he has it capsize as he attacks the drivers. He already appeared in Spider-Man 2 portrayed by Daniel Gillies. In this version, he’s again an astronaut (“the first man to play football on the Moon“), son of editor J. Jonah Jameson who couldn’t be more proud of him, and he’s also the fiance of Mary Jane Watson… who however leaves him at the altar as she realizes she’s in love with Peter Parker. None of these unfortunate portrayals ever develop the original John’s powers, nor they tap his shared history with some of Earth‘s mightiest heroes. Let’s see together.

John Jameson was born in New York City, the son of J. Jonah Jameson, the editor of one of the best-selling newspapers in the city, the Daily Bugle, and of his wife, Joan. When John was still a child, Joan got killed by a masked robber, an event that filled Jonah with a deep hatred and distrust towards all masked vigilantes. John grew up with his father, who simply adored him… and he did even more when John, as an adult, became one of the youngest applicants ever to be accepted in NASA‘s astronaut program. He excelled in his training, and rose to the rank of Colonel, becoming what JJJ would call a “true American hero”. His first mission, however, didn’t go smoothly as it should have: after orbiting around Earth, Colonel Jameson’s Forward Guidance Package exploded, causing him to lose control of the ship, and to fall down to Earth unable to land. The one who saved his life was Spider-Man, a masked hero who had been operating for a few weeks in New York: the agile vigilante climbed on the falling ship and mounted a replacement guidance module, allowing John to activate the parachute and land safely. This episode, however, didn’t quell Jonah’s grudge against Spider-Man, on the opposite, he manipulated the story in one of his first editorials against the hero. His second mission didn’t go any better: during a space walk, John Jameson contracted an unknown virus, that settled in his system with spores. Among the side effects there were a growing aggressiveness, and superhuman strength. Waiting to solve his condition, NASA scientists gave John a Jupiter Suit to control his new strength, advising him to stay calm for the time being…. but then Jonah convinced his son to use his new powers to go after Spider-Man, who had been witnessed robbing a bank. John accepted his father’s proposal to stop the criminal, but during their first encounter, he was soundly defeated. At this point, his rage started to mount.

Spider-Man himself managed to convince Jonah of his innocence, but even knowing this, the altered John wanted his vengeance, and attacked him nevertheless. During the fight, Spider-Man managed to lure John to an abandoned warehouse to contain the damage, and he super-charged the suit’s generators to fry the alien spores with electricity. The expedient worked perfectly, and Colonel Jameson turned back to normal. When NASA scientists deemed him ready to come back to active service, John was selected to be part of a secret mission, that required him to go with a team on the Moon to collect rocks… special rocks, actually. While on the satellite, Jameson found a unique stone that looked like a ruby, shining red, and he put it with the others… but when he came back to Earth, he started to be consumed with the obsession of owning that stone. He convinced one of his colleagues to help him retrieve it from the storage, and he even made a pendant with it. That same night, he visited his father along with his new girlfriend, Kristine Saunders, but he fell ill right during the dinner. As he was coming back home, the Moonstone in John’s necklace started shining, enlightened by the moonlight, and he transformed into a white werewolf-like creature, the Man-Wolf. As soon as dawn came, John came back to normal, but he was obviously scared. The transformation repeated itself for five months, and John found himself unable to remove the necklace, that had become attached to his skin. During one of these episodes, Man-Wolf went to the Daily Bugle, acting on instinct and looking for his father’s help… but Jonah obviously thought that the werewolf was attacking him. Spider-Man, who had come to tell Jonah to stop with his editorials, intervened, but he was defeated. During the two’s fight, Jonah had spotted on the werewolf the same necklace his son wore, and he deduced Man-Wolf’s true identity. He threatened Spider-Man not to go after the monster, letting John escape. Now, Jameson had a curse to deal with, one that could jeopardize his entire life…

Colonel John Jameson is a brave and serious man totally devoted to his duty, being it an astronaut for NASA, a special agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. or a Quinjet pilot for the Avengers; even if he usually tends to have everything under control, John is known to be quite a passionate man, as shown during his bitter rivalry with Spider-Man, when he had a fight with Captain America or when he fell in love and got married with She-Hulk. He’s a well-trained soldier and a superb pilot, but the Godstone gives him the power to transform into Man-Wolf during full moon: in this state, he’s totally out of control, a feral and instinctive beast with superhuman strength, agility and durability, enhanced senses, accelerated healing and sharp claws and fangs. As controlled as Colonel Jameson as he’s unhinged as Man-Wolf, John is a man with a curse, who has to learn how to find a balance in a new, complicated life… and not to harm those he cares about, of course.

Scream

There are four Symbiotes in total in Venom, all characterized by a precise color and, arguably, name and personality. The ones collected by Life Foundation are a black one (Venom), a grey one (Riot), a blue one (who appears to be an original character, as I don’t remember any blue Klyntar…), and a yellow one: Scream. This unique alien actually as short life in the movie, as it’s experimented on by Life Foundation over and over again, trying to find a suitable host for it, until it dies for lack of one. In the comics, it lives a lot longer, albeit not as long as its siblings. Let’s see together.

Scream was a Klyntar, a genderless alien blob who survived bonding with hosts from other species, but it wasn’t born on its planet: it was rather born on Earth, forcefully extracted from its father, Venom, and artificially brought to maturity by the scientists of Life Foundation, looking for a way to weaponize Symbiotes. Scream started its life in a dormant state, fully developed in terms of abilities and physical maturity, but not psychically active. In this state, it was forcefully bonded to Donna Diego, a Life Foundation security agent, who used it to become one of the first super-agents produced and hired by the Foundation. Scream was tested in Salinas, California, and Diego used it with a considerable mastership, until she was defeated by Spider-Man, who intervened to stop her. Back to the Foundation’s lab, Scream was employed once again, along with its four siblings Riot, Lasher, Agony and Phage, against the combined forces of Spider-Man and Venom. During the fight, Venom used a metabolic accelerator on the four Symbiotes, apparently killing them as they aged rapidly and dissolved. Scream and the others, however, weren’t dead, on the opposite the rushed aging had finally awakened them… just in time, as they saved their hosts from the collapse of the secret lab. Now, however, Scream wasn’t a super-suit anymore: it was fully awake and alive, and it started to speak to its host. Donna Diego wasn’t too happy about it.

Donna Diego’s psychic state wasn’t optimal to begin with, as she suffered from schizophrenia in the past, and the presence of another voice speaking in her head pushed her behind the line once again. Donna asked for the help of Scarlet Spider to locate Venom, to learn how to “silence” Scream, but she was refused… and she had a psychotic break, starting a carnage in Times Square. Here, finally, she was reached by Venom, who however nearly killed her, stopped only by Scarlet Spider’s intervention. Donna and Scream were found and taken away by the other four Symbiotes, and together, months later, they kidnapped Eddie Brock, who had been separated from Venom and put in jail. As time passed, Scream’s presence in Donna’s mind was eroding her sanity, to the point that she became psychotic. The woman’s madness infected Scream as well, and the Symbiote gained unusual powers even for its species: using this newfound abilities, Scream murdered its siblings’ hosts one by one, and prepared to do the same with Brock, but he rejoined Venom just in time, and defeated his deranged daughter. After this episode, Donna apparently found her balance again, possibly following the massive sound wave Venom unleashed on the world to battle the Klyntar invasion, and finally Scream was able to communicate with her without triggering other psychotic episodes. The two found a way of living together, and created a true bond. Donna even started to counsel other people who, like her before, struggled to communicate with a Klyntar bounded to them. It appeared that Scream had truly found a mate for life, even if an unstable one.

Scream is a Klyntar, and like most of its species it’s a peaceful being, only looking for a host to bond with and survive. As a Symbiote, it can bond with another organism (in this case, the human Donna Diego) to form a powerful symbiotic being, who possesses superhuman strength, agility, stamina and reflexes, invulnerability, shapeshifting and mimetic abilities; unlike other Klyntars, Scream can generate hair-like prehensile tentacles, and, contaminated by Donna’s schizophrenia, it can generate a Sonic Knife that can kill other Symbiotes. An alien who had the bad luck of bonding with the wrong human, Scream is constantly exposed to its host’s madness and, ironically enough, it’s the one element in Donna’s psyche granting some mental balance.

Roland Treece

Venom is finally out in theaters, and we can now confirm the identity of at least one character we saw in the trailer. The poor guy who got his face licked, before knowing the teeth of the tongue’s owner, is Roland Treece, portrayed by Scott Haze. In the movie, Treece is the chief of security in Life Foundation, Carlton Drake‘s top goon, who takes care of unpleasant business such as making eyewitnesses disappear. In the comics, Roland is indeed a part of Life Foundation, but he has nothing to do with security, and he’s officially a regular businessman. Let’s see together.

Not much is known about Roland Treece’s early life. He was American, most likely fromĀ San Francisco, California. It’s unknown whether he inherited his fortune or built it up by himself, but being it a way or the other, he ended up being one of the most influential, wealthy and powerful businessman in the country, CEO of Treece International. Because of his position, he was one of the businessmen invited by Carlton Drake to be part of his Life Foundation, a group that sold safe shelters from a nuclear holocaust to rich paranoids, an enterprise that could bring in millions of dollars. Roland Treece entered the Board of Directors, becoming an executive and obtaining a number of advantages. Treece was quick in using this privilege to ask for Drake’s help: among his projects, there was the digging of tons of gold allegedly buried under a park, the same park that hundreds of homeless people lived beneath, in underground tunnels and that Treece was pretending to be restoring. Treece had invested a lot of money in the project, designing and producing giant robotic suits named Diggers that, equipped to his men, were able to reach the gold in no time, but of course to do that he had to drive out the undergrounders… who were protected by the unlikeliest of heroes, the cannibalistic vigilante Venom, who had elected them his new compatriots. Venom caused much trouble to the operation, and Treece soon realized he urgently needed a boost in his security: this was when Drake’s resources came in handy. Pretending to be hiring Venom as his new head of security, Treece lured him on a helicopter, bringing him to a Life Foundation base in the Mojave Desert. Here Drake, who had been studying his Symbiote, captured Venom in a wall of fire, using his team of researchers to forcefully take five “seeds” from the alien, artificially growing them into five mature Symbiotes. These “children of Venom” would have been the perfect new security Treece needed.

Things became messy as, while the Life Foundation was testing their new Symbiote Guards on field in Santa Cruz, Spider-Man got involved, followed Scream to the base and managed to free Eddie Brock from his imprisonment and reunite him with his Symbiote. Treece, however, was still in San Francisco during the chaos that ensued, and he proceeded with his “park renovation project”: he had one of the undergrounders kidnapped, torturing him to learn the location of the gold that had sunken below the city during the earthquake of 1908 (the same that had buried also the buildings the homeless people now lived in). As the man didn’t tell him anything, Treece assumed the gold to be buried deep underground, maybe even below the homeless’ sanctuary, so he gave instruction to use a remarkable amount of explosives for the work, thus decreeing the end of the buried site. The operation was abruptly interrupted at the arrival of Venom and Spider-Man, who had meanwhile formed an uneasy alliance. Treece unleashed his Diggers on the two heroes, but they easily trashed the mechanoids; as Roland in person was about to trigger the explosives and bury the underground city, Venom knocked him out, risking his life crossing a fire to get him. On top of irony, the authorities arrived just as the gold had been found, so that Treece found himself forced to surrender all the gold to the government, rightfully claiming it for being on public soil. Despite the many evidences against him, a man with Roland Treece’s money couldn’t stay in jail, and he soon was free again. As he couldn’t resume the lead of his own company, Treece became Carlton Drake’s right-hand man, but this wasn’t enough for him: he planned to overthrow Drake and assume the leadership of Life Foundation, but he clearly needed an occasion to get rid of his esteemed partner…

Roland Treece is a greedy and ambitious man, a business shark who’s ready to anything to increase his already remarkable fortune and power. With all his resources, it’s easy for him to access some state-of-the-art technology such as the one used to create the Diggers, exo-suits able to make a regular guy a super-armed security agent (and digger, of course), and the affiliation to Life Foundation just extends his reach. A dangerous and treacherous man, Treece is a force to be reckoned with, but he always makes the mistake of assuming he’s the smartest guy in the room, while he surrounds himself with smarter and more dangerous “friends”…

Bulk

The Gifted came back, and albeit the first two episodes aren’t exactly fast-paced, it’s still very entertaining. No new characters more than the ones we already saw from the trailers yet, but one we already knew turned out to be an amalgamation of two separate characters: if the hulking Mark portrayed by Renes Rivera with his civilian name references Sunder, the nickname he assumes once he joins the Hellfire Club is taken from another character with similar looks and powers. In unMoored, in fact, the character is called Bulk, another known outcast in the X-Universe. Let’s take a look.

Bulk, real name unknown, was born somewhere in New Jersey. He was born a mutant, and when his powers manifested, giving him an abnormal size and a somewhat freakish look, he became a social outcast. At first, he tried to join the Morlocks and live underground with them, but something went wrong, and either because the Morlocks exiled him, or because he left them willingly, he came back to the streets. He wasn’t alone this time, though: he had met another mutant, another outcast with a monstrous look that nobody wanted around, going by the name Glow Worm. The two exiles became close friends, and from there on they moved together. Everywhere they went, however, there were people hating them for what they were, so they resolved to close any relation with the “normal world”, and elected as their home a toxic waste dump across the Hudson River. Here, Bulk and Glow Worm slowly were poisoned with radiation, but they didn’t care much: they wouldn’t have lived long, but after all life had nothing for them. Even in the dump, mutant haters still hunted them, and they found themselves forced to use their powers to defend themselves even in the place they had chosen as a tomb. With their death approaching, Bulk and Glow Worm decided they wouldn’t have gone quietly, though: they wanted at least to make an effort to cleanse the world of humans’ persecution against mutants, and taking inspiration from a newspaper article, they decided to attack X-Factor, a group of mutant hunters who were making quite a name for themselves. The two friends would have destroyed X-Factor, or would have died trying.

Finding X-Factor wasn’t hard at all, as the group had published an advertisement with their address on it, but taking them down was another matter entirely, and even Bulk and Glow Worm, who were pretty powerful in their own right, failed to destroy them. X-Factor, however, turned out to be something different than what the two mutants believed: as they were explained, hidden in the sewers away from unwanted eyes, X-Factor members were actually the original X-Men, who posed as mutant hunters to save mutants from real hunters, and give them shelter before anyone harmed them. Bulk and Glow Worm were interested in joining, but they had spent too much time in the dump, and they were now emitting lethal radiations: they could do nothing but come back to their “home”, losing the chance to give their lives (and deaths) a meaning… until some time later, when both Bulk and his buddy were terminally ill. As the High Evolutionary had launched a world campaign to cut all the evolutionary dead ends of the human species, mutants found themselves on the losing side, and many were killed, many others captured to be sterilized and have their powers drained: Bulk and Glow Worm were among the latter. Among the captives there were also the New Mutants, and one of them, Sunspot, managed to free many prisoners. One of his teammates, Mirage, was however still trapped in one of the High Evolutionary’s machines, that was draining her of her abilities: finally, both Bulk and Glow Worm, in their very last moments of life, had the chance they’d been waiting for, to prove that also their meaningless life had a value and a purpose, after all.

Bulk is a good man, who only knew refusal, suffering and hatred in his life, marginalized by humans because he’s a mutant, and marginalized by other mutants because of his looks. His X-Gene grants him a remarkable superhuman strength and durability, and his permanence in a toxic waste dump made him radioactive enough to be lethal to anyone who stands around him for too long. A reject even among his people, Bulk has only Glow Worm to keep him company, the one true friend in a world that hates and despises him: it’s because of him that he’s more determined than ever to give his short and painful life a meaning that will testify his passage on earth.

Selene Gallio (Black Queen)

The last character appeared in the Dark Phoenix trailer is a terrible disappointment, at least for me. The second newcomer in Magneto‘s Brotherhood of Mutants, the tattooed woman with purple hair portrayed by Kota Eberhardt, has been confirmed to be none others than Selene, the terribly powerful Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. Ignoring for a moment the fact that she doesn’t look at all like the original Selene, having her act as a subordinate of Magneto is a terrible waste, considering that she had all the potential of being the big bad of a movie by herself. Just to see what we’ve lost, let’s take a look at the Marvel Universe‘s most ancient mutant, even older than Apocalypse, wrongfully believed to be the first of his species.

Selene was born 17,000 years ago, in what millennia later would have become Romania. As a child, she developed mutant powers, thus being the oldest mutant known to history (definitely the oldest living): she could absorb other people’s life force to extend her own life span, and she inadvertently killed her own mother this way. Her tribe’s elders took her for the incarnation of the moon goddess Selene, and ordered the entire tribe, themselves included, to sacrifice themselves to her, allowing her to live to the Hyborian Age, before any recorded civilization, just after Atlantis had sunken to the abyss. Selene, alone and considering herself a deity, traveled the world and studied ancient and powerful magic, even becoming rivals with another powerful sorcerer of prehistory, Kulan Gath, the nemesis of Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja. Selene crossed the millennia, growing more and more powerful with every soul she consumed, and she eventually arrived in Rome, the most powerful city-state the ancient times ever knew. Within the heart of the Roman Empire, Selene, who had already extinguished cities and civilizations, simply craved the hundreds of thousands of souls living in a single metropolis (under Emperor Augustus, the city was inhabited by nearly 2 millions people, a never-before seen record for a single city). She, however, needed help to absorb this many souls, so she seduced a senator, Eliphas, a romantic poet who had just been abandoned by his wife. Eliphas fell deeply in love with the sorceress, and agreed to draw pentagrams in his own blood all around the city as she instructed him to, following the promise of an immortal life with her. Eliphas, however, warned a little girl to move away from Rome as soon as she could, and the girl told her father, who called the guards. Before she knew what was happening, Selene had been captured with Eliphas and tied to a stake to be burnt alive. Using her powers, she incinerated the guards with the same fire they wanted to burn her with, and she cursed Eliphas to an immortal life as a revenant, burying him alive and abandoning him. Then she resumed her wandering.

Selene had always wanted to be recognized as the goddess she knew she was, and she kind of obtained it in South America: by unknown means, she traveled to the area that would have become Brazil shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire, and deep in the Amazon she founded Nova Roma, having the Roman civilization reborn in culture, architecture, and of course in monarchy. She used her psychic powers to drive outsiders to Nova Roma, where they worshiped her as their deity. Selene spent centuries in Nova Roma, even marrying and having descendants. Her latest husband was one of the Nova-Roman senators, Marcus Domitius Gallio, whom she took the surname of. Despite her best efforts for keeping her location secret, Selene was found by Eliphas, known in modern times as Eli Bard: still in love with her, he wanted to conquer her back, and for this he brought an offering, one of the witch’s alleged descendants, Amara Aquilla. The kidnapped girl, however, was followed by he friends, the New Mutants, who found themselves quite outmatched against the Dark Priestess of the Amazon. When Amara awakened her latent mutant powers and became Magma, though, the group managed to bury Selene under a volcano, destroying Nova Roma in the process. Intrigued by the New Mutants, Selene broke free and followed them to New York City, where she found many incredible sources of strong life force. She rekindled her cult in the metropolis, then she tried to kill a man she had seduced, Cain Marko, sensing an unlimited life force, but she was prevented so when Marko entered a bar brawl with Colossus. Following the latter, Selene learnt of the X-Men, and she targeted the most powerful of them, Rachel Summers, only managing to kill her boyfriend Nicholas Damiano, though. Fascinated by a world that had changed so much in her absence, Selene used one of her worshipers, Fredrich von Roehm, to access the elitist Hellfire Club, where she won her membership bringing as a gift the defeated Magma and Rachel Summers. Scared by her, the Black King Sebastian Shaw offered her the position of Black Queen, that she gladly took… waiting for the moment the entire world would have known and worshiped her as the only deity.

Selene Gallio is an overwhelmingly cruel woman, an intelligent, patient and wise mass-murderer who devises centuries-long plans to achieve what she’s always wanted: godhood. As the Black Queen, she’s an incredibly powerful psychic vampire, who can extend her life span indefinitely and heal from virtually any wound, even mortal ones, by absorbing all or part of others’ life force; she can also imbue the exceeding life force in inanimate objects, thus exerting a sort of molecular-level telekinesis that allows her to move things with her will or even to shape them into humanoid golems at her orders, or in herself, thus augmenting her strength, speed, stamina, durability and reflexes; she remembers all the lives she has absorbed, and she can take psychic control over the ones she hasn’t drained completely; she’s also a formidable sorceress, powerful enough to be considered a candidate for the position of Sorcerer Supreme by the Eye of Agamotto, and she can cast a number of spells including but not limited to telepathy, teleportation, shapeshifting, necromancy, summoning of Darkforce and many others. One of the most ancient and malicious mutants ever, Selene terrifies friends and foes alike, and the ones who don’t fear her either hate her or love her, in both cases desperately. An evil as old as humanity, Selene sees herself as a goddess among insects, and rightfully feasts on a banquet that has been prepared for her since the dawn of time: the world, of course.