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Take 10: Marvel's Greatest Cosmic Characters

As part of Annihilation Week, Marvel.com’s Secret Cabal selects the coolest cosmic superstars in the Marvel Universe

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By Ben Morse Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. This week, as part of Annihilation Week, the Cabal tackled the topic of the greatest cosmic characters in Marvel history. Check out who made the cut, why they light up the stars and awesome comics you can check out on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited for interstellar awesomeness. 10. THE SUPREME INTELLIGENCE First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #65 Find Out Its Deal… Here Why It Makes The List: "He is the collective consciousness of the Kree race! He's everything they have been, are, and ever will be! And he's a manipulative meanie! He's a right jerk—but he's still awesome!" –Secret Cabal member Agent M Finest Moment: At the height of the Kree-Shi'ar war chronicled in "Operation: Galactic Storm," the Intelligence detonated a Nega-Bomb over his own Kree people in hopes of jumpstarting their evolution. Unfortunately for Supremor, the bomb killed

millions instead, but when a group of Avengers thought they had executed him against the wishes of half the team, the Intelligence actually simply beamed to another storage unit, leaving a rift among his greatest enemies in his wake. Watch It Shine in… FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #65, the first appearance of the Supreme Intelligence

9. WARLOCK First Appearance: NEW MUTANTS v1 #18 (1984) Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: One of writer Chris Claremont's most unique creations, aided by the one-of-a-kind art style of Bill Sienkiewicz, Warlock made the already charmingly bizarre NEW MUTANTS even more far out. Warlock's freaky outer appearance and gentle, playful inner nature made for a fascinating contrast that led to the character becoming an unlikely fan favorite. Finest Moment: Warlock's battle with the ridiculous but incredibly powerful Impossible Man made for a confrontation only Salvador Dali could have fully appreciated. After the two shape-shifters match and one-up each other with every crazy form imaginable, Warlock pulls out his ace in the hole: the ability to change color. Watch Him Shine In… NEW MUTANTS ANNUAL #3, Warlock vs the Impossible Man

8. THE IMPERIAL GUARD First Appearance: X-MEN v1 #107 (1977) Find Out Their Deal… Here Why They Makes The List: The largest, most diverse and flat out coolest array of varied powers and skills anywhere in the Marvel Universe, the Shi'ar Imperial Guard at full strength should be able to handle just about any threat. With costumes that haven't wandered too far from their original Dave Cockrum designs over the years, the Imperial Guard makes for a visually impressive assemblage that kicks major ass. Finest Moment: When the Imperial Guard first made the scene to confront the X-

Men on behalf of Shi'ar Emperor D'Ken, their initially flurry had even Wolverine peeing his pants. Led by the nigh indestructible Gladiator and his rad Mohawk, the Guard made a first impression on the Children of the Atom, and Marvel readers that would last a lifetime. Watch Them Shine In… X-MEN v1 #107, the first appearance of the Imperial Guard

7. ADAM WARLOCK First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #66 Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: Starting out as a man-made god produced by a group of Earth-bound scientists, Adam Warlock has evolved many times over the years and been the pivot for a wealth of thought-provoking stories on the nature of power, religion and more. In the 70's, Adam explored his nature as a would-be messiah and sought answers to his existence. In the 90's, he became central focus of the action-packed Infinity trilogy. Now Adam has returned once more in ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST, and there's no telling what the future

holds for this ever-adapting character. Finest Moment: Returning from a peaceful death, Adam plays the reluctant hero, proving the only one capable of leading the troops against the omnipotent Thanos during INFINITY GAUNTLET. Ultimately wresting the Gauntlet for himself, Warlock also proves the only being in the universe able to wield the power for the greater good instead of selfish means, dispersing the Infinity Gems. Watch Him Shine In… INFINITY WAR #1, Adam goes to war with evil twin the Magus

6. GALACTUS First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #48 (1966) Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: Besides being one of Jack Kirby's most impressive visual creations—and that's really saying something—Galactus redefined the term "larger than life" when it came to the Marvel Universe. Forget Dr. Doom, Magneto and the rest—they're just villains, not a force of nature. Beyond good and evil and comprehension, when Galactus shows you know you're in for a huge story. Finest Moment: During ANNIHILATION, Annihilus made the error of thinking he could imprison Galactus and leech energy off the World Eater's body. Huge mistake as the Big G busted loose—thanks to some help from Drax—and vented his rage over several splash pages, turning the tide of war. Watch Him Shine In… FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #49, Galactus' first battle with the Fantastic Four

5. CAPTAIN MARVEL First Appearance: MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #12 Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: The Kree that broke the mold, Mar-Vell proved the exception to the rule of his warmongering race, showing compassion and depth as he turned on a cushy life as a hero among his own people in order to risk his neck us mere Earthlings. Marv may have never really fit in among the humanity he had so much affinity for, but he didn't mind—a true hero never does.

Finest Moment: For Captain Marvel, his death defined him as much as his life. Cancer eating away at him, denied a warrior's death, Mar-Vell's bedside played host to Earth's Mightiest Heroes, space-born gladiators, and so many others inspired by Marv's example, even representatives of the Kree, who pardoned the man they had long ago condemned and recognized him as the beacon of hope he had proven himself to be. Watch Him Shine In… CAPTAIN MARVEL v1 #1, Mar-Vell cuts loose in his own solo series

4. PHOENIX First Appearance: X-MEN v1 #101 (as Phoenix) Find Out Her Deal… Here Why She Makes The List: The saga of the Phoenix and its possession of Jean Grey showed both the brightest and darkest aspects of humanity. In saving reality from the mad Emperor D'Ken, Jean as Phoenix demonstrated our indemonstrable will and determination to succeed against all odds. During her time as Dark Phoenix, she showed how easily we can succumb to temptation, wiping out an entire race for the intoxicating thrill of it all. In the end,

Phoenix chose to end her own life rather than giving over to her dark side again, putting a poignant end to a compelling story. Finest Moment: Saving the universe always seemed more the Avengers' M.O. in the early days than the X-Men, who proved world-savers at best, but Phoenix changed all that when she led the charge against D'Ken, brushing off his Imperial Shi'ar army and repairing the M'Kraan crystal before reality could be torn asunder. Watch Her Shine In… X-MEN v1 137, Phoenix sacrifices herself rather than become Dark Phoenix again

3. NOVA First Appearance: NOVA v1 #1 Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: Few in the Marvel Universe have followed the kind of truly epic heroic journey that Rich Rider has traveled down on his road from Long Island to the Kree galaxy and beyond. An average teenager by all accounts gifted with power he had done nothing to deserve, saying Rich found himself over his head from the beginning would be an understatement. But time and again, the man called Nova has shown that even the unlikeliest of heroes can emerge as the

greatest of champions, saving his world and even his universe. And yet probably the most appealing aspect of Nova remains that normal guy dropped in the heart of chaos who serves as our everyman in the fantastic world of the Marvel Universe. Finest Moment: It's hard to top his coup de grace from last year's Annihilation event, taking on would-be universal demigod Annihilus mano-a-insectoid and overcoming both the odds and his powerful foe to save all creation. Watch Him Shine In… ANNIHILATION: PROLOGUE, Rich Rider becomes the last surviving member of the Nova Corps

2. THE SILVER SURFER First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #48 (1966) Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: The original cosmic star of the Marvel Universe, the Silver Surfer remains among the most beloved over 40 years later. His basic but beautiful visual design, created by Jack Kirby and refined by the likes of John Buscema, still inspired gorgeous artistic efforts. The prosaic dialogue made famous by Stan Lee might sound quirky coming out of the mouth of another character, but when the Surfer gives a soliloquy, it just feels right. And after all this time, the Shakespearean tragedy of a man who gave his freedom to save his world and entered into an eternal battle with his conscience as result remains fodder for amazing stories. Finest Moment: When the Surfer first made the scene as the

herald of Galactus, warning of doom for the Earth, he immediately came off as impressive. But when he stood to his all-powerful master after seeing the potential for good in humanity, making yet another immeasurable sacrifice, this time for a people he didn't even know, he took his deserved place in the Marvel pantheon of legendary heroes. Watch Him Shine In… SILVER SURFER v1 #1, the origin of the Silver Surfer

1. THANOS First Appearance: IRON MAN v1 #55 Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: Upon first glance, Thanos may appear to be nothing more than a mid-level bruiser with some semi-impressive powers, but it's his brilliant, scheming mind that places him on a level above most of the Marvel Universe—it's no accident that just about every major cosmic event of the last four decades have seen the Mad Titan somewhere in the thick of things. In addition to his ability to outwit and outmaneuver even gods, Thanos' motivation makes him endlessly fascinating: he kills not for port or even power, but for the love of a woman he can never truly please—Death herself. A fleet of psychologists could spend the rest of their careers trying to understand Thanos of Titan and he'd likely still remain our favorite cosmic enigma. Finest Moment: While his time with the Infinity Gauntlet certainly

marked a major triumph, his road to claiming the gems stands out as even more impressive. Thanos' masterful manipulation of the godlike Elders of the Universe proved nothing short of genius, whether tricking Champion into destroying a planet and thus having to surrender his power gem in exchange for transport or freeing the In-Betweener from imprisonment by his masters and then swiping his soul gem while they visit their wrath upon him. Watch Him Shine In… INFINITY GAUNTLET #1, Thanos claims omnipotence and kill half the universe

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