Posted by:
Byron Brewer

Brew's Crew: Captain Universe


(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with cosmic comics and its many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)



Captain Universe is one “character” that it is almost impossible to do a column on. For one thing, it requires a lot of updating if it does not run immediately. Secondly, this “character” has almost as many identities (hosts?) as Hank Pym!

It all boils down to the Uni-Power, really. The Uni-Power is an extra-dimensional force that possesses an individual (or on one occasion, twins) in a time of crisis, transforming that person into Captain Universe!

As Captain Universe, the transformed person typically retains his or her original personality and appearance, though with Captain Universe's costume and heroic traits superimposed over the original. The Uni-Power itself emanates from the Enigma Force, the exact nature of which, naturally, remains an enigma. It is believed, however, to be connected to the Microverse, home of the Micronauts. Although the Uni-Power typically empowers normal, non-super-powered humans, it has in the past empowered Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Commander Arcturus Rann of the Micronauts, a toddler and a dog, among others. Its counterparts in various alternate timelines have also possessed Mar-Vell, Reed Richards, a member of the alien Badoon race, a Doombot and Quasar. Because of its never-ending supply of energy it has been the target of many individuals, terrorist groups and peacekeeping agencies such as AIM, the Psycho-Man, Dr. Doom and even S.H.I.E.L.D.

The first human Captain Universe was an astronaut, Captain Ray Coffin. He battled Baron Karza and sealed the Prometheus Pit between the Microverse and Earth. Years later, the Uni-Power would possess his son Steve Coffin to battle Mister E and his shadow slaves. It next possessed identical twins Ann Stafford and Clare Dodgson to capture Nemesis, and then possessed small-time cat burglar Monty Walsh to stop mafia don Guido Carboni. It then possessed Dr. Strange and Commander Arcturus Rann to reinforce the space-wall between the Microverse and the Macroverse.

Afterward, the Uni-Force possessed Bruce Banner for the first time, to defuse a nuclear missile, and wound up battling Banner's own alter ego, the Hulk. Captain Universe was next among the heroes summoned by the Grandmaster for the Contest of Champions. The Captain Universe power next possessed Delayne Masters to defeat schoolyard bullies. It then possessed Evan Swann to stop the Quantum Mechanic from destroying the Earth.

At some unknown point, Captain Universe (Gabriel Vargas) is arrested by the Kree government for accidentally attacking a group of Kree who were killing people whom he thought were innocents but were actually sympathetic to the genocidal actions of the Annihilation Wave. For months he was studied by the Kree who, despite their highly advanced technology, could not learn much about the Uni-Power other than that the suit given to all users is actually a molecular shell and not spandex as was previously believed. Eventually Gabriel is released from prison and put into a highly aggressive session of training by the Kree military as he and several other prisoners prepare for a mission led by Peter Quill that will halt the Phalanx's technophage virus from spreading further. (It is not known if Gabriel and the Uni-Power ever determined the source of the Uni-Power's memory and power loss.)

During Spidey’s The Gauntlet storyline, a new Captain Universe makes himself known when he arrives on Earth with plans to kill Juggernaut. Spider-Man learns that Captain Universe is a man named William Nguyen who wants revenge on Juggernaut for ruining his life during one of his rampages. When he insists on trying to kill Juggernaut instead of fixing the tectonic plates beneath New York City, the Uni-Power leaves Nguyen and enters the Juggernaut. The Juggernaut, as Captain Universe, repairs the damage to the tectonic plates that was caused by him during the same rampage that ruined Nguyen's life. After a “healing” of the tectonic plates, the Uni-Power subsequently leaves the Juggernaut and is not further seen (Editor's Note: Check out recent issues of "X-23" -- Uni-powered Matt!).

A “Captain Universe” generally possesses superhuman strength, flight, Uni-Vision (microscopic vision, X-Ray vision and telescopic vision), telekinesis, enhanced senses and a psychic awareness of imminent danger; when a person already possessing one or more of these abilities was transformed into Captain Universe, those abilities were amplified by vast amounts. Some manifestations of the Uni-Power have demonstrated other, less common abilities as well as failing to exhibit some of the more usual powers, which vary in intensity with each wielder according to the strength and imagination of each.

A Captain Universe usually possesses the ability of molecular rearrangement of organic and inorganic matter, transmutation of elements, the ability to fire bursts of energy and concussive force and hypnosis (using the Uni-Vision energy). Possessing its own sentience, the Uni-Power can and will abandon a host if necessary, or if said host uses or intends to use the granted abilities in a detrimental or criminal fashion.

We look forward to the next adventures of Captain Universe, but remember that the Uni-Power has proven as fickle as the Phoenix Force!