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Byron Brewer

Brew's Crew: The Topographical Man

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

By Byron Brewer

Look around the Marvel Cosmic firmament (what’s left of the old, or the NOW-new). You will be hard pressed to find an entity more complex in creation yet confusing in concept than … the Topographical Man!

The Topographical Man, which first appeared in Marvel Presents #4 around the mid-1970s, is described as being incalculably old, but its origins have never been revealed, to my knowledge. The Topographical Man possesses an arm-span of light years. Each hand contains a sun. Its body contains its own atmosphere and numerous people exist on its surface. Much of its surface is covered with sandy deserts. It is the antithesis of life, incapable of movement and feeds from the energy obtained by its energy “creations.”

Nikki, a Mercurian of an alternate 31st century on Earth-691, escaped the genocide of the Badoon by fleeing in a family spaceship. Her craft ran out of supplies just outside of Earth’s solar system, but she found a derelict ship whose crew had been killed under uncertain circumstances. She was able to survive on the ship and used it to find planets and hunt food.

In her travels, she found a large number of dead worlds which had appeared to support life. She encountered and joined the original Guardians of the Galaxy at which point they found the reason for the dead worlds and were consumed by Karanada (an Alpha Centaurian term meaning “The Emptiness that Devours,” a word used both for the Topographical Man and, in this instance, its component energy creations).

The Guardians were beamed to the surface of the Topographical Man (a Steve Gerber creation, natch!), although they did not realize they were not just on the surface of another planet until Vance Astro used their ship to burrow through the surface, come out the other side, fly off into space and view it from a distance. Starhawk led the other Guardians to the Convent of the Living Fire, where Nikki performed the ritual of flame, merged with the Godhead and assumed an immense astral form.

This form of Nikki’s then joined forces with the spirit of Vance Astro, who had been integrated into the Topographical Man as a result of a struggle with Karanada. Acting in concert, Vance and Nikki’s spirits and wills grew to the size of the Topographical Man, embraced it and destroyed it by forcing it to “engage in an act of love” which was violently opposed to its nature as the true opposite of life.

If the Topographical Man is indeed old and an alternate version exists in 616 space, it would be great in some other space-faring champions – perhaps Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy, if they ever leave Manhattan– ran across it. I’d love to see another adventure featuring the Topographical Man.

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