What the D'ast? The Runner
By Byron Brewer
I have always loved the concept of Marvel’s Elders of the Universe, especially when they come together for some matter, as they often did in the late 1980s Silver Surfer series. The Elders, in short, are the last survivors of otherwise extinct races and are known for their personal obsessions which keep them from going mad. Collecting, gaming, fighting: these “hobbies” are pursued fanatically. And most of these Elders have achieved some level of cosmic power and knowledge.
Love the Collector. Love the Grandmaster. I even like Ego, not often recognized as an Elder but he is. The Runner … eh, not so much.
The Runner is a traveler and explorer who has lived for billions of years. He seeks complete freedom and to see all there is to see. As such, he has spent his long, long life traveling across and experiencing the universe, all at super-speed.
He is regarded by his “brothers” as one of the more pacifistic Elders. Oddly then, the Runner was among the Elders who conspired against Galactus and battled the Silver Surfer in an attempt to gain power in a new, recreated universe. The Runner wound up being converted into energy for consumption by Galactus, but along with other Elders who had been consumed by Big G, they caused the World Devourer “cosmic indigestion” from within. They all came out in a big cosmic loogie!
Leave it to the great pen of the late Mark Gruenwald, in Quasar I think, (Editor's Note: That would be "Quasar #17" - Marvelous Matt) to make the Runner truly interesting … or at least fun! The Elder visited Earth as part of a galaxy-wide project to find the fastest being in the Milky Way. Over a long-running story arc, the Eternal Makkari sought a means to achieve a speed to surpass the Runner. Eventually, the Runner sponsored a race between Earth-dwelling possessors of superhuman speed, including Makkari, Quicksilver, Whizzer, Speed Demon, Captain Marvel, Super-Sabre and Black Racer. Makkari outran the Runner during the race; however, this came at the cost of being stuck at super-speed. In this state, Makkari could only communicate with other super-fast beings such as the Runner himself.
The Runner had known of this super-speed technique but of course had not utilized it himself. Ultimately, the Runner declared the extra-dimensional “Buried Alien” the race’s winner, and took him to a “Galactic Marathon.” The arc ended by paying homage to DC’s most famous Flash, Barry Allen, (“Buried Alien,” get it?) who started the race later than all the other speedsters but still won it with ease. Cool, huh?
Months after Earth’s qualifying race, the Runner finally began his Galactic Marathon. Unfortunately, it was declared forfeit when the extra-dimensional Fooferah’s cheating was exposed and after Makkari, being trapped in an elevated speed state, forced “Buried Alien” (now known as Fastforward) to abandon the race to save him. Disappointed at the race’s outcome, the Runner returned to his traveling obsession and was one of the many beings summoned by Glorian to the planet Godthab Omega which was later assaulted by Annihilus and his army during the Annihilation War.
While the Runner’s fate, like many on Godthabthat day, remains unknown (yawn), I am sure we will see him pop up among the stars someday. I hope the writer with that plot will be half as talented as the late Mr. G!