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Brewer Report: Cosmic Cube "Tesseract"

Posted By: Wonder Worlock
Mon, 05/16/2011 - 15:35

Spoilers, ahoy!

(Editor's Note: I recently saw the "Thor" movie and noticed those that waited for the post-credit scene were scratching their heads after viewing. So if you are unfamiliar, M.E. Byron Brewer gives us a run-down on the Cosmic Cube - known as the "Tesseract" in the movies. - Man In The Trenches Matt)



When I think of the Cosmic Cube, I think of the great Jim Starlin comic book arc which ran through Daredevil, Iron Man, Avengers and especially Captain Marvel that was, of course, the first Thanos (powerful evil bad guy!) story. By becoming “one with all” in the name of his beloved "Death," he both achieves a long-sought goal and also vanquishes himself (with the aid of Mar-Vell, of course).

Like most really cool things in the Marvel U., the first Cosmic Cube appeared in a Stan Lee-Jack Kirby story way back in Tales of Suspense #79 - 81 (1966), and was established as a device created by AIM ("Advanced Idea Mechanics" - group of bad scientists) capable of transforming any wish into reality, irrespective of the consequences. The Cube was also a plot device in a story that introduced the Super-Adaptoid (Tales of Suspense #82 – 84, 1966).

The Cosmic Cube is actually a containment device created by various civilizations throughout the Marvel Universe at various times, including the Skrulls (alien race and creators of the Cube that would eventually evolve into the Shaper of Worlds), and various other, unnamed civilizations (whose Cubes were gathered/stolen by unknown means by The Magus in the Jim Starlin Infinity War story arc and the Goddess in the Infinity Crusade story arc). These matrices -- which may or may not actually be shaped like a cube -- are suffused with reality-warping energies of unknown composition that comes from the realm of the Beyonders (uber-powerful beings) .

Unknown to almost everyone in the Marvel U., including its creators, the nature of the mysterious energies are such that, after a sufficient but undefined period of time, the matrix will become self-aware and evolve into an independent, free-willed being still possessed of the original Cube's tremendous powers; the new being's overall personality is psychically imprinted with the beliefs, desires and personalities of those who wielded it as a Cube (e.g., the Shaper of Worlds, wielded for a long time by an insane and warlike Skrull emperor, immediately destroyed a large portion of the galaxy that it was located in once it became sentient).

The Cosmic Cube is not only in the comics. It appears in several films set in what I guess we could call the Marvel "Cinematic" Universe:

  • • A “hypercube” is seen in Howard Stark's notes (flipped through by Tony Stark) in Iron Man 2.
  • • The Cube is seen briefly in the film Thor in a post-credits scene. Nick Fury shows the box to Erik Selvig who, under the control of Loki, asks what it is, to which Fury replies “Power.”
  • • A Cube -- known in the film as the seemingly magical “Tesseract” -- will be involved in the Red Skull’s plan for world domination in the upcoming film, Captain America: The First Avenger.

On the comics’ Earth-616 (Marvel-Earth), the Cosmic Cube containment matrix was developed and created by AIM to further their ultimate goal of world conquest. The object is revealed to be so powerful that it drove MODOK --  another AIM creation who assisted with the formation of the Cube -- insane. Master villain and former Nazi the Red Skull (who is certainly receiving his share of press these days) obtained the device. Although apparently now all-powerful, the Skull became overconfident and was tricked and defeated by Captain America. It was found by Namor, but while battling the Avengers he lost contact with it, and it fell into the Earth. Later a shard of the Cube is also used by AIM to power the Super-Adaptoid, who is sent in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Cap.

The Red Skull eventually retrieves the Cube and toys with Cap, but is defeated when AIM uses an object called the “Catholite Block” to dissolve the Cube.

The Cube was eventually found (apparently having reformed) by the mad Titan Thanos who, like the Red Skull, wishes to control the universe (this also attracts the amorous attention of the entity Death). Although opposed by the Avengers and Mar-Vell, Thanos becomes supreme when he wills the Cube to make him a part of -- and therefore in control of – everything! Thanos discards the Cube, believing it to be drained of power, and is then stripped of the power by a dying Mar-Vell, who shatters the Cube and restores the universe. (Beautiful.)

A second Cube is created by a team of the Red Skull's scientists, but is retrieved by a strike team from the spy organization SHIELD before it can be utilized. Brought to research installation Project Pegasus, the Cube was stolen by villain and cult leader Victorius and was used to create the being Jude the Entropic Man. Both are neutralized when in simultaneous contact with the Cube (and the creature, the Man-Thing). The Cube is returned to Pegasus by Captain America and the Thing where it eventually transforms the alien Wundarr into the Aquarian.

During a battle to stop AIM from using the Cube once again, Captain America witnesses the Cube evolve into the entity called Kubik, which becomes a student of the Shaper of Worlds. Kubik returns to Earth when attracted by an anomaly possessing a fraction of its power, revealed to be the Super-Adaptoid. The Adaptoid uses its abilities to "copy" Kubik's abilities and banishes the entity, intent on creating a race in its own image. The Adaptoid, however, is tricked into shutting down by Cap. Kubik returns and then removes the sliver of the original Cosmic Cube from the Adaptoid that gave the android its abilities.

Kubik also battles the renegade entity the Beyonder, and reveals to the entity and the Molecule Man that they are in fact both parts of an incomplete Cube, and convinces them to merge their powers. This forms a new being called Kosmos, who becomes the pupil of Kubik. (M.E.’s note: How the Beyonder being explained as an Inhuman later in an "Illuminati" tale works in here is beyond even Captain Cosmos! Any theories for the CBN forum, guys?)

The Magus -- an evil version of Adam Warlock -- acquires five Cosmic Cubes from neighboring universes, with each appearing in a different geometric form. The Magus uses mechanical aids to manipulate the Cubes, as their combined presence would quickly cause permanent brain damage. The character uses the Cubes to create an evil doppelganger of almost all of the Marvel heroes and then alters the universe, but is tricked and defeated when acquiring the Infinity Gauntlet, as the Reality Gem is revealed to be a fake, thus creating a gap in his powers.

Although the Magus is defeated, Warlock's "good side" -- the female the Goddess -- also appears and wishes to purge the universe of all evil. To do this the character collects 30 containment units, with each storing the power of a Cosmic Cube, and merges them into a Cosmic Egg. Despite the fact that the Egg can fulfill the Goddess' wishes -- although, unlike the Infinity Gauntlet, it has no power over the Soul -- the character is defeated by Warlock and Thanos. During this time the two questioned Mephisto (evil being similar to the Devil) about the origins of the Cubes in exchange for giving a Cube to the demon, but they were able to cheat the deal by giving Mephisto a drained Cube as he never specified that the Cube had to still be functional.

Another Cube appears in the 31st century: wielded once again by the Red Skull. Together with Captain America, the pair battle Korvac, with the Skull using the Cube to scatter Korvac across six dimensions. A Cosmic Cube was one of the twelve items of power sought by the Avengers and the Justice League of America when they competed against each other in a game organized by entities Krona and the Grandmaster, during which Green Lantern Kyle Rayner was able to use the Cube as a substitute power source for his power ring when his usual battery had been stolen, the Batman briefly attempting to use the Cube to end the game -- having been filled in on its capabilities by Captain America -- before Grandmaster took it from him.

The Red Skull finally created one by using pieces of the previous Cubes and Aleksander Lukin wants it bad. The Red Skull is assassinated by the one person that Lukin was willing to trade for the Cube -- the Winter Soldier. In the process of being assassinated, the Skull uses the Cube's power to transfer his mind into the body of Lukin for some time.

A youth called Curtis Doyle becomes the hero Freedom Ring when he finds a fragment of the original Cube in the form of a ring, which allows the altering of reality in a very limited area. The character dies in battle saving Captain America, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman and Wolverine from the villain Iron Maniac. The ring is later found by a friend of Doyle.

The powerful entity D’Spayre attempted to enhance his power by using a Cosmic Cube to draw on the grief of the general public in the aftermath of Cap’s “assassination,” only for his use of the Cube to have an apparently unintended side-effect when it granted the “wish” of those who wanted Captain America back by drawing the Invaders into the present. He was defeated in a confrontation with the New Avengers when Echo proved immune to his powers due to her deafmess, allowing her to take the Cube from him.

A Cube is also given to our hero Star-Lord (Guardians of the Galaxy) by the time-traveling Kang to use against the Magus. However, the Magus altered perceptions to make it seem like the Cube's power was used up. Star-Lord used the Cube's last bit of energy for real by subduing a reborn Thanos.

The Absorbing Man becomes capable of assimilating the abilities of a fraction of a Cube, but is stopped by Norman Osborn, who uses a mystic sword (provided by Loki) to neutralize the Absorbing Man's abilities.

Where one of the Cosmic Cubes will show up next – in comic book or film -- is anyone’s guess!

For even more on the Cube, head on over to the CBN CosBlog.