Since his creation in Avengers Vol. 1, No. 28 (or rather my discovery of him later in the reprints world of Marvel Triple Action), I have held in my heart a soft spot for the Elder of the Universe known as the Collector. Perhaps because of the fact that I too am a natural collector (comics, Marvel and WWE action figures) that I appreciate the hobby of Taneleer Tivan, a hobby he fashioned for himself to maintain his own sanity after his wife lost the will to live and relinquished her immortality.
Am I stoked-slash-anxious to see actor Benicio Del Toro as the classic Elder in the Guardians of the Galaxy film this coming August? You bet your Power Primordial!
While he is considered a villain by most, there are several instances in his eons-long existence when the Collector was, to his mind, working for the good of Creation. Case in point: The Collector is gifted with the power of prophecy, allowing him to foresee the rise of a being powerful enough to pose a true threat to the Elders. His name was Thanos. To protect life in the universe, the Collector created a massive museum of countless life forms to keep them safe from the mad Titan. For a time, he even possessed one of the six Infinity Gems, the one which can control reality. Alas, he did not understand its power and thus gave it to Thanos in exchange for his fellow Elder, the Runner, whom Thanos was holding captive.
Of course, any Collector fan (there has to be more than one?) will tell you his utilization in the story of Korvac is by far his shining moment in the Marvel U. Intrigued by Avengers vanishing left and right, it was good during the original run of this adventure to see all the Avengers from teams past appearing at one time. The Korvac Saga ran in Avengers Vol. 1, No. 167-177 and was written by Jim Shooter and David Michelinie with art by the great George Perez and David Wenzel. In this story arc, we see the Collector’s hobby shine and begin to understand a little of the method behind the madness.
It seems that after Thanos was defeated by Earth’s superheroes, the Collector foresaw a second major threat: Korvac. Originally introduced in Giant-Size Defenders #3 and created by writer Steve Gerber as “a throwaway,” the cyborg from the alternate future timeline of Earth-691 came roaring into The Avengers to cause havoc. Also sensing that his end was at hand, the Collector made his own daughter, Carina, into a spy and living weapon, imbuing her with his own Power Primordial. In one of those great Marvel Cosmic moments, just as The Collector was about to tell the heroes who their enemy was, Korvac (in his 20th century human guise, New Yorker Michael) learned of his duplicity and used his cosmic powers to blast the Collector into atoms, proving the prediction of the Elder’s own end to be correct.
In a noble effort, the Collector had tried but failed to protect the entire membership of the Avengers from Korvac, although that was hard to recognize at the time.
(After the Collector is gone, Korvac slays a Celestial head full of Avengers. But sensing that Carina, who had begun to sympathize with the entity, now doubts him, Korvac committed suicide through an act of will. An angered Carina then attacked the surviving heroes and was finally slain by Thor. The entire battle was watched by sometime-Avenger Moondragon, who realized that Korvac only wanted to help mankind; his dying act was to restore the Avengers and their allies, the original Guardians of the Galaxy, to life.)
Sometime later, the Collector was resurrected by the embodiment of Death and, then as now, continues to play games across the universe with his fellow Elder, the Grandmaster.
Hopefully we will see some of his great collections in August at theatres near you.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” hits theatres in August!