(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with Marvel Cosmic and its many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CosmicBookNews.com. He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)
In the days – and they might be on us again here, folks – when Marvel Cosmic pickin’s were a might slim – I satisfied my thirst for same with the X-Men and their encounters with the Shi’ar, Starjammers and – the Brood!
The Brood are a race of insect-like, parasitic, extraterrestrial beings. They possess wings, fanged teeth and a stinging tail. They have a hive mentality and mindlessly follow a queen. To reproduce, they must infect other races with their eggs.
These insectoid monsters are sadistic creatures that enjoy the suffering they intentionally cause others, especially the terror their infection causes their hosts.
The Brood have a civilization based on the typical communal insect societies, such as those of bees and ants. The queens are the absolute rulers, while the "sleazoids" (thanks for the term, Logan!) do all the work; despite their evil, they never rebel against their queens, perhaps due to the latter's telepathic abilities. It must be noted, however, that the queens have no allegiance to each other. They also have developed, or stolen, advanced technology.
Their true planet of origin is unknown, at least as far as I determined. (Anyone who knows different, see me on the CBN Forum). They arrived in the Shi’ar galaxy long ago, and began infesting many worlds, becoming deadly enemies to the Sh'iar. In this galaxy they found certain large space-dwelling creatures that they decided to use as living starships. These include the whale-like Acanti and the shark-like, er uh, Starsharks. The Brood use a virus that effectively lobotomizes the creatures, then they use bionics to control them. The Brood hollow out part of the creatures (by eating them) and use the space created to live in, like termites eating a tree. This eventually kills the living ships, requiring them to capture new ones.
One of the Acanti they captured was of unusual size (its rib cage alone was the size of a mountain range.) They used it as their main base, and, when it died and crashed onto a planet, used it as their main city. (Ew!) The corpse was so large, it took centuries just to rot halfway. However, predators from the planet they landed on infested the area of the dead Acanti's brain, so the Brood avoided it.
The first Marvel hero to encounter the Brood was the Kree warrior Mar-Vell, who is ordered to make contact with the stranded Grand Admiral Devros on an unnamed planet in the Absolom Sector, a region known to be infested with Brood. Mar-Vell's team, which includes the medic Una and the inflammatory Colonel Yon-Rogg, is ambushed by Brood warriors after landing on the planet and taken prisoner by the Brood-infected Devros. The colony's queen impregnates each captive with Brood, but Mar-Vell and Una manage to escape, destroy both leaders of the Brood colony, and rid themselves of their infections thanks to Una's modified omni-wave projector which is designed to eliminate Brood embryos. After rescuing Colonel Yon-Rogg, the trio escape the planet and are rescued by the Shi'ar royal Deathbird.
The Brood soon are allied with Deathbird to help her depose her sister Lilandra as ruler of their empire; as a reward, Deathbird gives Lilandra and the Shi'ar allies the X-Men and the powerless Carol Danvers, along with Fang of the Imperial Guard, to use as hosts. The Brood infect the entire party, except for Danvers, who the aliens perform experiments on because of her half-human/half-Kree genes. (That was a great Uncanny X-Men issue!) Fortunately, Wolverine's healing ability purged him of his embryo, and he helps his friends escape.
The Brood queen orders her forces to find them, until she is contacted by the queen embryo that is implanted in Cyclops. It explained that the X-Men are returning to Broodworld. Resigned to their dooms, the heroes help the Acanti race recover the racial Soul, a supernatural force that must be passed from one Acanti leader ("The Prophet-Singer") to the next. The Soul is located in a crystalline part of the dead Acanti Prophet-Singer's brain.
The queen herself goes with her minions to that area, and battles the X-Men until they become more Brood warriors. The Prophet-Singer Soul is almost infected by the evil of the aliens, and Wolverine tries to mercy-kill his friends and the queen but they are saved when Danvers, now a mighty cosmic being called Binary due to the experimentations, arrives and releases the Soul.
Before it goes to its next host, the soulforce cures the X-Men and Lilandra, and turns the queen into a crystal statue. It also causes the Broodworld to explode, but the X-Men and their allies, including Lockheed, escape alive. Some of the Brood also manage to escape before the planet explodes. The new Prophet-Singer then leads the Acanti to safety in deep space.
During the invasion of Annihilus and his Annihilation Wave, the Brood were almost decimated and the species is now reportedly on the brink of extinction. Some Brood appear in the arena of planet Saakar in Planet Hulk, one of them even becoming a main character. A Brood referred to as “No-Name,” who becomes a genetic queen because their race is becoming rarer, becomes the lover of insect king Miek and also appears in World War Hulk. When it is discovered that Miek was the one who let the shuttle that brought Hulk to Sakaar explode, "No-Name" and Hulk attack Miek. Near the end of the war the "Earth Hive," the shared consciousness of every insect on Earth, use Humbug as a Trojan Horse to deal a crippling blow to No-Name, rendering her infertile and poisoning the last generation of hivelings growing in Humbug's body. No-Name was a rarity among the Brood, as she learned to feel compassion for other living beings. That may earn her a WTD solo entry; let me know your feeling on the forum!
But No-Name notwithstanding, the Brood in general are nasty! They are only good in cosmic sagas on the other end of someone else’s blaster gun. (Egg infestation: Ew again!)