Real Name: Dr. Thomas "Thom" Joseph Lightner
Identity/Class: Human mutate turned magic-user;
originally from Earth-616, exchanged "natures" with a native of Earth-712 (see below)
Occupation: Wizard Supreme of Earth-712;
former destroyer of Universes;
former research scientist
Group Membership: Nth Command, Roxxon Oil;
former employee (traitor) to Project: PEGASUS
Affiliations: Squadron Supreme (very loose alliance),
Benjamin Jones (confidant);
formerly merged with own father, Raymond Lightner, as Blacksun;
Don Blake (saved his life);
Human Torch (Johnny Storm, kept him alive until they reached Blake);
former member of Nth Command (sub-division of Roxxon);
allied with Deathlok robot, Grapplers (Letha, Poundcakes, Screaming Mimi, Titania), Thundra;
Nuklo (pawn), Professor Imam (communicator);
Apparition, Erl King, Kismet, Master Alternity (a bunch of unseen cosmic entities of Earth-712; see comments);
see also the Catalogue of Correspondences for Oshtur from Ian McNee's reading of the First Tarot;
Enemies: Aquarian (Wundarr), Doc Savage (Clark Savage), Giant-Man
(Bill Foster), Human Torch (Johnny Storm), Andrew "Monk" Mayfair,
Project: PEGASUS, Quasar (Wendell Vaughn), John "Renny" Renwick, Thing (Ben Grimm);
Haywire (Hal Danforth), Inertia (Edith Freiberg), Master Menace, Scarlet Centurion, Overmind and New World Order of Earth-712 (or at least the version associated with Earth-712);
formerly the Squadron Supreme of Earth-712 (Dr. Spectrum/Joe Ledger, Hyperion, Lady Lark/Skylark/Linda Lewis, Moonglow/Arcanna Jones, Power Princess/Zarda, Whizzer/Stanley Stewart) )
Known Relatives: Lucinda Lightner (mother), Dr. Raymond Lightner (father, also Blacksun), and Janice Catherine Lightner (twin sister)
Aliases: Wizard Supreme, Blacksun, Operative X (as part of Nth Command), Nth Man
Place of Birth: Stony Point, New York, Earth-616
Base of Operations: Earth-712 (aka Earth-S);
formerly seven other, unspecified dimensions;
formerly Earth-616, including Project: PEGASUS, and a private research facility
Education: Ph.D. in Solar Physics
First Appearance: (Blacksun) Marvel Two-In One#21
(Nth Man); Marvel Two-In-One#58 (December, 1979);
(Mysterium, named) Squadron Supreme: New World Order (September, 1998)
Powers: Mysterium has magical powers, presumably on par with Dr. Strange.
As Blacksun, he could absorb all heat and light, and possessed a powerful gravity well, much like a black hole. He possessed great strength (@ Class 100) and durability. He could also bend matter and energy about his body to prevent them from striking him. Dr. Raymond Lightner's mind was dominant, although both were active.
As the Nth
Man, he served as a living space warp, "a sentient singularity, drawing
matter and energy into the nigh-infinite dimensions" of his own form.
He could absorb all forms of matter and energy, growing larger and more
powerful as he did so. There was no limit to this, and he would
continue to enlarge until he absorbed an entire universe, at which
point he would break through the dimensional barriers into another
universe, and start the process all over again. He was vulnerable to
nullifying his powers, such as via the null-field of the Aquarian. As
he grew larger and more powerful, even this sort of attack, as well as
attempts to shunt him into another dimension, would have limited
effect. Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 190 lbs.
Height: 6' 1"
History: (Marvel Two-In-One#21 (fb) - BTS) - In 1936, Dr. Raymond Lightner developed the Sky-Cannon to harness the power of the stars. His wife, Lucinda, was frustrated by his obsession and lack of interest in her newly announced pregnancy, and upon hearing his intent to claim the power of the stars, she called him mad. Unwilling to tolerate being called that by anyone, Raymond struck his wife.
(Marvel Two-In-One#21 (fb) - BTS) - Lucinda Lightner sought the aid of adventurer Doc Savage and his allies Monk and Renny to stop her husband's mad quest for power. They were too late to stop him, but Savage's auto-gyro intercepted the star-beam from the Sky Cannon. The beam reflected back and struck Lightner himself. The energies sent both Lightner and Savage and his allies hurtling forward in time to the modern era.
(Marvel Two-In-One#21 (fb) - BTS) - Raymond Lightner died.
(Marvel Two-In-One#21 (fb) - BTS) - Lucinda gave birth to twin children, Thomas Joseph and Janice Catherine Lightner.
(Marvel Two-In-One#21 (fb) - BTS) - Lucinda told Janice, at least, how their father had gone mad before his death.
(Marvel Two-In-One#21 (fb) - BTS) - Thomas ran the estate (presumably upon reaching the age of 18 years old).
(Marvel Two-In-One#21 (fb) - BTS) - Lucinda Lightner left the family mansion to Janice.
(Marvel Two-In-One#21 (fb) - BTS) - Thomas became an inventive genius, but he refused to work for others. When Tony Stark offered him a research grant with no strings attached, Thomas refused, considering it charity. The prouder Thomas grew, the less he understood when others tried to give him a chance.
Thomas eventually started to brood and to drink, and he soon squandered the family fortune rebuilding the Sky Cannon from his father's notes, as well as in casinos, on phony stocks, and (at least as presumed by Janice) on women. The creditors took everything but the house, which Lucinda had ensured they couldn't touch.
(Marvel Two-In-One#21 (fb)) - When Thomas demanded Janice give him the family mansion, she refused, and he told her she was killing him. When Janice told Tom he was acting just the way their mother said their father had acted before he died, Thomas argued that their father had been on to something, a way to get back at those who exploited his practical ideas and laughed at his theories. Thomas continued that his father's theories would have made him not only rich but would have given him the power to stop the laughter forever, and that he was going to stop those who laughed at him. Ignoring Janice's warnings of how their father had died trying to do that, Thomas dragged Janice by the wrist into their father's observatory, where he showed her the rebuilt Sky Cannon.
When Janice asked him if father's death wasn't enough, Thomas struck her in the face, noting that the cannon hadn't killed Raymond Lightner, but rather that it was the mockery of men who weren't fit to lick his shoes...and that it was the same men who mocked him, and they would never laugh at him again.
(Marvel Two-In-One#21) - Janice Lightner recruited the Thing and the Human Torch to stop her brother's mad quest for power. They were too late to stop him, although the star-beam from the Sky Cannon struck their Fantasti-car. The beam was reflected back on Lightner himself. The replication of Raymond Lightner's energies created a connection with that previous experiment, pulling Raymond Lightner (and Doc Savage, Renny, and Monk) foward in time. Raymond, filled with the energies of the Sky Cannon, merged with the similarly energized form of his son Thomas, transforming into Blacksun.
The heroes of the past and modern eras joined forces in an effort to stop Blacksun. This proved futile, and Blacksun easily overpowered the entire group. As the cloud cover shifted away, Blacksun could feel the energies of the distant stars filling him with power, and he rose to escape the confines of Earth. However, his body could not contain the vast energies it was absorbing, and he collapsed to the ground inert. With Blacksun's energy disruption at an end, Raymond Lightner, as well as Doc Savage and his allies, returned to 1936.
(Marvel Two-In-One#22, 23) - Blacksun appeared to be dead, but the Human Torch reasoned that filling the star-powered Blacksun's form with heat energy would prevent his body from undergoing cellular decay, and keep him alive until they could reach a doctor. Naturally, the only doctor good enough to help him was Don Blake. They reached Blake, but lost him as Thor (and the Thing) were transported to Heliopolis to fight off an attack by Seth, the Egyptian death god. The Torch kept Blacksun filled with heat energy until Thor/Blake could return.
(Marvel Two-In-One#58(fb)/42) - Blake saved Blacksun, restoring him to normal. Thomas Lightner was judged innocent of Blacksun's actions, as it was determined that he had been driven temporarily insane by the power. Upon his release, Lightner was contacted by Nth Command, an organization seeking a monopoly on all energy research. They hired him to infiltrate Project: PEGASUS and destroy it from within. Lightner accepted their offer, seeking to regain the power he possessed as Blacksun, hoping to use the Nth Projector for that purpose.
(Marvel Two-In-One#53-58) - Lightner was in the midst of initiating the plot to use the Nth Projector to destroy Project: PEGASUS, when the Thing joined the facility's security. Under orders from Nth Command, he initiated Operation: Berserker (involving the robot form of Deathlok partially building the Projector and assaulting the facility), Operation: Expurgate (releasing Nuklo, and assisting in allowing Thundra and the Gapplers in to cause destruction and distraction in the facility), which enabled the Nth Projector to be successfully completed without the discovery or interference of the staff or superhuman security of the Project.
Lightner had been instructed to use the Nth Projector to send the entire Project: PEGASUS complex into another dimension. However, he chose to use it first to regain his own former power. The effect was somewhat different than he had anticipated, granting him even greater power as the Nth Man. None of the heroes could even make a dent in the powerful form of the Nth Man, which continued to grow larger and absorb the matter and energy of the facility. The Aquarian actually slowed and reversed his growth by expanding his null-field, but this also shut down the entire Project facility, including its life support, and he was forced to stop.
Giant-Man attempted to use his size changing powers from within the Nth Man to reverse its growth, but lacked the scope of power to do so, and was rendered unconscious within its form. However, the other heroes made a human chain, holding the form of the Aquarian, who used his null field from within the Nth Man to negate the all-consuming energies which comprised it. The Nth Man collapsed on itself, seemingly destroyed.
(SqSupGN(fb)) - The Nth Man was instead shunted to another dimension, where he began to expand again. This universe proved unable to stop him, and he continued to grow until he consumed the entire universe. After that, he poked a hole into another dimension and repeated the process six more times.
(Squadron Supreme GN) - The Nth Man entered the realm of Earth-712. The heroes (and villains) flew into space to stop him as he grew on the far side of the sun. Inertia was instantly ground to powder from the feedback when she tried to use her powers to reverse the Nth Man's growth. Master Menace spent fifteen years in the future (and returned an hour after he left) building a device to shunt the Nth Man to another realm, but the Nth Man consumed the device which failed to have any effect on him. The Scarlet Centurion brought the aged form of the Overmind (who had dwelled in his future realm) to stop the Nth Man. The Overmind attempted to use his telepathic powers to force him back, but his head exploded in the process. Professor Imam succeeded in telepathically ascertaining the Nth Man's identity and past, but exhausted his own energies, and died immediately after communicating these to the others.
The Nth Man grew to consume the sun, and then the Earth and the Squadron's ship. However, Benjamin Jones, the infant son of Arcanna, possessed great mystic power and potential, and inherited the title of Wizard Supreme from Professor Imam. Benjamin communicated with Lightner, who had become bored with his current existence, and convinced him to "change places" with him. Lightner then took Benjamin's place on the Squadron's ship and became the new wizard supreme of Earth-712. Benjamin became the Nth Man, and used his own ability to stop what Lightner could not. Benjamin reversed the expansion of the Nth Man, shrinking out of sight, leaving the dimension of Earth-712, and retracing Lightner's steps to do the same to the previous dimensions he had engulfed.
(Quasar#13, 19 - BTS) - Lightner, still acting on his old nature, used his power to send the Squadron to Earth-616 to prevent them from interfering with his plans for Earth-712. When they attempted to return, he placed mystic wards to prevent this, which nearly destroyed them.
[bts]- Lightner eventually came to accept the responsibility of the role of Wizard Supreme, and discontinued any plans and/or thoughts of conquering the world of Earth-712. He took the form and name of Mysterium, and removed the dimensional barriers keeping the Squadron out.
(Squadron Supreme: New World Order)- The Squadron Supreme returned to Earth-712. Mysterium explained to them how the New World Order now ruled the Earth. He instructed them (nice and cryptically) to reunite their founding members (or as close as could be done) to oppose this group.
Comments: Blacksun created by Bill Mantlo and
Nth Man created by Mark Gruenwald and George Perez.
Mysterium created by Len Kaminsky and Anthony Williams.
In case its not clear, Nth refers to the high possible exponential something can be multiplied to. ie. 52 is five to the second power, which is twenty-five. 5 to the Nth power would be equivalent to five multiplied by itself to an infinite degree. The Nth Man is the infinite amplification of humanity's abilities. Clear as mud?
The year 1976, of the original Blacksun story, is topical, although we'll let the 1936 date go for now, due to the presence of Doc Savage, who was active at that time.
They did this cool split frame in Marvel Two-In-One#21, which showed how the events involving Raymond and Thomas, leading up to the creation of Blacksun, so closely mirrored each other.
The Human Torch thought his filling Blacksun with heat energy would work for him just like cryogenic suspension for a normal human. Despite questionable logic and reasoning, Lightner is alive today, thanks to him.
Mysterium's kind of got some kind of Phantom Stranger/Dr. Strange thing going on with his costume. Maybe he's got the Earth-712 version of Dr. Strange's cloak.
Squadron Supreme: New World Order called him Joseph Lightner, and Joseph was subsequently confirmed as his middle name in Mysterium's entry in issue 7 of 2006's All New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe
Mysterium explained the changes which had occurred on Earth-712 in terms of "Zero Hour" and a "Crisis" which altered the past, present, and future of their world. I get the whole "Squadron Supreme is the Justice League" and the in-jokes regarding DC's storylines. I'm not sure if there's anything more to it than that.
the same lines, I think the Erl King is the Swamp Thing, and the
Apparition is the Spectre. Jim Ambuehl tells me that Kismet would
likely represent Dr. Fate; while Donald Campbell, as detailed below,
notes that Mister Alternity would be an incarnation of Mark Gruenwald.
"The exact quote is as follows: "Most disturbingly, Mister Alternity has passed beyond this omniverse, and our fates are now written by new hands yet to prove as worthy." I admit that when I first read this sentence I couldn't think of any DC character that he could be representing but then it occurred to me that maybe it was referring to something else. Is it possible that Mister Alternity was meant to be the Other-Earth version of the late, great Mark Gruenwald? Everything seems to fit. 1) The death of a real person would be "more disturbing" than anything that could happen to a comic book character. 2) "Passed beyond" sounds like "passed away," an euphemism for someone having died. 3) As the writer who did the most with the Squadron Supreme, Mark Gruenwald truly controlled their fates and now that he's dead their fates are being written by new hands (ie. Len Kaminski). 4) Mark Gruenwald wrote articles for a fanzine entitled "Omniverse: The Journal of Fictional Reality" that he created and/or edited and that was published by Alternity Enterprise of New York. And 5) the last-page dedication for SS:NWO reads "For Mark Gruenwald: Storyteller, trickster, teacher, friend." To me, it seems fitting that the tribute of a character inspired by Mr. Gruenwald should appear in the story which finally ends the storyline he began with the Squadron Supreme Limited Series and continued in the Graphic Novel and their appearances in QUASAR." We agree, it seems very fitting, as a tribute to the original Master of Obscurity.
Mysterium received an entry in issue 7 of 2006's All New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. It makes the Gruenwald-as-Alternity reading even clearer by referring to Master Alternity as the "omniversal patron saint of marvels." In mid-2006, nearing the 10th anniversary of Gruenwald's death, Tom Brevoort began referring to the Gru as the "patron saint of Marvel" in the text pages of some Marvel comics.
So what happened to Dr. Raymond Lightner? There's still story left to tell...the return of Blacksun.
same note...Raymond is 100% locked into the 1936 date because of his
involvement with Doc Savage. With Lucinda being pregnant at the time of
his death, that means Thomas and Janice were born in 1937-1937. No
problem for a 1976 story, but with the sliding timescale, that means
the story happened like 9-11 years ago, which means that Thomas and
Janice would have been 76 years in the MTIO story, and you can add 2-3
months every year of real time that passes. That's a bit of a stretch.
Maybe Raymond was exposed to the energies before conceving the children, or perhaps the pregnant Lucinda was exposed to the energies from the sky-cannon directly. There's no mention of any sort of slowed aging in the story (there wouldn't have been, because it wasn't an issue at the time of publication), but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. We can ignore it for now, but it may need to be addressed at some point...
...and when's little Benjamin Jones going to finish the backward tracing of Lightner's steps and wind up in Project: PEGASUS. Since he's now taken over the nature of Thomas Lightner, I think he should have some connection to Raymond Lightner.
. ..That's not the Starbrand that is seen which Benjamin fades away, is it?...
Lester Dent, writing under the pen name of Kenneth Robeson, created Doc Savage in 1933. The Doc Savage pulps were published from #1 March 1933 to #181 Summer 1949. #182 was published as a novel in July 1979 although it was written in 1948. The paperbacks were printed from October 1964 to October 1990. Eight all-new Doc Savage adventures were released from August 1991 to November 1993. Those novels were all written by Will Murray except for one by Philip Jose Farmer. Doc Savage information courtesy of Scott "Doc" Martin.
Clarifications: The Nth Man, neither Lightner not Jones, has no known connection to:
Benjamin Thomas Jones is the son of Arcanna (of the Squadron Supreme) and Phillip Jones, and the younger brother of Andrew, Drusilla, and Katrina.
He was born during the final battle between the Redeemers and the Squadron, that resulted in the dissolution of the Utopia Program. He was an exceptionally content baby. One week after his birth, Arcanna brought him with her in the ship that went after the Nth Man. When Imam died, he passed on the mantle of Wizard Supreme to the infant Benjamin. Benjamin knew he could stop the Nth Man, but required direct contact with him to do so, and the Squadron's ship kept fleeing from him. As the Nth Man engulfed their world and Earth, Benjamin convinced him to trade places with him. Benjamin became the new Nth Man, reversed his growth, and retraced his steps to restore everything he had destroyed. Will anyone remember to finish his story? Lightner mentioned that he had been in contact with Benjamin, who remained happy and wished them all well.
Benjamin intially had the potential for mystic powers on par with Dr. Strange. He now possesses the power of the Nth Man, as above, although he does not use it in the destructive manner of Lightner, instead choosing to restore everything Lightner had destroyed.
--[Squadron Supreme I#6 (pregnancy announced], 12 (born (6-11 - BTS, 12, Squadron Supreme: Death of a Universe GN
Janice Lightner was the daughter of Raymond and Lucinda, and the sister of Thomas.
She recruited the Thing and Human Torch in an effort to stop him.
After he was incapacitated, she stayed by his side with the Human Torch as he kept him alive until Dr. Blake could cure him.
--Marvel Two-In-One#21 (21 (fb2), 21-23
Lightner was the wife of Raymond, and mother of Thomas and Janice.
She recruited Doc Savage to try to stop her husband back in 1936.
--Marvel Two-In-One#21 (21 (fb3), 21 (fb1)
--Marvel Two-In-One#21 (21 (fb3), 21 (fb1), 21(...all other potential appearance strictly behind the scenes)
Marvel Two-In-One#21-23 (November, 1976 - Janaury, 1977) - Bill Mantlo & Jim Shooter (#23) (writer), Ron Wilson & Marie Severin (#23) (pencils), Pablo Marcos (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Marvel Two-In-One#42 (August, 1978) - Ralph Macchio (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Alfredo Alcala & Sam Grainger (inks), Roger Stern (editor)
Marvel Two-In-One#53-55 (July-September, 1979) - Mark Gruenwald & Ralph Macchio (writers), John Byrne (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Roger Stern (editor)
Marvel Two-In-One#56-58 (October-December, 1979) - Mark Gruenwald & Ralph Macchio (writers), George Perez (pencils), Gene Day (inks), Roger Stern (editor)
Squadron Supreme: Death of a Universe GN (1989) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Paul Ryan (pencils), Al Williamson (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Quasar#13 (August, 1990) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Mike Manley (pencils), Dan Panosian (inks), Howard Mackie (editor)
Quasar#19 (February, 1991) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Greg Capullo (pencils), Keith Williams (inks), Len Kaminski (editor)
Squadron Supreme: New World Order (September, 1998) - Len Kaminski (writer), Anthony Williams (pencils), Andy Lanning (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
First Posted: 10/04/2001
Last updated: 06/30/2021
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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