Classification: Magic Item
Creator: Nox (?) or the demon-servants of Thog
User/Possessors: Thog and natives of Sominus, Danielle Nicolle, Scavenger, Roland Duhl, Man-Thing, a friend of Dakimh the Enchanter, and Steve Gerber...(you'll have to read the profile)
First Appearance: Man-Thing I#20 (August, 1975)
Nightmare Boxes were receptacles for emotional energy. When
empty, they were about the size of a deck of cards. As they
filled with energy, they got larger, up to about 6 x 12 inches,
at which point they would became full.
Alone these Boxes had little power. However, Thog collected a nearly infinite number which he used to construct a pyramid whose sheer emotional force, if released, would plunge Earth into madness.
History: (Dr. Strange III#32/2-BTS) - Nox, one of the Fearlords, arranged for the demon Thog to obtain a construct which he dubbed the Nightmare Box. She did this as part of one of her many plots to plunge mankind into fear and madness.
(Man-Thing I#22(fb)) - Thog, having recently
escaped from imprisonment following his defeat by the Man-Thing,
conceived of a plot to attack his enemy at its most vulnerable
spot--its empathic nature. Upon returning to Sominus, his demons
presented him with the Nightmare Box, which they allegedly had
created, which was a container for emotional energy. Thog sought
out three people to fill the Nightmare Box: (1) A person with an
affinity for the Box, (2) a person who desperately needed
emotion, and (3) a person who functioned without emotion. Thog
found all three of these people not only in the same city
(Atlanta, Georgia), but two of them were in the same family.
The first person was Danielle "Dani" Nicolle (pictured above), who suffered from episodes of frenzies, the only means she had to release the emotional energy pent up inside her. These emotions she absorbed from anyone and everyone around her, and they made manifest in the color of her eyes. Dani was virtually mindless during these frenzies. Two of Thog's demons, in the guise of humen men, entered her room and handed her an empty Nightmare Box. Instinctively, she gazed at the box, and her emotional energy was siphoned off into it. The process left her exhausted, but no more so than her previous frenzies, and it saved herself and others from physical harm.
Thog's demons made a propostion to Dani: Thog would provide an empty Nightmare Box for each one she filled. Dani accepted without hesitation or question, and even blurted out the problems of her brother, Robert, and begged that Thog help him. Robert turned out to be the second person Thog needed, and so Thog remade him into the Scavenger. Thog established a link between Dani and her brother, so that as the Scavenger stole emotions from others, those emotions flowed into Dani. So her emotional energy began to grow much more rapidly, and she filled lots of Nightmare Boxes.
To establish the above link, Thog needed a neutral conductor, one bereft and immune to emotion. Thog found this man, the third one he needed, in Roland Duhl, an accountant. Thog offered Duhl dominion over an Earth without emotion if he'd lend his mind as a conductor, and solve a simple problem in geometry: How many Nightmare Boxes would it require to construct a pyramid whose sheer emotional force, if released, would plunge Earth into madness?
The answer was astronomical, not even Dani and Robert working together could provide enough boxes within conceivable time. Thog would have to tap many worlds, and find other beings with similar afflictions...and so he did...and the work was commenced. Thog and Roland also set up a vast network of demons, demons in human form, and true human acolytes to fill still more boxes, simply by allowing them to absorb the normal flow of emotions around them. Precision was of the utmost importance to Duhl's calculation. Not one extra Box was constructed, and there was no margin for error.
(Man-Thing I#19-BTS, 20-21, 22(fb)) - One of Thog's
demons, transporting a Nightmare Box, was unable to read English,
and so it drove a car the wrong way up a highway ramp, and
crashed into the car of Richard Rory. The Man-Thing was also
aboard that car, and it took the Nightmare Box with it. Thog
dispatched a contingent of demons to steal the Box back from the
Man-Thing. They succeeded in doing so, but as they fought against
the creature, the Box was stolen by an agent of Dakimh the
Enchanter. This man flew to New York and brought the Nightmare
Box to...are you ready for this...Steve Gerber. Gerber's
apartment was almost immediately sacked by a group of Thog's
demons, who took the Box from him and sucked him into the Box.
The demons them brought the Box back to Thog, who used it to suck up the wounded Man-thing as well. Inside the Box, the Man-Thing somehow regained the mind of Ted Sallis. Thog and his demons returned to Sominus where he prepared to place the final Box onto the pyramid and destroy Earth as we know it. Dakimh the Enchanter's spirit then appeared to Gerber inside the Nightmare Box, and told Gerber and Sallis to think purely rational thoughts, and hold their emotions in check. The deficit of emotions in the final Box caused it to react violent with the others in the pyramid, which imploded, caving in on itself and sucking in Thog, his cohorts, and all of Sominus, as well.
The power of the pyramid of Nightmare Boxes was so great, that all of infinity (aka the multiverse) collapsed into the pyramid as well. Of all the centillions (how's that compare to a Gajillion?) of people from all of those uncountable worlds, only Dakimh, the Man-Thing, Thog, and Gerber were left sane. Dakimh and Gerber were powerless to interfere in the final struggle between Thog and the Man-Thing. Thog panicked as his carefully laid plans crumbled, and, knowing fear, he burned at the touch of the Man-Thing!
With Thog's destruction reality was restored to its previous status quo.
Comments: Created by Steve Gerber (Savior of the Multiverse!) and Jim Mooney.
...and because of these adventures, Gerber quit writing the Man-Thing...and it's never been done as well by any other.
Clarifications: The Nightmare Box has no
known connection to:
Sage has no known connection to:
In the culmination of the Nightmare Box plot, an unidentified friend of Dakimh the Enchanter claimed a lost Nightmare Box while Thog’s demons attempted to reclaim it from the Man-Thing.
The man delivers it to Steve Gerber, who notes in the text covering this part:
I was alone at home, attempting to watch Star Trek and read Rolling Stone simultaneously, when a knock came at the door.
I asked who was there.
He answered, ‘A friend,’ Pause. A beat. Then ‘A friend of Dakimh.’ ”
I opened the door, and there he stood, Nightmare Box in his hands, baseball cap on his head. The brim of that cap hid his face from me, and the rest of him is almost too ridiculous to describe. A sweatshirt. A pair of jeans. Tennis shoes. A cape fashioned from an old towel.
“Do I know you?” I asked. “Have we met before?”
“In the shadows of the city,” he replied, and he turned away and disappeared down the hall, leaving me to stare at the box.
Duhl (pronounced "Dull," of
course) married Elsbeth over twenty-five years
ago. His ambition had been to become a theoretical mathematician,
and he had planned a career in teaching. However, he bombed as a
teacher because while he could recite equations, he couldn't
explain them to others. He could relate to numbers, but not
words. Depressed, he turned to accounting, and he found that
businessmen shared his difficulty. In time, accounting became his
religion. "The secret of the universe is essentially a
book-keeping problem" was his philosophy. He made a perfect
agent of Thog's plans. His fate following Thog's defeat, and the
destruction of the Nightmare Boxes, is unknown.
--Man-Thing I#21 (22(fb), 21
She was the editor for Atlanta's
morning newspaper...a job, she apparently was able to maintain
despite her episodic frenzies. Presumably, without the Boxes,
she's back to having frenzies again.
--Man-Thing I#20 (22(fb), 20
He was an artist working under
Danielle Nicolle. He brought her drawings of the Man-Thing. He
walked in on her in mid-emotion-dump. She screamed at him to get
out, and apparently one of Thog's demons caused a water main to
explode, as a threat to never return. Jennings got the message,
and escaped with only a sprained wrist.
She was a new age guru, who also posed in her swimsuit for
Paul, to give him inspiration during his otherwise boring job.
Man-Thing I#20, pg. 12, panel 7 - Danielle Nicolle filling Nightmare Box
#21, pg. 5, panel 3 (Roland Duhl)
#22, pg. 11, panel 3 (Dakimh's friend)
Man-Thing I#20-22 (August-October, 1975) - Steve Gerber (writer), Jim Mooney (artist), Len Wein (editor)
Dr. Strange III#32 (August, 1991) - Jean-Marc Lofficier, Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), Larry Alexander (pencils), Tim Dzon (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
Last Updated: 02/20/11
All characters mentioned or pictured are ™ and © 2001 Marvel Characters, Inc . All Rights Reserved. Please visit The Marvel Official Site at: http://www.marvel.com
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