RUNE

Real Name: uncertain

Identity/Class: Extra-Dimensional (Ultraverse) alien (?Darkur?) sorcerer and energy vampire;
   

Occupation: Conqueror; Stalker; formerly a worshiped deity and destroyer of worlds;
    formerly barbarian thief;
    formerly worshipped as a god (see clarifications).

Group membership: none

Affiliations: Dyata (former lover), Nikola Tesla;
    allied with Boneyard,
Cayman, Feline, Hardcase, Lukasz, and Warstrike under false pretenses;
    formerly bonded to an unnamed Earth-616 symbiote;
    formerly worshipped by several societies, including ancient Egypt and Africa.
    former pawn/ally of the Earth-616 Soul Gem;
    former master/conduit of the Earth-616  Infinity Gems.

Enemies: A'Charr, Acolytes of Argus, Aladdin (including agents Phillips and Alec Stone), Argus, Boneyard, Cayman, Crusader, Dilhaabi race, Edwin Doyle, Feline, Freex, Hardcase, the entity from the Eye of the Infinite (aka the Black Heart of Darkness), el Gato, Gemini, Genie, Jonathan, Julia, Kilroy, Lord Pumpkin, Lukasz, Mantra (Lukasz/Eden Blake), Necromantra, Pandora, Pressure, Prime, Prime-Evil, General Rayder, Someday Champions (Analla, "Tetramam", Tulath, the other one in Egypt), Two-Finger, U-016, Warstrike (all residents of the Ultraverse);
    various gods from the Godwheel;
Earth-616: Annihilus, B'eethra, Conan, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Hadrius, Infinity Watch, Issa and her Turanian tribe, Loki, Maxam, Pip the Troll, Powderkeg, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Thanos, Thor, Venom, Adam Warlock, Ann Weying

Known Relatives: None by birth;
    Rune had a role in the creation of Gemini (Erik Johnson + Noel Robinson) -- the "Curse" of Rune.

Aliases: Anansi, Dark God, the Dark Lord, Death, Destroyer of Worlds, Grandfather Spider, the Harbinger, Huizilopochtli, Midir, the Named One, "Priest of Amon-Ra", Prince of Blood, Prince of Void, Rr'hun, Thanatos, Vlad;
    was dubbed "Subject U-193" by Aladdin;
    on various occasions assumed the names and likenesses of Pressure and
Sweetface, and Thor of Earth-616 (and many others)

Base of Operations: Currently Ultraverse Earth;
    formerly mobile through the Ultraverse;
    spent a brief period of time in Earth-616 dimension during the Hyborian era

First Appearance: Sludge#1 (October, 1993; part A of Rune#0, October - December 1993 (a Malibu split-book divided into segments. See Comments.))

Powers/Abilities: A vampire-like, Rune has fangs that allow him to drain and feed upon the blood of other beings. His sustenance needs mean that he uses that ability fairly often, sometimes on super-powered beings (in Ultraverse jargon, "Ultras"). 

    He has also leathery bat-like wings that allow him to fly, aided by his hollow bones. He is capable of a number of supernatural feats, either by his training as a sorcerer or because of the influence of his Star Stones. Those feats include mystical disguising, teleportation portals (of at least continental range). His capabilities apparently derived from his Stones include precognition, postcognition (specifically psychomancy, the power to "see" past events that have occurred in the vicinity of inanimate objects by eating them), and clairvoyance, which usually involve a short ritual with them.

    In addition, Rune has proven able to heal from otherwise fatal wounds, including decapitation and dismemberment. This recovery period may take centuries to millennia. Rune could be discorporated and survive if he has recently absorbed a great deal of life energies. This ability may also be dependent on the Star Stones. 

    Even without the Star Stones, Rune has proven to have some degree of enhanced strength, dense skin (and probably also stamina, speed and other physical attributes).

    In the past, Rune was much more powerful, allegedly capable of planetary destruction at his peak, but since developing cancer his nature state is a more bald and frail form. By consuming the life energies of an ultra he can regain his lost power, but this only lasts a brief time.

Weaknesses: Rune needs to feed regularly from other sentient beings to stay alive and healthy. His exposure to a nuclear explosion in 1952 intensified that hunger to the point that he needs occasional super-powered preys to survive.

Physical Appearance:

Height: Variable; 6' 5" (1.96 m), 6'7" when fully powered
Weight: Variable; 150 lbs., 200 lbs (91 Kg) when fully powered
Eyes: Reddish
Hair
: long & dark, full head (when fully healthy and recently fed); bald on the top when in his often seen weakened state.

Other distinguished features: blue-ish purple skin, wings, fangs with a "double-jointed" jaw (presumably refers to a snake-like ability to unhinge his jaw to consume matter large than his mouth), hollow bones, several extra undetermined body organs.

History:
(Rune: Hearts of Darkness#2/2 + 3/2 (fb) - BTS) - Rune's people were slaughtered by A'Charr, also a member of his race. Rune was the sole survivor, fleeing from A'Charr, who buried him and left him for dead.

(Giant-Size Rune#1/2, flashback) - Rune was originally a barbarian in an alien world (Darkur) of the Ultraverse. After killing a dragon, he consumed its flesh in hopes of gaining its strength. He then  made his way to a giant carved idol containing a large jewel--the Eye of the Infinite--that gave him a vision of his future as a vampire warlord. He then destroyed the jewel, which exploded into numerous Star Stones. The living being that made up the Eye of the Infinite passed on to another plane, and at the same time passed its curse onto Rune, granting him virtual immortality and cursing him to a vampiric existence: "May the gift of the Far-Sight guide you to ruin...and may your dark soul fall to bitter decay. All suffering shall be yours, little creature--for now... I am free of it."

(Ultraverse Unlimited#1, flashback) - At some unspecified moment in the past, Rune destroyed the Dilhaabi race of the Godwheel who worshipped Adam Warlock. Rune then fought Warlock, and finally managed to skewer him through the chest with his sword. However, Adam formed a cocoon around himself, preventing Rune from taking his soul or consuming his form.

(Conan vs Rune#1 (fb)) - <possibly just a delusion> - In a variety of forms, Rune slaughtered various cultures and races across many planes.

(Origins#1 (fb) - BTS) - In the countless millennia before the dawn of mankind, Rune raged among the stars, an imperious warlord whose insatiable lust for carnage destroyed entire races and cultures among the galaxies. His victims numbering in the billions, he was known by many names among the thousands of empires he destroyed: Prince of Blood, as his savagery in battle was but a prelude to his hedonistic rituals of eviscerating many of his victims and gorging on their flesh; Prince of Void, so called for the utter devastation left in his wake; and the Dark Lord,

(Conan the Savage#4/1 (fb, bts)) - At some point in the distant past, Rune decimated the race of the demonic creature B'eethra.

(Conan vs Rune#1 (fb)) - Rune (wearing a suit of black battle armor) fell to Earth-616 during the Hyborian Age in Turan, in the dunes beyond Agrapur. He seemed to have been weakened due to a recent battle. A bedouin encampment found him and nursed him back to health. For 100 days he recovered, and soon the bedouins came to see him as a god. However, he suddenly bit the head off and fed on a young female worshipper, Issa, and he then started preying on the Turanians.

(Conan#4) - Rune used his Star Stones to see future hardships. One of the visions was an image of Conan. Rune was skeptical that a simple barbarian could pose a true threat to him.

(Conan vs Rune#1) - Conan happened upon the corpses of Rune's victims, where he learned what had happened from one man who survived (though his legs had been bitten off and eaten by Rune). Conan put the suffering man out of his misery and swore to avenge him and his people.
    Conan walked into a trap and was ambushed by Rune. However, perhaps due to Rune's recent injuries, Conan was actually able to gain the upper hand on Rune, beating him relentlessly, and leaving him broken, bleeding, and apparently dead. However, suddenly Rune's Star Stones glowed and Rune was revived. Conan tried to rip Rune's necklace off to stop the Star Stones from restoring him completely, but instead he was overcome by visions of Rune in various forms, slaughtering entire races. When he awoke, Rune had vanished, and Conan was left with only questions.

(Conan the Savage#4/1) - Twenty years after his first encounter with Rune, Conan was on his tenth year of his reign as king of Aquilonia. Members of the Brotherhood of the Spider sent assassins to attack him and his queen Zenobia in their bedchamber. He slew the assassins, then directed some soldiers (including Hadrius, Decurion, and Glachus) to the Minas H'Rath-Tower of the Brotherhood of the Spider.
    Conan left Hadrius to tend to the horses as he and the other soldiers went to deal with the Brotherhood. Rune then arrived, in search of power...as the Brotherhood was in the process of summoning the demonic being B'eethra.
    Rune slew Hadrius as B'eethra arrived. Rune then sprang for B'eethra (who recognized Rune as having slain his race in the past) but B'eethra consumed Rune. However, Rune managed to blast his way out of B'eethra, absorbing B'eethra's power. Exultant that he had won, Rune did not notice Conan sneak up on him and decapitate him. Still living, Rune's head screamed in horror as Conan then dismembered the rest of Rune's body, cutting off his limbs and wings. As life faded from Rune's eyes, Conan and his men left the cavern...but Rune's eyes soon shone with life again.

(Origins#1 (fb) - BTS) - Defeated in a spectacular battle that had raged for 500 years, Rune fled to Earth (Ultraverse), where the early tribes of man worshipped him as a god.

(Freex#17) - The Freex arrived in ancient Egypt, where they encountered an early group of Someday Champions (recipients of the nanotech/wetware power created by Prometheus) as well as Rune (in the guise of the Priest of Amon-Ra). The Freex initially fought Rune--to no avail, but the Someday Champions convinced the Freex to stand down. After over a month, Rune attacked Analla (one of the Someday Champions), and his screams drew the others. He shrugged off several attacks before taking the form of Sweetface, leaving everyone unsure which of them was the real one, until the Someday Champion Tulath used her soul-melding power to force Rune back into his true form. When Rune collapsed to the ground, the others quickly checked on their injured teammates, but when they looked back at Rune, he was long gone.

(Rune: Hearts of Darkness#1/2 (fb) - BTS) - <1st Century AD> - Rune conquered a kingdom in Africa.

(Rune#0 installment B, "The Blood of Tribes"/ Prime#5/2) - (303 A.D.) Rune was worshipped by African natives (as "Grandfather Spider") and accepted human sacrifices from them.

(Rune: Hearts of Darkness#1/2 -3/2) <314 A.D.> - Rune was alerted to attacks in the western lands. While investigating, he noted that he had ruled his kingdom for nigh three centuries. He encountered a woman, Julia, followed by her brother, Jonathan, now possessed by A'Charr, the Scarred God.

(Rune: Hearts of Darkness#2/2) - A'Charr attacked Rune, who divined the origins of his connections to Jonathon via his Star Stones. A'Charr then broke contact and blasted Rune.

(Rune: Hearts of Darkness#3/2) - As A'Charr threatened to slay Rune, Julia performed a spell from the same tome that had bound A'Charr to Jonathan. Rune then managed to slay the weakened A'Charr, after which he instructed Julia to flee or she would be next.

(Rune I#1#7 - flashback) - (315 A.D.) Rune was still being offered blood sacrifices in his role as Anansi, the protector of the tribe, who interpreted his acceptance as a sign of strong crops to come. At a time when Rune refused a second sacrifice, the Shaman considered that a bad omen and pressured Rune, who decided then to accept the Shaman himself as sacrifice, decapitating him. The spared woman, Dyata, bonded with Rune and was recognized by a spy from a rival tribe as the "golden haired Pandora" from a prophecy, who needed to die for Argus to live again. The rival tribe decided to attack Rune's protectorate in order to kill Dyata and revive Argus, but Rune took the spear wound intended for Dyata. However, Dyata then--despite Rune's protests--slit her own throat, her blood providing Rune the power to recover. Having failed to protect Dyata, Rune decided to avenge her instead, feeding upon the rival tribe's sorcerer, "Two-Finger", whose soul became entrapped in the Star Stones.

(Rune II#4 - flashback) <1348 AD> - During the time of the black plague, Rune ruled a village, preying on its inhabitants as he saw fit. He protected his village from the plague by burning anyone killed by, or even infected with, the disease. He refused to allow any visitors into his city, leaving others outside to die from the plague, but simultaneously keeping his city safe. When any of the city's inhabitants rebelled against his Draconian methods, they met instant death. Eventually the Crusader, a Christian warrior, invaded Rune's city and, with the villagers behind him, he fought, skewered, and seemingly killed Rune.

(Rune II#5 - flashback) <1348 AD> - Rune was crucified outside the town, but one of his loyal servants approached him. Clinging to a fragment of life, Rune consumed his servant and was restored. Meanwhile, under the more merciful rule of the Crusader, Rune's former village suffered from disease. Rune returned and slew the Crusader in a rematch, then turned on the town that had betrayed him, slaughtering the populace to the very man.

(Rune I#0 installment C, "The Sorcerer"/ Night Man#1/2) - <March 13, 1895> Nikola Tesla (the man who did most of the pioneering work in electromagnetism) was visited by a stranger ("a man of courtly bearing") who inquired about his work. Unable to resist the Stranger, Tesla divulged his life's work and all of the secrets he had tapped in recent years. Before the stranger (Rune) disappeared, Tesla got a glimpse through his illusion. Rune left behind a crystal with the rune for fire inscribed upon it.

(Rune I#0 installment D, "The Power of Gods"/ Hardcase#5/2) - (November 1952) Led there by the prophecy of power from his Star Stones, Rune was at the scene of the atomic bomb test at Eniwetok Atoll, and was seriously wounded by it. He also developed some form of cancer.

(Rune I#0 installment A, "The Prophecy"/ Sludge#1/2) - Rune attempted to find a solution for his disease by scrying with his Star Stones. As he detects the scent of power that will soon arrive on Earth, he realizes that the solution is feeding upon Ultras.

(Strangers#1 (bts)/ Rune I#0 installment E, "The Cursed"/ Freex#4/2) - (June 24, 1993) Probably under guidance from his Star Stones, Rune was present at the scene of the biggest jumpstart to date, when a bolt from the skies from the Entity (from the moon) hit a San Francisco cable car and empowered sixty-nine people (including Nightman and the Strangers). There Rune met Edwin Doyle, who was one of those affected by the Jumpstart. Rune helped the confused Doyle back to his apartment, where he began to change into a powerful muscled form.

(Rune I#0 installment F, "The Nectar of Life"/ Prototype#3/2) - (June 24, 1993) Rune killed and fed off the body of Edwin Doyle, regaining his health and full power. He soon learned that such recovery is only temporary, and that he must almost continually feed off of ultras to maintain such power.

(Rune I#0 installment G, "The Hunger"/ Strangers#5/2) - (June 25, 1993) Rune fed off an alcoholic derelict and finds that such intoxicated blood actually poisons him. He then flew into the sky and summoned a lightning bolt in order to cleanse the poison.

(Rune I#0 installment H, "Aladdin's Lamp"/ Exiles#3/2) - (June 27, 1993) Rune investigated the abandoned Aladdin's Facility XP-3 in Mecca Flats, Arizona, the site of a recent atomic test. While he consumed an animal skull he found there, Aladdin agent 0969 observed and analyzed Rune. After lapsing into a trance for over two hours, Rune discovered an Aladdin emblem, and he then focused directly on the agent who was observing him. Aladdin then took off towards Aladdin's Scottsdale facility.

(Break-Thru#1,2; Dec 1993, Jan 1994) - Rune was glimpsed on Earth while the Entity bombarded it with energies.

(Rune I#0 installment I, "The Hunted"/ Firearm#2/2) - In Scottsdale, Aladdin agent Alec Stone reported on Rune's slaughter of Rune agent Phillips and Alec Stone), apparently while hunting for "the boy" (who we later learn to be Erik Johnson). In mid report, Stone became Rune's next victim.

(Rune I#0 installment J, "The Fury - Part One"/ Mantra#4/2) - Jaffrey, Alec Stone's contact, began to search the area with the equipment of his van, but also fell prey to Rune.

(Rune I#0 installment K, "The Fury - Part Two"/ Solution#2/2) - Rune drove the van off the road, then flew to roost in a tree outside the window of a youth named Erik Johnson.

Erik Johnson
(Rune I#1, 1994) <July 1, 1993> - Rune burst into Erik Johnson's room, killing his father when he attempted to intervene. Rune was then blasted away by a reflexive manifestation of Erik's nascent powers, and ended up being captured by Aladdin. At General Rayder's orders, GENIE (Aladdin's sentient cyborg alien computer) attempted unsuccessfully to absorb Rune's power and knowledge. Shortly afterwards Rune freed himself.

(Rune I#2, 1994) - Rune attacked Aladdin's apparent leader, General Rayder; he was very angry at the attempt at absorbing him ("I who once feasted on nations? You would dare?"). He managed to inflict significant damage to Rayder's somewhat robotic form and to learn about Genie's name and nature. He then flew to feed upon Genie itself, whom Rayder orders to deny Rune any information. Despite that order, Rune learns from Genie about Rayder's finding of a crashed UFO in Vietnam, years ago, and his realization that the alien parts inside could be joined to form a complete, living alien body.

(Rune I#3, 1994) - Rune learned how the alien find led to the creation of Aladdin and the political empowerment of General Rayder. He also learned Genie's origin, as well as those of Erik Johnson and Noel Robinson and a couple of other Aladdin secrets. One of those is the alien Shu-Ji power, which the twin boys Erik and Noel were genetically engineered to harness. Rune decided to make his own attempt at obtaining that power, and flew away without realizing that he lost his Star Stones to Genie and Rayder.

(Rune I#4, 1994) - Apparently out of sheer sadism, Rune attacked and scared Erik's artificially created twin, Noel Robinson, killing lots of people, both real and synthetic, in the process. At the same time Rayder and Genie were attempting to use his Star Stones to transfer Rayder's consciousness to a new body. Rune grabbed Noel and interrupted Rayder and Genie's experiment, fatally wounding Rayder and recovering his Star Stones. He then flew with Noel to meet a firestorm in the sky (created by his (Noel's) twin Erik).

(Rune I#5, 1994) - Despite the ravaging effects the firestorm has on him, Rune managed to merge Erik and Noel, forming the new entity Gemini, capable of dealing with the power of Shu-Ji. Gemini created a simulacrum of Erik's late girlfriend Markie. Rune managed to bite Gemini and attempted to drain his Shu-Ji power, but it proved too much for him to control, forcing him to bite Gemini and return much of that power. Rune offered to keep Gemini as a servitor, but Gemini refused. Rune threatened to kill Gemini when they next meet, and flew away fully healed and empowered.

(Ultraverse Zero: The Death of the Squad#2/2) - Aladdin agent Kilroy was hunting the ultra dubbed U-016 in the sewers only to find him torn apart. Rune suddenly appeared and likewise slaughtered the agent, hateful that others were stealing the lives of ultras before he could feast on them.

(Rune I#6, Dec 1994) - Rune attacked Mantra (Eden Blake) and stole the Sword of Fangs from her. She and Prime managed to recover the Sword, and Mantra destroyed one of Rune's Star Stones, releasing the souls inside. Mantra and Prime got away while Rune fought the souls just released.

(Giant-Size Rune#1) - Rune killed and fed upon Mexican Ultra El Gato (Javier Melendez). A ten thousand years old cabal dedicated to resurrecting Argus commented on Rune's actions through the centuries and stated that the simulacrum of Markie that Gemini created is actually Pandora, the sacrifice they need for bringing Argus back to life. Rune cast a scrying ritual with his Star Stones and obtained a vision of Argus that warned him that the events he has set in motion are far more serious than he realized. Rune then communicated with Gemini through his/their dreams, motivating him with a vision of Markie's ceremonial sacrifice, calling him "son" and stating that Argus must be kept unborn.

(Rune I#7) - Still stone-scrying, Rune released the soul of Two-Finger the Sorcerer. The two of them remember how they fought over a previous Pandora back in the year 315, and Two-Finger then revealed that Pandora was alive again and was about to be sacrificed.

(Rune I#8) - Rune correctly deduced that the current Pandora was the Markie duplicate created by Gemini. He went after her, in order to kill her before the Argus cult succeeded in using her for their sacrifice rite. While searching for Pandora, he located one of the hideouts of the Argus cult where she had recently been kept, and killed a giant spider-creature that he found there. Later he teleported to the Mediterranean, realized he was very hungry and decided to feast on a nearby cruise ship.

(Rune I#9) - Rune fed upon a number of ship passengers, but spared a woman that reminded him of Pandora as a kind of lucky charm. Kept captive at the island of Mytos, Pandora is sacrificed to bring Argus back to life despite Rune's best efforts. Argus, unhappy at being brought back to life at his exile planet, killed his own acolytes and humbled Rune before opening a portal to Vahdala and going through it. Rune followed, swearing vengeance.

(Godwheel#0) - Rune pursued Argus through his portal to Vahdala, where he attempted to ambush the god, but was discovered before he could do so. Intrigued by the starstones in Rune's necklace, Argus allowed him to approach, but Rune then leapt and bit into his neck. Furious, the much larger Argus ripped Rune off of his throat and stole his necklace, to which Rune responded by spitting venom into Argus' eyes. Argus hurled Rune away and he crashed into a pillar before falling to the ground in a bloody heap. Argus then summoned a number of beings of power from Earth to assist in his location of the components of the Crucible of Life (the Crystal Crown, the Roc's Egg, and the Windsword), which would restore his own fading power.

(Godwheel#1) - Having recovered somewhat from his injuries and escaping into the shadows, Rune ambushed one of the Ultras, Pressure, as they fled from Argus. He knocked Pressure unconscious, then took her form and replaced her amongst the escapees (Boneyard, Cayman, Feline, Hardcase, Lukasz, Warstrike), aboard the craft known as Ogma's Yacht, where they used a tutorial program to learn about the Godwheel.

(Godwheel#2) - Cayman was slightly suspicious of his teammate Pressure's knowledge of the technology aboard the Yacht, and the fact that she was showing interest in it all. After completing the tutorial, the group split up to locate the components before Argus' agents (Lord Pumpkin, Necromantra, Primevil) could. Rune/Pressure joined Cayman and Feline in pursuing the Windsword, and nearly sacrificed Cayman to distract Primevil so "she' could claim the sword. Ultimately, Feline snatched the sword first and saved Cayman, and the group returned to the others.

(Godwheel#3) - As Rune/Pressure's group was the only one of the three to succeed in obtaining the keys to the Crucible, they all headed back to Vahdala to try to stop the others. Shortly after they arrived, however, the real Pressure crawled from the shadows and revealed Rune's deception to Cayman. Dropping his illusion, Rune attempted to usurp the power of the Crucible of Life for himself, but lost out to Argus. Rune tried to force the sorceress Necromantra to use her powers to disrupt the fragments of the Crucible. As Rune prepared to sink his fangs into her to overtake her will, Necromantra abandoned the host body, restoring it to the form of Mantra (Eden Blake). The distraction surprised Rune, and a stab from from Lukasz with the Sword of Fangs forced him to release his grasp. Mantra then removed the Crystal Crown, shutting down the force field around the Crucible. The energy disruption affected Argus adversely (you'll have to wait for his profile to see how adversely!), and he opened a portal to another dimension in hopes of summoning other gods to assist him. His portal opened into the Asgard associated with Earth-616, intended to bring in Loki, but he was instead rewarded with a crushing blow from Mjolnir, the Hammer of Thor.

As Thor led the other heroes to overcome Argus, Rune stood back, observing the hand of a second figure emerging from the portal to Asgard. Thor opened yet another portal, to which he sent the Crystal Crown, and then closed it down after Argus followed the Crown through the portal. After introductions and congratulations, Thor sent the others back to their world, and opened a portal back to Asgard. At the last second, Rune, having recovered his star stone necklace, leapt through Thor's portal as well, and was transported to the dimension of Earth-616.

(Rune/Silver Surfer) - Rune attacked Thor while he is opening his portal to return to Earth-616. Thor reacted, and in the fallout Rune ended up in the MU Earth, alone. He learned from his Star Stones that he has jumped universes, disguised himself as Thor and fed upon Powderkeg (an old Captain (Monica) Marvel villain), nearly killing him. Newly empowered, Rune sensed the residual energies of the Infinity Gems on nearby Gamora. Going after Gamora, Rune realized that the true power is not to be found on her, but on the Gems themselves. He proceeded to attack Maxam, grabbed the Time Gem from him, used it to freeze time, got the Space Gem from Pip the Troll, the Reality Gem from Thanos, the Mind Gem from Moondragon and the Power Gem from Drax the Destroyer. Then he went after Adam Warlock to snatch the Soul Gem, but ended up fighting an active aspect of Warlock inside the Gem. Warlock warned Rune that the six gems cannot ever again be used together, but the Soul Gem itself turned against him, surrendering/taking control of Rune and of its sister gems. It reformed the Infinity Gauntlet and ordered Rune to open a portal back to the Ultraverse. As he traveled back to his native universe, Rune was followed and attacked by the Silver Surfer, who managed to blast his hand off, loosing the Gems into the Ultraverse. The now mutilated Rune is thrown into a body of water, where he is threatened by the Soul Gem that is still bonded to him.

(Black September Infinity - BTS/Rune: Hearts of Darkness#1) - Rune's origin is retold, omitting the dragon and placing it in Africa (see comments). In addition, the Eye of the Infinite is renamed the Heart of Darkness.

(Curse of Rune#1) - Rune crashed into the waters off the isle of Mytos in the Mediterranean Sea, where he slew a pair of crewmen, who pulled him from the waters into their ship, the Mycenea. Seeing his appearance in a window, he realized the Soul Gem was draining his life force.

(Curse of Rune#2) - Despite having slaughtered the crew of the Mycenea and the Acolytes of Argus on Mytos, Rune still withered in power and appearance. He cursed the Soul Gem, attempting to master it, but ultimately collapsed from the effort. The Soul Gem animated the dead Acolytes to care for him.
    Searching for his lover, Markie, Gemini came to Mytos, finding instead Rune near death. Rune tricked him into believing that the Gem was the only thing keeping him alive, and so Gemini tore the Soul Gem from his brow, allowing Rune to restore himself.

(Curse of Rune#3) - Rune reformed his right hand and watched as Gemini struggled against the Soul Gem. Rune attempted to take advantage of the distraction to devour Gemini's soul, but was blasted away by Gemini's power. When Gemini regained his senses, he attacked Rune, biting him and draining the power Rune had previously stolen from him. The Soul Gem urged Gemini to finish Rune off, but instead Gemini cast Rune's withered form into a dimensional rift.

(Curse of Rune#4) - Rune arrived in the Negative Zone, where he was attacked by Annihilus.

(Rune Infinity) - Rune sought to steal Annihilus' Cosmic Control Rod

(Rune II#1) - Annihilus fought and defeated the weakened Rune, deciding to hold him in a cosmic singularity for the time being.

(Rune II#2 - BTS) - Rune remained trapped in the singularity.

(Rune II#3) - Rune, trapped in the singularity for an unknown period of time, began to go mad.

(Rune II#4,5) - Insane with hunger, Rune disgorged a number of life forces held in his gullet for centuries. These spirits reminded him of his encounter with the Crusader. Inspired by his final conquest, Rune re-consumed the spirits, after which he saw and entered a portal from the singularity.

(Rune vs Venom, fb) - Rune emerged through a stargate onto a planet conquered by the same race of symbiotes that spawned Venom. Unaware of their nature, Rune attacked one of them, which abandoned its host and merged with Rune, assuming an appearance very reminiscent of Venom himself, albeit without the spider-emblem and with a pair of bat-like wings.

(Amazing Spider-Man Super-Size Special#1, Spider-Man Super-Size Special#1, Venom Super-Size Special#1, Spectacular Spider-Man Super-Size Special#1, Web of Spider-Man Super-Size Special#1) - The Rune symbiote was part of the army of symbiotes which assaulted Earth. While the rest of the symbiotes were slain by Venom's "betrayal," Rune's body protected its symbiote.

(Rune vs Venom) - Rune/symbiote's murders were blamed on Venom, and the Rune/symbiote abducted Ann Weying (Venom's host Eddie Brock's ex-wife) in order to avenge itself on its betrayer. This brought him into conflict with both Venom and SHIELD, culminating with Rune getting free and then devouring his "other" (the symbiote). That somehow changed his appearance and even clothing, making him bald and giving him a red cape, blue boots and silver pants with horizontal lines. He was then thrown back into the Ultraverse though the symbiotes' stargate, returning to his normal form in the process.

(Rune II#6,7 - BTS) - Rune is not seen while Adam Warlock encounters Gemini.

(Rune: Heart of Darkness#1) - While Rune took a human female as his victim, the Black Heart of Darkness that empowered him revived and sought to recover the portions of it--the Runestones--that it had taken from him. One of his Runestones turned black and extended tendrils that entangled him.

(Rune: Heart of Darkness#2) - The tendrils continued to drain Rune, turning him into a withered husk on the verge of death as his life force was pulled into the Black Heart of Darkness. However, several of the Heart's soul slaves then entered, hoping to recover the Runestones, but breaking the Heart's spell in the process. Rune then took the black Runestone and thrust it into his own chest, restoring his power. Rune then slaughtered the soul slaves and considered the means by which to overcome the Heart of Darkness.

(Rune: Heart of Darkness#3) - Rune tracked down his most recent female victim, using her to locate the Heart of Darknesswithin "Ground Zero" (a scene of massive destruction in Manhattan initially blamed on Strike's Exiles, but actually caused by the Tulkan fleet). Rune allowed the Heart of Darknessto pull him into it, but once inside he managed to convince all of the souls trapped within the Black Heart that if they allied with him against the Heart of Darkness, he would only consume evil souls from then on. They agreed and destroyed the Heart of Darkness, saving Rune. As the freed spirits ascended to the next plane, Rune picked up the three remaining Runstones, now turned solid black, and pondered whether consuming only evil souls would make him "good"...or only more evil still?

(Thanos#3) - Thanos got hold of a skeleton with fangs and an embedded Infinity Gem.
   
(see comments)

Comments: Created by Barry Windsor Smith (writer and penciller), with help from Chris Ulm on plot and scripts, inks by John Floyd and colors by Keith Conroy.

Many thanks to the authors of this wonderful Rune site and of The Mantraverse, as well to Alexander Soto's review of Rune/Silver Surfer! They made our work much easier. Thanks also for Snood and Dagda. "aeronautix" and "hardwireii" from The Ultraverse list helped with Rune's origin by means of their Feb the 22nd and 27th, 2002 postings. Ultraverse Zero (Squad) entry by Grendel Prime.

Jay Elmore also helped a lot with his informative RACM posting dated Feb the 14th, 1994.

Rune debuted in a curious (some would say infamous) format, as a "split book" distributed through a number of 3 page segments on eleven books published almost simultaneously. Said books included coupons that could be posted (the whole batch of eleven) in order to receive a stand-alone issue of Rune#0. That issue is rare, but most of it has been reprinted later as the SPIN Limited Edition. For more details please search for Jay Elmore's posting on Google Groups; here's a link. To the best of my knowledge the actual story from the 3 page segments is identical to the contents of the Rune#0 stand-alone book.

Rune Volume 2 reached issue#7, but Rune is not actually in them! Issues#6 and#7 are very much Gemini/Adam Warlock stories instead. Depending on what exactly happens in current Thanos issues, Rune/Venom may have been the final appearance of Rune in the main continuity, since both of his posterior appearances are of dubious continuity at best (those being the Rune: Hearts of Darkness limited series and the Ultraverse: Future Shock one-shot).
    --You are right about Ultraverse: Future Shock...that is an alternate future. You are wrong about the Hearts of Darkness. Those take place following Black September (BS for short), UV's unnecessary version of the Crisis on Alternate Earths, in which reality and the history of the Ultraverse was altered. So, Rune: Hearts of Darkness shows how his history exists post-Black September.
    In addition, Rune's mutation originally took place on the planet Darkur, but it is not confirmed that that is his home planet, especially in the restructured reality post-Black September--Snood.

    It is interesting to notice that Powderkeg was killed by Rune in Rune/Silver Surfer, yet reappeared since (he was the villain of the famous issue of Fantastic Four Volume 3 where we learn that the Thing is Jewish).
    --How many times have we seen characters come back from being apparently dead? We see it ALL the time, and I wouldn't over-estimate the significance of that--Snood.

In an alternate/potential future of the Ultraverse (Ultraverse: Future Shock), Rune usurped the power of the Entity (from the moon), becoming vastly powerful and slaying several ultras before being decapitated by Witch Hunter.

    The skeleton pulled through the portal by Galactus clearly does NOT have wings, and the fangs are a bit small for what we have seen of Rune. My theory is its the space gem entity from Black September Infinity. This fits as it is the last time we saw the space gem and the color of the gem is that of the space gem. Plus there is no explanation on how or when Rune would have died.
--Ashramry

On Newsarama Jim Starlin confirmed that the skeleton was supposed to be Rune. At the time he thought Marvel had the rights to the character, but Marvel didn't and the skeleton was changed a little bit.

Conan vs Rune

There were past stories of Rune, occurring in the distant past, perhaps as much as 10,000 years ago in his history as well. Rune is from the Ultratraverse and is a demonic or magical entity that appeared to die more than once, but revived due to his very nature. Nothing in his previous appearances disavows his appearance in Conan, Thanos, etc. --Snood.

Other possibilities (in an effort to make things more complicated...):

  1.  Did Earth-616 have its own Rune counterpart? This could be the simplest explanation (though there's no evidence to support this).
  2.  Did the Ultraverse also have the Hyborian Age as part of its history of Earth, and was Rune somehow resurrected for his other appearances (though there's no evidence to support this)?
  3.  If not, and these appearances involve the Earth-616 Conan and a dimension-hopping Rune, do these appearances follow Rune's other tales, and he
    time-traveled back to the Hyborian Age? I don't think so, as it was the hale and hearty pre-cancer Rune in the Conan issues.
    --Per Degaton

The ad for Conan the Savage#4 stated that it took place twenty years after Conan vs. Rune#1.

Rune's appearance in Conan#4, despite his prominence on the cover, is actually quite inconsequential. It is a four page add-on to the main story in which Rune is looking into the future for any threats to his power, and he sees a vision of Conan coming. That is it.

Conan recalls his encounter with Rune in Conan#5, as well.

It was he letters page to Conan the Savage#8 that first stated that Rune could be discorporated and survive, if he has recently absorbed a great-deal of life energies, as he did in this case with A'thaa B'eethra. "Obviously he somehow managed to pull himself together, as he stars in his own monthly series from Malibu!".
--Per Degaton


How and why Rune came to be on Earth-616 during the Hyborian era is anyone's guess, as is how he returned to Earth. Infinite possibilities, all pure speculation.

Profile by Snood and  Luis Dantas, Daevanator

CLARIFICATIONS:

Rune is probably connected to the Ultraverse version of

He has no known connections to:


Rune's Star Stones

There at least five of them, of various vivid colors. They originated as splinters from the Jewel (the Eye of the Infinite, later renamed the Black Heart of Darkness) that Rune found when he was still human, and it is mainly their continued influence that transformed Rune into what he currently is. The Stones contain souls or "life essences" obtained through the years from Rune's victims (not at all unlike Elric's Stormbringer) and on one occasion (Rune Vol. 1#6) the destruction of one of the stones let its souls free, allowing them to fight Rune. There is some evidence that the Stones may have wills of their own, and perhaps even some connection to the Infinity Gems. However, the Star Stones offer no evidence of being sentient. Rune nearly always wears them on his necklace, accessible for storing the souls of his new victims and for divination rituals. It is speculated (but unproven) that many of Rune's powers may in fact come directly from the Stones. Genie and General Rayder once attempted to transfer Rayder's soul to a new body with the Stone's help. Since they were interrupted, it is unknown whether that would work.
    They were also referred to as Runestones, and the Eye of the Infinite/Black Heart of Darkness later sought to reclaim them. Though it was destroyed, the remaining three Runestones were turned pure black.

--Rune I#0 Installment A, "The Prophecy"/ Sludge#1/2
They are present in virtually every appearance of Rune

 

 

 

 


images:
Cover of Rune#0A (Sludge#1/2)


Appearances:
Rune I#0 (Sludge#1/2, Prime#5/2, Night Man I#1/2, Hardcase#5/2, Freex#4/2, Prototype#3/2, Strangers#5/2, Exiles I#3/2, Mantra#4/2, Solution#2/2) (October, 1993) - Barry Windsor-Smith & Chris Ulm (writers), Barry Windsor-Smith (pencils), John Floyd (inks)
Break-Thru#1 (December, 1993) – Gerard Jones, Mike W. Barr, Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, James D. Hudnall, Tom Mason, George Pérez & James Robinson & Len Strazewski (writers), Gerard Jones (script), George Pérez (pencils), John Lowe (inks), Chris Ulm & Hank Kanalz (editors)
Break-Thru#2 (January, 1994) – Gerard Jones (script), Gerard Jones, Mike W. Barr, Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, James D. Hudnall, Tom Mason, George Pérez, James Robinson & Len Strazewski (plot), George Pérez (pencils), Al Vey (inks), Hank Kanalz & Chris Ulm (editors)
Ultraverse Origins#1 (January, 1994) - Barry Windsor-Smith & Chris Ulm (writers), Barry Windsor-Smith (artist)
Rune I#1-3 (January-March, 1994) - Barry Windsor-Smith & Chris Ulm (writers), Barry Windsor-Smith (pencils), Alex Bialy (#1) & John Floyd (inks), Chris Ulm (editor)
Rune I#4-5 (June, September, 1994) - Barry Windsor-Smith & Chris Ulm (writers), Barry Windsor-Smith (pencils), John Floyd (inks), Chris Ulm (editor)
Rune I#6 (December, 1994) - Barry Windsor-Smith & Chris Ulm (writers), Barry Windsor-Smith (pencils), Alex Bialy (inks), Chris Ulm (editor)
Giant-size Rune (January, 1995) - Chris Ulm (writer), Barry Windsor-Smith (pencils), John Floyd (inks), Barry Windsor-Smith (editor)

Story 2: Windsor-Smith Studio (writer/artist), Barry Windsor Smith (editor)
Godwheel#0-3 (January-February, 1995)
Freex#17 (February, 1995) - Gerard Jones (writer), Scott Kolins (pencils), Jon Holdredge (inks), Phil Crain (editor)
Rune I#7 (February, 1995) - Chris Ulm (writer), Javier Saltares (pencils), Chris Ivey (inks), Dan Danko (editor)
Rune I#8 (February, 1995) - Chris Ulm (writer), Richard Pace (pencils), Alex Bialy (inks), Dan Danko (editor)
Rune I#9 (April, 1995) - Chris Ulm (writer), Keith Conroy (pencils), Alex Bialy (inks), Dan Danko (editor)
Story 2: Chris Ulm (writer), Jeff Moore (pencils), Alex Bialy & Rodney Gates (inks), Dan Danko (editor)
Rune/Silver Surfer (April, 1995) - Chris Ulm (writer), Henry Flint (pencils), Mark McKenna (inks), Dan Danko & Mark Gruenwald (editors)
Story 2: Glenn Herdling (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Bill Anderson (inks), Dan Danko & Mark Gruenwald (editors)
Ultraverse Zero: The Death of the Squad#2/2 (May, 1995) - Chris Ulm (writer), Tim Hamilton (pencils), Phil Moy (inks), Phil Crain (editor)
Curse of Rune#1-4 (May-July, 1995) - Chris Ulm (writer), Kyle Hotz (artist), Roland Mann (editor)
Curse of Rune#4 (August, 1995) - Chris Ulm (writer), Mitch Byrd (pencils), Thomas Florimonte (inks), Roland Mann (editor)
Rune Infinity (September, 1995) - Len Kaminski (writer), Kyle Hotz (pencils), Jason Moore (inks), Roland Mann (editor)
Rune II#1-5 (October, 1995) - Len Kaminski (writer), Kyle Hotz (pencils), Jason Moore (inks)
Rune II#2 (November, 1995) - Len Kaminski (writer), Patrick Rolo (pencils), Jeff Whiting (inks)
Conan vs Rune#1 (November, 1995) - Barry Windsor-Smith (writer/artist), Alex Bialy (inks), Mike Lackey (editor)
Conan the Savage#4 (November, 1995) - Charles Dixon (writer), Alfredo Alcala (pencils), Paul Becton (inks), Mike Lackey (editor)
Rune II#3 (December, 1995) - Len Kaminski (writer), Steven Ellis (pencils), Pav Kovacic (inks)
Rune II#4 (January, 1995) - Len Kaminski & Paul O'Connor (writers), Tony Atkins, Gabriel Gecko & Patrick Rolo (pencils), Jason Moore & Jeff Whiting (inks)
Rune II#5 (February, 1995) - Len Kaminski & Paul O'Connor (writers), Patrick Rolo (pencils), Terry Pallot & Jeff Whiting (inks)
Rune II#6 (March, 1995) - Len Kaminski (writer), John Cleary (pencils), Norm Rapmund (inks)
Rune II#7 (April, 1995) - Len Kaminski (writer), Gabriel Gecko (pencils), Stephen Baskerville (inks)
Rune vs Venom (December, 1995) - Chris Ulm (writer), Greg Luzniak, Mark Pacella & Gabriel Gecko (pencils), Bruce McCorkindale & Art Thibert (inks), Roland Mann (editor)
Ultraverse Unlimited#1 (June, 1996) - Len Kaminski (writer), Gabriel Gecko & Andrew Wildman (pencils), Stephen Baskerville (inks), Phil Crain (editor)
Rune: Hearts of Darkness#1-3 (September-November, 1996) - Doug Moench (writer), Kyle Hotz (pencils), Tim Bradstreet (inks)
Story 2: James Felder (writer), Pander Bros. (artists)
Thanos#3 (February, 2004) - Jim Starlin (writer/pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)


I have been trying to reconstitute the reading order for Rune. So far I have managed this:


Last updated: 04/30/06

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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