UNDYING ONES

 

 

Classification:
Demons, Class three (extra-dimensional)

 

Location/Base of Operations: Unnamed realms of the Undying Ones (their first realm was apparently taken over by the Dark Crawler);
their base on Earth was in a valley in Asia, between Himalayan peaks

 

 

Known MembersNameless One, Nameless One, "Joella Ward" and her "cat"

Affiliations: Calizuma and the Warrior Wizards, Creatures of the Night, Celestia Denton, Necrodamus, Barbara Denton Norriss, Jack Norriss, Van Nyborg and his cult of the Undying Ones

Enemies: Dark Crawler, Defenders, Dr. Strange, Gaea, Hulk, Namor, the N'Garai, Nighthawk of Earth-616, the Thing,  Valkyrie (Brunnehilde), Kenneth Ward, Wolverine

First Appearance: Dr. Strange I#183 (November, 1969)

Powers/Abilities: The Undying Ones are demons with a variety of undefined magical powers, as well as a variety of forms with differing physical abilities. Many possess superhuman strength and durability, and some have fangs, claws, wings, and other inherent physical attributes. They are immune to aging and conventional disease, and they are apparently able to regenerate from most physical injuries, hence their name.

Many of them are able to alter their form and take on the appearance of humans or animals, and presumably other forms, at will.

The Idol of the Nameless One served as a conduit between their realm and Earth's.

Traits: The Undying Ones are violent creatures which seek to invade Earth and conquer humanity, to rule them as they did in the past.

History: The origins of the Undying Ones are a race of demons which are extra-dimensional in origin, and several billion years old.

(Incredible Hulk II#126 (fb) - BTS) - There has been a lengthy, "eternal" enmity between the Dark-Crawler and the Undying Ones, because his dimension serves as a pathway to worlds beyond...such as Earth. Over a period of eons, the Dark-Crawler destroyed all beings that the Undying Ones had arrayed and sent against him.

(Sub-Mariner I#22 (fb)) - "While the Earth's seas still burned like fire," a great rent in the sky opened, through which poured the Undying Ones. For unnumbered ages, they held sway with their mystic powers, lords over all they surveyed...including what became humanity. Throughout this time they were ruled over by the Nameless One. Over time, they ceased to rule the world under unknown circumstances, but they remained in contact with earth, granting powers to those who called on them during various heathen ceremonies, often in exchange for the ritualists' souls.

(Dr. Strange III#41 (fb) - BTS) - The Undying Ones possessed an age-old and festering rivalry with the N'Garai demons, who also ruled humanity, or a section of it, in the distant past.

(Sub-Mariner I#22 (fb)) - A mere thousand years ago, the Undying Ones felt their powers waning, and so to replenish those powers, they were forced to return to their own dimension. Even then, people still continued to invoke them for power in a variety of spells. In addition, the Undying Ones had left behind a number of idols, and one, in the form of the Nameless One, served as a potential conduit for their return to Earth.

(Dr. Strange I#183 (fb) - BTS) - Kenneth Ward learned of the existence of a race that formerly dwelled in a valley in the Himalayas. There he found a number of inhuman statues, and the idol of the Undying One, which--after nearly being killed by one of the statues which fell suddenly. Upon returning to his home, Ward translated the inscription on the idol's base, which made him fear for all humanity. Ward sent a telegram to his old friend, Stephen Sanders (see comments), requesting aid, and then hid the idol. Soon after, he was then confronted by three "Creatures of the Night," agents of the Undying Ones, who erased his memory of the recent events.

(Dr. Strange I#183) - Two days later, Dr. Strange received the telegram and went to meet with Ward, who had no memory of contacting him. Strange learned the truth via the Eye of Agamotto, and then was attacked by the Creatures of the Night. After a short struggle, Strange determined their weakness and through open a curtain, exposing them to the light of day, which disintegrated them.
Kenneth Ward, however, died from the strain of his connection to the Undying Ones' magics.

(Sub-Mariner I#22) - Strange recruited Namor for his aid in seeking the idol of the Nameless One. Namor traveled to Ward's home in Boston, where he met with Ward's daughter, Joella, and was soon attacked by one of the Undying Ones. After fighting it off, Namor found the idol of the Nameless One underneath a statue of John Goodwin (judge at the old Boston witch trials). Strange then appeared and revealed that Joella was actually the Undying One that Namor had fought, as Kenneth Ward had no daughter. The pet cat of "Joella" then also revealed itself also to be one of the Undying Ones, and it activated a dimensional portal via the idol, allowing the Nameless One to enter. While the "cat"--now mutated into monstrous size--occupied Strange, Namor assaulted the Nameless One. Strange and Namor managed to drive the demons back into their realm, but Strange was forced to remain inside that dimension in order to close the portal and prevent the demons from making it back to Earth.

(Incredible Hulk I#126 (fb) - BTS) - The Undying Ones overpowered Dr. Strange and imprisoned him in a mystic trap. With their previous access point closed, they sought to access Earth through the realm of their old enemy, the Dark-Crawler.

(Incredible Hulk II#126) - On Earth, Van Nyborg, the leader of a cult worshipping the Undying Ones, drugged and captured Bruce Banner, and then cast a spell that transported the Hulk to the realm of the Dark-Crawler, in hopes that the Hulk might destroy him. Van Nyborg then sent Barbara Denton, a rebellious member of the cult, to that realm as well. After some struggle, the battle between the Hulk and the Dark-Crawler destroyed the Crawler's Shadow Realm, and the Dark-Crawler transported himself, the Hulk, and Denton to the realm of the Undying Ones, in order to save them from his own, collapsing realm.

Upon arriving, the Dark-Crawler turned his rage upon the Nameless One and the rest of the Undying Ones, who were responsible for the Hulk being sent to, and thus destroying, his Dark Dimension. Dr. Strange was freed by the sacrifice of Barbara Denton, who replaced him in the Nameless One's magical bonds, in order to save her world. Dr. Strange teleported himself and the Hulk back to Earth, and the Dark-Crawler occupied the Nameless One and the Undying Ones long enough that the stellar alignment, necessary for their entry into Earth, passed.

(Incredible Hulk II#269 (fb) - BTS) - The Dark-Crawler fought the Undying Ones in a battle without equal. He ultimately triumphed over them and made their realm his own. He credited the Hulk with causing him to finally open his eyes to the truth and confront his real foes directly.
In conquering the Undying Ones, the Dark-Crawler learned many of their magical secrets.

(Defenders I#2 (fb)-BTS) - The Undying Ones allied themselves with Calizuma and his warrior wizards, who managed to ensorcel the Silver Surfer, causing him to attack Namor.

(Defenders I#1) - When Namor's unconscious body was cast into a field in New Jersey, from the sky, it drew the attention of Strange and the Hulk. They investigated and found the sorcerer Necrodamus, who was planning to sacrifice Namor during another stellar alignment, in order to gain vast power from the Undying Ones. Strange and the Hulk managed to prevent the sacrifice until the alignment had passed, and Necrodamus was forced to flee.

Upon recovering, Namor revealed that it was not Necrodamus who had cast him from the sky, but the Silver Surfer.

(Defenders I#2 - BTS) - Investigating the Silver Surfer, the Defenders uncovered a plot of Calizuma and his Warrior Wizards in the Himalayan valley in which the Undying Ones used to dwell. They defeated the plot and Strange cast a "spell of atonement" on the Wizards.

(Defenders I#3) - An interdimensional transport spell attempted by Strange from the Himalayan Valley pulled them into the realm of the Undying Ones. There they found the still-imprisoned Barbara, whom they freed, only to learn that she had since formed a deal--and even mated--with the Nameless One. Now possessing a three-headed form--with the addition of Barbara's, the Nameless One fought the four Defenders. However, their combined power proved too much for it: Strange bound the Nameless Ones foot in his former snare, trapping him. As they left, Strange used his power to separate Barbara from him, and they  return to Earth. Strange was unaware that Barbara had willingly merged with the Nameless One, and the forced separation drove her completely, hysterically, mad.

(Defenders I#18 - BTS) - An agent of van Nyborg saw Barbara (actually now the Valkyrie in her form) and notified him, but was dismissed as being incorrect.

(Defenders I#20) - The same agent saw Barbara again, and informed van Nyborg, who believed him. They set a trap at Barbara's former house, where the Valkyrie--along with Dr. Strange--went looking for her origins. Van Nyborg ambushed and captured them both, and prepared to sacrifice them to the Nameless One. This was interrupted by the Thing--who had recently joined the Valkyrie and Strange on related adventures--and fellow Defender Nighthawk. The Thing held off the Nameless One while Nighthawk piled into the cultist, and the Thing then stopped Barbara's mother, cultist Celestial Denton, from blowing the Harmonica of Destiny--what do you expect with Gerber writing??  :)  --which was holding the mystic forces which allowed the Nameless One's presence on Earth. Without this, the Nameless One was banished back to his realm once again.

(Dr. Strange III#41 (fb)) - After his most recent defeat, it was hinted that the Undying Ones slew the Nameless One. After this, a new Nameless One rose to power.

(Dr. Strange III#41 (fb)) - The Undying Ones took possession of the mutant Wolverine--although not without a bloody fight when some human worshippers gassed him--and sent him to slay Dr. Strange. Learning of the Sa'arpool (a magical gateway to Earth created by the N'Garai), the new Nameless One sent Wolverine through it.

(Dr. Strange III#41) - Strange freed Wolverine from the demons' control, and learned the nature of the attack. Strange and Wolverine traveled to the dimension of the Undying Ones, where they were ambushed and attacked by the demons. Wolverine again came under their control by swallowing some of their demon water while nearly drowning in it. Strange, however, had brought his own weapon, the Gaea Shard, a crystal containing a sliver of the essence of the elder Earth Goddess. Using this, he filled Wolverine with her energies as well, and he mutated into an even more powerful form which shredded the Undying Ones, including the Nameless One.

Strange returned Wolverine to normal, and they fled back to Earth, pursued by the Undying Ones--whether there were more of them, or the others proved able to heal from even the magical wounds they had received was unclear. The heroes made it back to Earth, using the Gaea shard to implode the Sa'arpool as they passed through it, cutting off that portal to Earth forever.

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan.

The age of the Undying Ones on Earth is uncertain.

In Defenders I#20, van Nyborg and his followers are worshipping the Nameless Ones. While this isn't technically incorrect, as the Nameless One is two-headed, two-minded creature, it is still usually referred to in the singular. It was probably just confusion of the Undying and Nameless One(s) names.

It also seems that Barbara would have remained trapped in the Undying Ones' original realm, which was overtaken by the Dark-Crawler. However, when the Defenders later encountered the Nameless One, she was in the same dimension as he. So, either she was taken to their new realm when they fled the Dark-Crawler (that's my guess), or they eventually retook their own realm, which is in contrast to info from the Dark-Crawler at a chronologically later date--both Marvel and real time.

The name Stephen Sanders comes from the brief period when Eternity erased all knowledge of the name Stephen Strange, in order to preserve the secret identity of the Sorcerer Supreme, who had blurted his name out in a crowd. He replaced all memory and written evidence of the name "Stephen Strange" with "Stephen Sanders." This is when Strange first wore that funky blue face mask with his costume. Strange briefly retired shortly thereafter, but when he returned to activity, the Ancient One returned his powers, and erased all memory of Stephen Sanders from Earth.
    Incidentally, when the Ancient One's spell crossed the Earth, Murdoch Adams, who was imprisoned in mystic energy alongside Ningal, retained his memory of Sanders, and...ah, it's not worth explaining any further.

The first Undying Ones story is actually the first "grouping" of the classic Defenders, although they are not named as such, nor do all three get together at the same time. Similarly, the Hulk, Namor, and the Silver Surfer get together in Sub-Mariner I#35, where they are described as "Titans Three." These stories all precede the actual first appearance of the Defenders, which is in Marvel Feature#1.

Here's a little piece of trivia some of you younger fans may not know. Barbara Denton--the woman who was in the Cult of the Undying Ones, but was then sent to the Dark Dimension as punishment by Van Nyborg--may be better recognized by her married name: Barbara Norriss. She's the one whose body was converted into the form of the Valkyrie, of the Defenders, and who served as the form of Brunnehilde until she eventually regained her true form in Defenders I#109(?)

The next issue blurb in Dr. Strange#183 mentioned a story called "The Searchers!" Do go looking for it, b/c it don't exist. Dr. Strange#183 was the last issue, and Strange next showed up as the lead character in a series in Marvel Premiere#3. Definitely go read that!

The Undying Ones have an entry in OHotMU 2006 A-Z#12.

Clarifications:
The Undying Ones have no known connection to:

Elder Race--this also covers demon classifications, Old Ones, etc.

The Nameless One, the two headed leader of the Undying Ones--and his successor for that matter--should be differentiated from:

The Creatures of the Night have no known connection to:


Nameless One

He was the leader of the Undying Ones untold millennia in the past, when they first came to and conquered Earth. He maintained rule during their exile from Earth, and during their several attempts to return to Earth in the modern era. He mated/merged with Barbara Denton Noriss, but was defeated by the Defenders, and Barbara was forcibly separated from him.
He was last seen after being banished back to his realm after failing to consume the life forces of the Valkyrie and Dr. Strange

With the appearance of his successor, also known as the Nameless One, it was ASSumed that he was slain for his failures, although this is unconfirmed.

The Nameless One is a powerful sorcerer (possessing greater power even than Dr. Strange) and he is appears to possess Class 100 strength (or close to it) and durability, as well as being nearly immortal. He found himself unable to stand against the combined power of Dr. Strange, the Hulk, Namor, and the Silver Surfer.

--Dr. Strange I#183-BTS, Sub-Mariner I#22
(Sub-Mariner#22 (fb), [Dr. Strange#183], Sub-Mariner#22, Hulk#126, Defenders#1, [2], 3, 20

 

 

 

 


Nameless One

 

The successor to the two-headed Nameless One, he led a campaign to utilize Wolverine to boost sales...I mean to try to kill Dr. Strange. This scheme failed and he and many of the Undying Ones were slaughtered by a magically enhanced Wolverine, although they may have been able to heal even these wounds.

 

--Dr. Strange III#41 (41(fb), 41

 

 

 


Creatures of the Night

 

These were three (only two of which are seen in the image) beings who may have been transformed human agents of the Undying Ones, or actual Undying Ones themselves. Either way, they confronted Kenneth Ward after he had taken the idol of the Nameless One, put him under their control, and tried (and failed) to determine where he had hidden. They attacked Dr. Strange, but he figured their weakness from their name, and turned them to ashes by exposure to sunlight.

 

Each of these beings possesses magical power equal to Strange's own, but could obviously not survive exposure to bright light

 

--Dr. Strange I#183

 

 

 


Kenneth Ward

 

An old classmate of Dr. Strange, he investigated rumors of the ruins of the city of the Undying Ones in the Himalayas. There he discovered and escaped with the idol of the Nameless Ones. He contacted Dr. Strange for aid and hid the idol, though he soon came under the control of agents of the Undying Ones. Strange destroyed these beings, but Ward died from the strain of resisting their power

--Dr. Strange I#183 (183(fb), 183

 

 


Other appearances:
Sub-Mariner I#22 (February, 1970) - Roy Thomas (writer), Marie Severin (pencils), Johnny Craig (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#126 (April, 1970) - Roy Thomas (writer), Herb Trimpe (artist), Stan Lee (editor)
Defenders I#1 (August, 1972) - Steve Englehart (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Frank Giacoia (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Defenders I#2 (October, 1972) - Steve Englehart (writer), Sal Buscme (pencils), John Verpoorten (inks), Roy Thomas (writer)
Defenders I#3 (December, 1972) - Steve Englehart (writer), Sal Buscme (pencils), Jim Mooney (inks), Roy Thomas (writer)
Defenders I#18 (December, 1974) - Len Wein (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Defenders I#20 (February, 1975) - Steve Gerber (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#269 (March, 1982) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (artist), Al Milgrom (editor)
Dr. Strange III#41 (May, 1992) - Roy Thomas & Jean-Marc Lofficier (writers), Geof Isherwood (artist), Mike Rockwitz (editor)


Last updated: 03/20/03

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