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(from Reality-691)

Classification: Alternate timeline (Reality-691) Terran starship (30th century)

Creators Unrevealed Terran (human) engineers/technicians

User/Possessors: Terran crew (names unrevealed, all deceased)

Aliases: None

First Mentioned: Marvel Presents#4 (April, 1976)

Powers/Abilities/Functions: The starship Andromeda was a space vehicle capable of interstellar travel. Ne details about its size and specifications have ever been revealed.

   No information about Andromeda's crew complement or the amount of mass it could carry have been revealed.

   No information about the range possessed by Andromeda has ever been revealed but it was presumably designed to be capable of at least making a round-trip to Proxima Centauri and back, a distance of 8.493 light-years. Similarly, although Andromeda is known to have been capable of traveling faster than the speed of light, no details as to exactly how much faster than light speed it could travel have been revealed. However, since it was the first Terran starship, its top speed was probably significantly less than the top speeds of more advanced starships that were built in the century after it.

   Like her successors, Andromeda was constructed by human scientists/engineers who used designs that included the so-called Harkovian hyperdrive, a mechanism that made faster-than-light travel possible. Exactly how this "hyperdrive" worked has never been revealed.

   The fuel used by Andromeda was Harkovite, a substance that was able to power the Harkovian hyperdrive. Little has been revealed about this "Harkovite" except that it was first discovered, in sufficient quantities to be useful, at the core of the planet Mercury.

   Due to the lack of available information, anything else that could be included here would be completely hypothetical and/or speculative.

History: Andromeda was the first starship constructed by the Terrans of Earth-691.

(Marvel Super-Heroes II#18 (fb)/Defenders I#26 (fb)) <1988 A.D.> - American astronaut Major Vance Astro was launched into space on a thousand-year journey to the nearest star system.

(Amazing Adventures II#18 (fb)/Defenders I#26 (fb)/Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) <2001 A.D.> - Earth was invaded by aliens who attacked from Mars. These "Martian Masters" easily overcame all of Earth's defenses and swiftly conquered the planet. As their cities crumbled and their science died, human civilization collapsed. During the decades of the occupation, the human population was all but obliterated by the Martians.

(Defenders I#26 (fb)/Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) <by 2075 A.D.> - After the aliens abandoned Earth, human civilization had been left in a barbaric state. A number of ambitious men realized that seizing what technology remained and controlling any science would give them power over others, and those men used their new-found power to establish a feudal system of city-states in which they ruled as "Techno-Barons." The rest of humanity was reduced to being no more than serfs who served these new, human masters.

(Marvel Super-Heroes II#18 (fb) - BTS) - Harkovian physics was discovered 200 years after Astro left Earth and replaced Einsteinian physics 800 years before Astro reached his destination.
(Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) - Sometime during the rule of the Techno-Barons, a physicist known as Harkov made the theoretical breakthrough that would, in centuries to come, prove Einstein wrong and make interstellar faster-than-light travel a reality.

(Defenders I#26 (fb)/Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) - Eventually, after almost 500 years, the Techno-Barons decided to go to war with each other for possession of the Moon. This proved to be a fatal mistake because the serfs didn't want to fight that war and attempts by the barons to conscript them triggered a revolt by the serfs against the Techno-Barons.

(Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) - The papers on which Harkov's theory was explained were lost during the serf revolt.

(Defenders I#26 (fb)/Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) - The rebellion by the serfs was successful.

(Defenders I#26 (fb)) <2525 A.D.> - The reign of the Techno-Barons ended when the tyrant Kwaal was executed by a serf firing squad.

(Defenders I#26 (fb)/Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) - The former serfs restored communications between the city-states, and a political union between them was discussed.

(Defenders I#26 (fb)/Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) <by 2530 A.D.> - A World Federation had been established and humanity had collectively decided that they would reach for the stars.

(Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) <c. 2850 A.D> - Harkov's papers were uncovered in an archeological dig, revealing the secret that had eluded mankind for centuries. However, although Harkov's theory was (presumably) used to design the Harkovian hyperdrive, there was no fuel then available to power it, so at that time there was no means by which his theory could be practically applied.

(Marvel Presents#3 Lettercol/Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) <c. 2900 A.D>> - The fuel required to make the Harkovian hyperdrive work was discovered in the core of the planet Mercury and in sufficient quantities to make faster-than-light travel a reality.

(Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) <2908 A.D.> - Andromeda, the first Terran starship, was constructed in this year. Unfortunately, on its maiden voyage, it perished upon entering the Proxima Centauri anti-matter star-system.

(Defenders I#26 (fb)) <by the mid-2900s> - Humanity had undertaken construction of their first starship fleet.

(Marvel Presents#4: AOCIWH text) <2940 A.D.> - Humans from Earth made their first successful interstellar voyage and arrived in the Alpha Centauri system. Once there, they proceeded to found the first interstellar/extrasolar Terran colony on the planet Centauri-IV, the homeworld of the blue-skinned Centaurians.

(Defenders I#26 (fb)) <by 2960 A.D.> - Terrans had reached the nearest star-system to their own (i.e., Alpha Centauri) and established their first friendly contact with an alien race, the Centaurians.

(Marvel Super-Heroes II#18 (fb)/Defenders I#26 (fb)) <3006 A.D.> - The starship carrying Major Astro arrived in the Alpha Centauri system and landed on its planetary target, Centauri-IV. When Major Astro opened his craft's door and emerged onto the planet, he was shocked be greeted by a crowd made up of both Earthmen and native Centaurians who had gathered to welcome him. After one of the humans revealed that Harkovian physics, which enabled faster-than-light travel, had been discovered 200 years after he left Earth, Astro realized that he had thrown away everything in his life for nothing and had a manic breakdown.

Comments: Created by Steve Gerber.

   Given that the single line (presented to the right) is the only reference to the starship Andromeda that has EVER been made, it seems somewhat odd for me to have written this entire profile on it. However, there are several reasons why I felt it was worthwhile.

   First, I wanted to give some context to that single line by providing all of the relevant history that led to that starship's construction and its death. Also, to ensure that this profile was as accurate as possible, I used data taken directly from the original sources. It's a sad fact that information from secondary sources is sometimes less accurate than one would wish. Although this can be due to actual errors (like assuming that Beta Centauri was one of the three stars in the Alpha Centauri star system), the data can also be unintentionally distorted by people reading the original material and then trying to summarize it into something that can fit into the limited space that has been allotted for it. This process can result in some details being omitted which can lead people who rely on those secondary sources to assume that those details never existed.
   On a related note, I should mention that I may have introduced some of my own biases into this profile. The original text states that Harkov's papers were uncovered "fifty years" after the year 2800 and that "it took another fifty years" before the needed fuel was discovered at Mercury's core. As someone who values precise time measurements and knows how often humans tend to use approximations, I can't help being skeptical about dates that are expressed in that manner. While it's not impossible that those discoveries did take place 50 and 100 years after 2800 A.D., the fact that the text did not definitively state that they were made in the years 2850 A.D. and 2900 A.D. does raise some doubts, as if the time periods had been expressed as being "five decades" or "half a century" in length. Then again, maybe it's just me.
   This is also why I have chosen to not claim that Harkov made his breakthrough in 2188 A.D. even though that one human on Centauri-IV did tell Astro that Harkovian physics had replaced Einsteinian physics 200 years after Astro left Earth (in 1988).

   The second reason why I wrote this profile was to take the opportunity to point out how big a part writer Steve Gerber played in creating this future world as we now know it. Back in 1974, the 31st century universe where the Guardians of the Galaxy struggled to free Earth from the Brotherhood of Badoon and the 21st century Earth where Killraven and his Freemen fought the Martian Masters were thought to be two separate futures and neither of them were considered to be possible futures of Marvel's present-day world of costumed super-heroes and villains. It was Mr. Gerber who established, in his first GOTG story in Marvel Two-In-One#4-5, that the GOTG existed in a possible future of the "mainstream" Marvel Universe by revealing that, as a boy in 1972, Vance Astrovik had once seen Captain America and his then-partner the Falcon in action. Then, a year later, he wrote the story in Defenders I#26 in which Astro provided the Defenders with a "history lesson" about his planet. And finally, in 1976, in response to a deluge of letters from fans asking to hear that story again, he wrote a more detailed chronology that was presented as a text page in Marvel Presents#4. This profile references data taken from the future-history as AOCIWH, an acronym for "AN OUTLINE COURSE IN WORLD HISTORY 1975-3015 A.D."
   One thing that I want to single out about Mr. Gerber's future-history was how he handled a change in the GOTG backstory that had been made editorially. In the original GOTG story, there were dozens of planets in the United Lands of Earth Federation and in that situation it made sense that humanity had had access to faster-than-light travel for 800 years, ever since Harkovian physics had replaced Einsteinian physics 200 years after Astro left Earth. However, when it was later decided to downsize the United Federation of Earth to only five member-worlds, that left open the question of why, given all that time, humans had only colonized one extrasolar planet, Centauri-IV. Mr. Gerber solved that problem by introducing the idea that, although Harkov had made his breakthrough (relatively) soon after Astro left, circumstances prevented his discovery from being put to any practical use. First the Techno-Barons didn't use it for 300+ years (presumably because they realized that they didn't possess a fuel that could power it), then the secret knowledge was lost for another 300+ years, and finally, once the theory had been rediscovered, it still took another fifty years before the proper fuel could be found. These delays provided a good reason for why Earth had only one extrasolar colony in 3007 A.D. without actually contradicting what had been stated back in the original story. That made it a well-written retcon.

   The third reason why I wrote this profile was to remind people of the fact that Steve Gerber had established in 1976 that Proxima Centauri was an anti-matter star-system. I mention this because it has always bothered me that the Official Handbook later chose to reveal that the planet Centuri-Six, the homeworld of the Centurii who first appeared in Thor I#258 in 1977, was actually in orbit around the star Proxima Centauri. Although I realize that the OHotMU writer who made that decision was probably unaware of Mr. Gerber's previous use of that star system, it still seems disrespectful to contradict something that he had previously established as a fact.
   Having said that, I would be satisfied if there were just some "official" explanation for this inconsistency. While my initial preference was that the 616 Proxima Centauri be revealed to also be an anti-matter star-system and therefore NOT the home system of the Centurii, I have come to consider that there is merit in the idea that being from two different time periods in two separate realities could also provide the basis for a good explanation. Although it seems unlikely that one PC counterpart would form out of anti-matter while the other PC formed out of normal matter, the possibility that both versions were originally made of normal matter until something changed the 691 PC into anti-matter could work. All that would be needed was some plausible cause for the change, like some sort of natural space-time phenomena or the accidental result of some experiment or a deliberate action taken by one of the many extremely powerful beings known to inhabit the Marvel Universe. Snood suggested that a Celestial might have made the change but there are other possible suspects, like the Elders or the Stranger. And if it was something that a semi-omnipotent being did deliberately, having a motive would be helpful.

All Things Harkovian...
   Arnold Drake created "Harkovite" and "Harkovian physics" for the first Guardians of the Galaxy story and Steve Gerber later built on those ideas to create the "Harkovian hyperdrive" and "a physicist known as Harkov." These things all play an essential role in the GOTG timeline but, despite having existed for over forty years, very little information about these Harkovian things has ever been revealed. Since the starship Andromeda would never have existed without them, it seems only appropriate to gather together what little is known and present it all here, in this profile's comments section.

   1. Harkovite first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes II#18. When Captain Charlie-27 returned home and landed on the surface of Jupiter, he soon discovered that the Badoon had overrun the entire planet and were forcing their Jovian captives to mine "high-intensity Harkovite" without protection, something that would cause them to all die of radioactivity in five days. Although Harkovite wasn't actually shown in that story, its effects on the prisoners were depicted by the fact that they were surrounded by yellow auras. However, after it was decided to acknowledge the fact that Jupiter doesn't have a solid surface upon which anyone could live or mine for anything, later stories revealed that the Jovians had actually lived in giant city-spheres that floated in Jupiter's atmosphere and all references to Harkovite being mined on Jupiter were removed from continuity.
  • Another effect of this retcon was that the fuel that was needed to make the Harkovian hyperdrive work was now found and mined on Mercury instead. Although the idea that this fuel was known as "Harkovite" has never actually appeared in any story, it is a reasonable assumption and the profile on the Guardians of the Galaxy that appeared in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universe 2005#1 did state that the mineral "Harkovite" was the necessary fuel for faster-than-light travel.
  • I think there are some references to this fuel being known as "Harkovium" but I don't currently remember where I read them.

   2. Harkovian physics were first mentioned in Marvel Super-Heroes II#18. It was presented as being a newer and more accurate understanding of the fundamental physics that describe the scientific nature of the universe than that provided by Einsteinian physics, and one in which it was possible for objects to travel beyond the speed of light. Harkovian physics replaced Einsteinian physics after the physicist known as Harkov made a theoretical breakthrough that proved that Einstein's theories were wrong, at least as regards the impossibility of FTL travel. It was by understanding Harkovian physics that human scientists were able to design and build the mechanism that made faster-than-light space travel a reality, the Harkovian hyperdrive.
  • If a more accurate understanding of the nature of the universe is required in order to develop a means of FTL travel, then it logically follows that every alien race who has been shown to possess the capability for FTL travel must also have developed their own versions of Harkov's theories. That would also apply to those scientists from modern-day Earth-616, like Reed Richards, who have already developed their own FTL vehicles. With that in mind, it seems odd and anthropocentric to continue to treat Harkov as the single individual who is responsible for making FTL travel possible.

   3. The Harkovian hyperdrive that propelled the starship Captain America was first identified by that name in Marvel Two-In-One I#5. The text pages in Marvel Presents#3-4 also referred to this engine by that name but subsequent stories only referred to it as the hyperdrive.
  • Based on its name, it seems likely that the Harkovian hyperdrive functions by enabling starships to achieve effective FTL speeds by accessing the dimension known as hyperspace where the physical laws differ from those of Earth's dimension in various ways. However, although some sources claim that all interstellar FTL travel requires accessing hyperspace (which is also known as sub-space or warp-space), I'm not sure if this has ever been firmly established as an absolute fact or not.
  • As with Harkovian physics, it seems almost certain that many (or all) of the other races who possess similar FTL engines are actually using versions of this hyperdrive that they developed themselves. This (again) makes it seem odd and anthropocentric to continue to treat Harkov as the single individual responsible for making FTL travel possible.

   4. The "physicist known as Harkov" was first mentioned in Steve Gerber's history of the Guardians' timeline that was presented as a text page in Marvel Presents#4. Of course, based on the fact that Einsteinian physics was developed by Albert Einstein, it's reasonable to presume that Arnold Drake did intend for someone named Harkov to be the creator of Harkovian physics. However, any in-story references to Harkov are rare and mostly limited to exclamations like "Holy Harkov" or "In Harkov's name" or "Harkov's bones." Aside from what was revealed in Gerber's history, which was not technically in-story, there have been no GOTG stories which have revealed anything about him. In fact, since Gerber's only two references to Harkov do not specify their gender, it could be argued that Harkov was actually a woman and not a man as has been universally assumed for decades. That would be an interesting surprise revelation.
  • Having said that, the aforementioned GOTG profile did give his full name as Isaac Harkov. However, since that name was created for the profile, I would really like to read some in-story confirmation (or refutation) of its validity before I accept it as canon.
  • Some online sources have identified Isaac Harkov as being one of the Techno-Barons himself. Although it's not impossible, I believe that this idea is definitely non-canon — at least until some writer reads that data online, assumes that it's accurate and uses it in a story, thereby making it canon. Personally, I think it's just as likely that the Techno-Barons tended to keep people with any scientific knowledge close by as minions they could exploit and that Harkov could have been one of those minions.

Some unanswered questions:
  • First, the idea that a particular fuel was needed to make the Harkovian hyperdrive work seems a bit odd. Exactly what properties did Harkovite possess that made it the ONLY substance capable of powering the hyperdrive? Or were there other fuels that were unknown to the Terrans?
  • Second, if the FTL engines used by some/many/all other races were actually versions of the Harkovian hyperdrive, wouldn't that mean that Harkovite was actually a rare and valuable resource that was of critical importance to some/many/all of the star-faring races in the galaxy? It would be like dilithium in the Star Trek continuity (except for the fact that dilithium isn't a fuel but crystals that are needed to regulate the matter/antimatter reaction that powers the warp-drive engines of most starships).
  • Third, if Andromeda was constructed and destroyed in 2908 A.D., why did it take the Terrans 32 years to send another starship to Alpha Centauri?
  • Fourth, what was the name of the first Terran starship to reach Alpha Centauri? Was it a single ship or part of a colonization fleet?
  • Fifth, the text pages in Marvel Presents#3-4 are careful to state that the fuel that made the Harkovian hyperdrive work was found "in sufficient quantities" or "in quantity" at Mercury's core. Does this mean that samples of Harkovite had been found earlier, in other locations, but only in amounts that had been too small to be used to power starships?
  • Sixth, given that the United Federation of Earth was not founded until the year 3000 A.D., what was the actual name of the World Federation that existed when Andromeda was built? Could that precursor world government have been the United Lands of Earth?

   The Wikipedia article on the Proxima Centauri star system can be found here.

   A Google search turned up at least eight online articles about the possibility that stars or even whole galaxies made of antimatter might exist in our universe, but most of them seem to be reporting on the results of the same study. A link to one of those articles can be found here.

Profile by Donald Campbell.

The starship Andromeda is presumably named after:

but has no known connections to:

images: (without ads)
Marvel Presents#4, excerpt from text page: "AN OUTLINE COURSE IN WORLD HISTORY 1975-3015 A.D." by Steve Gerber

Mentioned in the text page from Marvel Presents#4 (April, 1976) - Steve Gerber (writer)
Mentioned in the profile on the Guardians of the Galaxy that appeared in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universe 2005 (November, 2005) - Jeff Christiansen (Head Writer/Coordinator)

First Posted: 07/30/2023
Last updated: 07/30/2023

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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