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CRUSADER

Real Name: Thelius

Identity/Class: Uranian Eternal (Post-World War II to modern era)

Occupation: Emissary 

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Horace Grayson, Robert Grayson, Uranian Eternals

Enemies: Fantastic Four (Human Torch/Johnny Storm, Invisible Girl/Susan Richards-Storm, Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards, Thing/Ben Grimm), Calvin McClary

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "Marvel Boy", "Bob Grayson" (assumed identity), "Bright-Eyes", "Clyde" (nicknames used by Human Torch), "Junior" (nickname used by the Thing)

Base of Operations: Unrevealed:
                                   formerly New York City, New York;
                                   formerly Eternals' Uranian Colony, Uranus

First Appearance: Fantastic Four I#164 (November, 1975)

Powers/Abilities: Crusader wielded the Quantum Bands, but lacked the proper skills, insights and mental capacity to harness their full capabilities, believing them to be "merely" solar powered. He used their power to fly and project intense, blinding light beams capable of melting steel. Though he was born Eternal and possessed all the common superhuman traits of his race, such as superstrength, flight, molecular reconstruction and immunity to aging, disease and conventional injuries his mental reprogramming kept Thelius oblivous of the true nature and range of his powers. His mental transformation into Bob Grayson was aborted prematurely, leaving him permanently confused about his origins and prone to irrational anger. Because of his unintended, decades long stay in suspended animation, Crusader spoke in a formal manner, frequently using outdated colloquialisms.

Height: 5'10"
Weight: 170 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Blonde

History:

(Agents of Atlas I#3 (fb) - BTS ) - Millennia ago, the Eternals expelled a number of their people to a penal colony on Uranus after they had formed a sect in an attempt to rule mankind. On Uranus, the imprisoned Eternals discovered the planet's native population who allowed them to remain if they provided them with certain byproducts they could use. As part of the deal, the Eternals were not allowed to leave the Bio-Dome that they'd constructed their cities in. Still, as time passed they longed to leave Uranus. In the late 1930s, they saw an opportunity to do so when they were contacted by the German scientist Horace Grayson. Fearing the rise of Hitler would lead to the destruction of the planet, Grayson wanted to leave Earth with his son. The Eternals sent him plans for a spaceship capable of bringing both Horace and his young son Robert safely to Uranus. The Eternals welcomed father and son with open arms and did everything they could to make their stay pleasant.

(Agents of Atlas I#3 (fb) - BTS) - When Robert Grayson was in his teens, the Eternals offered the impressionable youth the opportunity to return to Earth and oppose the Nazis. In reality, they figured Grayson would act as their unwitting emissary: once word of their existence and the promise of advanced Uranian technologies reached Earth, they would be invited back. The Eternals concluded that getting invited would be the loophole required to get out of their upholding the deal with the native Uranians. In order to achieve this, they provided Grayson with a lesser version of the Quantum Bands, as well as a spaceship and an advanced headband of their own design that secretly transmitted all of Grayson's experiences back to Uranus.

(Agents of Atlas I#3 - BTS) - Grayson, now calling himself Marvel Boy, left for Earth aboard his ship. Though he planned to help fight Hitler, but he didn't arrive until 1951, long after World War II had ended. Unbeknownst to Grayson, the scheming Eternals planned to have a replacement Marvel Boy ready just in case he didn't like what the Eternals were planning.

(Agents of Atlas I#3 (fb) ) - In deepest secrecy, the Eternal High Council selected Thelius, an Eternal boy closest in age to Grayson to replace him. Thelius was surgically altered to look and even sound like the young Earthling. After the physical transformation was completed, they rewrote his memory. All that Grayson had experienced on Earth was fed into Thelius' slowly forming mind while he lay in a dormancy chamber. The Eternals also implanted him with the notion that the High Council was infallible. Thelius was also given the real Quantum Bands to wear.

(Agents of Atlas I#3 - BTS) - The native Uranians learned of the Eternals' scheme and intent to breach their covenant. They attacked the Bio-Dome with a nuclear barrage from underneath the planet surface that wound up killing everyone.

(Agents of Atlas I#3) - In their desperation, the Eternals activated Thelius' dormancy chamber prematurely. Emerging before his mind was fully formed, the dazed and confused creature who believed he was Robert Grayson was too late to be of any help. As he walked through the broken ruins of his cities, his fractured mind pieced together what must have happened. Based on Grayson's memories and experiences, Thelius blamed the attack on a banker called McClary who had once refused Grayson's father Horace a loan the scientist needed to complete his spaceship. Determined to avenge his father and adopted family, he changed his name from Marvel Boy to the Crusader and made preparations to head back to Earth.

(Agents of Atlas I#3 (fb) ) - When the real Marvel Boy returned to the destroyed settlement on Uranus, the mental blocks placed on his mind through the headband disappeared and he learned the truth about the Eternals' plans. He also discovered the dormancy chamber his planned successor had emerged from. Thinking he had perished somewhere on the planet, Grayson couldn't help but think Thelius was really an innocent victim.

(Fantastic Four I#165 (fb) ) - On his way back to Earth in suspended animation, Crusader's ship was hit by the tail end of the passing comet Kohoutek. This derailed his course for several decades, until the vessel drifted close enough to Earth it was sucked in by the planet's gravitational pull. Surviving the crash, Crusader grew disgusted by the world he encountered. He set out to destroy McClary and his financial empire, taking over a year to prepare himself for his campaign of terror.

(Fantastic Four I#164) - Crusader made his presence known when he appeared on the edifice of McClary's Midtown Bank and addressed the crowds below, demonising their culture of greed. His little speech was heard by Johnny Storm who at first thought he was a harmless nut, but sprang into action when Crusader used his superstrength to rip a huge chunk out of the bank and moved in to find McClary. The Torch engaged Crusader, who mistook him for the 1940s Human Torch, but was temporarily blinded by the intense light of his Quantum Bands. Seizing the opportunity, Crusader made his way to McClary. He confronted the old banker who had no idea why he was being targeted, but that didn't stop Crusader from crushing him with a giant piece of debris (in reality, McClary was still alive, though severley injured). Crusader left the scene, leaving a weakened, loopy Human Torch to contact his fellow Fantastic Four members.

(Fantastic Four I#165) - Not content with simply having killed McClary, the Crusader moved on to bringing down his banks as well. He attacked the one in Midtown that McClary worked at and over the next few days destroyed two more branches, with the FF arriving too late to stop him. However, when he made a move against Grover Cleveland National Bank in the Bronx, Mr. Fantastic's radioactivity gauge picked up the Quantum Bands' energies in time for the team to act. While Reed remained behind at the Baxter Building to prepare a weapon, the others arrived in time to save the owner Mr. Morgan, the FF wore specially crafted lenses that made them immune to Crusader's blinding flares. Frustrated, Crusader burst through the ceiling and dared the FF to fight him upstairs. Torch followed through the hole he'd left, but instead of attacking him, he asked the Crusader why the son of Horace Grayson had become a murderer. This calmed him down somewhat, even recounting the warped version of his origins that he believed were true. Sue and Ben meanwhile snuck up to the roof for a surprise attack, but Crusader caught wise and attacked. Thing couldn't help but notice Crusader's antiquated speech, "even Doc Doom don't talk that corny", adding that it seemed odd behavior for someone not a day over 20. Thelius shot back that he was well over 30, claiming that gravitational space travel can do strange things to man. He continued to attack the FF with his light beams, until Reed Richards arrived with a device that created a thick, artificial cloud. Reed figured that by cutting off his source of solar energy, the Crusader could be easily defeated. Thing engaged the Crusader, fighting him inside the bank long enough for Thelius to deplete most of his stored energy reserves defeating Ben. Nearly drained, he rushed out of the bank and found himself oppossed by the remaining FF members. Thelius set the Bands' solar energy absorption to maximum in preparation for a final charge, when Reed's artificial cloud dissipated and the Bands suddenly absorbed the Sun's full power. Unable to handle the energy overload, Thelius was vaporized on the spot, leaving only his Quantum Bands behind.

(Agents of Atlas I#2 (fb) - BTS) - When the real Bob Grayson showed up on Earth (following a long exile on Uranus), SHIELD mistook him for the deceased Crusader and contacted Reed Richards to compare notes. After studying the facts, Mr. Fantastic concluded that the man the FF had fought couldn't possibly have been Grayson.

(Thunderbolts 2000) - Trapped in the Area of Tainted Souls Crusader (Thelius) was one of the many beings fighting there for eternity.

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas (writer), George Perez (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks).

It's hard to believe an Eternal can be killed by what is essentially a bit of a sun burn, even if that Eternal is unaware he has total control over his molecules. Then again, the maximum power of the Quantum Bands has never been measured and he did turn up the solar absorption to maximum, so it's possible Thelius' every single molecule was flashfried, making it impossible for him to reconstruct himself.

As I recall from the original run of What If? I#23-28 in the 1980s--which was doing an Untold Tales of the Eternals back-up feature--a group of rebel Eternals were exiled into space and some of their number wound up on the planet Uranus. These rebel Eternals were exiled before Eternal leader Chronos had his mishap with a cosmic energy experiment that disintegrated Chronus' body but supercharged him into a cosmic being, and also increased the powers of other Earth-bound Eternals, and the rebel group was never exposed to the power-boost; it was this power-boost which also extended the lives of the Eternals and made them truly Eternal, and since the rebels were not on Earth, their natural powers weren't augmented.

   In the picture with Thelius being operated upon--why would true Eternals need to manually perform surgery, why not just use their molecular control ability? Answer: They were descendants of the original non-Eternal Eternals, and their powers weren't nearly as great as their Earthly cousins who had been augmented by Chronus' experiment. As I remember from some of the original Marvel Boy stories, the Uranians didn't seem to have powers much greater than mind-reading.

   Anyway, that's probably why Thelius could be killed and won't be reconstructing himself--he and the other Uranian Etrernals never had the greater power of their Earthly cousins.
--Ron Fredericks

Crusader received a profile in FF: Fifty Fantastic Years#1.

Profile by Norvo.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Crusader should not be confused with


images: (without ads)
FF: Fifty Fantastic Years#1, p60, pan1 (main image)
Agents of Atlas I#3, p18, pan4 (surgically altered)
Fantastic Four I#164, (p18, pans6&7 (blinding Human Torch)
Fantastic Four I#165, p23, pan1 (flashfried by the Quantum Bands)


Appearances:
Fantastic Four I#164 (November, 1975) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), George Perez (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks)
Fantastic Four I#165 (December, 1975) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), George Perez (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks)
Thunderbolts 2000 (2000) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Norm Breyfogle (artist), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Agents of Atlas I#2 (November, 2006) - Jeff Parker (writer), Leonard Kirk (pencils), Kris Justice (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Agents of Atlas I#3 (December, 2006) - Jeff Parker (writer), Leonard Kirk (pencils), Kris Justice (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)


Last updated: 04/02/15

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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