Real NameCort Zo Tinnus

Identity/ClassExtraterrestrial (race of origin unidentified; by his nature, he is that race's sole survivor)

Occupation: Barterer, seeker of power

Group Membership: Elders of the Universe (Architect, Astronomer, Caregiver, Champion, Collector, Contemplator, Explorer, Father Time, Gardener, Grand Astrogater, Grandmaster, Judicator, Obliterator, Possessor, Runner, others)

Affiliations: Astronomer (Seginn Gallio), Champion (Tryco Slatterus), Collector (Taneleer Tivan), Contemplator imposter (actually a Skrull imposter of Tath Ki), Ego the Living Planet, Gardener (Ord Zyonz), Grandmaster (En Dwi Gast), Obliterator (Maht Pacle), Possessor (Kamo Tharnn), Runner (Gilpetperdon), Sinalinas race, unidentified champion;
    formerly Death (cosmic manifestation), In-Betweener

Enemies: Death (cosmic manifestation), Galactus (Galan), In-Betweener, Invisible Woman (Sue Richards), Mantis, Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards), Nova (Frankie Raye), Shalla-Bal, Silver Surfer (Norrin Radd)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed; possibly the Death dimension;
    formerly the "Magic Realm";
    formerly a base within an unspecified star system in the Cone Nebula;

First Appearance: Silver Surfer III#4 (October, 1987)



Powers/Abilities: The Trader has no other known superhuman physical abilities. His strength level was listed as "unknown," but he never demonstrated any strength and avoided physical conflict. I'd imagine him to be of comparable strength to a middle aged human male of his size who engaged in no regular exercise.

    The Trader is unaging, his life force bolstered by his single-minded obsession with the pursuit of barter. Along with the other Elders of the Universe, Tinnus was, for a time, permanently barred from entry into Death's realm, making him essentially unable to die (at least within Earth's universe).

    The Trader is supremely experienced and skilled at bartering. He is willing to trade something in his possession for something else he needs or wants more, and he is able to convince others that they want and/or need what he had to trade.

    The Trader has utilized a number of devices that he has acquired through barter, such as various weapons, suits of armor, and his bodycase, which bound to his biological aura; the bodycase and its contents could only be removed through his death.




Height: 4'5"
Weight: Unrevealed (based on his height and build, I would have assumed him to be be about 80 lbs.; the OHotMU Update '89 entry listed his weight as "unknown," which presumably indicates we don't know if he was of the same density as a human)
Eyes: Black
Hair: Orange


(Captain America Annual#6 - BTS / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#4: Elders of the Universe entry (fb) / Silver Surfer III#6 (fb) - BTS / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89: Astronomer entry) -
Cort Zo Tinnus is one of the Elders of the Universe: Coming into existence approximately 5.5 billion years ago, he is one of the oldest living beings in the universe and was a member of one of the first races to become sentient in the wake of the Big Bang, the event that began the universe.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#4: Elders of the Universe entry (fb) / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89: Astronomer entry) - Tinnus' origins are lost in antiquity, but he spent his life engaged in single-minded pursuit of bartering. His monomaniacal obsession apparently enabled him to survive indefinitely, while the rest of his race became extinct.

(Silver Surfer III#6 (fb) - BTS) - Between 5.5 and 4.5 billion years ago, another Elder, the Obliterator, located each of the other Elders of the Universe, including Tinnus, who had come to be known as the Trader.

(Silver Surfer III#6 (fb) - BTS / Silver Surfer III#1_ (fb) - BTS / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89: Astronomer entry) - The Elders chafed under the idea that there was a non-mystical, non-purely-abstract being older than them: the immensely powerful planet-destroyer Galactus, who had survived the destruction of the previous universe and been reborn in the Big Bang of the subsequent/current universe.

(Silver Surfer III#4 (fb) - BTS / Silver Surfer III#6 (fb) - BTS / Silver Surfer III#7 (fb) - BTS / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89: Astronomer entry) - The Elders known as the Grandmaster and Astonomer convinced the other Elders to join together in a plot to destroy Galactus: Since Galactus served in maintaining the balance between Eternity -- the cosmos' embodiment of existence and time -- and Death -- the embodiment of non-existence (this should more appropriately be the embodiment of mortality, as Oblivion is the embodiment of non-existence), Galactus' demise would alter the balance of and thusly bring about the end of the universe and lead to the development of a new universe.

    To this end, the Astronomer arranged for the Elders to become unable to die and then had then gather the six known Infinity Gems (at the time all largely known as the Soul Gems due to misunderstanding of their true natures), with which the Elders could slay Galactus.
    When the new universe would arise, the Astonomer believed that not only would they be the oldest beings in existence, but that they would be reborn as a race of "Galacti," Galactus-like beings, and would be a dominant power in the universe.

(Avengers Annual#16 - BTS) - The Grandmaster's and Collector's machinations with Death rendered the Elders of the Universe exiled from the realm of death, which made them essentially unable to die.

(Silver Surfer III#4 (fb) - BTS) - The Trader gathered with several other Elders (Astronomer, Champion, Collector, Contemplator (actually a Skrull imposter), Gardener, Grandmaster, Obliterator, Runner), using Ego the Living Planet as their meeting place. They formed an alliance with the powerful Ego by rationalizing that his nature as a unique being made him the last of his kind and thus an Elder.

(Silver Surfer III#4) - Mantis joined forced with the Silver Surfer to oppose the Elders' plans. They traveled to the planet on which the Elders held their meeting (unaware this was Ego), where some of them verbally sparred, boasting of accomplishments and mocking failures; the Trader eventually told the Obliterator to be quiet, so the Grandmaster could reveal his plans, which he did.. Ego then detected the Surfer and Mantis' presence, and Ego and several Elders (not including the Trader) attacked them, but the pair escaped. When the Collector missed the fleeing pair with a hand-held blaster, Trader told him his aim was disgraceful. Collector responded that others should be doing this for them, and the Trader responded that they soon would...

(Silver Surfer III#7 (fb) - BTS) - The Contemplator (imposter) was sent to meet with the Supreme Intelligence to negotiate for the Mind Gem.

(Silver Surfer III#7 (fb) - BTS) - By defeating the ablest sentients of the planet Grinx,  the Champion obtained their world trophy, another Infinity Gem.

(Silver Surfer III#7 (fb) - BTS) - The Trader traded for two Infinity Gems.

(Silver Surfer III#5 - BTS) - The Obliterator assaulted the Surfer and Mantis, but the Surfer neutralized his weapons. Deprived of his ability to carry out his reason to live -- killing others -- but unable to die due to the Grandmaster's arrangements, the Obliterator agreed to share everything he knew, so that the Surfer might consign the Grandmaster to the same fate.

(Silver Surfer III#6 - BTS) - The Obliterator told the Surfer and Mantis of the place (Earth) and time (autumnal equinox) of the Elders' next planned meeting. During this meeting, they were to test the weapon they would use against Galactus. However, the Surfer soon learned of a Kree threat against Zenn-La, and so he honored his pledge to defend Zenn-La, leaving Mantis to return to Earth alone.

(Silver Surfer III#7 (fb) - BTS) - The Elders (Astronomer, Champion, Collector, Gardener, Grandmaster, Possessor, Runner, Trader) regathered on Earth as planned.

(Silver Surfer III#7) - The Elders discussed their absent members and their reasons; Trader remarked how both Runner and Champion had failed to slay the Surfer. They discussed having five Infinity Gems so far.
    As planned, the Gardener discovered Mantis spying on them and captured her, though she had time enough to send out a plea for help to Shalla-Bal (the Surfer's former lover and ruler of the planet Zenn-La).

(Silver Surfer III#8 - BTS) - The Surfer stole the Mind Gem from the Supreme Intelligence (rendering it temporarily insane from the warring Kree minds that made it up), and the Gardener confronted Shalla-Bal.

(Silver Surfer III#9 (fb) - BTS) - The Gardener captured Shalla-Bal, who joined Mantis as the Elders' prisoner near the Cone Nebula where the other Elders (Astronomer, Champion, Collector, Gardener, Grandmaster, Possessor, Runner, Trader, and the astral self of the "Contemplator"), had gathered to ambush Galactus.

(Silver Surfer III#9) - After the Contemplator told the Elders of the Surfer holding the Mind Gem, and the fate of the Supreme Intelligence, Trader worried that the Kree armies would be pursuing the Surfer, but the Contemplator explained how the Kree army would be without direction with the Supreme Intelligence incapacitated.

(Silver Surfer III#9) - When the Surfer arrived, the Elders greeted him, and the Trader reminded him of the planned trade of the Mind Gem for the women. After the Surfer surrendered the Mind Gem, the Elders sent the women to a distant place where their containment would detonate on his approach, but his power and speed enabled the Surfer to escape destruction and save one of the women (Shalla-Bal, though he had tried to save Mantis).

(Silver Surfer III#9 - BTS) - Via duplicating the flare used by Nova (Frankie Raye) to summon Galactus, the Elders summoned Galactus to their base.

(Silver Surfer III#9) - After Nova arrived to investigate, the Elders used the six Infinity Gems to siphon his powers into six nearby worlds. When Nova tried to stop them, the Elders used the gems' power to contain her within an energy beam. Returning, the Surfer freed Nova and then guided her to cause the six planets' sun to go nova, disrupting the transfer, and creating a black hole towards which the Elders, Infinity Gems, and Nova and the Surfer were pulled.

(Silver Surfer III#9 / Silver Surfer III#10 (fb) - BTS / Silver Surfer III#11 (fb) - BTS) - Restored by the nova explosion's energies, Galactus saved the Surfer and Nova -- as well as Champion, Collector, Gardener, Grandmaster, and Runner  -- from the black hole. However, Possessor, Astronomer, and Trader, as well as the Infinity Gems, were lost into the black hole.
    Present only in astral form, the Contemplator escaped the other Elders' fates.

(Silver Surfer III#10 - BTS) - Despite the Grandmaster's assertions that they could not die, the vengeful Galactus converted the Champion, Collector, Gardener, Grandmaster, and Runner into energy and consumed them. He did subsequently note that their energies were difficult to absorb, but considered that he had all eternity to do so.

(Silver Surfer III#15 (fb)) - The Possessor, Astonomer, and Trader emerged from the Black Hole in the "Magic Realm" (domain of the In-Betweener, Lord, Chaos, and Master Order). All six Infinity Gems were scattered about the realm. Though unable to die, these Elders were all physically frail and resolved to obtain the Gems by any means possible. (see comments)


(Silver Surfer III#15 (fb) - BTS) - Via foreseeing various events, the Astronomer planned to reacquire the Gems and ally with the In-Betweener, the surest means to traversing the black hole and destroying Galactus.

(Silver Surfer III#17 (fb)) - The Possessor, Astronomer, and Trader founded a sanctuary dedicated to the In-Betweener. They threw their voices into the void, and the In-Betweener heard and agreed to their plans.

(Silver Surfer III#15 (fb)) - The three Elders traveled to the world of the Sinalinas, where two gems had fallen. With nothing of value to trade the Sinalinas and with Trader and Astronomer necessary for future endeavors, the Elders agreed to the Sinalinas' offer to trade them the two gems in exchange for the Possessor, whose knowledge of an alien realm interested the Sinalinas, as well as a starship and some weaponry.

(Silver Surfer III#15 (fb) - BTS) - The Trader and Astronomer recovered the other four Infinity Gems.

(Silver Surfer III#15 - BTS) - When the Silver Surfer (along with Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards and the Invisible Woman/Sue Richards, who were already beginning to fall under the influence of Master Order and Lord Chaos, respectively) arrived on the world of the Sinalinas by tracking the Infinity Gems, the Possessor confirmed that the Astronomer and Trader were seeking the other four Infinity Gems, though he refused to reveal where they had gone. Able to track them, the Surfer took the Richardses with him as he departed, leaving the Possessor behind, just as planned.

(Silver Surfer III#15) - Guiding the Richardses in their ship, the Surfer tracked and confronted the Trader and Astronomer in their ship, noting they had all six Infinity Gems. The Trader responded that the Surfer's skills had been wasted, as the Infinity Gems were attached to the Trader's biological aura by his bodycase, which could only be removed through his death...and he could not die. The Chaos-affected Sue Richards attacked savagely, dropping the Trader by forming a force field to cause his power hand-blaster weapon to backfire and seemingly stunning the Order-affected Mr. Fantastic by massively distending his form with a spiked shield.

(Silver Surfer III#16 (fb) - BTS) - Wishing to see what the Elders were plotting, Richards only pretended to be incapacitated.

(Silver Surfer III#15) - Appealing to the Trader's monomania, the chaos-driven Sue Richards (aka Malice) incapacitated the Surfer with the Trader's gun (which she had made invisible) and then traded the Surfer to the Trader for all six Infinity Gems.

(Silver Surfer III#16 (fb) - BTS) - After the departure of "Malice," the Astronomer and Trader landed their ship on an unidentified planet, bringing the captured Surfer and the Order-driven Reed Richards with them.

(Silver Surfer III#16 - BTS) - The Trader taunted the Surfer with his inability to escape his bodycase or to touch his surfboard without his permission, and then told the Surfer he would fly the Astronomer and Trader back through the black hole. Richards noted that the Elders could not have escaped the "Magic Realm" via the Infinity Gems, and that they needed the Surfer; the Trader added that the time to make a deal was when the other side wanted to.
    Richards further insisted that Death's pact barring the Elders from her realm did not apply in the Magic Realm, and that they could, in fact, die here. Therefore, if they gave the Surfer access to his board to escape the realm, he could access his power and slay the Trader or both Elders.
    Though the Trader disputed this, the Astronomer seemingly admitted that Richards had seen through them. Richards offered to trade them his promise to free them (after rescuing Sue) in exchange for their freeing the Surfer; the Trader seemed uncertain, but the Astronomer accepted, much to the Trader's seeming consternation. The Astronomer noted that Richards was an honorable and serious man, but after they departed, the Astronomer and Trader smiled and shook hands, as the heroes had again played into their scheme.


(Silver Surfer III#16 - BTS / Silver Surfer III#17 (fb) - BTS) - At some point as the Surfer tracked and led Richards to the ship Sue Richards had piloted towards the black hole, the Possessor, Astronomer, and Trader arrived and hid behind a panel aboard that ship. Reed Richards accidentally touched the Soul Gem and was briefly possessed by the In-Betweener, who subsequently emerged physically into the Magic Realm.

(Silver Surfer III#17) - The Possessor, Astronomer, and Trader emerged from behind their hidden panel, and the Trader admitted to their having been in league with Possessor all along; as Elders, they were not affected by the forces which overwhelmed mere humans. With the Elders intending to leave the Surfer and Richardses (now free from Chaos and Order's influence) trapped in the Magic Realm, the Elders gathered the other five gems (the In-Betweener retained the Soul Gem, while Trader placed the gems in his bodycase) and departed to Earth's universe.
    The three Elders and the In-Betweener then located and entered Galactus' ship, after which the Trader used the five Infinity Gems he held to incapacitate Nova. However, the In-Betweener failed in his attempt to destroy the collapsed Galactus (as Galactus was unique in this universe and had no force with which to counterbalance him) and instead decided to cast Galactus back through the black hole. The Astronomer angrily forbade this, reminding that the other Elders were still within Galactus. The Elders fired a blast drawing on their Infinity Gems' power, but the In-Betweener was unaffected. He then summoned Death and apparently -- arguing that, as the balance point between extremes, he was death himself, as well as life -- forced her to slay the three Elders.


(Contest of Champions III#6 (fb) - BTS) - Following the defeat of God Doom and the subsequent omniversal reconstruction, Trader and the other Elders of the Universe became aware of Battlerealm, the former, broken "Secret Wars" reality at the edge of spacetime.

(Contest of Champions III#6 (fb) ) - The Elders traveled to Battlerealm and visited the husk of the old Battleworld where they still sensed an immense source of power waiting to be claimed (the recently formed ISO-8). All the Elders immediately lusted after it, ready to follow the path of their individual obsessions to claim it. Trader felt the energy of creation and was happy to trade with the others for it, but they didn't agree. In the end they all agreed to the Grandmaster's proposal of deciding through a contest of champions. All twelve of them would get to pick a champion from the new multiverse to fight in their stead, with Grandmaster already selecting Maestro (Bruce Banner) who they found alive and defiant in the ruins of Battleworld.

(Contest of Champions III#6 (fb) - BTS) - Trader picked a champion, who lost in the battle at Arcade's Killiseum.

Comments: Created by Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, and Joe Rubinstein.

    The Elders' plot is covered in greater detail in the Astronomer's profile. Rather than making this profile a repeat of that one, I tried to trim the text to focus on things with which the Trader was more directly involved; however, the plots were convoluted, and there's still a lot of detail from the plot in there.

    The Possessor was subsequently shown to have survived apparent obliteration at the hands of Death, as he was active again in Quasar#47 (June, 1993); so, it's entirely possible that Astronomer and/or Trader survived, too, or that their destruction at Death's hands was part of a ruse.

    Thanks to Patrick Duke for scanning the OHotMU images for me. My Update '89 issues are somewhere in the hundreds of unfiled comics...I could find the trade paperbacks/essentials, but these were in black & white, of course...

    Also, for an extensive discussion on the nature and progression/evolution of the Elders of the Universe, please see the comments on the Possessor profile.

Contest of Champions update by Norvo & Markus Raymond.

Profile by Snood.

The Trader
should be distinguished from:

images: (without ads)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89#7? (, 1989): Trader entry (main image)
Silver Surfer III#15, pg. 19, pg. 4 (isolated frontal image of armored form)
            pg. 5 (armored form showcasing bodycase)
        pg. 20, panel 2 (firing laser at Surfer)
    #17, pg. 6, panel 2 (full body in armored form (with In-Betweener))
        pg. 14, panel 5 (Death!)

Silver Surfer III#4-6 (October-December, 1987) - Steve Englehart (writer), Marshall Rogers (penciler), Joe Rubinstein (inker), Michael Higgins (editor)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89#1 (July, 1989) - Peter Sanderson (writer/researcher), Ron Lim (artist), Gregory Wright (editor), Mark Gruenwald (executive editor)
Silver Surfer III#7-9 (January-March, 1988) - Steve Englehart (writer), Marshall Rogers (penciler), Joe Rubinstein (inker), Michael Higgins (editor)
Silver Surfer III#15-17 (September-November, 1988) - Steve Englehart (writer), Ron Lim (penciler), Joe Rubinstein (inker), Craig Anderson (editor)
Contest of Champions III#6 (May, 2016) - Al Ewing (writer), Paco Medina (pencils), Juan Vlasco (inks), Chris Robinson & Mark Paniccia (editors)  

Last updated: 04/10/16

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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