CRANIO

Real Name: Unrevealed, possibly Cranio

Identity/Class: Extradimensional (Earth-1611) human (mutant/mutate/cyborg?, see below)

Occupation: Criminal mastermind

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Ursus the Ultra-Bear, Void (Eddie Emmerick)

Enemies: Avenging Society (Captain America, others), Sentry (Ed Eckles) (both of Earth-161); Dr. Hugo Cornelius, Gorax, Scout (Billy Turner), Sentress (Carol Danvers), Sentry (Robert Reynolds), Void (Eddie Emmerick) (all of Earth-1611)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: The Man with the Tri-Level Mind, the Man Who Knew Too Much

Place of Birth: Unrevealed (possibly inapplicable, see below)

Base of Operations: Primarily New York City, New York, USA, but also various, including a “secret base” three hundred miles off the Atlantic coast of the United States

First Appearance: The Age of the Sentry#1 (September, 2008)

Powers/Abilities: Cranio had a “tri-level mind” consisting of multiple interconnected brains, making him a creative and analytical genius. He used a number of sophisticated devices of his own invention, including ray guns, mind-control devices (such as the Hypnotron), levitating platforms and one-man flying saucers, and realistic robot duplicates of himself. He also stole Professor Hugo Cornelius’ Pyramobile time-machine.

Height:Unrevealed (see comments)
Weight: Unrevealed (see comments)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Black
Other distinguishing features: Cranio has a long, pointy beard and the top of his skull has been replaced with a large, translucent dome displaying the three brains of his “tri-level mind."
Note: Different iterations (see below) of Cranio possess somewhat different eyes, facial hair and domes.

History: (The Age of the Sentry#6/1 (fb) ) – Cranio came into existence in the “secondary timestream” of Earth-1611 because he was needed as a recurring enemy for the Sentry.

(The Age of the Sentry#1/1 (fb)) – Cranio encountered and battled the Sentry for the first time, disguising himself, as he would many times in the future, by hiding his enormous translucent head with a large top hat.

(The Age of the Sentry#2/3 (fb) - BTS) – Although Cranio was able to brainwash the Sentry, he was eventually defeated, with Sentry's sidekick Scout tossing him between two Mental Analyzer Poles.

(The Age of the Sentry#5/2) – Cranio attempted to use his Hypnotron mind-control device to bring all single-brained members of humanity under his mental thrall, but a group of filthy nearby hippies was unaffected due to the way-out cosmic flavors of the Marvel Fruit Pies the Sentry had distributed to them. Desiring to learn what about the pies was interfering with his plan, Cranio tried them himself, only to have the Sentry take away his Hypnotron and send him to jail.

(The Age of the Sentry#1/1 (fb) ) – Cranio stole the brain of the alien Gorax, which was eventually taken away from him by the Sentry.

(The Age of the Sentry#1/1) – Professor Hugo Cornelius tossed Gorax’s brain into a “living gelatin” that responded to brainwaves, and the alien’s consciousness used it to create a new body for itself. Incapacitating the Sentry by stealing the power of his mind with his “siphoning sentience," Gorax set out to take his revenge on Cranio, but upon finding him, was easily defeated by the Sentry, whose powers had been returned thanks to Scout and Sentry's would-be girlfriend Lindy Lee. The Sentry secured Gorax’s brain, but when he tried to apprehend Cranio, he found the villain was in fact a robot duplicate.

(The Age of the Sentry#2/1 (fb) ) – Cranio discovered a mini-moon in the Antares system that produced radiation lethal to humans, but with the ability to greatly enlarge most other animals. After experimenting on a number of different creatures (including a frog), he determined that a trained bear would make the ideal recipient of such power, and set about acquiring one named Ursus from a closing circus. Using the mini-moon’s radiation, he altered her biochemically to grow in size when exposed to Sentry’s energies, and also gave her the ability to project eyebeams of negative energy like that of the Void.

(The Age of the Sentry#2/1) – Cranio, in disguise at the World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows, New York City, used his chemically-altered bear to menace visiting Air Force officer Carol Danvers, who was forced to hide the fact that she had superpowers to preserve her secret identity. When the Sentry intervened, he triggered the bear’s transformation into the gigantic Ursus the Ultra-Bear. With her ability to sap the Sentry’s energy, Ursus was too powerful for him to defeat until Danvers departed and returned costumed as the Sentress. The two of them were able to temporarily contain Ursus’ rampage, but as they had clash after clash with her, unable to achieve a real victory, Cranio set out on a self-described “campaign of terror." Although Sentry and Sentress eventually led Ursus to an Antarctic ice cave, where she fell dormant, Cranio was able to elude capture.

(The Age of the Sentry#2/2) – During a surprise birthday party for the Sentry held by his hero friends, an alternate incarnation of Cranio appeared and insisted that Sentry blow out the candles on his cake. Sentry, confused by the appearance of both Cranio and an unidentified, terrifying entity, eventually acceded to the villain’s demands, and things returned to normal.

(The Age of the Sentry#4/1) – Cranio broke into the lab of Professor Cornelius and stole the Pyramobile time machine, intending to search for his own origin. Cranio’s difficulty controlling the damaged Pyramobile caused him to first create a hole in time, transporting Harrison Oogar, the Caveman of Wall Street, from the distant past to a time several years before the present, and then to overshoot his intended temporal destination. This diversion into the past led Sentry, pursuing him, to briefly mistake Abraham Lincoln for a top-hatted Cranio. As he tried to return to the present, Cranio was intercepted by the Sentry, but their collision knocked the Sentry out and transported a different Sentry from an alternate world (Earth-161) to Earth-1611. While this “Golden Age” Sentry and the original tried to track down the missing Pyramobile and Cranio, having adventures and saving people along the way, Cranio himself, having discovered Sentry’s secret identity in the past, stormed Reynolds’ workplace, the Excelsior Encyclopedia building. He revealed to the Excelsior employees that Sentry and Robert Reynolds were the same person, but then Sentry and the Golden Age Sentry tricked everyone present into believing Sentry and Reynolds were present at the same time. Although confused, Cranio nevertheless tried to communicate what he had learned about Earth-1611 to the Sentry, but mysteriously vanished before he could.

(The Age of the Sentry#4/2) – While the Sentry and Blonde Phantom (Louise Mason) were searching the subways for missing rock group the Crick-Hits, the Sentry’s perspective briefly shifted to the Earth-6905 universe of Destroyer Darkmass, where a constantly-changing Cranio explained that nothing the Sentry could have done would have saved the millions of exploding planets surrounding them. As he returned to the “reality” of Earth-1611, Sentry discounted the experience as a hallucination caused by subterranean fungus.

(The Age of the Sentry#5/4 - BTS) – Cranio teamed up with Kang on New Year’s Eve, and the pair was only stopped by the return of the Sentry of Earth-161 with his world’s Avenging Society.

(The Age of the Sentry#5/3 - BTS) – Sentry gave children a ride on Cranio’s deactivated flying saucer.

(The Age of the Sentry#6/1) – Hoping to defeat the Sentry once and for all, Cranio teamed up with the Void. After a tussle with an enlarged meteor parasite revealed Sentry’s identity to the world, Cranio took advantage of the chaos surrounding the Excelsior Encyclopedia building to unleash a weakened, diminished Ursus, controlling her brainless body by remote control. While Sentry dealt with the Ultra-Bear, Cranio and the Void captured Lindy Lee and held her hostage at lobotomy ray-point. The Void drained Sentry’s powers, and Cranio used a device to beam them away to his secret base. With Sentry seemingly dead, the villains fought off an attack by the Sentry robot built by his fan club.

   Sentry survived, although depowered, and with the use of a flight-belt, was able to trace his stolen energy to Cranio’s secret base over the Atlantic Ocean. He discovered the base contained a gigantic living brain, as well as Professor Cornelius’ Pyramobile, and upon landing was confronted by "Earth-4209"'s intangible Cranio. This Cranio explained that he was representative of how he might look in the future, if he didn’t die. He led Sentry through the base, providing Sentry with a great deal of knowledge. He and Void had determined they could finally defeat the Sentry if they could drain his powers and store them in an organic matrix; the giant brain in the base was Gorax’s, which Cranio had replaced in Cornelius’ lab with the brain of Ursus; the Void had been transformed from a low-level powered thug into a potentially cosmic threat by the same event that created the Sentry; and the entirety of this universe was a product of Sentry’s existence. Realizing the death of the Sentry could mean the universe and everything in it would cease to exist, he attempted to release the stored energy from Gorax’s brain, only to be murdered by the Void – leaving his potential future self, "Cranio-4209," as the only way to inform the Sentry what had happened. Having accomplished this last task, "Cranio-4209" vanished and Cranio-1611, his head-dome shattered, died.

(Contest of Champions III#5 - BTS) – The Void, having absorbed the Sentry’s powers, personality, memories and identity, was captured by the Grandmaster (En Dwi Gast) and taken to his Battleworld to fight against a team assembled by the Collector (Taneleer Tivan). Frustrated with his allies and enemies, he became the Void again, then retook the form of the Sentry upon settling down – and wondered aloud to himself if these memory lapses could be the doing of his enemy “Cranius, the Triple-Brained Man”.

Comments: Created by Jeff Parker, Nick Dragotta and Gary Martin.

So I have some regrets about tackling this profile.

Briefly: the world (Earth-1611) portrayed in The Age of the Sentry is a projected reality that exists “alongside” some unspecified timeline, seemingly created unconsciously by the Sentry to “store” events that “must have happened” in his past despite having not happened in his reality. The consequences for the Sentry are that his history includes events that are only true for himself; the consequences for the inhabitants of Earth-1611 are that their world is wildly malleable, with events and individuals being created and changed constantly, and even the portion of the Sentry that projects into Earth-1611 is at the whims of these changes. (Probably the most confusing implication of this two-world system is that, in Earth-1611, the original Sentry [Robert Reynolds] died and was replaced by the Void [Eddie Emmerick] – but this is not necessarily the case elsewhere, even though the Sentries of both worlds ought to be the same person! I know, right?) Cranio discovered this when investigating the timeline of Earth-1611 and discovered he had no origin – he simply existed because the Sentry needed him to exist.

Given the stories in the AOTC series are being told by the Reed Richards of Earth-616 to his son, it is tempting to assume the unspecified primary timeline of the Sentry is indeed Earth-616, but this remains purely speculative.

It’s possible that Earth-1611 is an entirely separate universe that exactly replicates the events of the “secondary timestream” paralleling the unknown maybe-616 timeline , but if that were true, it would itself have an unidentified “primary timeline” in order for the events of the story to still occur. That hurts my (single) brain enough that I am considering Earth-1611 the “secondary timestream” proper until someone says it’s not.

Two alternate Cranios appear on Earth-1611 as its reality destabilizes, basically with the brains arranged vertically or horizontally, although both of these Cranios behave at times exactly as though they were still Cranio-1611.
    The version with the more horizontal arrangement is designated as from "Reality-4029," but it is unclear whether both or either of these forms represent alternate reality versions or perhaps past or future incarnations or each other, or something else altogether.--Snood

The last issue of AOTS is explicitly identified as an imaginary story (in the tradition of the Distinguished Competition’s Silver Age books) and Reed tells Franklin that he made it up, but it’s the only story that establishes that Sentry-1611 is also the Void, which is a critical aspect of his later appearance in the 2015 Contest of Champions book, and also the last issue of AOTS is required for any of the rest of the series to make sense, so it is being treated as “having happened” by this profile…as much as anything on Earth-1611 happened.

The details about the Sentry’s first battle with Cranio from AOTS#2 and the story about Cranio teaming up with Kang from AOTS#5 are from the faux letters pages at the issues’ ends, rather than from either story strip. Cranio’s scheme with the Hypnotron took place in a faux-ad for Marvel Fruit Pies, obviously. It must be a flashback because by this point in the “present day” narrative, Cranio is busy trying to explain the nature of Earth-1611 to Sentry, and doesn’t really have time to be mind-controlling hippies – although it is the Earth-4029 incarnation of Cranio, we have no evidence he hasn’t displaced Cranio-1611 in the past. Despite that, the story with Cranio and Kang must take place after Sentry-1611 first meets the Golden Age Sentry, so maybe his plot with Kang was related to his exploration of the timeline.

I haven’t given the “frame story” parts of the issues their own “#x/y” issue-story numbers, because they’re inconsistent in their placement in the issues, but the letters pages (and fruit pie ad) are considered numbered stories.

In line with AOTS’ DC Silver Age feel, the Golden Age Sentry’s equivalent of the Avengers is the Avenging Society – like the JLA and the JSA. Eh? Eh?

Since Cranio simply exists, it is not only unrevealed how exactly he got his strange head and multi-brain setup, such a question may be inapplicable.

Carol Danvers shouldn’t have superpowers when she’s still an Air Force officer, but she is never called Ms Marvel and it is revealed in AOTS#6 that she has lost her powers, so it’s possible her time as the Sentress on Earth-1611 utilized a powerset unrelated to her misadventures with the Kree as a member of NASA. Of course, it may just be a basic difference between Earths 616 and 1611.

I assume the reference to "Cranius the Triple-Brained Man" from CoC is intentionally wrong, to represent Sentry's damaged mental state.
Makes sense to me! - Proto-Man

Things I’m Still Confused By: Who is the mysterious figure at Sentry’s birthday party? The Void or maybe Destroyer Darkmass are the only people who really make sense, but what we can see (generic spandex legs-and-boots in blue and purple) don’t seem to match either of them. The thrust of the scene – that Cranio, having learned the truth about Earth-1611, is trying to contact Sentry – is clear enough, but I’m not sure what’s going on with the “blow out the candles!” thing either. Also, what makes Cranio disappear from the roof of the Excelsior Encyclopedia building? Every other reality shift that happens seems to happen as a retcon – that is, no one notices the change except for Sentry. But this time, Cranio bloops out of existence in front of everyone. Weird.

FWIW, Cranio’s…in-universe? I guess? first appearance is in (the obviously nonexistent) Startling Stories#56, according to the letters page in AOTS#2.

As for Cranio's height and weight, there were surprisingly few images of him standing next to anyone in a way that made it clear what their relative heights were. Probably the best shots were with Lindy Lee, who doesn't have an official height as far as I can tell, although even there, Cranio had a pretty wide stance compared to her. There were some comparable wide shots of "Earth-4209" Cranio next to Sentry but a) he had a different body and b) again, they were in a weird pose. I'd probably estimate that Sentry-1611 was about 6"-8" taller than Lindy Lee (he's really only supposed to be around 6' even) and Cranio (at the end of his normal head) was between Sentry and Lindy's heights, making him around 5'9-5'10" but then of course he had about another foot and half at least of brain tube on top of that. In terms of weight, we weren't shown what his brain-tube was made of, though it broke like glass and was full of liquid, so I suspect it was probably really heavy.

Thanks to Minor Irritant for the images!

Profile by LV!.

Clarifications: Cranio, the Man with the Tri-Level Mind, has no known connections to:


Alternate Cranios

Due to fluctuations in reality caused by the unstable nature of Earth-1611, Cranio's precise physical appearance was subject to periodic disturbances. Two such incarnations were seen: the horizontally-brain-arranged version (of reality-4029) (left) was first seen at Sentry's birthday party, while the vertically-brain-arranged in an oval (as opposed to the test tube shape) version (right) was first seen menacing hippies with his Hypnotron. Both later manifested, in sequence, to explain the nature of Earth-1161 to the Sentry after the "normal" Cranio of that universe was betrayed and murdered by his former ally, the Void.

Although the Cranio who exposited to the Sentry recognized that he was conceptually distinct from the "normal" Cranio of Earth-1611, he did not recognize that he had diverged, first into the oval-case version and then into the "horizontal" version, even after Sentry points it out.

    As noted, it is unclear whether both or either of these forms represent alternate reality versions or perhaps past or future incarnations or each other, or something else altogether.--Snood

--("Earth-4029") The Age of the Sentry#2/2 (The Age of the Sentry#2/2, #4/2, #6/1
--(oval-case) The Age of the Sentry#5/2 (The Age of the Sentry#5/2, #4/2, #6/1





Images:
The Age of the Sentry#2/1, p1, pan1 (full shot)
The Age of the Sentry#6/1, p15, pan5 (head shot)
The Age of the Sentry#6/1, p16, pan1 (death)
The Age of the Sentry#2/2, p9, pan3 (head shot, "vertical brain, oval case")
The Age of the Sentry#6/1, p11, pan1 (head shot, "Earth-4029")


Appearances:
The Age of the Sentry#1/1 (September, 2008) - Jeff Parker (script), Nick Dragotta (pencils), Gary Martin (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)
The Age of the Sentry#2/1 (October, 2008) - Jeff Parker (script), Nick Dragotta (pencils), Gary Martin (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)
The Age of the Sentry#2/2 (October, 2008) - Paul Tobin (script), Michael Cho (art), Mark Paniccia (editor)
The Age of the Sentry#2/3 (October, 2008) - unknown but probably Jeff Parker (script), Mark Paniccia (editor)
The Age of the Sentry#4/1 (December, 2008) - Jeff Parker (script), Nick Dragotta (pencils), Gary Martin (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)
The Age of the Sentry#4/2 (December, 2008) - Paul Tobin (script), Ramon Rosanas (art), Mark Paniccia (editor)
The Age of the Sentry#5/2 (February, 2009) - Jordan B White (script), Ramon Rosanas (art), Mark Paniccia (editor)
The Age of the Sentry#5/3 (February, 2009) - Jeff Parker (script), Nick Dragotta (pencils), Gary Martin (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)
The Age of the Sentry#5/4 (February, 2009) - unknown but probably Jeff Parker (script), Mark Paniccia (editor)
The Age of the Sentry#6/1 (March, 2009) - Jeff Parker (script), Nick Dragotta (pencils), Gary Martin (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)


Last updated: 02/09/17

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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