oblivion_plague-maelstrom-deadwatchersotmu-watcher-baseOBLIVION PLAGUE/VIRUS

Instigator: Maelstrom, via Deathurge and Otmu the Watcher

Purpose: To distract and potentially annihilate the Watchers

Allies: Deathurge, Maelstrom, Otmu the Watcher;
    presumably
Oblivion;

Opposition: Quasar (Wendell Vaughn)l
    the
Stranger investigated the Plague and drew Quasar's attention to it, although he didn't deliberately act to stop it

Aliases: Doctrine of Ultimate Non-Interference

Location: Universe-616

First Appearance: (Behind-the-scenes) Quasar I#14 (September, 1990);
    (seen, identified)
Quasar I#15 (October, 1990)

History:
(
Quasar I#22 (fb) - BTS / Quasar I#23 (fb) - BTS) - The Deviant-Inhuman hybrid Maelstrom plotted to stop all motion in the universe, destroying everything.

(Quasar I#22 (fb)) - Having usurped the role of the cosmic entity Anomaly, gained cosmic awareness from Eon, and become an agent of Oblivion, Maelstrom found he could remain undetected by even the cosmic Watchers.

    However, Maelstrom feared that when he actively pursued his goals, the Watchers would detect him and that some of their renegade members might inform other beings, potentially leading to the great powers of the universe being aligned against him.

(Quasar I#22 (fb) / Quasar#15 (fb) - BTS) - Wishing to eliminate the Watchers without calling attention to himself, Otmu was inspired by his associate Deathurge (also an agent of Oblivion) to manipulate the Watchers into eliminating themselves via suicide. To this end, he conceived the "Oblivion Plague" (an idea that the very act of watching the universe itself affected the universe around it: Therefore, the only way to not interfere was to not observe, and the only way to not observe was to not exist. This would lead Watchers to end their existence to prevent such interference). Maelstrom then implanted the secret of the Oblivion Plague within Deathurge and sent him to disseminate it, beginning with the Watcher in their immediate proximity (Otmu).

(Quasar#16 (fb) - BTS) - As the Watchers were telepathic, Otmu's philosophy, the Doctrine of Ultimate Non-Interference became like a virus, spreading throughout the other Watchers in the universe at the speed of thought. Virtually every mind the doctrine entered became obsessed with it.

    As the Watchers could make their wishes reality, any Watcher who contemplated the notion of nothingness for too long would inadvertently succumb to oblivion.oblivion_plague-maelstrom-meeting

(Quasar#15 (fb) - BTS / Quasar I#16 (fb) - BTS) - Over a billion (see comments) Watchers embraced Otmu's doctrine and willed themselves unalive rather than continue to violate the oath.

(Quasar#15 (fb) - BTS) - While engaged in his usual specimen-gathering, the Stranger happened upon a dead Watcher. Unable to determine the cause of his death, the Stranger took the Watcher's corpse to the next sector's Watcher to ask him for assistance. The Stranger found that Watcher dead as well. The next two he encountered were dead as well.

(Quasar#15 (fb) - BTS) - The Stranger brought the deceased Watchers' bodies aboard his ship for further study.

(Quasar#14 (fb) - BTS) - Finding a total of nine dead Watchers, the Stranger continued his investigation.

(Quasar#14-15) - Investigating the Watchers' deaths, the Stranger traveled to the largest moon of the 4th planet in the Sirius system and investigated that Watcher's home, finding that Watcher dead as well.

(Quasar#15 (fb) - BTS) - Otmu met with Ualu the Watcher, telling him of the Doctrine of Ultimate Non-Interference (his name for the Oblivion Plague).

(Quasar#15 - BTS) - Seeking out the Stranger and then determining to help resolve the mystery of the Watchers' deaths so the Stranger would return to his Laboratory World (where the Over-Mind was threatening to kill the mind-controlled Squadron Supreme if the Stranger did not return), Quasar questioned Eon about the Watchers and traveled to a site where two Watchers (Otmu and Ualu) were communicating.

(Quasar#15) - Detecting Quasar's presence, Otmu assaulted him. When the Stranger arrived, he considered Otmu to be a rogue Watcher and joined Quasar against him.

    Considering
that he could repulse one but not both of them and fearing himself undone as the Stranger would break his mind and rob him of his resolve, Otmu renounced his watch and terminated his life functions.

(Quasar#16) - Seeking the Stranger's advice on their current philosophical struggle, approximately two dozen Watchers materialized in the Stranger's laboratory world's atmosphere, arriving as the Stranger suffered under the assault of the Over-Mind. oblivion_plague-maelstrom-willdeath

    Seeing these Watchers, the Over-Mind accused the Stranger of summoning them.

    The Stranger's losing struggle caused some Watchers (including Ocam) to consider interfering so they could gain his input, but ultimately the Watchers resolved to let events take their course (further noting that any actions of interference would be censured).

    Nonetheless, the collective presence of so many Watchers made the Over-Mind fear they were the Stranger's allies.

    Einu asked if he could apprise the Over-Mind of the erroneous nature of his assumption, but another countered that even that would constitute an infraction of the oath.

    Ultimately, the Over-Mind's paranoia and psychoses caused him to collapse in a catatonic state.

    The Watchers
then asked the Stranger for his input, noting that despite Otmu's apparent demise, the philosophy had spread telepathically amongst their entire race.

    The Stranger concluded that allowing themselves to be seen indeed affected others, as demonstrated by the Over-Mind's self-defeat; this point led four more of the Watchers present to think themselves to death.

    The Watchers asked him to hold his tongue if it was in the service of the Oblivion virus. The Stranger apologized for causing that, but when they asked for his recommendation, he was flattered but knew they wouldn't like his advice: To abandon their oaths and become active experimenters like himself.

    After the Watchers explained that they cataloged the universe's history for the benefit of those who existed in the next universe that would follow, the Stranger told them he had no information to help resolve their debate.

    When Quasar offered his help, the Stranger dismissed him, and the Watchers continued to ignore him.

    Generating a massive energy release to get the Watcher's attention, Quasar explained how their dying also affected things (as the Stranger had spent time investigating their deaths, allowing the Over-Mind to prepare an ambush), and that their collective deaths would massively affect the universe's balance of power. oblivion_plague-maelstrom-revival

    When Quasar concluded that the importance of their database would outweigh their limited interference, the recently deceased Watchers revived, and they collectively agreed to continue their mission.

    After the Watchers' departure, the Stranger explained that life and death were not absolute concepts to "our kind."

    Quasar then considered that all of their dead may be coming back, and he was pleased to have saved the lives of a billion Watchers.

    Whether Otmu revived or not was not revealed.

Comments: Created by Mark Gruenwald, Mike Manley, and Dan Panosian.

    The name Otmu was an intentional tip of the hat to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, which Mark Gruenwald and his compatriots used to abbreviate as OTMU...as most Watchers seem to have two syllable names, OHotMU may have seemed a little off.

    I would think Otmu did not revive himself but rather remained in a state of oblivion...perhaps some future story might shown him to be in the realm of Oblivion and perhaps now a servant/pawn of Oblivion. It could happen...just not very likely!

    Quasar#15 had Ualu note that 10 billion Watchers had terminated their existence, while #16 had another Watcher note this number to be "over a billion." Obviously 10 billion is still over a billion, but I'm not sure if the latter number was intended to be a correction/downgrading of the numbers to a little over a billion...

Profile by Snood.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Oblivion Plague
was named for, but should be distinguished from:


images: (without ads)
Quasar I#15, pg. 10, panel 1 (Stranger with a number of dead Watcher's in his ship);
    #16, pg. 24 (meeting on Stranger's laboratory world);
        pg. 31, panel 2 (willing death);
        pg. 36, panel 1 (revival);
    #22, pg. 1 (Otmu at his base, observed by Maelstrom/Anomaly)


Appearances:
Quasar I#14-15 (September-October, 1990) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Mike Manley (pencils), Dan Panosian (inker), Len Kaminski (editor)
Quasar I#16 (November, 1990) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Mike Manley (pencils), Dan Panosian & Keith Williams (inks), Len Kaminski (editor)
Quasar I#22 (May, 1991) -
Mark Gruenwald (writer), Greg Capullo (penciler), Keith Williams (inker), Len Kaminski (managing editor), Howard Mackie (editor)


First posted: 06/20/2020
Last updated: 06/20/2020

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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