Real Name: Pilai
Identity/Class: Extradimensional (Kosmos)
sub-class of Kosmosian race (Creature
Group Membership: Stranger's laboratory world subjects
Affiliations: Possibly Kolai, Pelel, Pirei, and another unidentified Kosmosian Creature
Enemies: Ant-Man (Hank Pym), Stranger, Vernon
Van Dyne, Wasp (Janet Van Dyne)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Pilei (see
Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
formerly the Stranger's laboratory world, on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy;
formerly a prison realm associated with the dimension of Kosmos;
formerly the planet Kosmos, within the dimension of Kosmos
First Appearance: (Creature from Kosmos) Tales to
Astonish I#44/1 (June, 1963);
(as Pilai) Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol. 2/ Deluxe Edition#14 (January, 1987)
Powers/Abilities: Pilai was only seen in his gelatinous, amorphous form, containing a large amount of formic acid and able to be reshaped, extending tendrils and/or forming hands. He can presumably maneuver through any space between objects. His gelatinous form allowed him to resist bullets and explosive shells. Despite his gelatinous state, his mass allows him to shatter large metal pieces of machinery or wooden structures.
The large percentage of formic acid making up his system makes his susceptible to chemicals used to neutralize formic acid (see comments).
He is apparently very comfortable within the great heat of a magma pool. The heat of the magma apparently turned him red in color.
He possess unspecified
mental powers, enabling him to communicate telepathically, mentally
influence/control others, and to generate fear in others (humans and
insects have proved susceptible) -- the ants serving Ant-Man (Hank Pym) proved reluctant to
In at least one instance, this fear has proven great enough to cause death via close range eye-to-eye contact.
Presumably, his confinement in the Stranger's Laboratory World neutralized his mental powers, which is why Hyperion could only perceive inarticulate bellows.
Presumably like the other Kosmosian Creature caste seen, he possessed an outer semi-humanoid biped shell, approximately 50 feet tall, with enormous strength and durability, and can extend tentacles from within his shell. However, perhaps the only way he could escape his prison was by abandoning his shell; or perhaps his shell had been destroyed or removed prior to his being imprisoned.
Height: Variable (able to reach at least 50' tall)
Weight: Unrevealed (due to the nature of his full volume and his physical composition being unrevealed, it is difficult to speculate on this; all I can note is that a 6' tall, 200 lb. man would weight about 7 tons at 50'.)
Eyes: Apparently green sclera and black iris, or large green iris with no visible sclera
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1 (fb) - BTS) - Pilai was a criminal on the world of Kosmos -- by his own account, the greatest his world had ever seen. Alone, he almost succeeded in smashing Kosmosian society and enslaving them all; ultimately failing, he was instead imprisoned.
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1 (fb) - BTS) - Seeking to use a gamma ray beam to pierce space and detect signals from other planets, Earth scientist Dr. Vernon Van Dyne developed a booster device to strengthen his device's power.
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1) - As Van Dyne's booster sent his rays beyond
the Milky Way galaxy...
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe
I#5 / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol. 2 / Deluxe
Edition#14: Wasp) - ...via hyperspace to the distant planet Kosmos...
(Avengers I#382/2 (fb) - BTS) - ... accessing its extradimensional prison realm.
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1) - Pilai somehow used the ray to escape his
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe
Vol. 2 / Deluxe Edition#14: Wasp) - ...and/or prosecution on his
homeworld by teleporting himself through hyperspace to Earth.
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1) - Arriving in Van Dyne's laboratory, Pilai introduced himself and noted his back-story before revealing that he was going to enslave Earth as he had failed to do on Kosmos. He first resolved to destroy Van Dyne's machine to keep others from Kosmos from following him and to slay Van Dyne himself to prevent him from revealing his presence...
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol. 2 / Deluxe Edition#14: Wasp) - ...and potentially contacting the authorities on his home planet.
Pilai commanded Van Dyne to look into his eyes, and Van Dyne futilely struggled to resist, ultimately meeting Pilai's gaze and dying as a result.
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1 (fb) - BTS) - Pilai departed Van Dyne's laboratory but remained hidden within the building that contained the lab.
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1 - BTS) - Vernon's daughter, Janet, found his dead body and sensed an acrid mist. She called Dr. Henry Pym (with whom her father had recently consulted) and, after ants confirmed Vernon's fate, Pym investigated Vernon's lab as Ant-Man.
Concluding that something powerful and alien was responsible, Ant-Man had Janet call FBI agent Lee Kearns, after which he learned from his ant allies that the creature that had been in there left behind traces of formic acid. They concluded that the creature must be similar to them, as ants also secreted formic acid; however, it was alien and they feared it.
Sending ants to monitor the FBI and to seek out the creature, Ant-Man returned to his laboratory where he revealed his dual identity to the vengeance-seeking Janet Van Dyne and began to transform her into the Wasp to act as his partner to help stop the creature.
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1) - Pilai apparently tunneled out from under the building containing Van Dyne's lab, causing earthquake-like tremors as it made its way to the docks, from which it violently emerged, uprooting and smashing the docks.
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1 (fb) - BTS) - FBI, police, and the military were dispatched to fight the creature.
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1) - As Pilai swam through the water toward the George Washington Bridge, police began to clear Manhattan, while military stood ready to fire.
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1 - BTS) - After Ant-Man explained that the creature had been drawn by her father's space probe and that it was what had killed her father, he and the Wasp went out to confront the creature.
(Tales to Astonish I#44/1) - The military found their bullets and shells did nothing to harm the amorphous creature. Wasp tried to prove herself by going after the creature, but she soon found herself uncontrollably drawn to fly toward its grasp.
After Ant-Man pulled the Wasp away and broke Pilai's influence on her, they returned to his laboratory where Pym created an "antidote" to the formic acid of which the creature was composed (see comments).
They then filled a number of shotgun shells with this antidote, and they had a number of ants carry the shells and the shotgun to the roof of a building near to where Pilai rampaged.
The ants absorbed the recoil as Ant-Man fired the antidote-containing shells into the creature, who eventually began to writhe in pain before apparently fading away.
(Quasar I#14 (fb) - BTS) - Under unexplained circumstances, Pilai was captured by the enigmatic alien Stranger, who placed him on his laboratory world.
Pilai remained within a magma pool.
(Quasar#14) - Racing through the habitats in search of his missing teammates (brought there by the Over-Mind, who sought vengeance on the Stranger), Earth-712's Hyperion passed over the lava pit and Pilai.
Hyperion wondered where the
Stranger got all of those he had seen and further wondered what he was
doing with them, but ultimately -- unsure whether he could understand
the creature's inarticulate bellows -- he continued on to the next
habitat rather than trying to ask the subject.
(Quasar#14 - BTS) - The Over-Mind deactivated the laboratory world's habitats' force barriers.
Comments: Created by Stan Lee, H.E. Huntley, Jack Kirby, and Don Heck.
I don't think Pilai was seen again beyond the one panel in Quasar I#14, so we don't know for sure that he escaped. Maybe he liked hanging out in the lava...Kosmos was originally described as a planet, deep in space, and the Official Handbooks of the Marvel Universe noted it to be in the star-system Zokka (second or fifth from the sun, in I#5 and DE#15, respectively), in the Milky Way galaxy.
I don't know what
specific chemical would be used to neutralize formic acid. I'd imagine
any base, such as sodium bicarbonate would work. I'm not sure if that
antidote was some sort of anti-venom. Anyone? The Official
Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol. 2 / Deluxe Edition#14: Wasp entry
expanded on and clarified/updated some details on Veron Van Dyne's
technology and interaction with Pilai. Most of it was solid expansion,
but there was one distinct contradiction, as Janet Van Dyne had
departed the lab and returned to find her father dead in TTA#44, while
the OHotMU entry noted that she found his body after hearing the
sounds of the struggle -- not 100% mutually exclusive, as she could
have heard the sounds of the struggle upon returning.
Campbell points out that "the winning entry for the contest from
QUASAR#14 specifically lists Pilai as the Kosmosian" on the
Stranger's World "so reports of his death are exaggerated. Of
course, his fellow Kosmosian Creatures probably don't know that
yet". Since writer Mark
Gruenwald, noted Master of the Obscure, both wrote that story
and chose the competition winner, there's no arguing with this one.
Pilai is alive and well. Donald further points out a number of other
seemingly "dead" characters amongst the captives, and suggests "that
maybe all these beings didn't 'just happen' to survive their
seemingly-inevitable deaths, that maybe the Stranger used their
imminent deaths as a cover so that he could secretly abduct them
without anyone knowing.".
In case you didn't know, the winning entry in the above contest was submitted by none other than Donald Campbell.
Thanks to Donald Campbell for supplementary research, and to David Zuckerman for providing the digital images, so I didn't have to smash my nearly 60 year old comic in the scanner.
At the time of the original and Deluxe Edition Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe volumes, Pilai was the only Kosmosian seen, and so the information and the images in those volumes reflected the information from his first appearance. Subsequent stories have ret-conned things somewhat, but since Pilai doesn't have any great full body images, I think we can take the the original (right) and Deluxe Edition (left) Kosmosians profile images as accurate for his amorphous form. If he has an outer shell form, it presumably mirrors those seen in the Creatures of Kosmos profile.
Refurbed main by Ron Fredricks.
Pilai originally was partially featured in a Creatures of Kosmos profile I posted 09/03/2001, days after first publishing the Appendix.
This profile was completed 9/19/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.
Profile by Snood.
The Creature from Kosmos should be distinguished from:
Tales to Astonish I#44 (June, 1963) - Stan Lee (plot/editor), H.E. Huntley, a pen name for Ernest Huntley Hart (plot), Jack Kirby (pencils), Don Heck (inks)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#5 (May, 1983) - Mark Gruenwald (editor/head writer/designer), Peter Sanderson, Mark Lerer, Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco (writers), David Cody Weiss, Bob Simpson, Joanne Harris, Peter David (research), Paty Cockrum (Kosmosians penciler), Josef Rubinstein (inker), Michael Carlin (associate editor/designer)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol. 2 / Deluxe Edition#14 (January, 1987) - Mark Gruenwald (writer/producer), Peter Sanderson (writer/researcher), Eliot Brown (technical illustrator), John Buscema (Wasp penciler), Josef Rubinstein (inker), Gregory Wright (assistant editor), Marc McLaurin (editorial assistant), Howard Mackie (consultant)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol. 2 / Deluxe Edition#15 (March, 1987) - Mark Gruenwald (writer/producer), Peter Sanderson (writer/researcher), Eliot Brown (technical illustrator), Kyle Baker (Kosmosians penciler), Josef Rubinstein (inker), Gregory Wright (assistant editor), Marc McLaurin (editorial assistant)
Quasar I#14 (September, 1990) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Mike Manley (pencils), Dan Panosian (inks), Len Kaminski (editor)
Avengers I#382/2 (January, 1995) - George Perez (writer), Jeffrey Moore (pencils), Tim Dzon (inks), Richard Ashford (editor)
Thunderbolts I#13 (April, 1998) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
First posted: 09/22/2021
Last updated: 09/19/2021
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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