THERHIN race

Classification: Extraterrestrial/extragalactic sentient machines (Distant Past to present)

Location/Base of Operations: Unspecified galaxy (which is not the Milky Way)

Habitat: Unrevealed. Some Therhin were designed to survive in deep space.

Gravity: Unrevealed. Some Therhin were designed to function in environments without gravity.

Atmosphere: Unrevealed. Therhin do not need to breathe like organic beings.

Known Members: "This ship" (true name unrevealed, possibly inapplicable)

Estimated population: Unrevealed

Affiliations: Iron Man (Tony Stark)

Enemies: Spores

First Appearance: Iron Man I#157 (April, 1982)

Powers/Abilities: The Therhin are all "entities of pure mechanics" and as such they are not limited to having a single "body type." However, three components that each Therhin can be presumed to possess are: a physical form (constructed out of metal and plastic), a computer, and the programs that make them capable of thought/sentience.

   Some (or most or all) Therhin are equipped with systems that can repair any damage that their bodies sustain. Due to their artificial/inorganic nature, members of the Therhin race could conceivably live forever, as long as they could obtain new components to replace any that were damaged or just wore out over time. In the event of total systems failures, their consciousnesses could probably be transferred into new bodies (assuming that any were available) but this has not been confirmed.

   The fact that the ship who encountered Iron Man referred to itself as one of the "mobile entities" indicates that some of the Therhin can be classified as being "immobile entities." However, nothing has been revealed about the nature of such entities (although one or more of them may be visible in this profile's main image).

   The ship who encountered Iron Man had a number of components and/or sections, including but not limited to its hull, its central computer, its cryogenic chamber, its energy shield, its engine, its fusion reactor, its laser room, its sensors, its stasis field generator and its transport beam.

   That ship maintained an atmosphere within itself and could control its ambient temperature enough to reduce it down to absolute zero.

   That ship also generated an internal artificial gravity field that could be set to various strengths.

   Additionally, the ship's internal structure was divided into a number of rooms and hallways, as if smaller beings (like passengers) were meant to exist within it.

   The Therhin starship who encountered Iron Man was equipped with a device that could (somehow) alter the metabolic modes of the energy-devouring spores, changing them so that they could obtain nourishment directly from starlight instead of having to feed on "mechanical energy" (i.e., the energy that machines needed to function).

   Other Therhin ships were also equipped with external weapons systems capable of firing energy blasts at their targets.

Traits: The Therhin were a peaceful beings. Although willing and capable of protecting themselves if they were attacked, they preferred (if possible) to render their enemies harmless instead of killing them. Therhin were also concerned with the well-being of other races to the extent that some individuals spent "eons" performing a task that protected non-Therhin races from harm.

Type: Mechanical non-humanoids
Sensors: Variable
Manipulatory digits: Variable or inapplicable
Limbs: Variable or inapplicable
Coloration: Variable, including gray
Hair: None
Average dimensions: (length, width, depth) Variable

Type of government: Unrevealed

Level of technology: Advanced computer systems, communication via an artificial (inorganic) form of telepathy, fusion reactors to generate power, starships capable of inter-galactic travel.

History: (Iron Man I#157 (fb)) - Long ago, "several galaxies away" from the Milky Way galaxy, a race of "entities of pure mechanics" known as the Therhin came into being. They created a civilization for themselves and lived peacefully until "some eons ago" when they became involved in an unwanted war with a race of energy-devouring spores. They succeeded in driving the spores off but were concerned that other races in the universe might not be as fortunate so they sent a number of mobile entities into space to seek out and destroy the remaining spores wherever they could be found in the universe.

 

(Iron Man I#157 (fb) - BTS) <Much more recently> - As one ship tracked a group of seven spores that were near Earth, it passed through a cosmic storm that damaged its defense circuits and crippled many of its functions. Needing power to repair itself, the ship entered into orbit around Earth and used a unique energy shield to prevent itself from being detected by Earth-based radar systems. Seeking help the planet below, the ship sensed that the "greatest power in the smallest mechanical package" was in a laboratory at Stark International on Long Island.

(Iron Man I#157 (fb)) - While in orbit, the ship was penetrated by hungry spores looking for energy to consume. Their passage through the energy shield momentarily warped it.

(Iron Man I#157 - BTS) - The fluctuation in the ship's energy shield triggered a scan system at Stark International that was used to detect unusual energy readings beyond Earth's atmosphere. However, Iron Man did not notice the blinking red bulb because he was so focused on tracking down the cause of a very recent overload of his lab's equipment.

(Iron Man I#157) - In orbit, the ship's reaction to the invading spores was slowed due to the damage it had suffered but it began to fight back by lowering its internal temperature to absolute zero. However, this stratagem not only failed, it made things worse because it triggered the survival instincts of the spores who reacted by causing an overload that crippled the ship's main computer bank.

   Now REALLY needing help, the ship decided to bring the power it had previously sensed up to it. Having tracked the power to its then-current location in a different laboratory at Stark International, the ship sent two beams down to Earth to retrieve it. The first beam filled the laboratory it had targeted with a chilling, unearthly glow that temporarily placed researcher Sylvia Karnowsky in a state of stasis that did not affect the nearby Iron Man. The second beam then entered the lab, enveloped Iron Man, and then teleported him outside of the building where the transport beam pulled him upwards to and into the orbiting starship. Once Iron Man was aboard, the ship used a stasis field to prevent him from moving. Telepathically sensing that Iron Man thought that he had been caught by some sort of invisible net, the ship communicated with him, saying, "Not...net. Stasis...field. Don't...struggle. Won't...hurt." When Iron Man reacted to this voice that he had "heard" within his head and wondered who it was, the ship responded, saying "Ship's...computer. Suffered...damage. Ship...invaded. Defenses...low. Sensed...energy. Sent...beam. Need...help. Will...release. Please...help. Please..." The ship then turned off the stasis field, freeing Iron Man who soon found himself being attacked by the "cosmic fireflies" that had disabled the ship.

   As Iron Man's initial attempts to evade or capture the spores failed and he was soon immobilized by pain after the spores entered his armor, the ship thought to itself, Must...repair. Fix...self. Fight...spores. Help...helper. Once Iron Man's continued attempts to free himself led him into and through the ship's laser room, the ship was finally able to intervene by increasing the artificial gravity beneath Iron Man. As the ship reassured Iron Man, saying "Don't...worry. Gravity....increased. Hurt...spores. Help...you", the spores reacted by abandoning the armor (since gravity only affected them when they were part of something solid).

   However, once the gravity had been reduced to normal, the spores combined into a single large energy creature that looked like a giant slug, could physically attack opponents and secreted an acid that could even melt Iron Man's armor. Unable to handle the slug on his own, Iron Man asked the computer for help and the ship replied, "Will...try. Electrify...mass. Alter...state. Trap...result. Sector...Four." Following that advice, Iron Man used a live electrical cable from within a bulkhead wall to set the slug on fire, causing it to transmute into a caustic and poisonous vapor that could direct its movement through the air. After Iron Man lured the vapor to the doorway to Sector Four and got out of its way at the last second, the ship opened the door and then closed it again once the vapor's momentum had carried it inside the cryogenic chamber. Once the door was closed, the computer lowered the temperature in the room so quickly that the vapor condensed into a solid state.

    Soon afterwards, Iron Man removed the frozen vapor from the cryogenic chamber but was dismayed when the captives freed themselves by changing back into spore form. As Iron Man thought to himself that there was no end to this nightmare, the ship, which had managed to repair itself by then, told him, "Oh, but there is, Iron Man--Now!" and it fired a beam that caused the spores to stop dead. 

Now able to speak more clearly, the ship explained the situation to Iron Man and why everything he had gone through was necessary. It told him of its race, the Therhin, and their unwanted war with the race of energy-devouring spores and how, after driving the spores off, the Therhin had been concerned that their neighbors in the universe might not be so lucky so they sent a number of their mobile entities to scour space and destroy the remaining spores wherever they might be found.

    As the ship explained how, after being crippled by a cosmic storm, it had sought help from Earth rather than let the spores escape to possibly devastate an innocent culture, Iron Man asked what it was going to do to the caught spores. The ship replied that captured specimens were normally stunned in the laser room but, since these spores were already passive, it proceeded to "the cleansing" and blasted the spores with a beam of energy. 

    Iron Man protested that it had killed them but the ship corrected him, stating that it had merely altered their metabolic nodes so that they now took nourishment directly from starlight and no longer fed on mechanical energy. Now that the four spores were a curiosity instead of a menace, the ship released them to roam the universe as they pleased. When Iron Man asked if it was over, the ship confirmed that it had no further need of him, then said, "With my gratitude--and with that of all civilized beings--you are free to go!" The Therhin then activated its transport beam and sent the exhausted Iron Man back to Earth.

Comments: Created by Alan Kupperberg, David Michelinie and Dan Green.

   The Therhin were an interesting concept and it was refreshing to be introduced to an alien race that was not humanoid. However, it would have been nice to have been given an origin for them. Of course, being mechanical means that they (or at least their ancestors) must have been created by organic beings and the fact that they were benevolent suggests that they didn't rise up and destroy their creators Terminator-style. Still, it would have been nice to know if they developed their civilization after something else killed off their creators (as the Mekkans did after the Maarin all died) or if they simply went their own way, peacefully, once it was realized that they were sentient beings who should not be forced to serve others.

   The story itself also had a few weaknesses, like how vague it was about how long the Therhin starship had been tracking down spores and whether or not its journey from another galaxy was accomplished with some form of faster-then-light star travel. The inconsistent nature of the transport beam was also annoying, as was the idea that lowering the temperature within the starship to absolute zero would negatively affect the spores who lived in deep space.

   The idea that the spores fed on mechanical energy was also irritating because it turned out to be inaccurate. I assume that the writers meant that the spores fed on the energy that machines (like the Therhin) needed to function but, according to Wikipedia and multiple online dictionaries, the term "mechanical energy" is defined as either "the sum of the energy that a body has due to its movement (kinetic energy) or position (potential energy)" or as "the total amount of kinetic energy and potential energy of an object that is used to do a specific work." Actually, I'm not sure exactly what the energy within machines is called, except maybe electricity, but that's probably not correct.

   A last problem that I had with the story was that the creators lost count of the number of spores that were involved. On page 4, seven spores were shown flying near Earth and passing through the Therhin starship. On page 5, three of the spores were shown flying down towards Earth until the friction of traveling through Earth's atmosphere caused one of them to burn up and the two survivors then returned to the starship. This should mean that, from then on, there should have been six spores attacking the starship and Iron Man. However, we were consistently shown only four spores, up to and including the final page, where four spores were cleansed by the Therhin. So, what happened to the other two spores? Did they leave without being noticed? Or did they somehow merge with the other spores?

    Perhaps at least some of the Therhin were part of the Turgentine Technenium associated with Skeletron...

Profile by Donald Campbell.

Clarifications:
The Therhin have no known connection to:

The Therhin who referred to itself as "this ship" has no known connection to:

The "Spores" have no known connection to:


ship's computer

   The computer within the Therhin ship functioned as its "brain system" and contained the programming that made up its consciousness. After having sustained damage to its defense circuits during the ship's passage through a cosmic storm, the central computer reacted slowly to the invading spores, as if it were emerging from a sluggish, narcotic slumber. When it was further damaged by an overload caused by the spores, the computer's capabilities were reduced even further, and it was forced to summon help.

   Like the rest of the ship, the central computer was equipped with a self-repair mechanism. Given enough time, it was able to repair itself and become fully functional once again. Presumably some form of nanotechnological system was involved but no specific information has been revealed.

   The ship's computer was also capable of communicating telepathically with other beings, including those who were organic in nature. It was able to read the thoughts in Tony Stark's mind and reply via a voice that Stark heard within his head. The fact that the Therhin ship's ability to "speak" in this manner was somewhat impaired by the damage that it had suffered indicates that this ability was mechanical/electronic in nature and NOT an indication that the Therhin was a telepathic consciousness that was merely inhabiting a mechanical form.

 

--Iron Man I#157


cryogenic chamber

   Located in Sector Four of the ship was its cryogenic chamber. After Iron Man had managed to maneuver the spores-as-vapor into entering that room, the ship sealed the door and then lowered the internal temperature so quickly that the vapor was forced to condense into a solid state that made it briefly less dangerous.

   It has not been revealed if this was the purpose for which the chamber was built but, if it wasn't, then there is no telling why it was present aboard the ship.

 

 

 

--Iron Man I#157


energy shield

   The ship was equipped with a unique energy shield that protected it from Earthly radar and other similar forms of detection. This shield presumably functioned by absorbing the electromagnetic waves transmitted by such systems and preventing them from reflecting back to their receivers.

   Although it was effective against radar, the energy shield did not prevent anyone from observing it visually. Also, any fluctuations in the shield could be detected as an unusual energy reading that would expose the presence of the ship.

   The energy shield also did not function as a force field barrier against attacks. It could not prevent the spores from entering the ship and it probably could not have defended the ship against attacks by physical projectiles (like missiles) or energy beams (like lasers).

--Mentioned but not seen (because it was invisible) in Iron Man I#157


engine

   The Therhin starship that encountered Iron Man was equipped with engines that enabled it to travel from an unspecified galaxy to the planet Earth in the Milky Way galaxy. Although this would normally suggest that the vessel must have been capable of traveling at faster-than-light speeds and would therefore probably have possessed some form of hyperdrive, the fact that Therhins are inorganic beings with potentially unlimited lifespans could also mean that it traveled at less than lightspeed, which would mean that it would have taken thousands or millions of years to cross the vast gulf between galaxies.

   On the other hand, the fact that it could not possibly carry enough fuel to power itself during such a long journey suggests that it could indeed travel at faster-than-light speeds.

--Not even mentioned in Iron Man I#157


fusion reactor

   The Therhin starship's energy was generated by a powerful fusion reactor located in its bowels. It presumably functioned by fusing fuel (like hydrogen nuclei) into heavier nuclei. Absolutely no details about the power generating capabilities of this reactor, how much fuel it required and where that fuel was carried have yet been provided.

   Although the spores invaded the ship because they could sense the nourishment present, they never actually fed on the reactor. Resistance from the ship, and later from Iron Man, apparently kept them occupied and prevented them from reaching the reactor. This suggests that the reactor's exact location was somehow shielded from the senses of the spores. Given the nature of the ship's mission, this may have been something that had been specifically included in the reactor design but it may have simply been a holdover from the ancient war against the spores.

   The fusion reactor supplied power to the rest of the starship, and that power was distributed to the various devices through electrical cables within the starship's walls.

--Mentioned but not seen in Iron Man I#157


laser room

   A room aboard the Therhin starship that was equipped with multiple lasers that were normally used to stun any spores that entered the room, thereby rendering them passive. Once in a less active state, the spores would then be cleansed by having their metabolic modes altered so that they would then take nourishment directly from starlight.

   When Iron Man's armor was inhabited and controlled by the spores, they used its boot jets to send him straight at a door which opened at the last second. Finding himself in a room where he was being targeted by multiple lasers, Iron Man briefly wondered why a spaceship would have a built-in laser gauntlet but then quickly focused on navigating himself out of the room before he took a direct hit.

 

--Iron Man I#157

 


sensors

   The Therhin starship was equipped with various (unspecified) sensors which it used to obtain data about the universe surrounding it. It used them to track the spores that it was seeking and to obtain navigational data.

   While in orbit around the planet Earth and in need of power, the ship used its sensors to scan the planet below in search of the greatest available power in the smallest mechanical package. The power that it sensed was Iron Man (or, more accurately, his armor).

--Mentioned but not depicted in Iron Man I#157


stasis field generator

   The Therhin starship was equipped with a device that could generate a stasis field around beings or objects that it had brought aboard. The field did not completely prevent the object held within it from making any movement but did hold it in place.

   The device responsible for the stasis field MIGHT have been capable of creating a more powerful stasis effect, one which effectively froze in place any organic beings struck by it while also preventing their minds from registering any passage of time. Or maybe the two effects were caused by different pieces of equipment.

--Stasis field mentioned but not seen (because it was invisible) in Iron Man I#157


transport beam

   Used by the Therhin starship to move objects between it and another location, the transport beam had a range of (at least) hundreds of miles and was able transport to Iron Man from Earth's surface to the starship in outer space and later return him. However, exactly how it functioned was never revealed so some deduction and speculation are required. The fact that beings who traveled along the beam were aware of the passage of time and were able to think while being transported indicates that it was not a form of teleportation.

   When the Therhin starship was in need of power and identified Iron Man as the best source, it targeted him with the transport beam. Although he was within a windowless laboratory at the time, a beam of scintillating light entered the room and enveloped Iron Man, then they both faded away. Immediately afterwards, Iron Man was transported upwards along the straight beam towards the starship, covering the distance from the surface to the starship in a very short time that was probably not more than a few minutes. Assuming that the starship was orbiting at least 100 miles above the planet, this suggests that the speed at which he was being transported was (at least) 2,000 miles per hour (and possibly much faster, if the trip was longer and/or the travel time was shorter).

   When Iron Man reached the starship, he was either pulled into it through the hull or pulled into it through a small circular portal that opened in the hull. This could indicate that the transport beam had rendered him intangible and that could explain how he was retrieved from within the building.

   Once Iron Man had accomplished the task for which he had been summoned, the Therhin used the transport beam to send him back to Earth, presumably to the location from which he had been taken.

   Based on these observations, the transport beam seems to function like a tractor beam that could pull objects towards the starship or repel them away from the starship and towards a specific destination. To prevent any interactions with obstacles in the way (like the roofs of buildings or starships hulls), the beam may make objects within it intangible, possibly by placing them out-of-phase with everything outside of the beam. This intangibility may also account for why Iron Man "faded away" in the room from which he was being transported (if he was becoming intangible to photons as well as solid objects).

   One oddity about how this transport beam functioned is that, while being transported within the beam, passengers appeared to be oriented with the beam and in the direction that they were traveling. For example, when Iron Man was transported to the starship, he seemed to be headed directly towards it, as if he were flying upwards. However, when being transported back to Earth, he appeared to be headed directly towards the planet, as if he were flying downwards. If the beam did not flip him over before releasing him on the surface, then he would have arrived on Earth in an upside down position.

--Iron Man I#157


images:
Iron Man I#157, page 19, panel 2 (Therhin civilization)
      page 19, panel 3 (Therhin ship battling spores)
      page 4, panel 3 (Therhin ship in orbit over Earth)
      page 19, panel 1 (Therhin ship talking with Iron Man)
      page 11, panel 1 (computer's main interface?)
      page 18, panels 4-5 (cryogenic chamber)
      page 13, panel 3 (Iron Man in the laser gauntlet)
      page 7, panels 4-5 (transport beam up)
      page 7, panel 6 (transport beam into)
      page 20, panel 6 (transport beam down)


Only Appearance:
Iron Man I#157 (April, 1982) - Alan Kupperberg (plot/pencils), David Michelinie (script), Dan Green (inks), Jim Salicrup (editor)


First Posted: 07/20/2022
Last updated: 07/20/2022

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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