Thanos has long been one of the most effective solo artists in the Marvel Universe, ascending to Godhood on multiple occasions, and even successfully destroying all life in tribute to his Mistress Death. In Marvel’s Infinity, Thanos finally forms a supergroup, anointing five Dreadlords of his deadly Black Order. The warlords Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, Supergiant, and Black Dwarf are all cosmic threats in their own right, banding together to wage unspeakable horrors across the galaxy. Together, Thanos and the Black Order are one of Marvel Comics’ most dangerous teams, and absolutely its most savage cosmic threat, savoring every kill and planet scorched to its core.
Not only that, but the Black Order are a part of the greatest stretch of Avengers comic books this decade (and some of us would argue of all-time), as the villains of the first event in Jonathan Hickman’s three-plus year run on Avengers and New Avengers. Given this very recent creation, the Black Order have had to make the most of their limited appearances. The Order has certainly suffered some defeats (Black Dwarf will never forget the name T’Challa), but all in all they’ve proven that with Thanos to lead them, they are Marvel’s most savage supervillain team.
*Spoilers for Infinity, Time Runs Out, and Secret Wars follow!*
15. EMBARRASSED THE HULK
In Infinity #6, during Thanos and the Black Order’s war on Earth, the Avengers return to confront the threat, sending in an armored Hulk first. Thanos punches the Hulk into next week, before the married couple Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight defeat the Incredible Hulk in combat. Glaive is taunting the green rage monster and about to sever the Hulk’s head from his body when Captain America’s mighty shield blindsides him.
Even worse for the Hulk, as the battle carries on, Proxima Midnight holds him down to the ground, rendering him completely ineffective. It’s only after Captain America bails out Hulk yet again by deflecting Midnight’s blasts into Corvus Glaive that the tide of battle finally turns in favor of the Avengers. No thanks to the Hulk!
14. DESTROYED ATTILAN & BLACK BOLT
In Infinity #2, Corvus Glaive approaches the Inhumans royal family, and taunts Black Bolt as a lesser king before ordering his minions to kill themselves in order to show Queen Medusa how little they fear death. Rather than give in, Black Bolt and Maximus plot to destroy the city of Attilan with the power of Black Bolt’s voice. When Thanos demands tribute, Black Bolt screams “No!”, the city is destroyed, and a Terrigen bomb is activated, releasing the Terrigen Mists over Earth.
Thanos beats Black Bolt to a pulp for his transgressions, and Supergiant tears Black Bolt’s mind open in order to unlock the Illuminati’s cache of anti-matter bombs. The fallout from this domination of the Inhumans has remained in effect today. The Inhuman royal family has been torn apart, and the Terrigen Mists have led to the genesis of new Inhumans, and led to a showdown with the X-Men.
13. PLOTTED TO KILL THANOS’ SON
Thanos has a lot going on during Infinity. In addition to his plans to conquer Earth, which has vexed the Mad Titan for far too long, Thanos also wants to find and kill one of his children in order to prove his commitment to Death. The Black Order is happy to go along, searching for a young boy who has no idea Thanos is looking for him. There’s no denying that this intended infanticide is cruel beyond words.
Admittedly, this plot ends badly for Thanos and the Black Order, with the Ebony Maw betraying the group, and Thanos’ son, Thane, developing the touch of living death after being exposed to the Terrigen Mists. Unable to control his new powers, Thane completely wipes out his home, the Inhuman city of Orollan. This can be attributed to the Black Order, as the team forced the release of the Terrigen Mists.
12. BEAT UP EGO THE LIVING PLANET
In the Thanos: A God Up There Listening digital infinite comic, Thane and the Ebony Maw leave Earth after the events of Infinity in order to better understand Thane’s heritage. Thane is granted a vision of Thanos and the Black Order’s unprovoked assault on Ego the Living Planet. Although Ego appears to achieve victory when he throws continent-sized boulders at the attacking vessel, the Black Order lands on the living planet’s surface and proceeds to savagely beat back any physical forces the cosmic powerhouse can throw at them.
After Thanos tears the Galactus’ Engine out of Ego’s heart (comics!), Ego fears for his own safety and jettisons Thanos and the Black Order off his person like an incurable virus. Now, it’s fair to question the validity of these events, as Thane is a particularly unreliable narrator, but it’s an eye-opening look at the Black Order’s power levels nonetheless.
11. DESTROYED 14 ENTIRE WORLDS (MINIMUM)
Starting with New Avengers #1, the Illuminati (Black Panther, Mr. Fantastic, Iron Man, Beast, Black Bolt, Captain America and Dr. Strange… with varying lineup changes) come to the life-changing revelation that the planet is facing an accelerating stream of alternate Earth “incursions.” This means one planet must be destroyed in order for theirs to remain unharmed. The Illuminati try many approaches to halt these incursions, but are ultimately stymied by the morality of their actions.
Thanos and the Black Order have no such reservations. As such, when Namor is kicked out of the Illuminati, he turns to the Black Order (and some friends like Maximus the Mad and an alternate reality Terrax) to continue the work of wiping out worlds. Thanos and the Black Order accept the challenge with a smile, destroying alternate reality icons like the Castle Fantastic, and proving so successful that Namor can hardly believe his eyes.
10. BRUTALLY SAVAGED THE X-MEN
During the Black Order’s initial siege of Earth in New Avengers #9, Corvus Glaive and Supergiant lead an attack wave against the X-Men at the X-mansion. Before even laying a single blow, Supergiant slays the X-Men calling them “Fodder mostly,” and deeming Iceman the only real threat. Supergiant takes control of Bobby Drake’s mind and utilizes the megamorph’s vast powers to wipe out many of his fellow X-Men.
Corvus Glaive then makes short work of Wolverine, stabbing him through the chest and impaling him on the ground like he was no threat at all. It’s a nasty and brutal assault at Xavier’s, with Wolverine and the X-Men almost completely overpowered and outmatched. Fortunately for the X-Men, Supergiant and Corvus Glaive are needed elsewhere in Thanos’ all-out conquest of Earth.
9. BACKSTABBED THANOS
Throughout Infinity, the Ebony Maw, master of persuasion, seeks to find Thanos’ son first. Once he discovers Thane, fresh off developing his Inhuman “gift” of instant death, the Ebony Maw declares, “I see… opportunity. A chance to increase my stature.” He aims to mentor Thane, although not before he captures him and reports back to Thanos with his success. Once the Avengers attack Thanos and the Black Order and provide sufficient detraction, the Ebony Maw convinces Thane to stop his father’s rampage.
Likewise, when Thanos returns to claim his throne in his own series, Thanos, he finds Corvus Glaive running the Black Order and his empire. Glaive isn’t merely keeping the seat warm either, as Thanos has to fight to reclaim what’s his. When they serve him, the Black Order often falls in line, but don’t think for a moment they won’t take on Thanos themselves if power seems achievable.
8. KILLED SHURI
As “Time Runs Out” begins in New Avengers #24 and the Marvel Universe marches towards Secret Wars, Black Panthers T’Challa and Shuri lead a covert mission to reclaim Wakanda from Thanos and his Black Order, after they had devastated Wakanda in Infinity. The royal brother and sister infiltrate the Cabal’s hold on the Illuminati’s stockpile of earth-destroying bombs, only to find Maximums the Mad and the Black Order’s Proxima Midnight waiting for them.
T’challa and Shuri flee the trap, with Maximus blowing up the tunnels and their Wakandan troops behind them. To allow T’challa to escape and continue his plans to save both Wakanda and the entire Universe, Shuri stays behind to battle Proxima Midnight and her forces alone. It’s a testament to the Black Order villain’s prowess that this is certain self-sacrifice for Wakanda’s once and future Queen.
7. MADE PROFESSOR X BEG FOR DEATH
Once the remaining members of Thanos’ Black Order join Namor, Terrax, and the Cabal, the Black Order puts an alternate Earth Professor X through absolute hell. The Cabal forms in order to stop multiversal incursions, a job perfectly suited to Thanos and his Black Order, as Namor, the ostensible leader of the group, determines when asking the Cabal to help him destroy worlds.
In “Time Runs Out” we get to see Namor’s Cabal in action for the first time, as he explains to Doctor Doom that Thanos and his Black Order are mass murderers on a scale he can’t control. On this incursion, an alternate reality X-Men stand against the Order, and are mercilessly slaughtered. Professor Xavier gets it the worst, confronted with the skulls of his generals, Xorn and Zorn, and then asked to beg for a quick death at the hands of Thanos to save his X-Men.
6. TEAMED WITH ULTIMATE MARVEL AGAINST EARTH-616
After the Illuminati attempted to blow up Thanos and the Black Order as they fought off a universal incursion, the Cabal made a last ditch escape to the Marvel Ultimate Universe. The Reed Richards of the Ultimate Universe — AKA The Maker — found them and brought the Cabal into his (admittedly effective) plans to continue staving off incursions. As the number of Earth’s remaining begins its rapid descent to zero, the Maker and Thanos find that only two earths remain — Earth-616 and Earth-1610.
This pits the Black Order against Earth-616, and they are only too happy to take part in killing all life on the planet in glorious carnage. Thanos and his generals team up with Nick Fury of the Ultimate Universe (AKA Samual L. Jackson in comic book form) and the Maker to wage all out war against the standard Marvel Universe in Secret Wars #0.
5. BROKE NAMOR & ATLANTIS
Namor experiences a drastic descent from Avengers vs. X-Men through Secret Wars, although you could argue his first encounter with the Black Order marks his deepest fall from grace. After Queen Shuri sends Wakandan forces to completely destroy Atlantis for retribution against Namor’s Phoenix-force induced destruction of Wakanda, Proxima Midnight finds Namor grieving over the ashes of his nation.
While it may appear that Proxima Midnight offers a rare glimpse of Black Order mercy to Namor, she actually convinces him to sell his soul in exchange for the chance to rebuild Atlantis. Namor tells Proxima Midnight that the location of the Infinity Gem Thanos seeks can be found in Wakanda, despite the call to arms from Andromeda at his side. It’s a clear ploy for revenge for Namor, but also signals the desecration of his own morality.
4. FANTASTIC FARM KILLERS
In Avengers World #21, Namor travels ahead of the Cabal to an Earth that contains no warrior heroes to oppose them. He discovers the “Fantastic Farm,” where he warns Reed and Sue Richards of the coming incursions, and what must be done in order to avoid a violent death at the hands of Thanos, the Black Order, and the rest of the Cabal.
Thanos is particularly furious with Namor for preventing their slaughter of this world, and avoiding paying the price of blood the Black Order has come to relish. This leads to a brutal slugfest between an increasingly penitent Namor and Thanos. The scene is meant to illustrate the growing divide between Namor’s pragmatism and conscience, but it also demonstrates just how savage Thanos and the Black Order will behave. Even when victory is assured, the Black Order will not be denied their culling of worlds.
3. HUMILIATED DOCTOR STRANGE
Not many villains can make a fool of Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, yet that’s exactly what the Ebony Maw does to Stephen Strange in Infinity. The Ebony Maw sinks his impossibly persuasive whisperings deep into Doctor Strange’s mind, leading him to reveal secrets of Earth’s defenses and the Illuminati’s covert protection of Earth against universal incursions.
Doctor Strange is absolutely enraged by this invasion of his mind, and abuses of his power. This is shown most clearly when Strange confronts Supergiant, who is herself manipulating Black Bolt into using his unspeakably powerful voice against his fellow Illuminati. Strange attempts to conjure a deadly beast from the abyss, but is blasted away by Supergiant. It’s only the combination of Maximus the Mad and Lockjaw that prevents Doctor Strange’s annihilation at the hands of the Black Order.
2. DEMANDED SACRIFICED CHILDREN AS TRIBUTE
The opening to 2013’s Infinity, and our introduction to the Black Order’s Corvus Glaive, shows Glaive venturing to one of Thanos’ conquered planets, Ahl-Agullo. Although the Black Order has already conquered the planet, word that Ahl-Agullo has rebuilt sends Corvus Glaive on behalf of Thanos in search of tribute.
Glaive announces his presence by displaying the weapon and arm (separated) of the planet’s champion, Augollux the Brave, before the King (not to mention father of Augollux). The King asks what Glaive needs in order to prevent further bloodshed, and although Glaive declares it but “a pittance, a portion,” we see the armies of Thanos present the Mad Titan with a haunting chest full of severed young heads. Make no mistake, the Black Order are as brutal as they come.
1. RAZED WAKANDA
The Golden City had never fallen until the Black Order invaded Earth. Invading Wakanda has generally been a fool’s errand, with the gloriously advanced city standing tall against attempts dating back to Alexander and Napoleon. During the early stages of the Black Order’s invasion of Earth in Infinity this remains true, with Black Panther and Wakanda holding back the Black Dwarf’s initial assault.
After Namor tells Proxima Midnight the Infinity Gem is in Wakanda, Thanos sends the full might of the Black Order against Wakanda. Corvus Glaive launches suicidal waves to crack an opening in the city’s walls, where Proxima Midnight leads a charge to wipe the city. Unfortunately Black Panther is with the Illumaniti dealing with an incursion during the attack, leaving his sister Shuri to protect the nation. It’s a loss that continues to haunt Black Panther to this day, proof that Black Order are the ultimate threat.
Have we convinced you that The Black Order are the ultimate destroyers? Let us know in the comments!
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