In the early 1990s, Marvel Comics were so popular that the company launched a line of trading cards in 1990. The second volume was when the trading card trend really caught on. Marvel Universe, Volume 2 trading cards were everywhere in 1991, so the characters that made it on to those cards were deeply imprinted in the minds of a whole generation of fans. Cards #127-138 in the 162-card set were of notable weapons or items from the Marvel Universe. Fans were already extremely familiar with most of these weapons, like Captain America's shield, Thor's hammer and Wolverine's claws, but one mysterious item that stood out was the Ultimate Nullifier.
The front of the card had a Ron Lim drawing of Mister Fantastic holding the mysterious object, but the back of the card gave little extra information, noting only, "All information hearsay: Device may have been created before the time of this universe; supposedly destroys only objects 'completely understood' by potential user and destroys user as well. Never used in this dimension." For decades, fans have wanted to know more about the Ultimate Nullifier, so we will do our best to reveal as many mysteries about the object as we can.
15 A WILD NULLIFIER CHASE
In Fantastic Four #48 (by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Joe Sinnott), the Fantastic Four learn that Earth is being targeted by Galactus, the seemingly all-powerful devourer of worlds! You might wonder how, exactly, they learned about Galactus. Well, it turns out that it was Uatu the Watcher who filled them in. Uatu, you see, is supposed to have a vow of non-interference in the lives of the subjects that he is watching, but he breaks that vow all the time, including this instance.
Uatu knew of a weapon that even Galactus would fear. In order to acquire said weapon, however, he had to send the Human Torch on a shocking trip through multiple dimensions. This was before Jack Kirby began to work photo collages into his art, or else he clearly would have used them here on the journey of the Torch to Galactus' ship, which conveniently holds the very weapon that might stop him! So Johnny Storm had to then travel back in time to help save the Earth! In the years since, the scope of Galactus' ship has tended to be reduced a bit. A number of superheroes have been there over the years and none seem to have quite the reaction that the Human Torch had in that first appearance.
14 DESTROY A UNIVERSE TO SAVE A PLANET?
Once the Human Torch brought the Ultimate Nullifier back to Earth, it came down to Mister Fantastic to make the weapon work for them. This moment brings up a fascinating question that has been at the heart of the Ultimate Nullifier ever since, which is "What is the point of using a weapon if it could possibly destroy the universe in the process?" What Reed mostly had to do in this scenario was just convince Galactus that it was a possibility that he might use the device and that was too much for Galactus to handle.
It is interesting to see Galactus use Earth metaphors like "giving matches to a child who lives in a tinderbox" to the Watcher. Perhaps it is one of those things where what he actually said was incomprehensible to us, so we just put it into dialogue that we could understand? That's a concept that other writers have introduced to explain that Galactus comes to each planet in a shape that they understand. So when he comes to Earth, he appears as a humanoid. It is important to note here that Reed managed to secure a promise from Galactus never to try to eat the Earth again. That would haunt later writers.
13 PART OF GALACTUS' SELF
Despite the Ultimate Nullifier being in existence for over 50 years, we still do not know very much about the creation of the device. A major hint, though, was given in the Abraxas storyline in the pages of Carlos Pacheco's run on Fantastic Four. First of all, we see how the Ultimate Nullifier always seems to end up in Galactus' ship no matter where we see it last. It appears as though Galactus has the ability to call the Ultimate Nullifier back to him whenever he wants it.
More importantly, Galactus notes that the Ultimate Nullifier is part of him, like his heart. So that certainly seems to suggest that Galactus is the one who created the device, right? If we were to guess, there seems to be a decent chance that when Galactus was new to his existence, he possibly struggled with the idea that he was responsible for so much death in the universe. Perhaps he felt that there should exist something that could destroy him and maybe he created the Ultimate Nullifier with that in mind. He certainly has the technology to do so at his disposal. Plus, he keeps using the Power Cosmic to make heralds and it doesn't seem to diminish the amount of Power Cosmic that he has, suggesting that it is an infinite supply of power.
12 GALACTUS CAN'T TELL A FAKE ONE APART
As noted earlier, Reed using the Ultimate Nullifier to get Galactus to promise not to bother Earth again caused a lot of problems for later writers. Galactus is too cool of a character not to use, so you either had to have him threaten other worlds or come up with loopholes that would allow him to still attack the Earth. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee came up with plenty of examples of both of those approaches and so, too, did later writers. Finally, though, Marv Wolfman came up with a way to eliminate the promise as a threat.
In a long storyline that was originally intended as a crossover between Fantastic Four and Nova, Wolfman introduced the Sphinx as a threat to the Earth perhaps greater even than Galactus. Things were so bad that Reed Richards, who was temporarily aged at the time, cut a deal with Galactus. Reed would absolve Galactus of his promise if Galactus would agree to take down the Sphinx for humanity. Galactus agreed, but after dealing with the Sphinx, Mister Fantastic revealed that he had stolen machinery from Galactus' ship to build a new Ultimate Nullifier. The Watcher interfered (again!) to block Galactus from being able to read Reed's mind. He left Earth and then we learned that it was a big bluff. Galactus somehow couldn't tell something "of his own heart" was real or not.
11 INFINITY WAR BAD ENOUGH TO USE IT
At the end of the Infinity Gauntlet, Adam Warlock took control of the titular cosmic device and uses it to fix everything that Thanos had done earlier in the storyline, like kill off half the universe. When Warlock took control of the gauntlet, though, he used its powers to eliminate his good and evil side. The evil side of Warlock manifested itself as Magus, which was the name of the evil version of Warlock from the future that Warlock had fought way back in Jim Starlin's original run on Warlock. After divesting himself of a good and evil side, Warlock then split the Infinity Gems up among himself and some of his most trusted allies.
When Magus created a bunch of powerful cosmic eggs to threaten the universe form an alternate dimension, Warlock put the Infinity Gauntlet back together and petitioned The Living Tribunal to allow it to be re-assembled, after the cosmic arbiter had ruled that it no longer be allowed to function as a singular device. However, while The Living Tribunal was debating the plea, the Magus then stole the Infinity Gauntlet from Warlock. The heroes of Earth had to think of another way out of the situation and Thanos suggested that they use the Ultimate Nullifier against Magus. Of course, Thanos volunteered a different person to wield it -- Quasar!
10 QUASAR ACTUALLY USED IT
In the world of popular fiction, whenever you introduce an element where you say "this can't be done," writers invariably want to do it. If you say that you can't cross the proton streams in Ghostbusters, then you know that's precisely what will happen at some point. Similarly, when you have a device that no one has ever actually used, then you know that everyone is going to want to eventually use it. That is precisely what happened in Infinity War, when Quasar was manipulated into using the Ultimate Nullifier in an attempt to kill the Magus. However, the Magus' Infinity Gauntlet, which technically wasn't a legitimate version of the Gauntlet, was powerful enough to stop Quasar. Instead, Quasar just nullified himself.
He ended up in the White Room, which is where the spirits of the former Protectors of the Universe also end up after they die. Meanwhile, his Quantum Bands were back in his normal reality. Thanos had a sense that Quasar was going to be nullified, so he told the former hero known as the 1950's Marvel Boy, who had worn the Quantum Bands before Quasar, that they were up for grabs again. Eventually, Quasar fought his way back from literal Oblivion to return to life. He also got his Quantum Bands back from Marvel Boy, who turned out not to be the real Marvel Boy anyway, but a bio-duplicate created by Thanos.
9 MORG WAS THE SECOND TO CLICK IT
Over the years, Galactus has gone through a wide variety of heralds. He tended to pick out noble beings, but he sometimes likes heralds who had less of an issue with him devouring planets with life on them. Nova, for instance, made it her life's mission to make sure that Galactus only devoured planets without any people on them. Galactus eventually got angry at her and replaced her with Morg, a sociopath who loved to kill. He was more than willing to help Galactus find any planets, even ones teeming with life. Nova sought out the Silver Surfer and they put together a group of former Galactus heralds to stop Galactus and force him to replace Morg with more suitable heralds.
Later, Morg was captured by an old foe of Galactus known as Tyrant, a robotic being that Galactus had created to be his companion but then things went awry (as they are wont to do). In a mighty battle on Galactus' ship between Galactus and Tyrant with Silver Surfer stuck in the middle, Morg decided that he was sick of it all, so he decided to use the Ultimate Nullifier. Galactus sent Silver Surfer away to protect him. Galactus then used all of his powers to contain the nullification effect to only Galactus' ship, thereby seemingly killing Tryant, Morg and Galactus. Of course, Galactus ended up popping up somewhere else alive later on. Morg is still dead, though.
8 REED RICHARDS WAS THE THIRD TO CLICK IT
While Galactus managed to survive the nullification effect somehow, he soon after was driven mad. It came down to his old herald, the Silver Surfer, to come up with a way to kill Galactus. Silver Surfer found a way to break Galactus down into energy form. As he was near death, Galactus' sanity returned and he thanked his former herald. As it turned out, though, with Galactus dead, the universe was now at the mercy of the powerful cosmic being known as Abraxas. This was a being who wanted to collapse the universe, and who had been held in check with the existence of Galactus.
Abraxas traveled to different multiverses and killed off the Galactuses that he found on those other worlds. He was trying to find the Ultimate Nullifier so that he could change reality so that Galactus never existed. The Human Torch knew where it was, so Abraxas used an alternate reality Nova to trick the Human Torch into giving up the information. In the end, though, Galactus returned to life and planned to use the Nullifier himself. Abraxas attacked him and the Nullifier ended up at the feet of Reed Richards, who activated it and changed reality to eliminate Abraxas. As a bonus, Sue Storm's miscarriage was eliminated and she soon gave birth to her daughter, Valeria Richards.
7 JUST ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE X
Earth X began life as an experiment by Wizard magazine to ask Alex Ross to come up with a possible future for the Marvel Universe, similar to Alex Ross' Kingdom Come (which Ross came up with alongside writer Mark Waid). The resulting concepts were so popular that it led to Marvel agreeing to let Ross produce the story in a trilogy of books -- Earth X, Universe X and Paradise X.
The concept of Universe X is that a resurrected Captain Mar-Vell, now in the form of a child, has decided to take down Death herself. Throughout the series, Mar-Vell slowly collects various cosmic items to help him on his quest. He was originally guarded by Captain America, but by the end of the series, Mar-Vell has an army of dead superheroes to help him defeat Death. When it came down to it, Mar-Vell confronted Death and her trusty lover, Thanos, and Mar-Vell convinced Thanos that Death had been manipulating Thanos all along. Mar-Vell then gave the Ultimate Nullifier to Thanos and the Mad Titan used the device to nullify Death. This allowed Mar-Vell to create a new paradise for the dead characters, but Paradise X quickly demonstrated that a world without death would cause a whole lot of problems.
6 TOO MUCH FOR MARTIAN MANHUNTER
In the late 1970s, Marvel and DC had their first official crossover comic book, with Spider-Man and Superman meeting each other for the first time. It was such a success that they decided to make these team-ups an annual event, with Hulk meeting Batman, Superman and Spider-Man teaming up again, and the X-Men meeting the New Teen Titans. However, everything fell apart in the creation of a JLA vs. Avengers event. George Perez had drawn a good chunk of the story but then it turned out that Marvel had not approved the story and then it all became one big confrontation between Marvel and DC and the two companies abandoned crossovers for another decade or so.
In 2003, Perez was able to finally do a JLA/Avengers storyline, but now in a miniseries by Perez and writer Kurt Busiek. The initial conceit of the story is that the Avengers and the Justice League are both fighting as part of a cosmic game to find six items of powers in each others' universe. The first team to find one of the items was the Justice League, who found the Ultimate Nullifier on Monster Island. Martian Manhunter probed the device and his mind almost couldn't handle the power of the Nullifier!
5 THE ULTIMATE NULLIFIER... IN THE FLESH
In 2011, Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta collaborated on the brilliant miniseries, Vengeance, which involved three teams of super-powered beings who were working at cross purposes with each other. There was the Defenders team that Casey had introduced in the 2008 Last Defenders miniseries, there was the teen version of the Masters of Evil that had been established during "Dark Reign," and then there was the Teen Brigade, a team of teen heroes that turn out to be the latest iteration in a long line, who were the teen heroes that put together the Avengers back in Avengers #1.
The miniseries is best known for one of the members of the Teen Brigade, Miss America Chavez, who has gone on to become a major hero in the Marvel Universe, even having her own ongoing series for a while. Another member of the team, though, was shockingly enough named the Ultimate Nullifier! The Ultimate Nullifier had the ability to, well, nullify people's powers. At least temporarily. He has not really shown up since the original miniseries, but it was quite a trip to see the Ultimate Nullifier in person, as it were! It does not appear, though, as if the connection is anything more than the name itself... and that familiar looking gun. He is shown riding the actual Ultimate Nullifier in a sort of dream sequence, but that's the only other nod to the real Nullifier.
4 AGE OF ULTRON NOT BAD ENOUGH
The crossover event Age of Ultron was a fascinating storyline because it was a rare case of an "altered timeline." There have been plenty of alternate timelines in Marvel's history, but writer Brian Michael Bendis seems to be more interested in the idea of "altered timelines," like when the Scarlet Witch used her reality-altering powers to create the altered "House of M" timeline. Similarly, in Age of Ultron, the villainous Ultron set up his base of operations in the future and then went back and attacked the Earth... in the recent past! So the "current" timeline in the Marvel Universe was now a timeline where Ultron ruled over the world!
The remaining at-large heroes travel to the Savage Land, where Nick Fury had put together a special bunker. In the bunker, he had a tremendous collection of weapons. Fascinatingly, he somehow actually had the Ultimate Nullifier in his possession! Tony Stark asked if this was an instance where they would need to use it and Fury said that it was not. Instead their plan was to travel through time and stop Ultron that way. So I guess we now know what level of a crisis we need to be at before the Nullifier is called for!
3 ALTERNATE NULLIFIERS
In 2013, a brand-new Nova series was launched where a young teen named Sam Alexander discovered that his father, who Sam had always assumed was just a drunk, was actually a member of the Nova Corps! Sam's father had left his Nova Corps helmet to Sam, who activated it, discovering that it gave him the same Nova powers that his father once had. He set off into outer space in an attempt to find his missing father, who Sam had assumed had just abandoned his family, but he had actually been kidnapped!
On his first mission, Sam came across Titus, a former Supernova and friend of Sam's father. As it turned out, though, Titus believed that Sam's father had betrayed him. Titus had sold out to the evil alien race known as the Chitauri and had used a Rigellian Recorder to provide to them the plans to build an Ultimate Nullifier! This is the first time that we ever learned that you could apparently build an Ultimate Nullifier of your own. Sam defeated Titus and in their battle, Sam accidentally nullified Titus! Sam then brought the alternate Ultimate Nullifier to the Watcher on Uatu's home on the moon for safe keeping.
2 ORIGINAL SIN SEES IT CLICKED AGAIN
Sadly, things did not go so well for Uatu soon after Sam gave him the Ultimate Nullifier. In Original Sin #1, the Watcher was murdered by a mystery person. It later turned out that Nick Fury had killed Uatu in self-defense after some villains had first attacked Uatu and stolen one of his eyes, since his eyes have "recorded" pretty much every event in the history of the Marvel Universe. Thus, it would have all the secrets in the known universe. Fury wanted Uatu to tell him the identity of his attackers so that he could get the eye back, but Uatu refused and got ready to fight Fury, at which point Fury killed him and took his other eye to hunt down the Watcher's killers. In the end, Fury ended up taking over Uatu's role as the Watcher of Earth.
Well, with Uatu dead and his eye giving people insights that they never had before, a Mindless One ended up being transformed into a Mindful One. Unfortunately, he could not take the reality of thought and used the Ultimate Nullifier that Uatu had at his home to nullify his own existence. He did this right in front of Spider-Man and the Thing.
1 DIFFERENT LEVELS OF ULTIMATE NULLIFIER?
One of the fun things about the Marvel Universe is that because it is a connected universe, you often come across situations where characters and situations that would not normally cross paths find themselves in the same stories together. It is in one of those situations that Morbius, the Living Vampire, came face to face with an Ultimate Nullifier!
Now, as we established in the Nova entry, apparently you can actually build your own Ultimate Nullifier. Well, think about it, once you have opened up the idea of manufacturing an Ultimate Nullifier, it is only logical that one of the next steps is to have someone out there producing bootleg versions of said devices, and that is precisely what happened in the final storyline in Morbius' short-lived ongoing series from a few years back that saw the living vampire adopt a Brooklyn neighborhood as his home base. A new version of the Rose tried to kill Morbius with a knock-off version of the Ultimate Nullifier. It was still quite powerful, but since Morbius actually survived a blast from it, its power levels were so low that it seemed kind of pointless to even refer to it as an Ultimate Nullifier.