In 2013, writer Jonathan Hickman wrote a big crossover story in the Avengers and New Avengers comics called Infinity. That story saw a majority of the Avengers, lead by Captain America, going off-world to fight an intergalactic threat, leaving the Earth relatively defenseless. This is, of course, the perfect time for Thanos to attack looking for his son, Thane. But in this comic, unlike many others before, Thanos came with an army, lead by his most trusted generals — The Cull Obsidian, also called The Black Order.
He sent each general to a specific threat on Earth. Corvus Glaive was sent to handle the X-Men in upstate New York, Black Dwarf landed in Wakanda to fight Black Panther and his Wakandan armies, Proxima Midnight went to Atlantis, but they folded easily after being beaten in a war with Wakanda, so she turned her attention to New York and the Inhumans. Finally, Ebony Maw attacked Doctor Strange at his Sanctum Santorum.
Each member of The Black Order is formidable in and of their selves, but together, and with Thanos, they are virtually unstoppable.
While there has been plenty of grist at the rumor mill for the upcoming film, Avengers: Infinity War, one of the biggest rumors was that Thanos (Josh Brolin) would not be alone in his fight against Earth, but that he would bring his Black Order with him. Well, D23 this weekend moved that needle from rumor to confirmation — Thanos will indeed have his Black Order with him when the film hits theatres next May.
So we thought it would be good to take a quick look at these characters, who they are and just what they can do.
We’ll start with the first of Thanos’s generals to be introduced — Corvus Glaive. Like all of the Black Order, he has enhanced strength, speed, durability and endurance, but perhaps his most distinguishing characteristic is his weapon choice — a glaive that can cut through anything. However, it also has the added bonus that so long as he holds the glaive, he is immortal.
Hickman described him to Comic Book Resources as,”The first of the five. Thanos’ most favored. Corvus is cruel, arrogant and the most loyal of the Black Order.” He later added that Glaive is, “A warrior who betrayed his people and sold his soul to Thanos to pursue a different kind of glory.”
Next, let’s go from Thanos favorite, to the one that’s actually bigger than Thanos –Black Dwarf. This general is actually the brother to Corvus Glaive and is the strongest of the team — think of him as “space Hulk.” Hickman, in that same interview with CBR, said that, “When compared to the others of the Black Order, Black Dwarf seems almost normal,” said Jonathan Hickman. “Feigning joy and contentment, in reality this celestial Nihilist is simply more at peace with the oblivion Thanos seeks than the others of the Black Order.”
Senior Vice President of Publishing at Marvel, Tom Brevoort added, “the name Black Dwarf makes you think he’s a little guy, but you’re really talking about something with the mass of a dwarf star that’s very dense and very solid.” Brevity then added that despite his size, or perhaps because of it, he is “probably the most serene-seeming of the Thanos lieutenants… He’s a little bit more even-keeled because there’s just no need for him to be otherwise. He’s just so massive.”
That is — he’s so big he can afford to just not care.
Then there’s Proxima Midnight, who loves death, destruction and the chaos of the void so much, she married Corvus Glaive. According to Brevoort in CBR, “Proxima Midnight is a warrior, is a fighter, is the best actual combatant within not only Thanos’ lieutenants, but within his whole army.” Hickman added to this saying that Proxima is “The cruelest of Thanos’ generals,” and is a “predator in every sense of the word” on top of being “the greatest warrior in Thanos’ army.”
On top of this, she is virtually indestructible and wields a lance that transforms into toxic beams of light.
Finally, there is Ebony Maw. He is the only member of Thanos’s trusted generals who does not possess super strength or speed, however, he has a genius-level intellect and can, essentially, persuade anyone to do anything he wants. In fact, he was sent to trick Doctor Strange into giving up important information and then convinced him to summon Shuma Gorath.
Hickman describes him, again to CBR, as “A black tongue that spreads mischief and evil where ever he goes. He seems to be the weakest of the Black Order, but in truth, he is the most dangerous of them all.”
Brevoort described him as “the seducer, he’s fundamentally much more creepy and disturbed and perhaps a little more demented than the others, but it’s all in the psychology; it’s all in the mind.” In fact, he is “probably the one that the other four would think twice the longest about crossing or going up against.”
As you can see, the Avengers and all the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are going to have their hands very full. Anyone of these generals is bad enough on their own, but all of them together with a Thanos possessing any number of the Infinity Stones, this is a fight the Avengers simply cannot win.
Yet, they must persist. If they don’t, the universe dies.