Tyrant isn’t one of the most famous characters in the Marvel Universe. With just over a dozen actual comic book appearances to his name, he’s easy to miss, even for die-hard Marvel fans. But even if he doesn’t have much of a presence outside of the mid-90s Silver Surfer stories that introduced him, Tyrant is one of the strongest cosmic powerhouses in the Marvel Universe.
Despite his obscurity, Tyrant is one of the only characters who has enough power to scare Galactus and battle Thanos to a standstill. Now, we’re taking a closer look at this forgotten cosmic heavyweight to see who he was, and how Galactus dealt with this existential threat to the Marvel Universe.
A few years after Thanos wielded the Infinity Gauntlet for the first time, Tyrant debuted in 1993’s Silver Surfer #81, by Ron Marz, Ron Lim, and Tom Christopher. In that issue, he made a bold first impression by defeating the Silver Surfer, one of Marvel’s most powerful cosmic heroes, capturing and imprisoning him alongside other cosmic powerhouses like Terrax, Gladiator, and Beta Ray Bill.
While that introduction established Tyrant as a major cosmic power, his early history is even more intimidating. Tyrant is a sentient living machine created by Galactus eons ago. Where Galactus’ immense power and world-devouring were merely the conditions of his existence, Tyrant took pleasure in conquest. After Galactus realized what his creation had become, he fought Tyrant in an all-out galaxy-destroying battle that cost Tyrant much of his power.
While Tyrant occasionally drew power from superhuman beings like his aforementioned captives, he was still one of Marvel’s more powerful cosmic beings, even in his weakest form. On a bad day, he still has enough raw strength and cosmic energy to take on cosmic heroes like the Silver Surfer, Gladiator, and Beta Ray Bill all at once without breaking a sweat.
When Thanos tried to steal an orb that contained some of Tyrant’s power, the Mad Titan could only battle Tyrant to a stalemate before admitting that Tyrant was stronger than him and running away in Ron Marz, Scot Eaton, and Bill Anderson’s Cosmic Powers #6 in 1994.
However, the only being who could truly challenge Tyrant was his creator, Galactus. When Tyrant tried to turn one of Galactus’ Heralds, Morg, against his master, the Herald finds the Ultimate Nullifier, one of the most powerful weapons in the Marvel Universe.
When that weapon was introduced in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four #50, it was the only thing that kept Galactus from consuming the Earth, But here, the Nullifier becomes Galactus’ unlikely salvation when Morg uses it to kill Tyrant at the cost of his own life in 1995’s Silver Surfer #109, by Mike Lackey and Tom Grindberg.
After Marvel’s Annihilation crossover launched a renaissance for Marvel’s cosmic characters and introduced the modern Guardians of the Galaxy, many of Tyrant’s fellow Marvel cosmic characters went on to some level of prominence in Marvel’s new cosmic order.
Despite that, Tyrant still hasn’t been seen since his death, and his only real legacy is as a footnote in discussions and debates about who Marvel’s strongest cosmic characters. Given the importance of Marvel’s cosmic characters in ongoing storylines like Empyre, the coming of the symbiote god Knull, and the regular goings-on of Marvel’s cosmic titles, it’s almost certainly only a matter of time before Tyrant returns. And when he does, this villain will probably make sure the entire Marvel Universe remembers his cosmic powers.
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Next to Marvel's cosmic powers like Thanos and Galactus, Tyrant might not be the most famous name, but this villain packs a serious cosmic punch.