This FAQ attempts to document and describe what is known about the various so-called "techno-organic" lifeforms occasionally found in mainstream Marvel comic books. As is usual with FAQs, the information is provided in a question-and-answer form. The answers tend to be rather large in this case, though.
Until such time as I mysteriously disappear, this document will be available at http://www.cuug.ab.ca/~lapierrs/creative/comics/ on the World Wide Web, and I can be contacted by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We've seen print! Louise Simonson used this FAQ as a reference when she revived Warlock and Magus for the (unfortunately short-lived) Warlock series in 1999.
First off, this isn't your usual FAQ. A FAQ document answers FAQs, or Frequently Asked Questions. Questions on the topics of this document aren't all that frequently asked, though one does occasionally crop up in one or another of the Marvel Comics related newsgroups.
Rather, this is my attempt to organize information about the Techno-Organic (T-O) beings that occasionally pop up in Marvel comics. I find them fascinating and consider them one of the most original and clueful concepts ever to come out of Marvel, not to mention that Warlock is one of my very favorite characters.
Given that the the occasional question on this topic DOES occasionally crop up and reveal misunderstandings about T-O critters, plus the way this information lends itself to the general FAQ structure, I decided to format it in Q&A form anyway.
To save myself typing and you reading, I'll use the abbreviation "T-O" to stand for "Techno-Organic" throughout. Similarly "MU" stands for "Marvel Universe", which is the set of all people, places, things, ideas, events and so forth which have appeared in the common setting of the mainstream Marvel titles.
Where appropriate, I'll throw footnotes in in the format [series #issue]. For example, [NM #21] would mean the related information comes from New Mutants issue 21.
I'll use the following abbreviations for series:
LS = limited series
EX = Excalibur
FA = Fallen Angels LS
NM = New Mutants
NMLS = New Mutants: Truth or Death LS
UXM = Uncanny X-Men
WAR = Warlock
XFA = X-Factor
XFO = X-Force
XM = X-Men (adjectiveless)
For the most part I try to be objective. I present the information originating in the comics as being the Truth(tm) within the Marvel Universe setting, with older issues being more true than recent ones. This last caveat is because Marvel staff have recently shown an increasing tendency to throw continuity out the window by ignoring established facts and failing to do research.
You can clue in to sections where I'm offering my own views instead of the Truth(tm) by looking for key phrases like "I think..." or "In my opinion...". Also I may throw in other people's speculations from the newsgroups and letter columns. I'll try to give credit wherever possible.
This FAQ is about ideas and fictional characters originated by Marvel Comics, and dicusses fictional events chronicled in Marvel Comics. All characters mentioned herein are trademarks of the Marvel Comics Group.
This FAQ was originally created by Soleil Lapierre (email@example.com), and the current maintainer is Soleil Lapierre.
This document is Copyright (c),© 1999 by Soleil Lapierre. At such time as I decide to give up maintaining this FAQ, I may hand over the Copyright to a new maintainer with the understanding that I must be credited with the original work in any future versions.
This document may be copied, mirrored, archived, printed, quoted from, linked to and otherwise distributed freely provided that no fee is charged for it, and it is not modified in any way.
Techno-Organic ("T-O") is the term for a state of being. It means, roughly, "Technological Organism". Most living beings are categorized as organic because they are made of organic material. T-O beings are a different category of living beings which are made of, surprisingly, T-O material.
T-O material possesses qualities of both organism and machine. Exactly what qualities of each it possesses is not entirely clear. It is known that the flesh of a T-O being is as much alive as organic flesh, but it also displays a wide range of characteristics and abilities that we would normally associate with machines.
It is not known if T-O flesh has a base structure analagous to an organic cell, but it is known to have something that functions as an equivalent to our DNA. This T-O DNA is not a molecule per se, but more analagous to a microcoded computer program [NM #50] that controls the behavior of a T-O being's body and abilities and is not consciously detectable or controllable by the being.
There are two kinds of T-O creatures: natural and artificial. The natural ones are the main focus here but the artificial ones will be mentioned also, in sections 3 and 4.
T-O beings are powered by a form of energy called "Lifeglow". It seems to be a combination of electricity and the mysterious life force or spirit that motivates organic creatures. Naturally evolved or otherwise fully T-O creatures can gain lifeglow from a number of means [NM #21]. They can absorb electricity or other ambient energy. Some can absorb and convert the output of energy weapons [NM #50], and apparently all can forcibly take the life energy of other beings.
Lifeglow is essential for all aspects of a T-O being's functioning. Physical strength, acuity of senses, offensive and defensive ability, clarity and speed of thought and so forth are all dependent on having sufficient lifeglow. [NM Special #1]
Any kind of living creature can voluntarily donate energy to a T-O lifeform, but in doing so runs the risk of being infected by the Transmode virus (see next section) [NM Special #1]. The energy can also be forcibly taken (which is the usual method), but this requires the victim to be transformed into a T-O being via a Transmode infection. The transformed victim is then drained of its lifeglow, rendering it inert and technically dead.
Presumably experienced T-O lifeforms can prevent their lifeglow from being taken by others, unless they are overpowered. Otherwise they would be very easy to kill.
All natural T-O lifeforms are normally flat black in color with their surface features highlighted by glowing lines. The color of the lines is white when at peak lifeglow levels, fading to yellow and then blue as energy is used up. When the T-O lifeform is overloaded with energy, the lines can glow blindingly bright. This suggests to me that these lines are the main lifeglow distribution paths, analogous to blood vessels.
When near death, T-O lifeforms tend to degenerate into a semiliquid blob-like state followed by discorporation (presumably into their component elements) upon death. Transmoded lifeforms who are suddenly drained of their energy lose their coloring and become silvery abstract statues of themselves.
All natural T-O beings can disguise themselves by changing their shape, size and surface coloration. Technarchy members can also change their mass and volume within limits. The quality of the disguise depends on the being's energy level.
All T-O beings (except some artificial ones) can change their shape radically. The main limitation appears to be that they must stay in one contiguous piece. There are also some loose size restrictions. They can form structures such as wheels which are technically separate parts, but are touching. They could be imitating the function of wheels by changing shape at high speed. They can also form their flesh into a wide variety of sensors, force projectors and energy weapons which draw upon their lifeglow as a power supply.
Other than specialized structures formed as needed, T-O lifeforms have no known internal organs. Their bodies seem to be pretty much undifferentiated throughout, [Web of Spider-Man Annual #2] with energy storage and mental activity more or less evenly distributed. Memory is apparently redundantly backed up, as there is no evidence that memories are lost when part of the body is severed. Separation of part of the body does cause pain and a sense of loss, however.
T-O material is apparently superconductive at extremely low temperatures, as the transmoded N'astirh found his mental capabilities greatly enhanced when he was chilled out by Iceman in UXM #242.
The Transmode virus, sometimes also referred to as the T-O virus, is present in all natural T-O lifeforms and in artificial ones who were created based on samples of the natural ones.
The exact nature of the virus is not known, except that it is a genetic virus that can infect any kind of organic material. It can be spread from any T-O carrier to any organic being by physical contact.
Experienced T-O carriers can exert enough mental control over the virus to prevent it being spread by casual contact, buy it can still be accidentally spread during the use of the "Soulmerge" technique (described in the Technarchy section) or by voluntary energy enchange between organic and T-O beings. Involuntary energy exchange requires the victim to be infected.
The Transmode virus apparently cannot live outside a host body, and the virus seems to die if its host dies. This is inferred from the fact that nobody has even been cautioned against touching the remains of a dead T-O creature. If spread accidentally, it can lie dormant for some time in a living organic host before its effects are noticed. [WAR #1]
Once the Transmode virus becomes active in an organic host, it begins converting the organic flesh of the host into T-O flesh. The transformation can start slowly and accelerate quickly if the initial infection is small, or it can take place in seconds.
The memories of the transformed being remain intact but the thought patterns are radically altered, leading to changes in behavior. The transformed person may not know how to control his/her new T-O body at first, leading to uncontrollable shape changes and rampant spreading of the virus to anything he/she touches.
Given that the nature of T-O beings implies seriously advanced nanotechnology, I would theorize that the Transmode virus is actually a team of self-replicating nanomachines programmed to carry out the transformation. This leads to further speculation that T-O critters may be entirely composed of nano, or that their shape changes are accomplished by high-speed alterations made by resident nano.
The Technarchy is an alien race of T-O beings. Very little is known about them save that they are reclusive, their (apparently single) world is very distant from Earth, and they are considered extremely dangerous by the few races that know of their existance.
The name Technarchy is difficult to interpret. The tech- prefix implies "technology" or "technological", as does their nature, but the -archy could mean any of a bunch of different governmental systems.
The two most likely meanings of the word are "ruled by technology", in which case the most technologically advanced member rules, or "technological monarchy", which is just monarchy enhanced with lots of tech.
Despite its redundancy, the technological monarchy definition fits the facts best, because the differences between members of the race seem to be mainly based on power levels and not on capabilities, although some capabilites require huge amounts of power and are therefore denied to weaker members.
The Technarchy homeworld is covered with city, and that city appears to be itself T-O in nature [NM #21]. I would theorize that the entire planet may be artificial or may be so thoroughly infiltrated with T-O life that it is indistinguishable from artificial.
Liquid water is unknown or at least uncommon there, as Warlock had never seen any large bodies of water until he came to Earth [NM Special #1]. From this we can guess that their world either has no atmosphere or is very hot or cold or dry.
The Technarch homeworld was called "Kvch" by Eon in Quasar #8.
Baby Technarchs are produced on an advanced assembly line, presumably using genetic code donated by a "parent" [NM #21], and are raised in a creche.
This method of reproduction seems to indicate that the Technarchy are asexual, despite the way Magus and Warlock are always inferred to be male by humans (at least in English) (damn gender-biased languages!).
When the infants reach a certain age, equivalent to the age of majority in human societies, they must each face their parent in single combat in order to prove their right to live [NM #21]. The weak young are destroyed, thus improving the gene pool. The strong either destroy their parent (there are no known instances of this happening, though it must occur sometimes), or flee the battle and continue to live until such time as their parent locates them and forces them to fight.
Technarchy members are highly individualistic, with well-defined personalities and ways of life. They grow in size and strength throughout their lives, with new abilities being gained along the way as their power reserves increase. It is not known if they can die of natural causes such as old age or disease.
Despite their immense power and intelligence, the Technarchy are generally considered to be a savage and barbaric race because of their treatment of other beings (especially their own young) and their fierce individualism. (Reference needed - I remember reading this _somewhere_)
In addition to the obvious abilities granted by their T-O nature, it is known that Technarchy members can (with appropriate power) travel through hyperspace, cross dimensional barriers, detect energy sources at interstellar distances, detect mental activity, detect lifeglow, communicate in a wide variety of formats, and handle dangerous stuff like fusing hydrogen with no ill effects. They are familiar with the mechanics of teleportation, but have never been shown to teleport themselves without outside help [NM Annual #1, NM Special #1].
Is it thought that some Technarchy members are named by their title - ie, the ruler is always called Magus and the "princes" are always called Warlock. This is not confirmed, and it may be that these just happen to be individual names that sound like the appropriate titles, or the best translation of their titles into English.
In addition to all the aforementioned characteristics, Technarchy members can change their volume and mass within limits. The limits grow with age and power - for example, Warlock has been seen to grow to heights of over 30 feet with his normal proportions intact, while Magus once appeared taller than the diameter of a star.
It is believed that they draw the additional mass from an extradimensional source. That is, their bodies are actually much larger than they appear, but most of it is stored in a pocket universe or fold in space or a parallel dimension.
There is some evidence that Technarchy members can also read the minds of the sentient beings they touch or consume. Warlock apparently learned English and how to assimilate electricity when he touched Rahne, though it can be argued that Doug taught him between panels using the Danger Room lightshow [NM #21]. Magus learned information about Earth when he consumed a hapless human [UXM #192].
Warlock could also detect the mental activity of humans without touching them, but it is unclear whether or not this constituted a form of telepathy. He may have been able to sense the activity but not interpret it, in the same way Xavier could detect Warlock's thoughts but could make no sense of them.
Despite their awesome powers, Technarchs are vulnerable to strong electromagnetic attacks (such as by Magneto). They can also be momentarily startled or distracted by mental attacks such as those used by Moonstar and Karma, but they quickly see through the deception or overpower the attacker by sheer force of will.
Warlock is one of the offspring of the Magus, and as such is a prince of the Technarchy. Warlock is a mutant among his race, possessing compassion and the ability to care about other beings [FA #6]. It is worth noting that Warlock's differences were not explained as being a mutation until quite late in the New Mutants series, and that explanation was given by a different writer than the one who wrote the earier issues and created Warlock.
Warlock has an unusual (for his race) outlook on life. He decided he didn't like the idea of trying to kill his incredibly powerful parent in order to survive. When the time for the ritual combat came, Warlock fled his homeworld rather than fight. The Magus pursued him. [NM #21]
It is not known how long their chase went on before they reached Earth, but there was at least one stop along the way. Warlock crash-landed on a rather barren planet he thought would provide him with energy. Before he could locate food, however, the Magus found him.
Magus physically ripped the planet's sun in half and threw one half of it at Warlock. Warlock escaped, leaving the planet to be incinerated. He fled into hyperspace and headed for Earth, closely pursued by the Magus. The pair of them nearly Smashed the Starjammer on the way to Earth.
Warlock headed for Earth because he sensed a strong power source there. When he dropped from hyperspace to normal space near Earth, he accidentally smashed Asteroid M to pieces without even realizing it. Magneto survived but was unable to prevent the destruction of his base.
The energy source Warlock had detected was apparently the complex under Xavier's mansion, because he deliberately crash-landed near the mansion. Why he was attracted there when there are so many other large power sources on MU Earth is difficult to explain. One suggestion is that it was the Shi'Ar technology under the mansion that somehow attracted his attention.
It's also difficult to explain the huge coincidence needed to bring about the destruction of Asteroid M. A plausible explanation is that the asteroid's powerful and artificial magnetic field was either part of what attracted Warlock, or that it messed up his navigation system.
After a battle and a great deal of confusion, Warlock was given membership in the New Mutants and took up residence at Xavier's [NM #21].
Warlock had many adventures with the New Mutants. When the Magus eventually located and confronted them, the New Mutants helped Warlock defeat his parent.
Warlock grew especially close to Doug Ramsey aka Cypher, and the two of them fought together in battles, calling themselves the Team Supreme. Usually, Warlock would shape himself into a powerful battle-suit for the physically vulnerable Doug and act under his direction. Sometimes, when Doug needed to use Warlock's enhanced senses and abilities directly, the two would merge using the dangerous Soulmerge technique.
The Soulmerge involves a T-O being (Warlock in this case) seamlessly integrating himself with an organic form (Doug), temporarily forming a gestalt T-O being containing both minds. When so merged, they came to be referred to as "Douglock", not to be confused with Douglock II of Excalibur.
The Soulmerge gave Doug access to and co-operative control over all of Warlock's abilities, but not without risks. Their minds were partly merged while retaining separate processing. The novelty of the situation and the access to each other's thoughts resulted in some confusion as to who was who, so Doug would find himself thinking like Warlock and vice versa [NM Annual #2].
Also, there was a danger of Doug accidentally being infected with the Transmode virus. This may have actually happened, but Doug died before the infection made itself known. Warlock had trouble dealing with Doug's death, and tried to convince him to return to life by showing his corpse how much he was missed. The trouble came from Warlock's inability to understand the nature of death for organic beings, compounded by the stumbling religious explanations of death from some of his companions.
When merged, Warlock could partially separate his body from Doug's while retaining their mental link [NM Annual #2].
From something the Magus said, it seems the Soulmerge is considered mildly disgusting by most Technarchs, especially when done with such an inferior form of life as humans. Warlock may be guilty of their equivalent of bestiality. :)
In New Mutants #53, Doug dreamed that had been infected. In his dream, he became fully transformed, lost control of his body and accidentally transmoded and consumed the rest of the New Mutants before he regained control of himself. In the dream, Doug became Warlock's child, a new Warlock, and Warlock was automatically promoted to Magus status. Doug took on Warlock's mode of speech and Warlock began to talk like the Magus, and was also intent on carrying on the Technarchy tradition of child versus parent. Doug awoke from the dream at that point, but it was strongly hinted that he was indeed infected.
Warlock became a big fan of Earth culture, especially U.S. pop culture. He was endlessly watching television, and believed the events shown on the tube were real. He had a habit of assuming the shapes of cartoon and movie characters.
Warlock died at the hands of Cameron Hodge, who had been condemned to living as a human head attached to a robotic body. Hodge wanted the abilities granted by the Transmode virus, and for unknown reasons (ie, because the writer said so) he chose to extract the virus from Warlock via a painful and fatal plot device rather than just asking nicely.
I have strong disagreements with Warlock's death. Firstly, there's no way anything cooked up by The Right could harm (let alone kill) Warlock. Secondly, Hodge didn't even think to ask Warlock to transform him, nor did he try to forcefully take a sample. Warlock probably would have refused on the grounds that it would make the evil Hodge too powerful, but still...
Rumor has it that Warlock's death was written in because the artist at the time didn't want to draw him anymore. Similarly, Doug was killed off in an earlier issue because another artist thought he was "useless in a fight".
Anyway, Warlock was reduced to metallic ash by the process. His ashes were laid on Doug's grave, where they sparkled in the standard Ominous Foreshadowing (tm) way that implied Warlock might not really be completely dead.
Once upon a time, the Red Skull had a Cosmic Cube. Just before Captain America ruined the Skull's plans, as he is wont to do, the Skull wished he were someplace where he could find the power to control the world. The Cube granted his wish by sending him to Muir Isle and giving him a device that would let him control Douglock II. [XM Ann '99]
Red Skull eventually managed to use Douglock II to gain control of the SHIELD helicarrier. He was then battled by X-51 and some of the X-Men as well as SHIELD's people, and Douglock II was freed. Apparently though, while Douglock II was in control of the helicarrier and some SHIELD people, he regained full memory of his identity and history right back to when he was the original Warlock [WAR #1]. For lack of any more details, we'll refer to this newly un-brainwashed Douglock II as Warlock II.
Warlock II has his own ongoing series. In the first issue of the series, we learned the following clarifying facts about his convoluted and much-theorized past up to this point:
Warlock II seems to have made it his mission to clean up all the T-O technology on Earth, because it's too dangerous for humans and he feels responsible for bringing it to Earth.
I should note that Warlock II is the same as Warlock I, except that in the intervening time since he was presumed dead he has been absorbed into the Phalanx, extracted, gained Doug's memories, been re-educated, made to perform surgery on himself, and finally enslaved by the Red Skull. Things like that can change a person.
Magus (or "The Magus", as he is sometimes called) is the current ruler of the Technarchy. He is the host powerful member of that race. The extent of his power is not known, but he is capable of tearing an average star in half with his bare hands and tossing the halves around. That means that he can handle fusing hydrogen at temperatures of thousands to millions of degrees, and physically move objects massing billions of tons. That puts him on the same power scale as many of the cosmic beings.
Despite that power, Warlock and Magus are vulnerable in certain convenient ways that make them beatable. They have no defense against magnetic forces such as wielded by Magneto, and both lose significant amounts of energy if large parts of their bodies are severed [NM #21, UXM #192, NM #50].
Rogue once tried to absorb the Magus's power, gambling that her power would protect her from the Transmode virus [UXM #192]. It worked, but the Magus is one of those few beings too powerful and "deep" for Rogue to absorb completely. She was effectively incapacitated by the knowledge she gained from the Magus's mind, and he was only slightly weakened by her touch.
Magus first came to Earth pursuing his "Son", Warlock. Warlock had fled the ritual combat on their homeworld and had come to Earth seeking energy. Magus initially fought Colossus, Nightcrawler and Rogue, who had witnessed his landing [UXM #192]. The battle went badly for the Magus, and he fled. He assumed the identity of an unlucky park warden who happened to be nearby, and set about learning about Earth and the X-Men while trying to locate Warlock.
Magus was not sighted again until the time of the Morlock Massacre, when he ambushed Warlock and the New Mutants in the tunnels under Manhattan. For some time previous to that, he had known Warlock's whereabouts and had been tracking him while cloaking himself from detection. Warlock had noticed hints of Magus's presence but not been able to directly detect him. Magus apparently enjoyed the drawn-out hunting and stalking, but also welcomed the direct confrontation when it finally came in NM #50.
Magik teleported the New Mutants to Limbo before the Magus could harm them, but he followed them there. She then scattered them throughout alternate timelines in a last-ditch attempt to escape. At one point, Magus reached through one of her stepping discs to consume a medieval knight, but did not personally come through the disc. Soon afterwards, he left Limbo and was not seen again until the New Mutants were reunited with Professor Xavier [NM #50].
While Magus was in Limbo, the demon S'ym made some sort of deal with him. S'ym was transmoded but left alive. S'ym then proceeded to spread the Transmode infection throughout Limbo whenever Magik or her Soulsword were not there to stop him. This enabled S'ym's rise to power, which precipitated the whole Inferno fiasco much later. Most likely Magus granted S'ym this power in order to weaken Warlock's allies.
Due to a teleportation accident, Magik ended up on a distant world with her powers and memory temporarily gone. Professor Xavier happened to be in the area with the Starjammers, and helped her recover. With his help, she gathered up the New Mutants and confronted the new, improved S'ym.
Magus quickly located Warlock once the NMs had returned to the normal timestream, and initiated a confrontation with the NMs and Starjammers. Under Xavier's direction, the Magus was defeated by teamwork. Magik and Magma did a good deal of damage by respectively teleporting away and crushing some of the Magus's appendages, while Warlock and Doug got up close and personal. The others defended the Starjammer and tried to attract the Magus's attention away from Douglock. The planet was torn to pieces in the battle, but Magma managed to hold it together until the Magus was defeated.
Douglock beat the Magus by tapping into his genetic matrix and rewriting key elements of his genetic program. Magus was not killed but reduced to infancy with a corresponding reduction in power, effectively removing him as a threat for quite some time.
The real Magus was not seen between NM #50 and Warlock #7, but X-Men 2099 #1 featured a Phalanx unit impersonating him.
It is not known how the age regression affected the Magus's status as ruler of the Technarchy, but he apparently still counts as Warlock's parent since Warlock did not assume the title of Magus.
In Warlock #7 the Magus finally reappeared, apparently most of the way back to his former power levels. He destroyed a world infested by the spacegoing Phalanx that had trouble the Shi'Ar, and then set course for Earth. His confrontation with Warlock begins in Warlock #9, right at the unfortunate cancellation of the series. As of this writing that issue is not yet out. It is not known at this time how the Magus so quickly regained his power.
The Phalanx were originally created by humans (the Friends of Humanity by implication) to be the next generation of Sentinel robots. The group recovered some of the deceased Warlock's genetic code from his ashes, and hoped to add what technologies they could learn from it to their Sentinel projects. [WAR #1]
Unfortunately, they were too successful and the project got out of hand. Presumably T-O gene code carries much more information than anyone counted on, for the Phalanx emerged from the project with many of Warlock's abilities and an agenda of their own.
The Phalanx are a group-mind collective lifeform. There are many minds within the collective, but they have no individuality or independent thoughts unless a specialized unit is constructed for some purpose. They are physically collective as well, with individual units blending with or separating from larger aggregates as needed. Unlike Technarchs, Phalanx units do have some specialized internal parts or organs [EX #117].
The Phalanx can also assimilate inorganic matter to increase their bulk [UXM #312 and #316]. This is something Technarchs have never been shown to do. Teleportation is another thing the Phalanx can do [UXM #316] that Technarchs have not been seen doing. Warlock teleported in NM Annual #1, but he was providing power to an existing stargate. It's reasonable to assume that Technarchs can teleport, though.
The Phalanx also have no compunctions about assimilating other lifeforms. It is not entirely clear if they carry the Transmode virus or use some other mechanism, but they voraciously convert and add any lifeforms within reach to the collective. Their biggest limitation is that they cannot easily assimilate mutants, a frustrating and mysterious problem (AKA plot device) that they labored to correct.
The Phalanx quickly became a world crisis, and were in a position to make a bid for world domination. However, their main goal was to contact the Technarchy. What they hoped to gain from doing so is unknown.
Their contact attempt was thwarted by Douglock II, Wolfsbane and Cannonball, who destroyed the transmission tower before the signal could be sent [EX #73]. It was revealed that Douglock II was actually a Phalanx plant - a special unit constructed to lead Excalibur into a trap without being aware of it. He attempted to free his friends by pretending to return to the Phalanx, but their specialized leader-unit saw the deception immediately.
When their transmitter was destroyed, the Phalanx lost all hope and sense of purpose and discorporated immediately. Douglock II remained and continued on as a member of Excalibur.
Not by a long shot. There have been repeated attempts in Marvel comics over the last few years to make then one and the same, notably in the New Mutants: Truth or Death limited series. It just doesn't work. There are too many major differences between them.
The Phalanx are a group mind who use the concept of individuality as a tool only when it suits them. The Technarchy are fiercely individualistic.
The Phalanx freely merge their bodies into large bloblike aggregates at their bases of operations. With the exception of Warlock, Technarchs would be more likely to try and eat each other.
The Phalanx apparently have specialized components analogous to internal organs [EX #117], whereas the bodies of Technarchy individuals were completely undifferentiated except when they formed specialized sensory or output devices on their exterior [Web of Spider-Man Annual #2].
The Phalanx were created on Earth. The Technarchy apparently evolved on their own on a very distant planet (in another galaxy).
Finally, in my opinion, the Phalanx are wusses suitable only to be consumed as tasty morsels by the Magus next time he drops by.
The issue has been confused by the introduction of the spacegoing Phalanx. Black Air had part of a Phalanx that was imitating a Skrull at the time of its death [EX #90]. In UXM #343 and #344, a group of Phalanx very different from the Earthly variety had the Shi'Ar empire on the ropes. They claimed to be the "pure" Phalanx, and that the Earth-based ones were advance scouts meant to prepare the way for an invasion. These Space Phalanx were said to have destroyed entire civilizations and were on their way to Earth.
This directly contradicts the given origin of the Phalanx, and amounts to a huge retcon. Fortunately this recton itself has been retconned out by information given in Warlock #1 about Warlock II's origin.
Pretty much the only remaining avenue of explanation for the Space Phalanx is that they're another kind of Phalanx produced on another world. How they found out about the Earth Phalanx in that case is unknown.
Spiral originally stuck the name Douglock to the gestalt combination of Doug Ramsey and Warlock I.
Douglock II, the topic of the rest of this section, is a former Phalanx unit with independent thought and Doug Ramsey's memories.
Douglock II's origin was partially given in UXM #313, where the Lang Phalanx unit rambled on about how the Phalanx had assimilated Doug Ramsey's dead cells months before. Lang also stated that the Ramsey unit was not actually Doug, but a program based on Doug and Warlock. Later, in the NM LS, Douglock II claimed to be using Doug's form as a tribute to Doug and Warlock's friendship.
Douglock II was lured away from the Phalanx collective by Zero, apparently because Zero needed someone to talk to after Stryfe's death and he saw potential in this one unit. He set up a "sentience-seeking beacon" that attracted Douglock's attention [EX #71]. The two engaged in a long discussion which served to educate Douglock about the nature of humanity and individuality, and distance him from the collective.
During this discussion, it was revealed that Douglock II posessed Doug Ramsey's memories. Zero triggered a flashback to Doug's death to illustrate the principle of self-sacrifice. Just how Doug's memories ended up in there is not clear. I would theorize that between panels, Warlock somehow secretly made a backup of the dead Doug's memories before his neural pathways completely degraded - or maybe during the living-dead incident. It's not unreasonable to theorize that these memories were integrated into Warlock's genetic program and accidentally duplicated in the Phalanx. Which would have to mean that all Phalanx units have Doug's memories, and there is no evidence either for or against this. Either way, the idea that Warlock copied Doug's memories is supported by Warlock II's origin story [WAR #1].
Stryfe's clean-up crew came after Zero, and there was a little adventure involving Excalibur in which Kitty got a shock upon seeing Douglock II for the first time. Before dying, Zero named him Douglock and passed him the secret of the Legacy cure without saying what it was.
Kitty was determined to prove that Douglock II was actually Doug reborn, and so he got dragged along with Excalibur and soon joined the team. After much debate and frustration at trying to coax Doug's personality out of Douglock, Kitty finally nerved herself to phase into Doug's grave and was shocked to find that his bones were in fact still there.
Douglock II became a member in good standing of Excalibur and helped thwart the Phalanx once and for all, despite their claim that he was a "plant" all along. Near the end of the Excalibur series Douglock realized that the data packet Zero had given him was in fact the cure for the Legacy virus, but it has yet to be decoded.
In latter Excalibur, Douglock severed his final tie to the Phalanx by giving up an internal module that had once linked him to the collective mind. He donated this item to a group of horribly mutated Sidri in the hope that they could use it to cure themselves of the deformities that were preventing them from rejoining the Sidrian collective.
Douglock II began developing a romantic relationship with Rahne in late Excalibur issues. Nothing became of it before he became Warlock II, and Rahne hasn't been seen since the end of the Excalibur series.
Yeah, so do a bunch of other people. :)
(NOTE: This section has been rendered obsolete by the events of X-Men Annual '99 and Warlock #1, but I'm leaving it in for historical context. Here you can see how fans tried to rationalize the Douglock and Phalanx contradictions. This section was last updated March 1999.)
There has been a lot of speculation about Douglock II in the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks (RACMX), and a number of theories about his true origins have been tossed around.
One theory is that the Transmode infection we saw in Doug's dream was in fact ongoing, very slowly, and by the time of his death enough of him had been transformed that his memories had been encoded and saved in the T-O part of him. Then it was a simple matter for the Phalanx to assimilate that part of him from his remains and gain his memories by repowering it. The problem with this theory is that the T-O part should have shown up in the autopsy and would have caused quite a stir.
Another one says that Warlock made a backup of Doug's memories as a precaution during one of the times they were Soulmerged, and that these memories were somehow encoded in Warlock's genetic program and thus accidentally reproduced in the Phalanx that were engineered from Warlock's ashes. The problem here is that all of the Phalanx should have had both Doug's and Warlock's memories.
It is also possible that all of the Doug memories that Douglock II has are carefully researched fabrications designed to get Douglock into Excalibur by attracting Kitty's attention. This fits with the Phalanx claim that Douglock was an unknowing spy, but it is unknown how they might have fabricated so much correct information about Doug.
Yes another is that it might be possible for Warlock's ashes to have been washed into Doug's grave by rainwater, and for some remnants of the Transmode virus to start working on Doug's remains. The result would be a new T-O being combining Doug and Warlock. This would have to occur quickly though, before Doug's grey matter decayed too much. In fact, it was probably already too late by the time Warlock died, unless Warlock did something to Doug's body during the Living Dead incident in NM #64.
The unfortunate fact is that Douglock II is a pale shadow of the memory of Doug and Warlock, and personally I would prefer that there be no real connection between them. I favor the fabrication theory.
(NOTE: Feel free to send me your pet theory, if you don't mind me trying to shoot it down. :)
Zero: This robot servant of Stryfe had the ability to raise force fields and teleport, and was revealed to be T-O in Excalibur #79. It was also mentioned in this issue that Phalanx technology was surpassed only by Mr. Sinister, Apocalypse and Stryfe. In Excalibur #80, Zero passed the Legacy cure on to Douglock II before being destroyed. It is not known if Zero's successors were built with the same technologies.
Cable: The man from the future has a T-O infection in his arm, which he has been keeping at bay with his considerable powers for quite some time. (More information and references needed here)
S'ym: The #1 demon of Magik's Limbo was transmoded by the Magus during the events leading up to NM #50. S'ym spread the infection to other Limbo demons whenever Magik wasn't looking, and eventually gained enough of a power base this way to attempt to snatch control from her. During Inferno, S'ym and his hordes invaded New York city but were defeated in the end by Magik. S'ym was sucked back into Limbo and settled for ruling there.
Since then, Limbo was taken from S'ym by Darkoth, and later Belasco returned. S'ym is still around though, and when last seen was once again Belasco's henchdemon, and was still T-O.
N'astirh: During Inferno, this (previously unseen) major demon of Limbo arranged for himself to be transmoded so that he could work magic more effectively on Earth. He was defeated and presumably destroyed by the X-Men.
The Ani-Mator: The mad scientist employee of The Right was cast into Limbo in NM #60, where he became a member of S'ym's army of transmoded demons. It is not known what happened to him after that.
Sidrian Hunters: This alien race of bounty hunters was retconned into being T-O in Excalibur #117.
Cameron Hodge: The leader of The Right was granted immortality by N'astirh, but it was only his head that was immortal. When his body was destroyed, he arranged to have his head attached to a robotic body. Later, he learned about techno-organics and killed Warlock I in the attempt to get himself transmoded [NM #95]. Hodge later became a member of the Phalanx. He hasn't been seen since the Phalanx discorporated, but is presumably still around somewhere.
Stephen Lang: This Friends of Humanity honcho was among the first humans to be incorporated into the Phalanx collective on Earth. He functioned as a director for their anti-mutant research. Many other humans voluntarily joined the collective in order to gain power to use against the mutants they feared [UXM #316].
Paradigm: Paradigm was originally a human mutant. He was raised and studied in a Hong Kong lab. He had the ability to telekinetically manipulate electronic devices - "technokinesis". He was deliberately injected with a sample of T-O material taken from an alien (which alien it was has not been revealed). Once he had been transmoded, the lab techs lost control of him and were killed. Paradigm escaped and is on a quest to find new biological and technological systems to integrate into himself in order to improve his odds of survival [XFO #89].
Paradigm has demonstrated the ability to fly and levitate, change shape as easily as Warlock, and take control of other people's nervous systems through physical contact [XFO #88]. Paradigm was last seen in X-Force #90.
Hope: A young girl named Hope, who seems to infect everyone she touches with the Transmode virus though she isn't infected herself, was introduced in Warlock #1. She has as a companion a partially transmoded monkey named Chi-Chee. It seems that Hope has somehow mutated the Transmode virus, making it a "Techno-Mechanic" virus that allows conversion of inorganic material.
Darkhawk: Darkhawk and some other characters in his series were apparently techno-organic. I haven't yet found supporting evidence of this.
Technarx: Technarx is a T-O form from Franklin's world, allied with
Dr. Doom. Doom described Technarx as the "Primal node of the
Westchester nexus of a nascent species of techno-organic mutants who
call themselves the Host."
This is very unclear. Until the Phalanx appeared and anything weird or advanced was explained as being T-O, it seemed that the Technarchy was a (and possibly the only) naturally-evolved T-O race.
Since the death of Warlock I, the issue has become clouded. See section 4.4 for some theories that pin the blame on the Celestials.
Here is a list of Marvel Comics series and issues which have had T-O characters in them, either as regular characters or guest appearances. Please note this is an incomplete list, because I don't have all the issues. Feel free to send me additions for this section.
This section does not include reprints such as the Demon Bear Saga. Appearances listed here are not necessarily in chronological order, nor are the issues listed.
(NOTE: This section under construction - feel free to send me input) "..." indicates more to be filled in later.
Warlock has appeared in:
Warlock II has appeared in:
Magus has appeared in:
Douglock I has appeared in:
Douglock II has appeared in:
The Phalanx have appeared in:
Paradigm has appeared in:
Zero has appeared in:
S'ym (in transmoded form) has appeared in:
N'astirh (in transmoded form) has appeared in:
Cable (with T-O arm) has appeared in:
The retconned T-O Sidri have appeared in:
Cameron Hodge (in transmoded form) has appeared in:
Stephen Lang (in transmoded form) has appeared in:
Hope and Chi-Chee have appeared in:
Darkhawk has appeared in:
Technarx has appeared in:
Some time in 1996, there was a two-episode story in the X-Men Saturday morning cartoon which featured Warlock, his "beloved", the Phalanx and a transmoded Cameron Hodge.
In the story, Warlock and his feminine counterpart made a crash landing on Earth *in a spaceship* and sought the X-Men's help against their pursuers, the Phalanx. The Phalanx captured the female. Beast did some analysis of Warlock's flesh in order to determine how to fight the Phalanx.
Meanwhile Hodge, a dominant personality within the Phalanx collective, had hatched a scheme to capture and transmode the X-Men, thereby adding their knowledge and mutant powers to the collective.
Naturally in the end the good guys were rescued and the baddies beaten.
Now, in at least one letter column (Reference needed!) Marvel has stated that the X-Cartoon stories take place entirely outside Marvel Universe continuity. This should have been intuitively obvious to any comic reader who watched the cartoon anyway, but it needed to be said.
Even if Marvel hadn't said it, I would still completely ignore this episode's handling of the T-O characters in it for the following reasons:
(NOTE: This section has been rendered mostly obsolete by the events of X-Men Annual '99 and Warlock #1, but I'm leaving it in here for historical context. Here you can see some of the alternate theories we fans came up with in trying to resolve the Phalanx Problem.)
Everybody's got ideas about this one. In this section I summarize some of the theories that have been put forward by RACMX denizens. If you're mentioned here and want your name removed, let me know.
firstname.lastname@example.org suggests that the Technarchy might deliberately seed areas with Phalanx as a way of gathering food, under the assumption that absorbing energy from a Phalanx would be more efficient than transmoding bioforms and then draining their energy. So the Phalanx are unknowingly laboring to set up fast-food stops for the Technarchy.
A similar proposal by Mario di Giacomo is that the Phalanx are a slave race created by the Technarchy, and that any organism transmoded and left alive becomes a Phalanx, not a Technarch. Under this scenario, some Phalanx escaped from Technarchy control when the Magus was reduced to infancy. Dan McEwen also puts forward the idea that transmoded bioforms become Phalanx, and he suggests that the Magus granted S'ym that status in order to deal a blow to one of Warlock's allies.
Consul de Designers suggests that they're all part of the same race, but the Technarchy are the rulers, the Space Phalanx the generals and the Earth Phalanx the grunt soldiers.
Brucha has worked out this long and detailed theory about the whole thing:
Now, we know that millennia ago, the Celestials wandered the universe, taking samples of various species and creating Eternal (long-lived, with powers, but never changing) and Deviant (also long-lived, but with unpredictable mutations in every generation), and "normal" (with future potential for the X-Factor) races for many. IIRC, the Skrull race as we know them are actually their Deviant race, who killed off their "normal" race and became the representative members of the species.
Perhaps it is possible that the "Space Phalanx" are the Deviant race of the Technarchy. Or, considering the relative chaos/order natures of the two groups, perhaps the Technarchy are the Deviants. Their in-group warring nature is certainly reminiscent of the Deviant race seen in that "Evolutionary War" plotline of X-Factor (issues #40-50-something).
The big question is, how does Cable's "techno-organic virus" work into all this? It certainly doesn't *act* like the t-o virus we saw Warlock use... nevertheless, that's what it's always referred to. So, we must ask, where did Cable get the virus? From Apocalypse. And where did Apocalypse get his? From the Celestial Ship... in other words, the Celestials.
It's very likely that the Celestials, when wandering the universe, took samples of the naturally evolved techno-organic virus/beings they found. [If it even *was* naturally evolved -- but then we get into the Star Trek "Who were the first Borg" question, and I'd really rather not. :) ] Being the Celestials, they no doubt experimented on these samples, making changes, "improvements", and resulting in this "virus", this vaguely super-nano-technological catalyst... what En-Sabah Nur found when he entered the crashed Ship, enabling him to change himself and others after him.
Mario di Giacomo responds with this more intricate version of his theory:
THE TWO T-O RACES THEORY :)
It all starts, as so many things do, with the Celestials. As one of their experiments in evolution, they created a race of techno-organic beings, and left them to develop on their own.
Another strain of T-O virus, perhaps a prototype, was left in a Celestial vessel on Earth, probably as a test for the Terran subjects. This strain infected the mutant En Sabah Nur, greatly increasing his power.
Nur, calling himself Apocalyspe, later infected two other mutants with variants of the virus. More on them later.
The original race developed phenomenal power, and became the Technarchy. Ruled by the Magus, and his heir Warlock, they fed on all who opposed them. Most often, they merely consumed their foes, however in some cases, they merely infected other races as slaves.
Recently, Warlock I fled to Earth, with his father close behind. For a time he infects the plane of Limbo, transforming it's "demonic" inhabitants to slaves, including S'ym (who has a will strong enough to remain independent). Later on, he is driven from the realm, and regressed to the age of an infant, by the mutant Cypher.
The original X-Men form X-Factor, an ill-concieved notion suggested by one Cameron Hodge, who's jealousy of Warren Worthington had expanded to full-blown mutiphobia. When the Angel falls into depression, after injuries suffered during the Mutant Massacre, Hodge is ecstatic, especially after he causes Worthington's plane to explode. The revelation that he commands the Right is only a minor setback.
Unknown to anyone concerned, Angel had been snatched by Apocalypse, who brainwashes him and infects him with an engineered T-O virus [which replace his amputated wings with metallic ones]. Curiously, the leader of the Marauders, who caused the specific injury, is a minion of Apocalypse.
With the Magus gone, a segment of the slave race breaks free of Technarch control, taking the Technarch term for servitor (roughly translated as "Phalanx") for their name.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Warren has freed himself from Nur's control, and now fights alongside his comrades once more, as Archangel. Furious, Hodge makes a deal with the demon N'astirh, who promises him great power, in exchange for the death of Douglas Ramsey [his soul, and associated translation power, greatly increase the demon's power].
Soon thereafter, Ramsey dies. Immediately afterward, the soldiers who caused the death are sent to Limbo, never to be seen again. Hodge escapes. Having fulfilled his part of the bargain, he is made immortal..well, his head is. The rest of him falls to the T-O wings of Archangel.
Hodge wants more power. Recognizing the T-O infection his master revels in, he demands to be infected, but is refused. In Genosha, and melded to a robotic body, he attempts to acquire the T-O virus from the New Mutant Warlock, but only succeeds in killing him, and losing another body. He is found by members of the "Phalanx", actually the members of the Right sent to Limbo months ago, and assimilated into their number.
About this time, Apocalypse infects the son of Scott Summers with another variant of the T-O virus, unwittingly laying the groundwork for his own downfall, centuries hence.
The Phalanx, "led" by Hodge, make their move. As they reach a certain size, they gain enough power to _almost_ contact their unknown spacegoing brethren, but the energy-draining powers of Bishop, caused their defeat.
Howver, one survived. The unit named Douglock, despite being linked to the Phalanx [something which was only changed recently] was not affected. Perhaps he was not only a spy for the "Phalanx", but for N'astirh himself.
After all, if _he_ has Ramsey's soul, he has his memories to tap. In fact, although this is hard to support, Douglock may _be_ N'astirh, disguised in a familar form to allay suspicion.
Either way, he exists to allow N'astirh access to Excalibur, and by extension, the soulsword of Limbo [once wielded by Belasco, but that's another Theory]. It's likely that he's also keeping an eye on Kitty Pride, since she has an odd relationship to the sword.
After injuries suffered at the hands of Sabertooth, Archangel has successfully rejected his T-O implants..it's possible that this is what Apocalypse had in mind....
Most recently, the spacegoing Phalanx, attracted by the signal of their demonically led cousins, passed through Shi'ar territory, and were routed.
So, this is how it stands:
The Technarchy: In disarray, without a leader.
The Spacegoing Phalanx: Recently defeated by the Shi'ar and X-Men.
The Phalanx minions of N'astirh: All are destroyed.
Hodge: Probably still alive [influenced O:ZT?].
Douglock: Still around, his true function unknown to his comrades.
Warlock and Cypher: Imprisoned deep within a corner of Limbo.
Cable: Almost ready for En Sabah Nur.
Apocalypse: Ready for Cable, thanks to Archangel?
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Last updated October 25, 2008.