Comics

Collecting the Collector’s Greatest Hits

Gerry Duggan gathers details on the eccentric cosmic being for All-New Guardians of the Galaxy!

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In ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2 on May 24, our heroes find themselves caught in a war between The Collector and The Grandmaster!

With the collection-obsessed Elder of the Universe causing trouble for Star-Lord and company, we take a look back at the character’s history. Although some may consider him just an interstellar hoarder, ALL-NEW GUARDIANS writer Gerry Duggan emphasizes the danger he poses to the team:

“His mind is operating on a plane far above our characters, and it makes ‘defeating’ a cosmic elder almost impossible, so I jumped at the chance to put our heroes between Taneleer and another cosmic entity, his brother The Grandmaster,” the writer relates.

The Collector debuted way back in 1966 with AVENGERS #28 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. That issue brought The Wasp and Hank Pym, in his Goliath identity, back to the team to join up with Captain America’s “kooky quartet.” Hank reached out to them after The Collector along with The Beetle—an oddball team-up for sure—kidnapped Wasp for his collection. Pym and the Avengers stopped the devious duo, and they escaped via a time machine.

His obsession with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes didn’t end there. He attempted to “collect ‘em all” in the years after that, running up against Iron Man, Hulk and the team as a whole. In AVENGERS #172174, we learn The Collector has once again kidnapped members of the group, past and present, in an effort to protect them from Korvac, a powerful being from the 31st century. His efforts in that story appeared altruistic, despite his devious methods.

“Well, it’s hard for us to apply our morals to a cosmic elder,” Duggan shares. “It’s not his immense collection that gives him power; it’s the knowledge he’s acquired—and that strength can be a weakness, too.”

In his upcoming GUARDIANS appearance, Duggan explains that The Collector may be willing to help the team in return for more knowledge: “Early in our first story, Gamora makes a gesture to The Collector that has unintended consequences for their relationship. It’s one of my favorite scenes that [artist] Aaron [Kuder] has drawn. I’m so grateful to have Aaron and [colorist] Ive [Svorcina] on this journey. Their work has been spectacular.”

Whatever his motives in corralling the Avengers, the Collector’s plan didn’t work as intended. His own daughter, Carina, posed as Korvac’s wife to spy on him for her father, and as The Collector tells the heroes about the threat, Korvac uses his cosmic powers to reduce him to ashes.

But that would not be the end of his story.

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #2 cover by Aaron Kuder

In 1982, Marvel’s very first limited series, the original CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS, saw Earth’s heroes “collected” by another Elder of the Universe—The Grandmaster! The master gamesman had challenged Death herself to a competition, with the life of his Elder “brother” as his prize. Each contestant chose a team of heroes who fought three-on-three, with Grandmaster ultimately winning—and losing his own life in the process. Well, not really. Later we learned Grandmaster tricked Death in order to steal her power, resulting in the lady banishing all Elders from her realm.

The Grandmaster and The Collector would appear together over the years, sometimes as allies, sometimes at odds, like any good family.

“Family strife is the key to a lot of wonderful stories,” Duggan explains about why he chose to use both Elders in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2. “What do your characters want? What are they willing to do to get it? I’m speaking about both the antagonists and protagonists in this first story. The Grandmaster does seem to be the more aggressive entity. He’s also leaning on the Guardians a bit more than they would like—all in good fun, if you’re a cosmic Elder. It’s less fun to be a Guardian marching to someone else’s beat.”

The Silver Surfer and Galactus may know something about that. In the third volume of the former’s title, circa 1987, writer Steve Englehart and artist Marshall Rogers introduced several more Elders of the Universe, with Contemplator, Astronomer, and Obliterator joining the likes of The Gardener, Champion and, of course, Grandmaster and Collector. The Elders wanted to kill Galactus and recreate the universe, but the big guy doesn’t die easily. With help from Silver Surfer and the Frankie Raye version of Nova, the World Devourer consumes several Elders, including The Collector and Grandmaster. Instead of dying, though, they give him a case of cosmic indigestion and eventually escape his wrath.

The Collector would go on to run afoul of the Avengers, Silver Surfer, and Galactus again, and continued to play games with The Grandmaster. One competition saw Collector gather the original Defenders—Hulk, Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, and Namor—and pit them against the Grandmaster’s “Offenders,” villainous counterparts to the heroes: Red Hulk, Baron Mordo, Tiger Shark, and Terrax. Following the 2015 Secret Wars event, the two Elders took over a leftover portion of Doctor Doom’s Battleworld, once again using it to collect heroes and villains, and make them fight in a new CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS.

In his most recent appearance, The Collector showed up in the pages of UNWORTHY THOR, wanting to collect the hammer of Ultimate Thor. He had already claimed Asgard itself, so why not? Odinson, Beta Ray Bill, and their allies managed to defeat him, restoring Asgard and destroying the Collector’s army.

While ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2 will likely add another “greatest hit” to the collection, Duggan shares that another appearance by the character could possibly top the list:

“Not to redirect the conversation back to my own work, but The Collector has a pretty interesting appearance in DEADPOOL #30. That issue is an [original graphic novel] essentially—and it has very important threads coming out of it for the next year. The Collector has an important part to play. Wait until you see what [artists Mike] Hawthorne, [Terry] Pallot, and [Jordie] Bellaire have cooked up.”

ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2, from Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder, reveals the Collector’s latest move on May 24!