Runaways: A Guide to the Gibborim
Gibborim? I hardly know him!
RUNAWAYS #18 by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka is on sale Wednesday, February 13, and the gang’s all back where they started: the Gibborim.
The last time all of the original Runaways fought this threat, things did not go down well, to say the very least—all their parents died and so did Alex. But all that happened so long ago...
Just in case you need a refresher, here’s what you need to know about that encounter, the Gibborim as an enemy, and all subsequent interactions.
As the story goes, the Gibborim lived on Earth before the Great Flood of the bible and ruled as Elder Gods alongside Chthon, Gaea, Hyppus, Issus, Oshtur, and Set. They were formed by Earth’s biosphere, the Demiurge, and lived in harmony for a time until Set committed the very first murder and became a demon. Other gods soon followed suit, which led to a chaotic massacre. To protect the growing life in the oceans of Earth, Gaea produced a new god, Atum, to slay the corrupt Elders. Chthon, Set, and Oshtur survived the onslaught by subterfuge, tricking Atum into slaying replicas of themselves while they retreated to an alternate dimension. From there they eventually moved underwater to summon the group that would make up the Pride. This “realm of slumber” is also where they returned to after their fall at the hands of the Runaways.
The Gibborim has six digits on each hand and foot; they stand at a height of roughly 100 feet tall. The word “Gibborim” is derived from biblical Hebrew. In modern Hebrew it means “heroes,” but within the biblical context it can mean “tyrants.” Accordingly, there is much Judeo-Christian religious imagery hidden in their lore. The three of them attempted to create a “new Eden” with the Pride as their twelve “apostles.” Even more on the nose, the Gibborim said upon catching sight of the Skrull Xavin, “Unclean wretch! Earth is a sacred temple! What gives an outsider like you the right to sully our Holy Father’s planet?”
The Gibborim claim to be able to resurrect mortals even after they have passed into the Great Beyond, something that even death gods and cosmic beings struggle to accomplish. Since they have never gone through with this, however, it could easily be a lie. If provided with enough soul energy, the Gibborim’s magic is capable of restructuring the world and eliminating the human race in its entirety, generating fire, teleportation, and immunity to physical or energy-based harm. Their only weakness is that their power is wholly reliant on the sacrifice of pure, unwilling human souls.
HISTORY WITH THE RUNAWAYS
The Gibborim made their first appearance in RUNAWAYS (2003) #13 during a flashback sequence explaining their ties to the Pride. The Gibborim called together six couples back in 1985—a group made up of aliens, time-travelers, magicians, scientists, mutants, and criminals. They told the couples that they wanted their help to turn the Earth back into the utopia it had been millions of years ago, but needed more strength to do so. (Although it is unclear if what they considered “utopia” was the period of peace before the first murder or the time of violent corruption after it.) They asked the group, dubbing them the Pride, to aid in wiping out the human race. In exchange, six of the twelve would rule the new world order with the Gibborim while the other six would perish along with the rest of humanity.
The Gibborim helped the Pride amass considerable wealth as well as powerful social and political influence in the 25 years since their first meeting, enabling the Pride to perform the necessarily actions to bring about the end of the world and the start of a new one. To bolster the Gibborim’s power, the Pride gathered once a year to perform the ritual sacrifice of an innocent youth whose spirit energy would then be fed to the Gibborim, though in later years they hid the purpose of this meeting under the guise of an “annual charity fundraiser” so as not to arouse suspicion from their children.
Janet Stein became pregnant in their third year as the Pride, and so the group resolved to stop fighting amongst themselves to earn a place as one of the six spared in Armageddon. Instead, the new, seemingly fairer plan became for each couple to have one child each and then give the six spots to their kids. Seventeen years after the Pride first formed, their children uncovered the true deadly purpose of the “annual charity fundraiser” sacrifices and vowed to stop their parents and the Gibborim in order to save the human race. In the end, the Runaways successfully interrupted the yearly sacrifice and the Gibborim declared the contract broken, killing the Pride and Alex (who had betrayed his friends to join forces with his parents) along with them. In the end, the Gibborim were taken out by one final explosion attack, though Alex’s betrayal caused ripples for some time to come.
REALM OF SLUMBER
The Gibborim survived the final attack but became trapped in the same dimension they had retreated to all those billions of years ago. This realm is represented as a white space of nothingness, described as a “Limbo-like dimension.” This is also where Alex Wilder’s departed spirit resided for an undisclosed reason.
The Gibborim were contacted by a time-traveling Pride member who was promptly defeated by the Runaways (though at the expense of Gert’s life) and then again by a desperately grieving Chase who wanted to sacrifice a woman named Lotus to bring Gert back. In the end, Chase could not go through with the ritual so he volunteered himself instead. This plan did not work, as the soul sacrifice must be innocent and unwilling. The summoned Gibborim then tried to take the soul of Nico instead but failed, fading back into their “realm of slumber.”
SEED OF THE GIBBORIM
The next time the Gibborim surfaced was through their children—dubbed Gib, Bo, and Rim. In RUNAWAYS #13 it was revealed that the Gibborim lived on in the Seed of the Gibborim, a much shorter progeny newly awakened to a world that was supposed to have already been cleansed of humanity by their parents. The Pride had failed, however, and their parents were banished to another dimension. After the Seed of the Gibborim tracked down former Gibborim accomplice Alex Wilder, recently back from the dead (as is Gert via some clever time-travel shenanigans), they demanded that the Pride reform and that their sacrifices continue so the Earth could be cleansed as was promised them.
When these new gods threaten the lives of the group, ever-wily Alex tells them that they will capitulate but, stalling, says that the group needs seven days to prepare a sacrifice. The Gibborim agree to these terms with the condition that one of their number remain to guard the group and make sure they do not simply escape. The Runaways were under house arrest through Christmas (a bummer mitigated by the presence of the sparkling wit of Doombot) and went on to brainstorm alternatives to sacrificial murder. Former leader Alex thought that they should kill one of the Seed of the Gibborim, turning the ritual sacrifice on its head and instead giving them enough power to stop the promised apocalypse. The group had some trouble reconciling any kind of murder, even one of a corrupt god, so Chase suggested they just fight like crazy and hope for the best like always. In the end, that’s what ended up going down in RUNAWAYS #17 as their plan to sacrifice Gib failed – because of his own willingness to join the Runaways against his brother-sisters! That sandwich of friendship from Karolina a few days back worked like a charm.
The issue ends on a cliffhanger as the Gibborim fight the Runaways in an all-out battle, aided by Gib—but will that be enough to stop literal actual gods, weakened as they might be? (Well, the Runaways have done it before, and last time the gods were so much TALLER!) Find out who comes out ahead (no offense to Victor Mancha) in RUNAWAYS #18 by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka!
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