As the embodiment of the end of all things, Death holds dominion over all living beings while maintaining a tight grip on the keys to immortality.
The Beginning of the End
Born into the universe at the same time as the Big Bang, Death coalesces into the embodiment of mortality and takes its place alongside its brethren Eternity, Infinity, and Oblivion as one of the major forces of creation. From that moment on, it oversaw the function of the end of life on everything from a galactic scale right down to individual beings on special occasions.
The Form of the Destroyer
Death holds the power to end life of all kinds and varieties, big or small, throughout the universe with only the merest of thought as well as return life to the dead. It may also travel anywhere it desires instantaneously and believed to be near-immortal itself, though at times has been diverted from its duties and even halted in its actions by immensely powerful beings.
While it has no actual physical form, Death’s ability to adapt to any surroundings enables it to appear to mortals in a guise that they may relate to, i.e., their own species. Sometimes, Death manifests to humans as a robed skeleton, a beautiful woman, or a handsome man as well as many other variations of those forms. Overall, any perception of physicality, emotions, or mortal limitations concerning Death remains purely mortal to quantify the entity.
To Know Death
As with a visual representation, any conception of Death as a being that may from relationships would be purely a mortal manifestation. That said, the entity is often approached by many individuals for many different reasons, and while the emotions of both love and hate are directed toward it, no mortal could ever truly comprehend the exact nature of Death until they themselves feel its final embrace.
Thanos the Titan stands as the most prominent person to declare his love for Death and to “court” it over a long period of time, but Death is not communing in such a manner as Thanos might have desired. In addition, a god of death named Walker also proclaims his ardor for Death, but suffers nearly the same disappointment as Thanos before him.
Many beings set about to put an end to Death’s reign over its dark domain, such as the Beyonder, En Dwi Gast, AKA the Grandmaster, and others, but such a pursuit has always been chalked up as the greatest of folly in the face of the inevitability of mortality. Even Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Stephen Strange, AKA Doctor Strange, attempts to slay Death.
Death also seeks out those who would dodge their untimely demise, such as the lord Vlad Dracula, AKA Dracula, and leads others to oppose his modus operandi of transforming others into vampires, cheating Death of their lives.
While Death and her fellow cosmic entities Eternity, Infinity, and Oblivion are the four cornerstones of the universe—abstract embodiments of the extremes of time and space—Death alludes to her relationship with Eternity, who embodies life, in that they are two sides of the same coin and Death strives to achieve dominance over their “twin.” It is said that Death is the “brother” of the planet-devouring Galactus because they came into existence with the Big Bang.
Death’s Many Faces
Though the existence of Death stretches back to the very beginning of the universe, its presence as the embodiment of concept only truly became known on the mortal plane in the past few hundred years.
In particular, Death seemed to take great interest in Earth during the world wars of the 20th century, appearing to soldiers and civilians alike apparently to harvest souls and influence those who gave the commands that sent men to their demises. After World War II, it took the form of Madame La Morte to bedevil the teenage hero Robert Grayson, AKA Marvel Boy, and to discorporate a man named Paul Kendrick when he tried to expose Death as an actual being. Strangely, by the time of the 1960s, Death’s incursions on Earth lessened and grew to be much more benign in nature.
In the modern era, Death interacted with a cancer patient called Jack in the Weapon X program’s Department K, and took notice of the Titan Thanos as he took possession of a Cosmic Cube to prove his supposed love for the entity. Thanos met his end at the hands of Adam Warlock, AKA Magus, but Death allowed him to help his recently-deceased enemy Mar-Vell, AKA Captain Marvel, into its waiting arms. It also revealed that the Phoenix Force stood as an aspect of itself in the universe, and accepted the Grandmaster’s sacrifice of his own life to prevent Death from taking his fellow Elder Taneleer Tivan, AKA the Collector’s life.
When the near-omnipotent Beyonder came to Earth, he believed his dispelling of Death to be a great boon for mankind, but soon realized his mistake and enabled it to return. Death then took a hand in a situation involving Power Pack and the New Mutants, and dealt with the spirit of the Grandmaster when he attempted to seize Death’s power. At one point, it even resurrected Thanos to urge him to prove his admiration by wiping out half of all life in the universe, but after he did so with the Infinity Stones and demanded to be Death’s equal, the entity refused and gave its support to the Titan’s opponents and so usher in his defeat.
A dark god from an alien pantheon named Walker also declared romantic feelings for Death, but felt the same spurning as Thanos. Death later melded with the late human woman Marlo Chandler Jones to hide from Walker and allowed Earth champions to rise to its defense. Once the cosmic putrefaction called the Rot was dispensed, Death was keen to finally accept Thanos’ affections, but the Titan rejected it and all such emotions. Not long after, Death appeared to Thanos as a child and suggested he not give up his quest for it, but he fell in battle with Drax the Destroyer and once again embraced Death as all mortals eventually do.
Death attempted to claim the soul of T’Challa, AKA Black Panther, after that hero’s near-fatal clash with Victor von Doom, AKA Doctor Doom, but took the powerful Morlun as a substitute when the Panther’s then-queen Ororo Munroe, AKA Storm, also swung too far into its domain. Following that, Death’s old acquaintance Jack reappeared as the insane mercenary Wade Wilson, AKA Deadpool, and loudly exhibited his attempts at suicide. The so-called Cancerverse's forces swarmed the universe and tried to put an end to Death as they did in their own reality, but a revived Thanos became Death’s avatar and fought for the entity in his own universe and beyond.
Recently, Death hid itself again, that time from the advance of the Chaos King and his lackeys, and also manifested to Ben Reilly, AKA Scarlet Spider, a clone of Spider-Man’s and a man resurrected so many times his soul had become corrupted. Death restored him to full capacity, then warned him any deviation from the path of a real hero would serve to scar him all over again.