Real Name: Inapplicable
Identity/Class: Semi-sentient terrestrial (possibly extraterrestrial; see Comments) robot
Occupation: Entertainment device; player of games
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Construct of Dr. Doom; one-time employer of Korvac, Tork, Brahl, Teju, Grott the Man-Slayer, Dumog, Takkor, "Screechy"; manipulator of a robotic duplicate of Suwan (the Yellow Claw's daughter); manipulator at various times of SHIELD, Shang-Chi, and Clive Reston
Enemies: Dr. Doom, Dr. Doom (Kristoff Vernard), the Grandmaster (opponents in its "games"), the Defenders (Dr. Strange, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Nighthawk, and Valkyrie), Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, Sub-Mariner
Known Relatives: Dr. Doom (creator?)
Base of Operations: Castle Doom,
once briefly mobile
First Appearance: Strange Tales I#167 (April, 1968)
Powers: The Prime Mover is extraordinarily skilled at playing complex games of strategy, though at times it relies too much on mathematical calculations and overlooks the "human factor." Left to itself, it once developed sufficient autonomy to construct a rocket device for transportation and left Latveria for deep space. On at least one occasion, apparently with added alien technology, the Prime Mover exhibited the ability to subtly manipulate reality, including the memories and emotions of human beings. However, it remains unclear if the Prime Mover innately possesses this ability or if this was a one-time event prompted by the addition of extraterrestrial technology to its systems.
The Prime Mover also seems to possess powerful scanning and surveillance technology, as it is able to track games across space and time and recruit pawns over similarly vast distances. However, it is also possible that these abilities are the result of aid from its opponents in the pursuit of a balanced "game." The Prime Mover has limited motion due to its design, and has at times exhibited an extremely immature personality. The Mover's "games" with Doom generally involve small stone or clay figurines of the pawns involved placed on a chessboard.
Height: 6' 8"
Weight: 700 lbs.
History: (Strange Tales I#162-166 (BTS), 167)- The Prime Mover manipulated Nick Fury and his agents of SHIELD, along with a robotic double of Suwan, in a strange "game" against Dr. Doom's robotic double of the Yellow Claw. Fury ultimately defeated the robotic Yellow Claw, leading the Prime Mover to declare victory against the inwardly seething Dr. Doom.
(Giant-Size Defenders#3 (fb))- After months without a game from Dr. Doom, the Prime Mover created rockets for itself and traveled into space, where it encountered the Grandmaster.
(Giant-Size Defenders#3) - The Prime Mover recruited the 30th century man Korvac and a number of aliens (later revealed to hail from the 30th century as well) to battle the Defenders and Daredevil, the Grandmaster's pawns. The Prime Mover wagered the Earth, intending to prove its superiority to humanity by winning. However, in all but one battle, the Defenders defeated the Prime Mover's pawns. Unable to cope with its defeat, the robot apparently broke down. One of the discs on its "body" was broken off and used by Daredevil in a coin toss game that drove off the Grandmaster.
BTS - Presumably Dr. Doom recovered and rebuilt the Prime Mover.
(Master of Kung-Fu I#59-60)- In the course of another "game", the Prime Mover and Doom dosed Shang-Chi with hallucinogenic chemicals and set him against a number of robotic doubles for his friends and past foes. Though Shang-Chi saw through most of the deceptions Doom arrayed before him, he ultimately failed to suspect that a kindly hospital nurse was one of Doom's robots. As such, Doom won the "game," and over the Prime Mover's protests placed an unauthorized piece representing his victory on the gameboard.
(Fantastic Four Annual#21/2) - The Prime Mover played a game against Dr. Doom (Kristoff Vernard), involving Dr. Doom (Victor von Doom) and the Fantastic Four.
(Fantastic Four: 1234#1-2 (BTS),#2-4)- Dr. Doom, now claiming that the Prime Mover was a piece of alien technology that could rewrite reality, used the robot to manipulate the Fantastic Four's and Namor's worst personality traits in a bid to destroy them. However, with the aid of Alicia Masters, as well as his own opposing machine, Reed Richards managed to turn the tables on Doom. The Invisible Woman apparently destroyed much of the reality-altering equipment in Latveria as well.
Comments: Created by Jim Steranko.
Profile by Omar Karindu
In philosophy, the "prime mover" would be the "first cause" or creator and manipulator of the universe -- in other words, a kind of god-concept.
Strange Tales#168 has, in my opinion, one of the best twist endings of any comic around. Until the final two pages, the reader is certain Fury is locked in battle with the real Yellow Claw, when suddenly all is revealed as a "game" involving Dr. Doom and one of his robots. Apparently comics pros remembered that ending as well, because a number of them, including Steve Gerber, Doug Moench, and even Grant Morrison have used the Prime Mover in their stories.
A more jaded, cynical reader, however, might claim that Steranko went for a cheap non-ending because he couldn't think of a good finish for his Yellow Claw story. Uh, not me though... -Prime Ed-ternal
It's also worth noting that it's not entirely clear just what Doom and the Prime Mover were playing for in Master of Kung Fu#59-60, other than attempting to drive Shang-Chi mad. It's often not clear which parts of the story are a hallucination or not, and which characters are robots or not. Not recommended for late-night reading. -Prime Ed-ternal
Morrison's FF: 1234 series is supposed to be non-continuity-specific, but it must occur between Fantastic Four Annual#3 and FF I#191 (skipping those periods when the Thing is in human form), or between FF I#247 and#258. These are the only periods when Doom is in charge of Latveria, Susan Storm is married to Reed Richards, and the Thing is still romantically involved with Alicia Masters. I favor the earlier period, as Namor is portrayed as the warlike Prince of Atlantis he was in those days, but until I can be sure when the series happened, I'm putting it last in the order of appearances. It's also the only place the Prime Mover exhibits reality-altering abilities or is said to be extra-terrestrial.
Via Skleefeld and Miss Fantastic (respectively), a dialogued response to this comes from the Fantastic Four message board:
In response, Omar states:
In my issues of FF: 1234, the costumes are a bright, bright blue, but with the white waistband and stylings of the Byrne "black" uniforms, which to my mind leaves it still open. However, I'd also have to point out that while the two-day gap in FF#257 is convenient, it misses the fact that FF#258 presents a Doom too busy with rebuilding Latveria to launch any new assaults on the FF, and various dialogue in FF#258-60 to the effect that the team last encountered Doom in FF#247.
Also, if memory serves, the Mole Man had taken Kala as his consort by FF#257, meaning that he wouldn't be seeking a bride in the form of Alicia; and Namor wasn't in charge of Atlantis, as he is in the story. And if the prime movers could warp reality so much that Namor was again king, and the Mole Man was a bachelor once more, it could surely mess with costumes. Heck it turned Namor's trunks red again, like they were in the early Silver Age! When reality's warping, it's harder to take visual details as clues to continuity; in fact, if the prime movers can warp reality to the degree stated above to try and definitively place the stuff during FF#257, the series is actually simply impossible to place in continuity.
Prime Mover has an entry in Marvel Legacy: The 1970's Handbook.
Clarifications: The Prime Mover should
not be confused with:
Strange Tales I#167 (April, 1968) - Jim Steranko (writer/pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Giant-Size Defenders#3 (January, 1975) - Steve Gerber, Jim Starlin & Len Wein (writers), Jim Starlin (pencils), Dan Adkins, Don Newton & Jim Mooney (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Master of Kung-Fu I#59-60 (December, 1977 - January, 1978) - Doug Moench (writer), Mike Zeck (pencils), John Tartaglione (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Fantastic Four Annual#21 (1988) - Ed Norton (writer), Jackson Guice (pencils), Jose Marzan (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Fantastic Four: 1234#2-3 (November-December, 2001) - Grant Morrison (writer), Jae Lee (artist), Stuart Moore (editor)
Fantastic Four: 1234#4 (January, 2002)- Grant Morrison (writer), Jae Lee (artist), Stuart Moore (editor)
First Posted: 04/24/2002
Last updated: 09/18/2013
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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