What is/Who Are the Black Order?
The Invincible (and Merciless) Children of Thanos?
Thanos alone is formidable – he’s a highly evolved being descended from a race of nearly immortal demi-gods (the Eternals). Sans any bejeweled gauntlets effortlessly backslapping reality, Thanos can manhandle Thor and hold his own against -- and potentially power slam -- the incredible Hulk. With his self-generated energies and magnificent strength and invulnerability, one might consider Thanos’ need for backup mostly unnecessary.
However, all aspiring warlords seeking the key to absolute rule (i.e., the Infinity Stones), could use a little help finding said stones, and spreading and maintaining optimal levels of death and destruction.
Who is worthy enough, powerful enough, and sinister enough to help Thanos secure the stones and bring about complete and utter chaos?
Say hello to his inner circle of incredibly powerful generals -- the Black Order.
In the film 'Infinity War', Thanos arrives on Earth accompanied by his army, the Outriders, and four utterly terrifying members of the Black Order:
Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, and Cull Obsidian. They’re beastly-looking beings who will absolutely and unequivocally smite the living hell out of any and all Avengers sympathizers.
So, who are the members of Thanos’ personally curated backup band? Since there’s little information regarding their cinematic exploits (other than “the adopted children of Thanos”), we’ll look to the seeds from which all Marvel films sprout – the countless and contemporary volumes of epic Marvel Comics.
A Window of Opportunity
Readers first encountered the Black Order (also known as the Cull Obsidian) in the event 'Infinity', a six-issue comic series published in 2013. In the pages of 'Infinity', Thanos commanded a vast army, the Outriders, and directed it through his five dependable (and deplorable) generals:
The Black Dwarf, Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, and Supergiant.
They usually spent their days razing planets in the name of Thanos while demanding some type of tribute – a child! – to cease said razing.
While merrily searching the cosmos for more raze-worthy planets, an Outrider noticed something unusual about Earth – apparently, the Avengers were currently off-word, leaving a usually impossible-to-conquer planet virtually defenseless.
Thanos, knowing most of the Infinity Stones were hidden on Earth – but hesitant to “acquire” them due to the sizable “superhero” population – felt emboldened to strike while The Avengers struggled with varying alien armadas.
A Unspoken Declaration of War
Thanos immediately dispensed his generals to various locations on Earth to acquire and secure the Infinity Gems:
Ebony Maw was dispensed to New York to confront and manipulate Dr. Strange. Ebony also located another item on Thanos’ “And I’ll Take One of These, Please” list: his son, the Inhuman half-breed, Thane. And yes, Thanos wanted to find him because he wanted to kill him.
Black Dwarf and his army descended on Wakanda to “acquire” another stone. Unfortunately for Black Dwarf, he failed to secure the gem -- this led to Dwarf’s “expulsion” from the group.
Proxima Midnight convinced Namor, the Sub Mariner, to divulge more information regarding the gems’ whereabouts. Currently feuding with the Black Panther, Namor verified that, yes, there was indeed a gem hidden in Wakanda.
Proxima Midnight, with the support of another battalion of Outriders, went to Wakanda and successfully captured the city. Amidst the melee, Proxima murdered Shuri, T’Challa’s sister and acting Black Panther.
The End of Infinity
Thanos and the Black Order captured The Peak, the satellite headquarters utilized by S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department). Think S.H.I.E.L.D. but with more alien species on the payroll.
When the Avengers finally returned, the tide turned almost immediately. Black Dwarf was killed when the Avengers retook The Peak. Supergiant was killed in an explosion involving Lockjaw, teleportation, and more than a bushel of Anti-Matter bombs normally utilized to atomize encroaching dimensions.
When the Avengers arrived in Greenland, the location of Thanos’ son, Hyperion killed Corvus Glaive. Ebony Maw, ever the manipulator, convinced Thane to trap Thanos, Proxima Midnight, and the remains of Corvus Glaive in an amber construct – within the construct, prisoners existed in a state of living death.
Eventually, Thanos and his 2 generals (meaning, yes, Corvus reconstituted himself) escaped to resume chaos-making until they were either killed, dispersed, driven to suicide, or granted a bargain struck by Asgardians goddesses.
Let’s Meet the Band
Corvus Glaive – Thanos’ “favorite,” Corvus has enhanced speed, strength, and durability. A master strategist, Corvus studies a planet’s military means and methods to discern any weaknesses before effectively massacring said planet. After conquering said planet, Corvus demands they swear fealty to Thanos.
Corvus utilizes a bladed pike that can penetrate any known material. The pike also grants him immortality, but only while held. He was actually holding the pike while encased in Thane’s construct, which led to his eventual rejuvenation.
Proxima Midnight – The wife of Corvus Glaive, Proxima is a superior combatant with super-strength, speed, and durability. Her lance can also cut through any material and reduce said material to its basic molecular structure.
Ebony Maw – This slender fellow is ridiculously brilliant, which lends to his incomparable abilities of persuasion. So potent are his powers of suggestion, he convinced Dr. Strange, the freaking Sorcerer Supreme, to grant him the information Thanos required.
Black Dwarf – The brother of Corvus Glaive, Black Dwarf sports super-strength, enhanced density, and an impenetrable hide. He’s the power-house of the group who was painfully humbled by the Black Panther.
Supergiant – She has the power to completely and utterly control the minds of others. Like, completely.
(She’s commanding you to purchase something from SuperHeroStuff). Go ahead. Do as Supergiant commands – for the glory of Thanos, of course).