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Izanami Randall is a character from the newuniversal imprint of Marvel Comics, and is one of the four initial superhumans created by the White Event in 2006 (the others being Star Brand, Cipher, and Justice). newuniversal, designated Earth-555 in the Marvel Comics multiverse, is a re-imagining if the New Universe (designated Earth-148611) imprint from the late 1980’s [1]. The name Nightmask actually refers to two things: a powerful extra-dimensional glyph (tattoo) that confers superhuman powers on a sentient being, and the name of the being that wields the glyph. The concept of the Nightmask glyph was created by Warren Ellis to parallel the concept of the Star Brand. Unlike the Star Brand, the Nighmask glyph will attach itself to the face of its wielder and not the hand.

Izanami represents a major departure from the original New Universe Nightmask, a change which is fully endorsed by Warren Ellis who stated that the new "Nightmask [is] one of the more interesting concepts of the previous New Universe incarnation" [2].

Origin of the Nightmask glyphEdit

The origin of Nightmask as written by Warren Ellis is significantly different from the origin of the original Nightmask: rather than being a randomly created superhuman, Nightmask plays a crucial role in the development of the newuniverse, perhaps equal to that of the Star Brand if not greater. The Nightmask glyph was created by a supposedly long-dead alien race as a tool made to complement the Star Brand, Justice, and Cipher glyphs [3]. The purpose of the Nightmask glyph, and the other glyphs, is to aid in the transition of any given world through the inevitable paradigm shift caused when it comes into contact with the "newuniversal structure", which is a web of strange matter wherein normal physical laws operate differently.

Whenever a world enters the web it can become unstable, taking thousands of years before it finishes traveling along one of its many strands, thus contact implies the danger that any given world could be destroyed if its transition period is not guided. It is the purpose of the Nightmask glyph to help protect the world from being destroyed by maintaining the mental stability of the wielders of the glyphs.

Powers and abilitiesEdit

The Nightmask glyph grants its wielder a wide range of abilities, chief among them is the ability to enter and affect the dreams of sentient creatures. The nightmask also grants the wielder the ability to enter the "superflow", which is a transdimensional realm where dreams and ideas originate (as well as groups of associated concepts such as artistic creativity, novelty, and political movements), and is the medium through which telepathy operates [4]. Since the superflow is a dimensional space then it also has weather, the extremes of which can cause increases or decreases the creation of new ideas in sentient creatures. While in the superflow, due to its mutability, the wielder can fly and teleport themselves.

The nightmask glyph also grants the wielder the ability to communicate telepathically, though it is unknown if this ability is limited to hearing and sending thoughts telepathically or if the wielder is also empathic. Perhaps the most powerful ability it grants to its wielder is the ability to control minds, an ability that the world's first nightmask, Trull, took advantage of regularly. This ability allows the nightmask to maintain the mental stability of the wielders of the other three extra-dimensional glyphs (Star Brand, Cipher, and Justice), which means that its power is potentially equal to, if not greater, than the potential of the Star Brand (which is considered the most powerful glyph). That is, since the nightmask can maintain the mental stability of the wielder of the Star Brand, then this means that on some level the nightmask can help bring about stability or chaos for their world.

Since the newuniversal series has just begun other powers may certainly be discovered; For example, Trull demonstrated the ability to physically mutate his victims, but it is unclear if the mutations resulted from an ability he possesses or if it was the residual affects of his torture methods. Also, Unlike the other three extra-dimensional glyphs, the nightmask seems able to be hidden: in newuniversal #4 and #6 the current wielder of the glyph, Izanami Randall, was able to consciously hide her glyph by making it invisible. It is unclear why both Trull and Izanami are manifest their powers differently.

Current Wielder of the Nightmask GlyphEdit

Izanami RandallEdit

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Not much is known about Izanami Randall's early life, her background having only been just introduced in new universal: shockfront #1 and #2. Izanami is a Japanese-American girl living in San Francisco, California, who works at a manhua store called "Beijing Blues".

Izanami was asleep during The White Event when she was granted the nightmask glyph, but she woke up immediately after the glyph took shape on her face, and was teleported into the superflow by a massive alien communication station [4]. The alien device acts as a liaison between her and the other beings who have had similar experiences with the superflow and the newuniversal web. The alien device informs her it is now her job to help preserve her world as she is now one of the four initial heralds of the paradigm shift caused by the White Event: specifically, she is this age's nightmask. It is the purpose of the nightmask to help smooth the transition period of the paradigm shift due to the inevitable initial chaotic affects. Believing she is still asleep and hallucinating, Izanami accepts what she experiences as an interesting dream, but not serious nor real, a delusion she quickly abandons.

The alien device explains that the term "nightmask" is a transliteration that describes a sentient being capable of entering the superflow "at will and do work" [4]. It also explains what the Superflow is (the realm where dreams and ideas originate), and is the medium through which telepathy operates. The superflow operates under a nearly completely different set of physical laws, where distance is shortened, thus allowing for faster travel, and where one's appearance is completely changeable: in short, the superflow is itself mutable. Izanami is delighted to discover that she can change her appearance, altering her clothes to a manhua-style costume (which she later adopts as standard clothing in the superflow, and which stay on her when she teleports back to Earth).

The alien station goes on to explain that the newuniversal web was created artificially by an unknown alien race that existed prior to both their races, and that whenever a world enters the web it can take thousands of years before the world finishes traveling along one of its many strands [4]. Contact with the strands allow for sentient beings to be transformed creating superhumans or "paranormals" by activating specific dormant genes within the human genome. The alien device was constructed in order to make first contact with her in order to aid her in both coming to terms with her new powers and responsibilities, the least of which is the preservation of her world. The alien station told her that communication failed with the previous Nighmasks, resulting in severe consequences [4]. The newuniversal web is not an unthinking machine, it possesses a degree of intelligence that enables it to interact with worlds that it comes into contact with: namely, it grants the four initial extra-dimensional glyphs. When a new world enters or prepares to enter the newuniversal system it alters and empowers several individuals to help smooth the chaos from the resultant paradigm shift. Izanami is then informed by the device that she has to find the town of Optima Down and Kenneth Connell in order to save him from the American military, who believe him to be a major threat.

Using the Superflow, Izanami travels the distance from San Francisco to Optima Down, Oklahoma in less than an hour, but arrives to discover that the U.S. military has occupied the town in order to hunt down Star Brand. Izanami teleports directly to Kenneth's location moments before he is attacked, grabbing him and teleporting him back to her home in San Francisco. Over the course of the next ten days Izanami hides Kenneth, looking into his dreams to make sure he's mentally stable in the wake of the death of his girlfriend and gaining the Star Brand. Wanting his privacy, Kenneth asks her not to watch his dreams again, and Izanami agrees, though it remains to be seen if she lied to him (which is highly likely) [5]. It is during this conversation that it is revealed that Izanami is aware of the details around the events of his life after getting the Star Brand, implying that she was able to access his memories.

Previous Wielders of the Nightmask GlyphEdit

newuniversal: 1959Edit

The one-shot newuniversal: 1959 introduced the events of the failed White Event in 1953 called The Fireworks. The nightmask glyph is the only glyph that is seemingly not present, which could account for the circumstances surrounding the failure of The Fireworks. Interestingly, the nightmask glyph was not seen during that time, nor were any characters shown to be aware of its existence.

TrullEdit

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The newuniversal: conqueror one-shot, set in 2,689BCE (some years after the first failed White Event), introduces the world's first nightmask: Trull. Trull is one of four superhumans gathered within the Latvian city of Zardath, the other three bearing the other glyphs: Ukru, Baneth, and Starr the Slayer, who rules the great city.

Trull is a deeply sadistic sociopath that plots Starr's death so he can rule Zardath [6]. None of the others suspect him in anyway due to Trull's manipulation of their minds. Trull's mental manipulation least affects Starr, though no reason is given, but Trull has partly destroyed Ukru's mind since he could see Trull's guilt with a glance. Trull has completely mentally dominated Ukru, using him to retrieve other superhumans before they come to the king's attention. Trull proceeds to drain the captured superhumans of their powers, a process that causes them to be grotesquely mutated.

Trull gets a sadistic pleasure from stripping the minds of the superhumans he captures, as well as the resulting mutations and deformities. While it is unclear if he gains the power(s) of the superhumans he tortures, he refers to the process as "feasting" [6]. Trull enjoys both so much that he hangs the mutations in a hall, a kind of grotesque gallery. It is not revealed why Trull hates Starr so much, but his hatred is a deep-seated one that causes him to call Starr a tyrant [6].

Trull refers to the superflow as the 'dreamfog', and states that he hates the place. Like Izanami Randall, Trull also encountered an alien probe within the superflow (though the device he encounters has a different appearance) that was trying to communicate to him the importance of his duty. The device tried desperately to explain the consequences of his refusing to think of anything but himself, warning that his refusal to "filter memetic oversplash" was making the superhuman glyphs unstable, which in turn threatens the mental stability of their bearers [6]. From this it is clear that one of the duties that a Nighmask performs is to maintain both the stability of the glyphs (Justice, Starbrand, Cipher) and the mental stability of their bearers. In light of the warnings by the alien device, that Trull's inaction threatened to "destabilize the entire matrix", it is implied that his actions lead to the failure of the first White Event. In desperation, the aliens manipulate the time stream (which they call "backtracking" along the "temporal path") in order to grant a woman named Gila telepathic abilities to communicate a warning to Starr [6].

Trull, using Ukru, nonetheless captures and tortures Gila, believing that he had stopped the aliens from revealing his treachery to Starr. However, Gila escapes when Ukru attacks Trull, having dimly realized what was happening. Trull easily defeats Ukru, promising to completely destroy his mind, but during their brief battle Gila escapes and runs to Star. Starr and Baneth attack Gila, believing her now twisted form is merely a monster come to attack them. The comic ends before Trull's treachery can be exposed, but it alludes to the inevitable revelation of his evil when Glia survives long enough to scrawl a warning on the floor to Starr. It is not known what happens after this revelation [6]. That said, it is revealed in newunivsersal #3 that Starr died of blunt force trauma to the skull (possibly a rock), though his killer is unknown. A reference is made by Dr. Leonard Carson (the archaeologist that finds Zardath in 2006) that ancient texts called the "Uruk [sic] Texts" detail the history of the city of Zardath, and its final days.

Trull's powers seem to be far more advanced than those shown by Izanami Randall, at least up to newuniversal: shockfront #2. Trull had the ability to manifest his powers physically in the form of intense energy blasts and conduits (one of which was broken by Ukru in battle), which he used to mentally dominate (and possibly physically mutate) captured superhumans.

It is highly possible that the character Trull is named after the wizard who appeared as an enemy of the original Starr the Slayer, in Marvel's "Chamber of Darkness" series,who was named after a British rock group Jethro Tull. [7].

NotesEdit

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