The Grim Reaper vs the Avengers,
art by George Pérez
|First appearance||The Avengers #52 (May 1968)|
|Created by||Roy Thomas (writer)|
John Buscema (artist)
|Alter ego||Eric Williams|
|Team affiliations||Legion of the Unliving|
Horsemen of Death
Wielded techno-scythe that could spin at rapid speed, fire electromagnetic power blasts and anesthetic gas pellets, dispense electric stun shocks on touch, and induce deep comas and revive victims from them as well
Ability to absorb human life-forces via his scythe
Due to Death Seed:
Slight supernatural strength
Wields magically sharp scythe replaced with right hand that can drain energy and project energy blasts
Ability to summon demons
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2012)
The Grim Reaper first appeared in The Avengers #52 May (1968), by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. He has been killed many times, depicted in Web of Spider-Man #46, Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #2, Chaos War: Avengers #3, and Uncanny Avengers #5 and #21, and Vision Vol. 3, #1.
Fictional character biography
Eric Williams was born in Paterson, New Jersey and Simon Williams's brother. Eric was the black sheep of his family. His mother Martha would tell him that he was 'born bad', while heaping affection on Simon. Eric's father was charged with disciplining him, but was abusive and uncaring. His father even preferred to watch TV lazily, while Eric was torturing the family cat. At the same time, their mother was loving and attentive to Simon, making Eric bitter and jealous.
One day Eric was playing with chemicals in the garage, and caused a fire which burned down their house. Simon felt guilty for not stopping Eric, and resolved to be responsible for Eric from there on. As they grew older, Simon grew studious while Eric was an athlete. Eric also became more rebellious, and tried to get Simon to join in his petty thefts. Eric eventually became a gambler, joined the Maggia and moved to Las Vegas, while Simon took over the family business Williams Innovations.
When Williams Innovations began to fail partly due to competition with Stark Industries, the desperate Simon turned to Eric's mob ties for help. Simon embezzled money from the company to invest with Eric, but Simon was caught and jailed. Simon was freed from jail by Baron Heinrich Zemo, induced by an offer of revenge on Iron Man and the Avengers to which Eric's brother was transformed into Wonder Man. Learning of his brother's death, Eric was inflamed with guilt and anger. Through his Maggia contacts, he contacted the Tinkerer to provide him with his scythe weapon, which was further enhanced by Ultron with coma-inducing abilities. Taking the "Grim Reaper" name, he became a professional criminal and defeated Hawkeye, Goliath and the Wasp, placing the three Avengers in comas, but was beaten by the Black Panther's surprise appearance.
In his next appearance, the Grim Reaper confronted the Avengers with his original Lethal Legion composed of the Living Laser, Power Man, the Man-Ape and the Swordsman. He first sent the Man-Ape against them, who captured Black Panther. He allowed Black Panther to escape so that the Avengers could be contacted so they would be lured to the Lethal Legion members' location, before capturing Black Panther again. He captured nearly all of them, placing them in an hourglass filled with a deadly gas, and sent Power Man after the Vision who defeated Power Man by disguising himself as Power Man and Power Man as himself. The Lethal Legion was defeated when Grim Reaper found himself unable to strike down Vision, having discovered that the syntheizoid possessed his brother's brainwave patterns. He released 'Vision' by breaking the hourglass, meaning the Avengers were freed and defeated the Lethal Legion.
The Grim Reaper later allied with the Space Phantom and HYDRA. He planned to transfer the Vision's mind to Wonder Man's body, thus "resurrecting" his brother. He battled the Avengers again and was defeated.
Behind the scenes, the Grim Reaper later had Wonder Man resurrected as a zombie by the Black Talon to attack the Avengers. Wonder Man was restored to true life as a result. Grim Reaper then captured the Avengers, and staged a trial to determine whether the Vision or Wonder Man was his true brother. He was defeated by Wonder Man.
Later, the Grim Reaper attempted to kill both the Vision and Wonder Man, but was defeated by Vision.
Later still, the Grim Reaper with Ultron, Nekra and other allies, captured the Avengers. Grim Reaper attempted a recreation of "Simon Williams" as a zombie. He was pursued by the Vision and Wonder Man in a cave, and died in a fall from the cave ledge. Grim Reaper was then resurrected by Nekra as a zombie, but he believed himself to be alive. The zombie battled Wonder Man and Magneto, but when he realized he was actually dead, he "died" again as a result.
Much later, the Grim Reaper was resurrected by the time travelling Immortus as a member of his Legion of the Unliving. Grim Reaper battled Wonder Man, and "died" again of a broken neck. He was then resurrected by Nekra as a zombie again, this time under the condition that he absorb a human life-force every 24 hours. He killed Nekra as his first victim, and then battled Wonder Man before escaping. He battled Wonder Man and the Mandrill, and escaped again. The scythe was fused to his arm by Ultron, and he formed an alliance with Ultron.
The Grim Reaper was later restored to life by the Scarlet Witch's magic. When Ultron attempted to create a new "family" for himself, Grim Reaper was abducted as one of the six individuals that came closest to being Ultron's "family" - the others being Hank Pym, Wasp, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Wonder Man. Ultron regarded Grim Reaper as the first human connection made apart from Pym, as well as the connections to Wonder Man and Vision. While Vision distracted Ultron, Eric was able to escape his bonds and free the other prisoners, although he subsequently fled, informing Vision that he only released the others to save himself rather than any more noble goal.
The Grim Reaper reappeared during the Secret War aftermath that had been organized by Nick Fury against Latveria. He was among the supervillains who had been supplied with enhanced technology by Latverian dictator Lucia von Bardas and sent to attack the heroes who had been involved in Fury's Secret War.
The Grim Reaper was apparently one of the many villains that escaped from the Raft prison. Being at large for several months, the Grim Reaper was eventually tracked down by Captain America and Cable during the "Civil War" storyline. Captain America and Cable brought Grim Reaper down with the aid of their other friends. He was found bound to a pole along with the Vulture. He was once again put into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D.
Grim Reaper is next seen teaming with Man-Ape and Saboteur.
During the Dark Reign storyline, the Grim Reaper later formed a new lineup of Lethal Legion as part of a plan against Norman Osborn. The team is ultimately defeated by the Dark Avengers and H.A.M.M.E.R. agents and imprisoned in The Raft. While there, Grim Reaper is stabbed in the heart by an inmate loyal to Osborn, and has to undergo an operation. It is also revealed that Simon is a member of the Lethal Legion, also imprisoned in the Raft. Grim Reaper is then revealed to have died as a result of the stabbing.
During the Chaos War storyline, the Grim Reaper returns from the dead following what happened to the death realms and becomes a servant of Amatsu-Mikaboshi. He and Nekra fight the "Dead Avengers" (consisting of Captain Marvel, Deathcry, Doctor Druid, Swordsman, Vision and Yellowjacket). He manages to kill most of them except for Swordsman and Yellowjacket. Grim Reaper and Nekra are killed when Vision self-destructs.
As part of the 2012-2013 "Marvel NOW!" relaunch, the Grim Reaper turns up alive and attacks the Avengers Unity Squad's debut press conference claiming that he is now unable to die. He is seemingly killed by Rogue punching him harder than expected after absorbing Wonder Man's powers. He is restored to life by a Celestial Death Seed, and is recruited by the Apocalypse Twins as part of their new Horsemen of Death. He attacks Simon, defeating and capturing his brother. Grim Reaper destroys Earth and helps teleport all mutants to Planet X. After the Apocalypse Twins are defeated, Grim Reaper escapes with Daken.
He later returns to launch a surprise attack against the Vision's new synthezoid family. The Vision is not present at the time, and Grim Reaper is able to severely injure Viv, the Vision's daughter. Vision's wife Virginia is able to fight back, but accidentally kills Grim Reaper in the process, a fact she hides from her husband. His body is buried in the backyard of the Vision's suburban home, until it is discovered by the neighbor's dog, who is accidentally electrocuted to death upon biting Grim Reaper's scythe. The discovery alerts Vision to the body, and sends him into a short lived rage in which he destroys the family home. Ultimately, Vision decides to keep the death of Grim Reaper secret, to protect his family from the legal consequences and possible backlash from his fellow Avengers. The body is shown to be removed from the backyard.
Powers and abilities
Originally, the Grim Reaper was a purely technological-based villain with no innate superhuman abilities. The techno-scythe he used as his trademark weapon was designed by the Tinkerer. The scythe was worn on his right hand and had the ability to make the blade spin at rapid speed, making the weapon usable as a high-speed propeller blade buzzsaw, missile shield, and an improvised helicopter. It could also fire electromagnetic power blasts and anaesthetic gas pellets, and dispense electric stun shocks on touch. The scythe was also equipped with a cerebral-frequency generator able to induce deep comas and revive victims from them as well.
The Grim Reaper later gained some magic-related abilities: he could reanimate the souls and bodies of the dead, either through voodoo training received from Black Talon or powers bestowed upon him by Lloigoroth. The Grim Reaper has also performed various magically-based feats including but not limited to: teleporting himself and others, summoning demons, creating illusions, and clairvoyant viewing.
The Reaper's physical strength is supernaturally heightened slightly beyond the natural limitations of the human body. In addition, his right hand has been amputated and replaced with an apparently magical scythe. The scythe is magically sharp and is capable of energy blasts (much like the original), but has also been used to drain energy.
At one point, the Grim Reaper had died, and was restored to life by Nekra as a zombie. He suffered hair loss, and had sallow skin in various stages of decomposition. In this zombie state, he had the ability to absorb human life-forces to sustain his own, and was able to absorb human life-force through his scythe. He needed to absorb a human life-force once every 24 hours to remain "alive" as a zombie.
- In the 1999 miniseries Earth X, an alternate version of Eric Williams appears in the Realm of the Dead.
- In the 2003 - 2004 intercompany crossover miniseries JLA/Avengers, the Grim Reaper is shown in a backstory of the Justice League and Avengers' team-ups. In one story, he and the Key stole the Serpent Crown and kidnapped Zatanna and Mantis to use them as a key to celestial power. Later he is shown near the end of the heroes' battle against Krona's army of enthralled villains, where he is defeated by Superman.[volume & issue needed]
- In the 1995 miniseries The Last Avengers Story, William Maximoff, the son of the Vision and Scarlet Witch, grew up to be known as the Grim Reaper. He allied with Kang and Ultron against the Avengers. He used magic and had a scythe.
In other media
- The Grim Reaper appeared in The Avengers: United They Stand, voiced by Allan Royal. This version wore full body armor and a helmet featuring a skull-like paint job, and his relation to Wonder Man is intact. He was seen in the episode "The Sorceress' Apprentice".
- The Grim Reaper is featured in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, voiced by Lance Henriksen. In addition to being Wonder Man's brother and one of the Avengers' enemies, this incarnation is a member of HYDRA and one of Baron Strucker's lieutenants. He is seen in the episodes "Iron Man is Born", "The Breakout" [Pt. 1], "Living Legend", "Everything is Wonderful", "Panther's Quest", and "Widow's Sting".
- The Grim Reaper appears in Iron Man: Armored Adventures. This version is depicted being a cross between an Egyptian Pharaoh and the Grim Reaper personification of death. In the episode "Mandarin's Quest", he appears as a Guardian of one of the Makulan Rings. As a Makulan guardian, Grim Reaper's primary ability is to force its victims into hallucinations based on their worst nightmares.
- The Grim Reaper appears in the Avengers Assemble animated series, voiced by Roger Craig Smith. In the episode "In Deep", he and Crossbones are captured by the Avengers so that Iron Man and Captain America can pose as the two in order to infiltrate the Cabal. In the episode "Thanos Rising", Grim Reaper raids a military to get to their missile controls in order to destroy Avengers Tower and half of Manhattan. He managed to take down Iron Man with an EMP. However, Arsenal contains the missile explosion. Iron Man's armor reboots in time to defeat Grim Reaper.
- The Grim Reaper make an uncredited appearance in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher. He appears as a buyer for the Leviathan organization who plan to auction stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. technology. He briefly participates in the final battle with the Avengers but is quickly defeated by Thor.
- In Captain America and the Avengers, released as an arcade console and for the Sega Genesis and SNES, the Grim Reaper is a boss character at the end of stage 2.
- Grim Reaper appears as a mini-boss in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, voiced by Rick D. Wasserman.
- Grim Reaper is featured as a boss in the Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
- Grim Reaper is featured as a boss in the MMORPG Marvel Heroes, voiced by Robin Atkin Downes.
- Grim Reaper is featured as a playable character in Lego Marvel's Avengers.
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- Leader's Lair article on Grim Reaper (contains synopses on all appearances through Avengers vol. 3 #33)
- Grand Comics Database Project article on the Avengers #52 (1968)