- 1 History
- 2 Powers and Abilities
- 3 Paraphernalia
- 4 Notes
- 5 Links and References
Like all the Elders of the Universe, Cort Zo Tinnus's origin is lost in the early history of the universe. It is known that he is one of the oldest living beings in the universe. Like other Elders, he is the survivor of one of the intelligent races that evolved in one of the first galaxies to form after the “Big Bang”, the cataclysmic event in which the universe was created. Although his race became extinct and even his native galaxy died as the ages passed, Cort Zo Tinnus, like the other Elders, lived on to become virtually immortal, surviving even his native galaxy. The Trader became obsessed with commerce and for millenia he travelled through the universe to negotiate with other beings. In his mind, it was this fixation that helped him survive indefinitely.
There were a number of other survivors of these primigenial species. These individuals met each other at some point between 4.5 and 3 billions of years ago. As the relatively few survivors of the earliest period of the universe, the Elders regarded themselves as figuratively being brothers, although they are not really close to each other and share only the monomaniacal obsessive behavior and the longevity. Elders nonetheless met and associate with other Elders at some times, and the Trader is known to have coincided with the Obliterator, watching the ridiculously short lifespan of mere mortals living in a civilization.
As a master negotiator he became known as the Trader, taking great pride in the "art of the deal." He is at his best when he is trying to buy or sell something whether it is a planet or a personal service. A true victory for the Trader involves not only convincing his opponent to trade, but to do so at an exchange favorable to the Trader and for the opponent to be convinced that the opponent got the better end of the deal.
The Plot to Murder Galactus
The Elders eventually discovered that Galactus, survivor from a previous universe, was the only non-mystical being in the cosmos older than them, which offended their pride. Galactus was also an anomaly in the universe, which would otherwise be perfectly balanced between Eternity and Death. Murdering Galactus would, theoretically, alter this balance and destroy the whole universe, by collapsing, then leading to a new big bang. Should the elders be able to survive this catastrophe, they would then became Galactus-like beings, reigning powers in the new universe and with powers similar to those of Galactus.
The Elder known as Astronomer, known for his ability to contemplate events on a huge scale, schemed a secret strategy to achieve this ambitious goal, with fellow Elder Grandmaster helping in the implementation. With a complex movement by losing a bet with the incarnation of Death, Grandmaster was punished by her so that neither Grandmaster nor any of the Elders would ever die - because Death would refuse them. This, which Grandmaster claimed was his intent from the beginning of the game, would allow the Elders to survive the big bang. They only needed to murder Galactus, in a conspiracy that the Trader joined.
The chosen weapons would be the six Soul Gems, power objects that many believed destroyed. Some Elders like the Trader knew this was false and started looking for them - although at that point not all the Elders had been informed of the scheme. The Trader successfully transacted to get two of the gems, up to a point where the Elders had collectively gotten five gems and intended to get the last one by sending one of the Elders, the Contemplator -secretly a Skrull impersonating him- to get it.
The Elders decided to have a secret meeting to report both the details of the plot to all the purported Elder accomplices, and the progress of the plan to the already-knowing conspirators. The Trader met with the Astronomer, the Grandmaster, the Obliterator, the Contemplator impersonator, and fellow Elders the Champion, the Collector, the Gardener, the Possessor and the Runner on the surface of Ego the Living Planet -also an Elder (the next meeting was already scheduled to happen on Earth during the Autumn Equinox, as Galactus had promised to never harm Earth). On Ego, the Astronomer explained that the Silver Surfer, former Herald of Galactus, was a known threat and should be destroyed, a mission that the Runner claimed to have succeeded at. Ego then reported that he had just detected the Surfer and his new ally-friend-and-more Mantis secretly spying on them -Mantis, a plant empath, had been notified of this meeting by vegetables in the Collector's hoard-. The more physical Elders confronted the intruders, with Champion wrestling Mantis while the Trader and the Collector cheered on him. The Surfer then grabbed Mantis and escaped flying. The Collector tried to shot them down but he missed. The Trader reprimanded his aim, but he agreed that other Elders should fight the interlopers. The Elders indeed sent the Obliterator after them, but the Obliterator was defeated and, humiliated, he revealed the Elder plot and the location of the following meeting. As the Surfer had an urgent quest on his native Zenn-La, he left Mantis on a planet with plants from where she teleported to Earth, while he went on his original quest.
This was not exactly casual. The cosmic entity Eternity later claimed that he/she/it had sent a Celestial to cause panic on the Skrulls, thus triggering a war between Skrulls and Kree, which would threaten the Surfer's home planet, motivating the Surfer to take sides, eventually stealing the last soul gem from its current owner, the Kree leader Supreme Intelligence, or die in the process. Indeed, to protect Zenn-La and Earth, the Surfer stole the gem before the Contemplator could.
The Earth meeting was not attended by the Obliterator, stranded on a planet; the Contemplator, trying to get a gem; or Ego, for obvious reasons. The attending Elders contemplated whether the Obliterator could have been defeated; the Runner downplayed the Surfer's chances, but the Trader insisted that two Elders -Champion and Runner- had already failed to kill the Surfer. The Champion justified it because neither was a real killer, unlike the Obliterator. Later, during the meeting, the Gardener explained the importance of the six soul gems, and explained that they only had one left, currently in process. The Trader, who had gotten two, was worried that they may be being overconfident. The Grandmaster then explained that the meeting was on Earth in case Mantis would spy on them, as was the case, because the Gardener's flora-controlling power was stronger than Mantis and would allow him to capture her, again as was the case.  After capturing Mantis, the Gardener also kidnapped the Silver Surfer's previous paramour Shalla-Bal.
The Trader then met with the Astronomer, the Champion, the Collector, the Gardener, the Grandmaster, the Possessor and the Runner in a spaceship in the Cone Nebula, near a six-planet star system. The Elders intended to place a gem in each of the planets, then summon Galactus and use the gems to drain Galactus's energy in a process not unlike Galactus's own feeding on planets. The Contemplator reported that the Surfer had stolen the gem from the Kree, but he was unaware of neither its capacities or the Elder's plan. The Trader feared that the Kree would chase the Surfer after he had hurted their leader, but the Contemplator explained that the Kree were in internal disarray, temporarily led by Chief Coordinator Nenora who, as the Possessor reported, was secretly a Skrull.
The Gardener demanded the gem from the Surfer as a ransom for his two women. The Surfer went to the Nebula through hyperspace, where the Trader insisted on him delivering. After the Surfer failed in an attempt to release the women, he delivered the gem, but the Grandmaster then threw the women to their probable death through space, thus sending the Surfer on a wild goose chase to try and rescue them.
The Elders then forcefully summoned Galactus along with his ship and his herald, Nova. The Elders used the gems in the planets to ingest Galactus's energy, to the point of dissipating him progressively. Nova proved unable to stop them, but the Surfer returned to help, interfering the ray with his own body to reflect it to the emitter, and commanding Nova to stop the threat by destroying the system's sun, a process that also shattered the planets. Nova did so and the sun became a black hole. The Elders were flat-footed at this: The gems' powers were useless against a black hole, and the hole's extraordinary gravitational pull grabbed the gems, the Elders and the Surfer. Galactus recovered and stagnated the hole before it could eat up all of its victims. By then, however, all the gems and three Elders -the Astronomer, the Trader and the Possessor- were already lost beyond the point of no return. With the Collector already on the run, Galactus, enraged, devoured five of the surviving Elders (Champion, Collector, Gardener, Grandmaster and Runner).
Escaping from Another Universe, or the Plot to Murder Galactus, Part Two
The Trader and his two Elder peers had been not destroyed, instead having fallen to a different universe, the Realm of Magick - which was perceived differently by each being, and the Trader found it to be colorless. Thanks to the Astronomer plotting a relatively safe path through the black hole, they remained together, but they saw the gems getting away from them. The three Elders decided to join efforts to recover the gems and use them to return to their native universe, as they, not physically powerful, were afraid of the unknown dangers in this universe - especially because this was not the universe were Death was supreme, meaning that perhaps they had become mortal again.
The Possessor's knowledge suggested they were in a reality balanced by Lord Chaos and Master Order, instead of Eternity and Death, with the In-Betweener serving as their equilibrium executor. The Elders decided that the In-Betweener may be the ally they needed to not only return to their universe, but also, once there, murder Galactus and keep on with the original plan - another of the Astronomer's huge-scope plans. The three Elders went to a temple devoted to the In-Betweener and contacted him by praying on their knees. The In-Betweener agreed to their deal, as he wanted to reach a different universe where he could prompt equity, and by killing Galactus he intended to usurp his role. The Elders now needed the six gems and a way to go through the black hole.
Starting a quest to find the gems, the three Elders visited the planet of the Sinalinas species. The Trader negotiated with them to get two gems they had - but the Elders had little to offer. They traded the gems for the Possessor - the only Elder whose skills were not strictly needed for their quest.
The Trader and the Astronomer soon gathered the six gems, also getting space suits and other gear in the process. The Trader, afraid of losing the gems, decided to use a bodycase to link the jewels to his own biological aura in a process that could only stop whenever the Trader himself died -which was not in his plan- or unless he could make a worthy deal for them.
Meanwhile, Galactus was disabled because the Elders he had eaten refused to die, instead giving him a cosmic indigestion of sorts. He reasoned that the Elder's souls could still be separated from their bodies, incapacitating them, so he recruited Silver Surfer, the Invisible Woman and Mister Fantastic to recover the gems from the hole: The Surfer would navigate, Fantastic pilot a ship and the Invisible Woman could use her force field to touch the gems without losing anyone's souls. The party tracked the Elders, finally finding them - which was the Elder's plan from the beginning.
The Invisible Woman, who had been influenced by her evil Malice personality, attacked the two Elders, who reacted using their hand weapons. The Invisible Woman's force fields blocked the bolt from the Trader's ray gun, making him fall back. Although the Astronomer defeated Mister Fantastic, she defeated the Astronomer. She then demanded the Trader to trade his gems off, manipulating him by making use of his obsession. The Trader agreed to give her the gems in exchange for the Silver Surfer's servitude. The Invisible Woman then point-blank shot the Surfer with an invisible laser gun, knocking him down. The Trader then game her the gems, which she intended to use to return to her universe, but not to save Galactus.
Making use of his bodycase technology, Trader prevented the Surfer from escaping or even using his board unless the Trader allowed for it - which he would do so that the Surfer could take them back to the universe. Mister Fantastic recovered, claiming to have heard everything, deducing that obsessive Astronomer and Trader should be thrilled to find a new universe, and concluding that the Elders could be killed there - something that would happen if the Trader allowed him to use the board. The Trader tried to deny it, but the Astronomer confirmed it (keeping it with their original plan). Mister Fantastic offered a new deal: The Surfer's freedom in exchange for Mister Fantastic's promise of taking the Elders to their home universe, as soon as he could rescue his wife. The Trader pretended to consider it, but the Astronomer agreed quickly. This would force the Surfer and his allies to bring the Elders back to their universe, where they could pit the In-Betweener against Galactus.
When Mister Fantastic and the Surfer recovered the gems, they discovered that the In-Betweener had manipulated them, so that he was released by their actions. The three Elders then arrived, joined the In-Betweener and used the five gems -one of them was powering the In-Betweener- to teleport to their native universe. Once there, they started flying toward Galactus's ship, with the Trader carrying the gems. Nova sent Galactus's robot Punisher to stop the In-Betweener; but the In-Betweener easily dispatched the robot by summoning its polar opposite. The party then boarded the ship and, when Nova tried to stop them, the Trader defeated her using the power from the gems.
The In-Betweener then tried to destroy the incapacitated Galactus, but he was unable to find any force that could counterbalance him. Unable to fully comply with the deal, and facing the Astronomer and the Trader's complains, the In-Betweener decided to throw Galactus to the black hole, so that there wouldn't be two middle forces in the same universe. The Astronomer and the Possessor tried to forbid this, because their Elder brothers were still within Galactus. The Trader threatened to use his five gems against the In-Betweener.
The In-Betweener reacted by summoning Death as the polar opposite of the Elders and compelling her to obliterate the three Elders, forcing Death to break her own vow. The Elders were disintegrated, and Death retired, not forgetting the In-Betweener's crime.
Galactus was eventually saved because the Surfer, Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman allied with Lord Order and Master Chaos, who were also angry at the In-Betweener's audacity. Order and Chaos also helped Galactus regurgitate the other Elders. Galactus confronted the In-Betweener to push him back to his own universe. The surviving Elders, angry at the In-Betweener having killed the Trader and his other brothers (except for the opposed voice of the Grandmaster), combined the power of their gems to push the In-Betweener back to the black hole.
It is not completely confirmed whether the Trader was really killed. Although he has not been seen again, the Possessor -killed at the same time and in the same conditions- was soon seen with other Elders around a cosmic fetus known as Origin.
Contest of Champions
The Trader was shown to be living again when he took part in a contest of champions between the Elders of the Universe to decide who would keep the Iso-8 that was now abundant after the rebirth of the multiverse, the Trader's champions lost and he was eliminated from the contest.
Like all Elders of the Universe, the Trader is connected to the energy of the universe due to his single-minded devotion to his "hobby," giving him cosmic awareness of the universe (although this manifests in precognitive flashes which may require long periods of meditation.) As with the Grandmaster's pact with Death, all Elders are unaffected by aging, disease, toxins, or theoretically murder.
The Trader can also tap into this "power primordial" to manipulate cosmic energies, including gravitational, electromagnetic, and light, the full extent of which remains to be revealed. It is known that he can metamorphosize into other beings, read other beings' emotions -although, should this fail, he is also a good psychologist- and survive in hostile environments, including the vacuum of space.
The Trader has great intelligence and advanced knowledge of financial matters and of psychology.
When the Elders got the Soul Gems, the Trader was the one that manipulated these and held them personally. He was seen using the gems to project aggressive beams of force, strong enough to defeat Nova.
The Trader was familiar with a technology named Bodycase that could be used to link one or several items to his person so that the item could only be removed by the Trader's choice or his death. These items could include the Soul Gems or a person, in which case the person would be compelled to obey the Trader to a given extent, and was unable to ignore anything that the Trader forbid.
The Trader has been seen using one-hand laser guns in personal combat, with variable success.
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol 3 #7 lists his first appearance in Silver Surfer Vol 3 #5 (not specifying the volume), but the Trader is clearly seen in Silver Surfer Vol 3 #4.
- The Trader's History text in Gamer's Handbook of the Marvel Universe #4 seems to imply that Death only declared the Elders undying after their first attempt on Galactus, and that Galactus forcefully threw the Trader and his two fellows to a black hole. It also says that, when Galactus defeated the In-Betweener, the Elders rescued the later, and that the Trader escaped that encounter with his life.
- His real name was only revealed in the Gardener's entry in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update #4 (2010).
- 12 Appearances of Cort Zo Tinnus (Earth-616)
- 2 Minor Appearances of Cort Zo Tinnus (Earth-616)
- Media Cort Zo Tinnus (Earth-616) was Mentioned in
- 10 Images featuring Cort Zo Tinnus (Earth-616)
- 1 Quotations by or about Cort Zo Tinnus (Earth-616)
- Character Gallery: Cort Zo Tinnus (Earth-616)
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