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Quote1 No! Call me heretic if you will, but I say to you that though our history and morality militates against our fighting back, it is a greater sin to die without resisting! Quote2
-- Durgan the Philosopher[1]
 

Durgan, known as Durgan the philosopher, was a golden-skinned humanoid Scadamite alien from the planet Scadam. He was a member of the planetary governing body, the Ruling Council,[1] and the teacher of a young Scadamite philosopher named Tuskar, who was also his friend.[3]

Durgan had used advanced Scadamite technology to watch other species in different planets,[1] and he was particularly interested in superpowered beings from other planets including Earth,[1][4] a hobby Tuskar knew about.[3] Durgan noticed that these superheroes fought for whatever they valued,[1] unlike the Scadamite culture that had adopted a strictly pacifist position for millenia,[1][4] renouncing to any weaponry or army[1][5] to the point of finding the mere idea of fighting to be abhorrent.[1][4] Durgan was familiar with Scadamite history, knowing why their ethics evolved toward that point.[6]

Unbeknownst to Durgan,[6] Scadam happened to be the prison of a malevolent inorganic being called Bio-Gem, a fragment of a prehistoric being that had been defeated by an ancient alien species, and imprisoned in different planets, leaving always a self-destroying Natter Energy-Egg to guard it.[3][4] The Bio-Gem aimed to release itself, reunite with its other splinters, then destroy all organic life in the universe.[3]

The Bio-Gems were known to the Black Fleet,[3] an armada of one thousand ships[7] crewed by ravagers and pirates,[8] inheritors of the biomechanical Turgentine Technenium[4][9] who also wanted to obliterate organic life. The Black Fleet had discovered a way to neutralize the Energy-Egg and then enslave and destroy the Bio-Gems to get a power source[3] in their quest to sujugate the universe.[4] The Black Fleet attacked several worlds[1][6][5] to get the Bio-Gems there,[3] and they approached dangerously to Scadam.[1][5][4]

The threat to Scadam led to the Council to meet and debate, looking for a solution to their plight. Finding none that was allowed by their beliefs, the Ruling Council accepted their doom.[1][4] Durgan's was the only dissenting voice,[1][4][4][6] claiming that the situation was exceptional[6] and allowed for a relaxation of their nonaggressive means.[1][4] This was perceived as heresy[3] and Durgan was expelled from the Council chamber[1][4] by Council leader Obispo.[1] Durgan's pupil Tuskar, also in the chamber, witnessed the ouster.[10]

Once outside the Chamber,[1] Durgan theorized that Scadam could use a heroic champion like Earth's superheroes.[1][4] As Scadamites had none of that sort, he looked for a way to profit from other being's powers.[1][4] Acting on his own,[6] Durgan built[6][4] an agent,[10] an artificial computer[4][6] construct facsimile[6][4] called the Chief Examiner,[1] on which he projected his own consciousness,[4][11] leading to the Examiner to develop a personality and intelligence of his own.[4] The Examiner, a robe-wearing humanoid figure with a spheric glass helmet,[1][4] would be sent to Earth to gather superpowers.[10][4][4] To do this, the Examiner analyzed a given heroe's superpowers using a technology that allowed him to replicate the powers later.[10][6] Durgan intended to use this powers to build later a champion for Scadam, who would defend the world against the invaders.[6][4][12][4] This project required Durgan to disappear from public sight,[3]

Durgan sent the Chief Examiner to Earth[4] using advanced teleportation technology to give him warp speed.[4][4] On Earth, the Chief Examiner tracked the Hulk,[1] tested him,[13] and copied his powers; he then left, impressed at the Hulk's heroism.[1] The Chief Examiner then went after Spider-Man[3] and successfully copied his powers[13] but in the process the Examiner's mind was temporarily taken over by the Bio-Gem, who aimed to use the Examiner for his evil goals and to release itself.[3]

Meanwhile, on Scadam, the Black Fleet approached and the Council was unaware of Durgan's activities, some of them believing that Durgan had abandoned scadam. Tuskar, skeptic on that, began his own sleuth quest to find his master. Analyzing the Scadamite computers, he noticed a transmission to Earth -The Bio-Gem's, trying to influence the Examiner- but failed to track its source. Tuskar believed this was a clue he'd use to find Durgan.[3]

Durgan discovered the Bio-Gen and the Energy-Egg in an abandoned and forbidden Scadamite museum. Durgan, knowing of the Egg's properties,[10] but still not of the Gem's,[6] took control of the local network. When Tuskar tracked the energy drain to the gallery, he did not find his master, but he became interested in the Egg and approached to touch it. Durgan then switched on all the screen to video-conference with Tuskar and warn him of the danger. Durgan explained Tuskar his plan and recruited him to his side - Tuskar initially wanted to report Durgan to the Council, but Durgan convinced Tuskar that both of them were similar, otherwise Tuskar would have not even stepped on the forbidden museum.[10]

Durgan then sent the Chief Examiner to collect the powers of the original Fantastic Four. The Examiner succeeded in analyzing the Human Torch[10][4] and the Thing,[10] but the Bio-Gem again took over the Examiner's mind of a short while.[10][4] However, before going after the Invisible Girl and Mister Fantastic, the Chief Examiner was reprogrammed by the Bio-Gem[4][6] and rebelled against Durgan's programming.[4] This change in the Examiner's programming was represented in his mnemonic system by a breach that prevented the Exmainer's self-repair routines to operate and correct the situation. When Durgan projected his own consciousness in the Chief Examiner to control it personally, the Bio-Gem's psychic abilities easily defeated Durgan. A psyonically-wonded Durgan was then trapped in the Examiner's mnemonic system.[6]

The Bio-Gem had discovered Magneto's reputation for power and ambition, and he decided to send the Chief Examiner after Magneto, who would gladly help the Bio-Gem destroy Durgan's psyche-self -or at least that was what the Bio-Gem thought. By then, Magneto had rehabilitated and become an ally to the X-Men. All of them were, along with their human friend Aleytys "Lee" Forrester,[6] vacationing in an electronically-protected island in the Bermuda Triangle. The Bio-Gem-controlled Chief examiner took over the place's defenses and used them to petrify the X-Men[4][6] (except for Rogue, who was out on an errand), then demanded Magneto to submit to his scanning plate. Instead, Magneto attacked the plate with his magnetic powers.[6] This disrupted the Examiner's circuitry, creating a scramble feedback loop that trapped Magneto's mind in the Examiner's mnemonic system.[4][6] It also damaged the Examiner, that collapsed without a body[6] - but allowed the Bio-Gem to take direct control over Magneto's physical body.[6]

"Magneto" donned the Chief Examiner's robes in time to greet incoming Rogue. Rogue, understanding that Magneto was not himself, confronted him. During the fight, Rogue accidentally went through the Examiner's plate and, due to her unusual power-absorption features, she absorbed the powers of the Examiner's previous targets. The new Chief Examiner became a worthy opponent for Rogue.[6]

Meanwhile, Magneto's psychic persona found Durgan's incapacitated one.[4] Magneto helped Durgan recover by sacrificing a piece of his own spirit. Durgan initially was rude to Magneto, claiming that this disaster was Magneto's fault -simply because Magneto's notoriety had attracted his enemy; then, Durgan explained Magneto about his quest and how he had lost control over the Examiner. Magneto theorized that, if they could go through the chasm in that environment, they could activate the Examiner's correcting systems; but they risked failing. Durgan was indecisive at first, giving priority to his mission to save the Scadamites; but Magneto reprimanded Durgan, as it was this same blind commitment to his mission -disregarding the effects of his actions on other people- that had endangered the X-Men. Durgan apologetically agreed and followed Magneto's lead in this chance. The Bio-Gem's influence vainly tried to stop them both.[6]

When the chasm was crossed, the Examiner was restored. Magneto's mind was returned to his own body; Durgan's, to the Examiner's. The Bio-Gem's psyche escaped, erasing its metaphorical footprints so that Durgan could not find it; Durgan nonetheless decided to improve the Examiner's security systems. Friendly, the Chief Examiner told Rogue how to use the Scadamite technology to return to her previous state.[6] Magneto graciously agreed[4] to be analyzed for Durgan's cause.[4] X-Man Wolverine recovered and return in time to see the Examiner; but Magneto convinced Wolverine that the Examiner was not an enemy.[6]

The Chief Examiner succeeded in analyzing at least eight more superhumans from Earth,[14] including Sub-Mariner.[5] Durgan took this powers to build his champion,[15] the Chief Exterminator,[12] a giant automaton[16] that Durgan himself could pilot.[14]

The Chief Examiner went back to Earth to track the Star Brand, an almost infinite power source[5] coming from Earth-148611[17] whose host, human Kayla Ballantine, did not even know of.[5] The Chief Examiner took Ballantine and her so-called friend Holly "H.D." Steckley to Scadam[18][4] but he was destroyed when he tried to replicate the Star Brand power,[15][4][4] leaving both Earthlings stranded far from home.[14]

Just after the Examiner's death, the Black Fleet attacked Scadam with their ships.[15][4] During the first days, visiting superhuman Her defended Scadam[8] with her cosmic bolts[12] before being incapacitated.[16] Only after a week-long siege[14] could Durgan prepare the Chief Exterminator and join the fray,[12] with Durgan himself at its helm.[14][4] The Exterminator personally confronted at least thirteen Black Fleet ships at once,[12] with Ballantine and Steckley witnessing the skirmish - almost being hurt themselves when the Exterminator's bolt ricocheted on a ship towards them.[16]

However, the Exterminator was not enough to stop the Black Fleet without the power of the Star Brand:[4] Battered by eighteen continous laser bursts,[16] the Exterminator was destroyed.[16][4] Ballantine found fatally-wounded Durgan among the wreckage. Durgan recognized Ballantine -as he had sent the Examiner after her- and apologized to her before[14] expiring.[14][4] Ballantine was enraged, as she believed Durgan was her last chance to go back home;[14] she then instintively used the Star Brand power and obliterated the whole Black Fleet[14] but for one survivor called Skeletron.[9] However, by then, the Scadamites had been virtually exterminated; Durgan had failed on his quest.[18]

Powers

Durgan showed the psychic ability to project his own mind into his computer construct the Chief Examiner. It is unclear whether this ability is shared by all the Scadamites, or is a property of Scadamite technology, or is something unique of Durgan's.[6]

Abilities

Durgan was a skillful robotist who built both the computer construct Chief Examiner[6][4][4][4] and the giant superpowered champion Chief Exterminator.[4][12] Durgan also showed the skill to pilot the Chief Exterminator in battle conditions.[4][14]



  • Durgan was created for a project of text-based adventure videogames: Adventure International founder and game designer Scott Adams (not related to Dilbert author) collaborated with Marvel Comics staff in a project to generate twelve games featuring Marvel heroes, with tie-in comic-books sold along with the games: The story continued from the comic to the game and back. Durgan however appears only in the comic-books, not in the video-games. Three games -Questprobe: The Hulk (1984), Questprobe: Spider-Man (1985) and Questprobe: The Human Torch & The Thing (1985) were produced for Amstrad CPC, Dragon 32/64 and ZX Spectrum platforms, but then Adventure International bankrupted, interrupting the process and leaving the plot open. The comic-book of the fourth instance, intended to involve the X-Men, was published in Marvel Fanfare #33 (1987), incorporated Durgan to the mainstream Marvel continuity.
  • Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition #29, Chief Examiner's entry, reports Tuskar's death for the first time. Tuskar stopped appearing after Questprobe #3, when he allied with Durgan. It is unclear when he died -either in the battle of Scadam or before that- or to what extent he helped Durgan before dying.

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Footnotes

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 Questprobe #1
  2. Concept and creation by Adams and Byrne -as specified in Questprobe #1; authorship of first appearance by Mantlo (script), Gruenwald (breakdowns) and Romita (inks)
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 Questprobe #2
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 4.35 4.36 4.37 4.38 4.39 4.40 4.41 4.42 4.43 4.44 4.45 4.46 4.47 4.48 Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol 2 #2; Chief Examiner's entry
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Quasar #37
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 6.20 6.21 6.22 6.23 6.24 6.25 Marvel Fanfare #33
  7. Quasar #43
  8. 8.0 8.1 Quasar #39
  9. 9.0 9.1 Starblast #4
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 Questprobe #3
  11. Secret Wars: Official Guide to the Marvel Multiverse #1
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Quasar #40
  13. 13.0 13.1 Questprobe: The Hulk
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 14.9 Quasar #42
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Quasar #38
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Quasar #41
  17. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol 4 #17
  18. 18.0 18.1 Quasar #45



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