GRIM REAPER: Page 3 of 3

Publication Date: 22nd Jun 2018
Written By: Monolith.
Image Work: Douglas Mangum.

Biography - Page 3

His soul back in the nether realm, Eric's love for Simon twisted again into jealousy, as he blamed Simon and the Avengers for all the problems that befell him in life. When Simon died again as a hero, he was anchored to Earth by his love for the Scarlet Witch and began regularly transiting between the living and the dead through this connection. The Grim Reaper saw an opportunity to exploit their connection and used the dark magicks at his command to assume control of the nexus.

The Grim Reaper appeared on Earth at the Avengers Day celebration, warping the nexus between Simon and Wanda to allow the spirits of several dead Avengers to pass through. Corrupted by the Reaper's magic and his own despair, Wonder Man and these zombified Avengers blamed the team for their deaths as well, becoming the new Legion of the Unliving. As the Avengers were defeated, the Reaper set up a mystical force-wall around his location in Central Park. Powered by despair, this field transformed the world inside it into a Hell-like dimension under the Reaper's control. As other heroes tried and failed to breach the barrier, their despair and the despair of the crowd of onlookers fed the Reaper, causing the barrier to grow ever larger.

Grim Reaper's Legion returned to ransack Avengers Mansion and captured the Scarlet Witch. However, Wanda was able to exert her own power over the nexus between herself, Simon and Eric, freeing Wonder Man and the Legion from the Reaper's corruption and restoring them to their true selves. As they returned to Central Park and rescued the living Avengers, the Grim Reaper summoned a horde of demons to overcome the united heroes. Meanwhile, Scarlet Witch worked on fully restoring Wonder Man to life, which would close the breach between life and death that the Grim Reaper was exploiting. She was successful but closing the breach sent the other undead Avengers back where they came from as well, costing the Avengers half their forces against the Reaper's demons.

It was Simon who brought an end to Eric's schemes. Just as his love for Wanda connected him to her beyond life and death, so did the love between the brothers connect them. As the breach closed, Simon reached through and pulled Eric back into the land of the living. He forced Eric to renounce the twisted hatred and jealousy that led him to where he was, reaching the genuine love he felt for Simon underneath it all. Eric emerged from the nether realm as a human once more, bereft of his supernatural powers and the arm Ultron severed months earlier, but also with his sanity restored. [Avengers (3rd series) #10-11]

The Grim Reaper's time in prison was short-lived, when he was kidnapped by robot servitors of Ultron. [Avengers (3rd series) #0] Ultron intended to create an entirely new race of sentient machine life, extrapolated from the brain wave patterns of his closest relatives and "family," including the Reaper and captive Avengers Giant-Man, Wasp, Vision, Wonder Man and the Scarlet Witch. Although the brain wave patterns were copied at Ultron's base in the shattered remains of Slorenia, the Reaper managed to break free and escaped further custody. [Avengers (3rd series) #19-22]

Eric Williams returned to a life of crime as the Grim Reaper, re-outfitting himself with a technologically advanced scythe-arm and even a personal crew of mercenaries called the Steelskulls, trained out of Taskmaster's academies. Choosing to associate with the Maggia, the Grim Reaper became front man for Count Nefaria's efforts to bring the various crime families under one rule. Although Nefaria did seek control of the Maggia, in truth the meeting between family heads he had the Reaper orchestrate was really an attempt to draw out his daughter. Madame Masque had gone into seclusion while using bio-duplicates to appear in public for her. The Reaper's meet was crashed by Vision and the Avengers, but he and Nefaria succeeded in locating Masque's hidden refuge in the Nevada desert. Grim Reaper and the Steelskulls attempted to breach the sanctuary, but a fight broke out between Nefaria's forces, Madame Masque's and the Avengers, after which the Reaper ended up back in Avengers custody as the dust settled. [Nefaria Protocols crossover]

Despite coming back from the dead, the Grim Reaper was significantly downgraded as a threat after this. With his mystical powers gone, Eric was once again merely a tech-themed criminal. He received upgrades to his equipment from the Tinkerer and Lucia von Bardas, and was involved in her counterstrike against Nick Fury and his associates after they raided Latveria. [Secret War #3-4] During the Superhero Civil War, Captain America still took the time to capture the Reaper and his allies, Vulture and the Trapster. (This trio may or may not have been the other half of a Sinister Six also taken down by Cap's Secret Avengers, including Doctor Octopus, Shocker and Lizard.) [Civil War #2] And while he escaped from prison shortly thereafter, the Grim Reaper's attempt at a complicated shell game of assassination and terrorism-for-hire with Man-Ape and the Saboteur failed to measure up. The Heroes for Hire managed to stop his schemes and arrest all the parties involved without even really understanding what the Reaper was trying to accomplish. [Heroes for Hire (2nd series) #6-8]

The Grim Reaper next surfaced during the start of Norman Osborn's reign as head of the Fifty-States Initiative. He gathered a new Lethal Legion for the purpose of bringing Osborn down: his old lover, Nekra; Absorbing Man, who genuinely thought of Osborn as a threat to America; Grey Gargoyle, who felt jilted at not being offered a piece of the pie; Tiger Shark and Mister Hyde, who had both been mistreated and abused by Osborn on his way up the ladder. Eric even went so far as to reach out to his brother Simon who, as Wonder Man, recently quit the Avengers and publicly denounced Osborn on the late show, which led to him being blacklisted as an actor. Simon was convinced to work with Eric against Osborn for the greater good, and even hoped this could be the first step in redeeming his brother.

The Lethal Legion openly attacked Avengers Tower to draw out Osborn's forces. After the "Iron Patriot" sent his pawns out to confront them, however, Absorbing Man got inside and drained enough of the Sentry's power to make Creel a threat to Osborn and his bodyguard. With the Sentry occupied, Wonder Man revealed himself as part of the Legion, swooping in to kidnap Osborn before anyone was the wiser. Back at their hideout, the Legion were meant to turn Osborn over to Nick Fury or someone similar who could bring him to task for his crimes. The team's loyalties began to fracture, however, when Mr. Hyde attempted to beat Osborn to death and the Grim Reaper stepped in to prevent it. While the fighting broke out, Osborn was freed by a member of the Lethal Legion and summoned the Avengers and H.A.M.M.E.R. The Lethal Legion was quickly overwhelmed and Grim Reaper and his allies were taken into custody.

At the Raft, Eric Williams warned his appointed council that Osborn wouldn't let him last long inside the joint. Sure enough, the Reaper was dramatically stabbed in the chest by a fellow inmate during the lawyer's visit. Despite being rushed into surgery at the infirmary, the Grim Reaper died of his injuries shortly thereafter.

Or did he? After interviewing all of the Legion, the lawyer discovered each of them had reasons to distrust each other and the Reaper, but none of them knew who betrayed the Legion and freed Osborn. As it turned out, this was because the Grim Reaper had orchestrated the entire scenario with Osborn. The Iron Patriot needed to establish his Avengers' credentials as a viable force for good and needed a legitimate force for evil to defeat. The Reaper gathered his Lethal Legion with every intention of betraying them to Osborn. When Simon went on television and called out Norman, Eric added his brother to the mix at Osborn's request with only a moment's hesitation. As for his death, the Reaper's voodoo powers had returned without anyone knowing, allowing him to genuinely die but then return once he drained the life energy of the lawyer, who had also been on Osborn's payroll. And so, with only a twinge of regret, the Grim Reaper abandoned his brother, his lover and his team to the Raft while being escorted to Europe to set up new ventures on behalf of his partner, Norman Osborn. [Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #1-3]

Despite his betrayal of her, the Grim Reaper and Nekra soon found each other again. Nekra was fueled by hatred, and Eric's capacity for hate was greater than any man she had ever known. The Reaper's focus even alerted him to the rise of Amatsu Mikaboshi, the Chaos King, who intended to destroy the entire universe, returning it to the void he emerged from at the dawn of time. The Grim Reaper offered to worship Mikaboshi in exchange for the power to kill the Avengers before existence ended anyway. Avengers such as Hercules and Ares had foiled Mikaboshi in the past, and so he granted the Reaper's request, empowering him to seek revenge on Avengers both living and dead.

The Chaos King first consumed the realm of dreams and the realm of the dead before moving on. And so, while the immortal heroes of Earth battled against him, the mortal people fell into a deathless, dreamless sleep, unable to wake and unable to die. The dead roamed the Earth as well, cast out of Death's Realm as it ceased to exist. The Grim Reaper took advantage of the strange circumstances to summon Avengers living and dead to a single location, allowing him to not only kill them all at once, but wipe them from existence entirely. For sport, the Grim Reaper restored six dead Avengers to protect their living, sleeping companions. This gave the Reaper someone to terrorize as Nekra and the unliving hordes at their command sieged the Avengers' position.

Doctor Druid mystically protected a building from the Reaper's assault, forcing them into siege warfare. Several Avengers were "killed" again as the Reaper fought for entrance, including Captain Mar-Vell and Druid. Eric also assaulted his "brother," Vision, taunting him with how Vision did far more damage to the Avengers under the insane Scarlet Witch's influence than Eric ever did. As always, the Reaper's hatred was more important to him than anything else, and he abandoned an injured Nekra during the fight to continue his pursuit of the remaining Avengers. In the end, Swordsman and Yellowjacket managed to flee with the sleeping Avengers in their charge. The Grim Reaper was held back by the damaged Vision, who self-destructed in order to contain Eric and allow the others to escape. [Chaos War: Dead Avengers #1-3]

The Grim Reaper's power levels continued to wax and wane, leading him to further instability. When Cable orchestrated a breakout of Grim Reaper and his Lethal Legion (Whirlwind, Living Laser, Radioactive Man) in transit from the Raft, the Reaper was seemingly back to his powerless human self, employing technological aids only instead of supernatural abilities. [Avengers: X-Sanction #1,4]

However, the Reaper's mind continued to degenerate, until he apparently became suicidal... only to discover he could not die. By his own reporting, the Grim Reaper could no longer die by any conventional means. He reasoned (perhaps even correctly) that this was a side effect of being brought back to life by the Scarlet Witch's power years earlier, and so only the Witch's power could undo the spell that brought his life, and therefore bring him death. And since his brother Wonder Man was restored by the same spell, he also believed Simon's power was equally capable of reversing Wanda's.

The Grim Reaper decided to test his theory by attacking Avengers Mansion during the unveiling of the team's new Unity Division, including Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch. Eric ranted and challenged the Avengers, scattered reporters at the press event and threatening the lives of everyone present. Simon had recently taken a vow of pacifism, making him morally and emotionally opposed to striking out at Eric, but his new teammate Rogue had no such compunctions. Rogue stole a portion of Wonder Man's ionic power with her mutant abilities in order to power up against the Reaper. Rogue didn't appreciate the extent of Simon's strength, however. She struck the Grim Reaper to disable him, but ended up striking with enough force to kill the super-villain with a single blow. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #5]

Although he died, the Grim Reaper returned in a matter of months. Uriel and Eimin, the Apocalypse Twins, had an elaborate plan to enact for mutantkind, the Earth, and particularly the Avengers Unity Division. Pilfering Celestial technology, they used the power of four Lifeseeds to bring back to life Eric Williams along with Daken (son of Wolverine), Banshee and Sentry (a fallen X-Man and Avenger, respectively). Immediately after being restored to life, the resurrected were exposed to four Deathseeds, the first stage in their transformation to evolutionary caretakers, becoming the Four Horsemen of Death. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #9]

The Grim Reaper's task was to retrieve Wonder Man for the Twins. Eric assaulted Simon in the mansion, using their unique connection and his newfound power to overcome his grieving, pacifistic brother. Simon was brought to the Akkaba Nebula, where the Twins manipulated him and Wanda into agreeing to "rapture" mutantkind to a space ark and its cryogenic stasis hold, removing the mutants from Earth to seek their own homeworld elsewhere in the galaxy. Simon would be the power source Wanda needed for this massive hex spell.

Though Wanda and Simon intended to betray the Apocalypse Twins, bringing the mutants of Earth to the Akkaba Nebula as an army of heroes instead of a cargo of sleepers, it didn't matter. The discord the Apocalypse Twins had sown among the Unity Division led the mutant members (especially Rogue and Sunfire) to believe Wanda was betraying mutantkind. All Grim Reaper and Daken had to do was make a show of delaying the mutants from stopping the spell, and Rogue ultimately killed Wanda herself in order to stop the spell. The Reaper stepped in while Rogue was still in shock and impaled her on the end of his scythe blade. Before the eyes of the struggling Wolverine, the Grim Reaper ignited the energy charge in his blade, roasting Rogue's body and leaving behind a charred mess of a corpse. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #10-14]

The Scarlet Witch still completing her spell with the last of her power, calling all the mutants into the stasis hold and halving the Unity Division's remaining forces. With the mutants safe, the Apocalypse Twins prepared to cause the destruction of the Earth itself by manipulating the Celestials into blaming Earth for their actions. They solidified these events in the timeline using a tachyon dam, which prevented interlopers like Kang or Immortus from traveling back to prevent the destruction of Earth. The Avengers had still received a message from Immortus in the future, claiming he was standing by with a powerful army to save the Earth if they could only disable the tachyon dam.

The Grim Reaper stood guard over the dam when the Wasp arrived to destroy it. The Reaper taunted the Wasp and her principles, holding her back from blasting the dam. The Reaper told her the only way to reach the dam was to kill him, violating the "Avengers Don't Kill" rule she so piously held over the heads of Wolverine and the others who were willing to go that extra mile. The Wasp refused, and hesitated, and so the Earth was destroyed by Exitar the Executioner before the tachyon dam could be broken and Immortus' help from the future allowed into the timeline. The Wasp was in shock over how her choice led to the death of everything she ever knew. Captain America arrived too late to back her up, but even the Super Soldier was no match for the powered-up Grim Reaper. Eric gleefully used his whirling blade to kill a second Avengers that night, decapitating the Living Legend of World War II and driving the exhausted and beaten Wasp into retreat. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #15-17]

Over the next six years, mutantkind established itself on a new world, Planet X, while Havok and Wasp continued to fight to destroy the dam and save the Earth. In those years that followed, Havok caught up with the Grim Reaper and killed him in revenge for Cap and Rogue. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #18]

The tachyon dam eventually fell in the future, allowing Kang to send the surviving members of the Unity Division back in time to possess their younger selves. By changing up their plans in a way the Apocalypse Twins hadn't anticipated, the Avengers got the drop on the villains. The Scarlet Witch's spell was aborted without violence, costing the Reaper his kills. Instead of the Wasp and an exhausted Captain America, the Reaper faced a rested and angry Havok, Wolverine and Sunfire at the tachyon dam. Once the dam was dropped at both ends of the timeline, Immortus brought his Guardians of the Galaxy from the future, and Earth was saved. Although there were still setbacks and losses among the heroes, the Avengers survived the Apocalypse Twins' plot. The Grim Reaper and Daken were forced to flee the Akkaba Nebula vessel, crashing down to Earth and confused about what went wrong after their precognitive masters had promised them violence and victory. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #21-22]

The Grim Reaper remained ever unstable, shifting away from his Deathseed and supernatural enhancements to once again become an otherwise mortal super-villain. His obsession with family was stoked when he learned the Vision had created a synthezoid family for himself. Eric saw them as more "unreal" copies of Simon, or derivatives of him, which shouldn't be allowed to exist. He attacked the family home when Vision was out with the Avengers, horribly mutilating Viv, Vision's daughter. Virginia, Vision's wife, struck the Reaper from behind and beat him to death with a metal pan against his skull. Fearing she would be treated as an unstable, "killer robot" for this act, Virginia chose to hide the Grim Reaper's death by burying his body in the backyard and lying to her husband about the Reaper's escape. This decision led to a series of poor outcomes and ultimately resulted in the deaths of three members of Vision's family, including Virginia. Ironic that a man like the Grim Reaper, who spent so much time as a zombie, would be more successful in hurting his enemies in death than he was in life. [Vision (3rd series) #1]