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The Ultimate Power. The Ultimate Honor. The Ultimate Sacrifice.

“I expect I'll have a few adventures, but adventure is not a good reason to die, just as hate is not a good reason to die. Not even love is a good reason to die... not even life.
"What is a good reason to die?
"I really don't know, but I think I'll soon find out.”

Harold "Vyking" Everson

Strikeforce: Morituri was a science-fiction comic book series created by Peter B. Gillis and Brent Anderson. It was published by Marvel Comics from 1986 to 1989.

The series starts off in the year 2072, with Earth suffering under an Alien Invasion by the Horde, a race of barbarian Planet Looters who plunder inhabited worlds for supplies, equipment, technology, and sport. Needless to say, conventional Earth weaponry is all but useless in the face of the Horde's advanced technology.

Humankind's hope comes when Dr. Kimmo Tuolema perfected the Morituri Process, a procedure that turns a select few into literal superheroes — subjects who undergo the process acquire vast strength, extra stamina, enhanced durability, and at least one extraordinary ability. However, the process also had several major flaws:


  1. The subject dies within a year, sometimes much less. This was due to the body ultimately rejecting the energy-based metabolism grafted to it. (However, it was learned that younger persons (under the age of twenty-one) would survive the process longer, while older subjects (such as the Black Watch) had a Morituri-augmented lifespan that was measured in weeks.
  2. Without proper screening, subjects could die during the process.
  3. The Morituri Process actually had two phases. The first was remarkably similar to Project Rebirth in that it gave the subjects perfect physiques and physical attributes. The second phase replaced the subject's metabolic processes with an energy-based one that gave the subject actual 'super-powers'.
  4. There was no way to address the issue of power generation. Morituri could end up with any imaginable power (including totally useless powers or powers that had a very specific area of usefulness).
  5. Death from the Morituri Effect tends to be spectacularly unpleasant; the ones who explode were the lucky ones.
  6. There is no way to predict when a subject will die. This can create problems in running operations, and adds a psychological burden on the subjects themselves. (This was slightly averted as the series went on, as it was noted that dying Morituri underwent a power surge, resulting in their powers dramatically increasing right before death.)

Despite the dangers, the Paideia world government quickly forms a specialized fast-response team around the Morituri. They also serve as a much-needed inspiration for the besieged populace, and the members are promoted as heroes and celebrities, complete with codenames, cool costumes, and publicity junkets.

The series was noted for its character-driven narrative; much time is spent on the psychological burden of the Morituri, each having accepted certain death to become a champion of Earth, along with ancillary issues like celebrity, leadership, and team conflicts. This is accented by the bleakness of the war itself, as the Morituri are not shown to have a major effect in turning the tide of the Horde invasion.

Peter B. Gillis and Brent Anderson worked on the first twenty issues of the comic, after which it was written by James Hudnall and drawn by Mark Bagley. The series ended after 31 issues, soon followed by a five-part limited series, Electric Undertow; it took place ten years later and served as a cyberpunk-flavored coda to clean up the rushed ending of the regular series.

The title is a reference to the Latin phrase "Morituri te salutamus" (We who are about to die salute you), allegedly said by Roman gladiators to Caesar before battle in the arena.

The Other Wiki has a list of characters here.

This series demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Alien Catnip: The Horde find chocolate to be a powerful intoxicant.
  • Alien Invasion: Earth's invasion by the Horde is the impetus for the creation of the Morituri.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The only benevolent aliens are seen in flashback; all of the aliens encountered by humans are out to exploit humanity in one way or another.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Brava, whose superhuman ability was superhuman size, strength, and resistance, even beyond that of her teammates. She ended up just under seven feet tall, with a muscular build, flowing black hair, and sculpted European facial features. Her costume is a skintight light blue leotard that accentuated her body; not only was she flattered by the the attention she received, she was also not afraid to act on it.
  • And I Must Scream: One of the Horde's early weapons against humankind consist of battle robots controlled by screaming human heads tortured into insanity with pain signals and lashing out at anything to make the agony stop.
  • Anyone Can Die: Subjects of the Morituri Process die within a year, any time — one character dies within a week of completing the process.
  • Art Shift: The art for issue #1's "Tales of the Black Watch" excerpt were drawn by Whilce Portacio.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Tuolema is not a real surname. It was probably supposed to be Tuomela, which is. Although the Meaningful Name mentioned below might almost justify it, Tuomela could also sound like Tuonela, the Finnish Underworld. Switching the first letter you can get kuolema, which is Finnish for death.
  • Atrocious Alias: One criticism of Hudnall's run on Morituri were the uncreative names he gave to his characters — a telekinetic named "Lifter", a pyrotechnic named "Burn", an invisible character named "Ghost"...
  • Attack Reflector: Vyking and Backhand could reflect energy attacks.
  • Aura Vision: Vyking could sense other nearby lifeforms, which he called "imaging."
  • Base on Wheels: After their mountain base is destroyed by the Horde, the Morituri worked out of a high-speed train that travelled around North America.
  • Battle Trophy /Collector of the Strange: Members of the Horde prominently wear souvenirs from their hunts, ranging from bottlecaps, trinkets, and human bones.
  • The Berserker: After the death of Vyking, Marathon gradually becomes obsessed with killing the Horde, turning Darker and Edgier and giving himself a facial brand to strike fear into his enemies.
  • Blessed with Suck: While the Morituri process itself is a form of suck, this trope is especially true for survivors who received a "useless" power, such as Commander Beth Nion, who could make flowers bloom.
  • The Blank: One of the Horde's terror schemes involved an alien "healer" plant which killed humans by making their skin grow over their mouth and nostrils.
  • Brain in a Jar: The Horde briefly used attack robots driven by decapitated (yet screaming) human heads as Mooks against human forces.
  • Brick Joke: In issue 1, after seeing the immaculate campus of the Strikeforce, Harold makes a joke about a Morituri with the power to mow lawns. In issue 13, Shear demonstrates his power to precisely slice objects by neatly trimming a circle in the lawn around him.
    Backhand: Great! A Morituri with the power to mow lawns perfectly!
    • For extra irony, Backhand is the actor who formerly portrayed Harold on the in-universe Morituri TV show.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: In a series with a large cast, Brent Anderson does a laudable job in giving everyone distinctive faces and body types.
  • Cool Plane: The Strikeforce use a supersonic ballistic capsule to quickly fly to Horde invasion sites.
  • Creator Cameo: The second Commander of the Morituri, Yuri Pogorelich, is modeled after writer Peter Gillis.
  • Deadly Upgrade:
    • The Morituri process, naturally. If you accept it, you will die within a year, potentially far less. (With a couple of exceptions; see the next trope.)
    • Those Morituri subjects whose newly-truncated lifespans are about to run out often develop a significant power boost prior to death.
  • Death by Childbirth: Inverted with Aline "Blackthorn" Pagrovna; it is suggested that her pregnancy was what kept her alive even after the one-year life expectancy of the Morituri process had passed. She dies soon after the baby is born.
  • Decapitation Presentation: When Blackthorne confronts the Stark Fist, leader of the Horde, he taunts her with the head of Clint Woodrow, one of the prototype Morituri soldiers.
  • Deus ex Machina: The war was abruptly ended when a new race of aliens, the VXX199, entered Earth orbit, destroyed the Horde fleet, and then departed without explanation. It is later revealed that the VXX199 remained hidden behind the Moon, where they were working on harvesting humanity for their own ends.
  • Die or Fly: Part of the Morituri Process involves releasing the subjects in Biowar Facility Alpha ("The Garden"), a lethal testing area that tries to induce super-powers under stressful situations. The first phase of Morituri, The Black Watch, actually lost two members in The Garden, which led to it being shelved temporarily.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Strikeforce starts off with a base hidden inside a mountain. When the Horde discover its location, it is destroyed with a nuclear bombardment.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Deliberately invoked by Pilar "Scaredycat" Lisieux and William "Scatterbrain" Deguchi; they gave each other embarrassing names as part of a dare.
  • Emotion Bomb: Scaredycat was able to broadcast fear and panic into anyone nearby. Her partner Scatterbrain had a similar power, except he could broadcast all kinds of mental states, such as drunkenness or extreme mental clarity.
  • End of an Era: During the final issue by original creator Peter B. Gillis, the last of the first generation of Morituri finally dies.
  • Evil Knockoff: The Super-Hordians, genetically mutated Horde warriors with augmented abilities for the purpose of defeating the Morituri.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: After Scaredycat sets up her terminal to track unusual messages, she intercepts part of a communication where Dr. Tuolema is ordered to stop working on a cure for the Morituri effect.
  • Eye Beams: Woodrow Green of the Black Watch had this power.
  • Facial Markings:
    • After his Darker and Edgier turn, Marathon uses an industrial laser to brand a massive "M" (for Morituri) across his eyes, in order to frighten the Horde.
    • Wildcard painted a black diamond over his right eye.
  • Failed Future Forecast: Happened twice in the series in two different directions. The main series is set in 2072, but the Soviet Union still exists below the Paideia world government. In the other direction, however, a memorial depicted in one panel appears to suggest that South African Apartheid collapsed in 1989, five years too optimistic compared to real life.
  • Famed in Story: The Morituri, as Earth's first chance the strike back at the Horde become famous, and get their own comic book, television show, etc. All government-sponsored to raise Earth's morale.
  • Fanservice Pack: In-universe, the Morituri Process gives an overall enhancement to the physical body, putting the subjects in perfect physical health and making a few changes besides. In the case of Blackthorne, this made her a bit taller, gave her a slightly bigger bust (which she was thrilled with) and cleared up her acne,
  • Fantastic Terrorists: One of the alien Horde's campaigns involved dropping biological weapons that caused skin to grow over people's faces, suffocating them and leaving creepy blank-faced corpses.
  • Government Conspiracy:
    • Unknown to Dr. Tuolema, four subjects were treated to the Morituri Process without his supervision. They ended up as misshapen mutants who simply wanted to die.
    • Later, unknown to the heroes, the Morituri process was used on a trio of killers to create assassins to kill the surviving members of the Strikeforce and the Paideia Prime Minister.
  • Hand Blast:
    • Snapdragon used wrist-mounted projectors to focus her plasma blasts.
    • Radian could beam energy from the entire electro-magnetic spectrum. He wore focusing sleeves on his forearms to direct them.
  • Healing Hands/Poisonous Person:
    • Toxyn could generate a variety of helpful or harmful biochemicals after touching someone.
    • Adept could synthesize antidotes and cures by touching an infected person.
  • Human Resources: The Electric Undertow limited series reveals that the VXX199 were hiding behind the Moon, modifying mankind's culture to their requirements, then inducing spontaneous combustion in the population to harness the psychic energies released.
  • I'm Melting!: One of the ways people succumb to the Morituri effect.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Done by the Horde, as everything they have was stolen from other alien species.
  • Improbable Age: The fatal side-effects of the Morituri process show up a lot faster the older the subject is. Hence, most of the characters are barely in their twenties. Since this was unknown with the Black Watch, one of them ended up burning out during a mission.
  • Insufficiently Advanced Alien: The Horde. All of their technology was stolen from others, and the only reason they got off their homeworld in the first place was by stealing from the alien ambassadors who visited them.
  • Instant Expert: Adept had this as a super-power — she could analyze and understand something just by touching it, though the speed of mastery varied according to the complexity of the subject. She learned to fly a spaceship in a minute, while alien machines from other worlds could take weeks of study.
  • Invisibility: The Ghost had an advanced form of invisibility, making him undetectable to everything short of psychic powers.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Louis "Radian" Armanetti.
  • Jet Pack: The heroes all have personal flight devices for short-term flight.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: Both Adept and Toxyn could have possibly found a cure by using their powers on the Morituri process. However no one even suggests trying this.
  • Laser Cutter: Shear could project a "razor force" from his hands that could cut nearby objects on a molecular level. The villainous Tiger had a similar ability.
  • Last Stand: In one storyline, while the rest of the team escape from a Horde starship, Marathon stays behind to foil an impending attack on Los Angeles.
  • The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort: Marathon was given a helmet and shield, but his Super Toughness eventually grew to the point that they became worthless, so he ditched them.
  • The Leader: Given the ever-shifting nature of Morituri members, leadership usually belongs to whoever the others defer to by unspoken consensus.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The double-sized issue #12 features a fight between the current Morituri team and the third-generation recruits.
  • Lightning Bruiser: All Morituri are given superhuman physical prowess during the first part of the enhancement process, in order to help them survive the second part. Some Morituri (such as Marathon and Brava) gain even greater physical abilities than the others as their secondary power.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: The Horde, who possess pirated interstellar technology but have a culture built on tribalism and terror.
  • Mad Doctor: The Gentle Enquirer, who cheerfully admits that if he weren't torturing humans, he'd be torturing his fellow Horde members. And then he gets to lead the Horde.
  • Made of Explodium: This is Revenge's superpower — he could convert anything to energy by touching it, with the effect of making it explode. He once defeated an opponent with Super Speed just by touching him once during the fight.
  • Make Them Rot: Blackthorne was able to break the molecular bonds of whatever she touched, causing them to rot and dissolve.
  • Meaningful Name: If you change the first letter of Dr. Tuolemas surname from T to K, his name would mean "death" in Finnish.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Happens to the Mutant Morituri.
    • Jelene smashes the device feeding pain to the human heads controlling Horde battle robots, allowing them to die in peace.
  • Mind over Matter: Lifter and Olga could move things with their minds.
  • Mood Whiplash: Happens sometimes due to the unpredictable nature of the Morituri effect. A notable example occurs in issue #4, where the team stops a Horde raid during a media junket, and the post-fight celebration ends with the sudden death of Snapdragon.
  • Most Common Superpower: Lampshaded first when one member of the team is pleased with the effect of super-empowerment on her assets, and later when other female members are variously amused or skeeved by their bosom size when depicted in in-universe propaganda comics.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: The first main character of the series, Harold Everson, is an aspiring writer. He writes about his adventures with the Morituri and dreams of living on through his work like Hemmingway.
  • Multinational Team: The members of the Strikeforce are drawn from different backgrounds, nations, and cultures. Justified as the rare people who qualify for the process could come from anywhere.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Scanner had clairsentience, though he initially thought it was super senses until the psychic aspect became known.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A few occasions, but most notably when the heroes disrupt a duel for position of leader of the Horde, and kill both contendants. Resulting in the Gentle Enquirer being put in charge.
  • The Nondescript: Aline Pagrovna explains that she volunteered for the Morituri process to avoid this trope; she was perpetually ignored as uninteresting by everyone else around her, and decided a year of attention was preferable to an apathetic life.
  • Obviously Evil: The Horde. They deliberately avoid quickly conquering Earth for the fun of terrorizing the populace and think nothing of slaughtering helpless slaves and children. An early terror tactic was to eject large numbers of captured humans outside the Earth's atmosphere, allowing them to burn up in re-entry so people on the ground could see the streaks representing their burning forms.
  • Oh, Crap!: several, for both sides. One of the saddest happens when the Horde stop tormenting humanity for sport somewhat after the heroes have a conspicuous success and get down to serious carnage.
  • One World Order: At the start of the series, the nations of Earth have been united under a single government called the Paideia.
  • Playing with Fire: Burn had standard pyrotechnic powers. In a variation, Snapdragon and Radian could combine her plasma bursts with his energy projections to create a flamethrower-type effect.
  • Possession Implies Mastery: Played straight by Adept, who could analyze and understand anything she touched. Given the Horde's use of scavenged technology, this was very useful.
  • Power Copying: Wildcard could duplicate the ability of any other Morituri member nearby.
  • Propaganda Hero: There are in-universe propaganda comics about the characters, which are played sometimes for comedy and sometimes grim irony.
  • Proud Warrior Race: While the Horde play this straight with each other, it's subverted in their treatment of humans, where they act as savage bullies from a position of strength. They have no qualms about slaughtering human slaves and children for petty reasons, and resort to terror tactics to intimidate humanity when the Morituri begin to become more dangerous.
  • Psycho for Hire: The Ghost, the Wind and the Tiger. Actually a subversion indicating why Psychos For Hire are a bad idea, as two of them rapidly abandon their employers and the third commits a counter-productive random massacre.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Radian is killed by fellow Morituri Shear when the latter believes he became a traitor to the Horde. In reality, Radian had feared that succumbing to the Morituri effect would be tantamount to the mortal sin of suicide, and he wanted to die in battle instead.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying!: A coping mechanism for some of the Morituri.
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: Played straight with issue #6, "Foray For Holowood!"
  • Show Within a Show: Types 1, 3, and 4. There is a comic and TV program about the Morituri themselves.
    • Type 1: In issue 4, Harold "Vyking" Everson meets Greg Mattingly, who portrays Vyking in the show. Much later, after Harold Everson's death, Greg Mattingly discovers he's eligible for the Morituri process, and acquires an energy redirection power quite similar to Vyking's, but more accurate. He takes the codename Backhand.
      Harold Everson: Well, Greg, it's too bad you couldn't get a more permanent role than playing one of us...
    • Type 3: The first issue includes excerpts from "Tales of the Black Watch", a promotional comic book about the first team of Morituri volunteers. When Harold Everson/Vyking joins, his briefing includes watching a video of what really happened to the Black Watch.
    • Type 4: The in-comic comic series portrays a glorified version of actual events, and the in-comic TV show, while not mentioned to be based on actual events, uses film from battles against the Horde as "green-screen" backdrop and stock footage.
  • Soaperizing: A regular occurrence in the comic, due to the character-driven narrative.
  • Space Orcs: The Horde is a race of alien invaders with a culture built on tribalism and terror, and who plunder other worlds for technology and resources.
  • Special Snowflake Syndrome: Lampooned by Gillis and Anderson in the backup feature, "How Peter & Brent Create (& Destroy) Strikeforce Morituri", where they create new characters by throwing darts at a board labelled with character traits.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: In the "Electric Undertow" limited series, this happens to random people due to psychic harvesting by the alien VXX199.
  • Squee: At a star-studded gala, video star Guy Harding gushes like a fanboy when he meets Blackthorne.
  • Starfish Aliens: The VXX199. The ship which arrives in Earth orbit, destroys the Horde, and then hides behind the moon (itself being half the diameter of the moon in length but doesn't affect its orbit whatsoever), is itself a giant conglomeration of living tissue, home to millions of completely alien lifeforms of varying intelligence, including the ship's own biological AI. It's like if Terry Gilliam directed a cyberpunk thriller with H.R. Giger as the art designer.
    • This is later subverted and lampshaded when a group of retired Morituri arrive on the ship, and one of them points out how completely ludicrous it is that the atmosphere within the ship merely smells horrible, instead of being completely unable to sustain (super-)human life.
  • Stylistic Suck: In issue 4, the members of the Strikeforce read part of the in-universe comic book about their adventures. They mock the ludicrous, over-the-top dialogue and the impossible physiques.
  • Superpower Lottery: The powers received through the Morituri process were completely random. The powers of the characters who apear in the series were more useful than not; justified in that character with useless powers would not survive the deathtraps in "the Garden."
  • Superpower Meltdown: Briefly, before the Morituri effect kills them, a subject's powers increase massively—depending on their power and state of mind this may lead to an explosion upon their death, though it can be quiet and peaceful as well.
  • Super Speed: All Morituri gain enhanced speed and agility as part of their overall physical enhancement.
    • Scaredycat and Wind in particular have this as a secondary power.
  • Super Strength: All of the Morituri have above-normal human strength as a side effect of the process.
    • Marathon had a variation where his strength grew the longer he refrained from using it.
    • Brava had strength exceeding that of the other Morituri.
  • Super Toughness: As with strength and speed, all Morituri gain this during the first part of the process.
    • Hardcase could increase the density of anything he touched to produce this effect, and use it to incapacitate enemies.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: A regular staple of the series, thanks to the Morituri effect. Characters could (and did) die in the most unexpected and inconvenient times, such as the beginning of a stealth attack on a Horde fleet.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Leaned on with Greg Mattingly, who plays Vyking in the holo-show based on the Morituri team. After Vyking dies, it is revealed that Greg has developed similar energy-reflecting powers, so he joins the team as Backhand.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: Occurs in issue #4, where the team successfully stops a Horde raid, and the post-fight celebration ends with the death of Snapdragon from the Morituri effect.
  • Technopath: Scanner had a neural jack installed in his head to give him limited control of machines.
  • Telepathy: Scatterbrain could indiscriminately broadcast thoughts and mental states to everyone nearby.
  • Token Religious Teammate: While the Morituri members were religious to varying degrees, Adept wore her faith up front. Her costume bore a heavy resemblance to priestly robes, and she would often pray for guidance during stressful situations.
  • Tricked-Out Shoes: The Morituri eventually get specialized shoes that allow them to fly, powered by their implanted metabolisms.
  • True Companions: The Morituri team, much of the time. As existing members died and new ones joined, however, the dynamics of the team were often tested.
  • War Memorial: Morituri Headquarters has a wall of the fallen members, with the caption "Dedicated to the Memory of Those Who Served".
  • Was Once a Man: The Mutant Morituri, four subjects treated to the Morituri Process without the supervision of Dr. Tuolema. They ended up as horrible deformities who were euthanised to put them out of their misery.
  • We Have Reserves: Averted; due to their small numbers, the Morituri are trained to stop Horde raids quickly, and are only deployed when they can potentially make a difference on the battlefield.
  • Why Am I Ticking?:
    • The Morituri called Revenge had the ability to touch something and make it degrade into energy at varying rates and intensities. When confronted with the Super Speed Morituri assassin Wind, he simply allowed Wind to punch him... whereupon he exploded moments later.
    • Earlier in the series, as the Morituri become more successful at repelling the Horde, they retaliate with a terror campaign by secretly implanting bombs into humans and detonating them in public.
  • Wrap It Up/Post-Script Season: The "Electric Undertow" miniseries is part-way between these tropes. The original series wasn't fully Left Hanging, but the ending was rushed and there were a lot of loose ends.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: The fundamental concept of the series. Notably highlighted when the Morituri are reprimanded by the Paedia Council for attacking the Horde without authorization; in response, Ruth "Toxyn" Mastorakis administers a poison to her teammates, then explains it as the desperation the Morituri feel every moment they are kept away from active duty.
  • Zeerust: In one issue, the Horde secretly pass a message to the Morituri via videotape.