It was only appropriate — and I do not know if anyone else caught this — that when we rebooted to a new Avengers #1 that we have a villain with a rack that looks like the helmet of … Loki!
So we did, and his name was Ex Nihilo. These days, fighting in Infinity, he is an Avenger, as is his sister Abyss.
Courtesy Jonathan Hickman and Nil in Avengers #2, the character conveniently tells his own origin:
At the dawn of everything were the Builders. They were the first race, the oldest living things in the cosmos. They were a perfect people — and for a great while they worshipped the Goddess, the mother-maker herself, the Universe.
Eventually, they grew beyond this — abandoning the old ways of reverence for the new path of relevance. As expansion and evolution occurred, the Builders created aggressive systems to correct, shape and control the very structure of space and time.
The first of these systems were Gardeners — Alephs sent out into the wild to purge species unfit, and unsuitable, for their new universe.
For hundreds of millions of years, our Aleph (the one encountered on Mars by the Avengers) razed world after world — all of which he deemed unfit for progress. Until one day, he encountered a species he considered worthy of preservation. He found them worthy of evolution.
Then the Gardener released the garden he had carried with him for all that time. No two seeds an Aleph carries are the same. The Builders, in all the wisdom, knew creation was chaos and fully embraced the inconstant constant. This Aleph — our Aleph — yielded myself, Ex Nihilo, and my sister, Abyss.
And from that day forward, whenever we hear the call of a living, wild world, we either break it, or attempt to transform the base species we find there into magnificent, more transcendent, creatures.
Although we are just now seeing other Ex Nihili, apparently the Builders have created many of these entities. And, as Hickman has said, “some stuff has happened over the millions of years since [the Builders] sent them out.”
From his response in Infinity #1, it does not look like our Avenger, Ex Nihilo, believes or approves of what his Builders and fellows are up to now.
Stay tuned to Avengers and Infinity!