The Acanti are space dwelling lifeforms that feature in Marvel Comics.
The Acanti were a species of space dwelling lifeforms that lived in the universe. It was claimed that as long as life had existed in the universe there resided the Acanti who roamed through intergalactic space in their endless pursuit of knowledge. This often saw them serenading the stars themselves and they never did harm to anyone. Their life was forever altered by the arrival of the Brood in the Milky Way galaxy. The presence of the space dwelling species greatly benefited the Brood as it meant that they did not need to build starships but instead enslave the Acanti for this role. Once captured, they would be infected with the Slaver Virus that destroyed their higher cognitive functions thus making the creature easy to control. The disease allowed the Brood to make the massive beasts into living starships once their minds had turned them into mindless husks that were easy to exploit. Furthermore, it offered Brood crew to feed themselves by engorging on the flesh of their craft. One practice engaged by the Brood whenever they found a new inhabitable planet that they wished to colonize was loading a colony within an elder Acanti slave ship which was forcibly crashed onto that world's surface. The creature would die and from its carcass emerged the Brood who proceeded to pillage the new world. Their species was forever impacted when one of the victims of the Brood slaving practice was the Prophet-Singer who was captured on one of the parasitic invaders first hunts. Its capture led to the entire Acanti being bound to it after the Prophet-Singer was turned into a living starship as their races racial soul resided within it. Once the Prophet-Singer had served for many years, the Brood crashed it onto Sleazeworld that was the new homeworld for their empire. After crashing, its body was turned into the throne city but its soul remained trapped within its skull thus preventing the Acanti from moving on and instead being bound in servitude to their parasitic masters. Thus, the Acanti were trapped in this cycle of slavery as they could not survive without the racial soul of the Prophet-Singer yet they were still dying slowly by being used as living vessels of the Brood. (Uncanny X-Men v1 #166)
This period of their existence spanned aeons where only a pitifully few survivors that had escaped the Brood hunting cadres who remained free of bondage. However, hope sprung amongst their kind as the first Prophet-Singer in generations was conceived but before the child could come to term its mother had become infected with the Slaver Virus. To prevent her child from succumbing to the disease, she gave premature birth to her offspring but being born too early meant he was not mentally developed enough to survive even with the aid of his older brethren. (Uncanny X-Men v1 #166)
During the Brood and Badoon alliance, an Acanti's carcass was used to grow a jungle environment in order to create a ground for the Contest of Champions. Various Earth superheroes were spread across the length and breath of the cadaver in order to keep them separated from one another. (Contest of Champions v2 #4)
A Brood colony invaded Earth onboard an Acanti after being drawn to the planet from a signal sent by Kree soldier Yon-Rogg. (Avengers Assemble v2 #16)
The Providian Order created a hidden laboratory in space that was composed of the carcasses of several Acanti. From there, they conducted experiments on the captive Deathbird who was pregnant with Vulcan's child. (X-Men v4 #19)
Physically, the species had a rough resemblance to whales on Earth but had a reddish brown colored skin with dorsal, ventral, lateral and caudal fins. Their heads had green eyes that were widely spaced and despite their resemblance to animals had proven to be intelligent sentient beings. Adult Acanti were able to grow a few kilometers in length whilst their infants were able to easily swallow space spaceships that were able to hold nearly two dozen crew. One trait of the species was the capacity to survive in the vacuum of space and had an innate faster-than-light travel abilities that did not require technology. The race communicated to one another through song that were produced by their telepathic talents.
The spine of the creatures stretched for thousands of miles and even their smaller ribs were hundreds of miles high. (Contest of Champions v2 #4)
One ability of the massive creatures was bonding humanoid sentient beings with their kind. This led to a time of physical and psychic rapport between the an Acanti and the chosen subject. Such a practice could be used to aid their infants whereby the humanoid provided awareness and conscious direction to the alien child in order to sustain them until their mind developed sufficiently to handle this responsibility themselves. In exchange, the symbiosis led to the Acanti using their healing talents to restore the humanoid to full health and free of any disease infecting them such as the implantation of Brood within a host body. (Uncanny X-Men v1 #166)
The Acanti had a great deal of respect for the cycle of death, rebirth and resurrection. This was a spiritual belief that was tied to the role that stars played in their life cycle. Whenever an Acanti approached death, they normally hurled themselves into a star in order to be consumed by the universe that had given them life. Their soul was then recycled and passed along to the next generation of their kind. It was this reason why the species often serenaded the stars with their beautiful music which was a sign of their worship of the celestial bodies. Similarly, the process of death and rebirth was one that impacted their Prophet-Singers who were the spiritual leaders of their people. Within them resided the racial soul and memory of their entire race that was kept in the course of its lifespan. (Contest of Champions v2 #2) When a Prophet-Singer approached death, this requirement was essential to pass away in a star where their soul would pass on to a successor and thus ensure the continuation of their kind. Without that soul, the Acanti as a race were unable to survive. (Uncanny X-Men v1 #166)
A polar opposite to the species were the Brood themselves. Where the Acanti were good and of the light, the Brood were evil and dark by nature. (Uncanny X-Men v1 #166)
- The Acanti were created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum where they made their first appearance in Uncanny X-Men v1 #156 (April 1982).
In other media
- In X-Men: The Animated Series episode "Love in Vain", an Acanti was enslaved by a race called the Family who resemble the Brood but not named as such in the episode. This creature beaches itself on Earth where the Family attempt to infect the X-Men and numerous offspring as part of their reproductive cycle. After being enslaved and taken into the vessel, Professor X and his comrades are freed where he uses his telepathic powers to break the control the aliens had over their living vessel after learning it was a sentient being. This leads to the whale singing a song that is painful to the Family though Rogue found it beautiful which leads to the aliens relinquishing the uninfected before departing on the Acanti for space once again.