A petty criminal with a good education, Marcus Daniels managed to evade any serious punishment from the law when a generous scientist employed him as his lab assistant. Marcus helped build a machine to tap into other-dimensional energies but didn't much care for his new job. Marcus was caught in an explosion when the equipment failed and was granted the ability to access and control energy from the Darkforce Dimension. Deciding to use his new found powers to continue his life of crime, Marcus had a special suit designed to help him control the Darkforce and became the super-villain Blackout.
Blackout was created by Marv Wolfman and Carmine Infantino and first appeared in a teaser in Nova #18.
Beginning life as a Nova villain, Blackout was left in comic book limbo after the title's cancellation only 6 issues later. Blackout was eventually picked up again 5 years later by Avengers writer Roger Stern who featured him in several issues of that book, pairing him with the conniving Moonstone, and later had him become a member of the Masters of Evil. Blackout took part in the seminal Under Siege story arc where his career was cut short when he appeared to die while trying to resist the mental commands of Baron Zemo. Almost 15 years later, the character resurfaced as a member of Zemo's Thunderbolts, having apparently only been made brain-dead in Under Siege. Blackout has subsequently appeared in a few titles since such as The New Avengers and Siege, again as a member of the Masters of Evil. It is possible Blackout's appearances in The New Avengers and Siege were mistakes, as another Blackout was previously depicted as a member of the group, and the two never appeared on-panel together. A similar mistake happened with several other characters on the team such as Centurius and Centurious and in another issue Blackout himself was also miscolored as Electro.
Major Story Arcs
The Power of the Black Star
Having grown incredibly bored and deluded, Marcus had came to believe that his empowerment was the result of various other's negligence and wrong-doings. Believing his own fiction, Marcus sought to get revenge on the scientist who he believed purposely caused the accident which gave him his powers.
Before he could do any such thing, Marcus encountered the superhero known as Nova. Recognizing the irrational and powerful man before him, Nova fought against Marcus but was trapped in a wall of Darkforce Matter and left to die by Marcus.
While the paranoid Marcus then devised a mad plan to increase his powers and spread Darkforce Matter over New York. He was intercepted by Nova, who had managed to survive and escape from his entrapment, and Marcus was defeated by the hero and had seemingly trapped himself in the Darkforce Dimension.
Meltdowns and Mayhem
While experimenting in trying to reach the Darkforce Dimension, Project PEGASUS accidentally freed Marcus. Still a paranoid mess, Marcus was easily manipulated by Moonstone, a super-villain who was imprisoned at Project PEGASUS. Using her intelligence and sexual appeal to convince Marcus to work with her, the two released other superhumans imprisoned at Project PEGASUS including Electro and Rhino.
The Avengers (Captain America, Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, Starfox, Vision and Wasp) arrived and managed to subdue Electro and Rhino but were taken by surprise by Marcus and Moonstone and the two villains fled.
Moonstone, learning of the extent of Marcus' powers and how blindly he followed her, was eager to exploit him for her own gain. The two villains however were tracked down by the Avengers and in the ensuing battle, Marcus accidentally trapped both him and Moonstone in the Darkforce Dimension.
The two eventually escaped the Darkforce Dimension and went on a journey to the Blue Area of the Moon in a quest to find ways to augment Moonstone's own powers. Instead encountering the Inhumans, the duo were hastily defeated by the Inhumans' allies Dazzler and Quicksilver.
Once again imprisoned in Project PEGASUS, when Baron Zemo broke Moonstone out of captivity to join his Masters of Evil, Moonstone convinced him to free Marcus as well due to his vast control over an unknown energy. Moonstone's constant manipulation and games on Marcus, combined with his own paranoid delusions, had made Marcus' overall mental state incredibly erratic and unhealthy. Constantly falling into catatonic states, Marcus was now even easier for Moonstone to manipulate to her will. Fearing Moonstone's loyalty to himself and the rest of the Masters of Evil, Zemo had another member of the team, Fixer, create a special device which enabled Zemo to control Marcus as easily as Moonstone.
As the Masters of Evil attacked and invaded Avengers Mansion, Marcus battled Captain Marvel and banished her to the Darkforce Dimension and enveloped Avengers Mansion completely in Darkforce Matter. With the Masters of Evil having taken control of Avengers Mansion and having beaten and captured many of the team's members (including Black Knight, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Hercules and even Jarvis) all hope seemed lost for Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
As it turns out, Marcus' attempts to banish Captain Marvel to the Darkforce Dimension weren't entirely successful, as the heroine managed to free herself by using the Avengers' assosciate the Shroud who has similar control over Darkforce. Captain Marvel returned to New York and joined with a band of the remaining Avengers (Ant-Man, Thor and Wasp) in battle against the Masters of Evil.
After the Avengers managed to free Black Knight and Captain America from their bonds, the Avengers turned the tables on the Masters of Evil and Zemo turned to Marcus for a last-ditch attempt at victory. However, Marcus and Zemo encountered the mysterious Doctor Druid, an ally of the Black Knight who had felt compelled to come and aid the Avengers in their time of need, and Druid was able to use his psychic powers to make Marcus realize both Moonstone and Zemo had been using him.
Turning on Zemo, Marcus resisted his mental orders and wished to get even with the villain, but the effects of the device Zemo was using and Marcus' resistance caused him to suffer a cerebral haemorrhage which caused him to seemingly die instantly. Zemo's plan foiled, he was soon taken down by the rest of the Avengers as Marcus appeared to have died.
Marcus' body was taken into custody by the Commission on Superhuman Activities, apparently having not quite died and having only suffered severe brain-damage which had left him in a vegetative state. Marcus' comatose body slipped away into the Darkforce Dimension sometime later and was presumed lost by the Commission. Zemo, having need of Marcus' abilities again, dispatched some of his Thunderbolts team (Blizzard, Fixer and MACH-IV) to find him. Using the similar Darkforce manipulating powers of Psionex's Asylum, the three Thunderbolts travelled to the Darkforce Dimension where they retrieved Marcus.
Violently unstable and brain-damaged, Marcus proved a burden to Zemo's Thunderbolts when they were unable to control him. In order to calm him down, Fixer had to play pornography on a set of televisions at all times to ensure Marcus' wasn't violently lashing out.
Using the immensely powerful Kree moongems which he had stolen from Moonstone, Zemo was able to control Marcus like a puppet on strings. Needing Marcus' power to help him utterly destroy Genis-Vell, Zemo's team were gearing up for the imminent fight between them and Songbird's Thunderbolts team (of which Genis was a member).
Under Zemo's control, the zombie-like Marcus first rescued Smuggler from the Darkforce Dimension for Zemo to use as a bargaining chip against Atlas (another member of Songbird's team).
Arriving at the Richmond Ranch, Songbird's teams current headquarters, Zemo's Thunderbolts fought against Songbird's as Zemo battled Genis-Vell himself. Marcus battled against Radioactive Man who was able to disrupt the electromagnetic wavelengths of the Darkforce matter that Marcus controls and rather easily pacified him as a threat.
However, Zemo played his ace in the hole and had Marcus bring forth Smuggler from the Darkforce Dimension, to which Zemo blackmailed Atlas into attacking his former team-mates with the promise of not having Marcus suck his brother back up into the Darkforce dimension afterwards.
With Songbird's Thunderbolts defeated, Zemo had Marcus open up several portals to the Darkforce Dimension for him to banish different parts of Genis-Vell's chronologically unstuck body to ensure that the cosmic hero could never return and threaten the universal balance again. With Genis-Vell destroyed, the two teams were no longer at war with each other, and merged. Zemo relinquished his control over Marcus, no longer having any need for him, and Marcus parted ways with the Thunderbolts. Although, what became of Marcus next is unsure, Songbird claimed that Zemo was literally just using Marcus' deceased corpse as a puppet, although this was said not to be the case.
Marcus somehow regained his mental faculties shortly afterwards and when Norman Osborn rose to prominence after the Secret Invasion, Marcus joined the Hood's newest iteration of the Masters of Evil. Marcus, as with the rest of the Masters of Evil, began to turn against the Hood when they discovered he had began working with Norman Osborn in the post-Skrull invasion climate.
A fellow team member, Jonas Harrow, sought to usurp control of the group and to this end devised a plan to oust the Hood and at the same time renegotiating any deal the Hood had made with Norman Osborn. The rest of the Masters attacked Norman Osborn's Avengers in public as Harrow managed to hack Osborn's Iron Patriot armor and barter with him about the Masters of Evil's position in Osborn's America.
Harrow negotiated a deal wherein the Masters of Evil would join the Initiative and masquerade as government-sponsored heroes to the public and officially work for Norman Osborn. During a meeting of the Harrow's Masters of Evil, the Hood arrived and reclaimed leadership of the group by killing Harrow. He then reprimanded the rest of the villains for making the mistake of not believing in him and as a result they are now stuck working for Osborn instead.
The Hood had recently been exorcized by Doctor Strange, Doctor Voodoo and Hellstorm and as a result had lost his demonic powers which were provided by Dormammu and Nisanti. He was approached by Loki who gave him the Asgardian Norn Stones. Receiving mystical abilities from them, the Hood used the Norn Stones to also help boost the Masters of Evil's powers significantly. The now-mystically powered Marcus joined the Masters of Evil in helping Norman Osborn kill the Avengers and his other enemies when he attempted to conquer Asgard.
Marcus fought against Mockingbird and Ronin but was defeated when Loki took the Norn Stones back from the Hood which meant all of the Masters of Evil lost their boosted powers. The Hood and Madame Masque decided to cut their losses and abandoned the rest of the Masters of Evil, leaving them to fend for themselves, and Marcus was incarcerated alongside most of his fellow Masters who weren't fortunate enough to escape.
Powers and Abilities
Marcus has access to, and the ability to manipulate, Darkforce Matter - an extra-dimensional energy from the Darkforce Dimension. Using his control over Darkforce Matter, Marcus can create various constructs of different density which he can control. These constructs are nearly indestructible and perhaps the greatest display of his control over Darkforce Matter was when he enclosed all of Avengers Mansion within Darkforce Matters.
Marcus can also open portals to the Darkforce Dimension. It has been seen that Marcus' body itself is a portal to the Darkforce Dimension and he is physically merged with the Darkforce Dimension, such as when his body was used to entrap Genis-Vell within the Darkforce Dimension.
While a member of the Hood's Masters of Evil, Marcus received a mystical power boost from the Asgardian Norn Stones. How his powers were amplified or what new powers he displayed were never seen. He lost these upgrades, as did the rest of the Masters of Evil, when Loki reclaimed the Norn Stones for himself.
Earth-9997 (Earth X)
Blackout is seen among the many deceased characters battling each other in the Realm of the Dead.
Marcus Daniels is known as Deathlight in this reality and is a member of the Minions of Evil who attack the Champions.
In Other Media
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Blackout appears in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. played by Patrick Brennan.
Marcus Daniels worked as a lab assistant as part of an experiment to harness Darkforce, but his exposure to the that energy gave him the superhuman ability to absorb all forms of energy, even the kinetic energy of firearms. Afterwards, Daniels began to stalk Audrey Nathan, a Portland cellist, seeing in her as his sole salvation from the darkness closing in all around. Eventually his powers and obsessive attentions necessitated S.H.I.E.L.D. intervention. Phil Coulson and a team of agents managed to overload Daniels by 'flooding' him with light. He was then placed in the Fridge, a secure S.H.I.E.L.D. facility for super-powered criminals.
When John Garrett and Grant Ward overtake the Fridge Marcus is on of the inmates released. Heading towards Portland and Audrey, Daniels drained the life from a man and stole his car. During his first encounter with Coulson's team Daniels reveals that while incarcerated his powers were augmented allowing him to release absorbed energy from his body in the form of Darkforce energy. Know that Audrey is the key, the team sets a trap with her as the bait planning to overload him with spotlights modified to produce gamma radiation. However, Daniels manages to overpower their first attack with the Darkforce. Only by the intervention of Coulson, with Triplett's support, is the team able to overpower Marcus causing him to seemingly explodes as a cloud of Darkforce.