Chris Peruzzi is a comic book superhero historian who is passionate about how today's comic book heroes are the new mythology for America.
Time to Roll-up My Sleeves
Comic book readers are a hard bunch to please.
For example, I’ve written at least six articles regarding really obscure comic book characters. In that time I’ve had to find a good balance in finding minor obscure characters and characters that hardly anyone can remember. The problem is that if the character isn’t obscure enough I’ll get complaints that he was too well known. When I find a character that is too obscure, no one cares.
To the latter, I say, “It is what it is.” To the former, I say, “You asked for this.”
Between my vast resources in comic book literature and what I can scrape within the grayest part of my brain, I think I found new candidates. The hard part was researching enough about these characters due to their true obscurity.
Plus, I wanted to find good obscure characters. It’s easy to find obscure characters who are totally lame. Those are the guys who are truly deluded and challenge the Hulk to a fist fight. I specifically did not list the Quintronic Man – a collective opponent so lame that after getting lucky by using knockout gas on the Hulk got his ass handed to him after the Hulk woke up.
Rule #1 when fighting the Hulk: never send an enforcer whose arm can be torn off and used as a large metal club. I can only think of the billions of dollars wasted by the government’s Hulkbuster Program in failing to accomplish their one critical objective.
So at the risk of cursing myself, I think these characters are quite obscure. I’m sure someone out there has heard of one or two of these characters. You really can't please everyone. Once again, I have to be honest to the "lame versus obscure" balance.
That said, let’s start with...
Let me just say I was shocked, just SHOCKED, that a version of this character showed up in the nineties Spider-man: The Animated Series cartoon show. True comic book fans know he was not accurately portrayed from the comics but was written as a failed guinea pig from the super-soldier program.
No, Black Marvel was nothing like that.
He was one of the golden-age superheroes. His origins were first published in Mystic Comics back in 1941. Black Marvel is Dan Lyons, a white man who was the only man to successfully complete all of the trials set by Man-to, the chief of the Blackfeet tribe. While having absolutely no superhuman powers, Lyons defeated a grizzly bear in combat, outran a deer, outswam a salmon, and got four consecutive bullseyes with a bow and arrow blindfolded. He also caught all arrows fired at him. These tests qualified him to be the new Black Marvel. With that, he got to wear the ceremonial costume of their champion.
His mission was the standard contract of "righting all wrongs", "doing good deeds", "protecting the helpless", and the obligatory "fighting evil".
Being a superhero in the forties meant he had to fight against the Axis powers. So, of course, he fought the Germans and became an ally of the Invaders. He survived the war to modern times in a reunion with other golden-age heroes. He was last seen with the vigilante group The Slingers.
Like many of the mystery men of that time, Black Marvel did not have any powers but was in peak human physical condition.
Here’s a good rule of thumb – if you want a long career as a supervillain, don’t build your super armor out of metals that can go toxic. I think that rule also works for anyone who wants to manufacture perfume from asbestos.
In an effort to study the use of nuclear radiation with cobalt, Ralph Roberts, inventor of “Iron Man-like” cobalt armor became Cobalt Man. Ralph’s younger brother was dating Jean Grey and while touring his Ralph's lab with the rest of the X-Men (undercover in their civilian guises) he gave a demo of his armor. It was during this that he became “destructive” and unstable.
I think you can see where this was going. The X-Men stopped him.
Soon after that misadventure, Ralph Roberts was kidnapped by the Subterranean lord, Tyrannus, and forced him to create a giant cobalt robot. Again, the X-Men saved his butt and returned him to the surface world.
Not too long after that, the cobalt armor had mutated Roberts into a giant. The radiation from the armor was also killing him. As his death seemed imminent to him, he decided "to teach the world a lesson" about how bad radiation is and plotted to destroy Sydney, Australia - because that'll show em. Of course, he failed. He was presumed dead after he was involved in a nuclear explosion in space after battling the Hulk.
Only he wasn’t.
The very last place Cobalt Man was seen was in the small suburban house in Stamford that the villain, Nitro, accidentally blew up (which started the Marvel Civil War).
And there was Cobalt Man… and there was Cobalt Man… and there was Cobalt Man.
Cobalt Man’s armor was much like Iron Man’s in that it allowed flight and could fire repulsor-like rays. It was just toxic to anyone wearing it.
This is what happens when you animate crap.
When a small-time criminal, Joe Timms, got caught in a “Sandman-like” accident with radioactive waste, he transformed into a living swamp bog slime monster – not unlike the Man-Thing but with just more intelligence.
Evidently, this is the way radioactivity works in the Marvel Universe. Flint Marko (or William Baker) hid on a sandy beach during radioactive testing and got turned into the Sandman. Morrie Bench fell into the ocean while an experimental reactor went critical and got turned into the water elemental, Hydro-Man. With Timms, he got to be a bog monster.
Only that’s not the end of his story. After the Leader resurrected him from the anti-radiation fluid in the swamps, the Glob got blown up again in an explosion and turned into a “golden brain”. The brain then took the clay around the swamp and molded it into a semblance of an amnesiac blond haired man. When the Collector (Elder of the Universe) found the Hulk, the Man-Thing, and the Glob, he manipulated the Glob to lose his human form and reverted to being a clay monster. Both the Glob and the Man-Thing worked to overcome the Hulk to be part of the Collector’s menagerie.
Currently, the Glob has been with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Paranormal Containment Unit and is a guest of their Pleasant Hill Community.
The Glob is exactly what you think he is – living moldable clay. The “golden brain” portion of him allows him to change shape and appear as a perfect “Adonis-like” human being.
There has been another version of the Glob, Sumner Beckwith, who is much like his predecessor only not as strong.
The Star Thief
Fans of Adam Warlock might remember this guy from issue fourteen.
Barry Bauman was born without the necessary connections to his physical five senses. Not wanting to euthanize his son, Barry’s father, who was a local hospital's chairman of the board kept his son alive for twenty-four years under constant care. With that, his father also hired a full-time nurse to watch Barry 24/7/365.
Ironically, it is because of Barry’s lack of senses to the physical world that he could unlock his own tremendously powerful psionic mental powers. Barry, through the natural process of self-examination, started using his brain power to mentally control and dominate other beings and used telekinesis to move things in the physical universe. So powerful Barry’s brain had become that he could manipulate the emotions of other people, and cause car accidents and earthquakes at will.
With the power and knowledge he’d gained, he became more and more emotionally unstable and wanted revenge upon the physical world that did not cure his condition.
He would do this by wiping out the stars and moving them to another dimension. This would have the benefit of slowly torturing the unforgiven people of the physical world with fear while allowing him to build his power.
The only problem with his plans for world destruction was the awareness of Adam Warlock working against him with his soul gem. The Star Thief (now Barry’s preferred name) fought Warlock using representations of the four elements. While Warlock worked to defeat Barry on Earth and moved faster than light speed to get home, Star Thief attacked him. At the same time, Warlock attacked the Star Thief directly by taking part of his soul into the soul gem.
When Warlock finally arrived near Earth, he discovered that he was a victim of the "expanding universe theory" and had grown larger than the planet. While the Star Thief celebrated his victory by gloating, he hadn’t realized that he accidentally freed his male nurse from his mental domination. The nurse, realizing the evil thing that Barry had become, took a gun from his pocket and shot Barry through the head.
For the most part, the Star Thief is dead to the physical world except for the small part that still resides within Warlock’s soul gem.
Later on, it was reported that the Star Thief escaped the Soul World of the soul gem and began hopping from host to host until he was defeated by Rocket Raccoon (of the Guardians of the Galaxy).
Some families get all the metahumans.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the origins of Drax the Destroyer and Moondragon, all you need to know is that they can credit Thanos the Titan for their origins. Had it not been for Thanos, Drax would have been plain old Arthur Douglas, real estate salesman and father to Heather Douglas. When Thanos’s scout ship spotted Arthur and his family driving home from Las Vegas (they’d just seen Elvis live), he decided that he didn’t want any witnesses and fired upon Arthur’s car. While Arthur and his wife died from the attack, Heather was thrown from the wreck and got away. This was not the end for Arthur as the disembodied Eternal, Chronos, had taken his soul and placed it in an indestructible body made from the Earth.
Meanwhile, Thanos’s father Mentor had found Heather and had her trained by the Shao-Lom monks on Titan. The monks unlocked the psionic power potential that is present in all Earth humans and she became a powerful telepath and telekinetic. Heather took the name Moondragon from the Dragon of the Moon - that she fought off in psychic combat.
So where does Sundragon come in?
After Moondragon’s original body was destroyed in one adventure, she found she could share the mind of her cousin, Pamela. She got Pamela to take her mind back to Titan where another body could be cloned from her original. On the way back from Titan to Earth, the very possession of Moondragon’s mind had unlocked latent psychic powers within her cousin.
Sundragon’s has powerful psychic abilities, but they are not as powerful as her cousin’s. She is still developing them.
Some people argue that you are what you eat. In Terror’s case, that’s literally true.
For centuries, the man known as “Schreck” has been cursed with living in the form of the “green bear demon” that preyed on his original tribe. When he defeated the demon, he took on its appearance. The flipside to this curse was that he could merge other people’s limbs to his body.
After a battle that got Schreck’s legs torn off, he vowed vengeance against the man (Devlin) who did it. Years later, when he got the opportunity to take his revenge, he fell into a lake full of piranhas that stripped his skin to the bone. When scavengers tried to remove the gold fillings from the teeth of his nearly skeletal body, Shreck rebuilt his body by consuming their flesh.
Sometime later, Shreck changed his name to “The Terror” and got work as an assassin.
The Terror’s chief power is to remove body parts from other people and stick them onto his body where they work for him instead. He does this by secreting an acid on the “donor” and then using another chemical he produces as a bonding agent to his own body.
In addition to this, any memories, emotions, or skills that were part of the “donor” are transferred to the Terror. This is so much so that he has his lover’s hand hermetically sealed to his wrist so he never forgets her.
The downside of this perpetual process is the wear, tear, and rotting of old limbs and parts must be periodically replaced before they decay completely.
That said, the Terror’s scent is one of rotting flesh. The Terror’s first appearance was in the title, St. George #2
Everyone needs a good work-life balance. Unfortunately for Jeff Hagees, his hobby was a bit out of control.
Hagees worked for the Department of Defense in their missile propulsion team where he was a competent scientist. His tragic flaw was he was a compulsive gambler. The general problem was that his job was so stressful he turned to gambling to unplug – then his gambling problem turned into money problems when he found himself owing thousands of dollars to pool sharks.
Word of Hagees’s gambling debts got to his bosses in the government and he was considered a security risk due to his proximity to classified information and secrets.
So they fired him.
As he still owed a fortune to the mob for his gambling debts, Hagees turned to crime. He used his specific knowledge to create weapons themed with his passion for billiards. He uses a floating eight-ball much like the way the Green Goblin used his flying bat. He also has a weaponized pool cue and explosive ball bombs.
One of his criminal adventures was stealing a computer chip from the multi-billionaire shapeshifting crime boss, Celia Ricadonna. It was on that job where his one-time partner, the equally obscure villain “Freezer Burn” got killed after opening the safe.
Don’t be on the lookout for this character because he apparently met his death while fighting the Wrecker (of the Wrecking Crew).
The mantle of the Eight Ball has been picked up by two other characters since Hagees's death.
Okay, are you happy now?
I have plumbed the depths of my Marvel resources and scraped the bottom of the barrel to get to the unused creamy center left in the netherworld of the publisher’s dung heap.
Truly, I feel soiled.
Because, for goodness sake, the Terror?! He was as bad as the X-Factor’s Infectia – a female mutant so utterly out of her mind that she lived to create instantaneous mutations in humans, destabilizing their genetic structures until they exploded. Why? Just because. I’m not sure if she’s been seen after X-Factor #30.
I have to stress again that Marvel’s mythological universe is far larger than any other written in fiction and it’s constantly expanding every month through dozens of titles. That universe is vibrant and full of fascinating characters.
It’s also full of a lot of near misses and complete flops.
Flop, hit, or near miss, forgotten characters have a way of bubbling up to the surface every so often. When we see them, part of us has to look down at the editor’s note where it says “Last seen in issue (whatever)”. It’s there we see the marketing genius in the Marvel myth machine where the curious part of our minds wants to know more about what character they’ve dug up.
Marvel Obscure Characters
© 2018 Christopher Peruzzi
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on February 08, 2018:
I remember reading the Sal Buscema Glob issue of the Hulk as a kid. It was the first issue where I'd seen the Collector as well. I took two things away from that issue.
The first was the Collector was not an enemy to be trifled with - despite his form. He had an arsenal of "collected" weapons that could practically take care of any situation. I really thought that there was genuinely something in his bag of tricks that could easily vanquish the Hulk.
The second was the tragedy of the Glob. Until you actually saw that this simple-minded young man who became the Hulk's friend was, in actuality, this gray clay man-monster, you thought that, at last, the Hulk had found a friend who wouldn't piss him off. But that was not the case, and it was sad that the Collector had a device to revert him.
I'm happy you enjoyed the article.
Nathan Kiehn on January 24, 2018:
I'm happy to have heard of at least some of these characters (my dad's lifelong fanhood of the Hulk made knowing the Glob easy), but it was cool to learn about others. I laughed reading about Sundragon. Where do these guys get some of these ideas? It's the "hero gives cousin a version of their abilities" story like She-Hulk without the gamma radiation.
anne goldsmith on January 23, 2018:
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on January 22, 2018:
Apologies to anyone who did the poll. I found that I put Freezer Burn twice. In making that correction (to the Quintronic Man) I undid everyone's answers. Feel free to answer again if the app allows.