Making the Grade: Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition, Vol. 17

marvelhandbook-vol17

Avengers assemble! Guardians of the Galaxy gather! Heroes for Hire huddle! New Warriors… ah, who are we kidding, no one cares what you guys do.

It’s time once again for The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Book of the Dead Deluxe Edition. This time out: Volume 17, from Destiny (not the one you’re thinking of) to Hobgoblin (probably the one you’re thinking of).  

Once again, we’re not only examining Marvel characters from 30 years ago but characters who were considered so superfluous back then they were killed off by the writers. I think I’ve just won whatever prize is out there for the biggest nerd in the land (I mean besides the Nobel Prize for economics). 

Same deal as last week: Along with the usual rants and lame jokes, for each character I’m going to list the cause of death and note  whether their death was an actual permanent thing in the Marvel universe. How many were not? The answer may shock you. Or not. This is Marvel, after all.  

Excelsior! 

handbook-destiny
Destiny I
“Occupation: Former carnival mentalist, later presidential candidate.” That’s an interesting career path. Lots of history here that boils down to “guy finds magic hat that gives him super-mental powers; uses it to mess with Namor’s noggin.” He’s the guy responsible for turning the Sub-Mariner into an amnesiac homeless guy roaming the streets of New York City; later, he used his prodigious powers of persuasion to try and win the U.S. presidency. Hmmm… power-hungry, slightly insane, able to mesmerize thousands with his voice, has a thing for hats, takes time out of his busy schedule to be a dick to New York’s homeless population. You don’t suppose…? Nah, it couldn’t be him. C-

skullCause of death? Jumped off the roof of a building under the belief his powers would allow him to safely levitate to the ground. Spoiler alert: they did not.

Stayed dead? God, I hope so.

 

DeWolff, Jean
Man, was I pissed when they killed her off. She was a no-nonsense NYPD police captain who popped up whenever Spider-Man needed a friendly cop to offer a warning or some friendly advice, and she was one of those rare female supporting characters who wasn’t mooning over a hero or causing contrived secret-identity crises. Not that she got entirely away from the superhero silliness; as required by the law that states every Peter Parker acquaintance must either be a super-villain or related to one, her supposedly dead cop brother was once restored to a zombie-like state by her insane police commissioner father to kill street criminals. O…kay, then. B+

skullCause of death? Shotgun blast to the gut when another NYPD officer went insane and became a murderous vigilante. You get the feeling someone at Marvel had issues with cops?

Stayed dead? Despite my many threatening letters to Marvel over the years, yes.


Dorcas, Dr. Lemuel
“Dr. Lemuel Dorcas was a criminally motivated marine biologist…” All right, I’m going to stop you right there. True, there are many paths to choose if one opts to pursue a criminal career, but I think we can all agree that obtaining a doctorate in marine biology is not one of the more likely routes. It’s like training to be a terrorist by majoring in Medieval Latin — it’s probably not impossible, but damned if I can figure out how you can do it. D

skullCause of death? Crushed to death by one of his own “octo-meks” during a melee involving the Sub-Mariner and  Tiger Shark, Dr. Dorca’s own creation. See also: “petard, hoisted by.”

Stayed dead? Nope. Thunderbolts #171. Quote the wiki: “Lemuel Dorcas turns up alive, having survived due to the starfish-related experiments he had conducted upon himself.” Thanks a lot, starfish.

Doctor Sun
He’s an evil Chinese scientist who had his brain forcibly removed from his body, developed psionic powers because of his brain-in-a-jar status, decided the easiest route to scoring the fresh blood he needed to keep his grey matter alive was to control the world’s vampires, actually managed to kill Dracula, later scored himself a sweet robotic chassis, projected his consciousness into a bank of alien computers and then took up residence inside the Fantastic Four’s H.E.R.B.I.E. How this brilliantly insane character never sprang from the mind of Jack Kirby I’ll never know. B+

skullCause of death? His consciousness “apparently ceased to exist on the mortal plane” when H.E.R.B.I.E. sacrificed himself to save his human friends. Awwwww… 

Stayed dead? Far as I know.

 

handbook-dorma
Dorma
Okay, we’re only on the fifth corpse for this issue and three of them are either enemies or lovers of the Sub-Mariner. Perhaps some were both; no judgment here. But don’t you think it’s a little suspicious how many of Namor’s acquaintances are sleeping with the fishes? Or not, as the case might be? Forget that obvious serial killer posing as a widowed mystery writer in Cabot Cove; maybe someone should be paying more attention to the pointy-eared guy with anger-management issues. As for Dorma here: hot-cha! B

skullCause of death? Kidnapped before her wedding to Namor, the water-breathing Dorma suffocated when her water-filled prison was smashed open by one of Namor’s enemies. Or so Namor claimed.

Stayed dead? Technically, yes. But there was a whole storyline involving caves and clones and ancient scientists and… you know what, forget I even brought it up.

Dracula
Ah, the cunning count himself, the Big Bad Vlad, pride of Wallachia, impaler of his enemies, ruler of the world’s vampires and by all accounts a half-decent canasta player. “Letters and journal entries by van Helsing and people connected with him concerning Dracula’s foray into England were collected by Bram Stoker in 1897 as the book Dracula, which is mistakenly believed by the general populace to be a work of fiction.” I have to say, it was pretty clever for Marv Wolfman (yes, a Wolfman wrote stories about Dracula, enjoy the irony) and other writers to have the original source material for Dracula exist in the Marvel universe. Given the impact of the novel on our culture, it would be weird to have a comic series about Dracula while pretending the novel Dracula never existed. Kind of like how the concept of zombies apparently never existed in the the fiction of the pre-apocalypse world of The Walking Dead, forcing the survivors to come up with words like “walkers” and “growlers” to describe their shambling pursuers. Yeah, I’m sure WD’s creators have explained somewhere why they did that. Yeah, it still bugs me. Anyway. Dracula. Dead and loving it, you know the score. A

skullCause of death? Mystical incantation of the Montesi Formula, an ancient cheat code that “completely obliterated all vampires from the mortal plane” in one of Doctor Strange’s better adventures.

Stayed dead? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA sure let’s go with that.

 

Drax the Destroyer
You’re shitting me, right? The big alien dude from that insanely fun Guardians of the Galaxy movie was based on a character who started out as a real estate agent from Burbank, California? All right, then. Lots of detail here about  how an ordinary Earthling and his daughter got mixed up in intergalactic shenanigans, but I think the headline here is Thanos — the current Big Bad of the Marvel universe, Mister “I Worship Death Above All Else” — attempted to kill two Earthlings just for being in the wrong place at the wrong place. And even after landing his ship “to make certain they were dead,” he still messed up their murders, as it was a simple matter for Mentor to save them both, albeit he did so while acting like a bit of an asshat with the father by turning him into a living weapon, with no knowledge of his past and harboring an intense hatred of Thanos. I… I’m starting to wonder who the good guys are, Marvel. C+

skullCause of death? Dies at the hands of his own daughter, the young woman who grows up to become Moondragon and sets herself up as a planet’s ruler-god, something that earns her dad’s disapproval.

Stayed dead? Not on your life; he’s resurrected shortly after Thanos is brought back to life so they can continue their conflict. They fight, they fight! They fight and fight and fight!

Eel I
“Leonard Stryke, the original Eel, was the caretaker of an aquarium who led a secret life as a costumed criminal.” Okay, so that’s the second time this issue someone with a marine biology background has taken a career turn into super-villainy. What’s the connection here I’m not getting? Also, after a few humiliating defeats at the hands of Johnny Storm (hey, at least it ain’t Power Pack), he signs on with the Serpent Society, doubling his evil quotient by making impressionable Marvel readers think eels are reptiles. And really, who let the fish-guy into the snake club in the first place?  You can guarantee Viper didn’t let that kind of shit slide when she was in charge. C-

skullCause of death? Murdered by another costumed criminal named the Gladiator, who was looking for a disintegration device the Eel had stolen.

Stayed dead? Most assuredly. Though another criminal eventually took his name and M.O., Mr. Stryke is one villain who will strike no more. You might even say he “struck” out. Okay, I’m done.

handbook-egghead
Egghead
I chatted about this fellow back when I pitched some casting ideas for future Avengers films, so in the fine tradition of all Hollywood screenwriters I’m going to plagiarize myself: “Poor Egghead. He started out as an arch-nemesis for Ant-Man, and it only went downhill from there. A top government scientist whose arrogance got him canned, he turned his talents to crime, coming up with one zany scheme after another to score cash and/or sweet revenge on Ant-Man and his fellow Avengers.” Seems kind of freaky a guy with a head shaped like an egg turned out to be a genius, huh? It reminds me of what Jameson said in Spider-Man 2 about a guy named Otto Octavius winding up with eight limbs. B-

skullCause of death? Died like a punk when Hawkeye shot an arrow into his gun barrel, causing the energy blaster he was holding to explode as he pulled the trigger.

Stayed dead? Amazingly enough, no! Despite a very clear case of death in Avengers #229, Egghead returned in a 2015 comic just in time for Ant-Man’s film debut. I hear Hollywood calling…

Enforcer
Oh, good Lord, I’m bored just looking at his picture. He’s a spoiled rich kid of a Hollywood studio owner who starts dealing drugs and drops out of school to “pursue a career in crime,” which apparently for him means putting on a bulletproof costume, scoring a disintegration device and buying a mask at a garage sale held by one of the extras from Eyes Wide Shut. Oh, but don’t worry; under Abilities we also learn he was “a fine marksman with handguns and a fair hand-to-hand combatant.” Fascinating. D-

skullCause of death? Murdered by the vigilante Scourge, who shot him while dressed as a bag lady. And while I’m not normally pro-murder, I’ll happily make an exception here.

Stayed dead? Quote the wiki: “The Enforcer was not one of the victims of Scourge to be resurrected by Hood to fight Punisher.” He wasn’t even brought back as cannon fodder, that’s how useless he was.

Executioner
Hard not to respect the way this guy checked out. After spending an Asgardian’s lifetime following the Enchantress around like a lovesick puppy and acting the stooge for whichever super-villain needed hired muscle, the half-Asgardian/half-Frost Giant known as Skurge redeemed himself by literally riding into hell with Thor and Balder to rescue some kidnapped mortal souls and then, when the hordes of hell were bearing down on them, fought them single-handedly to allow his comrades time to escape. From his entry: “Skurge told Balder that everyone… laughed at him, causing him great pain. Skurge said he felt as if perhaps he died a little each time he was laughed at, and that now it was as if he were already dead. Therefore, Skurge asserted, he himself would stay behind to face Hela’s legion, ‘and the last laugh will be mine.'” Tell me that is not how you want to go out when your time comes. A-

skullCause of death? Copious amounts of bad-ass bravery, as described above.

Stayed dead? Surprisingly, yes. The writers pulled a few fast ones like introducing a fake Executioner or having a time-travelling villain pull Skurge out of the past, but he’s still in Valhalla.

Fafnir
He’s an evil Norse king who got turned into a giant dragon that can breathe fire, cast illusions and control the minds of weaker-willed people. You know, for situations where the whole being a giant fire-breathing dragon wasn’t quite boss enough. Fought the mighty Thor, as you might expect. And mightily lost to him, as you might also expect. The Norse weren’t much into Shyamalan-type plot twists in their sagas, it seems. C

skullCause of death? Killed by Thor when the thunder god used Mjolnir to drive an enchanted spear into Fafnir’s heart. And that is why no one makes fun of Thor’s silky golden tresses.

Stayed dead? Most assuredly. Although you have to qualify that a bit for Norse gods and monsters, who tend to make special one-night-only post-mortem appearances via the handy “a god did it” excuse.

Farouk, Amahl
This one feels like he doesn’t belong in this issue. As the first evil mutant that Charles Xavier encountered in his early travels, Farouk (a.k.a. the Shadow King) was a large part of the reason why Charlie decided to form the X-Men. Like Xavier, Farouk had phenomenal mental powers, including telepathy and the ability to separate his astral form from his physical body. When the two men first met, they waged battle on the astral plane, which left Farouk’s body dead from the strain. Fair enough. But that wasn’t the end of his existence, as his astral form floated around the astral plane until years later when he tried to enact some revenge on Charlie via his New Mutant students. Since then, he’s made several appearances as an evil mastermind (and nothing else but) scheming from within the astral realm or the mind of whichever impressionable co-ed he managed to sneak inside that week. He’s basically a ball of mental energy with a bad attitude, and how do you call a time of death on that? C+

skullCause of death? “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, that bald sonuvabitch walks into mine.” — probably what Farouk was thinking two seconds before Xavier’s mental assault fried his mind.

Stayed dead? Not on your life; see above.

 

handbook-firebrand
Firebrand
“Gary Gilbert was the son of the unscrupulous businessman Simon Gilbert. Simon would take out his anger at business matters that displeased him by striking Gary, thus contributing to Gary’s hatred of his father.” Thanks for spelling that out, Marvel. Otherwise, I never would have guessed that getting beaten by his dad would have led to him having uncharitable feelings for his father. Like many rich kids with assholes for parents, Gary funneled his parental issues into radical activism, though these days it’s hard to equate “radical activism” with “spandexed wingnut flying through the air and spewing fire from his wrist-doohickeys.” Actually, I better be careful what I say — next thing you know, “radical leftists firing flames from their wrists” ends up on the Internet and Donald “All I Know Is What’s on the Internet” Trump is handing out asbestos T-shirts at his rallies. C-

skullCause of death? Killed by Scourge at the “Bar With No Name” along with other costumed villains at a meeting called  by Firebrand to discuss how to stop Scourge. Didn’t work out the way he planned.

Stayed dead? Mostly. He was one of 17 Scourge victims resurrected by the Hood to go after the Punisher, but was killed by the Punisher shortly thereafter. Take that, hippie!

Foolkiller
Wow. I feel like I’m missing out on a lot of crazy by not reading Man-Thing’s books. After a series of unfortunate events in his life, this guy is taken to a faith healer’s revival meeting where his paralysis is seemingly cured. Within two years, he’s travelling with the reverend and becomes almost as popular as his mentor, with people falling at his teenage feet and calling him the new messiah. Naturally, this leads the young man to dress like a pirate with a morning workout TV show and kill everyone he considers a fool. Wait… what? D+

skullCause of death? A giant shard of glass through his heart when the tank containing the pickled remains of his former mentor shattered during a fight with a muck monster. You know, that old cliché.

Stayed dead? No rising on the third day for this messiah; others have taken on his name and mission to target fools, but that’s it.

Fury, Jacob
Whoa, Nick Fury had a brother living on the wrong side of the law? And this brother started his life of costume-accented terrorism out of feelings of resentment he had for his accomplished and heroic older brother? That’s like no other story involving two brothers I’ve ever heard! I kid, I kid. A lot of this guy’s story took place during Steranko’s very fine run on Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., so I can’t harsh on him too much. That said… man, a lot of those early S.H.I.E.L.D. stories really leaned on the life-model decoys, wot? I mean, sure, I can believe the flying cars and other whiz-bang pieces of high-tech spy gear, no problem. But this stuff about android copies of people running around thinking they’re the real thing… I mean, did they never have to go back to the lab for a systems update? Did S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists program them to fart and poop like living people? What? It’s a legitimate question. B-

skullCause of death? Suicide by gunshot after the Defenders defeated the robot Zodiac buddies he cooked up and all his plans for world domination were foiled…

Stayed dead? PSYCH! From the wikis: “In the final arc of the Secret Warriors series, it was revealed that Jake’s death and much of his villainy was all part of a long-game plan of Nick Fury’s.” Oh, Nick.

Gamora
Um, hello there. Yowza. Okay, far be it for me to question the motives or reasoning of a cosmic-level death-worshipper like Thanos, but did it ever strike anyone else as a bit odd he rescued one female infant from planetary genocide just to train her to become a master assassin? Remember, this is a guy who has “cause destruction of all life in the universe” listed as one of the “Tasks” in his Microsoft Outlook; why would someone like that need a personal assassin to deal out death one-on-one? Of maybe I’m just overlooking the obvious here. Hey, even death-gods got needs, yo. B

skullCause of death? She tried to slay Thanos after learning of his ultimate goal; he mortally injured her and left her for dead. Adam Warlock saved her spirit, though, so… not good, Thanos. Not good.

Stayed dead? Not even close. Along with Warlock, Gamora came back from Soulworld shortly after Thanos’s resurrection to prevent him from using the Infinity Gauntlet.

Gargoyle I
“First appearance: HULK #1. Final appearance: HULK #1.” Um… guys? Is that a typo? Hold on, let me check… huh. Well, I’ll be. They introduced him and killed him off in the Hulk’s first-ever issue. Okay, that takes balls, I’ve got to give Lee and Kirby that. Thankfully, he wasn’t the last hideously deformed super-genius to give our gamma-dosed Gargantua someone to smash. Don’t ask me why your typical comic reader enjoys seeing a big, dumb strong guy outwit and outlast a bunch of whining super-smart Poindexters; it’s just another one of those mysteries of the ages. “Place of death: An unrevealed location in  the Asian part of the USSR.” Well, that certainly narrows it down. C

skullCause of death? Blew himself and his Commie colleagues up to protest the way they turned him into the Gargoyle and made him serve his Soviet masters. USA! USA! USA!

Stayed dead? Quite so, though he was able to live long enough to father a son (the Gremlin) who inherited his rakish good looks, if by “rakish” you mean “killitkillitkillitkillitNOW!!!!”

Ghaur
Hold on, didn’t I cover this Deviant doofus in non-dead portion of these handbooks? Yeah, here he is. So what’s changed? Let’s see… tried to transform himself into a gigantic Celestial… instead became an unwitting pawn of the Dream Celestial… forced to beg the Eternals and West Coast Avengers to free his spirit from his transformed body. Nope, nothing weird here. C-

skullCause of death? See above. But I think a more accurate answer would include the phrases “be careful what you wish for” and “don’t take gift horses from sleeping Celestials.” Or something.

Stayed dead? Not on your life. Shortly after his consciousness seemingly dissipated, he tricked the Silver Surfer into restoring his physical form before getting up to his usual shenanigans.

handbook-granddirector
Grand Director
Hey look, it’s Trump’s biggest fan! Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the cheap shots. This Aryan a-hole is literally Captain America’s evil twin, in the sense that he’s a Cap-obsessed historian who found the only written copy of the super-soldier serum formula. He then demanded the government make him the new Captain America, complete with plastic surgery to give him the missing Steve Rogers’ face and voice. Incredibly, the government said “Sure, why the hell not.” It wasn’t one of the government’s better decisions, let’s put it that way. Lacking Steve’s rock-solid sense of morality (plus a vital component of the original treatment that turned Steve into Cap), this ersatz Captain America became mentally unstable and started attacking innocent people he determined weren’t “pure-blooded Americans” while also deciding $4 billion sounded like a perfectly reasonable price for a border wall (okay, last one, I promise). He was later recruited by an evil psychiatrist to lead a hate group that planned to use mind-controlling gases to turn millions of Americans into angry, unthinking racists. Seems like a waste, since recent events suggest “just wait a while” would have achieved the same goal. Ah, the political humor flies fast and furious around here. C-

skullCause of death? Death by incineration when he activated a suicide device in his uniform. On the plus side, he died inside a dirigible flying above New York City.  That’s kinda cool.

Stayed dead? Nope. In the late 2000s, they brought him back (minus the swastika) to turn him into the vigilante equivalent of that crabby racist uncle you only see at Thanksgiving.

Green Goblin
(opens mouth to talk)
(thinks twice about it)
(walks away)
(turns around, starts jabbing finger)
(calms down, talks to self) 

(bangs head against wall)
(feels a good rant starting to build up)
(takes medication)
(waits for it to kick in)
(takes four hours to calm down) 

All I’ll say about Norman Osborn and the way Marvel handled his return to life in the mid-1990s is that it could have been handled a wee bit better. Or as someone else put it back when Osborn was revealed as the Big Bad behind the now-infamous Spider-Clone saga: “So, to clean up the mess caused by a character who died 21 years ago, they brought back a character who died 23 years ago…?” Marvel has gotten a lot of mileage out of Osborn since then, turning him into Marvel’s answer to Lex Luthor, but the day they brought him back in the worst “fooled ya!” reveal since Bobby Ewing’s shower scene was the day I was done with Marvel, at least for a long while. And judging by the sales numbers back then, a lot of other readers felt the same way. None of this is the Goblin’s fault, of course — a guy’s gotta pay for his pumpkin bombs somehow — but I’m just petty enough to hold him responsible for one of the dumbest editorial decisions Marvel ever made. Really, was it that vital to bring Osborn back from the dead? Were we that lacking in candidates for the role of Scheming Megalomaniac, Billionaire Division in the Marvel universe that we had to come up with a bullshit “and then his healing factor kicked in” reason to explain how he got over a serious case of glider-gut and hid out in Europe all those years? Besides, everyone knows Doc Ock is Parker’s greatest arch-nemesis; Dafoe looked way too silly in that Power Ranger mask. Just sayin’ what everyone’s thinkin’. GRADE NOT APPLICABLE

Grim Reaper
You know, for a guy with no super-powers and only a fancy-pants scythe as a weapon (it “released a concussive ray of electromagnetic beam-guided low-density plasma,” just so you know), he sure seemed to cause more than his fair share of tsuris for the Avengers. That’s not nothing. Then again… geez, man, we get it, you love your brother. Not really sure how forming Lethal Legions and hiring voodoo masters helps you process your grief, but hey, you do you, Grimmy. D+

skullCause of death? First time, he fell over a ledge while fighting Wonder Man and the Vision. Second time, his zombie form reverted to lifelessness when he realized he was a zombie. It happens.

Stayed dead? Nuh-uh. He was brought back as a life-stealing zombie, then restored to life for real. He was later stabbed in the heart but came back again claiming he can’t die. I believe it.

Guardian
Or “Major Maple Leaf” as Banshee once called him, he was the leader of Alpha Flight and Canada’s answer to Captain America. And speaking on behalf of my fellow citizens… really, Marvel? Really? Americans get the awesome super-soldier who kicks ass and looks good doing it, and we get a science nerd who runs to the government when he needs legal help? And dude, you built a super-suit that “could shoot beams of concussive force… with a force equivalent to 250 pounds of TNT” and comes with a built-in force field. How could you possibly be shocked that your bosses might see the military possibilities in your creation? Nice guy, but a bit of a hockey puck, if you get my drift. And let’s not even talk about the “confession of love from a girl who was still a month away from turning eighteen” part. Ew. C-

skullCause of death? Overloaded power pack explosion in his super-suit that was admittedly one of the more gut-punching scenes to come out of the 1980s.

Stayed dead? Always-handy “aliens did it” excuse explains how he never really died, just got transported at the time of the explosion to one of Jupiter’s moons. What, you’re saying it couldn’t happen?

handbook-hammeranvil
Hammer and Anvil
Anyone out there ever watch The Defiant Ones? Someone at Marvel clearly did, because they turned the whole “black-guy-and-white-guy-who-escape-from-chain-gang-while-shackled-to-each-other” thing into a pair of super-villains for the Hulk to smash. And just like in the movie, the two guys can’t stand each other but overlook their mutual animosity to help each other escape. I wonder if that movie would have been better if the script had Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis meet a helpful alien named Chleee who turned their chain into a magic device that gave them superhuman strength. Probably not. C

skullCause of death? Hammer was shot in the face by an explosive bullet from Scourge’s gun; Anvil, sharing a psychic link with him, expired seconds later.

Stayed dead? Yep.

 

Hangman
Sigh… okay, so this guy. He’s presented as someone who watched way too many old movies and developed a very simplistic moral code as a result. And supposedly like anyone who spends not enough time discerning fantasy from reality he hits the street as a masked vigilante in search of people “whose ideas of morality conflicted with his own harsh, narrow-minded merciless code.” Not an original idea, but not one that’s totally unworkable, either. So why does he feel like such a hopeless goober? Is it the fact he “stalked the streets of Los Angeles,” a spread-out metropolis not known for its stalking friendliness? Is it the fact he chose to go out at night with not-easy-to-conceal weaponry like a scythe and a noose? Is it the fact he got himself busted by another vigilante who locked up anyone in a mask and wasn’t picky if they were a good guy or bad guy? Yes, yes and yes. D

skullCause of death? Stabbed in the back with his own scythe by a movie critic who felt he had to stop the Hangman from murdering innocent filmmakers. A movie critic, people! He was offed by a critic!

Stayed dead? Far as I know, no sequels for this guy.

 

Harker, Quincy
“Occupation: Vampire hunter.” Tell me that wouldn’t be awesome to write on your income tax forms. Son of Jonathan and Mina Harker from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Harker was presented in Tomb of Dracula as Drac’s most implacable foe. How implacable was he? After losing his wife and the use of his legs to Dracula, Harker devised all manners of weapons and booby traps to destroy any vampires foolish enough to come after him. When Dracula attacked his granddaughter on her 16th birthday, “Harker came in and fired poisoned wooden darts at him from his wheelchair.” That image fills me with so much glee. “Ow! Splinters! Ouch! Stop doing that!” A-

skullCause of death? Knowing he didn’t have much time left, Harker confronted Dracula one last time, plunging a silver stake in his heart while his explosives-rigged wheelchair blew them up. Bad. Ass.

Stayed dead? Regrettably, yes.

 

Harkness, Agatha
She’s an honest-to-goodness witch hired to be Franklin Richards’ nanny, because why the hell not. I’m impressed that a man of science like Reed Richards would be so accepting of the idea of magic and witches, but I guess when you’ve seen the Thing take a shower in your bathroom nothing else fazes you. In the book that introduced her, Richards says she has “a world-famous reputation,” but after seeing her inspired-by-the-Addams-family digs I have to echo the Thing’s sentiment: “Yeah? For what? Bein’ the top graveyard manager of the year?” And doesn’t working as a world-famous governess to the rich and famous sounds like a damned odd way for a witch to keep a low profile? “Agatha Harkness’s pet cat Ebony… could magically transform into a large, strong, savage panther. Ebony may not be a real cat, but may be of demonic origin.” Why does it have to be either/or? I’ve known a lot of real cats who qualify as demonic. B

skullCause of death? Which time? At the time this book came out, she had been burned at the stake by fellow witches and went full-on Obi-Wan, advising our heroes from beyond the grave. Spooky!

Stayed dead? Not on your life. The wiki proclaimeth: “Later, Agatha resurfaced, again alive and well… Agatha provided no explanation for her return.” Witches don’t explain; witches just do.

Hate-Monger I, III
Hitler brains! Hitler clones! Hate-rays! Space lasers! Cosmic Cubes! Man-Beasts! Psycho-Men! Shape-shifting androids! Pamphlets coated with alien chemicals that “affected the minds of many of those who handled the pamphlets, stimulating their active and latent threads”! Susan Richards brainwashed and gussied up like a dominatrix! Goddamn, I love comics. One question, though: why do we always assume that Hitler’s clones will opt for the same toothbrush moustache? Maybe one of the clones feels like sporting a clean-shaven face for a change. Maybe one of them wants a jaunty Van Dyke, or feels like something a little Daliesque. You know, to be wacky. Evil clones can be wacky, too. C+

skullCause of death? H-M #1 was shot by his own men when he accidentally turned the hate-ray on them. Irony! H-M #3 was shot with an explosive bullet by Scourge.

Stayed dead? Short story is: it’s complicated. But no, this wasn’t the last the world had seen of the Hate-Monger or Hitler clones. And as long as racism and hatred exists, he’ll likely always be there.

Hobgoblin I
Wait, didn’t I cover this guy already back in the not-dead issues? Oh yeah, here he is. Well, if you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you: “Man, did they hype this guy to the hilt when I was a kid. There was this big mystery around who he really was; all the readers knew was that he was some bad-guy type who came across the original Green Goblin’s lair (you know, back when Norman Osborn was dead) and used the costumes and weapons he found to further his own nefarious ends. Flash Thompson was arrested at one point on suspicion of being the Hobgoblin, then Daily Bugle reporter Ned Leeds was either outed as him or framed for being him, I can’t recall. I’m pretty sure if Peter Parker owned a cat, the writers would have thrown suspicion its way by having Pete find some pumpkin bombs in its litter box. It’s how Marvel rolled back then. ‘The Hobgoblin also uses a heavily armored battle van designed by Norman Osborn.’ There’s something about the mental image of a guy in a goblin mask pounding his steering wheel and fuming while stuck in crosstown traffic that tickles me in a happy place.” B-

skullCause of death? Turns out Hobgoblin was Ned Leeds all along and he got ambushed in Berlin while on assignment by hired killers who strangled him to death.

Stayed dead? Psych! Years later, the Hobgoblin Lives mini-series confirmed Leeds was a brainwashed pawn of the real Hobgoblin all along. Which sucks for him, because he’s still dead either way.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s