Making the Grade: Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition, Vol. 18

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Finally! Finally! I finally made it to the 18th issue of  The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Book of the Dead Deluxe Edition (Hyperion to Nighthawk). Why is that a good thing? MODOK, bitches! Mother-truckin’ MODOK is finally in the house! If I were a certain frog made of felt, I would be flapping my arms so much right now! 

In fact, I’m so excited about the chance to talk about MODOK that I don’t want to waste any more time on this intro. God knows there’s nothing in this issue besides the characters to talk about, just a bunch of “Data Corrections” sent in by eagle-eyed readers.  

My favorite? “Rogue (page 8): Rogue is currently eighteen years old, and hence she is no longer a minor in many states… Brian Kern, Ft. Wayne, IN.” I’m betting Brian wasn’t the only straight male fan back then who kept meticulous notes on the legal status of Charlie’s female students. 😉   

Excelsior!

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Hyperion II
Wow. Where do I even begin? So there’s a Hyperion in the Marvel universe who functions as a Superman analogue when it’s handy to have that sort of thing for a story. But this isn’t that Hyperion; this is a duplicate evil Hyperion created from “non-living extra-dimensional matter” when some cosmic nutter needed an extra pawn for his game. Hyperion Part Deux then bounces around dimensions like a wiffle ball in a clothes dryer, at one point finding his mind-wiped self working as a health club manager in Queens. No, really. Best part of his entry? I can’t decide between two sentences: (1) “Doctor Strange cast a magical spell that caused Hyperion and his two allies to forget their evil pasts” — you know, as opposed to one of Strange’s non-magical spells — or (2) “Thor used his enchanted hammer to remove Hyperion’s powers, shrink him, and imprison him within a small glass globe.” I gotta say, that is one handy hammer. C-

skullCause of death? Beaten to death by the original “heroic Hyperion” in an all-out battle between the two of them. I guess we’re going by the Zack Snyder definition of “heroic,” then.

Stayed dead? God, I hope so.

 

Imperial Hydra
OHMYGODIT’SWALTERWHITE!!! Oh, excuse me, “Arnold Brown.” No, for real, look at this guy’s mug. It’s as if your high school science teacher made a mid-career change to become Cobra Commander. Also, can we all agree that milquetoast is a funny word? “Milquetoast.” Hee. B

skullCause of death? Shot by one of his own men, who never saw Imperial Hydra unmasked and thus didn’t believe a milquetoast (hee!) like Brown was really their leader. I can see that happening.

Stayed dead? Yep. But maybe Marvel will put out a sequel that tells the story of the once-legitimate tailor who sewed together Brown’s padded costume to make him look more buff.

It, the Living Colossus
“The Colossus remained on the grounds of the studio where the aliens had abandoned it, as it was too huge to remove.” Now hold on a second. You guys just told us a few paragraphs ago the Soviet government shipped the hundred-foot-tall statue from Moscow to Los Angeles as part of an international exhibition. But now after a brief bout of alien possession you’re saying it was “too huge to remove”…? What, did the aliens turn the statue’s granite into white dwarf star matter after they animated it? And then you tell us some thieves who came along to steal the “too huge to remove” statue just happened to bring nerve gas with them? Who does this? It can’t be good for my mental health to let this kind of stuff bother me. B

skullCause of death? Reduced to dust during one of the Hulk’s testier tantrums. In the Hulk’s defence, he was in Los Angeles at the time — that would make anyone testy.

Stayed dead? Quoth the Wiki: “It was rebuilt as a robot, for use by O’Bryan in his films. Later, the original It was reformed by O’Bryan under the control of Lotus Newmark.” Short answer: nope.

Jackal
THIS ESTABLISHMENT REFUSES TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE  EXISTENCE OF THE JACKAL, PROFESSOR MILES WARREN OR THE GAWDAWFUL STORYLINE THAT MADE THE ENTIRE SPIDER-CLONE SAGA POSSIBLE. ESPECIALLY IF SAID CHARACTER INVOLVES GRADE-A BULLSHIT PSEUDO-SCIENCE ABOUT POST-HYPNOTIC COMMANDS AND CLONED CELLS RETAINING THE MEMORIES OF THE ORIGINAL VERSION. GRADE NOT APPLICABLE

skullCause of death? DON’T KNOW.

 

Stayed dead? DON’T CARE.

 

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Jarella
This was the Hulk’s main squeeze when a villain mucking with his molecules shrinks the Hulk so much that he just happens to fall into a micro-verse world where the sword-and-sorcery inhabitants who live there just happen to have the same shade of green skin as the Hulk. He also just happens to arrive near a city on the same day Empress Jarella is required by law to choose a mate, just happens to accidentally do the one thing that makes him an eligible suitor and just happens to gain Banner’s intelligence as a side effect of a magic spell that teaches him the local lingo. I swear, this guy falls ass-backwards into more dumb luck than Forrest Gump. As for Jarella: homina homina. B

skullCause of death? Crushed by a falling wall while trying to save a child from the same fate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: kids ruin everything.

Stayed dead? Sadly, yes, except for one of those times she was summoned back to life to fight in that big crossover event. You know, the one with all the fighting.

Jocasta
I dunno, can we file an artificial being under “D” for dead? Deactivated, sure. But dead? I think we need some philosophy majors to weigh in here. While they do that, let’s try not to get too creeped out by the fact that Ultron’s desire for a robotic mate led to him kidnapping the Wasp — the wife of his scientist creator, and hence his “mother” — to transfer her “life force” into Jocasta’s empty shell. Tell me that doesn’t sound a little messed up. Oh, and Jocasta also spent a few months wandering the streets of New York City as a homeless person, because that wouldn’t strike anyone as unusual. C

skullCause of death? Blew herself up with a weapon Ultron was holding in a last-ditch effort to take him out. It took a man — make that Machine Man — to finish the job and rip out Ultron’s guts.

Stayed dead? You’re kidding, right? Shortly after this issue flew off the presses, she was already literally rebooted and sacrificed herself again to save the Avengers. It kinda became her thing.

Kangaroo
“Humiliated by his defeat by Spider-Man, Oliver fell into a deep depression and spent the following months as a vagrant in New York City.” Hey, maybe he and Jocasta shared panhandling tips. Let’s see, I think I said something about him in my list of animal-themed Spidey villains: “The man, the myth, the legend known as Kangaroo was born — brace yourself — in Australia. Quoth Wikipedia: ‘As a young man, he studied kangaroos in his native Australia with a passion. Oliver lived, ate, and travelled with the kangaroos, developing a leaping ability that rivalled the animals he studied.’ As if that weren’t sad enough, his successor used a suit that gave him superhuman strength, enhanced leaping skills and a ‘pouch-level cannon.’ I’ll just let those last few words sink in for a moment.” D

skullCause of death? While stealing radioactive isotopes at the behest of a mad scientist who augmented his powers, he died a horrible death from intense radiation. That… really sucks.

Stayed dead? Yep. A I said above, his name was taken over by someone even lamer, a guy who was inspired by the first Kangaroo to dress like a kangaroo. Just mull that image for a minute.

Kiber the Cruel
Okay, remember that scene in the first Star Trek movie where the Enterprise’s new science chief dies horribly in a transporter accident? Trick question: nobody remembers anything from the first Star Trek movie because we all fell asleep ten minutes in. Anyway, Frederick Kiber didn’t get the memo about teleportation being a risky thing, and he ends up horribly mangled and merged with his laboratory floor as a result. No, really. But does he let his newly acquired resemblance to linoleum stop him from becoming a super-villain with world-conquering intentions? Heck, no! That’s what the androids are for! What, you didn’t know he had androids? Of course he had androids; he’s a Kirby super-villain. Because a Kirby super-villain without androids is like a day without sunshine — sweet, demented sunshine. B-

skullCause of death? Kiber could only stay alive by stealing the “life energy” of his victims, and when Black Panther put a right proper end to that, he expired soon afterwards.

Stayed dead? Yep. And really, for his sake I hope it stays that way. It’s hard to be a scary super-villain when your arch-nemesis is a really determined Roomba.

Kid Colt
Wait, Marvel’s Western stars are getting Handbook entries now? All right, then, let’s get out our Official Marvel Comic Cowboy Checklist. Manly gun-related name (Blaine Colt)? Check. Billed as the fastest draw in the West? Check. Father or father figure murdered by no-good varmint? Check. Wanted by the authorities for exacting his revenge? Check. Chose to spend his days wandering the American West righting wrongs, often encountering other gunslingers who were also unjustly branded as outlaws? Check. It’s a shame the idea of support groups didn’t exist in the 1800s. “Among Kid Colt’s most notorious adversaries were Iron Mask, Doctor Danger, and the Fat Man.” Two thoughts: (1) I’m totally scooping all three names for my future pro-wrestling career and (2) I would love to know if an actual iron mask was part of that first guy’s shtick, and who talked him into wearing one whilst galloping through the deserts of the American Southwest. C+

skullCause of death? Unknown at the time this issue came out; one mini-series, 2000’s Blaze of Glory, posits how Kid Colt and a few other Marvel Western heroes met their fate. Really, go check it out.

Stayed dead? Um, I guess no…? Elsewhere: “He reappears in the present day as an old man in Skaar, King of the Savage Land where it is revealed his death was a hoax.” Sure, why the hell not.

Korvac
It’s hard to feel sympathy for Michael Korvac. When the space-faring Badoon invaded Earth in the 31st century, he offered up his mad computer skills so quickly to his new alien overlords that even the ghost of Vidkun Quisling (open a book, people) was all, “Dude, that’s so uncool.” Despite his zealous efforts on behalf of his new masters, one day he committed the sin of collapsing at his post, and his supervisor punished him by “amputating the lower half of his body and grafting the remaining part to a mobile computer module, turning him into a cyborg.” And you know, if I were head of HR for that outfit, I might have had a talk with that supervisor — partly because half the IT guys I know would file that change under “dream come true,” and partly because Korvac then uses his new plugged-in status to kill the Badoon who performed the operation and plot an overthrow of their empire. There’s more stuff about time travel and celestial power brokers, but it all leads to the same boring “ordinary man gains godlike power, attempts to control universe” trope, so let’s move on. C-

skullCause of death? Committed suicide “rather than continue on with a hopeless battle against the universe.” Dude, there are days when I can so relate.

Stayed dead? Oh, heavens to Betsy, no. He was later resurrected by one of those cosmic muckety-mucks; last I heard, he got annihilated by a blast of anti-matter. Let’s hope it sticks this time.

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Letha
Um… hi there, Angry-Looking Leather Lady. That outfit certainly looks… ah, polished. All right, so maybe this gal is not as kinky as this picture is letting on. Let’s read her entry: “The four agreed and were given special paraphernalia to assist them in their mission. Letha was given special leather belts and straps with various weaponry stitched within them.” Check, please! D

skullCause of death? Killed by the vigilante Scourge in the infamous “Bar With No Name” massacre. Betcha wished you steel-plated a whole lot more of your bod now, huh, Letha?

Stayed dead? Later resurrected by the Hood and given the bonus power of instilling unthinking rage in other people. Last seen working as Donald Trump’s social media strategist (rimshot).

Lilith
Now, here’s an interesting concept. She’s the abandoned daughter of Dracula who gets turned into a vampire herself because of a Gypsy curse on her father, and so she spends centuries as a spirit hopping from one vengeful woman’s body to the next, only to find eternal rest when Dracula has been destroyed. Despite her malefic appearance, she satisfies her bloodlust by attacking “only those humans whom she believed were evil enough to deserve such a fate,” and eventually found inner peace by abandoning her vendetta against her deadbeat dad. Which makes it all the more ironic — and kind of sad — that she ceased to exist when Doctor Strange and friends wiped out all vampires with a magic spell. Out of pity, B

skullCause of death? See above. It was nothing personal, in that Doctor Strange wasn’t specifically trying to end her status as one of the undead; it just worked out that way.

Stayed dead? When Drac came back, so did she. She later hooked up with the Howling Commandos, a knock-off of DC’s Creature Commandos. How is it that neither team has made it into movies?

Living Monolith
Not to be confused with It the Living Colossus, which is not to be confused with the X-Men’s Colossus, who is definitely living but not quite monolithic and… what was my point again? Right, right, this guy who’s a monolith that happens to be alive. Standard “ordinary guy gets phenomenal powers, goes power-mad” story arc here, with an Egyptian professor obsessed with ancient pharaohs discovering his mutant power to absorb “ambient cosmic energy” at a really shitty moment in his life. Cut to ancient temples, fanatical cult followers, and his anointing as a prophesied new god-king dubbed the Living Pharaoh. The “monolith” part came in when an overdose of cosmic radiation made him grow to 33 ft. in height, then later to planetary proportions, at which point he finally found the peace that eluded him all his life. Good for him. B-

skullCause of death? Cosmic radiation caused him to keep growing until he literally became a planet teeming with vegetation in another star system.  So he wasn’t so much dead as literally pushing up daisies.

Stayed dead? Since he never really died in the first place, the question seems moot, but… yeah, he came back a lot of times. He’s an X-Men villain. It’s part of the gig.

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Lucifer
BWHA-HA-HA-HA-HA… I’m sorry, I just… wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a super-villain costume look that generic and ridiculous at the same time. Maybe it’s the helmet? I think it’s the helmet. We all can’t be Magneto, I suppose. Nothing like the Fallen One you might have been expecting, this Lucifer was an alien from a race of conquerors who enslaved planets by using bad vibes, or something. He’s also, if this entry is accurate, the reason why Charles Xavier needs a wheelchair. Trust me, the explanation in X-Men: First Class is way better. Honestly, he’s just another in a long line of super-villains with secret lairs and robot servants and I’m bored just trying to finish this sentence. D

skullCause of death? Not entirely clear; we never saw his actual death happen, he was simply reported as “terminated” by his alien masters for drawing too much attention to them. Giant robots will do that.

Stayed dead? I really don’t care either way.

 

Malekith the Accursed
Well, that’s not a name that will get people swiping right on your Tinder profile, Mal. Who not go with Malekith the Fabulous or Malekith the Reasonably Well-Adjusted? Actually, good luck trying to find out why he’s accursed. We’re told this guy is the leader of the Dark Elves and “proved himself to be an enemy of both the human beings of Earth and of the gods of Asgard,” but that doesn’t really answer the question. Is he accursed because he’s an enemy of humans and Asgardians, or did his enmity towards those groups lead to someone cursing him over it? I’m not being pedantic, I’m simply stalling for time because good gravy that’s a whole lot of text to wade through. I don’t think the two dozen-odd issues in which his first story appeared contained this much text in total. Edit, people! Anyhoo. C

skullCause of death? Neck snapped by an enraged Kurse who was obsessed with exacting revenge on Malekith for causing “his near death in the pool of molten lava.” Yeah, that would piss me off, too.

Stayed dead? Surely you jest. He was revealed to be alive several years later, and immediately got back to his shape-changing, shit-stirring shenanigans. How did he come back? Um… dark elf did it.

Marauders
These were a bunch of sketchbook mutant rejects thrown employed by someone else as assassins targeting other mutants; three of them ended up getting killed during the so-called “mutant massacre,” an event that saw the Marauders slaughter most of the Morlocks living underneath New York City. There’s not much interesting to say about them, though I got a chuckle from Blockbuster’s entry; right after we’re told Thor struck him dead with a single blow, we find out “Blockbuster possessed superhuman strength, the exact extent of which is unknown, but was inferior to that of Thor.” Yes, we gathered that much. C-

Marvel Boy
Okay, very quickly: Marvel Boy first appeared in his own title in 1950; that lasted two issues before turning into a book named Astonishing, and Marvel Boy’s stories barely lasted four issues after that. He languished in comic-book limbo until 1975, when Roy Thomas hauled him out of mothballs to be the bad guy in a two-issue story arc in Fantastic Four. Why? Who knows? Now insane, he uses his energy-manipulating wrist-bands to rampage against “all that was evil and corrupt in society,” starting with a bank president (because of course). The Fab Four intervene, and he overloads his wrist-bands and dies. I guess that makes me… sad? Honestly, I’m looking at the story in which he bites it and I’m actually giggling. It’s not every day you see a bad guy with solar powers whose weakness is clouds. Wait a sec: blond hair, solar powers, useless on cloudy days — did Superman IV rip off Marvel Boy? D+

skullCause of death? Like I said, he overloads his wrist-bands and incinerates himself in a blinding flash of energy, leaving only his wrist-bands behind. At least he left something; that was thoughtful.

Stayed dead? Yes, but as it turns out it wasn’t Marvel Boy at all. As revealed much later, it was a confused and surgically altered Uranian Eternal who thought he was the original M.B. Why? Comics, is why.

Mauler
“First appearance and origin: DAREDEVIL #167. Final appearance: DAREDEVIL #167.” Oh, come on, Marvel! Of all the one-issue wonders, how come this mook in Iron Man’s hand-me-downs gets an entry? Stop keeping me from my MODOK, already! Sigh. Blah blah blah sad sack fired from his job after 35 years and screwed over by his company’s HR department who stole an armored battle suit his company just happened to be working on at the time. So he goes after his crooked boss, and what does he do when he has him at his mercy? He removes the guy’s wallet and melts his credit cards because… um, it’s really annoying having to call the credit card people and report a damaged card? I don’t know, I’m sure it was all symbolic when Frank Miller wrote it down. C-

skullCause of death? Security guards fire a powerful machine called a “vibra-mace” at him, with the intense vibrations killing him instantly. Is that standard issue for private security forces?

Stayed dead? Yes, but in a way he had the last laugh — his theft of the suit led to the company’s bankruptcy and purchase by Stark International, which mothballed the battle suit.

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Melter
I covered this guy in an earlier list about Iron Man’s sillier adversaries, so pardon me while I plagiarize myself: “Bruno Horgan was your average American industrialist specializing in weapons for the U.S. military when a government inspection revealed he was using shoddy materials. While Tony Stark scooped up his defence contracts because his weapons actually, you know, worked, a bankrupt Horgan decided the only rational thing to do was to blame Stark for ruining his life. And as luck would have it, he found among his ruined company’s assets a weapon prototype that generated a beam capable of ‘melting’ iron on contact. Thus armed with the means to liquefy Stark’s greatest weapons, Horgan began his career of crime and calumny as… the Melter! And then he joined forces with the Dissolver, the Dissipater and the Coagulator to form the Lethal Legion of Matter Manipulators. No, not really.” D

skullCause of death? Fatally shot by the murderous vigilante known as Scourge, who crushed the Melter’s latest melting weapon after killing him. I’m trying hard to find a reason not to applaud both acts.

Stayed dead? As far as I know.

 

Midgard Serpent
Oh, man. So close to MODOK, yet so far. All right, let’s barrel through these next couple of entries. Midgard Serpent: big mythical snake thing that Thor fought. Because that’s what you do when you’re Thor, is why. “Occupation: Serpent.” I wish I could do that on my LinkedIn account. “Occupation: Human.” C+

skullCause of death? Thor. Need I say more? No, I need not.

 

Stayed dead? Resurrected only to be slain again, this time by Thor’s mother, who sacrificed her own life to banish it back to Hel. Let me repeat: it got smacked down by Thor’s mother.

Mimic
“Believing that people would someday realize that his son had this superhuman ability and would attack Calvin from hatred and fear, Dr. Rankin took Calvin to an isolated cave where both of them lived for the following months.” Jeee-zus, man. Over-react much? At least spring for a decent time-share, or any kind of living arrangement that’s a step up from shoving your son inside a freaking cave. No, not a Best Western; I said a step up. C

skullCause of death? Giving the Hulk a hug. No, really.

 

Stayed dead? Nope. Turns out he recovered by copying Wolverine’s healing powers, as well as his appearance and claws, driving Mimic mad with pain. On the upside: “OMG, it’s Hugh Jackman!”

Miracle Man
Early-era Fantastic Four villain who thought super-hypnotism was his ticket to world-conquering greatness — but that’s not the messed up part. He later joined a tribe of Native Americans who helped him develop his psionic abilities to manipulate matter and energy, which he then used to build a city consisting of himself and a bunch of androids — but that’s not the messed up part. Here’s the messed up part: on his way to instigate his latest scheme, while riding a bus upstate from New York City, he discovered that one of his fellow passengers just happened to be Benjamin “The Thing” Grimm. Picture that bit of insanity for a second. Here’s a super-villain — travelling by bus, mind — who’s off to complete the next stage in his super-villain career, and he just happens to run into one of his arch-enemies and one of the most famous super-heroes in the world… who is also travelling by bus. How do you not take that as a sign to give up the whole super-villainy thing and go into accounting? C

skullCause of death? Fatally shot by the murderous vigilante known as Scourge, who was disguised as a fellow passenger on the bus. See what I mean about crazy coincidences? Worst. Day. Ever.

Stayed dead? He was one of the Scourge victims resurrected by the Hood to go after the Punisher; he slipped away in the chaos only to find out later the Punisher was on the same bus. (No, not really.)

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Mirage
After he was bitten by a radioactive legal pad, Mirage embarked on… no, no, I kid. But honestly, my version is no less stupid than any other reason he might have come up for that costume. For real, go find the Deadpool issue where Hollywood’s favorite merc with a mouth demonstrates how mind-boggingly stupid it is to attach handles to your headgear. C-

skullCause of death? Among the murdered masked malcontents in the “Bar With No Name” massacre by Scourge, who really deserved to be called “a one-man Crisis on Infinite Earths” for his efforts.

Stayed dead? Oh, heavens, no. He came back to survive the Punisher putting a grenade in his mouth, an assassin’s gunshot, and someone else pushing him off a roof. Nobody dies in these books, do they?

Miss America
I wonder if the pageant people ever regretted not putting the legal smackdown on Marvel and DC for each coming up with their own “Miss America” characters. Ah well. Madeline Joyce was the niece of a rich guy financing electrical experiments because reasons, yadda yadda yadda something triggers “her latent mutant ability to levitate herself” and she’s off fighting Nazis and stuff. Pretty standard Golden Age stuff, right up to the part where she’s travelling abroad and dies giving birth to a stillborn child. And here’s what really sucks: her “first modern appearance” and “final appearance” are the same issue (Giant-Size Avengers #1), which means they basically brought her into the modern age only to kill her off — and they didn’t even bother to show it in the story. Sad. Out of pity, B-

skullCause of death? Died from radiation poisoning hours after giving birth to a radioactive stillborn child who was irradiated by her work on a secret government project. There’s no fun way to say that.

Stayed dead? Amazingly, yes. While she made appearances in stories set in WWII, as far as I know she hasn’t been brought back. And with another young woman using her name, she probably won’t be.

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MODOK
Here’s the thing about MODOK. With super-villains, you can generally sort them into one of three groups:

(1) The first group are the guys with the classic look and back story, the ones who set the gold standard for no-goodery and get first dibs when films starring their arch-enemies get greenlit. Your Jokers, Kingpins and Doctor Dooms go here.

(2) The second, much larger group are the hordes of interchangeable bad guys who rely on a gimmick to get ahead, but don’t have much going for them in terms of personality or motivation. Think your Mirages, your Melters, your Miracle Men, and a whole lot of other guys who are frankly there to fill the pages in between the good stuff.

(3) Then you’ve got the third group, the villains who are so utterly deranged on every level you can’t believe they were ever allowed to see the light of day. These are the villains who are so messed up and misbegotten your brain can’t even process it, so you give up trying and love them for the sheer fact someone had the balls to dream them up in the first place. (Jack Kirby had a knack for coming up with characters like this.)

In case you haven’t guessed, MODOK is one of these guys. There are a lot of reasons to love him — the tragic origin (lowly technician forced against his will to mutate into a living computer), the massive noggin, the itty-bitty legs and arms, the fact his head is so big he can only bop around in a specially designed “hover-chair” like a scooter-riding grandma from the future — but I think the real reason he’s earned his place in the pantheon of great super-villains is his name. “MODOK.” Could it be any more evil-sounding? It sounds like a Godzilla movie monster, or one of Conan the Barbarian’s more murderous adversaries. And speaking of murder: it’s an acronym for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing. Get that, people? Only killing. Not killing and terrorizing, not killing and pillaging, not killing and light housekeeping, only killing. Heh, now I’m picturing him at home fighting with his wife: “Woman, do I look like a Mental Organism Designed for Killing and Taking Out the Trash!?” Anyway. Your love. You know he deserves it. A+

skullCause of death? Beaten and poisoned by members of the Serpent Society, who were hired by AIM’s new leaders to prevent MODOK from re-asserting control. I got fired like that once.

Stayed dead? HA! As if, people. As if. Like a diamond, MODOK is forever.


Morlocks
Man. Post-MODOK, I’m feeling like you really have to bring it if you want to follow that act. And I’m sorry to say, the dead Morlocks highlighted in this issue do not bring it. I’m pretty sure they do not even know what “it” is. Aside from the fact their deaths had only just occurred in the “Mutant Massacre” storyline that appeared in Marvel’s mutant titles shortly before this issue came out, I cannot think of a single reason why we should care about the death of any of these mutant mole people. For most of them, their first appearance was their final appearance, as if their shared mutant power was to look fabulous in a red shirt. Speaking of shirts: “At will, Cybelle could exude acid from her body that enabled her to a sear a path through solid stone in seconds. She herself was immune to this acid. It is not known why her clothing was unaffected by the acid.” Translation: you nerds knock yourself out. D

Nebulon
Apropos of nothing, you know a good birth name that deserves a comeback? “Zebulon.” Now, then. This sparkly fellow is an alien of some sort… with long white hair… and a shiny cummerbund who… I’m guessing is a bad guy? Oh, God, I have to read the text, don’t I? Fine. Hmm… mumble mumble member of race of water-breathing aliens … tried to melt Earth’s polar ice caps … “seemingly imploded” when his own laser-cannon was aimed at him. Huh. Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought HOLY MOTHER OF CRAP THERE’S MORE? Seems he didn’t die but instead was transported to an extra-dimensional world where a bunch of philosophers convinced him to help lesser beings instead of drown them. “Returning to Earth, Nebulon assumed a less-imposing human guise than before, and started a movement called Celestial Mind Control which promised to liberate the powers of the human mind, but actually robbed its participants of free will.” That’s actually a much better explanation for Scientology than “asshole writer wakes up one day, realizes his yacht isn’t going to scrape itself.” D-

skullCause of death? After disguising himself as Namor’s dead lover and trying to strip the Avengers of their powers, he finds a sliver of honor trying to protect his wife from an energy-draining ray. Didn’t work.

Stayed dead? Far as I can tell.

 

Nighthawk I/Nighthawk II
There are two guys named Nighthawk, both of them sharing the same name (Kyle Richmond) and both of them appearing in this issue. But don’t worry, we’ll make everything else about their life stories as complicated as possible.  Nighthawk I: resident of an alternate Earth and obvious Bruce Wayne pastiche who becomes president and later rebels against his superhero pals when they take over their devastated world. Nighthawk II: Layabout rich kid finds magic book with secret strength formula, becomes superhero, buys his way into the Defenders. “He remained active with the team until agents of the Internal Revenue Service, investigating tax fraud, brought forth an injunction to prevent him from donning his costume until the charges were cleared.” And now I’m wondering why more superheroes don’t run afoul of the IRS. Hey, there’s a spinoff idea: “Marvel’s Accountants of S.H.I.E.L.D.” And we can get someone like the great character actor Stephen Tobolowsky to play Phil Coulson’s nerdy accountant brother who helps Bruce Banner claim his receipts for new pants as a tax write-off. I think I’m giving this too much thought.  Nighthawk I: B-/Nighthawk II: C

skullCause of death? Nighthawk I: Heart attack induced by one of his former Squadron allies. Nighthawk II: Blowed up real good when a secret base exploded.

Stayed dead? Nighthawk I: Yes. Nighthawk II:  Brought back to life as part of one of Mephisto’s zany schemes to bag Daredevil’s soul. Insert your own “Who knew lawyers had souls?” joke here.

 

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One response to “Making the Grade: Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition, Vol. 18

  1. It’s hard to be a scary super-villain when your arch-nemesis is a really determined Roomba.

    Suddenly I’m imagining an epic battle between Kiber the Cruel and that cat who rides around on a Roomba while dressed up as a shark 🙂

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