Obscure DC Characters: A

The Abyss

One of many villains introduced for the Dial H For Hero series starring Chris King and Vicki Grant as the Dialers. This character was a nearly-omnipotent being who was like a living black hole; as with nearly all the Dial H villains, he was only seen once.

Adam Strange II

Part 1

From MYSTERY IN SPACE #94 (Sep 1964),
"The Riddle Of Two Solar Systems".

The time is the 22nd century, the place is Zulcan, a planet in the Alpha Centauri star-system. Collins, the pilot of an Allied Solar Enterprises spaceship, needs to kill some time while his cargo is unloaded, so he hires a native guide named Ebba to help him explore the region's remote jungles. They come across the wreckage of a spaceship named "The Cosmos", which appears to have crashed many years earlier. Collins discovers a ray gun and a strange gadget lying on the ground next to the ship. He takes them back to his home base on Jupiter as souvenirs of his trip to Zulcan.

At the Jupiter spaceport of Allied Solar Enterprises, Collins shows the odd gadget to his two co-workers, but neither can identify it. One of the men accidentally triggers the device, and a strange green gas begins to billow out. The gases take form, solidifying into a horde of giant green monsters. The men attempt to stop the creatures with their ray guns, but the blasts have no effect.

Minutes later, news of the attack reaches the Allied Solar base on Mars, where Rick Starr is stationed. Shortly afterward, Rick reaches his secret base, located on one of the thousands of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, and dons the garb of the Space Ranger. Soon, Space Ranger, and his sidekick Cryll, arrive on Jupiter where they find the green creatures demolishing everything in their path. No sooner does the Ranger land, than the menacing beasts begin to fade away. The same device that had brought them into existence has apparently signaled their disappearance.

Space Ranger and Cryll soon locate Collins, who relates his tale. Space Ranger examines the ray gun and finds an engraving on the handle. This gun, he realizes, had once belonged to Adam Strange, a famous Earthman who had protected the planet Rann some two centuries earlier. The Ranger recalls that a diary of Adam Strange exists, and hopes that some clue exists within its pages which can shed some light on the mysterious device. Cryll wonders how Adam's ray gun ended up on Zulcan, the closest planet to Rann.

Space Ranger and Cryll arrive at the York Museum on Earth, where a special wing houses many of Adam Strange's possessions. With the help of the museum curator, the diary is located. Space Ranger scans through its pages, until he finds an entry which references the spaceship named "The Cosmos". The diary relates the following events:

Adam arrives on Rann, via the remarkable zeta-beam, and is met by his girlfriend, Alanna. As they head for the capital city, Adam notices a strange yellow glow. Upon investigation, he spots the interplanetary thief, Okri-Ro, using a gadget to control a gigantic sickle-like weapon. When the criminal sees Adam, he drops the controlling device and flees. As Adam tries to contain the weapon, it suddenly fades away. The hero finds the device which he believes caused the weapon to disappear.

Adam and Alanna track Okri-Ro to his secret cave hideout, where they find him testing out another gadget. He fires the device, shrinking the two interlopers down to mere inches. The thief leaves them to be finished off by cave weasels, and heads to Rann Museum to commit art and jewelry thefts. While in the middle of his crime, the shrinking device runs out of power, so Okri-Ro heads back to his cave for another gadget.

The thief arrives just as the next device begins to activate. He is furious when Adam destroys it before it can complete its start-up sequence. Suddenly, Adam and Alanna return to their normal size, and Okri-Ro is again forced to flee. The thief attempts to escape in his spaceship, The Cosmos, but Adam is too quick for him. As they fight aboard the craft, the engines are accidentally fired and the ship begins to lift off. The two foes are catapulted through the open hatch. The last two alien devices, and Adam's ray gun, remain aboard the ship. Adam, Alanna, and Okri-Ro watch as The Cosmos disappears into the vastness of space.

Adam is concerned because the last two devices are trapped inside the runaway craft, and therefore pose a threat. Okri-Ro insists that the gadgets are not his creations. He had found them while seeking a hideout in the caves, and was only experimenting with the strange devices. All that remains of the ancient relics is a strange plaque, containing an unknown alien language. The origins and purpose of the devices would forever remain a mystery to them.

After concluding the diary's entry, Space Ranger realizes that only one of the two remaining devices were found by Collins. He fears that if the final device is triggered, it could spell catastrophe for the planet Zulcan. Space Ranger and Cryll soon arrive on Zulcan and contact the authorities. They examine the crash site, and Space Ranger finds fresh footprints. The Ranger tells the local authorities to try and find out who belongs to the footprints, while he and Cryll travel to Rann in the hopes of finding the alien plaque which had accompanied the five devices. The hero hopes that the alien language, which was unknown in Adam Strange's time, might be one of the languages of the 22nd century's known galactic races. Since history records show that Adam left Earth for good, the Ranger believes that he may have married Alanna and had children. He is guessing that one of Adam's descendants might know the whereabouts of the plaque.

Space Ranger and Cryll travel to neighboring Rann, and after inquiries are made, they locate one of Adam's descendants at the Rann Museum. He too is named Adam Strange, after his famous ancestor. After Space Ranger explains the situation, Adam II says there is indeed a strange plaque among his ancestor's possessions. The Ranger looks at the plaque, but does not recognize the language. Adam II says that experts have tried to decipher it many times, without success. Cryll suddenly recalls the Venusian wizard of languages, Mento-Gen, and uses his amazing powers to transform into a perfect duplicate of the brilliant alien. As he had hoped, with Mento-Gen's knowledge, Cryll easily translates the plaque.

The plaque tells of an alien expedition to Rann, thousands of years ago, from a world in another galaxy. The aliens had chosen an unpopulated area of prehistoric Rann to test a new, fearsome weapon. They first launched the weapon from their craft into space, where it was to await a certain signal. Then a landing party went to the planet's surface with devices capable of creating the exact conditions under which their enemies lived. Once the first device was activated, they were to depart to safety and observe the effects of the test. The devices were to activate in sequence automatically. The signal to attract the alien test weapon was the fifth and final device, which would saturate the area with a special dye.

Space Ranger surmises that something must have happened to the alien party before they could activate the first device. When the original Adam Strange destroyed the third device, it stopped the chain reaction, but Collins started up the process again when he triggered the fourth device. The stage is now set for the actual activation of the deadly mystery weapon. The Ranger knows that they must hurry back to Zulcan and learn the fate of the fifth device before it's too late. Adam II asks to come along, so that he might complete the case that his ancestor started. He quickly grabs the uniform of the original Adam Strange from its museum case, and the trio head to Zulcan.

The heroes contact the authorities on Zulcan once again, and learn that a Zulcanite has come forward stating that a friend found the final device near the wreckage and had taken it home. The trio rush to the man's home, but arrive moments too late. The device is accidentally triggered, shooting it's missile-attracting spray into the air. The heroes are able to trap the deadly liquid in an inverted dome, and begin to haul it away from inhabited areas. They see the deadly weapon hurtling towards their cargo, and race deep into the jungle. They barely have enough time to dump the liquid and fly to safety, when suddenly the weapon opens up and fires on the special dye. The heroes view the destruction the weapon causes, remarking that it was powerful enough to have leveled the entire city. Adam Strange II is proud to have helped solve the mystery that his ancestor first uncovered, and is thinking of carrying on the family tradition as the new protector of Rann!

Part 2

From MYSTERY IN SPACE #98 (Mar 1965),
"The Wizard Of The Cosmos" and
"The Return Of Yarrok Of Zulkan".

Adam Strange is transported via a zeta-beam to the planet Rann, where he is greeted by Alanna. They have plans to meet with Yarrok of the planet Zulkan, a man who has quite a reputation for being eccentric. Yarrok has explored every portion of Zulkan, Rann's sister planet, and Adam hopes to learn some of his secrets in order to improve on his own archeological methods. When the couple reach Zulkan, they are warned by the authorities that Yarrok doesn't like visitors. When they arrive at his lab, Yarrok attacks them, first with fire-spewing plants, then with an explosive liquid. Adam is angry that Yarrok is playing such dangerous games, but Yarrok explains that he is trying to find a way to advance his own backward planet, a condition that he blames on Rann. He is determined to turn Zulkan into an industrial giant, and he boasts that the entire Alpha Centauri star-system with soon heed the name of Yarrok of Zulkan, Wizard of the Cosmos!

Two days later, a huge mirage-like image of Yarrok appears over Ranagar City. Adam and Alanna watch as the image demands that Rann pay a tribute to the planet Zulkan. It states that it will give a demonstration of what will happen to the citizens of Rann if they do not comply. Beams shoot out of the image's eyes, striking a chemical plant. As the plant begins to rise from its foundation, Adam goes into action. He locates a large mirror, then causes the beams to reflect back at its source. The only thing Yarrok succeeds in stealing is his own mirage. Adam tells Alanna that they must contact Zulkan's authorities and have Yarrok arrested. However, when they make the call, they learn that Yarrok's entire lab has disappeared. Adam suspects that the lab has been moved to Rann, so that Yarrok can launch his plunder campaign more easily.

Within the hour, Yarrok strikes again. This time he has mesmerized a small village into bringing him their money and jewels. Adam uses a canister of oxygen to blow away the flake-like particles that are causing the hypnotic effect. Yarrok appears and throws a vial at Adam, which will cause him to expand until his molecules dissipate. The criminal is surprised that Adam disappears so quickly, unaware that Adam has actually been transported back to Earth. Thankfully, the transport has caused his body to return to normal, however he must now wait another 48 hours until the next zeta-beam arrives.

Two days later, an anxious Adam Strange arrives back on Rann, where he is once again met by Alanna. She tells Adam that Yarrok has now come out into the open, and has demanded that Ranagar City pay him another tribute. He has used one of his strange forces to create a mist which has cut off Ranagar from the planet's two suns. The city will soon freeze if they do not comply. Adam comes up with a plan. As he flies off, he tells Alanna to meet him in Ranagar. Shortly, Adam confronts Yarrok and demands that he lead them to his secret lab, where he will dissolve the threatening mist. Remarkably, Yarrok obeys Adam's commands. The hero explains that he has used Yarrok's own mesmerizing flakes against him.

Just as Yarrok, Adam, and Alanna arrive at the hidden cavern laboratory, the criminal begins to regain his senses. Before Yarrok can attack, Adam hits him with a stun blast. The villain staggers backwards and throws a large lever, stating that no one will ever learn his cosmic secrets. Adam and Alanna clear the cavern exit just as the lab explodes. Adam reflects that it is ironic that Yarrok has perished by his own bizarre powers. He states that they've seen the last of the Wizard of the Cosmos.

Fast-forward 200 years.

Space Ranger is speaking on Mars, when he receives a message from Jupiter requesting his help. The Jovian report claims that a wheat field has gone on a growth rampage. When Space Ranger, and his assistant Cryll, arrive at the small farm town, they can't believe their eyes. Gigantic wheat stalks advance at incredible speed, with falling kernels of grain taking root to grow another line of crops instantly. Soon the entire village will be destroyed! One of the farmers points to a costumed stranger, claiming it was he that started the disaster. The Ranger approaches the man in order to learn how to neutralize the threat. The stranger introduces himself as Yarrok of Zulkan, then tosses a vial at the Space Ranger's feet. The Ranger is suddenly enveloped in a violent tornado. Yarrok states that his tests in the Sol star-system are complete, and that he, the Wizard of the Cosmos, must return home to carry out his destiny. Once he does that, he will return.

Space Ranger frees himself from the force of the tornado, but Yarrok is gone. However, while the Ranger was preoccupied, Cryll successfully stopped the wheat threat by transforming into an acid-squirting Plutonian Beetle. The duo know they must try to warn the people of Alpha Centauri, and capture the criminal before he returns to the Sol system. Space Ranger has heard reports that Adam Strange II, descendant of the original hero of Rann, has taken the role of that planet's protector, as he had contemplated doing at the end of their last encounter. They will travel to Rann and seek his aid.

When the Space Ranger and Cryll arrive in Ranagar City, they are greeted by their ally. The Ranger asks Adam if he has ever heard of Yarrok, Wizard of the Cosmos. Adam immediately recognizes him as one of his ancestor's most incredible foes. After viewing a film tape record, Space Ranger is shocked that Yarrok supposedly died 200 years earlier. Adam wonders how Yarrok could have survived the explosion, and lived for two more centuries.

Elsewhere, in a remote area of Zulkan, the new Yarrok studies the notes of his ancestor, the original Wizard of the Cosmos. Yarrok II remarks that his ancestor did not have the proper ingredients to activate all the rare minerals and properties that he had discovered. However, the new Yarrok has used the future era's technology to travel to other star-systems, such as Sol, to find them. He had recently discovered the original Yarrok's secrets in the cellar of their family home on Zulkan. He is determined to destroy the descendant of his ancestor's enemy, then go on to rule the universe!

That night, as Rann's double suns set, a huge image of Yarrok appears in the skies above Ranagar City. The image claims the tribute denied his ancestors, and gives an example of his power. As the image fades away, the city's entire electrical system begins to run rampant, sending electrical bolts in all directions. When the Space Ranger, Cryll, and Adam attempt to shut down the city's main power line, they are attacked by Yarrok. The villain tosses a vial at the feet of the Ranger and Adam, which saturates them with a charged liquid. Suddenly, the two glowing heroes begin attacking one another. Cryll transforms into a Plutonian Erg-Eater, a creature which feeds on energy. He is able to siphon off the energy, returning his friends to normal, but not before Yarrok escapes.

The next morning, pets and animals throughout Ranagar go on a wild rampage. The trio hurry to the Ranagar Zoo, fearful that many dangerous beasts might have escaped. When they arrive, they are relieved to discover that the zoo guards have contained the problem. Adam notes, however, that one of the beasts is remarkably calm — the Asteroid Arko. He surmises that the Arko is unaffected because it is totally deaf. Yarrok must be using a high frequency sound to disturb the animals. The Space Ranger gets an idea on how to use the sound against their enemy. The Ranger tells Cryll to aid Adam in tracking the sound to its source, while he implements his plan.

Shortly, Adam and Cryll locate Yarrok in the Rainbow Hills. Cryll, who has transformed into a Venusian Round-Winger, distracts Yarrok, while Adam destroys the sound transmitter. Yarrok recovers and disables Cryll with one of his cosmic vials. He then turns his attention to his other foe. Just as Yarrok is about to dispose of Adam, Space Ranger arrives with a giant tuning fork. He blasts the fork , which begins to send out intense vibrations. As the Ranger had hoped, the vibrations shatter the villain's remaining vials. The contents of the vials have a fantastic effect on Yarrok, who begins to expand into a gaseous form. Luckily, Adam is able to revert Yarrok back to normal by freezing the ingredients that have saturated his body.

As the Space Ranger and Adam Strange II take their enemy into custody, Yarrok quietly contemplates his revenge. He realizes that, while he is currently in their hands, his secret laboratory on Zulkan is not. Some day he will escape, and carry on again as Wizard of the Cosmos!

(post-script)

A statue of Space Ranger and Adam Strange II, depicted in HOURMAN #11 (Feb 2000), establishes that the events of MYSTERY IN SPACE #94 and 98 are still part of DCU continuity.

Also, I did not make a typo when referencing Rann's sister planet. It was indeed spelled "Zulcan" in issue #94 and "Zulkan" in #98.

The Adventurers' Club

This was basically a framing sequence for non-series stories (like the Space Museum in STRANGE ADVENTURES). Colonel Strong listened to stories of what were supposed to be high adventure, but most of the published ones were more horror than adventure. It was one of many unsuccessful attempts at a regular series in ADVENTURE COMICS in the early '70s, with various writers and artists.

Stories featuring different branches of the Adventurers' Club have appeared since the Golden Age but the official series only ran in ADVENTURE COMICS. WRATH OF THE SPECTRE #1 reprinted ADVENTURE #426's episode. Nelson Strong died after a futile attempt to capture the Swamp Thing (SWAMP THING #147). He was briefly revived by the Parliament of Stones to serve as their elemental champion (#149) but his new form was soon dissolved into gas by Swamp Thing (#150).

"THE ADVENTURERS' CLUB":

Action Comics #27

Adventure Comics #426-427, 430 (with Nelson Strong in all)

Detective Comics #255

House of Mystery #53, 103, 107, 121, 146

My Greatest Adventure #29, 61

NELSON STRONG (current):

Swamp Thing #144-147, 149-150

Agent Orange

There's the lame-o Outsiders villain, Agent Orange (BATO #3), a disgruntled Vietnam vet who wants to drop toxic gas on Gotham. He wears an orange gasmask, orange beret, orange fatigues and shoots toxic gas out of a flame-thrower type weapon. He's apprehended in BATO #3 and thankfully hasn't seen the light of day yet.

Alpha the Experimental Man

Alter Ego: N/A
Base of Operations: Gotham City, Earth-One
First Appearance: DETECTIVE #307 (Sep 1962)

Alpha, an android created by Dr. Burgos (named for Golden Age Marvel writer Karl?) has a busy week: he aids Batman against the Green Mask Bandits, goes on a destructive rampage after a misunderstanding, and falls in love with Batwoman. In the end, Alpha, who has super-strength but "the emotions of an infant", sacrifices his life to save Batwoman.

Note: Another character of the same name appeared in an issue of Kirby's JIMMY OLSEN, and was later revamped in a post-Crisis tale in one of the four Superman titles. Unfortunately, I don't recall the issue numbers of either.

All-Star

Alter Ego: Olivia Dawson
Occupation: Student, Adventurer (retired)
Known Relatives: Unnamed mother, Craig (brother)
First Appearance: JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES #13 (Jan 2003)
Base of Operations: Apex City

All-Star joined the Justice League (animated style) as a temporary replacement for the Green Lantern John Stewart, utilizing the power of the "star-charm", an artifact belonging to the evil Weaponers of Qward. With youthful exuberance and the powers of flight, force blasts, and the ability to levitate objects, All-Star aided the JL against the Qwardians, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, Grodd, Chemo, a force of Bizarros patterned after the League, and climatically, Brainiac, who had mentally enslaved the Green Lantern Corps. After a crisis of confidence, All-Star saved the day... at the cost of her powers. Nevertheless, Batman himself assured Olivia that she is, and always will be, one of them. the world believes All-Star dead.

Amorpho

Amorpho was a shapeless mass of intelligent protoplasm that fell to Earth in a rocket ship projectile. He had complete control over his body and could transform himself into the exact shape of anything else, from a squirrel to a bulldog to a man. After finally finding a Terran form that could speak (well, sorta ... it was Woozy Winks), Amorpho assumed that form and went in search of the one thing that was more precious and delicious to him than anything else — salt. "Woozy" broke into a food warehouse and knocked out a guard while eating an entire one hundred pound bag of salt. The bag was going to be shipped in interstate commerce, which made the crime a Federal matter and the FBI got involved, sending Plastic Man to investigate. Plas's partner Woozy begged to come along, though when he did, the guard at the food warehouse positively identified him as the thief, which forced Plastic Man to lock his friend up.

Plas checked his contacts and stoolies and couldn't find any clues about the salt robbery, which meant to him that there was a double of Woozy doing it. Meanwhile, Amorpho went to Pitt's Salt, where he transformed into a salt bag and ate up another few hundred pounds of salt before walking off burping, much to the shock of the workers there. Plastic Man investgated and followed a trail of spilled salt from the company to a basement, where he found the missing sack. Plas was amazed to find that the sack was agile and didn't want to be caught, and after he punched it, Amorpho decided to change into something else to get away, this time taking the shape of a nearby shovel. Plas didn't see the change, and thought the sack had gotten away from him.

After Plastic Man left, Amorpho decided to take on the hero's form. He was later discovered by a policeman on the night beat as he stretched up to a second story window at The Exotic Foods Importing Company and stole some crates of imported salt. The bewildered cop told the real Plas what happened when he arrived on the scene, and the hero promised he'd bring "himself" in. Plas caught up to his doppleganger as the creature was again eating more salt. The two stretchable characters battled in the iron girders of a construction site until the real Plastic Man finally tied up Amorpho. He took the alien back to his rocket and sent him back off into space, where naturally Amorpho hoped he would run into another planet with plenty of salt. Plas treated Woozy to quite a few ice cream sodas to make up for jailing the little guy.

Appearances:

  • Plastic Man #21 (Reprinted in The Greatest Golden Age Stories Ever Told)

Anakronus

Snapper Carr, former "mascot" of the Justice League of America, was in Happy Harbor, sitting back watching The First Annual Super-Thon was on television. It was being hosted by the Justice League of America to raise money for United Charities. All of a sudden, his calm afternoon was interrupted by the appearance of Anakronus, "sworn enemy" of his JLA friends. Anakronus, wielding a strange gun, took Snapper and his entire family hostage. holding them ransom for the $10,000,000 that the JLA had raised on the telethon.

Anakronus claimed to have stood beside the Lord of Time during his first battle with the Justice League of America, and had in fact been the one who first brought the Time Lord to the modern era, using his "Time-Gate". He said that they worked together to create the Lord of Time's armory of super-weapons, and he had remained hidden while the Time Lord attacked the JLA. When the Lord of Time was defeated, and the JLA destroyed the armory, Anakronus swore revenge.

Using his gun, his "Chronal -Transmuter" he changed a band of motorcyclists into knights on horseback to attack Batman, Green Arrow and Wonder Woman. The trio made fairly quick work of the armored combatants, though one knight fell and stunned Wonder Woman. Anakronus took quick advantage of the situation and ensnared her in her own lasso, and then used its powers of compulsion to have the Amazon knock out her friends.

Anakronus called the telethon to deliver his ransom demand to the JLA, but got Green Arrow on the phone. The Emerald Archer didn't believe him and started getting mad, only to have the Elongated Man and Black Canary cut off the call (GA had already gotten fiesty with some other crank callers).

Enraged, Anakronus returned to his tale of his first battle with the JLA. He said he next found Green Lantern, Aquaman and the Flash leaving the armory with the remains of his equipment. His Chronal-Transmuter transformed the components into robotic "ultimate soldiers" from the future. The robots' adaptability to their foes abilities took out the three Leaguers relatively quickly (though one robot was forced to destroy itself to knock Green Lantern out), and these three heroes were also added to Anakronus's prisoners.

The story was interrupted by an opening door, and Anakronus fired on it. The door dissolved to reveal Snapper's sister Janet, who had come home unexpectedly. After making sure she was all right, Snapper asked the villain how he had managed to take out the JLA's big guns: Superman and the Martian Manhunter.

Anakronus said that as he saw the pair returning from taking the Lord of Time to prison, he used his Chronal-Transmuter on a pair of lizards, changing one into a fire-breathing dragon, and the other into an "adapto-lizard from the distant future," and sent the beasts to assail the heroes. The fire-breathing dragon attacked the Martian Manhunter, who struck the beast even as the fiery breath engulfed him. The dragon knocked him out of the sky with his tail and fused the sand in the ground into strong glass around him. The Martian Manhunter easily broke out and the dragon encircled the hero in the coils of his tail and literally crushed the breath out of him. Superman was holding his own against the adapto-lizard until the creature used a special vision power to search out his weaknesses, and then manifested a kryptonite skin.

Anakronus then prompted Snapper to call the telethon, but the line was busy. Snapper asked the villain how the JLA escaped him. He was momentarily taken aback, but then continued with his story. Anakronus said that he released the heroes after they promised they would repair all the damage done in the armory, but they broke their promise and attacked him instead. His weapon devolved the JLA into cavemen, and then amoebas, and finally into oblivion. When Snapper asked why the JLA was still alive now, Anakronus said that he guessed the effects had worn off.

Snapper finally got through to Green Lantern at the telethon. A few select words and the Atom streaked through the telephone line, attacking Anakronus. After avoiding the beam from his gun, the Atom's punch had little effect on the villain, who turned to fire on Snapper and his family. Just then, the door (apparently another one that hadn't been destroyed) burst open with The Red Tornado and the Elongated Man. This trio made very short work of Anakronus, who got one shot off at Reddy, who quickly discovered that the fancy weapon was nothing more than a .45 automatic.

Snapper knew that Anakronus was just a standard loony when his story mentioned the Martian Manhunter fighting the dragon, and he knew that J'Onn J'Onzz had a vulnerability to fire. As they were leaving with the captured criminal, The Atom asked Snapper why he hadn't used his JLA signal device. Snapper said that he wasn't sure it still worked, and after everything that had happened (Snapper had been tricked by the Joker into revealing the location of the JLA's secret headquarters) he didn't know if he still had a right to use it. The Atom simply said "Oh? Then how come you're still wearing it, kid?"

Appearances: Justice League Of America #114

Angor, The Heroes and Villains of

» SEE: Earth 8

The Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man

Dr. Sven Larsen was a former student of Niles Caulder (a.k.a. the Chief) who had once accused Caulder of stealing one of his ideas. He had returned to demonstrate his new experiment, which involved the bombardment of amino acids by lightning that he believed to be the key to create life artifically. Unfortunately, Larsen fell into the vat of amino acids he was using and was transformed into a giant paramecium. Instead of destroying the creature, the Chief had Negative Man bring a tank of liquid oxygen to temporarily freeze it. the creature soon began a startling transformation into a living mass of sulphur that dissolved the ice. Elasti-Girl grew to giant size and picked up the sulphur being, only to have it change again into a mass of creeping ivy that she was barely able to escape. the being next changed into a bird and flew off.

Upon examining Larsen's notes, the Doom Patrol discovered that Larsen's "accident" had been planned, and that he already had discovered the ability to change into any animal, plant, or mineral form through his experiment. After a rampage through the city and a battle with the Doom Patrol, the Chief was finally able to stop the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man with his anti-decay ray (which would halt all changes in living cells), the very device that Larsen believed that Caulder had stolen from him. the Chief and the Doom Patrol reversed the process that had given Larsen his powers and bundled him off to jail.

The Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man returned to plague the Doom Patrol several months later, right after an accident had forced the team to function with their powers switched around (Elasti-Girl had Negative Man's powers while he had hers, and the Chief and Cliff's abililties were substantially switched as well). the same device was again used to stop the A-V-M Man, and he was again sent back to prison.

Over four years later, Larsen was broken out of prison by General Immortus in order to aid him in bringing the Chief out of seclusion. This also brought him into conflict with the Doom Patrol again, at least the team that Celsius had assembled to help her find the Chief for herself. Larsen still wanted revenge on the Chief for the invention he believed was stolen, and went against Immortus' orders and attempted to kill the Chief himself. Unfortunately for the A-V-M Man, the one weapon that Immortus' men hadn't found in the Chief's wheelchair was a water pistol full of a chemical retardant to stop the villain's transformations. the Chief had miscalculated and the chemical only slowed the changes. It took Scott Fisher to almost accidentally stop the A-V-M Man by burning him severely with his hands. Celsius then encased the now normal Larsen in ice.

Appearances:

  • Doom Patrol [1st series] #89, 95
  • Doom Patrol [1st series] #122 (reprint of #89)
  • Doom Patrol [1st series] #123 (reprint of #95)
  • Doom Patrol [2nd series] #15-16

The Ani-Men of Repli-Tech

They appeared in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, issues #221-223, also around 1983, in a story arc entitled "Beasts". It was billed as "the most horrifying adventure" of the Justice League. It certainly was one of the goriest.

Our story begins when a bio-technology firm called Repli-Tech finds out that it has over-extended itself and now faces bankruptcy and possible criminal charges for financial misdeeds. But the company chairman, a macho type called Rex Rogan, tells his board members they have an easier way out. He says they can use their technology on themselves to be transformed into animal-like creatures with special powers. The board, in blind obedience to Rogan agrees and the company's resident scientist, a Dr. Lovecraft, soon converts the board members and other key employees into "Ani-men".

Insert Enron joke here.

Now armed with animal powers and aided by company guards using high-tech weaponry, the Repli-Tech officials resort to robbery and other crimes to raise their operating capital. They become so successful, they even set up an illegal arena where humans are forced to fight to the death against ani-men for the enjoyment of the decadent rich. (Notice how in comics and B-movies, the rich and powerful are always going to these illegal death matches to amuse themselves. Don't they get cable?)

Individual JLA members soon encounter the Ani-men engaged in various crimes but fail to stop them. It is only when Firestorm comes across a panther woman called "Reena" that the team gets a breakthrough. Reena used to be "Irena," the executive assistant and lover of Rex Rogan. But sickened by the violence in the arena, she turned against Repli-Tech. She eventually helps provide the JLA with the information needed to track down the Ani-men.

There are conflicting emotions involved. Reena is still deeply in love with Rogan and Rogan, now transformed into a lion-man and calling himself Maximus Rex, still has strong feelings for her. Firestorm is protective of Reena and for awhile, it looks like a budding romance may be in the wings for flamehead. But the other Leaguers are reluctant to trust Reena, particularly Hawkgirl who is angry about a serious wound that Hawkman suffered, fighting the Ani-men.

Maximus has his Ani-men take Hawkgirl, Hawkman and Wonder Woman hostage, demanding they be traded for Reena. But with Reena's help, the League infiltrates Repli-Tech and turn the tables on the bad guys. During the mission, it becomes clear that Reena and the other Ani-men are becoming more savage and bestial — physically. In the final clash, Reena goes after Maximus, their two devolving bodies crashing through the arena. After subduing the other Ani-men, the League is shocked to see them all turn completely into animals. They try to track down Reena and Maximus but on a beach, they only find their footprints, turning into paw prints before finally disappearing. Poor Firestorm is left standing in shocked silence.

The Ani-men were:

  • Maximus Rex: the leader. A vicious lion-man with nifty-looking pieces of body armour on his face and arms. He had bestial strength, agility and sharp claws and fangs that he could use to rip through a crowd of sword-wielding humans.
  • Reena: his ex-lover. Irena was a slinky black panther with feline agility and ferocity.
  • Gargantus: a sperm whale-man with great strength and aquatic abilities.
  • Horn: a tough rhino man.
  • Rowl: a company guard-turned wolf-man who went against Maximus and helped Reena escape. As punishment, Maximus faces him in the arena and rips his head off.

There was also an unnamed snake-man, assorted scorpion men and bird men and various human thugs.

It was certainly a brutal story with the Flash being gored by Horn, Hawkman getting stung by a scorpion-man and Elongated Man getting caught in a laundry's steam press while birds peck at his face.

The League seemed to be having one of their off days in this adventure. Superman and Wonder Woman get knocked out by the whale-man (and this is the pre-Crisis, planet-moving Superman!) and the other members are held at bay by these creatures who normally wouldn't last ten seconds against Flash or Wonder Woman. Gerry Conway, the writer, keeps things moving briskly so you don't immediately notice the inconsistensies and Chuck Patton's clean, sleek art is pleasing to the eye, making it easier to enjoy the story despite the large cast and rapid turn of events.

You just get the impression that the League was "dumbed down" to make the Ani-men a credible threat and that all the bloodshed is a little gratuitious.

We never find out what happened to Rex and Reena so they could actually be lying around in a zoo somewhere. Amazingly, Dr. Lovecraft, the evil scientist who made the creation of the Ani-men possible, also escapes from the League so he could conceivably whip up another batch of Ani-men, if any comic writer feels the need for these characters.

The Annihilator and Son

The Annihilator was Dr. Karl Kellor, a power-hungry dude who found a way to give himself super-powers through a serum that used green kryptonite as one of its main ingredients. Because of the green K in his system, even Superman couldn't stop him. However, he found that the serum took a toll on his body, and so to further his schemes, he fed it to a young biker punk he adopted as his son, and worked through him. Eventually, though, the son grew so out of control that even Kellor was horrified, and began to realize what a creep he'd been; he worked with Superman to trick Junior into drinking a new serum that turned him back into a baby, and Kellor vowed to raise the boy right from then on. Superman didn't arrest him, figuring that Kellor's own evil acts were a case of temporary insanity. The story ran from ACTION COMICS #355-357, as was noted earlier.

The Ant

Please visit the Unofficial DC Guide

Notes

The adventure was reprinted in an issue of THE BRAVE & BOLD #114 (with a few pages cut) in the early 70s. As far as I know, the Ant has never reappeared since.

I'm sorry to report that the Ant seemingly returned as a villain in the November page of the 1977 DC Calendar (with art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin). He fought the Teen Titans at the site of Rome's Colosseum.

The caption states that the Ant is "a heinous super-villain whose only desire is to write an end to the careers of Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy and the Guardian" — a.k.a. Mal. No doubt there's more to the story — like most everyone, I'd have liked to have seen Eddie Whit revived as a hero — but we've yet to hear details.

Jim Aparo

Comic book artist in the DCU AND real world at the same time. He was involved in a case with Batman and Sgt. Rock (B&B #124?) wherein terrorists were forcing Jim to draw a comic where Batman and Rock died...he foiled their plans by working things out so that Batman and Rock caught the terrorists, thus saving him. (A story that ALWAYS makes me smile...worth searching out!

The Aquabeast

Contribution written by Mike Kidson, posted with permission.

A rich playboy maddened by drugs pumped into him by a tame scientist. Playboy Peter Dudley, out on his yacht, nets Aquaman's wife Mera by accident and falls in love with her. Reasoning, as rich nutty playboys do, that she'll fall in love with him if he turns into a copy of Aquaman, he calls in a scientist who does the business, but it all goes horribly wrong and Dudley becomes a misshapen and mad monster in an Aquaman suit. "The infusions... I must reverse the flow!", yells the doctor. "No you don't, doctor! Once born, no-one can kill... Aquabeast!", replies the new villain. He redeems himself at the end, though: faced with an even more inhuman mutant menace who knocks Aquaman for six, Aquabeast saves Mera and is dragged to his death in an undersea current, along with the other one-shot mutant.

  • AQUAMAN [first series] #34

Aquagirl I

Adventure Comics #266 (Nov 1959)
"Aquaman Meets Aquagirl!"

Lisa Morel studies marine life through the glass bottom of her yacht, when suddenly she sees a man trapped on the sea floor in the grip of a giant clam. She is so desperate to save him that she dives into the water without any breathing equipment, carrying only an underwater torch. She quickly recognizes the victim as Aquaman. Lisa works under the water for over five minutes before she finally frees him. Certain that the woman is about to drown, Aquaman rushes her to the surface.

Aquaman questions how Lisa survived under the water for so long, but she doesn't understand it herself. They decide to experiment and, after one hour underwater, Lisa claims she feels that she could last for many hours more. She mentions that her father is Dr. Hugo Morel, the famous ichthyologist, who has written many books on the natural history of fish. Aquaman suggests that they ask her father if he has any theories. Lisa races Aquaman through the water, and even swims up a waterfall, back to her home.

Lisa's parents cannot believe her remarkable claims, so she demonstrates by mentally commanding some seals swimming in the water nearby. Dr. Morel is amazed, and asks Aquaman to recount his own origins for possible clues. Aquaman tells them of how his Atlantean mother married his father, a lighthouse keeper. He also says his mother left him a diary about life in Atlantis. He then informs them that his hour on land has expired and he must return to the sea for the rest of the day.

The following morning, Aquaman returns to the Morel's home where he finds Lisa in a costume which is identical to his own. She explains that a few minutes after he left she began gasping for air, so she slept all night in their swimming pool. Lisa has named herself Aquagirl and says she can now join Aquaman on his sea patrols. He insists that she can't, and tells her not to ask why. She ignores him and dives into the sea.

The following day, Aquaman and Aquagirl help a chartered boat celebrate someone's birthday.

The next evening, they discover that an iceberg has floated into busy shipping lanes. Aquagirl fails to completely destroy the berg, so Aquaman uses luminous fish to warn the ships off.

The next day, as Aquagirl explores an undersea grotto to collect rare shells for her father, she suddenly can't breathe or swim, and feels the pressure of tons of water crushing her. Aquaman rescues his new "sidekick" and brings her to the surface. He says he expected this would happen, and tells her that she has permanently lost her powers.

Aquaman explains that, after he had left Lisa's house on the first day, he read through his mother's diary. He found the following passage: "Because of continuous seepage through the glass dome, our people had to adapt gradually to undersea life! However, some children were born who were throwbacks to an earlier era! They could adapt only a brief time to underwater life and would eventually die in Atlantis' watery world! These infants were ejected in waterproof lifeboats to the surface! However, those rare children rejected by Atlantis for their own survival's sake ... were sent upward only when a passing ship was spotted! This insured their being picked up alive!"

When Lisa asks what those infants have to do with her, Aquaman explains that his mother wrote that Atlantis' doctors were able to recognize every "throwback" at birth by a physical characteristic peculiar to them alone. They all have purple eyes ... just like Lisa's! the powers came to her suddenly because of the stressful situation of seeing him "drowning", but they were fated to vanish almost as suddenly.

Later, Dr. Morel admits that 20 years earlier, while cruising in his yacht, he spotted an infant in a lifeboat. the Morel's were childless, so they decided to raise Lisa as their own. Even though she is now powerless, Lisa Morel is thankful for her brief career as Aquagirl.

Comments

We lucked out on Lisa Morel because her story was reprinted recently in the AQUAMAN ARCHIVES. I too hope that someone else reading this has access to WORLD'S FINEST #133 and would do us the favor of summarizing the second Aquagirl story. Maybe I'll take a shot at the third Aquagirl (Tula), since I own her first appearance.

Aquagirl II

Selena, a Poseidonian heroine-wannabee in WORLD'S FINEST (1st series) #133.

Aquagirl III

Tula, Poseidonian heroine, well-known partner of Aqualad and a sometimes-member of the Teen Titans. Died in the Crisis. First appeared in AQUAMAN (1st series) #33 (Jun 67). She was killed by Chemo and Shark Norton in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS.

Aquarius

Alter Ego: N/A
First Appearance: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #73 (Aug 1969)
Final Appearance: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #74 (Sep 1969)

Mad star Aquarius is banished from "the Council of Stars". So he does the only sensible thing - steals Starman's Cosmic Rod and destroys Earth-Two. All that remains of the planet are the JSAers who attempted to battle him - Superman, Wonder Woman, Doctors Fate and Mid-Nite, Black Canary and hubby Larry Lance, and the Red Tornado, the plucky android sent across the dimensional barrier to Earth-One, to enlist the aid of the JLA, who keep Reddy waiting two weeks as Hawkman is turned to salt (don't ask). the JLA eventually cross over, but are attacked by the mind-controlled JSA, who have been kept alive in a mystic bubble by Dr. Fate. the JLA subdue the JSA, but at the cost of Larry Lance's life, after the P.I./second banana hurls himself in the path of Aquarius' blast to save his wife. the two GLs lure Aquarius into the anti-matter universe, where he is destroyed. Black Canary leaves Earth-Two for Earth-One, as "the memories are too painful".

AR-AZ  >>

Original text copyright DC Comics unless otherwise noted. Used without permission.