April 9th, 2012


The Mole Man

Pity the poor Mole Man. This hapless little schmuck and perennial punching bag/punchline of the Marvel Universe holds a special place in comics history as the first villain the debuting Fantastic Four went up against. His origin, as best as I can remember it (half the fun of these posts is going off fan memory and possibly being completely wrong) was that he was a lonely, bitter outcast of society, abused, taunted and ignored by men and women because of his height (or lack thereof), big nose, horrible teeth, terrible hair, baggy clothes, ugly Marvel-era color scheme, etc. He also seemed really whiny and probably gave off serious loser-alert pheromones. Anyway, Mr. Schmuck Of The World ends up wandering underground somehow, I forget how, it doesn't matter. No, it doesn't. What matters is that he found himself the king of some Tales To Astonish/Journey Into Mystery-type giant subterranean monsters and a wielder of destructive power via advanced machinery. He also was decked out in the same shlubby clothes albeit with a newly-added funny cape and some badly-designed 3D glasses. I guess giant subterranean monsters aren't great clothes designers and valets. Moving along, the newly-christened Mole Man (nice self-loathing there, dude) has bad eyes from being blinded or being underground or something but he has heightened senses for no real reason I can see a slob like him developing other than being in a comic book. His big power is apparently that he can hit people with a stick really good because of his "mole"-like senses. Okay, whatever.

The F.F. encounters him after some monster sightings or something and then I think Susan Storm shrieks and then our heroes are captured and then the Mole Man bores them half-to-death telling them about his origin ("I fell down a hole") and his life problems ("I'm a loser") and looking like Henry Kissinger with badly-designed 3D glasses. The Mole Man hits them with a stick a bunch of times and gives them some trouble, I guess. Sticks hurt, sure. The heroes could throw rocks at him, I guess, from a bit of a distance, but they don't think of that because they're confused about how a putz falls down a hole and then trains as a martial arts monk with a stick. The whole thing ends with an explosion.

For the next five decades the same sort of thing keeps happening again and again with this guy. The Mole Man gets pissy about his shabby treatment at the hands of prettily-inked females and causes some shit and orders some monsters or funny little subterranean people he's enslaved into attacking superjocks like Thor and The Hulk who hand them their collective asses pretty easily. He never gets his shit together or even combs his hair or gets some work done on his teeth. I think he gets into fights with this alpha-male subterranean guy whose name I forget, another villain who does dumb crap below the streets of various Marvel cities. Tyrannus -- is that his name? He's like if Hercules was The Mole Man and is totally boring. He's not even good with a stick. I won't be drawing Tyrannus anytime soon.

Anyway, there you go. The Mole Man, created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in Fantastic Four #1. The loser gone bad, the outcast who picks up a stick instead of an olive branch. With great power comes great self-pity and dickishness. If I had giant monsters as pals I'd maybe pep up a bit. Who knows.