Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Tedd Riccio is a comic book aficionado chock full of useful comic history knowledge. So why not tap into that knowledge for the betterment of you, the reader? Appearing weekly is a column by newly appointed Assistant Editor Tedd (just Tedd will be fine). This column is called “Hank McCoy (Before the Fur),” so be sure to keep your eyes open for his unique insights into comics. Crusher “Absorbing Man” Creel Old School: So, there’s a Thor movie coming out. And after that, there’s likely an Avengers movie in the works. There’s a wide variety of villains to choose from- and no Thor movie is going to be complete without Thor’s often-overlooked but disturbingly brilliant half-brother Loki. As the God of Mischief, he’s constantly making with the misdirection and lies and so on. While he’s no lightweight when it comes to magic, Loki isn’t all about going blow-for-blow with his heafty big brother when he can avoid it. Consequently, he usually falls back on littering the battlefield with numerous lesser villains (often deceived and thrown into the Avengers way with little regard by the God) to guard himself. Crusher Creel is just one of said creations by the God of Evil (he changed his name recently, believe it or not). However, the power granted to Creel by the Asgardian God has given him a lot more staying power to make life difficult for Thor and company than your average throwaway villain, and “The Absorbing Man” has gone on to become a super-powered menace in his own right. If I had to draw up a list of characters I’d love to see the Avengers duke it out with in one of three movies, I’d put Absorbing Man near the top. Super-Villain vs. Not a Super-Hero: What I find really fascinating about Creel is that he falls in the latter category much easier than the former. Comic books have most certainly taken a page out of Hollywood scripts in the last two decades, and more and more you find your heroes rushing out the door to fight science-fictionesque menaces, mystical incarnations of infinite evil, souless monsters and robots, or homicidal maniacs. There aren’t that many guys left who are just that- people. Creel could hardly be described as murderous (he’s even told Captain America that he is ‘no murderer’)- a career criminal, a thief, even an extortionist and kidnapper. But he’s just a guy who Loki hit up for a foot solider. He doesn’t have big grand take-over-the-world schemes: he just selfish, crude, and not a terribly nice person. He’s ignorant, under-educated, and has the kind of values you’d expect a stereotypical 80’s construction worker to have. But he’s human- he’s just a guy. Just, in his mind, life isn’t about good and evil- it’s about the haves and have-nots. He’s just sticking up for himself and looking out for number one. He looks at the Avengers and Thor like an unpopular high school drop out looks at the preppy kids at school- why shouldn’t he knock them around a bit? They don’t deserve to have the world think they’re so great. No one treated him that way. I mean, let’s face it- how many Spider-mans and Captain Americas can you really expect in one world? MOST people, if given unusual abilities would either A. become celebrity icons or B. do what Creel does- whatever he damn well wants to try to do. He isn’t evil- just narrowminded. I’ve got to say, if you need evidence that Creel isn’t just some heartless maniac, take a look at his relationship with Mary MacPherran (long time She-Hulk rival known as Titania). It isn’t exactly the most romantic, soul-completing union you’ve ever seen- it’s just a real one. They know each other and (somewhat) trust each other. In his own way, Creel cares about her (although he totally lacks the sensitivity that Mary could likely really use and frequently misinterprets and misunderstands her), and while Creel probably isn’t Mary’s dream-man, you get the impression that she’s comfortable with him because she could (and has) done much, much worse. It’s practical, functional- maybe even stifling, but it’s what they rely on. In fact, Creel even tied the knot with Titania in an issue of Avengers Unplugged (very weird series, don’t think it’s reprinted in anything either). It was interesting though- like this bizarre inverse of the marriage between Reed Richards and Susan Storm. A bunch of super-powered street thugs from other comics were the wedding guests. When the Avengers showed up, they stopped themselves- out of guilt that they were ruining a wedding. But big with the being Super-Powered: Creed has easily got to be in the top twenty most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. Seriously. Than why haven’t you heard of him? Well, he isn’t too bright. A guy who can turn himself into any material he touches might be better off with a working knowledge of chemistry and geology. Instead, Creel sometimes has trouble using his own power in effective ways. In fact, sometimes Creel doesn’t even realize how his powers work- I remember an issue of Secret Wars (that’s plural, not singular, circa 1985) where Wolverine sliced Creel’s arm off while he was transformed into some rocky granite form. Creel spent the next issue terrified to revert back to human form because he was afraid he would start bleeding to death. He held his arm in place and held perfectly still while he reverted, having no idea if it would “seal” his wound or if he would revert to normal holding his own severed arm. Freaky. But the guy is damn near indestructible if he chooses to be. I mean, even if you did slice him up into pieces, would it matter if he wasn’t flesh and bone? If he got his hands on adamantium, how would you hurt him? Oh and one last note- the guy carries a ball and chain. It like, signifies that he’s a thug or something. That kind of cracks me up. But when he’s swinging it at your Avenger of the week’s head, it’s less funny. Suggested Reading: Secret Wars (The 1980’s series. It’s Titania’s first appearance actually- what starts off as a joke of a relationship becomes more solid than you’d think the “bad guys” are capable of. It’ll surprise you) Avengers Unplugged (For the wedding, if you can find it. See above) The Mighty Thor Volume 3: Gods on Earth (Great series. Reading the first two volumes will help you get what the hell’s going on- but you can watch a heartbroken Absorbing Man face his wife’s cancer and actually join a religious movement that worships Thor. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?) Incredible Hulk Volume 5: Hide in Plain Sight (Creel has mind control powers now too. I’m not totally sure about this one myself. But I hear it’s a great series. Universe X (In this dystopian future for the Marvel Universe, a religious sect actually reassembles Creel’s broken pieces and restores him to life after singlehandedly killing most of the Avengers years earlier. In a moment of redemption, Titania actually talks Creel into becoming the new CORE of the ENTIRE PLANET, thus putting arguments about Creel’s power to rest. Note: reading without having read Earth X will cause confusion and migraines).