Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking- "what's the deal with Mole Man, anyway?" Well, friend, I’m glad you asked, because I’m going to tell you… A not-quite-villain and not-quite-hero of the Marvel U., Mole Man was the first conflict the Fantastic Four ever faced. Born Harvey Rupert Elder, Mole Man was an impressive nuclear engineer who studied archaeology in his free time. As you could probably surmise, however, Harvey wasn’t exactly going to be nominated for any ‘best looking man’ contests. He was ugly. Really ugly. Oh, and he didn’t exactly make up for it with his personality either. Abrasive, most of his peers found him incredibly frustrating to work with. Now, interesting bit about the Marvel U.’s Earth- a big chunk of it is hollow. “Hollow Earth” theories have been around since the 17th century- different theorists (and just plain crazy people) of different fields of studies have proposed the idea that parts or all of the Earth’s interior is hollow. So there could be big, open spaces to walk around in, inside the Earth’s interior (like in Journey to the Center of the Earth of science fiction fame). Actually, when Dungeons and Dragons first got started, part of why it was so popular was because it tended to pull in bits and pieces of science fiction and horror fantasy that was popular at the time. H.P. Lovecraft’s weird and monstrous pantheon of alien, demonic entities had stats in one of the manuals you could buy, just to name an example. The hollow earth concept, an idea explored by numerous science fiction writers, became a staple of D&D lore. Marvel took a similar tactic. Actually, if you read any Marvel comics pre-F.F. introduction, you’ll see tons of radioactive, giant spiders and weird, gargantuan monsters whose names have too many consonants in them (you know, the cover will say something like ‘Beware the menace of GARGANTOTH!’ or something like that…not a real example) I mean, hey, it was the 1950’s- there were tons of black and white monsters or robots with ‘disintegration beams’ playing all over America. Marvel was just playing to their audience. The Hollow Earth thing was a similar move. It was a nice blend of the superhero action DC had been delivering and a modernized, mainstream science fiction idea. The interior of the Marvel U.’s crust has been nicknamed ‘Subterranea’ and is filled with all sorts of weird stuff that you’d expect to be down there- ranging from gigantic, radioactive grown monsters (behold the terror of THRAKTOS!) to a race of primitive, sentient beings who have evolved to function in near total darkness (the 'Moloids’) to gems of incalculable wealth (I know, kind of D&D-ish, right?). Harvey Rupert Elder knew the truth about the Marvel U. earth, but was mercilessly ridiculed by his peers for his theories. Eventually, Elder found a suitable entry point into Subterranea- a relatively unknown island location known as ‘Monster Island’. (Monster Island has some interesting history in the Marvel U. involving teams like the Monster Hunters and Adam Warlock’s Infinity Watch. Of course, explaining who those teams are is outside of the scope of this post.) Stumbling (literally) into Subterranea, Elder was promptly blinded after gazing upon a huge collection of shining diamonds (we are led to believe that said diamonds have some unnatural properties, given their location and their apparent potential to leave you without eyesight). Lost in darkness, Elder was taken in by the Moloids and cared for. Eventually, Elder honed his other senses to help him maneuver in the dark and he became the Moloids ruler. As a ruler, Mole Man could be considered a benevolent one- it’s clear that he cares for the Moloids and he often works to protect their right to their home, preventing intrusions from the surface worlds onto Monster Island or Subterranea. On the other hand, Elder has vengeful anger towards the surface world and has often sent the Moloids into battle as an army primed to bring down human civilization. Actually, an interesting note- Monster Island was originally ruled over by a particularly nasty Deviant warlord named Kro. The Deviant’ are an offshoot of humanity- the Celestials, a godlike, space-faring race who tamper with other race’s genetic material for reasons we couldn’t possibly fathom, created the Deviants. Powerful, the Deviants are incredibly monstrous in appearance. In fact, what is considered beautiful to us is considered horribly disfigured to the Deviants. Ransak the Reject, for example, is a deviant considered by many of his brethren to have a ‘disfigured’ and ‘horrific’ appearance- because, by some fluke of genetics, he wasn’t born with the typical Deviant mutations: instead, he looks like a Calvin Kline model. Eventually, the Celestials returned to earth to find that the Deviants had enslaved chunks of humanity. Displeased, the Celestials sank an entire continent, destroying most of the Deviant race (incidentally, this action sank Atlantis as well- one of the only human nations that stood against the Deviants. The Celestials aren’t big on accountability.). Still, parts of this genetic line exist, usually in hiding. Anyway, there’s good reason to believe that many of the monsters the Mole Man encounters (and sometimes tames) in Subterranea are Deviant in origin and from time to time, Mole Man has stumbled across abandoned and ridiculously advanced technology. This tech is likely throwbacks to the era in which the Deviants ruled the planet, a time of human history that is now completely forgotten. Editors Note: Let us never forget though the other Mole Man. Quite possibly the more important one.