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Mole Man(pop culture)
The Mole Man (originally Moleman) was the first supervillain of the Marvel Age of Comics, originating in the issue that jumpstarted the publisher's new superhero wave, Fantastic Four (FF) vol. 1 #1 (1961). Writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby disclosed the Mole Man's tragic tale in FF #1. Outcast from society because of his hideousness, an unnamed scientist wanders nomadically (“Even this loneliness is better than the cruelty of my fellow men!”) toward the only place he believes he can seek refuge, the center of Earth. Sailing to Monster Isle, he enters a cavern that snakes to a labyrinth to Earth's core. An avalanche robs him of most of his sight, and as the Mole Man, cloaked in green, he dons huge eyeglasses to enhance his weakened vision. The Mole Man dispatches a mindless, subterranean monster to the surface world to destroy nuclear facilities and therefore eliminate power sources, so that he might vengefully storm the globe with his horde of underworld grotesqueries. The Fantastic Four, in their first adventure, rush underground to halt the Mole Man's plan. Kirby and inker Dick Ayers' oft-imitated cover to Fantastic Four #1, pitting the pre-costumed FF against the Mole Man's scaly, clawed leviathan (named “Giganto” in West Coast Avengers #54, 1990), straddled the line between the Marvel's forte of the late 1950s, monster comics, and its new territory of the 1960s, superhero comics. The Mole Man also fit that bill. Looking somewhat like actor Peter Lorre, the creepy Mole Man was distinctly garbed but not flamboyantly costumed, as were supervillains that followed him at Marvel (or preceded him at DC). As an explosion leveled Monster Isle and sealed off the Mole Man's portal to the outside world at the end of Fantastic Four #1, the Invisible Girl remarked, “I just hope we have seen the last of him!” Such was not the case. The Mole Man resurfaced in issue #22 (1964), and has frequently returned with new schemes to muscle control over the civilization that rejected him. The Mole Man governs his underground kingdom of Subterranea accompanied by innumerous serfs, the bug-eyed, yellowish creatures called Moloids. Like his burrowing namesake, the Mole Man's swollen, squinty eyes are sensitive to light, hence his protective goggles, and he possesses a radar sense. An accomplished combatant, he utilizes a staff, either wooden or a flame-shooting mechanical variety, as his weapon of choice. The Mole Man has created other weapons as well, including lasers and digging machines, employing technology left behind by the subterranean race, the Deviants. The Mole Man is not the only underground emperor in the Marvel Universe. Tyrannus, created by Lee and Kirby in The Incredible Hulk vol. 1 #5 (1963), is a handsome antediluvian wizard who rules a section of the underworld. He and the Mole Man have upon occasion clashed, their rivalry dating back to the Hulk story in Tales to Astonish #80 (1966). Kala, first seen in the Iron Man story in Tales of Suspense #43 (1963), once ruled the chthonian realm of Netherworld. After feigning affection for the Mole Man in a 1972 FF storyline, she later became his unwilling consort after exposure to the surface atmosphere dramatically aged her. The Mole Man was born Harvey Rupert Elder, although that name is a painful reminder of a life denied him by his repulsiveness. Despite his heartrending past, he once attempted to create an underground utopia for outcast creatures, but the deaths of many of his subjects from industrial drilling renewed his contempt for surface dwellers. The Mole Man has been a favorite of television animators. He appeared in the Fantastic Four television cartoon series produced in 1967, 1978, and 1994, with a Mole Man action figure (including a miniature Moloid and a “twirling combat staff” accessory) tying in to the 1994 program. In the twenty-first century, coldcast porcelain Mole Man mini-statues and mini-busts have been produced for the discerning collector. The schizophrenic Dr. Arthur Molekevic is the Mole Man in the pages of Ultimate Fantastic Four (2004–present), Marvel Comics' reinvention of the FF. Molekevic, a disturbing, repellent figure nicknamed “Moleman” by his students, was ousted from his teaching position at the Baxter Building, a science think tank, for illegal biotech experiments involving the creation of synthetic life. Retreating underground, he became the Ultimate Mole Man, and an enemy of the Ultimate FF.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.