Jab’s Deep Dive: Marvel Villains!

On today’s blog, we’re going to cover a variety of Random Marvel villains selected from my overflowing “jobber” file.

I’m not going to say all of these are in fact jobbers, but they are definitely some more strange and obscure Marvel villains that you might have forgotten about over the years. Enjoy!

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Flag Smasher (Karl Morgenthau)

Created By: Mark Gruenwald & Paul Neary

First Appearance: Captain America #312 (December 1985)

Flag-Smasher was created by Mark Gruenwald to be a uniquely-Cap kind of foe: representing anti-patriotism the way The Red Skull represented fascism. He also represents the kind of villain I like to see: The one who authentically believes he is right.

I believe a lot of nationalism and patriotism is a lot of hooey that creates undue suffering (the whole “NO, we don’t want THOSE people in our country/We want our OWN country!” thing that produces dozens of wars). So from there you see a guy who things national borders are foolish and that everyone should be made to feel less superior to each other. It’s almost a POSITIVE thing when you look at it like that, isn’t it? So of course he’s a murderous douchebag who tries to forcibly destroy national boundaries, which is where you get the whole “Villainous” aspect. I had a villain with a similar basis for my Young Guns stories- a Scientist/Dictator leading an army of anti-nationalist soldiers.

Flag-Smasher is of course a terrorist with anti-nationalist ties, founding an organization to crush symbols of patriotism. His natural foe of course is the SYMBOL of America, Cap himself, but he ends up TEAMING with Cap when it turns out that his ULTIMATUM group is being funded by The Red Skull, and will soon destroy all electronically-operated machinery in the world! He soon rejoins ULTIMATUM and continues his act, fighting a few other guys (Moon Knight & The Punisher in one story, Punisher & Ghost Rider in the next… because it was probably the ’90s). He briefly gained super-powers and a buttload of crazy from Roxxon, and was then made the ruler of a small nation by the V-Battalion, only to be killed by Domino to place Cable on the throne (???). Because I dunno, writers got tired of using him.

Ultimately, I think the guy kind of failed. I mean, it was a good standard idea at first, but they made someone who had some complex political scheme into basically Generic Terrorist Guy, who would try to bomb Washington and give guns to malcontents- it effectively rendered him a bit generic and forgettable.

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ASBESTOS MAN (Orson Kasloff)

Created By: Stan Lee, Dick Ayers & H.E. Huntley

First Appearance: Strange Tales #111 (Aug. 1963)

Orson Kasloff is a quasi-ethnic Eastern European scientist who turned to crime after he decided he liked money, and in order to impress the criminals of New York, he decided to dress up like a colorblind man in a costume made of duct tape. Using the then-thought-benign substance of asbestos, he wore a flame-retardant outfit that rendered him thus IMMUNE to Johnny Storm’s powers. As The Human Torch was then super-feared by criminals in his own solo stories, Kasloff would thus earn cred.

He actually BEAT The Torch in the first go-round, letting him go and taunting him that he could do that whenever he wants. He got the cred he wanted, but the standard Comic Book Rematch took place, in which Johnny burned Asbestos Man’s fancy net, then burned up all the oxygen in the room, forcing the villain to surrender.

And thus, this goofy-ass one-note supervillain with a ridiculous name retired forever, except for a one-panel return in Great Lakes Avengers, where he tried to get recruited. I mean, the name alone is patently ridiculous, and that was BEFORE asbestos was known to be a super-dangerous substance and the result of numerous lawsuits regarding its use in buildings!

Asbestos Man is as much of a joke as you would expect, but is actually quite dangerous when he’s using his Fancy Net to catch Johnny Storm’s Fireballs and throw them back at him!  Otherwise he’s a giant wussy who can’t take much of a hit (despite having a bulletproof outfit). However the outfit can slowly make people sick if they’re too close to it, so that’s quasi evil (I mean, it’s not like giving someone a COLD would be worth giving you street cred, but an outfit made of a poisonous substance that can cause cancer?).

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Mr. Jip (Unknown)

Created By: Terry Austin & Brett Blevins

First Appearance: Strange Tales #8 (November 1987)

Mr. Jip is a Cloak & Dagger villain I only know because of his appearance in one of the “Atlantis Attacks!” annuals, which I finally read years after seeing it. His curious name and weird appearance made him memorable where many other similar villains would have gone forgotten by me, but he still has very, VERY few appearances. I mean, Cloak & Dagger were a C-Tier book in their PRIME, much less nowadays, so one of their key baddies was either gonna turn into one of those “Marvel Team-Up” recurring Villain Whores, or just disappear entirely.

It looks like the C&D writer, Terry Austin, was the only one to really use him, and so he trekked him out to the X-Men for that Annual appearance of his. Reading into who CREATES these guys makes it a lot more obvious why certain characters get used, sometimes.

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Mr. Jip was the first apprentice of The Ancient One, but was cast out for using black magic and evil stuff. He has gone on to become an immortal threat who usually manipulates others through the shadows.

A particular favorite shtick is to promise great power, but asking a price in return. For example, he once re-empowered Cloak (so that he could still hang around with Dagger as he felt Tandy would leave him if he was “normal”) in order to gain his body as a future host.

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Then he switched the minds of Diamondback & Dazzler in order to blackmail the X-Men into stopping the Serpent Society from gathering a bunch of relics to empower Ghaur & Llyra’s Evil Plan. Alas, he wasn’t long for this world, and was killed in Latveria after screwing with Dagger again and getting offed by a former henchman, Night.

A bargain-basement Wizard in terms of combat (though stronger than the usual types), Mr. Jip is more of a “Secret Manipulator” type who couldn’t take very powerful superhumans in a close contest, much less a mage as powerful as Dr. Strange. He’s good with people, and often takes part in Rituals, such as the ones that allow him to take over the bodies of others and thus allow him to remain ageless (he has to do this every time he gets too old, though sometimes he just kills someone to take their body, like he did with Dagger’s Uncle).

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Created By: Roy Thomas & John Buscema

First Appearance: The Avengers #75 (April 1970)

Arkon was a natural Avengers character for Roy Thomas & John Buscema.

See, Thomas knew that Buscema (a man so talented that he could debut TOMORROW and still be popular) HATED drawing high-tech crap and cars and all that junk, so he naturally gravitated their Avengers run towards Swords & Sorcery crap, since Buscema was a big fan of that genre, and liked to draw people in as little clothing as humanly possible, whenever possible :). Both would later put this to good work on their “Conan” stuff in the 1970s, but for now, it was a goofy Avengers side character.

Arkon rules a huge chunk of the other-dimensional world of Polemachus, a war-loving culture full of Conan-esque dudes with energy weapons and other high technology. He tried to blow up Earth because its nuclear explosions were threatening the stability of Polemachus. In the meantime, he decided to marry the Scarlet Witch, since she was hot and all. The Avengers saved the day by fixing the problem and saving Polemachus, but we would see him again.

Arkon stories generally involve some random thing happening on his homeworld, necessitating him teleporting to Earth and kidnapping someone like a general asshole, until The Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four or Dr. Strange to come and stomp on his armies a bit.

The only issue I have featuring him is a more poorly-drawn “Avengers West Coast” issue, where he kidnaps people AGAIN and it starts a big fight since Thundra’s world of Femizonia is attacking Polemachus. They each manipulate some Avengers & FF members to fight on their side in a huge war, until it’s General (vs) General as everyone watches. But Arkon is TOO MANLY and Thundra is TOO AMAZON-Y, and their brawl soon turns into a passionate embrace because they can take each other’s punches.

The highlight of the issue is Ben accidentally implying the two are gonna rut their asses off, and Spider-Woman yells at him for doing so in front of her & Sue’s children.

Alas, this was his final major appearance for a while, as Thundra kind of moved beyond him, since Hot Amazonian Beauties became really in vogue and she got transplanted to Earth full-time- his last shot was in the opening salvo of “JLA/Avengers”, when Kronus destroyed Polemachus.

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Fellow Ghost writer, GhostAndy, swears by the Secret Wars spin off book from a couple years back called Weird World in which Arkon plays a huge part. I have yet to read that, but he says it’s great!

THE STEEL SERPENT (Davos, aka The Steel Phoenix)

Created By: Tony Isabella & Frank McLaughlin

First Appearance: The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #10 (March 1975)

Davos was first known as The Steel Serpent, and was your classic everyday “Mirror Image Villain”, copying the hero’s outfit in a new color scheme (purple, in this case).

He came from K’un-Lun, and was the son of Danny’s own teacher, and tried to steal The Iron Fist from him. See, when Davos had attempted to subvert the law and defeat Shou-Lao himself, he was scarred like many Fists before him by Shou-Lao’s Chi Symbol, but lost his grip and only got a partial tattoo/scar.

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This scar allowed him to “drain” Danny Rand’s chi in an issue of Marvel Team-Up (By Claremont & Byrne, pre-X-Men!), bringing Spider-Man, Misty Knight & Colleen Wing down on him. Davos nearly killed Spidey, but when fighting a drained Danny, he over-used The Fist, and it disintegrated him.

Davos eventually recovered using The Contemplator (one of The Elders of the Universe), stole The Iron Fist power again, and this time went back to K’un-Lun and took power. Danny & Lei-Kung teamed up to stop him, where he died once again.

Despite only being a two-shot villain, Davos was brought back for the new run as a minion of Crane Mother, ruler of the Heavenly City of K’un-Zi– his mission was to kill Orson Randall in revenge for killing Crane Mother’s daughter 88 years prior, and Crane Mother gave him dozens of Crane Daughters to help. This Daughters would either shoot arrows, turn into cranes, or commit suicide, bestowing upon him their Chi, allowing for MASSIVE displays of power. Davos EASILY killed Orson Randall just as Danny was getting to know him (Orson willingly gave up his life, however), and stalemated with Danny using Orson’s own chi to boost himself.

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Davos, his mission sorta fulfilled, was kicking around for the Tournament as well, losing a hand to Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter. This threw him into an incredible rage, and he nearly beat the Champion to death. Beaten in response by The Prince of Orphans, Davos was kind of left in an odd place- dramatic convenience said that he & Danny needed a final throwdown, but instead, Davos sort of looked inwards, after his father taunted him about his “poor me” attitude. He changed sides, aligning with The Immortal Weapons in defense of his birthplace, fending off HYDRA and the conspiracy set about by Crane Mother to destroy K’un-Lun.

Afterwards, he was given a penance by Lei-Kung. He must care for the egg of Shou-Lao the Undying, allowing the new generation of Iron Fist to be born.

Davos is a pretty cool villain, despite being relatively short-lived in most of his appearances. Like most Mirror Image Villains, he’s a physical rival to his arch-nemesis, though he actually lacks Danny’s power. He has to STEAL IT by locking him up in a manly hug and touching their Dragon-scars together.

His “poor me” approach reminds me of Demona from “Gargoyles”, and he has a SCARY amount of power by the time “Immortal Iron Fist” starts. It’s almost too bad that he learned his lesson and got trounced by John Aman, because he & Danny would have had a hell of a fight. I do like that scene in his origin where he challenges Shou-Lao out of order, loses (and is scarred), yet the Dragon doesn’t even bother to finish the job- it slithers away in contempt instead. It really puts you into the head of Davos, as this shame and anger drives him.

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This all makes Davos an interesting character. He wasn’t enough to make the Iron Fist Netflix Season 2 a worthwhile TV series, but his inclusion definitely didn’t make the series any worse.

2 thoughts on “Jab’s Deep Dive: Marvel Villains!

  1. I can’t say it’s the worst name because comics are littered with worse names but Flag-Smasher has always made me roll my eyes. Protect your flags! This guy hates flags! He’ll smash them all! Which won’t really damage the flag, but it’s disrespectful which is worse really.


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