Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hot Under The Collar


Name This Marvel Villain??

This guy is another one of those poor driven slobs whose heart was in the right place (saving his world), but who wasn't really concerned about how many lines he had to cross or lives he had to trample in order to get what he wanted. He also started out with a bad attitude, given that his physical appearance and powers are actually the result of his own miscalculations:

Shake hands with Mercurio--or, rather, don't shake hands with him, since his halted transformation to his original form has left him with body temperature extremes that enable his hands to deliver deadly cold or heat. Pleasantries would be wasted on him anyway, since being driven desperate to save his world has left him merciless--as Thor, the God of Thunder, discovers when Mercurio seeks him out in order to more directly tap into the energy he needs to fully transform:

Mercurio's tale of his planet's situation reminds me a little of the predicament of Arkon's race--a spatial disruption that would lead to its eventual extinction:

Yet though we're aware of Mercurio's need to harness Earth's electro-magnetic field to save his planet, it's understandable that Thor sees only a menace who speaks in riddles. Nor does Mercurio himself help the situation by his actions or threats, and not just toward Thor:

Says you, buddy:

Coating Mercurio in a conducting metal such as steel, Thor prevented the release of the extreme forces building within Mercurio, until they consumed him. But don't count this guy out yet. Not long afterward, when Thor is on a quest to find the lady Sif, he encounters a construct in an area of space called the "Dark Nebula," where a god-jewel named Xorr has imprisoned Sif as well as the Norn-queen, Karnilla, within itself so that their life-energies might sustain it. Xorr is not a nice entity, given that its own planet suffered disaster, as well:

(Yet another race claiming to be the human race's progenitors--and not just humans, but all humanoids. Sheesh, these guys should form a club.)

So Xorr, with delusions of grandeur, makes Thor aware of its plans in haughty fashion:

And when Thor confronts it, look who pops up (and with a strike force this time):

It's a small universe, isn't it?

Mercurio has discovered that he can use Xorr's electro-magnetic properties to save his world, just as he sought to use Earth's. And normally, Thor would gladly let Mercurio hack up this crystal that threatens to cause universal destruction--except that there's no way to remove Sif and Karnilla without killing them. Until, that is, Xorr begins the process of systematically wiping out planets and stars by draining their energy into itself, in a cascade of energy gorging that makes Galactus look like a piker. Mercurio then suggests an alliance with Thor, whereby he uses his combined powers of ice and heat to shatter the area of the crystal where Sif and Karnilla are trapped, allowing Thor to pull them free.

And Xorr? It's manipulated by Odin into feeding on a star about to go nova, and the ensuing explosion destroys the so-called god-crystal. (Which, when considering Xorr's origin, is an interesting bit of symmetry.) However, there are still enough crystal shards floating around for Mercurio and his men to salvage for their world's use, meaning that these two men no longer have to part as enemies:

(Though I'm betting that Officer McKennry, frozen to death by the touch of Mercurio, is probably rolling in his grave right about now.)

The instability of Mercurio's powers seems in a way appropriate, given that writer Gerry Conway--who scripted the character in each of these appearances--couldn't seem to be consistent with his own character. He shifts back and for between "Mercurio" and "Mecurio" (even between entire issues); it's never explained nor made clear why Mercurio styles himself "the Fourth Dimensional Man" (presumably it has something to do with his unique powers, since none of his compatriots regard themselves as such); and Mercurio at times gets it wrong on which hand dispenses cold and which delivers heat (though that's just a quibble).  I still liked the character and his motivations, even though I think a friendship with Thor, given their past dealings, seems a bit forced.  Does anyone here think that Mercurio wouldn't hesitate to be just as brusque with Thor in the future--or kill another cop--if the situation called for it?

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