Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sword Under The Stones


Name This Marvel Villain??

Tyrannus goes back quite a ways. He almost seemed to be created as a throw-away villain, with not much thought given to either his origin or his potential. He made his initial appearance in the first Incredible Hulk series, which was cancelled after just six issues--what does that tell you? Yet over time, when a ruthless villain was called for without needing to go into much detail of why he was reaching for power, Tyrannus was available.

This should probably tell you all you need to know about the character:

Basically, Merlin--who I had no idea was wandering around the Roman Empire--had some sort of altercation with Tyrannus, and banished him to "Subterranea" (Marvel's name for, well, the depths of the Earth). Tyrannus comes across a race of dwellers there who have an aptitude for science, and becomes their ruler; he then foils Merlin's plan for his fate (which I guess came down to burying him alive, so to speak) by finding the Fountain of Youth and using it to keep himself young, while he builds his weapons cache and plans an assault on the surface world.

Finally ready in the 20th century, he uses Betty Ross--the daughter of Gen. "Thunderbolt" Ross--as insurance against atomic reprisal. Which brings him into conflict with the Hulk, who ends up toppling some pillars and trapping Tyrannus underground. Like I said, not much thought to this story; and practically anyone could have been plugged into Tyrannus's role.

Tyrannus is one of the most two-dimensional characters I can think of--so I don't suppose you'll find him sitting at villain summits with the likes of the Red Skull or Dr. Doom. He's had a few turf wars with the Mole Man, naturally; and he makes lots of power plays, like he did as a part of They. (Probably to be expected by a guy named "Tyrannus.") But when the story comes to its end, that usually goes for Tyrannus, as well, either by a cave-in or an explosion or a fatal miscalculation on his part. Aside from the few hooks his character has--his centurion costume, or his need to keep drinking the waters that restore his youth--there really isn't much reason for him to be more than the villain du jour in a book, nor much of a reason to dig him up from the center of the Earth. Perhaps Merlin got what he wanted, after all.

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