Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Attack of the Living Dynamo!

You can't help but have a guilty fondness for Zzzax, the self-named electrical monster who kills humans in order to feed on their minds and make himself more intelligent. He's an easy monster for any Marvel writer to bring into existence--just find an electrical-based accident somewhere, and you've got Zzzax. When it's time to send him packing, you find some way to ground him, and *poof*, off he goes until his next appearance. Zzzax is a handy, perpetual threat that can be tossed into just about any book when needed, without worrying about explaining his reappearances.

(All right, I'll stop with the simulated electrical effect on his name.  Hmpf.)

Zzzax's origin could have taken place at any time, in conflict with any character--but we have writer Steve Englehart and artist Herb Trimpe to thank for his creation in the pages of Incredible Hulk. It turns out Zzzax came into being at a simple New York City generator station, when some well-organized domestic terrorists decide to hit the plant as a way to shift the balance of power. ("Power," get it? I'm rolling my eyes, too, but apparently the play on words rallied these guys.)

I find it a slight cause for concern that a simple Con Ed generator station would have an atomic chamber on the premises in late 1973. Frankly, atomic power in use in our cities' power stations would startle me even today. But what's done is done, and you can bet that this eruption isn't just going to fizzle out at this point:

And so a new monster is born--and our terrorists have indeed brought "power to the people."

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), another monster is in the neighborhood--albeit in his human form, taking a well-deserved nap at the waterfront. It must be something of a relief for Bruce Banner to be awakened by a police officer sounding the alarm and find that, for a change, he's not the one causing all the panic:

Zzzax has certainly found a smorgasbord in Banner in terms of intelligence. Luckily for the unconscious Banner, Hawkeye has heard about Zzzax and is looking to take him down in order to make a name for himself as a solo hero. But today, he's going to find himself up against two monsters:

With Hawkeye out of the picture for now, the Hulk attacks Zzzax in earnest. But in addition to Zzzax's electrical bursts packing quite a burning sting, the creature itself proves quite resilient even against a foe like the Hulk:

Hawkeye returns to the fight, and attempts to take out Zzzax with electrical-based arrows as well as fire retardant, to no effect. And to his dismay, the Hulk isn't about to let an enemy go unpunished:

The climax to the fight comes when Zzzax tosses Hawkeye into the water--instead of taking the opportunity to feed on him, which I found odd. Hawkeye is no rocket scientist in terms of intelligence, but Zzzax isn't discriminating about his feasting choices. Zzzax would come to regret his blunder, though, when our archer has an inspiration:

Regrettably, the crowds assume it was the Hulk who defeated Zzzax and saved them all, and so Hawkeye will have to find another newsworthy threat to tackle. If it makes him feel any better, the Hulk didn't stick around to enjoy his laurels. As for Zzzax, you can't keep a good living dynamo fizzled for long, and he'll be putting the burn on the Hulk again soon enough.


Anonymous said...

"Zzzak me"!!! If I had a nickel for every time I said those words, I could start collecting all of Hawkeye's appearances.

Has there every been a story dealing with who makes all of his arrows? I remember the Sons Of The Serpent story arc where he and Cap (the original Captain, not Derek Jeter) were trapped by lasers and he was telling Cap that the lasers wouldn't kill them, all his blast arrows going off at once would. And then when they were trapped out in the frozen wasteland and he had to use his arrows to make a fire, and then that other time....What??? It's about The Hulk? But Hawkeye's in the post? Yes he is, he's in the story.... It's about The Hulk? Okay, okay..... Nevermind.

The Prowler (easily distracted by archers, cake and boobs).

Anonymous said...

As well as Hawkeye's arrows you could ask who makes all the superhero costumes ? We know Spidey sews his own and the FF's are created by Reed's scientific genius ( unstable molecules ) but what about all the others ? Perhaps there's a superhero costume factory somewhere :)

Murray said...

If there has ever been a story explaining where Hawkeye gets his arrows, I sure want to read it! Clint Barton consistently makes knuckledragging "humorous" cracks about his egghead partners and their hyper science ways. If he's making his own arrows, then he has a split personality that outshines Banner-Hulk any day! "Dumb as a sack of hammers and very proud of it" by day, "inventive engineering genius" by night.

I can think of too many examples where Iron Man has expressed admiration/surprise (as an ally) or shock (as an opponent) to Hawkeye's arrows to say Tony Stark is making his arrows. With the astonishing degree of compact and miniaturization most arrows require, one can't help but suspect Pym Particles are involved somehow. (A 1000 lb test cable net-harness erupts out of an arrowhead, what, double the size of a thumb?)

The only mention I am aware of comes from that Avengers mini-series Comicsfan reviewed a week or so ago. A solo, outlaw, pre-Avenger Hawkeye is talking with Jarvis and mentions he's been going to the Tinkerer. Hard to believe that arrangement with a super crook continued after Hawkeye went legit.

it makes me flash on Green Arrow in the cartoon Justice League Unlimited. He and a couple of teammates have been shanghaied to the 31st century by the Legion of Superheroes. Arrow announces he's going down to the storeroom to see what tech he can scrounge. Later, he's happy at finding bits "that could do some damage". Apparently Oliver Queen is even more of a scientific marvel than Clint Barton. Not only does he make similar arrows, but can browse techno junk a thousand years removed from his own time and whip up some arrowheads.

Unsung Nobel Prize contenders!

Murray said...

Colin - it's been long established that Reed's unstable molecule fabric gets around. To quote Charles Xavier on one occasion, speaking to new X-recruits; "The uniforms are are constructed from unstable molecules. I obtained them from a man named Reed Richards, and I'm certain you'll learn more of him and his friends later."

Some of the wilder, woolier, not-friendly-to-the-FF characters are still a question.

However, somewhere on 42nd St in Manhattan, there is a tailor shop run by a man named "Del". We were shown Luke Cage in his early days stopping by to pickup fresh silk shirts and pants for his hard-used costume. As Luke departs, Del serves a Doctor Banner, providing him with a bundle of pants.

Comicsfan said...

When Hawkeye first started out, nothing was really made of his custom arrows supplier--we were pretty much left with the impression that he whipped them up himself. Frankly, that's good enough for me. Hawkeye may be tactless--and, at one time, directionless--but he's proven himself resourceful, and he seems like the type of weaponsmith that would personally craft his arsenal and not outsource either the assembly or the designing.

david_b said...

I had to grab this issue last year, both with the mention in Avengers ish 114, plus Hawkeye's arrival to the Defenders.

Nice issue, certainly wish more gueststars would have dropped by Hulk's mag.