Sunday, September 21, 2014

Proud Member Of The Marvel Villain Rolodex


Name This Marvel Villain??

The introduction of the Looter in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man was filled with so many witty asides in the narrative, you weren't at all sure the story was taking itself very seriously as far as presenting a deadly new foe for Spider-Man. Nor did it give him any sort of dramatic build-up, instead cutting right to the chase:

Norton Fester's sole ability--super-strength--is really only distinctive as far as how he obtained it, by tinkering with a fallen meteor in a trial-and-error method due to the lack of funds for a proper laboratory. But he seems quite pleased with his discovery, regardless of how it came about.

And since money was always on short supply with Fester, he decides on a career of crime as a thief, which his new abilities make him well suited for:

Yet Fester also takes the precaution of thinking ahead, and plans a raid on a museum in order to steal more meteors to supplement the effects of the first, just in case his power isn't permanent. And that brings him into conflict with Spider-Man, who discovers that the Looter might just have an edge on him in terms of strength:

Spider-Man would later claim his victory over the Looter was due to "sheer willpower," though it's probably more accurate to say that Spidey simply out-fought his foe:

The Looter got a hefty prison sentence--but this next story featuring the villain was in mid-1975, before containment facilities for super-criminals were being constructed, and ordinary cells had to do. And if a prisoner is suddenly reminded that no ordinary cell could hold him, what use is it to lock him down for the night?

Fester escapes prison with ease, as he always could. And while he's making plans, he goes after a certain wall-crawler and lets him know there's a new villain in town, though the Meteor Man still holds the Looter's grudges:

We never learn why writer Gerry Conway makes a point of mentioning Spidey's spider-sense not alerting him to Fester's approach--all the more conspicuous since, in subsequent appearances, his spider-sense is used against Fester often, and works exceptionally well in detecting the villain.

Also, aside from Fester himself saying so, not much is made of Fester's prodigious strength level making him a serious threat, other than to display a lot of scenes with Spidey getting pummelled by him. At the end of these Meteor Man stories, Fester is dealt with fairly decisively when the time arrives for it:

Perhaps the thinking on the Looter/Meteor Man was to treat him as one more available character in the growing stable of "throwaway" villains--a powerful opponent to use in a comic on an as-needed basis, but not to be made into a major player despite how formidable he is, and quickly defeatable when it was time to wrap up the story. Marvel must have so many of those characters by now that Fester, despite his impressive abilities on paper, is relegated to being another rolodex villain ready to be used in practically any story that has an opening for a serious threat.  Maybe it was Fester's self-esteem that we saw hitting the ground.

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