Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Final Plan of the Absorbing Man!

Sure, sure--we've all seen Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man, get his ball and chain handed to him despite the power he was given by Loki, the God of Mischief, to absorb and take the form of any material or properties he wishes. More than once he's come up against Thor (and even Odin himself)--and yes, you'd think being on more than equal footing with the God of Thunder would give Creel the edge he needed to claim victory. Yet Creel has always unwittingly brought about his own defeat--but how? If he absorbs the power of Thor's hammer, what's keeping him from taking his victory lap with that kind of might at his disposal?

By the time of their fourth meeting, Creel has reached the point of being pretty tired of getting walloped by Thor--and it looks like he's finally wised up as far as sticking to a game plan.

Of course, if we had a nickel for every time a villain made a "this time it's gonna be different" speech, we'd be sipping piƱa coladas at the Club Med of our choice and tipping outrageously. But let's see what Creel's plan is before we start packing our bags, because it looks like he means business this time.

Wait a minute--that's the plan? Haven't we been to this party before?

(Thor doesn't seem to think so.)

In the Absorbing Man's debut against Thor in Journey Into Mystery, Creel caught on quickly as far as figuring out how to handle a powerhouse like Thor--not only absorbing Thor's might, but also the power of his hammer. It gave Creel an unbeatable edge that made the two-part story a showcase battle that had Thor valiantly holding his own but no more.

We also learn here that Creel only needs to be in close proximity to whatever he wishes to absorb, rather than rely on direct contact. It's an important distinction that in later stories is virtually forgotten, perhaps in an effort to make Creel less invincible and give him an Achilles' heel. Here, however, Thor has his hands full with him. Eventually, Creel might have prevailed on a one-on-one standing with the Thunder God; but Creel is billed as the "Absorbing Man," after all, and to use the character to the fullest he's shown shifting from one deadly form to another. A flame attack by Thor has him dropping the properties of Thor's hammer in favor of becoming a form of pure fire--a turn of events the sadistic Creel revels in, though a tactical blunder since obviously the hammer properties he's absorbed would be immune to the flame it emits. And when an explosion from a police attack stuns him enough to shift back to human form, Thor acts quickly to end his threat.

Thor's method of defeating Creel is somewhat deceptive, since Creel has demonstrated a conscious degree of control over his power and doesn't transform from simply coming into contact with something; otherwise, he'd always be involved in the act of absorption, whether it's the concrete or grass he walks on, or the fog or air pollution he passes through. In other words, if a little kid pops a balloon near him, he's not necessarily going to turn into helium just by coming into contact with it.

Thor is also mistaken in thinking that he's heard the last of the Absorbing Man. Creel returns just six issues later, and once again realizes the value of taking on the properties of Thor's invincible hammer.

As is evident, Creel seems to be only interested in an all-out brawl with Thor, rather than retaining the advantage(s) of any one form, even those abilities of Thor and his hammer. Creel would go on to join Loki in defeat, when both confront Odin in Asgard.

In Thor's third meeting with the Absorbing Man, Creel again seems to have a handle on things as far as knowing how to handle Thor, if Thor's imitation of a flying sack of potatoes is any indication.

Again, however, Creel chooses not to retain the power of Thor or his hammer--and, again, he's handed defeat because the writer chooses to overlook his ability to absorb only the things he wants to absorb.

So as Creel meets Thor in battle for a fourth time, it looks like it's finally sunk in (heh heh, "sunk in," get it?) that he needs to absorb the power of Thor's hammer and hang onto it for the duration. Could the Absorbing Man be on his way to victory this time? Well, Thor sure isn't going to transmute a two-legged version of his hammer into helium. So that leaves Thor facing a ruthless foe using the power of his own hammer against him. We've seen in another story how such a fight ends up, and Creel is certainly no less determined to take Thor down.

Creel goes on to decimate two entire city blocks before Thor is able to rise again to his feet and resume the battle. But if he's hoping to find the Absorbing Man shifted to something like steel, or concrete, or a mixture of both in his attack against the city, Creel--having become a being of virtually unlimited power--now seems to realize that he needs no other form to raze this city or deal with any opposition. And speaking of opposition...

We know Thor isn't the type to turn tail without good reason--but Creel, thick as the bricks he sometimes absorbs, and still riding high from laying out Thor earlier, is eager to pursue and pummel him again. Unfortunately, he's about to find his foe can formulate a plan just as well as he can.

Thor probably has every right to be smirking, particularly when Creel is carted off to prison in, of all things, a cardboard box. (Wait until the other inmates start spreading that story around.) But I can tell you, as a kid who often scanned the toy shelves looking for a facsimile of Thor's hammer, that no such replica of Thor's hammer was to be found, cardboard or otherwise. Hand over that hammer, Thunder God. Wait, actually, I'll take that other one! (Hey, no fair, I can't lift it!)


Anonymous said...

One of my favorite all-time villains! This guy is a heavyweight, taking on the likes of Thor, the Hulk, or the combined Avengers. We're not talking about Leap-frog or the Shocker, here. This guy is trouble.
He'd be a lot more trouble, if he wasn't such a meat-head.
On paper, he oughtta be invincible, he could just absorb cities and mountains and such, even energy, but throw a roll of toilet paper at him, or toss him in a lake, and he absorbs it by accident and thus is defeated.
Still, I've always enjoyed Crusher's occasional appearances. A really wild, original villain, who always forced his opponents to come up with something original to defeat him. And probably the writers too!

Comicsfan said...

Though I haven't always liked the treatment of him in other stories, M.P., I can't help but agree that the Absorbing Man is an excellent villain. Ruthless, cocky, powerful--what's not to like? Look for a post just around the corner that seemed appropriate to follow up with: the Absorbing Man vs. the one and only ODIN! (And it's difficult to tell which of them is more confident of victory!)

Warren JB said...

The power of merchandising!

I'm surprised to see that the reason Creel was unable to weild Mjolnir was because it had to return to Thor's hand. No "Wha...!? I'm stronger than ever, but I can't even budge the blamed thing!" Was that an oversight, or a bit of Marvel tradition that hadn't gelled yet, or what?