Monday, July 31, 2017

The Deadly Grip of The Crusher(s)!

If you're a super-villain, chances are that, if you name yourself the Crusher, you're probably going to find yourself being the Crushee more often than the other way around. But fortunately that hasn't stopped a number of Marvel characters from taking up the name, as well as the challenge of living up to such an intimidating moniker. Regrettably, however, many of them have fallen short--but it sure wasn't for lack of trying. And trying. And trying. So who are the notable figures in this roster?

There was, of course, the most recognizable Crusher, though for his villain name he preferred something more in line with his super-power:  the Absorbing Man!

Though he definitely makes a strong start out of the gate whenever he explodes into a fight, the Absorbing Man almost always gets his shiny head handed to him in his ill-fated battles--but, despite his many setbacks and sooner or later being on the receiving end of a thrashing, he takes a licking but keeps on kicking. What a trouper.

Thor has run into his share of Crushers in his time. One of the briefest of those meetings was when he journeyed to Hades on behalf of his new friend, Hercules, and ran into this upstart:

Pivoting to the Egyptian pantheon and their own underlings, you'd expect a foe calling himself "the God-Crusher" to live up to his name--and during a fierce battle with the forces of Seth, Thor gets his wish and indeed finds his mettle tested, and then some.

Thor eventually had his reckoning with Grog, who would have to unfortunately uncheck Thor from his "crushed" list. (Cheer up, Grog! There are plenty of other gods for you to try your hand at crushing.)

In a prior story, when the Destroyer came calling during an Asgardian tournament, there was another Crusher who mainly used the name as a description for how tough he was--that is, until he was schooled by a certain Asgardian.

Perhaps the earliest Marvel character who, like Creel, was a prison inmate nicknamed Crusher, was one who hailed from Marvel's Golden Age and happened to take issue with being singed by the original Human Torch. (On an unrelated note, he also would have made a prime candidate for speech therapy.)

At times the word "Crusher" wasn't always attached to villains, though it just wasn't the same seeing the term applied to hardware.

But one non-villain who did the name proud was Crusher Hogan, who can always count as a feather in his cap the day when he ushered the amazing Spider-Man into the annals of comics history.

There's a little more to Crusher's story down the road--but let's just say he's the one member of this group who gets the happy ending he deserves.

That's only half true for this next perp, who things end badly for twice but who likely won't receive an ounce of sympathy from anyone as far as being undeserving of his fate.

The first of these tales really isn't a bad little story for the twelve pages allotted it as one-half of the Tales Of Suspense book. The Crusher is a by-the-numbers villain for writer Stan Lee, a posturing scientist whom you just know will get his just deserts, whether it's at the hands of his equally irredeemable Presidente or of Iron Man. But Lee frames a nice story in what artist Gene Colan has presented him with, one that starts by profiling each of the two inventors who will be featured. One working for the good of mankind (if not the good of mice):

...and one working for his own sense of self-importance as well as the ambitions of his tactless commander.

Our Presidente, of course, trusts no one, and so orders his underling to ingest the experimental solution himself, or take a bullet for his trouble. As a result, el Profesor becomes someone that no one will likely be able to order around again--at least, not with arrogance.

The professor is no fool... he's well aware that he now has the power to seize power for himself--which is exactly his intention, once he satisfies his ego and (say it with me) crushes Iron Man in the States.

And it seems it's pretty easy for someone called the Crusher to get their hands on a visa:

If you're curious about that gadget that the Crusher has strapped to himself, unfortunately Lee neglects to address the subject; we would have to wait until writer Archie Goodwin follows up on the Crusher in the Invincible Iron Man title. (For what it's worth, its purpose and significance are negligible.) Iron Man doesn't seem interested in it, either, even though as an engineer he would likely be very interested in a piece of technology that appears like it might provide the key to this bruiser's defeat--because as it is, he's got his hands full.

To bring the story full circle, Iron Man reaches for his newest device, which, conveniently, just happens to hold the key to the Crusher's defeat. (The thing is already paying for itself, eh?)

Down, down he goes--and where the Crusher stops, nobody knows. But we'll find out when he reappears in the second story, as he eventually returns to his more human form upon reaching one of the underground labs of the subterranean dweller known as Tyrannus. Finding it deserted, the former Crusher uses the facilities to recreate his serum and return to his formidable state, and then heads back to the surface to confront Iron Man once again. There is no centrifugal device at hand in that story--but Iron Man makes use of its principle, when the Crusher is dropped into the ocean and his weight plunges him down into the depths without hope of resurfacing.

But the Crusher would crush again, if under a different guise. In a later issue of Daredevil, a bantamweight fighter named Juan Aponte is offered the Crusher serum by a doctor who had recreated it. Aponte had only hoped to increase his size and strength, but of course the result is a creature who won't ever see a booking as a boxer. For what it's worth to him, though, Aponte has definitely reached heavyweight status.

As the Crusher, Aponte was responsible for nearly killing two innocent men (one his coach), but ended up meeting his own death saving them.

Jeez, of all the people who fancied himself a crusher!

One man's Crusher is another person's Slasher!


Anonymous said...

This is very comprehensive! There really have been a lot of "Crushers" in Marvel Comics. I blame pro wrestling.
I remember the orange "Crusher" (known as "the Orange Crush" to his close friends) from Thor's epic battle with the hordes of Pluto as well as the boastful Cerberus, he of the wild Kirby headgear and boastful attitude. This story gave us the opportunity to see Thor really cut loose and put some hurt down on some fellow immortals.
Great post! I had to smile while I read this.
Thanks, C.F.!


Comicsfan said...

Thor didn't seem to have much trouble with most of his Crushers, M.P. Creel, on the other hand...

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