Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Losing Control of the Headmen

They are one of the oddest, quirkiest, most peculiar assemblages of baddies to ever occupy the greater Marvel Universe, but the Headmen are also an awful lot of fun and I've loved these whacked out super-brains since the first time they appeared (as a team) in The Defenders #21 (March 1975); written by the late Steve Gerber. They are nefarious, would-be masterminds who used magic, science, and surgery to gain super-powers. During their careers, they’ve fought against the Defenders, She-Hulk, and Spider-Man on different occasions.

Gerber culled the Headmen from 1950s anthology appearances which had been reprinted in Weird Wonder Tales #7 (Dec. 1974). Dr. Arthur Nagan (Gorilla-Man) from Mystery Tales #21, was a former surgeon who took the organs from gorillas to use in people. However his scheme was thwarted by the gorillas who somehow transplanted his head onto another gorilla’s body. Chondu the Yogi, from Tales of Suspense #9, is able to manipulate the forces of magic for a limited number of effects, including inter-dimensional travel, the casting of minor spells, self-levitation, and illusion-casting. Dr. Jerry Morgan (Shrunken Bones) from World of Fantasy #11, was an expert mixer of potions and serums, who had almost perfected a shrinking gas when a failed experiment caused his bones to shrink , leaving his skin in a loose, hanging form; Morgan now shies away from physical conflict.

In The Defenders #32 (Feb. 1976), the Headmen were joined by Ruby Thursday (Thursday Rubinstein), who was the instigator of the death of Omega the Unknown. Ruby had her head replaced by an organic computer which is composed of a malleable red plastic to form various shapes or mimic someone’s appearance, or to explode her head to knock out anyone in her vicinity.