The Strange Creature Known As Marvex!

Comics from the Silver Age–and I’m looking at you here, World’s Finest–often have a reputation for not making any sense, but if you read enough of them, you’ll start to realize that the stories are actually pattered on a rigid set of rules. Of course, the rules themselves are often completely nonsensical, but they actually are there, and that’s got to count for something.

Now the Golden Age, on the other hand… that’s where things are really crazy.

At the dawn of the medium, nobody’d even had time to figure out if there were rules yet, let alone what they were. After all, this is an era that gave rise to the work of Fletcher Hanks, and that alone should give you the idea that “making sense” was, at best, a tertiary concern.

That said, Marvex the Super-Robot is completely insane.



Marvex, as you might recall from our previous discussion of his romantic entanglements, is a devastatingly handsome robot who has difficulty committing, but the more curious among you may have been wondering how he got himself into that situation to begin with, so allow me to enlighten you.

The whole thing gets started, as you might expect, in The Fifth Dimension, which–back in 1940–had yet to become the sole intellectual property of DC Comics, although it does play host to the same kind of large-headed all-powerful being that would show up to cause trouble for Superman four years later. In this case, though, they’re a lot more scientific, and after deciding to
“take some strange humans” to be their slaves, they set about building themselves a robot man.



How exactly Bolo’s “clever idea” to kidnap and enslave some humans turns into him building a robot in the space of one panel isn’t really made clear, but before long, he’s finished, and the first order of business is to inform Marvex that he’ll be working as a slave from here on out.

This, as you might imagine, would prove to be a mistake.



PROTIP: If you’re going to build a robot that can think for itself and then make it do menial labor, don’t make it twice your size, indestructible, and strong enough to pick you up and use your body to beat your friends to death. Alas, such is ever the folly of man. Or at least, the folly of imps from the Fifth Dimension.

Anyway, during his rampage, Marvex inadvertently causes an explosion that knocks him all the way through the dimensional barrier to Earth, and this is where things start to get weird…



…because for the rest of the story nobody can figure out that he’s a robot. Heck, Marvex is made of metal, has hinges for joints, and his torso’s held together with visible rivets, and they can’t even figure out that he’s not a regular guy. They do, however, recognize that he’s a darn handsome fellow:



Incidentally, “The Visible Rivets?” Great name for a band.

Anyway, once Marvex makes it to the Big City, he eventually tires of people looking at his “strange costume”–rather than, say, the fact that he’s a robot–and thus “decides to purchase a more rational outfit.”

No, really: That’s what it says:



Oddly enough, the fact that he’s a robot in a snappy blue suit makes him look even stranger than he did when he was a standard-issue naked robot*, but it does the trick, and people seem to ignore the fact that they can still see his metal face. Although now that I think about it, the story never actually says which city he ends up in, so I guess it’s possible that he’s rolling around Callander, Scotland–home of Clan Destro–where that sort of thing is completely normal.

Anyway, no sooner has he left the Men’s Warehouse when he stumbles across a damsel in distress, Clara Crandall, who is so important to the plot that we don’t even find out her name until three pages after she’s introduced… in a seven-page story. The distress in this case turns out to be the evil machination of presumable Ratzi* Von Crabb, who sets off a bomb in a high-rise office buliding, killing her father and making off with his secret battleship armor formula.

Needless to say, Marvex saves her by leaping up to the office and then jumping back down to the street with the Crandalls in tow and then sets off to mete out some harsh robot justice*:



Of course, this being the Golden Age, “justice” pretty much translates into “robot killing spree,” and after dishing out a move that would later gain fame as “The Reverse Kool-Aid Man”…



…which is made all the more terrifying by the fact that he went to the trouble of putting on a suit and tie before handing out the massive spinal trauma, he heads back to Clara and nips her womanly thoughts of romance right in the bud.

Sadly, this appears to be the high point in Marvex’s career: By the time he shows up again in Daring Mystery #4–which is also handily reprinted in the recent Masterwork–his initial design has been replaced with a far more traditional robot look, although still in a suit.

On the bright side, though, he does get a better grasp of fight banter…



..which apparently causes Hitler, seen at the right, to swoon. Ah well. That’s the Golden Age for you!



*: These would also be fantastic band names.

41 thoughts on “The Strange Creature Known As Marvex!

  1. When I went to post this, I realize the link said “No comments”. That just about sums it up. I have nothing to add to this. How could you? It’s glorious.

  2. The other possibility is that he landed in Minnesota, and everyone there immediately noticed the metal skin and were *too durn polite* to mention it.

  3. Chris, you forgot the asterisks next to “Robot Killing Spree” and “Reverse Kool-Aid Man”.

    Also, is it just me, or would the “Pardon my fists!” panel seem perfectly at home in Atomic Robo? Is Atomic Robo Clevinger’s attempt to secretly revive Marvex without having to acquire rights to the character?

  4. Is it just me, or does that first title panel of Marvex bear a staggering resemblance to Captain Kirk?

  5. “Reverse Kool-Aid Man” could also be the name of a kinky bedroom position. Try it tonight with someone you love! They’ll thank you for it!

  6. A comic that features a robot killing the Fifth Dimension by giant swinging an imp.

    Oh, I must own this.

  7. “Oddly enough, the fact that he’s a robot in a snappy blue suit makes him look even stranger than he did when he was a standard-issue naked robot*, but it does the trick, and people seem to ignore the fact that they can still see his metal face. ”

    I think he just says “My skin? Oh, it’s because I drink colloidal silver. Keeps me healthy!” and then starts into a faux sales spiel for colloidal silver products, which inevitably gets the interrogator to change the subject.

  8. The cancellation of of his favorite comic, Marvex, upset young Frank Castle more than he knew, and it would be years before the trauma would fully manifest itself.

  9. So where is in the car yelling “hey stop!”?

    And I hope that the body to the side is some guy jumping out and not the bottom half after Marvex ripped that guy he is holding by his hair apart! (By the way isn’t this the inspiration for modern comics with the kinder and gentler Superboy…I mean Superman prime?)

  10. I would pay untold riches for new issues of Marvex. Get James Robinson to write, and Paul Smith doing the art (the team from DC’s “The Golden Age”) and you would be printing GOLD.

  11. I just love the look on Von Crabb’s face as Marvex casually hauls him out through his new sunroof by his hair. He looks almost zen. He know he’s about to be folded up like a newspaper by an angry silver man in a snappy blue suit, and there’s nothin’ he can do about it.

  12. I wonder what became of Marvex. Think he’s still bouncing around the Marvel U? No telling how long those Fifth Dimension batteries last.

  13. I actually have a theory on this- a lot of coloring in GA comics was done out-of-house, and somebody who wasn’t looking too closely at the story probably figured “okay, he’s a robot, robots are metal, so he should be grey n’ junk.”

  14. He bought a suit… fine

    With what? Even Homer’s brain understands basic economics (money can be used to purchase goods and services)

    Or, maybe the shopkeep is thinking “Robots, hmmm.. None of those around here before, but I hears they is good folks. So I will extend him credit”

    And credit to extra-dimensional robots, combined with the Smoot-Hawley Bill, caused the Great Depression

  15. To be fair, I don’t think it warrants an exclamation point NOW. Scientists build super-robots, super-robots murder their creators. It’s the circle of life. Or, more accurately, the brutally cut-short straight line of life.

  16. Marvex doesn’t need money. Hello! Robot Killing Spree. Or snappy blue suit. Your choice.

    Marvex is the Chuck Norris of the Fifth Dimension.

  17. All this talk of great band names, and no one mentions “a more rational outfit”?

    Or Men’s Wearhouse (or any other clothing store) could just take that as a catchphrase: “Perry’s Fashion: a more rational outfit.”

  18. There will come a day when “PROTIP” is no longer funny. This is not that day. Tomorrow perhaps, but not today.

  19. The last panel displays a few of Marvex’s more impressive characteristics.

    First, manners. “Pardon my fists!” Few vigilantes ever spoke so politely when administering skull-fracturing punches. Those fifth-dimensional scientists made him well!

    Second, his ability to subdue any man not by violence, but by infusing his very flesh with the scent of rich, warm, freshly-baked corn muffins. Notice the lines surrounding the head of the goon on the right-hand side of the panel. Clearly, Marvex has caused the criminal to emit odors he himself finds so pleasing, he has paused in his dastardly deeds to smell his own delicious aroma.

    Imagine its usefulness! “I’m gonna rob this here bank…*sniff sniff* Ooh, cookies! Mmmmm… Wait, what was I doing?”

  20. You just know Mr Carl Lucas stumbled across this issue in the prison library, and decided then and there that, should his wrongful incarceration ever lead him to develop super strength, he would definitely swing jive turkeys around as human clubs.

  21. Man, this classic, Golden Age stuff really puts Iron Man’s actions in perspective, doesn’t it?

  22. I just realized this, Marvex is so awesome because he’s wearing a suit the whole time. Look at him! He casually flings/heave Ratzis through walls and punches goons in the face like any other character would, but a suit gives him a workman-like quality that, coupled with his mostly vacant expression, indicates this is all just an average day on the job. Imagine punching in for work everyday, but your work is punching people!!! It’s an office worker’s wish fulfillment!

  23. Of course, this being the Golden Age, “justice” pretty much translates into “robot killing spree,”

    I’m going to have this knitted into a sampler to display proudly in my kitchen.

  24. That last picture looks like his fist has Fabreeze-powers, and all the criminals are basking in the new fresh scent.

    The bent over crook is obviously smelling the fabreeze on his pants.

  25. Damn, that boy’s face looks like Cap. Marvel Jr. Who WOULDN’T give credit to a face like that? Swoooon

  26. Amazing how violent the heroes were in the old comics. They either beat up the bad guy or killed them outright.

  27. Marvel had the good idea to do a new Marvex story along with two reprints (All Select Comics 70th anniversary). Fun reading.