- Destroyer (Timely Comics)
Mystic Comics" #8 (March 1942). Cover art by Al Gabriele
character_name= The Destroyer
real_name=Kevin "Keen" Marlow
Mystic Comics" #6 (Oct. 1941)
powers=Peak human physical condition,
Skilled fighter and marksmen|
The Destroyer (Kevin "Keen" Marlow) is a fictional
superheroin the Marvel Comicsuniverse, who first appearedin the 1940s during what historians and fans call the Golden Age of comic books. He is significant as being one of the earliest creations of industry legend Stan Lee. As comics historian and former Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomasnotes: "Stan's most popular superhero creation before the Fantastic Fourwas the Destroyer, debuting in " Mystic Comics" #6 (Oct. 1941). ["The Golden Age of Marvel Comics" (Marvel, 1997; ISBN 0-7851-0564-6) Introduction, p. 3] The artist co-creator is unknown; the story penciler- inkerwas Jack Binder, the cover-artist Alex Schomburg. [Grand Comics Database: [http://www.comics.org/details.lasso?id=1711 "Mystic Comics" #6] ]
One of the
World War II-era heroes of Marvel's Golden Age predecessor, Timely Comics, the Destroyer was less popular than the company's stars, the Human Torch, the Sub-Marinerand Captain America. Yet the Destroyer's sleek, dark costume with a skull motif, his skin-tight blue mask that made him appear inhuman, and his occasional cover appearances worked to make the character more memorable than many others of his era. He was the company's most published character outside of its three principal stars and the Angel.
The Destroyer appeared as the cover feature on the last half of the 10-issue
anthology"Mystic Comics". He went on to star in issues of nearly every Timely superhero anthology, although only one Golden Age story has been reprinted in modern times.
Artists associated with the feature include pencilers
Al Gabrieleand Mike Sekowsky, and inkers Vince Alasciaand Allen Bellman. Comic-book giant Jack Kirbycontributed the Destroyer cover of "Mystic Comics" #7 (Dec. 1941). [Grand Comics Database: [http://comics.org/details.lasso?id=1843 "Mystic Comics" #7] Jack Kirby Museum: [http://www.kirbymuseum.org/catalogue/view.jkm?pp=3797 Destroyer cover, "Mystic Comics" #7] ] The cover was inked by either Syd Shoresor Joe Simon(sources differ).
Fictional character biography
The character's origin, highly similar to that of
Captain America, posits American journalistKeen Marlow, who is captured for spyingwhile reporting behind-the-lines in Nazi Germany. While imprisoned in a concentration camp— that specific phrase being used, though before its association with the Holocaust— Marlow is given a Super Soldier serum by fellow prisoner Professor Eric Schmitt, an anti-Nazi German scientist. Responding to the chemical (and without the beneficial "Vita-Rays" used to chemically stabilize Captain America's serum), Marlow becomes a prime human specimen who escapes, dons a costume, and adopts a fearsome identity with which he fights the Nazis on their own turf. He was occasionally abetted by an Alliedagent with the, in retrospect, rather unfortunate name of Florence von Banger. Antagonists included the Scar, Herr Sin and Von Maus.
In Destroyer's 1970s
retconappearances, the same origin is recounted except for the his identity. Now he is reporter Brian Falsworth, brother of Spitfire (a member of the World War IIsuperhero group The Invaders) and son of James Montgomery Falsworth, Lord Falsworth, who had been the World War Ihero Union Jack. In this storyline, "Keen Marlow" was implied (but not expressly stated) to be a fictitious name; when Captain America asked if the Destroyer is or is not "an American named Keen Marlow," Falsworth simply declined to respond.
Brian Falsworth gave up the Destroyer identity in order to become the new Union Jack, while his friend Roger Aubrey (initially introduced as Dyna-Mite and member of Crusaders ["Invaders" #14] ) became the new Destroyer.
The Aubrey Destroyer has made present-day guest appearances in such titles as "Thunderbolts" and "Citizen V & the V-Battalion", where he was the leader of the titular
V-Battalionbefore eventually stepping down in favour of the original Human Torch taking the position as leader. After the Torch's death, Aubrey reassumed command of the V-Battalion.
More recently, editions of the
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universehave clarified that all three versions of the Destroyer -- Marlow, Falsworth, and Aubrey -- were active during World War II, with Marlow allowing Falsworth and then Aubrey to simultaneously use the Destroyer identity so as to tactically confuse the Axis. Marlow's post-1940s fate remains a mystery.
Bibliography of appearances
* "Mystic Comics" #6-10 (Oct. 1941 - Aug. 1942)
* "All Winners Comics" #2-12 (Fall 1941 - Winter 1944)
* "USA Comics" #6, 8-14, #16-17 (Dec. 1942, May 1943 - Fall 1944, Summer-Fall 1945)
* "Amazing Comics" #1 (Fall 1944), becomes "Complete Comics" #2 (Winter 1944)
* "Mystic Comics" Vol. 2 #1-4 (Oct. 1944 - March 1945)
* "Daring Comics" Vol. 2 #11-12 (Summer-Fall 1945)
* "Kid Komics" #4-6, 9-10 (Spring-Fall 1944, Spring-Summer 1946)
* "All Select Comics" #6, 10 (March 1945, Summer 1946)
* "The Invaders" #18-19, 26, 34
* "Midnight Sons Unlimited" #5
* "Thunderbolts" #40, 41, 45-51
* "Citizen V & the V-Battalion" Vol. 1 #1-3, Vol. 2 #1-4.
Golden Age reprints
*"The Beachhead Blitz" (from "All Winners Comics" #12)::"Marvel Super-Heroes" #12 (Dec. 1967) [and] ::"The Golden Age of Marvel Comics" (1997) ISBN 0-7851-0564-6
Note: "Marvel Super-Heroes" lists
Don Ricoas artist; "The Golden Age of Marvel Comics" lists Mike Sekowsky
In other media
In the 1990s
television program"", Keene Marlow (voiced by Roy Dotrice) appears as one of the Six Forgotten Warriorsin the five-episode story arc of that name. He is introduced as the Destroyer, an old colleague of Captain America, now past his prime with his powers fading. After his wife had been fatally shot by a bank robber Marlow was attempting to capture, Marlow retired his superhero identity and joined the international espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., eventually becoming a high-ranking agent. Marlow was also a friend of Peter Parker's Uncle Ben, and a mentor to Parker's father, Richard Parker.
* [http://www.geocities.com/jjnevins/destroyer.html A Guide To Marvel's Golden Age Characters: Destroyer]
* [http://timely_goldenage.tripod.com/the_destroyer.html The Heroes of Timely Comics: The Destroyer]
* [http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/d/destroyer.htm International Hero: The Destroyer]
* [http://www.gayleague.com/gay/characters/display.php?id=57 Gay League Profile]
* [http://www.geocities.com/mailittomarvell/destroyer.htm The Mighty Destroyer - Appearances in Publication Order]
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