- Molecule Man
Molecule Man Promotional Artwork
Publication information Publisher Marvel Comics First appearance Fantastic Four (Vol.1) #20 (November, 1963) Created by Stan Lee (writer), Jack Kirby (artist) In-story information Alter ego Owen Reece Partnerships Volcana Abilities Molecular manipulation
- For other uses, see Molecule Man (disambiguation)
Fictional character biography
Owen Reece was a small, frail, timid child from Brooklyn, New York who obsessively clung to his mother. He grew into a weak-willed adult, made bitter and lonely by his mother's death, and full of fear and hatred of what he regarded as a deeply unfriendly world. Reece became a lowly laboratory technician working at a nuclear plant owned by the Acme Atomics Corporation. He was disgruntled by his job's long hours and low pay. One day, growing careless, Reece accidentally activated an experimental particle generator, which bombarded him with an unknown form of radiation. The radiation had a mutagenic effect on Reece, releasing his potential for psionic powers on a cosmic scale. Reece could now control all matter, even down to the molecular level, and all energy. The radiation also left markings resembling lightning bolts across Reece's face. Reece named himself the Molecule Man after his power to control molecules.
The tremendous forces released by the accident opened a wormhole between Earth's dimension and the dimension containing the immensely powerful entity later known as the Beyonder. During the following years, the Beyonder observed Earth and its multiverse through the interdimensional pinhole.
The day after the accident, the president of Acme Atomics fired Reece for his carelessness, not even knowing his name after his twelve years of work there. Angered, the Molecule Man covered the president and his desk with ice that he formed from molecules in the air. Reece became a criminal and was now out to use his powers to take revenge on a world he believed had belittled and persecuted him. Yet Reece was so filled with self-doubt, fear, and self-hatred, that he rendered himself vulnerable by unconsciously imposing limitations on his powers. He believed himself to be able to affect only inorganic molecules (and hence unable to affect living beings with his powers).
Uatu, the alien Watcher whose task it is to observe Earth, recognized the dire threat that the Molecule Man posed to the multiverse. Uatu alerted the team of superhuman champions known as the Fantastic Four of the threat posed by the Molecule Man. The Molecule Man transported the Baxter Building over Times Square and told the city his will would be the only law. He easily defeated the Fantastic Four, finally forcing them to retreat. He created a glass barrier around Long Island, saying the people would be trapped until the Fantastic Four were brought to him. However the Fantastic Four were helped by the Yancy Street Gang, and are finally able to hide in the home of Alicia Masters. Mister Fantastic realized Reece had only effected inorganic molecules. Alicia lured him to the apartment by firing the Fantastic Four flare. The Fantastic Four used Reece's self-imposed inability to affect organic molecules to defeat him by pretending to be statues with Alicia Masters covering them with plaster, claiming she had made them to honor the Molecule Man. The shock when he tried to rearrange their molecules caused him to drop his wand, and Mister Fantastic got it before he could use it. The Watcher transported the Molecule Man to confinement in an other-dimensional world where time passes at an accelerated rate.
Believing himself unable to escape, Reece created a humanoid construct to serve as his companion, and through unknown means endowed it with consciousness. Reece let the construct believe itself to be his son. Before dying, Reece transferred his consciousness and powers into the wand his son carried. Not bound by human limitations, the construct, known as the new Molecule Man, escaped the world and went to Earth, bringing the wand with him. In an attempt to avenge his father, the new Molecule Man battled both the Man-Thing and the Thing of the Fantastic Four, using Reece's powers through the wand. Dependent on the metal wand to maintain his existence in this dimension, the new Molecule Man disintegrated when the wand was taken from him.
However, the consciousness and powers of the original Molecule Man remained within the wand, and the Molecule Man could overpower the minds of whoever touched the wand and take control of their bodies. He took mental possession of Cynthia McClellan, and through her battled Iron Man. Molecule Man then took mental possession of Aaron Stankey and Mister Fantastic.
The wand passed through the hands of a succession of holders until Reece's mind recreated his mutated body and transferred his consciousness and powers out of the wand and into the body. He threatened to destroy the world, but was persuaded by Tigra to give himself up and seek psychiatric help.
Reece did so, and soon began to change. He now had simple goals: true love, friendship, and a good home. However, Reece found himself sent to Battleworld, the planet created by the Beyonder, as part of the small army of criminal super human beings that were to engage in the first Secret War. Impressed by the charismatic criminal leader, Doctor Doom, Reece agreed to help fight the superheroes also brought to Battleworld. During the course of the war, Reece and a superhuman called Volcana fell in love with each other. Doom eventually succeeded in stealing the power of the Beyonder and transferring it into himself, both only temporarily. Believing himself abandoned by Doom, Reece threatened to kill him. But Doom helped Reece break through his mental blocks and realize that his power was greater than he had believed. No longer angry at Doom, Reece used his powers to transport himself, Volcana, and most of the criminals back to Earth. On Earth, Reece and Volcana began living together quietly in a Denver suburb, and Reece took a new job as a worker in an atomic plant.
But then, months later, the Beyonder, again in possession of his full power, came to Earth in humanoid form seeking emotional fulfillment. When he failed, the Beyonder decided to rid himself of the problem by obliterating the multiverse. Reece attempted to save the universe by destroying the Beyonder, but the Beyonder's immense power far surpassed even Reece's own. Ultimately, Reece joined forces with many of Earth's superhuman champions to battle him. But the Molecule Man exhausted himself fighting the Beyonder, who unleashed an immensely powerful blast of energy to destroy Reece and his allies. The blast ripped open Earth's crust in the area of the Rocky Mountains, and would have caused incredible planet-wide instability if not for the The Molecule Man's power. The Molecule Man used his power to shield himself and his allies, and to remove every living thing from the path of the blast to safety. But as a result of his monumental efforts, Reece had severely injured himself internally.
His foes appearing to have been defeated, the Beyonder proceeded with his new plan to find fulfillment by using a complex machine to transform himself into a mortal being with his full power. The machine drained the Beyonder's power into itself, transformed him into a mortal baby, and then began transferring the energy back into him. The infant would soon again become an adult. The Molecule Man and his allies found the machine, and Reece, believing they could not take the chance that the newly reborn Beyonder would not someday destroy the multiverse, decided to kill him while he was vulnerable. Reece destroyed the machine, causing the infant's death, and diverted the Beyonder's immense power, which the machine released, through an interdimensional portal into the dimension from which the Beyonder had originally come. There the energy created a new Universe.
The injured Molecule Man and the Silver Surfer, uniting their power temporarily, repaired all the damage done to the Earth, restoring the mountains and the part of the crust that the Beyonder had destroyed. Reece, believing that Earth's superhuman champions would always worry about his misusing them, pretended his powers had been burned out. Among his allies, only Volcana and the Silver Surfer know that Reece still has his powers, which have since returned to full strength. Reece lived quietly for a time with Rosenberg in their Denver suburb.
Reece was briefly merged with the Beyonder, in order to take part in the creation of the complete Cosmic Cube being known as Kosmos. He managed to separate himself and return to Earth. He was then defeated in combat by Klaw, and separated from Volcana. Molecule Man was later placed under the mental control of the Puppet Master. Reese was used by him to combat Aron the rogue Watcher, and was defeated by him. The by now generally benevolent Reece accidentally releases his "darkest aspect", which takes separate form and attacks Kosmos in search of revenge upon the Beyonder, and it extracts and fights this part of the whole in a more than 3-dimensional battle. After it defeats the Beyonder, Kubik and the original Molecule Man stop it from delivering the death blow, as this would also kill the peaceful Kosmos. Owen reabsorbs it, and as farewell, Kubik states that Owen's true self's full potential is far greater than that of his dark side.
Doc Samson stumbles upon the Molecule Man while searching for the missing Bruce Banner. Owen mistakenly thinks that he is being stalked, and captures Samson to explain himself. After the She-Hulk gets involved they clear up the misunderstanding and Reece calms down. He reveals that his relationship with Marsha has hit a road bump, leading to temporary separation that makes him depressed. Samson convinces Owen to display his affection more openly, whereupon the latter decides to repair worldwide devastation zones (from recent terrorist activity) in Marsha's honor, including rebuilding Mount Rushmore with the addition of her own likeness, which his girlfriend apparently finds touching.
Molecule Man was listed as one of the Raft escapees after the events of New Avengers #1.
A series of disappearances in the small town of Dinosaur, Colorado causes Norman Osborn's (Dark) Avengers to visit the area. Sentry arrived first and was instantly disintegrated. Owen, isolated from everyone, has lost most ability to differentiate between hallucinations and reality, and secluded himself near the area he was born. After the other Avengers are defeated Osborn's aidé Victoria Hand convinces Reece to restore everyone and everything he destroyed and to stop being a threat, in return for being left alone in the future. The Sentry returns at this point, attacks the Molecule Man, and pulls him into the air, but is destroyed again. The Sentry immediately reforms, and takes advantage of Owen's distraction from an incoming missile to take control of his body. Apparently unaware that Owen had already promised to do so, Sentry tells the Molecule Man to restore everything or to be killed. After Owen does so, the Sentry regardless disintegrates his body in return.
Powers and abilities
Owen Reece gained superhuman powers by mutation through exposure to radiation from an experimental particle generator, which (as later revealed) also opened a "pinhole" into the dimension of the Beyonders, irradiating him with the energy that infuses a Cosmic Cube. As the Molecule Man, he has the psionic ability to manipulate all forms of matter on a subatomic level, and to manipulate all known forms of energy and to convert matter into energy or energy into matter, e.g.: the creation of powerful force fields and energy beams. He is able to manipulate some of the most powerful and most durable materials within the Marvel Universe including destroying and reforming Captain America's shield, Thor's enchanted hammer Mjolnir, and the Silver Surfer's surfboard. During this time, Reece also destroyed Iron Man's armor but is unable to reform it at this time due to difficulty with understanding the complicated circuitry and technology. However, over time, Reece's skills have increased considerably, as shown during the Secret Wars mini-series. He can now manipulate complex pieces of technology with ease and can also open hyperspace portals, allowing him to travel at speeds much faster than light. As a result of the accident in which he gained his powers, the Molecule Man has a series of jagged scars radiating from the bridge of his nose in a lightning-like pattern. He can use his powers to conceal the scars at will.
Although the energies that gave Owen Reece his powers came from the same power source as the Cosmic Cubes, Owen Reece generally does not use this capability to the same extent as "true" Cosmic Cubes do, limiting himself to manipulation of "mere" matter and energy. Regardless he has been able to effortlessly recreate an entire galaxy even in his regular state, and on a later occasion unleashed his 'darkest aspect', which possessed sufficient might to fight, and overpower, the Beyonder in a more than 3-dimensional battle, which in turn was claimed by Kubik to be far less than his full potential.
Originally, the Molecule Man subconsciously imposed mental blocks on himself to prevent his using his powers to their full potential. Hence, he believed his powers were ineffective on organic molecules. These mental blocks have since been overcome. Also the Molecule Man formerly had a psychological dependency on using a steel rod ("wand") to focus his powers but he subsequently learned how to direct his powers without it. While the Living Tribunal has stated that the Molecule Man's power is practically limitless, Reece himself has stated it to be below that of Eternity and the Tribunal. It is unknown how he compares to the Celestials, as Kubik similarly once claimed that these space-gods possess power several orders above its own.
In other media
- Molecule Man appears in an episode of the same name in the 1967 Fantastic Four cartoon.
- Molecule Man appears in The Super Hero Squad Show, voiced by Fred Stoller. He was first mentioned in the episode "Night in the Sanctorum." In the episode "Villainy Redux Syndrome," Molecule Man and Volcana come to the aid of Doctor Doom, MODOK, and Abomination when MODOK accidentally summoned him instead of Mole Man. He used his abilities to turn the guard tower that Captain America and Ms. Marvel were on into butter enabling Doctor Doom, MODOK, Abomination, Molecule Man, and Volcana to escape.
- ^ as revealed in Secret Wars II #1-9
- ^ Fantastic Four #20
- ^ Marvel Two-in-One #1
- ^ Iron Man Annual #3
- ^ Fantastic Four #187-188
- ^ Avengers #215-216
- ^ Secret Wars #1-12
- ^ Secret Wars II #1-9
- ^ Avengers #266
- ^ Fantastic Four #318-319
- ^ Fantastic Four Annual #24
- ^ Fantastic Four #372-373
- ^ Fantastic Four Annual #27
- ^ Incredible Hulk #441-442
- ^ Secret Invasion #1
- ^ Dark Avengers #10-12
- ^ Avengers vol.1 #215-216 (Jan-Feb. 1982)
- ^ Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #12
- ^ Fantastic Four Annual #27
- ^ Fantastic Four vol.1, #319
- ^ Fantastic Four Annual #26
- Molecule Man at Marvel.com
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