Absorbing Man

The Absorbing Man (Carl "Crusher" Creel) is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He first appeared in Journey into Mystery #114, cover dated March 1965, created by writer Stan Lee and writer/artist Jack Kirby. Over the years he has played a part on several Marvel Comics crossovers such as the original Secret Wars and Fear Itself.

Creel was given the power to take the form of any material he touched, "absorbing" the property of the material itself. Over the years the power has worked both for and against him, such as being turned into water, then mixed with dirt to become mud, or once when he became cocaine and had to reassemble himself. The Absorbing Man was given his powers by the Asgardian god Loki in a plot to defeat Loki's brother Thor. During the Secret Wars storyline Creel became romantically involved with the super villain Titania and the two were linked for decades afterward. During the Fear Itself storyline, Creel comes into possession of a divine Asgardian hammer, granting him amplified powers and turning him into Greithoth: Breaker of Wills.

Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the Absorbing Man has featured in over four decades of Marvel continuity and other Marvel-endorsed products such as animated television series, video games, and merchandise such as trading cards.

The character has seen a live-action adaptation in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. portrayed by Brian Patrick Wade.

Absorbing Man
The Absorbing Man (background) on the cover of Thor #376 (Feb. 1987).
Art by Walt Simonson.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceJourney into Mystery #114 (March 1965)
Created byStan Lee (Writer)
Jack Kirby (Artist)
In-story information
Alter egoCarl "Crusher" Creel
Team affiliationsMasters of Evil
They Who Wield Power
Legion Accursed
Lethal Legion
Astonishing Avengers[1]
Notable aliasesRocky Davis
Greithoth: Breaker of Wills
Red Dog
AbilitiesAbility to mimic any form of matter or energy via physical contact

Publication history

The Absorbing Man first appears in Journey into Mystery #114 (Mar. 1965) and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.[2]

Fictional character biography

Carl "Crusher" Creel was a boxer and jailed criminal who becomes the Absorbing Man when he drinks a liquid which the Asgardian god Loki laced with a magic potion. Discovering that he could absorb the properties of anything he touched, Creel escapes prison by absorbing metal from the guards' bullets and goes on to battle Thor. When he escapes, he takes with him the ball and chain to which he was shackled, and uses the ball and chain as a weapon. Although he is only mortal, Creel's fantastic abilities make him a worthy opponent for Thor, who is later forced to end the battle due to Loki's kidnapping of Jane Foster. Creel then breaks into a house and attacks the occupants. Thor comes to the rescue and tricks Creel into changing his atomic structure into pure helium. Thor accomplishes this by using his hammer's powers to transform the ground's molecular makeup. As Creel is acquiring additional mass from direct contact with the Earth when this happens he ends up drifting harmlessly into the atmosphere.[3][4]

A short time later, Loki retrieves Creel from space using Asgardian technology after he has knocked out an Asgardian warlock and sends Creel back to battle Thor. After Creel is nearly beaten due to Thor's fighting skill, Loki transports him to Asgard and reveals the true source of his "absorbing" powers. After being humbled by Loki, Creel agrees to act as his agent, and he is directed to take over the city. The Absorbing Man defeats the Asgardian legions without too much trouble and eventually confronts Odin himself. Creel absorbs Odin's attacks and then the properties of Asgard itself, hoping to rule the Universe, and he towers over Odin as Loki arrives to gloat. Thor is ordered by Odin not to keep attacking. Loki and Creel are then beaten by trickery; once given Odin's Rod of Rulership the two quarrel over it, the Absorbing Man trying to absorb the rod, and the two find they cannot let go. Odin then advises them that his power lies not in a mere object, but deep within himself. The pair are then banished to space.[5]

The Absorbing Man eventually returns on a comet and battles the Hulk. Bruce Banner had been sent to divert the comet, as it was feared it was radioactive, but the Absorbing Man leaped aboard and began absorbing the Hulk's strength. He tries to bury the Hulk under a mountain, but when the Hulk turns back to human form, the Absorbing Man is unable to support the great weight and was buried.[6]

However, Creel goes on to battle many other heroes, such as the Avengers,[7] Daredevil,[8] Dazzler,[9] the Hulk,[10] and Spider-Man.[11] He is one of the villains who participates in the Secret Wars, and also develops a romantic relationship with the super-strong villainess Titania.[12] The pair also join the reformed fourth version of the Masters of Evil.[13] Creel has several more battles with Thor[14] (and the Eric Masterson Thor)[15] and a skirmish with cosmic hero Quasar.[16] Although he assisted Crossbones in a plan to attack Captain America, when Absorbing Man learned that Crossbones intended to detonate a bomb in New York, he absorbed the properties of Captain America's shield to contain the blast, declaring that he was not a murderer.[17]

Creel is later incarcerated in New York's experimental "Ant-Hill" prison called the Big House, where all prisoners are reduced in size via Hank Pym's "Pym Particles". An escape attempt is thwarted by She-Hulk.[18]

The Absorbing Man escapes prison and allies with the Owl as an enforcer,[19] but finds himself opposed by Spider-Man and new hero Ethan Edwards (later revealed to be a disguised Skrull). He is briefly trapped and converted into a new form of cocaine by one of the Owl's operatives when they become frustrated with his unprofessional approach,[20] with the new drug briefly giving those who snort him a degree of his powers, but he eventually manages to reassemble himself in a sewer and goes after the Owl for revenge.[21] Spider-Man manages to defeat Creel by tricking him into running a gauntlet where he absorbs multiple objects thrown at him, culminating in Creel absorbing two different chemicals that cause him to explode.[22]

The Absorbing Man later battles and is apparently killed by the hero Sentry during the events of Civil War.[23] However, he later appears at the funeral of the villain Stilt-Man.[24]

Creel and Titania later come into conflict with the heroine She-Hulk and her Skrull partner Jazinda after they attempt to arrest Creel's cousin Rockwell "Hi-Lite" Davis.[25]

During the Dark Reign storyline, Creel joins a new version of the Lethal Legion led by the Grim Reaper.[26] After a defeat, Creel escapes prison and absorbs a shard of the Cosmic Cube.[27]

The Absorbing Man suffers a setback when villain Norman Osborn uses an enchanted sword—provided by Loki—to remove his absorbing powers completely.[28]

Creel is also revealed to be the father of the hero Stonewall.[29]

Creel regains his powers and storms Avengers Tower to recover his ball and chain. He is defeated by Avengers' coordinators Maria Hill, Sharon Carter, and Victoria Hand after absorbing the latter's cold.[30]

During the "Fear Itself" storyline, Creel and Titania encounter two of the divine hammers that contain the essences of the Worthy, generals to Odin's brother and adversary, Cul Borson. Coming into contact with the hammers, Titania and Creel were transformed into Skirn: Breaker of Men[31] and Greithoth: Breaker of Wills,[32] respectively. They later went on a rampage depicted in a number of Fear Itself tie-in books, most prominently Avengers Academy #15–19 and Iron Man 2.0 #5–6, as well as that storyline's core miniseries.

During the "AXIS" storyline, Absorbing Man appears as a member of Magneto's unnamed supervillain group during the fight against Red Skull's Red Onslaught form.[33] He is briefly converted to heroism when everyone on the island experiences a moral inversion as Doctor Doom and Scarlet Witch attempt to bring out the Charles Xavier in Red Skull, joining the new Astonishing Avengers assembled by Steve Rogers and Spider-Man to oppose the inverted heroes.[1] Absorbing Man later reverts to villainy when the inversion is undone.[34]

When Absorbing Man and Titania were robbing an armored car, the female Thor appeared to thwart their plans. Upon meeting the female Thor, Creel mocked her for being a woman and for having taken Thor's name for herself, which she answered by breaking his jaw. Titania then appeared to confront her but, in respect for what she was doing, she knocked out her husband with his own weapon and surrendered.[35]

During the "Secret Wars" storyline of 2015, Absorbing Man is among the villains attending Kingpin's viewing party of the incursion between Earth-616 and Earth-1610.[36]

During the "Avengers: Standoff!" storyline, Absorbing Man was an inmate of Pleasant Hill, a gated community established by S.H.I.E.L.D. Using Kobik, S.H.I.E.L.D. transformed Absorbing Man into a man named Harold.[37] During his time as Harold, Absorbing Man ran an ice cream parlor and was in love with Sheriff Eva. When Baron Zemo and Fixer restored the memories of the inmates, Absorbing Man joined in on their uprising with Whirlwind. Illuminati members Hood and Titania arrived at Pleasant Hill to retrieve Absorbing Man. Although he was shaken from having a S.H.I.E.L.D.-induced normal life, Absorbing Man sides with the Illuminati as they work to assemble the other inmates to get revenge on S.H.I.E.L.D.[38]

During the "Opening Salvo" part of the "Secret Empire" storyline, Absorbing Man is recruited by Baron Helmut Zemo to join the Army of Evil.[39]

At some point, Absorbing Man was imprisoned in a deep space torture prison. He was defeated by Black Bolt in combat.[40] Absorbing Man later made an acquaintance with Black Bolt and fellow inmates Blinky, Metal Master, and Raava.[41] Upon taking in Black Bolt's sonic scream, Absorbing Man seemingly sacrifices himself to help destroy the torture prison's Jailer, enabling Black Bolt and the other inmates to escape.[42] At the time when Jailer has possessed Blinky's mind in order to kill Black Bolt, Lockjaw took Titania to Parkwood Cemetery where Absorbing Man suddenly emerged from his grave.[43] Absorbing Man and Titania helped Black Bolt fight a Jailer-possessed Blinky until they managed to drive Jailer out of him.[44]

After Absorbing Man got busted in one of his crimes, his lawyer Kenny convinced him to join the U.S. Hulk Operations as an alternative to getting incarcerated. He gets injected with a Bannerman Gene-Enhancement Package (a product similar to a Hulk Plug-In) that turned him into a gamma mutate where his skin was turned red and he can now absorb gamma energy. When Absorbing Man - under the alias of Red Dog - fought Hulk at Los Diablos Missile Base, he got an entity called the One Below All in him after the entity has posed as Brian Banner's ghost. The One Below All taunted Red Dog before ripping him in half.[45] Despite what happened to him, Absorbing Man is still possessed by the One Below All who controls Absorbing Man in fighting Hulk. Absorbing Man ran off when Jackie McGee, Walter Langkowski, and Puck showed up. When the One Below All successfully opened the door to his hellish realm, everyone nearby gets sucked in as Absorbing Man weeps.[46]

Powers and abilities

Courtesy of a magical potion, Crusher Creel has the ability to duplicate the properties of anything he touches—gas, liquid, solid, or even energy sources. This transformation also extends to the clothing and ball and chain that Creel was wearing when the potion took effect (for example, if Creel touches the metal titanium, his body, clothing, and ball and chain take on the appearance and properties of titanium). If the object is large (e.g., a building), Creel can absorb sufficient mass to attain the same height. Creel also retains his intellect and capacity for speech and full physical movement (although his first attempt at absorbing water cost Creel his sanity when he tried to keep himself from drifting apart)[47] and can reform if his body is damaged in any way while in altered form, which he discovered when Wolverine cut his arm off during the Secret Wars while he was in a stone form and he held it in place as he deactivated his powers.[48]

Creel's overall power increases in direct proportion to the strength of the material absorbed. There is almost no limit to what Creel can absorb, as he has absorbed the properties of bronze;[49] cocaine;[50] Odin's Cosmic Bolt and later cyclonic storm;[51] diamond;[52] glass;[53] light;[9] rock, silk, soil;[54] spikes;[55] steel;[56] Thor's uru hammer Mjolnir;[57] water;[47] and even the properties of Asgard itself,[51] although absorbing the Sentry's power proved too much for Creel, causing him to become overloaded with energy and nearly killing him.[23]

Creel is now also capable of combining previously absorbed abilities.[58]

Other versions

Age of Apocalypse

In the Age of Apocalypse reality, Absorbing Man (alongside Diablo) works as a prison camp warden in Mexico.[59]

Earth X

In the limited series Earth X, set in the alternate universe Earth-9997, Creel is also capable of absorbing knowledge which he did upon absorbing Ultron's knowledge and was eventually able to remember everything previously absorbed and to display any of these properties at will.[60]

House of M

In the House of M reality, Absorbing Man is seen as a member of the Hood's Masters of Evil.[61]

Marvel Zombies

In the Marvel Zombies reality, Creel, as a zombie, works for the zombie Kingpin. He battles the interloper Machine Man while in stone form. He is tricked into absorbing the weak physicality of the zombie Karnak and Machine Man swiftly destroys his head.[62]

Old Man Logan

In the Old Man Logan reality, an elderly Hawkeye reveals to Logan that Absorbing Man and Magneto were responsible for killing Thor.[63]

A flashback also showed that Mysterio used an illusion of him amongst other villains to trick Wolverine into killing his fellow X-Men.[64]

Marvel Apes

In the Marvel Apes reality, this version of Absorbing Man is a mandrill called Absorbing Mandrill. He is a member of the Master Brotherhood of Evil Apes.[65]


The Absorbing Man is among the mind-controlled villains defending Krona's stronghold when the heroes assault it.[66]

In other media



Marvel Cinematic Universe

  • Carl "Crusher" Creel appears in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., portrayed by Brian Patrick Wade.[76] First appearing in season two, Creel is a former boxer who can turn his body into whatever substance he touches, and comes to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s attention when it is revealed he was recruited into Hydra while a captive of S.H.I.E.L.D. He is dispensed by Hydra to acquire a rare Kree artifact, and kills several agents working for S.H.I.E.L.D.[77] Using a special device, Phil Coulson paralyzes Creel and hands him over to Glenn Talbot and the military.[78] The character appears in season three, where he works for Glenn Talbot, who is the newly appointed head of the Advanced Threat Containment Unit.[79] He returns in the season five episode "All the Comforts of Home" trying to live an unassuming life in Philadelphia, but is recruited by General Hale during his jogging after S.H.I.E.L.D. returns. When he comments that he is not becoming a "lap dog" like last time, General Hale states that she is putting together a team. Creel then gets into her van.[80] Creel begins to work alongside Hale and Anton Ivanov as a part of the new Hydra.[81] In the episode "Inside Voices," Creel then tests absorbing the Gravitonium in Hydra's possession, but it causes him to have visions of Dr. Franklin Hall and, as revealed later, Ian Quinn. He helps Coulson and Talbot escape the hidden base in an as-yet-unidentified mountain range while he stays behind and is captured by Ruby.[82] When General Hale and Candice Lee go to check up on Carl Creel, he states that he still hears the voices of Franklin Hall and Ian Quinn in him as he absorbs part of a wall and starts hitting his head. After General Hale surrenders to Melinda May and Daisy Johnson in order to prevent Ruby from being subjected to the Gravitonium experiment, it was mentioned by Daisy that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents with her have sedated Creel.[83] He is soon visited in his hospital room by a newly empowered Talbot who absorbs him into the Gravitonium.[84]
  • Creel is mentioned in a flashback in season 1 of Daredevil. He is defeated off screen by "Battlin'" Jack Murdock, father of main character Matt Murdock. Jack was expected to throw the fight at Roscoe Sweeney's suggestion, but decided to be an example to his young son instead.[85] Producer Jeph Loeb confirmed that this is the same Creel that appears in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before gaining his abilities.[86]

Video games

  • Absorbing Man appears in The Incredible Hulk video game.
  • Absorbing Man appears as a boss in the PSP, PS2, and Wii versions of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, voiced by David Hope.[69]
  • Absorbing Man appears in Lego Marvel Super Heroes,[87] voiced by John DiMaggio.
  • Absorbing Man appears in Marvel: Avengers Alliance. He appears as one of the villains introduced in Season 2.
  • Absorbing Man is a playable character in Marvel: Future Fight.[88]
  • Absorbing Man appears as a playable character in Lego Marvel's Avengers.[89]


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External links

Earth X

Earth X is a 1999 comic book limited series published by Marvel Comics. Earth X was written by Jim Krueger with art by John Paul Leon. Based on Alex Ross' notes, the series features a dystopian version of the Marvel Universe.

The series was followed by two sequels, Universe X and Paradise X. The universe of Earth X is designated as Earth-9997.

Ethan Edwards

Ethan Edwards is a fictional character, a superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He is a pastiche of the DC Comics character Superman.

Gregg Berger

Greggory Berger is an American voice actor, known for his roles as Jecht from Final Fantasy X and the Dissidia Final Fantasy games, Grimlock from The Transformers, Mysterio and Kraven the Hunter from Spider-Man, Cornfed Pig from Duckman, Bill Licking from The Angry Beavers, Agent Kay from Men in Black: The Series, The Gromble from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Captain Blue from Viewtiful Joe, Eeyore from Kingdom Hearts II, Hunter the Cheetah and Ripto from Spyro The Dragon, and The Thing from Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.

Hulk Classics

Hulk Classics was an action figure line based on the characters of Marvel Comics, and produced by Toy Biz in 2003. The line revolves around the Hulk and his supporting cast from the comic book series.

Jonathan Adams (American actor)

Jonathan Adams (born July 16, 1967) is an American actor and voice actor. Adams is perhaps best known for his role alongside Tim Allen, as Allen's character Mike Baxter's employee, neighbor, and friend Chuck Larabee on the sitcom Last Man Standing.

Lethal Legion

The Lethal Legion is the name of six teams of fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.

List of Masters of Evil members

The Masters of Evil is a fictional supervillain team appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Although the roster has changed over the years, the team remain the principal foes of the superhero team the Avengers.

List of Thor (Marvel Comics) enemies

This is a list of Thor's rogues gallery.

Masters of Evil

The Masters of Evil is a name for a number of fictional supervillain teams appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The first version of the team appeared in The Avengers #6 (July 1964), with the lineup continually changing over the years.

Metal Master (comics)

Metal Master is the name of two fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Mutant (Marvel Comics)

In American comic books published by Marvel Comics, a mutant is a human being that possesses a genetic trait called the X-gene. It causes the mutant to develop superhuman powers that manifest at puberty. Human mutants are sometimes referred to as a human subspecies Homo sapiens superior, or simply Homo superior. Mutants are the evolutionary progeny of Homo sapiens, and are generally assumed to be the next stage in human evolution. The accuracy of this is the subject of much debate in the Marvel Universe.

Unlike Marvel's mutates, which are characters who develop their powers only after exposure to outside stimuli or energies (such as the Hulk, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and Absorbing Man), mutants have actual genetic mutations.

Spider-Man Classics

Spider-Man Classics is term used by collectors most commonly to refer to several lines produced by Toy Biz focusing on Spider-Man and his allies and enemies. The lines have over 17 series, with dozens of Spider-Man incarnations and many of his famous enemies. The toyline lasted 5 years starting from 2000 to 2005. A year later, ToyBiz released a new series titled "The Amazing Spider-Man". That same year, by changing the license from Marvel at the hands of Hasbro, they released Spider-Man Origins. In 2008, Hasbro released a reboot of Spider-Man Classics simply called "Spider-Man".

The Sensational Spider-Man (vol. 2)

The Sensational Spider-Man (vol. 2) is the name of a comic book series starring Spider-Man and published monthly by Marvel Comics for 41 issues between 2004 and 2007. Formerly it was published under the Marvel Knights imprint (as Marvel Knights Spider-Man, vol. 1, issues #1–22).

The underlying difference between this title and the other Spider-Man titles was that Marvel Knights Spider-Man was done with a more mature slant (in style if not content), thus the "Marvel Knights" prefix.

Intended to replace the canceled Spider-Man's Tangled Web series, Marvel Knights Spider-Man was originally supposed to be written by Kevin Smith, but due to scheduling problems he was replaced by Mark Millar. When Millar completed his year-long story arc, he was followed by writer Reginald Hudlin.

With the consolidation of the Marvel Knights line, Marvel Knights Spider-Man was renamed The Sensational Spider-Man as of issue 23. At this time, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa took over writing duties on the book.

The Sensational Spider-Man was canceled after issue 41. Following Joseph Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada's "One More Day" storyline the series was canceled to allow The Amazing Spider-Man to be published three times a month starting in 2008.

A second volume of Marvel Knights: Spider-Man, written by Matt Kindt, was published as a limited series in late 2013 and early 2014.

Titania (Marvel Comics)

Titania (Mary MacPherran) is a supervillainess appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. She is notable for being one of Marvel's strongest human female characters, and the wife of the Absorbing Man. Created by then-Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter and introduced in the 1984 crossover limited series Secret Wars, Titania has since then become a rival of the She-Hulk, and has also been a member of several incarnations of the Masters of Evil and the Frightful Four.

MacPherran is the second Marvel supervillainess to use the name. The first Titania (Davida DaVito) was a female wrestler and member of The Grapplers who was murdered by the Scourge of the Underworld. Upon DaVito's resurrection, her powers were expanded and she took the name Lascivious, as MacPherran had become much more strongly identified with the name Titania.

Vault (comics)

The Vault was the widely used nickname of a fictional prison facility for technological-based superhuman criminals (predominantly supervillains) appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The prison first appeared in Avengers Annual #15 (1986). The prison's full official name is the United States Maximum Security Installation for the Incarceration of Superhuman Criminals.

Vision (Marvel Comics)

The Vision is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He is an android and a member of the Avengers who first appeared in The Avengers #57 (October 1968). The character is portrayed by Paul Bettany in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron, the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War, and the 2018 film Avengers: Infinity War. He is loosely based on the Timely Comics character of the same name.

Whirlwind (comics)

Whirlwind is a fictional character, a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Wrecking Crew (comics)

The Wrecking Crew is a team of four fictional supervillains—Bulldozer, Piledriver, Thunderball, and the Wrecker—appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. While not featured on the cover, the Wrecking Crew's first appearance is in The Defenders vol. 1, #17 in November 1974.

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