The Parasite is the name of several supervillains appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Each version of the character has the ability to temporarily absorb the life-energy, superpowers, and knowledge of their victim.
The most recurring and well-known incarnation is Rudolph "Rudy" Jones, who is a main adversary of Superman and belongs to the collective of enemies that make up his rogues gallery. In 2009, Parasite was ranked as IGN's 61st Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time. The Rudy Jones version of the Parasite has been substantially adapted from the comics into multiple forms of media, most notably in the DCAU's Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League. He has been portrayed on live-action television by Brendan Fletcher in Smallville and William Mapother in Supergirl as Rudy Jones. Anthony Konechny took over the role of Parasite in the fourth season of Supergirl playing Raymond Jensen.
Rudy Jones as the Parasite on the cover of Superman #684. Art by Alex Ross.
|First appearance||(Jensen) Action Comics #340 (August 1966)|
(Jones) Firestorm vol. 2 #58 (April 1987)
(Allstons) Adventures of Superman #633 (Dec. 2004) (Allen) Superman #23.4 (Sep. 2013)
(Jones) John Ostrander and Joe Brozowski
(Allstons) Greg Rucka, Matthew Clark, and Andrew Lanning
(Allen) Aaron Kuder, Dan Brown
|Alter ego||- Raymond Maxwell Jensen|
- Rudolph "Rudy" Jones
- Alex and Alexandra Allston
- Joshua Michael Allen
|Team affiliations||Secret Society of Super Villains|
Legion of Doom
Superman Revenge Squad
|Abilities||Absorption of victim's energy, powers, and knowledge via physical contact|
Raymond Maxwell Jensen was a lowlife who got a job as a plant worker for a research center. Wrongly believing that the company payrolls were hidden in storage containers, Jensen opened one and was bombarded with energies from biohazard materials (which was actually waste collected by Superman when he traveled into outer space), which transformed him into a purple skinned, parasitic entity, and thus he became the Parasite. Any time he touched someone, he could absorb their physical and mental properties. Touching Superman would instantly absorb a sizable fraction of his superhuman powers (it was established early on that he is not capable of acquiring the whole of Superman's powers). On one occasion, while attempting to absorb a greater portion of his adversary's powers than previously, his body disintegrated for a period of time due to the pressure in his cells. Despite these abilities, the Parasite became depressed because he could no longer embrace his wife and children. The Parasite made a number of reappearances before the Crisis, yet he never successfully found a means to permanently defeat Superman. Despite this, he had knowledge of his foe's alter ego and often used this to attack Clark Kent. Gaining sizable intellect from his multiple encounters with Superman, Parasite devised the means to reanimate dormant plant remains left behind from the Earth-Two supervillain Solomon Grundy, creating a newer and stronger version of the creature to plague his adversary. On another occasion, Parasite devised the means to transfer the powers of the hero Air Wave to the young hero's adversary Casey Jones temporarily.
The eventual fate of the Pre-Crisis version of the Parasite is briefly mentioned in the beginning of Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, where Lois Lane talks about the fates of the various Superman villains. Parasite is dead, having died while fighting his occasional partner-in-crime Terra-Man in what Lane refers to a "clash of egos". Terra-Man is killed in the battle as well.
Originally a menial slacker, Rudolph "Rudy" Jones was transformed into the Parasite while working as a janitor at a Pittsburgh S.T.A.R. Labs facility. Unknown to anyone at the scene, the Lord of Apokolips, Darkseid, remembered the Pre-Crisis Parasite and manipulated Jones to become the modern version. He made Rudy think that a waste container might have held something valuable. He opened it and was exposed to strange radiation that changed his body into the bald, green-skinned villain. Jones now had the ability to absorb the life energy of other people, leaving behind smoldering skeletons. This power was necessary for his survival as his own body is in a constant state of hunger for energy that it cannot sustain on its own. During this time, Martin Stein, one half of the Firestorm matrix (Ronnie Raymond being the other half) learned he was dying and decided to destroy all the nuclear weapons in the world. This did not sit well with Earth's governments, particularly the United States, who sent the Suicide Squad to Times Square where Firestorm was holding a press conference. Things quickly got out of control as the Squad and the Justice League, both intent on subduing Firestorm, fought one another, and the Parasite (who was brought on the mission against the protests of both Amanda Waller and Colonel Rick Flag Jr.) is released. He goes on a rampage and apparently kills Multiplex, only being brought under control by the cooperation of both teams. Later, he attacked the new Firestorm who easily subdued him and left him near death.
During one of his stints at Belle Reve Prison, doctors attempted to make him human again. Despite their intentions, the doctors only managed to change his skin color to the more familiar purple and also inadvertently increased his absorption power, enabling him to feed on other forms of energy, such as electricity and heat. After a number of years, the Parasite became involved in the plot to save Superman from overloading on solar energy. Rudy and Superman battled on the moon where Superman uncontrollably unleashed an immense blast of heat vision that the Parasite absorbed, causing him to mutate even further into a huge, hulking monster with teeth resembling a leech's. This mutation again increased Rudy's draining abilities, allowing him to absorb fast-moving objects' inertia, as well as making him impervious to telepathic attack to an unknown extent, since he could now drain energy through a mental link as he displayed when Dubbilex telepathically attacked him. His extra size and power did have a downside, however; he needed to absorb more energy more frequently in order to stay alive.
Unfortunately for a scientist that was tending to Rudy during one of his terms of imprisonment, he was tricked by Lex Luthor and somehow absorbed into the Parasite. This joining was different from Rudy's others as, apparently due to unspecified modifications to Rudy's physiology during this stint at S.T.A.R. Labs (although some sources speculate that the scientist's strength of character contributed to his 'survival'), he actually retained the scientist, Dr. Torval Freeman, as a part of his own mind. This combined intelligence made the Parasite even more menacing, given Freeman's superior intellect; however, just as the Parasite was about to finish off Superman (who he had drained almost to death), Superman was taken by the Tribunal and Dr. Freeman's wife intervened, convincing the Dr. Freeman persona to leave the Parasite (along with Dr. Freeman's body); after this, Rudy Jones' personality was back in control. He is later recruited by Morgan Edge to be part of the second Superman Revenge Squad. After Superman's powers were converted into energy-based ones, the Parasite returned to see what he could absorb from the Man of Steel. However, at this point in time, Superman was not in full control of what was happening with his powers and nearly killed the Parasite. Later, Parasite returned once again to make trouble for Superman, but found himself facing off against Supergirl instead, absorbing some of her new angelic powers and nearly killing himself due to the 'divine judgment' of Supergirl's new 'wings'.
At one point, Rudy was contracted to help drain off a being named Strange Visitor's excess electromagnetic energy as she could not fully control it. This exposure to Strange Visitor's power caused the Parasite to mutate again, giving him the ability to fully and permanently retain the intellects of all of his victims and also allowed him to maintain any stolen energy for up to twenty-four hours. Like Torval Freeman, Rudy also absorbed an unknown shapeshifter into his biology, granting him the permanent power to mimic the exact genetic makeup and appearance of his victims.
After he later escaped from S.T.A.R. Labs in the early 2000s, the Parasite began to form a plan to get back at Superman. He began stalking Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen in an attempt to get to those closest to Superman. The Parasite had taken the form of one of his previous victims, an old man, and was run down in the pandemonium that evening when Lois came to his aid. Not realizing that she was actually in contact with the Parasite, a simple touch was all Rudy needed to get her knowledge of Superman. Rudy was surprised to learn from Lois Superman's secret identity. A new plan formed when he realized how close Superman actually was to Lois; the Parasite decided to take her place and tear him down emotionally by pretending to be a scorned Lois Lane, apparently even having an affair with Luthor in the process. When Clark attempted to confront Lois about her recent distance from him, in a fit of rage uncharacteristic of Lois Lane, Rudy punched Clark out of their apartment and into the streets of Metropolis. Shortly after this display, Superman got the Parasite to reveal himself in the guise of Lois Lane. Rudy could not handle the fact that anyone other than himself as the Parasite took down the Man of Steel. Just as the Parasite was about to lay the final blow to an exhausted Superman, Rudy drops, completely crippled by Kryptonite poisoning he had drained from Superman, unbeknownst to either Rudy or Clark. Superman finally realized the reason he has felt so weak recently was because he was being constantly drained by the Parasite and also the victim of the mysterious Kryptonite poisoning. When he asked Rudy how long he had pretended to be Lois, the Parasite related his story to the Man of Steel. In his final moments, he tells Superman that he still needed to have contact with Lois once every twenty-four hours to maintain his charade, confirming that she is still alive. He also told him that Lois loves him more deeply than he could ever know, and loves him in a way that nobody ever loved the Parasite. The Parasite died before he could tell Superman where Lois was imprisoned (Superman [vol. 2] #157). Although Superman initially tried to investigate himself, his efforts were hampered by a bout of kryptonite poisoning, and Steel was forced to contact Batman to help the investigation. Accompanied by Superman, Batman tracked a spree of recent disappearances to the Parasite's hiding place, during which Superman gained a new insight into Batman's methods and actions, and Lois was soon found alive by the two heroes. Lex Luthor, with whom it is implied the Parasite had engaged in amorous, "extramarital" activity while in Lois' form, was infuriated when he learned of the Parasite's schemes. As such, Luthor went to great efforts to obtain the Parasite's remains.
In Justice League of America (vol. 2) #2, the Parasite is found to be holed up in St. Roch, Louisiana, where he uses his power-absorbing abilities to temporarily neutralize the powers of villains for a fee so they might evade detection during the course of criminal efforts.
In Action Comics Annual #10, a headshot of the Parasite was seen as part of "Superman's Top 10 Most Wanted" that bore a resemblance to the version seen in Justice. This version of the Parasite later appeared in Action Comics #751 wearing the Superman: The Animated Series-inspired costume Parasite wore circa 2000, and is later seen as a member of the new Injustice League. It has not yet been revealed if this Parasite is the same that appeared in Justice League of America (vol. 2) #2, but he has been revealed to be a resurrected Rudy Jones by Lex Luthor in Superman: Last Son.
In the New Krypton storyline where 100,000 Kryptionian refugees are freed from the bottle city of Kandor, the Kandorians decide to take it upon themselves to eliminate Superman's enemies. A group of Kandorians break the Parasite out of prison, killing several prison guards in the process and imprison the Parasite in the Phantom Zone. Superman freed Parasite so he could be taken to Belle Reve, but Parasite escaped.
The 2009-10 miniseries Superman: Secret Origin redefines Parasite's origin. In this version, Rudy Jones is a janitor of the Daily Planet. One day Lex Luthor chooses Rudy as part of a daily "LexCorp Lottery" in which he selects one person from the crowd formed outside the LexCorp building to provide them with a new life. Inside LexCorp, Rudy eats a donut which had been accidentally spilled with a purple toxic material (revealed in issue #5 to have been produced by extracting the radiation from Kryptonite). This transforms him into the Parasite, subsequently going on a rampage in Metropolis until he is stopped by Superman. He was last seen in issue #5 to be in a holding cell in LexCorp tower, having been seen by both Lex and Lois Lane's father, General Sam Lane.
After the villain Ruin (who was secretly Professor Hamilton) performed some experiments, two new Parasites debuted, one purple, the other green. The two new Parasites were teenagers named Alex (the green Parasite) and Alexandra (the purple Parasite) who wanted to seek vengeance on the people who made their lives difficult. They were soon subdued by Superman after a battle. After attempting to escape from a metahuman prison, Alex was killed by an OMAC while his sister Alexandra escaped and joined the Secret Society of Super Villains under Alexander Luthor, Jr. (who was posing as Lex Luthor). She is later one of the villains sent to retrieve the Get Out of Hell Free card from the Secret Six.
In The New 52, a reboot of the DC Comics universe that began in 2011, Joshua Michael Allen was a delivery boy who hated his life and Metropolis who was caught in the middle of a battle between Superman and a giant parasite. Allen snapped and attacked the creature, electrocuting it and himself with a live wire. While at Star Labs to check his health from the encounter, their testing transformed him into a creature who constantly feels hunger for energy he obtains from people, leaving their molded skeletons. Tired of this kind of life, he tried to commit suicide and was rescued by Superman, from whom Allen absorbed energy like never before. This eased the pain and hunger he experienced, until his energy was depleted. Allen was imprisoned in Belle Reve.
All incarnations of the Parasite have the ability to temporarily absorb the life-energy, superpowers, and knowledge of their victims through physical contact, and are also able to drain virtually any other form of energy and use it as a power source.
In particular, Rudy Jones is granted enhanced strength, intelligence, agility, durability, and reflexes by absorbing the energy of other beings. When Jones drains other super-powered individuals, he gains their abilities for a limited period of time until he "runs out of life-energy" and must seek a new prey to "feed on". He is shown to have a heightened sense of perception that allows him to detect the life-force and power within other beings. While drawing the energy of ordinary humans is almost instantaneous, it takes a notably longer time in the case of immensely powerful beings, which gives the victim more time to react and free themselves from Parasite's grip. Following an encounter with the Strange Visitor, however, Parasite's powers were enhanced and enable him to retain the energy he takes for longer as well as granting Jones the ability to shape-shift; he can now physically morph into his victims right down to their DNA, being able to access their memories, gain their natural abilities, and mimic their voices. The Parasite's biggest weakness is that he also absorbs the weaknesses of his victims and cannot counter such susceptibilities even when he has other abilities that should; when he absorbed both Superman and Livewire's powers, he retained the latter's vulnerability to water despite possessing the former's near-invulnerability.
An alternate version of Parasite appeared in DC Comics' All-Star Superman #5 as an antagonist in the main subplot. He passes by Clark Kent who is interviewing Lex Luthor, a prisoner on Death Row at the 'Stryker's Island' prison. Clark is surprised to see the Parasite, and the entity feeds on Superman's ambient energy. This provides enough power for the Parasite to go on a murderous rampage. The sheer amount of energy causes the Parasite to evolve into little more than a body and a mouth. Clark uses subterfuge and his strength to ultimately defeat the creature. Lex believes his attempts actually helped.
Parasite was one of the main characters in the second Marvel/DC crossover between Spider-Man and Superman (Marvel Treasury Edition #28). In this story, he was recruited by Doctor Doom as an agent in Doom's latest plan to conquer the world by wiping out all power sources but his own fusion reactor. Doom claimed that he needed the Parasite to function as an invincible bodyguard, capturing the Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman and giving the Parasite a harness that would allow him to retain their powers for prolonged periods. However, Doom's true intention was to kill the Parasite by allowing him to absorb so much power that his cells would burst, causing Parasite to, according to Doom's calculations, transform into a crystalline mass that would allow Doom to perfect the reactor by using its energy-manipulation abilities to control the reactor's power output. This plan was thwarted when the Parasite briefly absorbed Spider-Man's powers, causing his borrowed spider-sense to alert him to Doom's treachery and turn on Doom, although he was subsequently defeated by Superman using a gauntlet of Doom's that prevented the Parasite from absorbing his energy when he was attacked.
Justice features the faceless, pre-Crisis version of the Parasite as part of the Legion of Doom. While not identified by name in the story, it is revealed via Batman's computer files that this version of the Parasite is Maxwell Jensen. He first appears in issue four as part of a group of villains sent to kill Superman (alongside Bizarro, Solomon Grundy, and Metallo), draining Superman's powers before Metallo exposes Superman to his Kryptonite heart. The quartet are soon defeated by Captain Marvel, who slams Metallo's heart into Parasite to defeat him. Lex Luthor teleports to the group almost immediately after Marvel and Superman leave to the Batcave, literally scolding the group as he returns Metallo his heart, telling Parasite he also gets Superman's weaknesses as well as his strengths. He is later seen giving Luthor an unconscious Supergirl. When the Justice League attacks the Hall of Doom, Parasite initially attacks Aquaman using some of Supergirl's powers, hoping to take his powers and threatens Mera's life, and is subsequently stabbed by Aquaman. Gold later tries to imprison him in his body, hoping to turn Parasite into gold, but is distracted after Platinum is attacked by Metallo. After escaping he takes Black Adam's powers and Metallo's heart to kill Superman, but he is still unable to beat the Man of Steel and is defeated by the lightning bolt from Black Adam saying Shazam!.
In the DC Kingdom Come alternate timeline, the Parasite is involved in the explosion that destroys Kansas. This incarnation of Parasite is the Raymond Maxwell Jensen version. Besieged by a group of metahumans led by Magog, the weakened Parasite desperately lashes out at Captain Atom, tearing through his outer shell and causing the Captain's nuclear energy to erupt. The ensuing explosion destroys everything within a large radius and annihilates over a million people. With the exception of Magog and the enormous hero Alloy, none of the metahumans involved in the battle, including the Parasite, are shown to survive.
Parasite is the primary antagonist in Superman: Earth One Volume Two, the sequel to Superman: Earth One. This incarnation of Parasite is the Raymond Maxwell Jensen version. Raymond Jensen was a criminal who would do anything to get what he wanted, including murder. His back story reveals that he has been sociopathic since childhood and delights in killing anyone or anything for pleasure. After an accident at S.T.A.R. Labs, he becomes a serial-killing metahuman with the ability to absorb energy and life force through physical contact and to convert that energy into health and power for himself. This increases his strength, durability, muscle mass, and allows him to project the energy as a weapon. By absorbing Superman's life force, he gains his powers and renders the Man of Steel powerless. Ray has a sister named Theresa Jensen, who believes that her brother is a consultant with a real estate firm, unaware of his status as a murderous criminal until his transformation.
In Art Baltazar's Superman Family Adventures, Otis from the Richard Donner Superman movies became this universe's Parasite. Lex grabs a purple rock from space that Otis keeps instead of throwing away, which takes over his body and allows him Parasite's abilities. Rather than commit villainous acts, Otis focuses his efforts on living Superman's life and dubs himself the "Purple Superman" before Lois calls him Parasite. Superman defeats him by putting oven mitts on his hands while avoiding Otis, causing Otis to eventually lose Superman's powers and tire out.
The Joshua Michael Allen (modeled after the Rudy Jones version's appearance) version of the Parasite appears in Injustice: Gods Among Us's prequel comic. In Year Five, Parasite is fightning against the Cyborg and Hal Jordan in Coast City until Superman arrive and takes him to the sun, where he throw Parasite, apparently killing him.
Rudy Jones/Parasite is featured in the DC animated universe.
This list encompasses fictional characters and species who are parasites and/or parasitoids.
|Objects and material|
|History and themes|
|In other media|
|In other media|