* Featured Article.
Zzzax, The Living Dynamo is a supernatural character, an electricity-based
elemental super-villain, in the humanoid-shaped form of a glowing giant
monstrous creature. It or "he" first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #166
(August 1973). Zzzax is a character in the Marvel Universe in the Earth-616
dimension. It was created by Steve Englehart, Herb Trimpe, and Sal Trapani.
Zzzax, The Living Dynamo.
Zzzax, The Living Dynamo. The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe.
Art by Mike Zeck and Joe Rubenstein from 1983 (above) and by
Steve Geiger, Rubenstein, and James Fry from 1987 (below).
Zzzax, The Living Dynamo is an elemental creature that was formed
from electricity by an accident at a Consolidated Edison nuclear
power plant. Zzzax is a freak of nature. It is a being of pure energy--
"a semi-sentient electromagnetic construct of psionic energy."
Zzzax is an "electromagnetic intelligence," a psionically-charged
electromagnetic field that has a giant humanoid form and which is
capable of crude human level intelligence and superhuman strength.
As a sentient electromagnetic energy field, Zzzax survives only by
absorbing smaller electromagnetic energy fields into its own. It
especially enjoys absorbing the life pulse energies of human brains,
usually incinerating its victims in the process. It went on to become
a formidable Marvel Comics super-villain, as an arch-enemy of
the Incredible Hulk, the Avengers, and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Zzzax generally appears as a gargantuan mass of electrical "sparks"
in humanoid form. It is highly luminescent, whitish-yellow in color,
and emits the smell of ozone. It can appear as 40 feet tall at its
maximum height while at its highest level of power.
Powers and Abilities:
Electrical Field Manipulation.
Thermal Nuclear Radiation.
Psionic Tracking Capabilities.
The Origin of Zzzax,
The Destroyer From The Dynamo!
Zzzax first battled the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk #166. (August 1973)
Art by Herb Trimpe and Sal Trapani.
Friday. May 4, 1973. Zzzax was to be created by a group of radical terrorists, a violent youth revolutionary faction that planned to use bombs to attack an electrical power plant, as they wanted to destroy the facility they felt was a danger to them. When they sneaked into the building, they threw bombs at the generators, trying to destroy government control over New York City. Zzzax was the product of the resulting nuclear accident that occurred at the Consolidated Edison nuclear power plant when the group of heavily-armed terrorists made their first attempt to shut down the power for New York City to cause a city-wide blackout. They could not imagine the ultimate danger to all of humanity that they were in the process of creating, in this act of violence, as the huge dynamo ruptured, and it blazingly exploded. As the ironic result of the terrorist attack, the rest of the nuclear reactor's dynamos exploded, caused by the force of the explosions, started an unexpected chain reaction within the atomic chamber.
A new type of nuclear fusion took place, as multiple balls of nuclear energy started to form and expand. The incident created a psionically charged electromagnetic field that absorbed the electrolytes of the nearby humans' brains, granting the fusion of nuclear energy a rudimentary sentience. The rampant energy grew and absorbed several engineers working at the plant. The electrical energy that resides in the human brain allowed the energy to take a living shape. As the electromagnetic form grew, it incinerated those people who stood in its way, absorbing the electro-psionic fields generated by their brains, and thus it acquired active human intelligence.
Zzzax, the Living Dynamo's creation in The Incredible Hulk #166.
Art by Herb Trimpe and Sal Trapani.
It absorbed the electricity from the brains of that group of humans, and thus gained sentience, as a being of pure electricity which now could interact with the physical world. Once the energy that spewed forth came into contact with its first human victims, Zzzax was born and it gained self-awareness. Zzzax realized that it needed to feed on more humans to maintain thought. As it began to think and became aware of its surroundings, it developed rudimentary speech and named itself Zzzax in imitation of the electrostatic "crackle" it made when it moved. As it killed more human beings, it grew more and more intelligent; consequently it began a campaign of murder and destruction in order to increase its intelligence further.
Zzzax, the Living Dynamo's first appearance. Concluding its origin sequence in The Incredible Hulk #166. Art by Herb Trimpe and Sal Trapani.
"Zzzax--Me! Can think--with energy from humanzz' brainzz! Muzzt have more! Muzzt! Me Zzzax!" Newly formed from the electrical explosion at the Con-Edison nuclear power plant, Zzzax thoughtfully introduced and explained itself to its initial human victims with these fatal first words. Although Zzzax was a being composed of energy, what passed as its corporeal form was able to lift matter as a normal humanoid body (as though it had hands, muscles, and a skeletal structure). Zzzax possessed vastly immense superhuman strength, with the ability to lift in excess of 100 tons or more based on its level of strength and the amount of energy it had absorbed at the time. Zzzax possessed nearly limitless stamina and demi-godlike durability due to the quasi-physical nature of its body. It was capable of hovering its body in the air and could fly, but it did not achieve a velocity any faster than that of an ordinary human of its size who was running or walking at the same speed on level ground. Zzzax could fire extraordinarily powerful blasts of electricity, and its tremendously high voltage enabled it to incinerate all matter in its path. It could generate electricity (usually in the form of lightning bolts), manipulate nearby electrical fields. Zzzax's touch was deadly, and it fired bolts of energy and controlled magnetic force, being able to fly and travel through electrical power line cables. This control over electrical current also extended to the human nervous system. Zzzax absorbed electricity from the human brain to survive, using the ability to absorb electromagnetic fields, thoughts, desires, and psionic energy from human brains. This killed its victims, and usually gave Zzzax temporary personality traits similar to those of the person it had absorbed. Zzzax was forced to constantly feed off from electrical sources-- be them from power plants or electrolytes in the human brain, and perhaps because of this, it was able to control individuals through psionic means when surrounded. Zzzax was vulnerable to attacks that absorbed, grounded, or controlled its energy. When the energy that composed Zzzax's quasi-physical body was dispersed or nullified it somehow always reformed itself. Zzzax was extremely difficult to restrain or damage. Zzzax was superhumanly strong and could release its electrical energy in quantities sufficient to destroy entire city blocks in minutes, although it had to regularly replenish its bodily energy to maintain cohesion. At its most powerful, Zzzax could grow to forty feet tall and carried a voltage of several hundred thousand kilowatts that could be almost totally expended over a twenty minute period. Zzzax subsisted by drawing all available electromagnetic fields into its own. The electromagnetic fields housed by human brains, when absorbed, added to Zzzax's increased level of stored psionic energy, making it more intelligent. For an unknown reason, Zzzax found this absorption of electrical/psionic energy from human brains pleasurable, and therefore undertook the murders of human beings for their psionic energy whenever possible. In absorbing this psionic energy from a human victim, Zzzax would incinerate the victim's body. Zzzax's own thoughts and behavior could be influenced by strong desires on the part of the human beings whose psionic energy it has consumed. The psionic energy it absorbed from human brains actually increased Zzzax's own intelligence, which was usually a limited approximation of human intelligence at best. While composed of energy, Zzzax was an intelligent being, usually capable of speech and thought. The creature went on a rampage, absorbing brains, and starting fires. It killed many victims, including police, firefighters, and emergency workers. Zzzax's fatal attacks invariably resulted in painful deaths for those bystanders unfortunate enough to get in its way, thus making Zzzax into a terrifying monster and a remorseless mass murderer.
Television news flash report of Zzzax's first murderous rampage.
Art by Herb Trimpe and Sal Trapani.
Zzzax clashed with the authorities, who attempted but failed to capture and control it, and fatally had no information as to its origin. Alerted to the danger of Zzzax via live television coverage provided by a mobile news van, the masked archer hero from the Avengers known as Hawkeye raced on his way to the rescue at New York City's Union Square. A police officer awoke the sleeping Bruce Banner in an alley and warned him to run away from Zzzax. However, Zzzax was already in hiding there, and it knocked him out with an electric jolt.
The unconscious Bruce Banner was helpless before the power of Zzzax.
Art by Herb Trimpe and Sal Trapani.
Zzzax's trail of utter destruction was easy for Hawkeye to follow. The masked archer soon found Zzzax preparing to absorb the unconscious half-naked Bruce Banner's scientific genius-level intelligence and kill him. Hawkeye saw that Zzzax was made of electricity and tried to disrupt the creature with an electrically-charged arrow from a nearby rooftop. Zzzax blasted furiously back at Hawkeye, as the masked hero ran for cover. Then Bruce awoke and realized the danger.
Zzzax was attacked by his gamma radiation powered alter-ego:
For Bruce Banner was The Incredible Hulk.
Zzzax's superhuman strength has enabled it to battle the Hulk nearly to a standstill. Zzzax had burned the Hulk's skin to a slight degree. Zzzax was seemingly unable to absorb psionic energy from its first recurring adversary, the Hulk. Only its foe the Hulk has proven immune to this ability. However, Zzzax could sometimes take limited control over the electrical/psionic impulses in the Hulk's nervous system, thereby controlled activities of the Hulk's strong muscles. Even the Hulk himself was susceptible to the ability of Zzzax to override the nervous systems of those it encountered, and it gained temporary physical control of its opponents and its victims' bodies. Zzzax could manipulate outside sources of electrical energy to an unknown extent. It has used this power to control the Hulk's motor skills through manipulation of the nervous system, since the Hulk was more than a physical match for Zzzax and was immune to the electrical creature's deadly brain-absorbing power.
Hawkeye watched on, as the Hulk battled Zzzax in Defenders #7.
(August 1973) (flashback) Art by Sal Buscema and Frank Bolle.
Zzzax first came into conflict with the Hulk, but both monsters were confronted with resistance from the Avenger known as Hawkeye.
While Zzzax clashed with the Hulk, Hawkeye tried to prevent the Hulk from fighting Zzzax. Art by Herb Trimpe and Sal Trapani.
The Hulk knocked down the building that Hawkeye was on, as he fought back and forth with Zzzax. Wanting to kill rather than fight, Zzzax struck the Hulk with a lethal energy bolt and left him for dead. Angry about being burned in this way, the Hulk wanted revenge.
Zzzax still required greater human intelligence to survive. It attacked the remaining humans as they attempted to escape from the blacked-out neighborhood. The Hulk leaped down, and he battled Zzzax again.
Hawkeye tried to drive the Hulk off again with a gas bomb, then he lured Zzzax to attack him, as the archer let loose another arrow.
Hawkeye hit Zzzax with a foam arrow. He hoped to put out Zzzax like an electrical fire. But the Living Dynamo's intense nuclear energy burned away the foam within seconds, leaving Zzzax momentarily slowed and staggered. Zzzax refused to die. The Hulk attacked again.
The mobile news van crew recorded the epic battle with Zzzax
in Marvels #4. (April 1994) Art by Alex Ross.
Zzzax threw Hawkeye off a dock into the East River. Zzzax tried, but it failed to electrocute Hawkeye in the water from the dock. Soon the swimming archer realized that Zzzax could not complete a circuit. He came up with a plan to defeat Zzzax and warned the Hulk to get back.
Hawkeye shot an arrow attached to a long conducting wire through Zzzax and back into the water. Zzzax short-circuited, as its entire constituent field dissolved and dissipated, but everyone still watching the battle thought the Hulk did it. As in this first encounter, Zzzax has been repeatedly defeated over the years by its initial recurring adversaries, Hawkeye and the Hulk. (Incredible Hulk #166)
The Return of Zzzax, Fury At 50,000 Volts!
Zzzax again battled the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk #183. (January 1975)
Art by Herb Trimpe.
Zzzax could be dispersed or otherwise rendered inert, if its field was grounded or otherwise disrupted. Zzzax was believed destroyed on several occasions in the past, but it inevitably reformed itself, often in the course of an accident, a tragic event, or a scientific disaster.
October 2, 1974. Zzzax was revived for the first time one year and five months later, as the result of a fatal accident that took place during a scientific experiment performed at Soul-Star Research Center in Chicago, by a team of three advanced electronics research project scientists, Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates Mark Revel, Stan Landers, and Barefoot Alexandria "Barefoot Alex" Knox founded the project. They developed a mechanism that was allegedly capable of collecting and recording the scattered electrical brain wave patterns of any human being who had ever existed. As full partners in the Soul-Star Project, the trio attempted to invent a machine that would extract electronic impulses from space. They believed that all thought in existence would exist forever in space, and by using their machine they'd learn all of the thoughts that ever existed throughout history. They were assisted by their new partner Bruce Banner, who met them by chance. Bruce aided them in quickly completing their experiments. When activated during the final test, the machine made contact with an unusual intense field of electro-psionic energy in the stratosphere, which were the remnants of Zzzax. The collected electrical impulses formed a field of sufficient energy to explode the overloaded machine's titanium casing. Zzzax emerged from the wreckage.
The revived Zzzax threatened the Soul-Star scientists. Art by Herb Trimpe.
Zzzax was reformed and once again it was a thinking and living nuclear electrical being. Zzzax attacked the scientists, and it soon claimed the life and personality of one of their own. Zzzax went to feed on the unconscious Barefoot Alex, but Stan saved Barefoot Alex by putting her helmet on. Unfortunately Stan didn't save himself, and without his own helmet to protect his brain, he was seized by his head and Zzzax completely incinerated him, leaving behind only his radiation suit.
When Stan was killed by Zzzax, the electrical creature absorbed his electro-psionic energy. Zzzax absorbed Stan's last thoughts when it killed him. Zzzax sometimes took on the personality characteristics of its victims, as when it inherited victim Stan Landers' love for his beautiful barefoot lady colleague, Barefoot Alexandria Knox. As a result of this absorption, Zzzax found itself influenced by Stan's intense love for his beloved Barefoot Alex and it abducted her, for Zzzax didn't want to hurt Barefoot Alex because of Stan's love for her. Zzzax blocked the exit, there was no escape.
Before Zzzax could carry out its abduction of the barefoot female scientist it now loved, it was compelled by its hunger to feed on the genius-level minds of the men. Outraged by Stan's death, Bruce transformed into the Hulk and he fought to save Barefoot Alex. Zzzax abducted Barefoot Alex and fled.
Mark Revel convinced the Hulk to go after Zzzax. Once again, Zzzax battled the Hulk. This time on the 100-story tall John Hancock Center.
The Hulk asked Zzzax to give the barefoot girl to him. Zzzax refused.
The battle began. The monsters fought, as Barefoot Alex witnessed the battle.
The raging battle gave the two surviving Soul-Star scientists the opportunity to dispose of the energy creature. Determined to save Barefoot Alex, Mark arrived in a helicopter and he fired a sufficient length of copper wire cord through Zzzax from the helicopter. Mark flew the aerial vehicle upwards, which still held one end of the wire, heading directly into a thunderstorm above in which the helicopter was struck by a bolt of lightning. The Hulk saved the lives of Mark and Barefoot Alex, when Zzzax and the circuit-linked helicopter exploded together.
As the result, Zzzax was short-circuited and dissipated once again. (Incredible Hulk #183)
Zzzax's Battle With Luke Cage,
A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight!
Zzzax fought Luke Cage in Luke Cage, Power Man #47. (October 1977)
Art by Gil Kane and Pablo Marcos.
July 25, 1977. Despite the valiant attempts made to destroy it, Zzzax still lived and it sought revenge on all of humanity. It returned to life again, when Chicago's new Breeder Nuclear Reactor Power Station underwent a power core malfunction. The nuclear power plant's foreman Will Robinson suited up, and he went into the reactor core to dampen the radiation, unaware that Zzzax existed again, and it posed an even greater danger to the city, as it went to kill him.
Zzzax absorbed the mental energy of two dozen brilliant minds, as it
became increasingly more intelligent and was even more dangerous.
Art by George Tuska and Bob Smith.
The electrical creature next battled Luke Cage in its pursuit of Barefoot Alexandria Knox, still feeling its love for her, to make her its own.
Once outside, Luke threw a utility pole at Zzzax, hoping to hurt it.
Zzzax burned away the pole, then it attempted to feed on Luke. While he was not immune to Zzzax's power like the Hulk, Luke was resistant to shocks, leaving him weakened rather than dead. Zzzax would have continued this torture, but Barefoot Alex saved Luke by luring it to chase after her, as she ran swiftly away. As Barefoot Alex ran, she wisely splashed her typically always bare feet across several rain water street puddles to slow down Zzzax. As Luke recovered, he planned out a way to attack Zzzax.
When Barefoot Alex's running bare feet were clear of the electro-conductive rain water and she was safely standing with her bare feet on dry pavement, Luke smashed a fire hydrant and he threw a power cable at Zzzax.
Zzzax remembered having been destroyed this way once before. It evaporated the rain water and exploded the hydrant. Then it sent another hard electric shock at Luke, knocking him unconscious.
Zzzax's electrical energy flowed through the steam-dried concrete, until it reached the slender bare feet of the waiting barefoot woman, Barefoot Alex Knox.
Then, the alert Barefoot Alex sensed the odd feeling underfoot of static shock crackling over the warm asphalt, sparkling beneath the soles of her always bare feet. Stripping away her red evening gown, the undressed barefoot lady scientist rapidly escaped as fast as possible when
Zzzax appeared, but she abruptly came to a halt as it took full control over her brain's motor functions. The mind-controlled, half-naked beautiful barefoot lady scientist involuntarily followed Zzzax to the power station, where it planned to destroy her human body and transform her into yet another genderless Living Dynamo, so that they could spend all of eternity together. Meanwhile, Mark Revel awakened Luke Cage. They came up with a desperate plan to save Barefoot Alex and destroy Zzzax.
Having absorbed several brilliant minds since its latest resurrection, Zzzax intended to use its newfound genius to activate a molecular transformer and apply a para-magnetron power grid to force Barefoot Alex's transformation into a monstrous being like itself. Barefoot Alex screamed, as Luke burst into the room and he bravely fought against Zzzax again.
Barefoot Alex was subjected to a series of painful electric jolts, each one greater than the last to condition her mind to electrical existence, while the machine built up the needed power to destroy her body and to recreate her mind's psychic energy manifest as a mate for Zzzax. Mark entered the room and blasted Zzzax with sub-zero liquid helium used in the event of nuclear meltdowns.
Zzzax collided with Luke as the floor began to flash-freeze under the deadly released helium. Luke tried to free Barefoot Alex from the machine as her nearly-naked body started to glow brightly.
Zzzax struggled with Luke, as the hero threw the monster into the frozen helium. He freed Barefoot Alex, but their escape route from Zzzax was blocked off by the ultra-frigid helium ice. Zzzax lost one leg to the instant helium freezing exposure, but it still survived and it healed.
This confrontation resulted in Mark Revel's death, just like his friend Stan Landers before him. Zzzax had managed to attack and kill Mark, because the desperate scientist was suited up only to protect himself from the frozen helium, and not safe from the deadly power of Zzzax.
Luke fought to avenge Mark's death. He pinned Zzzax to the transformer with a metal bar and rescued Alex from the facility.
Zzzax was magnetically trapped by the machine, long enough
for the frozen material to explode it. This ultimately caused the
disappearance of Zzzax for some time, until another activated
Soul-Star designed device would free it again, six years later.
(Luke Cage, Power Man #47)
Zzzax In A Maze.
May 1980. The Soul-Star Corporation went out of business, and the
now-defunct company sold off all of its assets to Stark International.
The faulty power core which now stored Zzzax was briefly switched on
for a diagnostic testing, creating a microscopic version of Zzzax.
The tiny creature spent the rest of the month vainly searching
for a way out of the machine, which was now a confusing maze to it.
When Zzzax finally found the way out, it dissipated upon reaching
open air, having mastered the maze, but failed to escape in time
to re-energize. (Fun And Games Magazine #12)
Zzzax's Attack At Northwind Observatory.
Zzzax battled the Intelligent Hulk in The Incredible Hulk #285. (July 1983)
Art by Ron Wilson and Joe Sinnott.
April 15, 1983. A few years later, Zzzax returned, when the faulty Soul-Star generator power core was purchased by Tony Stark for Bruce Banner. When Stark International constructed a new laboratory for Dr. Bruce Banner (who was also the Hulk), the company made the mistake of purchasing the central power core from the now-defunct Soul-Star Research Complex. A small portion of Zzzax's electro-psionic field still lay dormant in this device which powered Soul-Star's previous experiments. All it needed was the power to grow to full size, in order to rapidly escape the maze of micro-circuitry within the machine. Architect Scott Lang was building the new research center for Bruce Banner. The unit was hastily installed by Scott, at Bruce's newly-constructed Northwind Observatory. As the men attached the power source, Scott mentioned from where they bought the power generator: Soul-Star Research. Bruce was nearby and tried to stop the construction workers from connecting the generator unit, but he was too late. When the generator was hooked up, a sudden surge of electromagnetic discharge was released, which brought Zzzax fully back into existence, once more. Zzzax emerged from the generator.
Northwind Observatory. Zzzax returned to life, to menace all of humanity.
Art by Sal Buscema and Chic Stone.
All of the workers were still alive, but they were all knocked out, and they could not escape from Zzzax. Bruce was now in full control of the Hulk. Bruce didn't want any innocent lives lost, so he transformed into the Hulk again, in order to fight Zzzax and save the lives of all of the unconscious workers. Zzzax remembered the Hulk.
The Hulk leaped and hit Zzzax, but it promptly shocked him and threw him aside. He attempted again to directly attack Zzzax, but failed with the same results. Zzzax went to feed on the humans, so it could have the strength and intelligence to kill the Hulk. Bruce plowed into Zzzax and even got a few shots in, but again he was shocked and knocked back down. After this brief battle, the Hulk, who at this point retained Bruce Banner's intelligence when in his superhumanly strong form, he refused to give up in his fight against Zzzax.
Bruce figured out that he needed to play to his strengths, namely his scientific genius that could be used to eliminate Zzzax. He grabbed the wires from the Soul-Star generator and he leaped through Zzzax.
The Hulk ran the power cables through Zzzax which were connected to the generator and drew its power from interstellar resources.
Bruce plugged in the generator. He then reversed the power flow of the generator's polarity, instead of receiving power from the stars, to shooting the energy back into space. He defeated Zzzax, drawing it into the stellar-powered generator. Zzzax was returned to space, where it dissipated. For the first time, Bruce Banner had used his knowledge of how Zzzax was defeated in the past to once again channel the energy creature away, this time without any casualties. (Incredible Hulk #285)
The Legion Accursed's Battle With The Beyonder.
October 30-31, 1985. Zzzax was later restored to Earth yet again,
to attend the most massive army of super-villains ever assembled
by Mephisto to battle the Thing, in a failed attempt to destroy the
omnipotent being known as the Beyonder. (Secret Wars II #7)
Zzzax And The Fundamental Forces.
Zzzax, Quantum, and Barefoot Lady Halflife battled Hawkeye,
Barefoot Lady Mockingbird, Iron Man, and Wonder Man
in West Coast Avengers #12. (September 1986)
Art by Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott.
July 28, 1986. Horesham Nuclear Power Plant at Diablo Canyon, California suffered a meltdown, as the mysterious alien barefoot villainess known as Barefoot Lady Halflife escaped from the reactor, by the powers of the super-villain, Graviton. Barefoot Lady Halflife walked out of the nuclear reactor. When she passed beneath some power lines, the cables broke loose and fell down. Zzzax returned to life, emerging from high voltage lines connected to the power plant. Exactly how Zzzax reformed this time is unknown, but its recreation is probably at least in part the work of Graviton, who sought Zzzax as an ally. Zzzax emerged from the electricity and it was compelled to follow Barefoot Lady Halflife trustingly.
Zzzax and Barefoot Lady Halflife were revived through the powers of Graviton, who wanted allies with powers like Zzzax to fulfill his team totally comprised of those who controlled the four fundamental forces, of which Zzzax represented electro-magnetism. The revived Zzzax teamed up with this group of fundamental force energy-themed elemental super-villains Graviton, Quantum, and Barefoot Lady Halflife in a battle with Hawkeye and his West Coast Avengers teammates.
Zzzax was briefly allied with the Fundamental Forces until the
West Coast Avengers defeated them. The villains converged on a
busy street in Los Angeles. The L.A. police called in Hawkeye's
West Coast Avengers team. Zzzax remembered Hawkeye, who
remembered Zzzax as well. Hawkeye knew how to easily defeat
Zzzax, except there was no water. On Hawkeye's suggestion, he had
Wonder Man rip up and uprooted a water main beneath the street,
which Wonder Man then used to shoot a torrent of water at Zzzax.
Wonder Man sprayed down Zzzax. Hawkeye then shot his cable arrow
carrying a conducting wire through Zzzax and into the puddle of water
upon which Zzzax was standing. Zzzax was grounded and its field was
disrupted. Zzzax was easily dissipated and dispersed once again by
this same tactic, like the entity was defeated by Hawkeye as before,
in their first encounter. (West Coast Avengers #12)
November 17, 1986. Four months after Hawkeye and Wonder Man defeated Zzzax in their last encounter, the creature had regenerated into its humanoid shape, but it was by then located and imprisoned by the paramilitary espionage agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. The agents worked carefully to bring in Zzzax, soon after it was captured by the West Coast Avengers. Zzzax was kept confined and remained stored within a large insulated vacuum tube, until it was transferred into a special chamber that was used at Gamma Base, New Mexico.
Zzzax was held captive by S.H.I.E.L.D. for the first time
in The Incredible Hulk #325. (November 1986)
Art by Steve Geiger and Bob McLeod.
During the night, Zzzax caused a power outage when it managed
to find a poorly under-insulated spot in the shielding of its prison.
Zzzax shorted out the base's electrical power supply, but it failed
to escape the stasis field when the emergency generators kicked in,
since most of the security systems were still functional.
(Incredible Hulk #325)
November 19, 1986. Two days later, former U.S. Army and Air Force General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, who was obsessed with his deeply-rooted desire to destroy the Hulk, submitted to a S.H.I.E.L.D. experiment to transform him into a superhuman being, by infusing some of Zzzax's "living electricity" into Ross's own body, on the following occasion of Zzzax's captivity by S.H.I.E.L.D. The Hulk's long-time antagonist General "Thunderbolt" Ross, desperately underwent the experimental shock treatment conditioning, that would imbue him with the ability to survive exposure to Zzzax's living electricity, to become a superhuman with the powers of Zzzax in order to defeat the Hulk. Ross ultimately intended for his deranged mind instead to be transferred into Zzzax's form, as the result of this dangerous tactical experiment initiated by S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Clay Quartermain.
S.H.I.E.L.D. prepared to experiment on Zzzax and Ross
in The Incredible Hulk #326 (December 1986)
Art by Steve Geiger and Joe Rubinstein.
"Thunderbolt" Ross was determined to become Zzzax, so he could
hunt down the Hulk. Zzzax intended to feed on Ross and to escape.
As the procedure went on, Ross continued to be shocked as
he received greater exposures to Zzzax's living energy. One of
the operatives opened the channel a bit more. Suddenly, Zzzax
penetrated both machines and it finally had Ross. The experiment
then went awry, as Ross's psychic energy--his mind, in effect--was
absorbed by Zzzax, and it broke free when this caused an explosion.
Unfortunately, the experiment backfired, and Ross' psionic energy was absorbed into the revived Zzzax. Strangely, Ross's mind, perhaps because of the strength of his bitter hatred for the Hulk, took control of Zzzax, Ross's consciousness governed Zzzax's body and submerged Zzzax's own personality. The glass tube exploded and Zzzax thought like Ross, calling the unconscious S.H.I.E.L.D. agents "milksops."
Now it had a mind only for revenge against the Hulk. Zzzax was compelled to spare the lives of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents while under Ross's influence. As long as Ross was able to dominate Zzzax's mind, it burst from the laboratory building and it flew out after the Hulk.
Meanwhile, Ross's original physical body also remained alive, except that all of his body's independent thought processes had ceased; only involuntary functions of the nervous system (such as those that controlled the heartbeat) continued. "Thunderbolt" Ross was the one victim of Zzzax that actually had survived and usurped control of Zzzax's psyche for some time until later regaining his own human form. Ross's friends and loved ones were sympathetic to the Ross-controlled Zzzax, which proved to be a somewhat more reasonable entity than the original. However, only in the case of "Thunderbolt" Ross had a victim's consciousness actually supplanted Zzzax's own as the dominant one, controlling Zzzax's physical form, rather than giving Zzzax new temporary personality traits and intelligence.
"Thunderbolt" Zzzax later found the Hulk. Two of them, in fact.
Controlled by Ross's thought patterns, Zzzax tried unsuccessfully
to kill both Bruce Banner and Rick Jones, who had recently become
a Hulk-like monster himself. Bruce was now once again the original
Grey Hulk, and Rick had become a new savage Green Hulk. Zzzax
blasted the real Hulk, who turned into Bruce and fell unconscious.
Zzzax then prepared fight the other Hulk, as midnight approached.
(Incredible Hulk #326)
"Thunderbolt" Zzzax battled the Rick Jones Hulk in
The Incredible Hulk #327 (January 1987) Art by Al Milgrom.
November 20, 1986. Midnight came, as the new Zzzax confronted the new Hulk. Becoming Zzzax caused Ross's mind to become clouded. Zzzax thought that the Rick Jones Hulk was actually Bruce Banner, and Zzzax/Ross swore to destroy the Hulk in revenge.
"Thunderbolt" Zzzax threatened to destroy the new Hulk.
Art by Steve Geiger and Sam DelaRosa.
Ross, as Zzzax, fought against the Rick Jones Hulk while he was confronted by Bruce Banner. Zzzax blasted at the Hulk repeatedly. Bruce ran out and said if it was revenge Ross wanted, then to take it out on him and not the Hulk. Ross/Zzzax was confused at this. Ross/Zzzax decided to blast both at Bruce and the new Hulk.
Zzzax blasted the ground beneath their bare feet. In order to regain the full advantage of being barefoot, the new Hulk instinctively took to leaping with his swiftly-moving bare feet to avoid being further grounded by the electrical particles that Zzzax was manipulating.
Ross/Zzzax zapped the Hulk into the nearby lake. Bruce lured
Ross/Zzzax to swoop down on him, but Bruce dodged, then he
commanded the Hulk to splash Ross/Zzzax with the water.
Ross/Zzzax exploded, but it quickly managed to fuse back together.
The Hulk leaped away with Bruce. Ross/Zzzax chased after them.
Hours later, Ross/Zzzax caught up and blasted them from behind.
Ross/Zzzax's battle with the Hulk caused an exploding Mobil station
to catch on fire. Bruce commanded the Hulk to throw sand on the fire.
Frustrated, Zzzax attacked the Hulk again with even greater voltages.
Ross/Zzzax kept blasting at the Hulk, and when that didn't kill him, Zzzax penetrated and entered the Hulk's body to possess him.
Ross/Zzzax tried to use the strength of Hulk's body in a vain attempt to kill him. Bruce tried to talk to Ross, but Ross knocked him away.
Being the Hulk made it harder for Ross to think, forcing Zzzax to escape as the sun came up.
Zzzax's consciousness took control of its own body again. Zzzax decided to absorb more human minds to drown out Ross's control.
As Zzzax went to consume a trapped barefoot mother and her two children, the strong consciousness of Ross broke through again. Zzzax's own consciousness resurfaced briefly, and it fought for dominance of its physical form with Ross, but his mind again took control over Zzzax.
Bruce pointed to Ross/Zzzax's reflection in a mirror. Ross became unbalanced by his absorption into Zzzax. When Bruce forced Ross to recognize that he now inhabited a monster's form, Ross was horrified.
Ross was convinced that he now inhabited a monster's body. Ross, ashamed that he'd threatened an innocent trapped family while in the form of Zzzax retreated. Still controlled by the Ross consciousness, Zzzax fled, distraught. Ross/Zzzax freaked out, and went flying away.
Zzzax's whereabouts and activities remained unknown for the next few months. It was not yet known whether Zzzax's own personality and consciousness would reclaim control of its physical form, or if Ross would ever return to full consciousness in his own human body.
(Incredible Hulk #327)
The End of "Thunderbolt" Zzzax.
"Thunderbolt" Ross recovered himself, and explained his transformation into Zzzax to his barefoot daughter, Barefoot Betty Ross-Talbot-Banner in The Incredible Hulk #330. (April 1987) Art by Todd McFarlane and Al Milgrom.
April 3, 1987. Over four months later, Ross successfully returned to his own body with the monster's electrical energy power still intact.
Ross threatened revenge on Bruce and Rick, though Ross himself was killed shortly afterwards. Instead of seeking out his revenge, "Thunderbolt" Ross sacrificed his own life to save his barefoot daughter, Barefoot Betty Banner from the deadly mutant parasite that called itself "Nevermind", unleashing the power of Zzzax, free from his influence as Ross died.
Exposure to Zzzax's living energy allowed Ross to defy his own
mortality. Ross was later returned to life on several occasions.
(Incredible Hulk #330)
Zzzax's Attack On Iron Man.
Zzzax battled Iron Man in Marvel Comics Presents #8. (December 1988)
Art by Charles Vess.
October 17, 1988. Twenty months after this incident, during a later
Stark International experimental generator testing run, Tony Stark
(a.k.a. Iron Man) ran an experiment that pulled Zzzax out of the air,
which overloaded Iron Man's generator, as it regenerated Zzzax.
Iron Man's generator unleashed Zzzax. Art by Javier Saltares and Chris Ivy.
Zzzax claimed to have gained enough energy from the generator that
it felt enough power to free itself from the now-deceased Ross's
influence, which had returned to Ross's body. It said that at long last,
once again it was Zzzax. It "thanked" Iron Man for his help by zapping
him. Iron Man attempted to blast back, but his repulsor blasts just
passed harmlessly through the attacking Zzzax. Iron Man created
several holograms of himself to distract Zzzax so he could think of
what to do. Iron Man tried to siphon Zzzax into his armor as energy.
Zzzax started to take control of the armor, but Iron Man managed to
expel it before it could. Zzzax had succeeded in defeating Iron Man.
It walked off leaving Iron Man without power.
Zzzax searched for more power, but for some reason it walked right
by the generator that Iron Man then used to recharge his armor.
Iron Man threw a metal cable through Zzzax. He then used liquid
nitrogen on the cable. He connected the ends of the cable together
at the last moment to short out Zzzax. (Marvel Comics Presents #8)
Zzzax's Battle With The Hulk And Power Pack.
Hydra agents unleashed Zzzax in Hulk and Power Pack #2. (June 2007)
Art by David Williams and Gary Martin.
August 12, 1990. Two years later, the terrorist organization known
as Hydra revived and imprisoned Zzzax. They planned to use it as
a biological weapon. Power Pack fought Hydra, who unleashed the
mysterious electrical specimen at a power plant in New York City.
Barefoot Katie Power was able to handle the dire situation by absorbing Zzzax into her body using the energy-absorbing properties of her bare hands and bare feet, although the barefoot girl would not be able to contain the living nuclear fury of Zzzax for very long.
At a scientific demonstration show later that day, given by the Power children's father James Power and his associate Bruce Banner, Barefoot Katie accidentally unleashed the entity. When the electro-magnetic field generator switched on, the flow of free electrons rising into the Barefoot Katie's beautiful always healthy bare feet from the Earth was suddenly halted. Without that vital natural energy entering her body and with Zzzax absorbing the rest, Barefoot Katie became sick. The barefoot girl nervously clinched the freshly-cut summer grass between her toes. The typically dusty, dirty soles of her always bare feet sparked with Zzzax's power, followed by the rest of her. Her barefoot anklets and toe-rings rapidly disintegrated from her bare feet. Barefoot Katie told her barefoot sister, Barefoot Julie that she didn't feel good, but it was already too late. Her body shimmered with Zzzax's parasitic energy. It burst free of her.
Zzzax's free radical energy exploded from Barefoot Katie's body to the machine. Bruce saved James from being electrocuted. Zzzax manifested itself.
Bruce confronted this creature that he remembered as the electrical
super-villain monster he encountered several times before as Zzzax.
Having regained the ability to turn into the Hulk during the day
over the previous month, Bruce transformed into the Green Hulk
and he surprised Zzzax. Then Power Pack joined the fight, although
the Hulk wanted the children to run away from the dangerous Zzzax.
The Hulk smashed the generator. Zzzax absorbed enough power to
survive for years. Barefoot Julie came up with a new plan to stop Zzzax.
Using the smashed generator and its power cable with a nearby water
source, Power Pack and the Hulk defeated Zzzax. It remained inactive
in New York City for the next three years. (Hulk and Power Pack #2)
Zzzax's Conflict With The Midnight Sons.
Zzzax was destructively unleashed by the mutant terrorist Paralyzer
in Midnight Sons Unlimited #3. (October 1993) Art by Vince Giarrano.
August 20, 1993. The mutant criminal Paralyzer used electrical energy
at the 14th Street Power Station to recreate and unleash the electrical
monster Zzzax upon the city as his powerful slave. The monstrous
Spider-X was hypnotized by Morbius the Living Vampire into a direct
confrontation with Zzzax. The Midnight Sons attacked Zzzax from
a distance. Zzzax was immune to heat (fire-but not mystical Hellfire)
that wasn't as extreme as the nuclear heat that it was generating.
Morbius had used his hypnotic powers to convince Spider-X to attack Zzzax. The Midnight Sons poured their own powers into the conflict, which caused a massive energy overload in Zzzax that killed and vaporized Spider-X. Zzzax was dissipated and stranded by the surged mystical energies into the timeless interdimensional realm of Limbo. (Midnight Sons Unlimited #3)
Zzzax On Earth-1082.
Zzzax was featured in the third episode of The Incredible Hulk cartoon,
entitled "Raw Power" which first aired on Sunday, September 22, 1996.
Art by Dan Thompson.
September 22, 1996. Earth-1082. Bruce Banner befriended a lonely
technical genius named Mitch McCutcheon working at the Nevada
Nuclear Research Facility. Their efforts to cure Bruce of being the
Hulk went horribly wrong when security agents attempted to shut
down the dangerous psionic field experiment they were attempting.
After Mitch's boss tried to shut down the experiment mid-way,
Bruce was trapped in the machine. The rampant energy shocked
Mitch after he saved Bruce. Mitch was caught in the breached
nuclear power core generator's explosion. He was possessed by
Zzzax and was accidentally transformed into the electrical creature.
Zzzax had remained trapped in Limbo for the last three years.
It had made its way to Earth-1082, where it awaited the raw power
it needed to manifest itself. Bursting from the heart of the runaway
nuclear chain reaction, Zzzax was once again a giant creature of pure
energy. Unique unto itself in all of the Multiverse, Zzzax still had only
one desire, to absorb more and more electrical energy and to become
larger and more powerful. Sensing the vast amounts of gamma energy
contained within the Hulk's body, Zzzax sought to absorb the Hulk of
Earth-1082 into itself. Firing powerful blasts of pure electricity, Zzzax
was still a match for whomever it faced. The Hulk confronted Zzzax at
the Hoover Dam. Zzzax was again defeated by the Hulk, who saved
Mitch by plunging Zzzax underwater, short-circuiting the electrical
monster to bring Mitch back. This action allowed Mitch to survive the
battle and restored his human form, since the laws of physics worked
differently on this Earth. The powerless Zzzax was trapped back in
Limbo for two more years, until it could finally return to its native
Earth-616 dimension. (Incredible Hulk Episode: Raw Power)
Zzzax's onomatopoeic unison voices in "Raw Power" were performed
by three voice actors: Michael Bell, Kevin Schon, and Lisa Zane.
Zzzax Action Figure.
Toy Biz produced a Zzzax action figure in 1997. It was part of the second wave of their Incredible Hulk line based upon this appearance from the animated series. The Zzzax action figure also included an energy trap.
Zzzax's Clash With Cable.
The mutant Cable battled Zzzax in Cable #59. (October 1998)
Art by José Ladronn and Juan Vlasco.
November 5, 1998. On Earth-616, Zzzax's remnants were remanded
to S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, for Zzzax was now to be used as a weapon.
S.H.I.E.L.D. was interested in taking down the mutant hero known
as Cable. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Jack Truman, alias Agent 18, was contracted
to kill Cable. Agent 18 set up shop in a junkyard in Hell's Kitchen.
To draw Cable out into the open, the S.H.I.E.L.D. soldier took the
old Gamma Base vacuum tube container with Zzzax's name on it that
was originally used to house Zzzax from the Ross experiments. It was
retrieved and given to him for use by his employers. Agent 18 found
slight psionic traces of Zzzax and generated a large electro-magnetic
field to bring Zzzax back to life in order to draw Cable out into the
open. Agent 18 recreated and unleashed Zzzax, so Cable would be
forced to confront it. The energy creature was resurrected yet again,
this time by the rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Truman to battle Cable.
A huge explosion took place that caused sparks to fly everywhere.
Zzzax came alive in the middle of Hell's Kitchen and it started to
tear up everything. Cable was in a nearby diner when he saw on the
television news that Zzzax was rampaging. Cable ran over and he
changed into his costume. Zzzax spotted Cable. It tried to blast him.
Cable got Zzzax to chase him back to the junkyard. Zzzax blasted
at him, but Cable dodged Zzzax as it tried again to punch him.
Cable attempted again to try to stop Zzzax, but its radical electrical
blasts caused Cable to lose whatever slight control he had over of the
techno-organic virus that was besieging his body. However, Zzzax
was also low on power, as it was rapidly weakening under the remote
control of Agent 18. Cable was thrown by Zzzax and he landed in a
puddle of water. Cable reached down and seized an open water main.
Ultimately, Cable was able to defeat Zzzax with the waterline, as he
pulled it up and aimed it full blast at Zzzax. Cable had managed to
take out the weakened Zzzax with the spraying water, as it began to
discorporate. Cable put out Zzzax as if it were a fire. The water
caused Zzzax to short itself out and disintegrated. Zzzax was swiftly
dissipated. It returned to Limbo for five more years. (Cable #59)
Zzzax On Earth-886.
March 21, 2003. Earth-886. David Brian Banner, Bruce Banner's
abusive father, became the Absorbing Man of Earth-886 and generated the
electromagnetic power of the interdimensional electricity-based monster
Zzzax in the final battle sequence of Ang Lee's HULK film. Special effects
art by Dennis Muren, Colin Brady, Edward Hirsh, and Michael Lantieri.
The Hulk battled the Zzzax-powered Absorbing Man of Earth-886
in Hulk: The Official Movie Adaptation. (August 2003)
Art by Mark Bagley and Scott Hanna.
The Hulk fought his father, grounding out most of Zzzax's power
into a nearby lake. The Absorbing Man used his immense but
unstable power to assimilate the Hulk's strength, which caused an
overload that destroyed the Absorbing Man. As the result of this
great confrontation, Zzzax returned to Earth-616 two years later,
with greater powers than it had ever used before. (HULK)
Zzzax's Breakout At The Raft.
Zzzax escaped from the Raft, Ryker's Island Maximum Security
Penitentiary Installation in New Avengers #1. (January 2005)
Art by David Finch and Danny Miki.
February 1-2, 2005. Zzzax was active again on Earth-616. It was
captured and held by S.H.I.E.L.D. within "The Raft", a government
maximum security prison for super-villains that was located over
the bay outside of New York City. According the latest S.H.I.E.L.D.
scientist research reports, Zzzax was now known to be able to
generate more tremendously high levels of heat, up to 7500°C.
It melted through steel and other metals, and was impervious to
its previous weakness: water, which evaporated before touching its
body. Zzzax was even shown to change concrete, rock, and sand into
glass. Zzzax appeared as one of the many super-villains who were
freed on a massive breakout of the Raft staged by the electricity-
manipulating Electro. Although many of the villains were recaptured
by the New Avengers, Zzzax managed to escape during the breakout.
(New Avengers #1-3, New Avengers: Most Wanted Files #1)
Zzzax's Confrontation With S.H.I.E.L.D.
The capture of Zzzax from She-Hulk #17. (May 2007)
Art by Rick Burchett and Cliff Rathburn.
April 11, 2007. Zzzax was a captive of S.H.I.E.L.D. once again, having been caught this time by Agents Quartermain, Barefoot Lady Cheesecake, and the Barefoot She-Hulk in a trap design inspired by the Ghostbusters. It was taken to the secret research lab named Project: Achilles.
However, Zzzax escaped its containment unit, and it ran amok aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. While Zzzax inhabited and controlled the ship's computers, it took over the defense systems and then turned all of the Life Model Decoy androids (including Barefoot Lady Agent Cheesecake) against S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new Director: Iron Man. Tony Stark and his date, the Barefoot She-Hulk were the first to be attacked by Zzzax. The Barefoot She-Hulk protected Tony until he could use his Iron Man armor.
The Barefoot She-Hulk felt the frigid cold metal floor beneath her always bare feet suddenly heated-up very intensely. She knew Zzzax was coming. Realizing that Iron Man's armor would be Zzzax's next target, the Barefoot She-Hulk used her nude, gamma-powered body to conduct Zzzax. She managed to recapture Zzzax in the modified stasis box, where the creature presently remains trapped.
(Barefoot She-Hulk #17)
November 1, 2007. Zzzax was included in the collectible game piece
action figure line called Marvel Heroclix: Mutations and Monsters.
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