Perfect 10: Absorbing Man

Perfect 10 is a series of essential recommendations that fully encapsulate a comic character – 10 desert island picks of runs, single issues, arcs, etc – curated by Comfort Food Comics.

You can’t have a Perfect 10: Titania without one for her constant partner in love, crime, heroics and everything in between, The Absorbing Man!

  1. Quasar #5: By Mark Greunwald, Paul Ryan, Danny Bulanadi, Paul Becton & Janice Chiang. A fantastic Acts of Vengeance tie in, this issue does a fun parallel to the first appearance of the Absorbing Man. In that comic, Loki gave Crusher Creel a magic potion to turn him into a super villain. In this one, Loki, in his Acts of Vengeance stranger servant guise, powers Creel up and makes him able to throw his trademark ball and chain like Mjolnir allowing him a cheap form of flight. This one is super fun as the new hero Quasar tries to capture Creel while talking nonstop at him about how he doesnt think about the bigger picture and could do more until Creel finally has to say “When are you going to shut up?!” Creel eventually gets the upper hand absorbing Quas’ Quantum Bands and becoming a cosmically powered giant who flies away. Quasar tries to tell him to stop as this will backfire on him, but Creel brushes him off. Quasar decides to just keep pumping cosmic power into him until the Absorbing Man pops like a balloon. I love comics.

2. Black Bolt #1-12: By Saladin Ahmed, Christian Ward & Clayton Cowles. This series should have just been titled Black Bolt and Absorbing Man. Black Bolt wakes up in a mysterious cosmic prison where his powers dont work and no memory of how he got here. He eventually meets up with fellow inmate The Absorbing Man and they fight and then team up to find a way out. We get some long and intense character development of Crusher Creel as just a guy instead of a stereotypical supervillain as we explore his past and see him take a rather heroic turn in this odd couple pairing. This is one of those comics where the premise is so out there that it ends up forming something wholly unique and special.

3. Dazzler #18-19: By Danny Fingeroth, Frank Springer, Vince Colletta, Don Warfield & Janice Chiang. This story is a bonkers story that is pure Marvel Comics. Dazzler hangs out with the Fantastic Four singing while the Human Torch plays guitar and the Thing plays the sax. Boring old Mr. Fantastic doesnt join in but rather makes an advanced tape cassette player that can amplify Dazzler’s sound into light powers to extremely high power levels. The Absorbing Man comes into this story because he saw Dazzler in a newspaper photo with the Avengers and he wants to take her hostage so they’ll show up and he can beat on them. He ends up spying on one of her concerts where she uses her new cassette player but it puts out too much power. The Absorbing Man calls an audible and decides to find out what the cassette player is and ends up in a scuffle with Dazz. She tries to trick him and get away by activating the device but all that does is let Absorbing Man absorb the insanely powered light and tunr himself into a giant being made of luminescent energy. Dazzler has to break into the Fantastic Four’s headquarters to go get help, but they arent home. She sees Medusa and Black Bolt of the Inhumans on a monitor and calls them, not knowing they are on the moon, but Lockjaw ports Black Bolt down to Earth to assist Dazzler. Together, Black Bolt and Dazzler combine their powers to give the Absorbing Man a huge blast and turn him back to normal. Oh, and Angel shows up to catch Dazzler at the end. Oh again, and we see that since the last time we saw the Absorbing Man he’s been living as a God for a group of Island natives. This is a obviously a masterpiece

4. Avengers Vol. 1 #183-184: By David Michelenie, John Byrne, Klaus Janson and more. This is just a good old slice of classic Avengers action. Creel takes a woman hostage as he waits for a boat to take him to South America. On the way he stops at a diner, but Hawkeye is at that same diner in civilian guise and a fight breaks out and the Avengers are called to stop him. You get a really fun grizzled personality and voice for Creel here and a fun battle that utilizes an all time classic Avengers roster while giving Creel plenty of fun absorptions such as Vision’s intangible form. The skirmish keeps Creel busy while his boat takes off without him. Annoyed and tired he jumps into the ocean and absorbs it, making a watery escape. It’s everything you could want out of both the hero team and the villain.

5. Incredible Hulk #347-348: By Peter David, Jeff Purves, Mike & Val Gustovich, Petra Scotese & Joe Rosen. This is the debut of Las Vegas’ casino enforcer, Joe Fixit! Mr. Fixit Hulk is my favorite era and iteration of the character and this two part story is just such a favorite. That one of my favorite Marvel villains, The Absorbing Man features is just the cherry on top. You see the new status quo of our werewolf Hulk living it up in Vegas as he takes out a rival mob casino. In order to strike back at him, that casino’s boss hires the Absorbing Man to whack Fixit. What follows is an issue long fight that ends up at the Hoover Dam with Crusher absorbing electricity, gold, concrete and even the Hulk’s weakness to daylight.

6. The Mighty Thor #447-448: By Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz, Al Milgrom, Mike Rockwitz, Rick Parker & Michael Heisler. This story is absolutely hilarious. Absorbing Man and his honey, Titania are supposed to be going straight but she starts sneaking out to do crime. Creel finds out about it and gets the new Eric Masterson Thor to team up with him to teach her a lesson so she’ll be scared straight. Creel says he’ll lure her out to steal the Golden Bull from the Guggenheim and he wants Thor to show up and they’ll put on a little show. Unfortunately Spider-Man happens upon it all and messes up the whole plan and Titania figures out what’s going on. The whole thing turns into an all out brawl between each of them as well as the police until Absorbing Man fakes being hurt so Titania will care about him again. As she cradles him, he winks and gives Eric a thumbs up. I LOVE THIS STORY!!

7. Avengers Unplugged #4: By Glenn Herdling, John Statema, Scott Koblish, Frank Lopez & Janice Chiang. The marriage of Absorbing Man and Titania!! A real hidden gem! This one goes for an inverse of the classic Fantastic Four Annual #3 where Reed and Sue get married. The 90’s Avengers team sees the super villain bride and wedding guests all going to the wedding and they think it’s some nefarious scheme being hatched so they start chasing them all down and getting into fights, eventually even bursting into the wedding procession. Deathbird finally speaks up and asks “Doesnt this look like a wedding?” and the Avengers annoyingly realize what’s happening and bail, even with She-Hulk yelling they must have some warrants out they can arrest them for! It’s a super fun, charming issue with some very nice mushy conversations between Crusher and his Wrecking Crew wedding party. I honestly think I prefer this wedding issue over the Fantastic Four one.

8. Immortal Hulk #9-13: By Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, Paul Mounts, Cory Petit & more. The best writers are the ones who write the Absorbing Man not as some evil sick creep, but more like one of The Flash’s Rogues. Sure, he’s a criminal, but he isn’t evil. He’s just had a pretty messed up life and made a lot of mistakes but when it really matters he’s going to be on the right side. Al Ewing is one of those special writers who seems to just GET every single character, including my dear Mr. Creel. Issue #9 gives us a bit of a history of Creel and what he goes through in his everyday life before he’s recruited by General Fortean and Shadow Base and given a Red Hulk-esque power up. Ewing perfectly takes this great character and folds him right into the body horror Hulk epic he’s building as we get a classic Absorbing Man vs Hulk fight with a ghoulish, sinister twist. That Ewing brings Absorbing Man through it not only alive by the end, but also changed and full of purpose to work in a more heroic way with the newly formed Gamma Flight is just the Pièce De Résistance. Ewing understands the potential that Absorbing Man has. He works better as a morally grey tough guy, rather than the baddest of the bad. (Note: Crusher continues to show up in this ongoing series and you could put the entire run on this list.)

9. Amazing Spider-Man #429: By Tom DeFalco, Joe Bennett, Al Milgrom, Bud Larosa, Bob Sharen & Kiff Scholl. This is another very funny one featuring the couple Absorbing Man and Titania. This is during an extremely underrated period in the Spider-Man comics directly post Clone Saga. Norman Osborn owns half of the Daily Bugle and has a multi million dollar bounty out on the capture of Spider-Man. One morning over breakfast, Creel sees the bounty notice in the newspaper as well as a story on the new superhero team the Thunderbolts. He instantly recognizes them as the Masters of Evil and tells Titania they should steal their gimmick. So later you see new “heroes” Thunder Girl and LightningBolt clad in new costumes at the Bugle, vowing to bring Spider-Man to justice and use the reward to fruther their crimefighting ways. If you hevn’t guessed it, this is just the Absorbing Man and Titania in diguise. A really fun fight plays out with them, Spidey and Daredevil before the story wraps up in this single issue. You can’t help but love this one.

10. Journey Into Mystery #120-123: By Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta & Art Simek. This is an ALL TIME classic. Lee & Kirby just jamming, having insane fun giving us some of the best fights and dialogue you could ever want in your comics. Absorbing Man returns after his original story in Issue 120 which leads into 121 where he and Thor have a massive slugfest throughout New York City. You get so many different absorptions, you get the giant Absorbing Man, you get the ball and chain swung around, all that classic Thor dialogue. It’s glorious stuff. But it amazingly doesnt stop there. After giving Thor a beating, Loki teleports Absorbing Man to Asgard and the two of them squad up and strut right into Odin’s throne room, bashing skulls every step of the way. Creel absorbs all of Odin’s power and gives the All Father a run for his money before literally absorbing Asgard itself and becoming the Godly domain. Eventually he’s tricked into resuming form and trying to grab what seems to be the key to Odin’s power, the Scepter of Supremacy from Loki’s clutches. It’s revealed this was all a long con by Odin and Loki and Creel can’t let go of the scepter so Odin propels them through all the dimensions of Asgard and space. It’s a hilarious and humiliating end for them. This is pure Silver Age Marvel gold right here.

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