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Absorbing Man

Absorbing Man
The Absorbing Man (background) on the cover of Thor #376 (Feb. 1987).
Art by Walt Simonson.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Journey into Mystery #114 (March 1965)
Created by Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
In-story information
Alter ego Carl "Crusher" Creel
Team affiliations Masters of Evil
They Who Wield Power
Legion Accursed
Astonishing Avengers[1]
Partnerships Titania
Notable aliases Rocky Davis, Lightningbolt, Greithoth: Breaker of Wills
Abilities Ability to mimic any form of matter or energy via physical contact

The Absorbing Man (Carl "Crusher" Creel) is a fictional supervillain that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics.

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.

Publication history

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

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. 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.[2][3]

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.[4]

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 leapt 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.[5]

However, Creel he goes on to battle many other heroes, such as the Avengers,[6] Daredevil,[7] Dazzler,[8] the Hulk,[9] and Spider-Man.[10] He is one of the villains who participates in the Secret Wars, and also develops a romantic relationship with the superstrong villainess Titania.[11] The pair also join the reformed fourth version of the Masters of Evil.[12] Creel has several more battles with Thor[13] (and the Eric Masterson Thor)[14] and a skirmish with cosmic hero Quasar.[15] Although he assisted Crossbones in a plan to attack Captain America, when Creel 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.[16]

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.[17]

The Absorbing Man escapes prison and allies with the Owl as an enforcer,[18] 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,[19] 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.[20] 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.[21]

The Absorbing Man later battles and is apparently killed by the hero Sentry during the events of Civil War.[22] However, he later appears at the funeral of the villain Stilt-Man.[23]

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.[24]

During the events of Dark Reign, Creel joins a new version of the Lethal Legion led by the Grim Reaper.[25] After a defeat, Creel escapes prison and absorbs a shard of the artifact the Cosmic Cube.[26]

The Absorbing Man suffers a setback when villain Norman Osborn uses an enchanted sword— provided by Loki— to remove his absorbing powers completely.[27]

Creel is also revealed to be the father of the hero Stonewall.[28]

During the Heroic Age storyline, Creel is revealed to have regained his powers. He 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.[29] Creel is sedated while the Avengers Academy escorts him to his prison. He manages to control his wrecking ball telekinetically and uses it to break himself free. He fights the Avengers Academy and begins to prevail. Hank Pym (at the time a teacher at Avengers Academy) joins the fight. As the fight progresses, Creel begins to make cruel taunts to Pym, saying what a bad Avenger he is and how he always breaks under the pressure of handling too much responsibility. This provokes Hank to grab Creel and make them both larger, outgrowing each dimension at a time, which almost drives Creel insane. So he decides to surrender before going any further. Creel then begs Pym not to take him back to prison, because the prison guards constantly keep him sedated, so he can't absorb any material to escape. He hates being trapped in his own body in that type of manner. Pym, displaying compassion, decides to build him a specially-made prison cell that would eliminate the necessity of keeping Creel under sedation.[volume & issue needed]

During the 2011 "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 (AKA the Serpent). Coming into contact with the hammers, Titania and Creel were transformed into Skirn, Breaker of Men,[30] and Greithoth, Breaker of Wills, respectively.[31] and 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.[32] 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.[33] 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]

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 would 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 the character's first attempt at absorbing water cost Creel his sanity when he drifted apart)[37] 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.[38]

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;[39] cocaine;[40] Odin's Cosmic Bolt and later cyclonic storm;[41] diamond;[42] glass;[43] light;[8] rock, silk, soil;[44] spikes;[45] steel;[46] Thor's uru hammer Mjolnir;[47] water;[37] and even the properties of Asgard itself.[41] Although absorbing the Sentry's power proved too much for Creel, causing him to become overloaded with energy and killing him.[22]

Creel is now also capable of combining previously absorbed abilities.[48]

Other versions

Age of Apocalypse

In the Age of Apocalypse reality, Absorbing Man (alongside Diablo) works as a prison camp warden in Mexico.[49]

Earth X

In the limited series Earth X, set in the alternate universe Earth-9997, Creel is also capable of absorbing knowledge, and eventually able to remember everything previously absorbed and to display any of these properties at will.[50]

House of M

In the House of M reality, the Absorbing Man is seen as a member of the Hood's Masters of Evil.[51]

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.[52]

Old Man Logan

In the Old Man Logan reality, an elderly Hawkeye reveals to Logan that Creel, along with Magneto, was responsible for defeating Thor.[53]

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.[54]

In other media


  • Absorbing Man appears in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, voiced by Rick D. Wasserman. In this show, his powers are derived from gamma-radiation. In the episode "Hulk Vs. the World," Absorbing Man escaped from the Cube (one of the four super-villains prisons on the show) using his absorbing powers. When confronted at a diner by Bruce Banner, Absorbing Man absorbed the properties of the spoon and attacked Bruce Banner turning him into the Hulk so they could battle. Hulk and Absorbing Man's battle continue in the desert. When Absorbing Man ends up absorbing a rock, Hulk manages to break him. Absorbing Man is shown in one piece as he is taken back to the Cube. When in his cell, Absorbing Man is kept in the air by powerful fans so that he can't absorb the properties of his cell. He later appears in the first full episode "The Breakout" Pt. 1 fighting the Hulk alongside Abomination after the breakout at The Cube. In the episode "Gamma World" Pt. 2, he was unleashed by Leader to absorb the properties of Mjolnir and joined Abomination into attacking Thor until Hawkeye and Hulk arrived. Thor continued his fight with Absorbing Man and managed to turn the tide on Absorbing Man since Thor can control Mjolnir thus defeating Absorbing Man. The next day, Absorbing Man and Leader were taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody alongside the other Gamma-based supervillains. In the episode "Assault on 42," Absorbing Man helps the Avengers fight the Annihilation Wave when it attacks Negative Zone Prison Alpha.
  • Absorbing Man makes an appearance in the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episode "The Skarr Whisperer,"[55] voiced by Jonathan Adams. He and the Wrecking Crew start a riot at the Vault. Skaar takes on Absorbing Man and is knocked back by his attack. Hulk then engages Absorbing Man until Skaar throws a rock at him. When Absorbing Man grabs Skaar's energy whip, he knocks down Skaar and hijacks She-Hulk's jet. When Skaar shoots down the jet and it crashes, She-Hulk wonders how Absorbing Man got out. After the jet is dragged back to the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.'s base, Hulk discovered that Absorbing Man had absorbed some gamma energy. As Hulk fights Absorbing Man, Hulk tries to warn Absorbing Man that he can lose control. Their battle ends up crashing Doc Samson's therapy with Skaar. As Absorbing Man approaches the base's reactor, he starts to absorb its energy from the reactor as he starts to lose control. Upon Hulk saying please, Skaar ends up fighting Absorbing Man and tricks him into absorbing the papers in a book where he defeats him. In the episode "Monsters No More," Absorbing Man appears as a member of Leader's Agents of C.R.A.S.H. Absorbing Man was the one who told Hulk about the group's adamantium-made stealth belts during his fight with him. In the episode "The Big Green Mile," Absorbing Man is shown as an inmate at a section of the Vault that is run by Abomination. He and Titania later help the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. keep their part of the prison that was "purged" from the Vault from being blown up by a gamma bomb after being convinced to help by Titania. Afterwards when SHIELD found the truth about Leader and the Agents of C.R.A.S.H. framing the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Absorbing Man, Titania, and the Wrecking Crew are transferred to another prison facility.
  • Absorbing Man appears in the Avengers Assemble episode "Small Time Heroes," voiced again by Jonathan Adams. He attacks a S.H.I.E.L.D. convoy to spring Titania. When fighting Iron Man, Thor, and Hawkeye, Absorbing Man manages to absorb the properties of Mjolnir. Upon Thor throwing Absorbing Man, Iron Man uses a special gravity device to trap Absorbing Man.
  • Carl "Crusher" Creel appears in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., portrayed by Brian Patrick Wade.[56] In the episode "Shadows", Carl Creel was a boxer who can turn his body into whatever substance he touches. He was on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s termination list but John Garrett had faked his death in order to get Creel into HYDRA. Creel interrupted an undercover operation where S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents Idaho, Lance Hunter, and Isabelle Hartley were attempting to procure from Roger Browning information on where a level ten 0-8-4 (an obelisk that petrifies anyone who touches it and is the first 0-8-4) was being held. During the fight, Carl Creel ends up killing Browning. When the agents fired upon him, he escapes after jumping from a window twenty-five feet high. While in a van, he contacts HYDRA agent Sunil Bakshi about the mission. Meanwhile, Skye visits Grant Ward in his prison to ask him about Creel. Ward tells Skye that Carl has been using a special communication to a high-level HYDRA Agent. Creel later attacks Glenn Talbot at a park until he is subdued by an electric attack by Coulson's team and apprehended by the military. Coulson talks with Talbot where he mentions that the facility where Creel is imprisoned contains a weapon that HYDRA wants in its possession. Creel blends into his cell in order to take out the guards and escape. Once in the storage room of the facility, he blends into his surroundings in order to steal the 0-8-4. He ends up engaging Isabelle Hartley where she grabs on to the 0-8-4 where it causes her to be slowly petrified. Creel takes the opportunity to get away when the rest of Coulson's team arrives. Creel absorbs the tarmac surface of the road before blocking their van and causing it to crash. He next absorbs the rubber on the tires in order to steal the 0-8-4 so that he will not be harmed by its powers. In the following episode, "Heavy is the Head," Melinda May pursues Creel (who has stolen a car from someone) as Phil Coulson directs her not to engage. While waiting for a HYDRA contact at a restaurant, Creel covers up a formation that has developed on his arm as a result of handling the 0-8-4. Melinda May heads in and finds a waitress who has turned to stone upon touching Creel. After being informed by her about what happened, Coulson suspects that Creel might be losing control of his powers. This is confirmed later that night when Creel finds himself unable to fully absorb his collections. He later gets a call from Sunil Bakshi where he finds out about what happened. After he hangs up upon being instructed to head to the secondary drop site, he is approached by Raina who informs him that she is interested in the object he has stolen. Upon being shown the carbyne in her possession, he takes it while advising her not to cross Hydra. Thereafter, Coulson tracks the carbyne that Raina had equipped with a tracer. Creel meets with Sunil Bakshi in a park as Lance Hunter plans to take matters into his own hands. Creel is ordered to hand over the obelisk just as Lance Hunter fires on him. Upon absorbing the carbyne and regaining control of his powers, Creel goes after Hunter. Before he can finish off Hunter, he is taken down by Coulson who uses a special device to negate Creel's abilities. Glenn Talbot later meets with Coulson upon telling Lance to sell him out. Coulson gives Talbot a containment device holding a temporarily-petrified Carl Creel and suggests that Creel be stored someplace secure before the device that was used on him runs out of power.
  • A boxer named "Crusher" Creel is mentioned in Daredevil. He is a young boxer defeated off screen by Battlin' Jack Murdock, father of main character Matt Murdock, after Murdock was supposed to throw the fight. Producer Jeph Loeb confirmed that this is the same Creel that appears in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before he got his abilities.[57]


  • Absorbing Man appears in an early script of the 2003 feature film Hulk.[58] Although the name Absorbing Man isn't used in the film, some reviewers have suggested that his powers were combined into the character of Dr. David Banner (portrayed by Nick Nolte).[59][60]

Video games


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  2. ^ Journey Into Mystery #114–115 (March–April 1965)
  3. ^ DeFalco, Tom (2006). The Marvel Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7566-2358-6. 
  4. ^ Journey Into Mystery #121–123 (October–December 1965)
  5. ^ Hulk #125
  6. ^ Avengers #183–184 (May–June 1979)
  7. ^ Daredevil #360 (January 1997)
  8. ^ a b Dazzler #18 (August 1982)
  9. ^ Hulk #208–209 (February–March 1977), #347–348 (September–October 1988), #457 (October 1997), Hulk Annual #18 (1992)
  10. ^ Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #13–18 (June–November 2005)
  11. ^ Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #1–12 (May 1984–April 1985)
  12. ^ Avengers #270, 273, 275 (August, November 1986, January 1987)
  13. ^ Thor #375–376 (January–February 1987); Thor (vol. 2) #14 (August 1999)
  14. ^ Thor #446 (April 1992)
  15. ^ Quasar #5 (December 1989)
  16. ^ Captain America (vol. 3) #24
  17. ^ She-Hulk #10 (February 2005)
  18. ^ Marvel Knights Spider-Man #13
  19. ^ Marvel Knights Spider-Man #16
  20. ^ Marvel Knights Spider-Man #17
  21. ^ Marvel Knights Spider-Man #18
  22. ^ a b Civil War: The Return #1 (January 2007)
  23. ^ Punisher War Journal vol. 2, #4 (April 2007)
  24. ^ She-Hulk (vol. 2) #22–23 (November–December 2007)
  25. ^ Lethal Legion #1–3 (August–October 2009)
  26. ^ Mighty Avengers #32 (December 2009)
  27. ^ Mighty Avengers #33 (January 2010)
  28. ^ Secret Warriors #12 (January 2010)
  29. ^ Age of Heroes #3
  30. ^ Matt Fraction (w), Stuart Immonen (p), Wade von Grawbadger (i). "The Worthy" Fear Itself 2 (July 2011), Marvel Comics
  31. ^ Christos Gage (w), Tom Raney (p), Scott Hanna and Andrew Hennessy (i). "No Unwounded Soldiers" Avengers Academy 15 (August 2011), Marvel Comics
  32. ^ Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #2
  33. ^ Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #6
  34. ^ Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #9
  35. ^ Thor (vol. 4) #5
  36. ^ Secret Wars #1 (2015)
  37. ^ a b Avengers #184 (July 1979)
  38. ^ Secret Wars #7 November 1984
  39. ^ Journey into Mystery #114 (April 1965)
  40. ^ Marvel Knights Spider-Man #16 (Sep. 2005)
  41. ^ a b Journey Into Mystery #123 (Dec. 1965)
  42. ^ Daredevil #360 (July 1997)
  43. ^ Journey Into Mystery #121 (Oct. 1965)
  44. ^ Journey Into Mystery #115 (April 1965)
  45. ^ Journey Into Mystery #122 (Nov. 1965)
  46. ^ Journey Into Mystery #114 (March 1965)
  47. ^ Thor #376 (Feb. 1987)
  48. ^ She-Hulk vol. 2, #23 (Dec. 2007)
  49. ^ Tales from the Age of Apocalypse #1 December 1996
  50. ^ Earth X #0-12 (March 1999 - April 2000)
  51. ^ House of M: Masters of Evil #1
  52. ^ Marvel Zombies 3 #3 (2009)
  53. ^ Wolverine #67
  54. ^ Marvel Apes: Amazing Spider-Monkey Special #1
  55. ^ "Listings - MARVEL'S HULK AND THE AGENTS OF S.M.A.S.H. on DISNEY XD -". Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  56. ^ "Crusher Creel to Menace Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - News -". Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  57. ^ Nicholson, Max (April 8, 2015). "Jeph Loeb Confirms Daredevil's Connection to an Agents of SHIELD Villain". IGN. Archived from the original on April 10, 2015. Retrieved April 10, 2015. 
  58. ^ Dayna Van Buskirk. "Feature Article: The Lost "Hulk" - David Hayter's Draft". UGO. Archived from the original on October 4, 2009. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  59. ^ Daniel James Wood. "Elements of Classical Mythology in Ang Lee's Hulk". The Film Journal. Archived from the original on 22 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  60. ^ Bill Warren (August 1, 2007). "Hulk". AVRev. Retrieved August 30, 2010. 
  61. ^ "NYCC 2013: Marvel Adds More Characters To LEGO MARVEL SUPER HEROES Game". Newsarama. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 

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