|First appearance||Strange Tales #123 (August 1964)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Alter ego||Abner Ronald Jenkins|
|Team affiliations||Commission on Superhuman Activities
Masters of Evil
|Notable aliases||Beetle, MACH-1, MACH-2, Matthew Davis, MACH-3, MACH-IV|
Powered armor grants:
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Other versions
- 5 In other media
- 6 References
- 7 External links
|This section requires expansion. (August 2010)|
After some time away from the team, he has appeared as a regular character in Thunderbolts since issue #144, and has appeared as a supporting character since the title transitioned into Dark Avengers beginning with issue #175.
Fictional character biography
Abner Jenkins was born in Baltimore, Maryland.
Abner Jenkins was a master mechanic at an aircraft parts factory who became dissatisfied with his boring, low paying job. Using his considerable mechanical knowledge, Jenkins built an armor-plated, strength-augmenting suit, a pair of gravity-defying wings, suction-fingered gloves, and a cybernetic control helmet. Calling himself the Beetle, Jenkins decided to use his battle-suit for fame, wealth, and adventure. Believing a victory over half the Fantastic Four would make him an overnight sensation, the Beetle chose to lure the Human Torch and the Thing into battle. However, the Thing and the Torch defeated him, and he was sent to prison.
Paroled a short time later, he sought revenge on the Torch, but found himself in battle with Spider-Man instead. He kidnapped the girlfriend of the Torch, and the Torch briefly battled Spider-Man, thinking he was in league with the Beetle. Once again, with help from the Torch, he was defeated after a cage of high-temperature flame was created around him. He was jailed once more. Upon his release, he decided to forego petty revenge and concentrated on the acquisition of wealth. At one point the Beetle was mentally dominated and recruited by the Collector to serve as his unwilling agent. Under the Collector's domination, the Beetle faced the Avengers. He battled Daredevil and then, allied with Gladiator, fought him again. The Beetle also battled Spider-Man again.
He later became a member of the group of supervillains who briefly posed as the Defenders in order to confuse the authorities and earn a bit of public trust.
Losing every battle against costumed crime-fighters and failing to accumulate very much wealth, the Beetle offered his services to underworld financier Justin Hammer, who kept various superhuman criminals on retainers. His offer accepted, the Beetle was dispatched against the original Iron Man, as part of a battalion of costumed criminals. His Beetle armor was severely damaged by Iron Man during the fight. Beetle was one of the villains that attacked the Fantastic Four during the Acts of Vengeance.[volume & issue needed]
Jenkins then invested all of the capital he could acquire into the modification and refinement of his Beetle armor. With the assistance of the Tinkerer, he produced a new battle-suit with far greater capacities than his old one. Before launching his comeback, the Beetle recruited the criminal Ringer to put Spider-Man through his paces. The Beetle wished to study Spider-Man's fighting style and program it into a computer system so he could anticipate his opponent's moves. Despite his preparations and new battle-suit, the Beetle was again defeated by Spider-Man. He was later freed from prison by Egghead who recruited him for his Masters of Evil organization. The Beetle and other Masters of Evil were defeated by the Avengers and arrested.
Justin Hammer then commissioned Beetle, Blizzard II, and Blacklash to kill Clayton Wilson, but Iron Man defeated them. Soon thereafter, Beetle battled Iron Man again, but this time all portions of the Beetle's battle armor using Stark technology were fused.
The Beetle organized his own team of super-villainous mercenaries called the Sinister Syndicate. The team ran afoul of Spider-Man and Silver Sable, and later imploded due to internal conflicts.[volume & issue needed]
As a member of the Thunderbolts
When most of Earth's costumed adventurers, including the then-core membership of the Avengers and Fantastic Four, seemingly died battling Onslaught, Baron (Helmut) Zemo recruited Jenkins and a number of other villains to trick the world into believing they were heroes called the Thunderbolts. Jenkins adopted the guise of MACH-1. Zemo's plan ultimately failed, but when Jenkins and other members began to enjoy the adulation and personal satisfaction from being heroes, they decided to try making the Thunderbolts a legitimate team. When Hawkeye took over the group's leadership, he convinced Jenkins to serve out the remainder of his prison term as a show of good faith to the public, but another criminal used the guise of the Beetle to frame him. While at Seagate, Jenkins coped with resentment and occasional assaults from other super-criminals and refused a chance to participate in a mass escape organized by his old employer Justin Hammer. Instead, Jenkins foiled the breakout, an act which brought him to the attention of the government's Commission on Superhuman Activities (CSA). They recruited Jenkins to participate in a sting operation aimed at Hammer. Jenkins agreed, using a newly designed armor to operate as the Beetle once more. The activities of the new Beetle attracted the attention of the Thunderbolts. Fearing the CSA might not honor the terms of their bargain, Jenkins fled CSA custody after completing the operation and rejoined the Thunderbolts. Hawkeye blackmailed the CSA into allowing Jenkins to remain free, even though the government's records would list Jenkins as still being in prison, in exchange for keeping the CSA's exploitation of Jenkins' secret.[volume & issue needed]
Jenkins created the MACH-2 battle-suit after modifying his MACH-1 armor with the aid of Techno (a robot based on the Fixer, who was then posing as Thunderbolts' machine-smith Ogre). Techno also altered Jenkins' physical appearance using "dermaplasty" technology since the public was not supposed to know MACH-2 was Abner Jenkins, and the mischievous Techno had some fun at Jenkins' expense by giving him the features of an African American. While this change made his girlfriend Songbird uneasy for a time, Jenkins himself adjusted quickly and reestablished himself as one of the team's most confident and capable members.[volume & issue needed]
When the Thunderbolts uncovered and thwarted a CSA-connected conspiracy to exterminate all superhumans, Hawkeye blackmailed the CSA into giving the Thunderbolts full pardons in exchange for the group's silence; however, CSA agent Henry Peter Gyrich insisted that he would not go along with the deal unless Hawkeye went to prison for his technically illegal vigilante activities as a member of the Thunderbolts. Hawkeye agreed, despite the protests of his teammates, and surrendered to federal custody. Most of the rest of the Thunderbolts, including MACH-2 and Songbird, were pardoned and released. However, as part of the terms of their deal, they were forbidden from public use of superhuman powers or costumed identities. MACH-2 and Songbird turned their equipment over to the authorities and started new civilian lives in the town of Burton Canyon, Colorado as Abe Jenkins and Melissa Gold.[volume & issue needed]
Ironically, Jenkins found himself employment with the Burton Canyon police department as a tech support specialist. Unfortunately, their quiet lives were shattered when the super-criminal Graviton launched his latest attempt at world conquest in Burton Canyon, imprisoning the world's superheroes and reshaping the planet in his own image. Despite their reluctance to risk their newfound freedom, Jenkins and Songbird agreed to join Citizen V (secretly Baron Zemo controlling Citizen V's body) in attacking Graviton as part of a new team of Thunderbolts. Jenkins was given new armor provided by Citizen V's financiers, the V-Battalion, and called himself MACH-3. Graviton was defeated and the world was saved, but MACH-3 and the other Thunderbolts disappeared in an implosion created by the dying Graviton's power, with the exception of Songbird, who appeared left behind as the sole survivor.[volume & issue needed]
On Counter-Earth, the team continued to band together, searching for a way to return to their own world and beginning to establish themselves as the leading superheroes of the troubled Counter-Earth.[volume & issue needed]
After a failed attempt to escape to the real Earth, the team entered into an uneasy alliance with their original leader, Baron Zemo, in an ongoing effort to save Counter-Earth from the various ills plaguing that alternate world. The Thunderbolts went on to revive the flying city of Attilan and populate it with refugees and survivors of the war-torn and nearly destroyed world. The Thunderbolts became renowned for their heroism and efforts to solve the world's problems. They were hailed by many to be the world's saviors. Nevertheless, Jenkins appeared to be going through the motions; his heart being elsewhere as his relationship with Songbird was thought to be lost.[volume & issue needed]
On Counter-Earth, Zemo's Thunderbolts had encountered the effects of a white hole spawned from an abandoned spacecraft, as its engine's radiation began eating Earth from the inside. The Thunderbolts embarked on a plan to combine their powers to punt the alien ship off the Earth and sever the link between the worlds. However, in order to complete this plan, the Thunderbolts needed to be inside the engine-spawned void in order to keep it clear of the real Earth as it closed. By so doing, they would reemerge from the void on the real Earth, forfeiting their roles and place on Counter-Earth. Emerging from the void, the Thunderbolts encountered their former teammates Hawkeye and Songbird, who had formed their own version of the Thunderbolts, who were similarly engaged with the void from the real Earth's counterpart of the spaceship. The two teams of Thunderbolts combined forces to plug the void and shunt the alien ship from Earth. Jenkins' reunion with Songbird was short-lived. Despite their feelings for each other, Jenkins left Songbird, once more remanding himself to police custody to serve the remainder of his sentence.[volume & issue needed]
Back on Earth
For six months, Jenkins had been a model prisoner at Parsons Minimum Security prison in Illinois. He has since had his skin and face changed back to his original appearance, and has resumed contact with Songbird. Abe was recently approached by the Avengers on finding if they had been staying legit despite their suspicions. Abe told them they would have to stop Baron Zemo before he launched Project: Liberation, but that Moonstone was the one to really worry about. After Moonstone revealed her plans, Abe had Jolt contacted to help the Avengers and Thunderbolts stop her.[volume & issue needed]
Following the conclusion to the battle, Abe was finally paroled from jail and made an announcement that he was reforming the Thunderbolts and that any former villains or super-powered individuals who wanted a second chance would be allowed to join. He found himself the group's leader and lover to Songbird. Things continued to go crazy when the Thunderbolts kept being put into tough situations as Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker threw new challenges to keep them busy, including adding Speed Demon to the team as a spy and allowing Fathom Five to attack New York City. Things finally came together when Abe revealed he always intended to take down Strucker. They succeeded in defeating HYDRA's scheme to destroy all of Manhattan, but Strucker managed to escape.[volume & issue needed]
Working with Zemo again, as Hero Hunters during Marvel's Civil War storyline, it has been revealed that Abe oversees a small team of three college students, each of whom wears one of the three previous Beetle armors (the classic beetle-esque original, its streamlined update, and the massive tank-like exoskeleton worn by himself and Leila Davis').[volume & issue needed]
While in the midst of perfecting the new Mach-V armor, Jenkins and the Fixer are approached by their old teammate Songbird, who is on the run from Norman Osborn. Jenkins agrees to assist her in any way he can, and the two kiss before she departs. He and the Fixer actually help Songbird and the Black Widow escape from the H.A.M.M.E.R. agents some days later.
During the Heroic Age storyline, Mach-V works at The Raft as the Head of Security. He brings Luke Cage below sea level where they are introduced to Man-Thing who will serve as the Thunderbolts' mode of transportation. He serves as a chaperone and field asset under Cage during various missions. During the "Fear Itself" crossover storyline, Jenkins discovers that Fixer, running security at the Raft, had been secretly communicating with old Thunderbolts leader Baron Zemo, causing Fixer to flee with a detachment of imprisoned Thunderbolts into a time rift to escape captivity.[volume & issue needed] Mach-V is there to wrangle the "TimeBolts" with Luke Cage and Songbird when they're finally anchored back to the current timeline and clash with Luke Cage's replacement team, the Dark Avengers.[volume & issue needed] Having exposed the Government officials manipulating the Thunderbolts program and the Dark Avengers' deployment, Jenkins, Songbird, and Cage go their separate ways, releasing the indentured Thunderbolts and dissolving the team.[volume & issue needed]
Abner Jenkins re-appears as Mach-VII at the end of the second issue of Superior Foes of Spider-Man as a parole officer to his former partner in crime and (secretly) leader of the new Sinister Six, Fred Myers, AKA Boomerang.[volume & issue needed] Now known as a hero, Abner earnestly wants to help Fred get on the right track, but Boomerang is little interested, bitter about prior double-crossings and Jenkins' becoming an original Thunderbolt (unlike himself, who was forced to serve as a Thunderbolt under Luke Cage).[volume & issue needed] Fellow Sinister Sixer, Speed Demon (also a former Thunderbolt) wonders how Abe jumped from Mach-V to Mach-VII.[volume & issue needed]
Jenkins charge as Fred's patrol officer erodes Fred's shaky leadership of Sinister Six and when they vote him out, Fred manipulates Abner to sic Luke Cage and Iron Fist on the team before a job, only then to stage a rescue from police custody and reposition himself as outfit leader.[volume & issue needed]
Series writer Nick Spencer has stated in interviews that Abner will have an even larger role in future issues.
Powers and abilities
Abner has no superhuman powers, but has extensive knowledge of mechanics and engineering.
As the Beetle, Abner designed and wore a suit of full body powered armor that granted him superhuman strength and durability and artificial winged flight. The suit's gloves contained pneumatic suction-grippers, enabling him to cling to walls or lift things with his fingertips. The suit could also create an electrostatic energy discharge referred to as the "electro-bite". On the back of the suit are a set of ultra-tough mylar wings powered by super efficient micro-motors which enable him to fly. Antennae built into the suit's helmet allowed reception and ultra-efficient conversion of microwaves, providing the suit with a constantly replenishing power supply. A mini-computer built into the chest-plate feeds data to heads-up displays in the helmet, providing him with constantly updated tactical analysis of his opponent's movements.
As MACH-I through MACH-IV, Abner designed a new suit of power armor which granted superhuman strength, durability, and flight as the Beetle suit did. This new suit contains a variety of different weapon systems, however, instead of the insect-themed powers of the previous armor.
Abner appears alongside the Thunderbolts in the Dead Days one-shot of the Marvel Zombies miniseries wearing an early version of his MACH suit, and alongside the rest of the group is seen attacking first Thor and then Nova. He is quickly killed by a blast of flame from the Human Torch.
House of M
Abner Jenkins is a scientist secretly working for the Human Resistance (along with Erik Josten) who is part of an elite sapien military unit the Howling Commandos and Jim Sanders. The three, along with General "Dum Dum" Dugan, are attempting to create a chemical weapon to wipe out all the Kree on Earth, so the humans can strike an alliance with the Shi'Ar to overthrow the House of Magnus.
In other media
- The Beetle appeared in the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episode "Origin of the Spider-Friends" voiced by Christopher Collins. The Beetle stole a crime-detection computer and the Power Booster invented by Tony Stark to increase his power. He was the first villain that the Spider-Friends faced together.
- The Beetle made a brief appearance in the Iron Man episode "Armor Wars" Part 2 voiced by John Reilly with a Liverpudlian accent that evokes the similarly named band. He was trying to steal the Tibetan Diamond at an auction at the Museum of Modern Art only to be pinned him down with a giant shoe by Iron Man and had his armor—based on stolen Stark designs deactivated by a Negator Pack.
- The Beetle was the first boss in the 1995 Super Nintendo game Spider-Man: Lethal Foes, a game only released in Japan.
- The Beetle played a minor role in the sequel to the Spider-Man game for the PlayStation, Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro voiced by Daran Norris. He worked for Hammerhead and only appeared in cut-scenes making him the only villain not to appear as a boss character.
- Strange Tales #123
- Amazing Spider-Man #21
- Strange Tales #27-28
- Daredevil #33-34
- Daredevil #140
- Spectacular Spider-Man #16
- Defenders vol. 1 #63-65
- Spectacular Spider-Man #127
- Spectacular Spider-Man #58-60
- Avengers #228-229
- Iron Man #223-224
- Iron Man #227
- Amazing Spider-Man #280-281
- Deadly Foes of Spider-Man #1
- Avengers: The Initiative #1 Character Map
- Thunderbolts #134
- Thunderbolts #135–136 (Oct. 2009–Nov. 2009)
- Thunderbolts #144
- New Thunderbolts #11
- Ultimate Spider-Man #53