Karl Malus

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Dr. Karl Malus
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Spider-Woman #30 (Sep 1980)
Created by Michael Fleisher and Steve Leialoha
In-story information
Alter ego Karl Malus
Species Human
Team affiliations Corporation

Dr. Karl Malus is a fictional mad scientist and criminal in the Marvel Universe. Malus was created by Michael Fleisher, Steve Leialoha and Jim Mooney, and first appeared in Spider-Woman # 30, in September 1980.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Karl Malus was born in Mud Butte, South Dakota. He became a surgeon and researcher. He was later the founder of the Institute for Supranormality Research, and became a criminal scientist.

In his first appearance, Malus was performing illegal medical experiments on human beings, funded by the criminal Enforcer, in order to find out more about superhumans and their abilities. He was approached by the Human Fly, a supervillain who was losing his powers. Malus sent the Fly to steal some equipment, attracting the attention of the original Spider-Woman. Since Spider-Woman's friend Scotty McDowell had been rendered comatose by one of the Enforcer's poison bullets, Malus offered to cure McDowell in exchange for leniency.[1] Spider-Woman agreed, but while curing McDowell, Malus also experimented on him using the Fly's DNA, which would later cause McDowell to transform into the villainous Hornet. Malus went to prison, but was released in order to "help" authorities against the threat of the Hornet. In actuality, he wanted to capture and study Spider-Woman. Malus slipped away, and made contact with the Hornet, whom he kept drugged and aggressive for his own purposes.

Malus then contacted Jack Russell, a man cursed with lycanthropy, and told him he could help cure his transformations into a werewolf. Instead, he placed a control collar on Russell, and sent both Hornet and the Werewolf after Spider-Woman. She was able to defeat both of them, and freed the Werewolf, who then attacked Malus.[2]

Malus had studied the bizarre criminal Daddy Longlegs, who had gained his powers from a modified growth-serum used by Black Goliath, and had thus acquired a sample of Pym Particles, which could alter a person's size and mass. With this knowledge, Malus hoped to restore the powers of Erik Josten. He gave Josten growth powers and enhanced strength, turning him into the supervillain Goliath, but Goliath rejected Malus' offer of partnership, and was in turn defeated by the West Coast Avengers.[3]

Malus also transformed Antonio Rodriguez into the Armadillo, and encountered Captain America soon after that.[4]

Eventually, Malus went to work for the Power Broker, Curtiss Jackson, using his technology to augment the strength of paying customers to superhuman levels. The strength augmenting process was tremendously risky, with half the subjects dying or becoming severely deformed, but this information was kept a closely guarded secret. Power Broker and Malus also used highly addictive drugs on their subjects, telling them that the chemical was necessary to stabilize their powers, but in fact it only served to keep the subjects working for—and paying—the Power Broker. One such victim was Sharon Ventura, who was also sexually abused while drugged.[5] Many wrestlers of the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation, which is only open to those with super-strength, have used the Power Broker's services, and wound up indebted to them.

Malus soon almost strength-augmented Captain America, but was overpowered by D-Man.[6] He escaped with Captain America from the sealed Power Broker laboratory, but was captured by the Night Shift.[7]

When Power Broker, Inc. was attacked by the vigilante known as The Scourge of the Underworld, Curtiss Jackson was exposed to his own augmentation device in order to try to gain super-strength to defend himself. The process went awry, leaving him so grotesquely muscle-bound that he could not move. Malus decided to take advantage of this situation by using Bludgeon and Mangler to abduct Vagabond. Malus sent Vagabond, who knew Jackson, to obtain a copy of his fingerprints so that Malus could access all of Jackson's personal accounts and vaults. He used an explosive wristband to force Vagabond's cooperation, but she managed to knock Malus out, destroy the fingerprint mold, place the band on his wrist, and inject him with the drug he had planned to use on her.[8]

Malus then attempted to learn the secret of Daredevil's prowess and Madcap's invulnerability. Malus fought Hawkeye alongside Triphammer, Pick-Axe, Vice and Handsaw.[9]

The Power Broker had Malus' legs broken for his betrayal, then promptly re-hired him to try to cure the Power Broker's condition. Malus captured and experimented on several augmented individuals to perfect the de-augmentation process, including Battlestar, which drew the involvement of the U.S. Agent. Together, Battlestar and the Agent freed the captured wrestlers, and forced Malus to restore their strength. The U.S. Agent then destroyed Malus' equipment and records.[10]

Malus has since worked for a variety of criminal organizations, including the Corporation,[volume & issue needed] and the Maggia.[volume & issue needed] He even worked with the Avengers and the Thunderbolts in their efforts to defeat Count Nefaria in exchange for a reduced sentence.[volume & issue needed]

During the Dark Reign storyline, Karl Malus was researched by Quasimodo as part of its work for Norman Osborn.[11]

He was recruited by the Wizard to become a new member of the Frightful Four, only to find himself being forcibly made the new host of the symbiote, Carnage.[12][volume & issue needed]

He was eaten by Carnage in the final issue of Superior Carnage.[volume & issue needed]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Doctor Malus is an ordinary man with a gifted intellect. He has an MD specializing in surgery, and a Master's degree in biochemistry. Malus is a brilliant surgeon with a great knowledge of chemistry, genetic manipulation, and radiology.


  1. ^ Spider-Woman #30
  2. ^ Spider-Woman #31-32
  3. ^ Iron Man Annual #7
  4. ^ Captain America #308
  5. ^ Thing #35
  6. ^ Captain America #328
  7. ^ Captain America #329-330
  8. ^ Captain America #363-364
  9. ^ Avengers Spotlight #29
  10. ^ Captain America #375-378
  11. ^ Dark Reign Files #1
  12. ^ Superior Carnage

External links[edit]