Molecule Man

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Molecule Man
Molecule Man.jpg
Molecule Man promotional artwork
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Fantastic Four (vol. 1) #20 (Nov. 1963)
Created by Stan Lee (writer), Jack Kirby (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Owen Reece
Partnerships Volcana
Abilities Molecular manipulation

Molecule Man (Owen Reece) is a fictional comic book character appearing in books published by Marvel Comics. He is often portrayed as a supervillain, but sometimes takes the role of a reformed outlaw or reluctant hero.

Publication history[edit]

The character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and first appeared in Fantastic Four vol. 1, #20.

Fictional character biography[edit]


Owen Reece was a small, frail, timid child from Brooklyn, New York who obsessively clung to his mother. He grew into a weak-willed adult, made bitter and lonely by his mother's death, and full of fear and hatred of what he regarded as a deeply unfriendly world. Reece became a lowly laboratory technician working at a nuclear plant owned by the Acme Atomics Corporation. He was disgruntled by his job's long hours and low pay. One day, growing careless, Reece accidentally activated an experimental particle generator, which bombarded him with an unknown form of radiation. The radiation had a mutagenic effect on Reece, releasing his potential for psionic powers on a cosmic scale. Reece could now control all matter, even down to the molecular level, and all energy. The radiation also left markings resembling lightning bolts across Reece's face. Reece named himself the "Molecule Man" after his power to control molecules.

The tremendous forces released by the accident opened a wormhole between Earth's dimension and the dimension containing the immensely powerful entity later known as the Beyonder. During the following years, the Beyonder observed Earth and its multiverse through the interdimensional pinhole.[1]

The day after the accident, the president of Acme Atomics fired Reece for his carelessness, not even knowing his name after his twelve years of work there. Angered, Molecule Man covered the president and his desk with ice that he formed from molecules in the air. Reece became a criminal and was now out to use his powers to take revenge on a world he believed had belittled and persecuted him. Yet Reece was so filled with self-doubt, fear, and self-hatred, that he rendered himself vulnerable by unconsciously imposing limitations on his powers. He believed himself to be (and therefore was) able to affect only inorganic molecules and unable to affect living beings with his powers.

Uatu the Watcher, whose task it is to observe Earth, recognized the dire threat that Molecule Man posed to the multiverse. Uatu alerted the team of superhuman champions, known as the Fantastic Four, of the threat posed by the Molecule Man. The Molecule Man transported the Baxter Building over Times Square and told the city his will would be the only law. He easily defeated the Fantastic Four, finally forcing them to retreat. He created a glass barrier around Long Island, saying the people would be trapped until the Fantastic Four were brought to him. However the Fantastic Four were helped by the Yancy Street Gang, and were finally able to hide in the home of Alicia Masters. Mister Fantastic realized Reece had only affected inorganic molecules. Alicia lured him to the apartment by firing the Fantastic Four flare. The Fantastic Four used Reece's self-imposed inability to affect organic molecules to defeat him by pretending to be statues with Alicia Masters covering them with plaster, claiming she had made them to honor the Molecule Man. The shock when he tried to rearrange their molecules caused him to drop his wand, and Mister Fantastic got it before he could use it. The Watcher transported Molecule Man to confinement in an other-dimensional world where time passed at an accelerated rate.[2]


Believing himself unable to escape, Reece created a humanoid construct to serve as his companion, and through unknown means, he endowed it with consciousness. Reece let the construct believe itself to be his son. Before dying, Reece transferred his consciousness and powers into the wand his son carried. Not bound by human limitations, the construct, known as the new Molecule Man, escaped the world and went to Earth, bringing the wand with him. In an attempt to avenge his father, the new Molecule Man battled both the Man-Thing and the Thing of the Fantastic Four, using Reece's powers through the wand. Dependent on the metal wand to maintain his existence in this dimension, the new Molecule Man disintegrated when the wand was taken from him.[3]

However, the consciousness and powers of the original Molecule Man remained within the wand, and Molecule Man could overpower the minds of whoever touched the wand and take control of their bodies. He took mental possession of Cynthia McClellan, and through her, then battled Iron Man.[4] Molecule Man then took mental possession of Aaron Stankey and Mister Fantastic.[5]


The wand passed through the hands of a succession of holders until Reece's mind recreated his mutated body and transferred his consciousness and powers out of the wand and into the body. He threatened to destroy the world, but was persuaded by Tigra to give himself up and seek psychiatric help.[6]

Reece did so, and soon began to change. He now had simple goals: true love, friendship, and a good home. However, Reece found himself sent to Battleworld, the planet created by the Beyonder, as part of the small army of criminal super human beings that were to engage in the first Secret War. Impressed by the charismatic criminal leader Doctor Doom, Reece agreed to help fight the superheroes also brought to Battleworld. During the course of the war, Reece and a superhuman called Volcana fell in love with each other. Doctor Doom eventually succeeded in stealing the power of the Beyonder and transferring it into himself, both only temporarily. Believing himself abandoned by Doctor Doom, Reece threatened to kill him. But Doctor Doom helped Reece break through his mental blocks and realize that his power was greater than he had believed. No longer angry at Doctor Doom, Reece used his powers to transport himself, Volcana, and most of the criminals back to Earth. On Earth, Reece and Volcana began living together quietly in a Denver suburb, and Reece took a new job as a worker in an atomic plant.[7]

But then, months later, the Beyonder, again in possession of his full power, came to Earth in humanoid form seeking emotional fulfillment. When he failed, the Beyonder decided to rid himself of the problem by obliterating the multiverse. Reece attempted to save the universe by destroying the Beyonder, but the Beyonder's immense power far surpassed even Reece's own. Ultimately, Reece joined forces with many of Earth's superhuman champions to battle him. But the Molecule Man exhausted himself fighting the Beyonder who unleashed an immensely powerful blast of energy to destroy Reece and his allies. The blast ripped open Earth's crust in the area of the Rocky Mountains, and would have caused incredible planet-wide instability if not for Molecule Man's power. Molecule Man used his power to shield himself and his allies, and to remove every living thing from the path of the blast to safety. But as a result of his monumental efforts, Reece had severely injured himself internally.[citation needed]

His foes appearing to have been defeated, the Beyonder proceeded with his new plan to find fulfillment by using a complex machine to transform himself into a mortal being with his full power. The machine drained the Beyonder's power into itself, transformed him into a mortal baby, and then began transferring the energy back into him. The infant would soon again become an adult. Molecule Man and his allies found the machine, and Reece, believing they could not take the chance that the newly reborn Beyonder would not someday destroy the multiverse, decided to kill him while he was vulnerable. Reece destroyed the machine, causing the infant's death, and diverted the Beyonder's immense power, which the machine released, through an interdimensional portal into the dimension from which the Beyonder had originally come.[8] There the energy created a new Universe.[9]

The injured Molecule Man and the Silver Surfer, uniting their power temporarily, repaired all the damage done to the Earth, restoring the mountains and the part of the crust that the Beyonder had destroyed. Reece, believing that Earth's superhuman champions would always worry about his misusing them, pretended his powers had been burned out. Among his allies, only Volcana and Silver Surfer know that Reece still has his powers, which have since returned to full strength. Reece lived quietly for a time with Rosenberg in their Denver suburb.[10]


Reece was briefly merged with the Beyonder, in order to take part in the creation of the complete Cosmic Cube being known as Kosmos.[11] He managed to separate himself and return to Earth. He was then defeated in combat by Klaw, and separated from Volcana.[12] Molecule Man was later placed under the mental control of the Puppet Master. Reece was used by him to combat Aron the rogue Watcher, and was defeated by him.[13] The by-now generally benevolent Reece accidentally releases his "darkest aspect", which takes separate form and attacks Kosmos in search of revenge upon the Beyonder, and it extracts and fights this part of the whole in a more than 3-dimensional battle. After it defeats the Beyonder, Kubik and the original Molecule Man stop it from delivering the death blow, as this would also kill the peaceful Kosmos. Owen reabsorbs it, and as farewell, Kubik states that Owen's true self's full potential is far greater than that of his dark side.[14]

Doc Samson stumbles upon the Molecule Man while searching for the missing Bruce Banner. Owen mistakenly thinks that he is being stalked, and captures Samson to explain himself. After She-Hulk gets involved, they clear up the misunderstanding and Reece calms down. He reveals that his relationship with Marsha has hit a road bump, leading to temporary separation that makes him depressed. Samson convinces Owen to display his affection more openly, whereupon the latter decides to repair worldwide devastation zones (from recent terrorist activity) in Marsha's honor, including rebuilding Mount Rushmore with the addition of her own likeness, which his girlfriend apparently finds touching.[15]


Molecule Man was listed as one of the Raft escapees after the events of New Avengers #1.

He is one of the villains incarcerated in the Raft when the Skrulls strike.[16]

A series of disappearances in the small town of Dinosaur, Colorado, causes Norman Osborn's "Dark Avengers" to visit the area. Sentry arrived first and was instantly disintegrated. Owen, isolated from everyone, has lost most ability to differentiate between hallucinations and reality, and secluded himself near the area he was born. After the other Avengers are defeated, Victoria Hand convinces Reece to restore everyone and everything he destroyed and to stop being a threat, in return for being left alone in the future. Sentry returns at this point, attacks Molecule Man, and pulls him into the air, but is destroyed again. Sentry immediately reforms, and takes advantage of Owen's distraction from an incoming missile to take control of his body. Apparently unaware that Owen had already promised to do so, Sentry tells the Molecule Man to restore everything or be killed. Owen does so, but Sentry still disintegrates his body in return.[17]


Molecule Man is later seen in Latveria working with Doctor Doom to help enact his plan to save the Multiverse.[18]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Owen Reece has the ability to mentally manipulate molecules, allowing for a variety of effects, such as the creation of force fields, energy beams, and hyperspace portals.[citation needed]

Originally, he subconsciously imposed mental blocks on himself which prevented him from affecting organic molecules, which has since been overcome.[citation needed] He was also dependent on using a steel rod, which he called a wand, to focus his powers,[citation needed] but he subsequently learned how to direct his powers without it.[19]

When the Molecule Man extracted the Beyonder from Kosmos, their battle took place in more than 3 spatial dimensions, and threatened to cause a trans-multiversal scale of destruction.[14]

In other media[edit]

  • Molecule Man appears in The Super Hero Squad Show, voiced by Fred Stoller. He was first mentioned in the episode "Night in the Sanctorum". In the episode "Villainy Redux Syndrome," Molecule Man and Volcana come to the aid of Doctor Doom, MODOK and Abomination when MODOK accidentally summoned him instead of Mole Man. He used his abilities to turn the guard tower that Captain America and Ms. Marvel were on into butter enabling Doctor Doom, MODOK, Abomination, Molecule Man and Volcana to escape. In the episode "When Strikes the Surfer", Volcana has Molecule Man make a mouth for Nebula (whose mouth was removed from her by Thanos' Reality Gem) while they are at a galactic diner. Nebula tells Molecule Man and Volcana that the Dark Surfer is causing havoc. Doctor Doom approaches the three villains stating that they should band together to trap Dark Surfer in the machine Doctor Doom once used to drain the Silver Surfer's powers. Molecule Man later joins Doctor Doom into attacking Dark Surfer. Dark Surfer ends up sending the villains on Doctor Doom's side through a portal.
  • Molecule Man appears in the Avengers Assemble episode "Molecule Kid". He once tried to leave with the town until he fought the Avengers and was disarmed of his wand by Hawkeye. Some years later, Nick Fury assigns Hawkeye and Black Widow to track down what they believe to be Molecule Man and confiscate his technology. Following a lead from S.H.I.E.L.D., Hawkeye and Black Widow discover that they're actually pursuing his son Aaron Reece (voiced by Daryl Sabara) who is also being targeted by A.I.M. when he's in the possession of his father's wand. After ditching A.I.M., Aaron goes on the run with Hawkeye and Black Widow in pursuit. Aaron considers the Avengers and A.I.M. the same as they want his father's wand. Things get worse when Super-Adaptoid arrives and captures Aaron. While Captain America and Falcon fight Super-Adaptoid, Black Widow and Hawkeye try to reason with Aaron until Iron Man arrives and the wand is accidentally broken causing reality to be broken. When Super-Adaptoid attacks, Aaron uses the wand's fragments to defeat Super-Adaptoid and undo the damages with Iron Man's help. While Aaron undoes the damages, the others shut down Super-Adaptoid. Aaron is then given to S.H.I.E.L.D. to put in Fury's training program for teenage superheroes (which was seen in Ultimate Spider-Man).


  1. ^ Secret Wars II #1-9
  2. ^ Fantastic Four #20
  3. ^ Marvel Two-in-One #1
  4. ^ Iron Man Annual #3
  5. ^ Fantastic Four #187-188
  6. ^ Avengers #215-216
  7. ^ Secret Wars #1-12
  8. ^ Secret Wars II #1-9
  9. ^ Secret Wars II #9
  10. ^ Avengers #266
  11. ^ Fantastic Four #318-319
  12. ^ Fantastic Four Annual #24
  13. ^ Fantastic Four #372-373
  14. ^ a b Fantastic Four Annual #27 (1994). Marvel Comics
  15. ^ Incredible Hulk #441-442
  16. ^ Secret Invasion #1
  17. ^ Dark Avengers #10-12
  18. ^ New Avengers (vol. 3) #24
  19. ^ Avengers #215

External links[edit]