Madman (Marvel Comics)
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|First appearance||(As Phil Sterns):
The Incredible Hulk #363 (December 1989)
The Incredible Hulk #364 (mid-December 1989)
|Created by||Peter David (writer)
Jeff Purves (artist)
|Alter ego||Phillip Sterns|
|Abilities||Vast superhuman strength
Fictional character biography
A former schoolmate of Bruce Banner, Sterns develops a deranged love/obsession with Banner's "career" as the Hulk. Sterns subjects himself to a multitude of experiments involving gamma-radiation to emulate his "hero." This results in Sterns turning into a distorted monstrosity with vast superhuman strength, and develops multiple personality disorder. From this point, a much stronger, arguably deranged, personality gives him ‘orders’ to carry out.[volume & issue needed]
Calling himself Madman, Sterns hatches a plot to kill the Hulk, giving him a poison injection that rapidly deteriorates his physical state.[volume & issue needed] This puts the Hulk in conflict with various members of his rogues’ gallery, most notably the Abomination, turning weaker and more emaciated for every battle. Samuel Sterns, the Leader and Phillip's brother, comes to the Hulk's aid and helps him track down Madman to find the antidote. He explains that Madman "scares him," but can’t force himself to kill his brother.[volume & issue needed] During the ensuing battle, Madman suffers a psychological breakdown, completely submerging his original personality, and Hulk manages to cure himself, as well as poison Madman, leaving the latter on the verge of death, with the remedy dropped barely out of reach.
Later Madman reveals that he simply increased his mass to grab it, and used the time to masquerade as a researcher in the Red Skull's "New World Order" organization. Here he helped to engineer the transformation of a captured S.H.I.E.L.D. agent into the power-mimicking creature known as Piecemeal, and installed a safety override, making it answerable only to himself.
When tracking the creature, he finds it in confrontation with the Hulk in the vicinity of Loch Ness, and knocks out his enemy from behind. He dumps the Hulk into the lake saddled with iron weights, but is disappointed when the latter takes longer than expected to escape. During the ensuing gang-up, Madman continues to make disorderly, deranged remarks. When Perseus, a retired Pantheon member the Hulk was visiting, tries to intervene, Madman indifferently kills him, but the Hulk punches him away.
While the Hulk seemingly kills Piecemeal, Madman decides to take off in a stolen jet. The Hulk overtakes and starts to dismantle the jet, and Madman triggers a pilot-chair parachute, remarking that he's not interested in killing Hulk, since it would be dull to not annoy him anymore, and detonates the plane.[volume & issue needed]
After landing in London, where the two superhumans called Killpower and Motormouth happen to be staying, he immediately holds the British prince Charles hostage on top of Buckingham Palace, and demands to be declared king of England. As Hulk comes to the rescue Madman states that the latter should understand the demands to use great power and shifts from crying to irreverently upbeat within seconds, dropping the prince towards the ground. The Hulk catches up to him, while Madman, after being knocked back by Motormouth, is in the middle of a temper tantrum about everybody "ganging up on him", and manages to knock him down. Madman once again voices his "love"/admiration for Hulk/Banner, but takes the opportunity to escape as the London Bridge collapses underneath them.
As part of the Marvel NOW! event, Madman resurfaces and has been seen supplying gamma technology on the island of Kata Jaya. He runs afoul of Red Hulk's incarnation of the Thunderbolts. Madman was killed by Leader in his Red Leader form when he whispered something in his ear.
After taking over Kata Jaya, the Leader makes a deal with Mephisto that allows him to observe Madman being tortured in Hell. When Mephisto later takes the Leader to Hell, he notes that they need to "get his brother over here with some razor blades".
Powers and abilities
Like the Hulk, Madman has vast superhuman strength. Unlike the Hulk, Madman is unable to become stronger as he becomes angrier, but he is capable of creating significant boosts in his size, density and power, being able to reach at least twice of the "calm strength level" of most incarnations. He once knocked out the Hulk with a single punch to the head through the advantage of surprise. He has also claimed to be able to assume many different appearances, including the scientist spying on the "New World Order".
In other media
- Madman appears in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "Hulk Vs. the World" as an inmate in the Cube, a prison for gamma-powered villains.
- Madman appears as one of the major bosses in the Hulk video game voiced by Paul Dobson. He works with his brother, The Leader to create a world ruled by gamma creatures (Freehold). Madman first appears kidnapping Betty Ross, and putting her in a gamma chamber. The Hulk comes to rescue Betty and battle him. He returns near the end of the game, in the Leader's base, and teams up with Halflife to kill Bruce Banner. However, Banner turns into the Hulk, and battles the duo. Madman flees in the middle of the boss fight, leaving Halflife at the mercy of the Hulk. When the base is collapsing, he tries to battle the Hulk one more time. He is presumably killed in the final fight after the Leader's base was destroyed as he was left behind.
- Incredible Hulk vol.2, #367
- Incredible Hulk vol.2, #408
- Incredible Hulk vol.2, #407-#408
- Incredible Hulk vol.2, #409
- Thunderbolts vol. 2 #3
- Thunderbolts #6
- Ben Acker and Ben Blacker (w), Kim Jacinto (p), Kim Jacinto (i), Israel Silva (col), VC's Joe Sabino (let), Jordan D. White (ed). Thunderbolts v2, #32 (29 October 2014), United States: Marvel Comics
- Hulk: The Incredible Guide (2003), by Tom DeFalco
- ’’Incredible Hulk’’ vol.2, #407