Agents of SHIELD: The Absorbing Man’s Most Ridiculous Transformations

The first baddie of Agents of SHIELD season 2 has had some strange moments in the comics, that's for sure...

Crusher Creel, also known as the Absorbing Man, is one of Marvel’s most enduring foes. Gifted with the power to absorb any material he comes in contact with, Creel is a powerful adversary for any super hero. Primarily considered a Thor foe, Absorbing Man has gone head to head with just about every hero in the Marvel Universe.

Crusher Creel is set to make his television debut on Agents of SHIELD season two making the Absorbing Man the first major Marvel Silver Age villain to do appear on the show. He has had some awesomely memorable moments over the decades; absorbing everything from steel to fire to diamond and becoming a major league threat wherever he has reared his pointy bald head.

But not everything that Creel has absorbed has been, shall we say, advisable. At times, Absorbing Man has taken on the properties of some pretty strange ass substances leading to some rather humiliating moments for the usually potent villain. But at other times, Creel has almost ascended into godhood.

These are those times that Crusher Creel is probably not very proud of and the times he was proven to be a downright badass. These are the greatest and the wackiest transformations of the Absorbing Man!

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That time he was tricked into absorbing helium.

Journey into Mystery #114-115 (1965) by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

In his first appearance, it was clear that the Absorbing Man would be a force to be reckoned with. With his rough and tumble mug and his gagunda ball and chain, Crusher Creel looked ready to take on anyone, god or man. Not every villain gets to fight a Thunder God the first time out, but Creel did, coming darn close to defeating Thor. You see, Creel drank a potion secretly laced with Loki’s magic, granting him the power to absorb anything he came in contact with. Creel’s signature ball and chain was gifted with the same powers and Creel was off on his first rampage, kidnapping Jane Foster.

One has to wonder whether the Creel that will appear on Agents of SHIELD will gain his powers through Asgardian magic. We’ll have to wait and see, but let’s hope Phil Coulson and company have a nearby supply of helium, because that’s how Thor defeated Absorbing Man in their first encounter. During their titanic struggle, Thor used Mjolnir to transform the ground on which Creel stood into helium because I guess Thor can do that. Creel quickly dissipated and floated off into space and the first battle between the Absorbing Man and a member of Marvel’s heroic pantheon was over.

It’s too bad Thor didn’t breathe in the helium laced Creed because the mental picture of Thor spouting his Stan Lee soliloquies while sounding like a castrated clown is pretty awesome. Absorbing Man seemed to be a serious threat when he first appeared, and remained so over the decades, but one has to believe that Mr. Creel isn’t too proud that his first defeat came about because he was transformed into something that fills children’s balloons. So next time you buy a floating Mylar piece of happiness for someone’s Bar Mitzvah, beware, for it may contain the anguished spirit of a humiliated Crusher Creel!

That time he absorbed Asgard.

Journey Into Mystery #121-123 (1965) by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

His first appearance was pretty embarrassing what with the absorbing helium and becoming all gaseous, but in his second appearance, Creel proved just how badass he could be, even if it also ended in a degrading defeat. Just seven issues after his debut, Loki helps Creel reform his body and sends him back to Earth. Creel realizes Loki is way more powerful than he is and vows to help Loki kick Odin’s ass.

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Absorbing Man attacks the Father of the Gods and absorbs his power. Creel followed that little trick up by, according to Lee, “Absorbing the properties of Asgard itself.” So essentially, Creel turned himself into a mythic land of divinity. Insanely powerful, Creel was ready to conquer the universe.

So yeah, a dude with a ball and chain and pajama pants was an eyelash away from ruling reality when Odin tricked Creel and Loki to fight over Odin’s Rod of Rulership (heh heh… rod). When the villainous duo grabs the Rod (snicker), they find they can’t let go and Odin banishes them to space proving nobody but Frigga and thousands of unwary mortal women can touch Odin’s rod. It may have ended with a godlike bitch-slapping from Odin, but no one will soon forget the day Crusher Creel absorbed Asgard and almost became a god.

That time he absorbed Dazzler

Dazzler #18-19 (1982) by Danny Fingeroth and Frank Springer

Now, we all love Dazzler. We remember her romantic bond with Longshot with great fondness as well as her time serving with the X-Men when they made their home in the Australian Outback. We even love her current status as punk rock bad girl in the pages of Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men, but there was an era when Dazzler wasn’t so hip.

During the time of her first meeting with Crusher Creel, Dazzler was still sporting her disco outfit and roller skates. For those not in the know, Dazzler was able to turn sound into light, all she wanted was a career in music but her status as a very public mutant kept getting in her way. One of those moments came when Crusher Creel saw Dazzler perform and wanted to absorb her light to defeat the Avengers. He attacked her in true Mark David Chapman fashion and tried to kill her. Dazzler zapped the bejeezus out of the bald baddie but Crusher absorbed it and turned into a giant light construct.

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So essentially, he absorbed the essence of a wannabe pop star. Anyway, Dazzler got Black Bolt to use his sonic scream to take down Absorbing Man and Creel’s Dazzler days were over. If absorbing Odin’s might led to Creel absorbing the essence of Asgard, does that mean absorbing Dazzler meant he absorbed the essence of disco?

That time he absorbed a pile of cocaine.

Marvel Knights Spider-Man #16 (2005) by Reginald Hudlin and Billy Tan

Yes, you read that right and no Creel did not become a Motley Crue roadie or a stock broker circa 1983. After being shot and injured by the Punisher, Creel turns himself to steel in order to keep himself from bleeding out. The villain desperately reached out to the Owl for help and the avian themed villain hooked Creel up with an underworld doctor (this was in 2006, before Obamacare). Only issue was, if Creel changed back to flesh, the Punisher’s slugs would kill him, so he did what anyone of us would do in that situation…he absorbed the properties of cocaine so his body would become soft and the bullets could be plucked out!

Yup, not bread, not clay, not sand. Cocaine. Of course, the Owl and his crew are all drug dealers and junkies so they used high powered fans to blow Creel apart and proceeded to snort part of him and sell the rest. If all that wasn’t insane enough, any junkie that did a line of Creel ended up with Absorbing Man’s powers.

So the villain with Asgardian powers, a villain who had become adamantium, diamond, steel, rock, and vibranium became a street drug that gave meth heads and tweakers super powers. There’s a Walter White joke here, but I ain’t finding it. Not every villain could say they were snorted by New York’s drug crowd. I like to think somewhere there was a rave where vials of Creel were passed around and everyone turned into glow sticks.

That time he absorbed a cold.

Age of Heroes #3 (2010) by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Brad Walker, and Walden Wong

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After breaking into Avengers Tower to retrieve his ball and chain, Creel is taken down by Maria Hill, Sharon Carter and Victoria Hand. Hand had a bad cold and the bespectacled Avengers liaison tricked Creel into absorbing her cold germs. Between the cocaine and the cold, Creel was certainly defeated by a lot of nose related motifs. What’s next, Thor Captain America tricking him into absorbing a Kleenex?

That time he absorbed the Cosmic Cube.

Mighty Avengers #32-33 (2010) by Dan Slott and Khoi Pham

Call it the Tesseract or call it the Cosmic Cube, Marvel’s go-to cosmic McGuffin has fueled many a story over the years. In the comics, the Cosmic Cube could bend all of reality and make its wielder’s every whim become true. So it wasn’t good for the Mighty Avengers when Crusher Creel absorbed the power of one and went on a rampage.

At the time, Norman Osborn was running the Avengers and was giving the Mighty Avengers, led by Hank Pym, a very hard time. When Creel absorbed the Cube, it didn’t matter what team of Avengers a hero (or villain) was on, if the Absorbing Man wasn’t stopped, all reality was in peril. After all, a bald dude who hadn’t changed out of his prison pants in years now had the power to control reality. So Pym and Osborn’s crews teamed up to stop him and what followed was one of the most awesome Absorbing Man stories ever.

Creel took down the Sentry, basically a crazy guy with the same powers as Superman, by separating him into his two halves, the good Sentry and the evil Void. Creel “reality punched” Osborn’s version of Ms. Marvel ,changing her back into Moonstone, the identity she held before hijacking Carol Danvers’ identity. Creel was only stopped by the interference of Loki, who gave Osborn a magical sword that could bring down the cosmically endowed Absorbing Man. But his time as the Cube (he wasn’t actually cube shaped) was still a time when Crusher Creel proved he was no joke and could become a cosmic level threat at the drop of a ball and chain.

That time he absorbed an incomprehensible script.

Hulk (2003) Directed by Ang Lee

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It wasn’t exactly Crusher Creel but the powers gained by Bruce Banner’s father David in 2003’s Hulk, played by a scene chewing Nick Nolte, were inspired by the Absorbing Man. In fact, the Absorbing Man appeared in some early versions of the script only to have his power set co-opted by the senior Banner in the film’s final draft. After the older Banner gets his powers, he proceeded to sort of fight his son the Hulk.  

There are some classic Absorbing Man scenes, with David Banner absorbing metal that kind of was almost in a way sort of reminiscent of Crusher Creel, but during the film’s climax, David Banner absorbs weather or something and becomes the sky and sort of yells at the Hulk. I think. It was eleven years ago and the scene was really dark and chaotic.

By the time Creel’s powers were on display, the film completely fell apart. The plot became incomprehensible and a viewer could barely understand what the characters were saying leaving fans wishing that someone would have absorbed the idea of basic pacing and plot progression.

The Absorbing Man was denied a film debut in Hulk. But this oversight will soon be made up for as Crusher Creel is about to make his Agents of SHIELD debut. Through all the silliness (I mean cocaine, really?), Crusher Creel has endured and remains an A level threat to the heroes of the Marvel Universe and old time Marvel fans will surely get a thrill if and when that signature ball and chain is sent flying Agent Coulson’s way. Welcome to prime time, you metal absorbing scumbag, through all the awesomeness and wackiness, you’ve earned it!

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