This week Marvel.com revealed a brand new design for the villain M.O.D.O.K. created by Hulk writer Jeff Parker and artist Gabriel Hardman. Unlike previous versions of the character, this one will not float around on a chair-like structure to support his gigantic head and tiny limbs, but will get around on several creepy spider legs. M.O.D.O.K.--which stands for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing—most recently appeared in the pages of Hulk where it looked like he was killed. The details of his return in February's Hulk #29 will most likely remain a secret until then, but that won't stop us from taking a look back the...unique character's history.
First mentioned back in 1967's Tales of Suspense #93, then appearing fully in #94 as a Captain America villain, M.O.D.O.K. revealed himself to be a one-time AIM worker named George Tarleton who was experimented on and turned into M.O.D.O.K. Originally designed for computing instead of killing, the villain's machinations eventually lead him to taking AIM over. Invented by the dream team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the character would go on to menace everyone from Iron Man and the Hulk to Ms. Marvel throughout the 70sand 80s. Without much change in his large-headed, orange and purple-themed color scheme, or success in his plots against superheroes M.O.D.O.K. eventually found himself on the receiving end of an AIM plot for once. Not only did they hire the Serpent Society to kill him, but after he was braindead, they used his body as a giant computer. He then spent the better part of a decade—in real time—as nothing more than a freakish processor.
Before M.O.D.O.K. got resurrected in true comic book fashion in the mid-90s AIM attempted to replace him with a female version called M.O.D.A.M.--Mental Organism Designed for Aggressive Maneuvers—who couldn't even beat Quasar and eventually died in Captain America. Back to his old tricks, M.O.D.O.K. continued causing trouble for the heroes of the Marvel Universe. Most recently he joined a group of villains called the Intelligencia which included the Leader, the Mad Thinker, Wizard and Red Ghost to torment Bruce Banner in the “Fall of the Hulks” story that wrapped up recently. He even had a hand in turning General Thunderbolt Ross into the Red Hulk. Reverted back to his original form of George Tarleton and imprisoned by S.H.I.E.L.D., we wonder if the spidery version of M.O.D.O.K. will be a brand new version of the character or the return of Tarleton to his big headed alter ego.
In addition to comics, M.O.D.O.K. has made a fair share of appearances in other media. He acted as the Mandarin's lackey in the mid 90s Iron Man cartoon where he was voiced by legendary voice actor Jim Cummings (Disney's go-to guy for everyone from Winnie the Pooh to Pete). He's also shown up in the latest Iron Man cartoon along with the currently running Super Hero Squad Show. Video game fans might remember him as one of the many bosses in the first Marvel Ultimate Alliance game and will be even more familiar with him once Marvel vs. Capcom 3 hits in February. Hey, that's pretty great timing. Let's make February M.O.D.O.K. Month!
Here are the designs for the "new" M.O.D.O.K. -- which debuts in "Hulk" #29 on February 2 -- by artist Gabriel Hardman: