Real Name: Carl Zante
Occupation: Professional Criminal
Group Membership: None; formerly the Torrid Twosome
Affiliations: Avenger X (Cressida); formerly the Human Torch (Johnny Storm)
Enemies: Captain America (Steve Rogers), Human Torch (Johnny Storm)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Captain America imposter
Base of Operations: Glenville, New York
Strange Tales I#106 (March, 1963)
Powers/Abilities: Zante is a skilled acrobat, able to execute various flips and leaps which he incorporates into his fighting style. While his fighting abilities are his main thing, he also uses a handgun and his shrewd mind to outwit others.
In addition, he is apparently independently wealthy, as he has access to equipment such as a liquid asbestos spray device, an asbestos lined truck, a floating sky platform, and a rocket.
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 190 lbs.
(Strange Tales I#106) - Zante met with the young Human Torch, telling him that the rest of the Fantastic Four were taking credit for his accomplishments and exploiting him. He proposed teaming with him, the Acrobat, as part of the Torrid Twosome, and they could use the reward money which Reed Richards used for scientific research to get rich. Johnny wanted some time to think it over, but after an argument with the rest of the Fantastic Four, he called Zante and agreed to join him.
Wearing a new costume as part of the Torrid Twosome, Johnny followed Zante's instructions on their first case, to rescue a teller trapped in the Glenville bank's safe. Melting his way into the safe, Johnny found it empty, and then turned to find that the Acrobat had tricked him. He blasted the Torch with a liquid asbestos spray, shot the Torch in the arm, and then took off with a million dollars. The rest of the Fantastic Four, investigating Johnny's odd behavior, had followed him, and captured Zante, but they were distracted when they saw Johnny was injured, and Zante escaped. However, Johnny flew after him, and even with his injured arm, managed to catch up and melt the ground under Zante's feet, immobilizing him before he could try to jump into a manhole cover to escape.
The Acrobat was presumably turned over to the police.
(Strange Tales I#114) - Posing as Captain America (who at the time had not yet been discovered/revived in the modern era), Zante appeared at an antique auto show. When some criminals tried to steal one of the cars, the Human Torch (present in the audience) tried to stop them, but "Cap" swung in and stole the show, belittling the Torch. Shortly thereafter, "Cap" secretly broke his two criminal accomplices out of jail, then sent them on a mission to use a Ferrari to attract the attention of all of the local police, leaving Zante free to rob the Glenville bank.
"Cap" robbed the bank and escaped in his floating sky platform, but as the Human Torch had helped the cops to corral the two criminals, they were able to respond to the bank robbery sooner, and the Torch was soon hot on "Cap's" trail. Escaping a short distance in his rocket, "Cap" waited for the Torch to catch up, then doused his flame with a mop (yes, a mop!), hand-cuffed him, and escaped. However, a store employee got some portable heaters to help dry the Torch, and he was soon on his way again. "Cap" tricked the Torch, dodging out of his way and trapping him inside an asbestos-lined truck. However, the Torch super-heated the air inside the truck, causing the truck to burst open. Johnny then trapped "Cap" in a fiery cage and unmasked him as the Acrobat, minus the moustache.
(Avengers VII#4.1) - Avenger X, in disguise, hired Acrobat to pose as Hawkeye and rob a jewelry store. She used her powers to give him vast archery skills.
While robbing the store Acrobat, posing as Hawkeye, was caught on a security camera. The next day the Daily Bugle reported on Hawkeye's robbery. Avenger X's plan to use Acrobat to ruin Hawkeye's reputation was a success.
(Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty#11) - Shortly after the real Captain America was revived, Zante escaped from prison again. Figuring the real Cap would want a go at the man who had impersonated him, the Torch contacted him. Johnny told the tale of his previous adventure to the incredulous Cap. The two then tracked the Acrobat to a bank he was robbing, and even though surprised, Zante sprung past them, fled the bank, and made his way up a nearby building. Eyeing up Zante's position, Cap hurled his shield from inside the bank vault, ricocheted it off of about four walls and then took out the Acrobat with a single throw. Cap looked Zante in the eye and then refused to believe that anyone ever believed that this two-bit hood was him.
Comments: Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Dick Ayers.
Much like the Asbestos Man and Asbestos Lady, I'm betting that the Acrobat and any other old foes of the Torch who used lots of asbestos aren't breathing so well these days.
Also, the Cap: SoL story heckled the point that if the Acrobat had all of the money to own a Ferrari, a rocket-equipped floating sky platform, a state-of-the-art escape missile, etc., why did he need to rob a bank? Just for kicks, I guess. The bottom line is that Strange Tales I#114 is a goofy, goofy story.
Yeah, some of these issues extend out beyond even my collection. Fortunately, the first 8 Human Torch stories from Strange Tales I#101-108 are reprinted in Human Torch I#1-8 (along with some good golden age Human Torch stories). The story from Strange Tales#114 is way up there in price as it is a silver age "Captain America" preceding Avengers I#4, but you can find it reprinted in Captain America I#216, and Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty retells that same story in almost its entirety.
Avengers VII#4.1 update by Markus Raymond.
Acrobat has an entry in Marvel Legacy: The 1960s Handbook.
No known connections to:
Strange Tales I#106 (March, 1963) - Stan Lee (plot/editor), Larry Lieber (writer), Dick Ayers (artist)
Strange Tales I#114 (November, 1963) - Stan Lee (writer), Jack Kirby (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty#11 (July, 1999) - Mark Waid (writer), Walter McDaniel & Anthony Williams (pencils), Whitney McFarland & Andy Lanning (inks), Bob Harras (editor)
Avengers VII#4.1 (April, 2017) - Mark Waid (writer), Barry Kitson (pencils), Mark Farmer, Rafael Fonteriz & Drew Hennessy (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
First Posted: 05/20/2003
Last Updated: 11/26/2017
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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