Real Name: Richard Harper
Occupation: professional thief
Affiliations: Janice Carr, Living Mummy (N'Kantu),
Ron McAllister, Miles Olddan, Dr. Alexei Skarab, Zephyr;
former member of the Demons/Hell's Bloody Terrors/Midtown Marauders
Enemies: Elementals (Hellfire, Hydron, Magnum), Hecate, Living Pharaoh (Abdol)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: None (see comments)
Base of Operations: formerly Cairo, Egypt; formerly Manhattan, New York; Spain, Italy, a few other countries in Europe.
First Appearance: Supernatural Thrillers#9, (fully seen and identified) #10 (October, 1974)
Powers/Abilities: Harper is a skilled thief, with above average speed, stealth, and fighting skills. He is reasonably proficient with a handgun, and he has a shrewd wit.
(Supernatural Thrillers#11 (fb) - BTS) - Orphaned at an early age, by twelve, Rich Harper's family consisted of a New York city street gang known alternatively as "Hell's Bloody Terrors," "Midtown Marauders," or "the Demons," depending on who was leading it at the time.
(Supernatural Thrillers#11 (fb) - BTS) - At the age of thirteen, now known as the Asp, he was one of eight gang members to attempt the organization's first robbery. He was caught, took the rap for his family, and spent two years in a detention farm.
(Supernatural Thrillers#11 (fb) - BTS) - At age nineteen, he got involved with another family, working as a numbers runner. Caught again, he did another two years in prison.
(Supernatural Thrillers#11 (fb) - BTS) - At 21,
he moved to Europe, spending 9 of the next 13 years in prisons in
Spain, Italy, and a few other countries. In a Parisian prison he
met Miles Olddan, a lifetime gentleman thief, and the two became
partners. After being released from prison, they embarked on a
number of "master schemes," and spent most of their
time on the run from the authorities everywhere from Europe to
the Middle East.
Eventually the Asp learned of the existence of the priceless Ruby (or Scarlet) Scarab, and set about a new plan to use this as their one, last, big score, to allow them into retire to a life of luxury. They planned to steal the Scarab, sell it to a Dr. Alexei Skarab, then steal it back and re-sell (and re-steal) it from a number of others.
(Supernatural Thrillers#9) - While the Living Pharaoh battled the Living Mummy, Harper sneaked into his pyramid. He snatched the Scarab and fled, narrowly a pair of energy blasts from the Pharaoh.
(Supernatural Thrillers#10) - Outside the pyramid, Harper hid out from the Living Mummy (who had been sent after the Scarab by the Elementals), and met up with Olddan.
(Supernatural Thrillers#11) - The Mummy tracked
Harper and Olddan to the room they were hiding in, and smashed
his way in. Olddan hurled an oil lamp at N'Kantu, setting him on
fire, and allowing the pair to escape. They then met up with Dr.
Skarab, and made the transaction. However, the Mummy caught up to
them again, this time working with Zephyr, the only benevolent
member of the Elementals. Holding Olddan hostage in order to get
the Scarab, the Mummy accompanied Harper as he tried to steal
back the Scarab. However, the Mummy was a little less stealthy
than the Asp, and he awoke Dr. Skarab, who shot Harper in the arm.
After a brief scuffle, Skarab explained how the Elementals
planned to use the Ruby Scarab to take over the world, and so the
Asp agreed to help Skarab prevent this from happening.
However, when they returned to Harper's room, they found the three other Elementals had beaten them there, and now had both Zephyr and Olddan as their prisoners, threatening to kill them both if they weren't given the Ruby Scarab.
(Supernatural Thrillers#12) - While the
Elementals spouted off about their powers and plans, Harper
sneaked around behind them, leapt up on top of their platform,
and ambushed them. Before they could react, he had knocked Magnum
off and into the hands of the Living Mummy, and he had also
punched out their ringleader, Hellfire. However, Hydron got the
better of him, and partially drained his body of moisture,
causing him to collapse from severe dehydration.
The Elementals regained the upper hand and added Harper to their prisoners, and formed an impenetrable barrier around Cairo, while the Mummy escaped with Dr. Skarab, the Ruby Scarab, and Skarab's allies, Ron McCallister and Janice Carr.
(Supernatural Thrillers#13) - McCallister managed to wing Hydron with a shot from his rifle, freeing the three prisoners of the Elementals whom he'd been holding with energy bonds. Harper escaped with the others, carried away by the winds of Zephyr.
(Supernatural Thrillers#14) - As Dr. Skarab managed to forge a mental link with the Ruby Scarab, Harper and McCallister held off the people who had joined forces with the Elementals.
(Supernatural Thrillers#15) - Harper and
everyone else watched as Dr. Skarab used the Ruby Scarab to
transport the Elementals and their foes into a dimensional aleph
(nexus point). He also managed to isolate the city of Cairo in
the aleph as well, removing it from Earth, and suspending it
below himself, his allies, and the Elementals. In the aleph, the
energies of the Scarab become accessible to all and Harper and
his allies battled the Elementals on equal terms. Finally, under
Dr. Skarab's direction, they linked arms and cast Hellfire,
Hydron, and Magnum out into the vortex at the core of the aleph,
and then returned to Cairo (and returned Cairo to Earth).
All was well, and Dr. Skarab locked the now apparently powerless Ruby Scarab in a chest as the group parted ways. However, the Asp snagged the Ruby Scarab and made off with it, alongside Olddan and Zephyr.
(Ms. Marvel#11, 12, [13(fb)]) - In Saracen Cay,
a tiny, remote island in the Caribbean, the three nasty
Elementals located the Asp, Harper, and Zephyr. The Elementals--having
returned to Earth with the aid of Hecate--overpowered the trio,
but were then confronted by Ms. Marvel, who had located them via
a clairvoyant/precognitive flash from her "seventh sense."
As Hecate fought Ms. Marvel, the Elementals tortured Zephyr, forcing Harper to reveal the location of the Scarab. Harper then tried to warn Hecate that the Elementals intended to betray her, but Hellfire struck him down with an energy blast.
The Elementals soon turned on each other, and thus divided, were easily defeated by Ms. Marvel and Hecate.
Comments: Created by Tony Isabella and Val Mayerik.
Although not explicitly stated, I'd suspect
that Harper and Olddan were lovers.
--Re-reviewing these stories for a Zephyr profile a decade after having written the Asp's profile, I'm no longer so sure about that. They were close friends and allies, and they MAY have been lovers. Similarly, they were definitely business partners...were they more than that (partners)? I don't know.
I guess only Tony Isabella would know for sure whether references such as "love at first sight" was meant literally or figuratively.
I don't think either Harper or Olddan were killed, but neither of them, nor Zephyr, were shown after the Elementals confronted Hecate with the Ruby Scarab.
The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#9 entry on the Scarlet Scarab incorrectly lists the Asp's name as Daniel Aspen.
No known connection to:
Also called Paul Olddan, Old Dan, and Miles Oldden, he (in his better days) was a true master criminal. His was a multi-faceted talent: cat burglar, safe cracker, confidence man, and a superb forger. He never resorted to physical violence, as he was a "gentleman thief." In a Parisian prison he met Rich Harper, and the two forged a close bond that led to a number of adventures, culminating in the pursuit of the Ruby Scarab. Olddan had lost interest in most of their criminal pursuits, and preferred to spend his time working on his oil paintings.
--Supernatural Thrillers#9 (11(fb)-BTS, 9-15, Ms. Marvel#11,12
Supernatural Thrillers#9 (October, 1974) - Tony Isabella (writer), Val Mayerik (pencils), Dan Adkins (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Supernatural Thrillers#10 (December, 1974) - Tony Isabella, Val Mayerik & Len Wein (writers), Val Mayerik (pencils), Dan Adkins (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Supernatural Thrillers#11-12 (February-April, 1975) - Tony Isabella (writer), Val Mayerik (pencils), Val Mayerik (#11) & Klaus Janson (#12) (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Supernatural Thrillers#13 (June, 1975) - Tony Isabella & Val Mayerik (writers), Val Mayerik (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Supernatural Thrillers#14 (August, 1975) - Val Mayerik & John Warner (writers), Val Mayerik (pencils), Al McWilliams (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Supernatural Thrillers#15 (October, 1975) - John Warner (writer), Tom Sutton (artist), Len Wein (editor)
Ms. Marvel I#11-12 (November-December, 1977) - Chris Claremont (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Frank Giacoia (#11) & Joe Sinnott (#12) (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Ms. Marvel I#13 (January, 1978) - Chris Claremont (writer), Jim Mooney (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Last updated: 12/05/13
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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