BALLOX / THE MONSTROID
Real Name: Ballox, 7NH54 (apparently a serial or model number)
Identity/Class: Mechanical Android of alien origin; apparently of Skrull origin
Occupation: Mechanical Servant / Pawn / Murder Tool
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Skrulls (creators); Puppet Master, Master Khan's minions (former controllers); S.H.I.E.L.D. (former custodians)
Enemies: As a non-sentient android, he's really incapable of holding enmities; still, he fought Spider-Man and the Vision while manipulated by Puppet Master, and fought Iron Fist while reprogrammed by Master Khan's minions.
Known Relatives: Inapplicable. He's likely to be one of many similar robots, but we've never met another. There is a significant chance that he is actually unique, since we never saw the Skrulls use any similar android again.
Aliases: The Monstroid (alias chosen by Puppet Master). Actually, everyone calls him Monstroid all the time, including the covers. Apparently I am the only living person who thinks that "Ballox" is a much better name than yet another variation on "Monster"...
Base of Operations: Originally, an alien spaceship (probably a Skrull military vessel); later, the Puppet Master's hideout and one of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s bases. See comments for probable origin.
First Appearances: Marvel Team-Up I#5 (November 1972)
Powers/Abilities: Superhuman resilience and strength (Class 25?) due to his robotic nature. He apparently had a fairly efficient (if weird) linguistics algorithm, too, and was generally a good learner, albeit with a rather technical accent. He also was capable of seeing with his optical sensors disabled (probably some sort of sonar) and had fairly generic energy blasts, whose potency he could apparently choose at will.
History: (Avengers I#89-97 - BTS) - During the Kree/Skrull War, one of the Skrull ships near Earth carried an experimental android scout named both Ballox and 7NH54. Most likely, his goal was to acquire intelligence information for the Skrulls. Some event (probably involving the Skrulls' fights with the Avengers, the Kree, Captain Mar-Vell and Rick Jones) crashed that ship down to Earth, close to Long Island's shore.
(Marvel Team-Up I#5 (fb) ) - The Puppet Master saw the ship falling and decided to take a look. Eventually he learned that the droid was in there and managed to both rescue, communicate with and control him (using one of his radioactive clay puppets). He also learned his name ("Ballox") but opted to call him "Monstroid" instead.
(Marvel Team-Up I#5) - Puppet Master used Ballox as a grunt, doing the dirty work on jewelry robberies for him. At the same time, Vision, whose artificial mind was somehow attuned to the same exact frequency as Ballox, began to suffer severe headaches whenever the Skrull android was activated, without knowing why.
After learning of the Vision's troubles, Spider-Man decided to help him. Eventually the two of them built a tracker to find the source of Vision's interference, and followed it to the Baxter Building, headquarters of the Fantastic Four. Puppet Master and Ballox where there at the time, hoping to take the Fantastic Four by surprise. However, none of the FF were at home.
Realizing that he was no longer alone, Puppet Master sent Ballox against the two heroes. Ballox's activity, so up close and personal, created intense agony on the Vision, to the point where he was almost losing his senses. Ballox attacked him, but Vision managed to turn insubstantial just in time. After hesitating for a moment, Ballox decided that he would rather wrestle with the less weird target available, that being Spider-Man.
While Spider-Man had a hard time with Ballox, Vision had a worse with his own artificial mind; he was in such pain that he fell though the floor right into the room where Puppet Master was, and could barely keep conscious. Puppet Master, never a particularly effective melee fighter, actually punched Vision down. However, Vision eventually recovered enough to realize that Puppet Master and Ballox were the cause of his seizures, and managed to stun Puppet Master and destroy the clay doll that he used to control Ballox. Ballox stopped immediately and Vision was quite relieved. Vision then explained to Spider-Man what happened, including his mental glimpse of Ballox's origin as an experimental Skrull scout android.
BTS - Ballox was eventually repaired and moved to a S.H.I.E.L.D. installation, probably for safekeeping.
(Marvel Premiere#24) - Said installation was invaded by armed troops loyal to Master Khan, who killed every single operative there in order to retrieve and reprogram Ballox. He/it was then sent to kill a certain Arabic princess (who happened to be a friend of Iron Fist) during a baseball game involving Chris Claremont (I kid you not - and apparently this was Chris' first appearance as a comic book character!). Iron Fist intervened and severely damaged him, before finally stopping him once and for all with an Iron Fist punch through the head.
Comments: Created by Gerry Conway and Gil Kane; re-used by Chris Claremont and Pat Broderick.
Ballox is a character that for some reason always fascinated me. His apparent Skrull origin raises a few interesting questions - why would a Skrull android just happen to use the same working frequency as Vision's (which no one else seems to ever use)? Considering that Vision's most vicious fit of rage ever happened during the Kree/Skrull War, aboard a Skrull ship, when he almost punched a Skrull captain to death, the deleterious effect on Vision's mind may be non-random or even intentional. My favorite pet theory is that the Skrulls saw fit to base a few aspects of their droid on Vision (perhaps on the grounds that it could help on his scouting mission).
On both his appearances, Ballox was a subtly ironic character - powerful yet helpless, a victim from the start even. He caused great anguish to Vision and gave quite a fight to both Spider-Man and Iron Fist, yet neither he nor his creators ever meant him to go through those fights - he was ever the weapon of opportunity. There is also the subtle theme of his being twice stopped by a hand going right through a solid body, albeit in very different circunstances.
The Monstroid has a one page profile (not very informative) as one of "Spider-Man's Forgotten Foes!" in Web of Spider-Man Annual#3.
Profile by Luis Dantas. One little curiosity - this was the first triple-dibbed profile on the site. It went through caliban and then Voice of Doom before arriving at my hands - or maybe I grabbed it from his, since writing this was very much a sudden decision.
No known connection to:
images: (without ads)
Marvel Premiere#25, Cover (Ballox fight Iron Fist)
Marvel Team-Up I#5, p7, pan1 (Ballox with Puppet Master)
Marvel Team-Up I#5 (November, 1972) - Gerry Conway (writer), Gil Kane (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Marvel Premiere#24 (September, 1975) - Chris Claremont (writer), Pat Broderick (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Web of Spider-Man Annual#3 (1987) - Roger Stern (writer), Peter Poplaski (artist), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Last updated: 12/05/13
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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