In 1969, psychologist Dr. John Cereus, in contrast to the mind expanding techniques that were popular at the time, sought to develop mind-contraction as a therapy. He felt that the decreased mind would not have room for suffering, and would allow humanity to re-conceptualize itself as disposable ingredients in the industrial process.
To this end, he developed his mind-contraction vapor, Serious Gas. In an attempt to gain recognition, he devised a therapeutic technique that looked fun and liberating, in keeping with the times. This technique was the Vat of Humanity, which was composed on one hundred naked people standing skin-to-skin in a tube meant to hold only ninety, wherein the subjects were bathed in his Serious Gas. Cereus, however, fell victim to a faulty welding and fell from the catwalk from which he was observing his experiment into the vat. He and the subjects were trapped in the vat and bathed with the gas until the gas cannisters ran dry: one full week.
Cereus had his skin and hair color altered by the experience, as well as had his already questionable sanity addled further, and he became the madman Jack Serious. Serious also became the chief of staff of the mental institution Dorkham Asylum, which was primarily composed of the subjects/victims of his Vat of Humanity experiment. He not-so-affectionately referred to his title as the Emperor of Wackyland.
Serious sought vengeance on humanity for failing to see the brilliance in his theories, and plotted to remove all laughter from Visigoth, Massachusetts, which was both his hometown and the location of Dorkham Asylum. Nosferata and the She-Hulk intercepted a tanker truck transporting his Serious Gas, preventing it from arriving at its intended site. Serious, in return sent the inmate Three-Face to expose She-Hulk to a dose of Serious Gas and abduct her back to the Asylum for experimentation. Nosferata arrived in time to save She-Hulk, and the two confronted Serious, who fled. Serious fell victim to a second faulty welding and fell to the ground floor amongst the inmates of Dorkham Asylum. The inmates turned on him, beating them to death in rapid fashion. Their current fates are unknown.
Appearances: Sensational She-Hulk#19 (1990); (19(fb), 19, 20
Several of the inmates were loyal to Serious, acting as his enforcers and defenders. These included:
Big Al G'houl- a scimitar wielding middle-easterner obsessed with killing the writer Salmon Rushdie. He would attack others if he could be convinced they were Rushdie, which wasn't difficult.
Dogwoman- wore a dog costume complete with false nose,walked on all fours, and lost several teeth trying to bite She-Hulk.
Professor Hugo Oddt- Serious's resident mad-scientist and mechanical expert.
Slimeface- composed of an amorphous slime, could assume human or other forms at will, possessed superhuman strength.
Three-Face- multiple personality disorder manifested by a split-face and a third one on top of his head. His decisions were based on the flip of a coin. The two bad personalities generally out-voted the good one.
Note: It's probably not necessary to mention that all of the above characters were Steve Gerber's parodies of Bat-villains. So I won't.
Jack Serious has his own entry.
Last updated: September 4, 2001
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