Real Name: Prince Gor-Tok

Identity/Class: Subspecies of Humanity (Gor-Tokian Subterranean), mutate

Occupation: Destruction of humanity in order to avenge his fellow Gor-Tokians

Group Membership: Gor-Tokians

Affiliations: His Lava Men

Enemies: Brutus and his Deviant mutates, all surface dwellers; in particular the Avengers (Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, Captain America/Steve Rogers, Hercules/Heracles, Quasar/Wendell Vaughn, Rage, Sandman/William Baker, Sersi, She-Hulk/Jennifer Walters, Vision), Vera Cantor, Godpack (Anak, Bellam, Blitzana, Loga, Luminor, Riger, Zephra), Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers), Thor (Odinson), X-Men (Angel/Warren Worthington III, Armor/Hisako Ichiki, Beast/Hank McCoy, Changeling, Cyclops/Scott Summers, Emma Frost, Jean Grey, Iceman/Robert Drake, Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner), Zelda

Known Relatives: Gor-Tok the First (ancestor, deceased), King Krono (father, deceased), Princess Ingar (wife, deceased)

Aliases: Grotesque, Gor-Tok the Second, the Sub-Human

Base of Operations: Subterranea

First Appearance: X-Men I#41 (February 1967)

Powers/Abilities: Grotesk has athletic agility, plus superhuman strength (lifting around 80 tons) and durability. He had an extremely high intellect (possibly genius level) and was also highly intuitive. His brain was also mutated, giving him resistance to mental attacks. As a subterranean, he was adapted to an underground environment and had infra-red vision. However, this made him sensitive to bright lights. He was unaffected by breathing hot, smoking air.

Grotesk uses a variety of studs attached to his armor, and each had various effects: a solid smoke-screen with the appearance of a mist but the material strength of solid stone, energy absorption and reflection, and presumably various other plot device effects! See comments. He also held his Lava Men under his mental sway, and removed their power of speech, but this may have been accomplished through technology. He used a spy scope to monitor his enemies, and presumably had access to other advanced technologies presumably of Deviant origin, see comments.

Grotesk also carried a war club, which was once the scepter of the Gor-Tokians and appeared to be made of stone, but this shattered against Thor's dense Asgardian flesh.

History: (X-Men I#41 (fb) ) - The Gor-Tokian Subterraneans had once had a great thriving metropolis that spread throughout endless caverns below the planet Earth's surface; they were unaware of the existence of people on the surface. They had fought many wars, the results of which burst mountains asunder, creating volcanoes. One day they were gathered in preparation to ascend the shafts to the surface world (to see if there were others like them, who they could conquer and take as slaves) when they were interrupted by a vast explosion caused by humans' nuclear testing. Prince Gor-Tok II took charge of the few remaining survivors, but they soon died of radiation sickness. Gor-Tok further found that the radiation sickness affected all of the Gor-Tokians' cities. The last one to die was his Princess Ingar. However the radiation transformed Gor-Tok, and he swore to find a way to destroy the outer world even if it meant dying in the process.

(X-Men I#41) - The Sub-Human entered the subway and derailed a train, thinking it to be a monster. Beast and Iceman investigated only to be attacked. During the conflict Beast described him as "grotesque," and the Sub-Human decided to call himself Grotesk (see comments). Grotesk had no trouble escaping and disappeared into a hole in the subway tunnel, sealing the passage behind him. He wandered the caverns below the city until he reached an area where his people had once met that had been safe from earthquakes. However there were earth tremors, and he assumed it to be an attack from the outer world. He realized that whatever device was causing the tremors could conceivably be used to destroy the Earth. Grotesk reached Archer College, where Dr. Hunt had been performing experiments with his Nuclear Oscillotron to create earth tremors. His appearance caused a laboratory assistant to faint. Unable to find the device (which had been moved to a place it could be more closely guarded), Grotesk took the unconscious assistant back to his underground lair. As he was interrogating the man, he was approached by Cyclops and Beast of the X-Men.

(X-Men I#42) - During the ensuing fight there was another earth tremor, and Grotesk had a vision of a man operating the Nuclear Oscillatron. Unbeknownst to him, the vision was a mental image projected by Changeling (see comments). Grotesk escaped using one of his solid smoke-screen studs and followed the mysterious vibrations in his brain, caused by Changeling. Crashing through a wall, he found Changeling at the controls of the machine, disguised as its inventor. When Grotesk revealed his intentions to obliterate Earth in revenge for the deaths of his people, Changeling tore off his mask and introduced himself as Professor X. Grotesk threw him to the floor and instinctively reached for the control panel. Changeling attacked him mentally, but Grotesk resisted and threw the lever. Deadly vibrations began to radiate down to the Earth's core. Angel arrived, and Changeling ordered him to turn off the device. Angel used solar orbs to momentarily blind Grotesk, giving Beast the opportunity to tackle him hand-to-hand, but Grotesk hurled Beast at Angel. Grotesk was about to use a solid smoke-screen to escape when he heard Cyclops trying to sneak past. He spun around, but not fast enough to stop Cyclops blasting the smoke-screen stud for his hand. Grotesk grabbed another two studs to absorb and redirect Cyclops' optic blasts back at him. While Grotesk used Cyclops own power against him and his fellow X-Men, Jean Grey and Changeling mentally attempted to slow down the vibrations of the machine. Grotesk hurled Angel at his fellow X-Men and struck Changeling away from the machine. He tried to increase the power, but was caught in an explosion that appeared to kill him. (see comments)

(Ms. Marvel I#6) - Somehow Grotesk survived and returned to steal the Cavourite crystal. He caused a huge refinery fire in New Jersey, and was attacked by Ms Marvel. He shrugged off her toughest blows and hurt her with his own. After one of his blows shorted out the circuitry she then used in her costume, Grotesk pressed his advantage and began choking her, but she clapped his ears, possibly shattering his eardrums, and then dropped him with another punch in the face. Recovering seconds later, however, Grotesk battered her and then prepared to flee with the crystal. Just then, the fire reached the refinery's huge storage tanks, causing a massive explosion. Grotesk soon crawled out of the wreckage and escaped with the crystal, believing Ms Marvel crushed beneath tons of rubble.

(Ms. Marvel I#8) - Grotesk took the crystal to a research lab (disguised as a radar station near the seaside) that housed a military laser cannon. He began firing the cannon into the Cavourite crystal, hoping to trigger a warp energy implosion large enough to destroy the Earth. Once again Ms Marvel attacked, having located him there via her precognitive "seventh sense." Via a coordinated series of assaults, Ms. Marvel knocked him down, but realized the crystal was indeed initiating a warp energy implosion. Recovering as she was distracted, Grotesk attacked anew and eventually tore loose a pipeline of liquid hydrogen, causing an explosion that sent them both tumbling into the nearby waters. Grotesk managed to get her in a choke hold and attempted to drown her. Distracted by an energy flare from the radar station, he realized the explosion had disrupted the laser cannon. He left her for dead so he could monitor the power flow to the crystal. Ms Marvel recovered, and attacked again. Ms Marvel used a judo throw to hurl Grotesk into the laser cannon. With the laser cut off, the crystal flared with energy, briefly opening a gateway to another dimension. The energy fields scoured the land clean as they collapsed in on themselves, heat-fusing the sand of the beach and drawing everything within a hundred yards into the gateway. When the gateway closed, it appeared that Grotesk had been sucked into it, and Ms. MArvel had only narrowly escaped a similar fate, having dug finger holds into the heat-fused sand. See comments

(Avengers Annual I#20 (fb) ) - Grotesk wandered alone beneath the earth until he discovered a group of Lava Men who hadn't been transformed into gold after the demon Cha’sa’dra had died. They recognized him as the last survivor of the Gor-Tokian race who had once ruled their ancestors, and proclaimed him their King. His underground kingdom was attacked by Deviant mutates serving under Brutus, who wanted to retrieve Deviant weapons technology from the various groups of Subterraneans. Grotesk decided to join forces with Mole Man and Tyrannus.

(Avengers West Coast Annual#6 (fb) ) - Grotesk found out about Brutus' Oscillatron, and planned to use it to achieve his revenge. He rendered his Lava Men mute so they could not betray his true motives.

(Avengers Annual I#20) - Grotesk's Lava Men and the Subterraneans under Tyrannus and Mole Man's charge fled to the surface after an attack from the Deviants. They attracted the attention of the Avengers, who followed them underground. When Rage mocked his appearance (as fitting his name), Grotesk punched him, and the other Avengers prevented Rage from fighting back. Grotesk, Mole Man and Tyrannus explained their situation and asked the Avengers for help. Grotesk claimed that he had had time to contemplate and had no further interest in exterminating all surface life. They were then attacked by the Deviant known as Brutus, two of his fellow Deviants and a horde of their mutates. While the Avengers fought them, Grotesk escaped with Mole Man and Tyrannus.

(Iron Man Annual I#12 - BTS) - Kala, former Queen of the Netherworld, contacted Tony Stark about the Subterranean Wars, explaining how Grotesk, Mole Man, and Tyrannus were collaborating to defend themselves from Brutus' Deviant mutates. She persuaded Iron Man to help.

(Avengers West Coast Annual#6) - Iron Man took Kala to the Avengers West Coast and convinced them to help also. As the team found Mole Man, Grotesk reappeared from a scouting foray. The Deviants and mutates attacked, and Grotesk slipped away during the confusion. He returned in time to hear Sersi reveal that Brutus was in fact a mutate as well. The Deviant troops left Brutus at the tender mercies of his fellow mutates, who killed him. While the Avengers began to celebrate their seeming victory, Grotesk placed the Oscillatron in the correct place, altered the setting to destroy the entire planet (rather than just break apart the surface world), and then activated it. However, Living Lightning had absorbed vast amounts of energy from the machine, rendering it useless. Grotesk then fell under the combined attacks of the Avengers, who apparently left him behind (see comments).

(Thor I#481 (fb) - BTS) - Grotesk returned the power of speech to his Lava Men. With his vast intellect, he altered their machines to empower the Living Rock by creating a storm and harnessing its lightning.

(Thor I#481) - Using his spy scope, he uncovered a link between Thor and his former alter-ego, Don Blake. He activated the Living Rock, which created a localized earthquake. Don Blake fell into a chasm, and Thor attempted to follow. His path was blocked by the Living Rock, and he attempted to make it implode by striking its vulnerable spot. When he realized the vulnerable spot had moved, he instead entered the subterranean region to investigate. Grotesk and his Lava Men attacked. Grotesk's war club shattered against Thor's chest, and Thor punched Grotesk into the air. Crashing to the ground, Grotesk swiftly returned to his base via subterranean tunnels. Thor struck Grotesk with his hammer, but then several Lava Men merged themselves into a living monolith that blocked Mjolnir's return. As Thor struggled to free himself from several other attacking Lava Men, and as the Living Rock neared critical mass, Grotesk used Don Blake as a human shield to prevent Thor from attacking. However the God Pack arrived, and while they fought, Riger used his superhuman senses to detect the Living Rock's vulnerable spot. Grotesk threatened to kill Don Blake once more, but Zephra used her superhuman speed to remove Blake from Grotesk's clutches. Thor hurled Grotesk at the vulnerable spot, and the Living Rock imploded, shrinking from larger than a skyscraper to pinpoint size in a moment, apparently destroying Grotesk in the process; his Lava Men were released from his mental sway.

(X-Men: Manifest Destiny Nightcrawler#1 (fb) - BTS) - Grotesk's spirit was resurrected/preserved by his minions within armor impenetrable to mystic force.

(X-Men: Manifest Destiny Nightcrawler#1) - Grotesk and the Lava Men attacked San Francisco, and the X-Men could no penetrate Grotesk's protective field. Pixie tried to teleport through his force field and was nearly killed by the magical backlash.

(X-Men: Manifest Destiny Nightcrawler#1) - As Grotesk and the Lava Men battled the X-Men, Nightcrawler arrived. Hearing Grotesk's current status, he teleported through Grotesk's protective field and teleported back out with his helmet, apparently causing Grotesk's spirit to dissipate.

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas and Den Heck

When Beast first called him "grotesque", Gor-Tok was disorientated and confused. It was presumably the similarity between the word "grotesque" and his original name that made it appeal to him. He remembered his true name later in the issue, but continued to use the name Grotesk. I've included Grotesque as an alias because while the X-Men soon pick up on Gor-Tok's altered spelling of the word (presumably Changeling learned the Gor-Tokian spelling telepathically from Gor-Tok's mind) some normal people may not be aware of it. Gee I wish I could alter the spelling of my speech! And on the subject of speech, in all his appearances barring Ms Marvel issues 6 and 8, Gor-tok spoke with funky boxy looking voice bubbles (see the images above) that would seem to indicate his voice had been altered by the radiation too... seriously, I think that's a very important part of the character!

It was during Grotesk's appearance in issues 41 and 42 of X-Men that my name sake Changeling died, whilst playing the role of Professor X (the real Professor was hiding from the Z'nox, but you knew that right?). I have referred to him as Changeling in the history, but at the time his true identity hadn't been revealed (though the X-Men were suspicious).

Grotesk's war club was about as much use as a match in space, he should have gone with a club made from a super-tough material equivalent to his strength level for it to be of any use. However, his "plot device" studs were great, though he only really used them in those early X-Men appearances. I would assume they were remnants of the advanced Deviant technology. While he probably didn't design the technology, he was obviously intelligent enough to use it and adapt it to a certain extent. As each time he appears, he seems to die, and on one occasion appears to be sucked into a space-warp/gateway, I think he must have studs that can:

A: Put him in a death-like state of suspended animation

B: Teleport him away from danger, even out of dimensional gateways, and return him to a safe place

I can accept that the X-Men are so shocked at the death of Changeling (whom they believed to be Professor X) that they didn't check to see if Grotesk was truly dead. And Ms. Marvel had no way of checking at the end of their encounter as Grotesk had vanished. However at the end of the Subterranean wars, the Avengers just blast Grotesk and then leave him. No attempt is made to check if he is dead or alive, or to take him into custody! Earth's Mightiest Heroes? More like Earth's Mightiest Slackers! In his final appearance to date, Grotesk would appear to have died when the Living Rock exploded. However, considering his track record so far, I'm confident he could return should some budding writer decide to use him again.

Current main image scan by Markus Raymond.

Profile By Changeling


Gor-Tok the Second should not be confused with:

King Krono has no known connection to:

Thera, mate of Gor-Tok the First, has no known connection to:

Gor-tokian Subterraneans (Gor-Tok I,Grotesk,Ingar,Krono,Thera)

A slave race created by Deviants @ 15,500 bc. The first two specimens where Gor-tok the First and his mate, Thera. The Deviants set their new slaves to labor, building their underground cities, but Gor-Tok lead his people in a revolt against them. He became the first king of the Gor-Tokians. Some were mutated by Cha'sa'dra to became Lava Men. The Deviants created two new races of Subterraneans, more inhuman and docile, and sent them to reconquer the Gor-Tokians. Gor-Tok's people massacred the Deviant's armies, and the remaining slaves wandered aimlessly (the orange skinned Subterraneans became Tyrannoids, and the yellow skinned Subteranneans became Moloids). More recently, King Krono planned an invasion of the surface world, to be led by Prince Gor-Tok the Second, only for the majority of their race to be wiped out by underground nuclear testing. Those not killed outright from the explosion died slowly from radiation poisoning. The last to die was Princess Ingar, leaving only the mutated Prince Gor-Tok to become Grotesk. The Gor-Tokians strength had been increased to roughly twice that of a normal human (though not superhuman levels) by the Deviants, who had also given them infra-red vision to allow them to see more clearly in their subterranean environment.

--XMen I#41 (Avengers Annual 20/2(fb), XMen I#41(fb,d)



images: (without ads)
X-Men: Phoenix Force Handbook, Grotesk profile (main image)
X-Men I#41, p7, pan5 (Grotesk head shot)
X-Men I#41, p1 (first appearance)
Ms. Marvel#6, Cover (Grotesk VS Ms. Marvel)
Avengers West Coast Annual#6, p24, pan6 (Grotesk and Living Lightning)
Thor I#481, p12, pan1 (Grotesk returns in Thor)
X-Men I#41, p6, pan2 (Gor-Tokian Subterraneans)

X-Men I#41-42 (February-March, 1968) - Roy Thomas (writer), Don Heck (pencils), George Tuska (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Ms. Marvel I#6 (June, 1977) - Chris Claremont (writer), Jim Mooney (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Ms. Marvel I#8 (August, 1977) - Chris Claremont (writer), Jim Mooney (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Avengers Annual I#20 (1991) - Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), Kevin West (pencils), Fred Fredricks (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Avengers West Coast Annual#6 (1991) - Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), George Freeman (pencils), Danny Bulanadi, Andrew Pepoy & Bob Wiacek (inks), Nel Yomtov (editor)
Iron Man Annual I#12 (1991) - Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), Tom Morgan (artist)
Thor I#481 (December, 1994) - Roy Thomas (writer), M.C. Wyman (pencils), Mike DeCarlo (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
X-Men: Manifest Destiny Nightcrawler#1 (May, 2009) - James Asmus (writer), Jorge Molina & Ardian Syaf (pencils), Victor Olazaba & Vicente Cifuentes (inks), Nick Lowe (editor)

First Posted: 08/05/2003
Last updated: 05/05/2015

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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