JANUS the NEGA-MAN
Real Name: Richard Janus
Identity/Class: Human mutate, technology user
Occupation: Would-be world conqueror;
former research scientist
Group Membership: Gideon Trust
Affiliations: The Gideon
former colleague of Reed Richards and Victor von Doom; Annihilus (uneasy alliance)
Four (Human Torch/Johnny Storm, Invisible Woman/Susan Richards, Mr.
Fantastic/Reed Richards, the Thing/Ben Grimm), the Spot
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Distortion area of the Negative
formerly the Gideon Tower, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA; Midvale, New York, USA
First Appearance: Fantastic Four I#107 (February, 1971)
Powers/Abilities: Originally, the Nega-Man was a separate form which split off from Janus, containing the majority of his negative emotions. After this form was destroyed, Janus himself later became the Nega-Man, allowing his darker emotions to guide him.
Janus wore a control module which harnessed "Negative Energy" or "Nega-Power" to enable him to perform a variety of feats. While it could harness the energy of anti-matter, neither he nor it could survive direct exposure to anti-matter. It could fire concussion blasts able to demolish a large building. It could enhance his physical strength and durability (allegedly by increasing the mass of his atomic structure). Using solely the power of the harness, he could achieve sufficient power to easily batter the Thing into unconsciousness (probably at a minimum Class 75-90). It could release powerful bursts of electricity, easily able to knock a man out. It also could release a tranquilizer mist able to render people instantly unconscious. It could generate and project cold and ice, sufficient to bring down a small aircraft in flight.
Later, Janus manifested as a cloud-like being of negative energy and could not escape from the Negative Zone. His face appeared as though it were split in two, representing his original divided nature. He also commanded a small army of insectoid creatures he had found in the Negative Zone.
The Nega-Man used a small, one-man gyroscopic aircraft to travel between cities. It was durable enough to be used as a battering ram to smash a hole into a building or a truck and remain undamaged.
Janus designed an energy-ray out of plastic in order to circumvent security in the Baxter Building. It was capable of stunning Mr. Fantastic.
Janus was forced to use crutches to get around, presumably the result of some childhood illness or injury. He later cured this weakness with Nega-Power.
Weight: 170 lbs.
(Fantastic Four I#108 (fb)/Fantastic Four III#43 (fb)) - Janus traveled using two crutches to support himself, apparently from a childhood illness or injury. He was a college student and science major at State University alongside Reed Richards and Victor von Doom. Janus recalled that he was never considered by others to be an equal to Richards or Doom but he considered them his inspiration and sought to follow in their footsteps. Believing they represented 'light' and 'dark' aspects of the human psyche he sought to explore those elements in himself.
(Fantastic Four I#108 (fb)) - Janus became obsessed with finding a new source of energy. He learned of a source, Negative Energy (or the Nega-Power), and sought Reed's aid in harnessing it, but Reed refused, warning him of its inherent dangers. Janus continued his search and ultimately succeeded, but exposure to the Nega-Power caused him to split into two separate beings. The new form (not confined to crutches like Janus) contained his repressed darker urges and, calling itself the Nega-Man, overpowered Janus (calling him his "brother") and sought to harness the Nega-Power to become master of the world.
The Nega-Man was next seen robbing a bank. Both the Thing and the Human Torch were on hand to try to stop him, but the Nega-Man easily overcame both of them. Janus contacted his old colleague Reed Richards for assistance, but the communication was cut off by the Nega-Man. Suspecting the connection, Reed and Sue traveled to Midvale to meet with Janus, while he sent Ben and Johnny to patrol the city in case the Nega-Man returned. He did, and blasted their Pogo Plane out of the sky, leaving them with a threat to the city--to turn over its treasury or it would perish. Sue and Reed met with Janus, and Reed succeeded in ambushing the Nega-Man and restraining him so he couldn't manipulate his control module. Janus, desperate to end his tortured dual existence, then grabbed a gun and shot the Nega-Man, who subsequently faded into nothingness.
(Fantastic Four I#108 (fb) - BTS) - Janus, however, couldn't stop experimenting. He used the Nega-Power to cure the weakness in his legs, and ended up succumbing to his darker urges, becoming the Nega-Man himself.
(Fantastic Four I#107) - Seeking a greater source of Nega-Power, Janus duped Reed into showing him the portal to the Negative Zone, then ambushed him from behind and entered the Distortion Area.
(Fantastic Four I#108-109) - Once there, he was detected and confronted by Annihilus. The Nega-Man challenged Annihilus, but was quickly overwhelmed by the power of the Cosmic Control Rod. In desperation, the Nega-Man offered to lead Annihilus back to the portal to Earth in exchange for allowing him to live. The Nega-Man apparently also negotiated with Annihilus to have two of his servants bring him to the edge of the anti-matter interface, where he could tap the ultimate source of Nega-Power. Annihilus' servants were instructed to let the Nega-Man gain some power, but to turn the ship away from the anti-matter before he could gain power greater than Annihilus. When they tried to turn away, the Nega-Man killed them both, but with the last of its strength, one of the servants ejected the Nega-Man out of the ship. Before he could stop, he was pulled into the "Exploding Atmosphere," the matter/anti-matter interface, where he was apparently annihilated.
(Fantastic Four III#43 (fb) - BTS) - However, since Janus received his power from negative energy/anti-matter (or because one half of his dual-self survived (no explanation was given)), he survived. He later claimed to have deliberately "died" in front of Reed Richards to allow himself to continue his pursuits of the Negative Zone unmolested. Janus joined with a group known as the Gideon Trust, who supplied the funding in exhange for his knowledge and power in a plot to siphon the power of the Negative Zone.
(Fantastic Four III#38) - The Gideon Trust had Janus join his powers to the (unwilling) Spot, a criminal who could open portals. Together they could force the creation of portals to the Negative Zone.
(Fantastic Four III#40) - The Gideon Trust's plot involved sending the N-Explorers into the Zone to set up a siphon to shunt the power to them. Janus observed as the N-Explorers were sent out on their mission.
(Fantastic Four III#43-44) - Janus psychically contacted the N-Explorers in the Negative Zone; while connected to the Zone his physical body at the Gideon Trust would become inert. The power transfer started by the N-Explorers was interrupted and redirected by Noah Baxter, using the energies of the Alexandria Space Station. Apparently the energy disruption proved fatal to Janus, as he was dead in the demolished Gideon Tower when the Fantastic Four investigated it.
(Fantastic Four: Full Circle (fb) - BTS) - Still bound to the Negative Zone, Janus' body converted itself entire into negative energy which could not exist outside of the Negative Zone. He now manifested as a floating head surrounded by a cloud of energy. Allying himself with insectoid creatures native to the Negative Zone, Janus schemed to invade the Earth using a duplicate he fashioned of the corpse of Ricardo Jones, a scientist whose body had been found at the Negative Zone's Distortion Area. Janus filled up Ricardo's corpse with insectoids to use him as a Trojan horse in order to invade the Earth.
(Fantastic Four: Full Circle) - Ricardo's corpse suddenly manifested inside the Baxter Building. As the Fantastic Four examined his remains, the Thing saw Ricardo's face and recognized him as the scientist who had briefly stolen his powers. Suddenly a swarm of insectoid creatures from the Negative Zone emerged from a vortex inside Ricardo's mouth and attacked the Fantastic Four. When the creatures were finally destroyed, Reed looked closer at Ricardo's corpse and found it was merely a shell containing a dimensional gateway. Determined to learn what was behind the attack, the Fantastic Four went to the Negative Zone to investigate.
When the Fantastic Four followed the trail of the dimensional gateway to Janus, Janus assaulted them with a multitude of insectoid creatures. Overwhelming the four heroes, Janus restrained them and plotted to fill up their bodies with his insectoid creatures so that they could journey back to Earth inside them. However, the Fantastic Four easily escaped their bonds and continued the fight. It was only when Janus referred to Reed as his "old friend" that Reed recognized him. Their fight was noticed by Annihilus who intruded and fought with Janus, enabling the Fantastic Four to escape.
Janus soon caught up to the Fantastic Four and assaulted them but Reed challenged whether the being claiming to be 'Janus' was him at all, suggesting that the real Janus was dead and this being was merely the 'echo' of the real Janus. This idea was so abhorrent to Janus that he immediately dissolved, causing an explosion of negative energy.
Comments: Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and John Buscema.
Janus' first name is taken from the Maximus entry of Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update I#2.
I think the "Negative Energy" used as a power source by Janus is meant to be anti-matter, or the energy released by the interaction of matter and anti-matter.
A great deal needs to be said about the confused origins of this character. Janus was originally intended to appear in Fantastic Four I#102 but after Kirby had penciled the entire story, Stan Lee didn't like it; what Kirby had drawn for #103 was run as #102 instead; that story was the first part of a Sub-Mariner/Magneto team-up but Kirby jumped ship for DC Comics, leaving the Fantastic Four behind. Months later, Stan reworked the original pages of #102 into a flashback sequence in #108, surrounded by panels drawn by John Romita as the story was recounted, with some new panels at the end of the flashback that changed Kirby's original plot.
The biggest changes from Kirby's original story were the character's name (Kirby always wrote dialogue in his margins for Stan to use or discard), which was "Mega-Man;" secondly, Janus' crippled twin brother was exactly that - they weren't the same person; third, Janus didn't die in the end, he was captured alive by the Fantastic Four.
Kirby's original pencils were finally published as Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure in 2008. Not all of the original art could be recovered so Ron Frenz provided a few new panels of art; Stan Lee scripted it and Joe Sinnott inked it. Lee's rejection of Kirby's original story had caused some sore feelings among Kirby fans so this publication helped mend some bridges.
If you read Fantastic Four I#107, I think you'll find Janus had another power: the ability to make others act like a moron. (1) Reed Richards knew Janus was insane and wanted to enter the Negative Zone. In spite of this, Reed allowed Janus into the Baxter Building and opened the portal to the Negative Zone right in front of him, telling him it was just too dangerous. Not so unexpectedly, Janus zapped Reed from behind and ran into the Negative Zone. (2) Annihilus had the Nega-Man at his mercy, and agreed to let him live in exchange for showing him the portal to Earth. Annihilus then agreed to have two of his servants bring the Nega-Man closer to the anti-matter interface to gain more power. Annihilus trusts no one and wouldn't allow an uneasy ally to gain greater power. Again, unsurprisingly, once he gained greater power, the Nega-Man turned against Annihilus. (3) Knowing that Janus has died and returned easily before, the Fantastic Four made no effort to search for "another Janus" after finding his dead body in the Gideon Tower.
Fantastic Four: Full Circle was published by Abrams ComicArts in collaboration with Marvel Comics and seems to be part of the regular continuity.
In Fantastic Four: Full Circle, Reed suggests that the Negative Zone's denizens are given life by the emotions of those who visit it - similar to his suggestion that the "Janus" they fought was merely an echo of the deceased man. Other stories have demonstrated that the Negative Zone appears to render people psychologically "negative" so this might be part and parcel of it.
Janus is seen on the cover of Avengers: The Initiative#1.
Profile by Snood
(with updates by Prime
Janus the Nega-Man is not to be confused with:
Fantastic Four I#107-109 (February-April, 1971) - Stan Lee (writer), John Buscema, Jack Kirby (#108) & John Romita (#108) (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Fantastic Four III#38 (February, 2001) - Carlos Pacheco (co-plot, pencils), Rafael Marin (co-plot), Jeph Loeb (script), Jesus Merino (inks), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Fantastic Four III#40 (April, 2001) - Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Marin & Jeph Loeb (writer), Carlos Pacheco (pencils), Jesus Merino (inks), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Fantastic Four III#43-44 (July, 2001) - Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Marin & Jeph Loeb (writer), Joe Bennett (#43) & Carlos Pacheco (#44) (pencils), Sandu Florea (#43) & Jesus Merino (#44) (inks), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Fantastic Four: Full Circle (2022) - Alex Ross (art, script), Tom Brevoort (editor for Marvel), Charles Kochman (editor for Abrams)
First posted: 09/06/2001
Last updated: 11/08/2022
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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