MEDUSA

Real Name: Medusa

Identity/Class: Olympian goddess
    Post-Hyborian era; 11th through 17th Centuries; World War I era; Post-World War II era

Occupation: Recluse, former priestess of Athena, photographer

Group Membership: The Gorgons (Stheno and Euryale), former member of the Olympian gods

Affiliations: Athena (formerly), Neptune (formerly)

Enemies: The Argonauts Athena, Perseus

Known Relatives: Phorcys (father), Ceto (mother), Echidna, Euryale, Graeae (Deinos, Enyo, Pephredo, sisters), Scylla, Sirens, Stheno, Thoosa (sisters), Typhon (brother-in-law), Chrysaor, Pegasus (sons), Callirhoe (daughter-in-law), Geryon (grandson, deceased), Cerberus, Hydra, Ladon, Nemean Lion, Orthus (nephews), Chimaera, Phaea, Maralith, Sphinx (nieces), Damballah, Dragon of the Moon, Sligguth, Yamato-no-Orichi (paternal uncles), Ishiti, Tartessus (paternal aunts), Set (paternal grandfather), Gaea (maternal grandmother), Pontus (maternal grandfather), Chthon, Hyppus (great-uncles), Isuus, Oshtur (great-aunts), Demiurge (great-grandfather), many other distant relatives;
Delphyne Gorgon (distant descendant)

Aliases: May Dusa

Base of Operations: A curio shop
    an castle dungeon in Europe;
    unnamed city in the 1920's;
    Ancient Libya (now part of modern Morocco), 14th century BC;
    possibly Medusa-Land

First Appearance: Adventures Into Terror#15 (January, 1953)

Powers/Abilities: Medusa possessed the conventional attributes of a deteriorated Olympian goddess. Stripped of much of her power, divine enchantments and godhood, she is nowhere near as powerful as when she was a full-pledged goddess. Her primary power left behind from her godhood was her ability to alter the appearance of other things, but only now confined to her gaze. One look from her can turn any living thing, including their clothing and weapons to stone. However, some individuals such as Hercules have been able to avoid being turned into stone merely by closing their eyes so perhaps there is a mystical connection connected through a quasi-mental link with her victims. It has been suggested, though, that by killing Medusa, this petrifying process can be undone even on victims of exceptional years old.
    --I thought you had to see Medusa to turn to stone--Snood.

There are some references that Medusa even before her curse might have been some sort of capable archer with a bow and arrow.

Physical Appearance: As goddesses, the Gorgons were supposedly revered as the most beautiful of the Olympian gods, originally possessing wings of gold as gods. Medusa and her sisters, however, were transformed into hideous hags with snakes for hair and wings of bronze. In additional to these mystical mutations, they attained brazen hands and long tongues, which lolled from their mouths between tusks like those of swine.

History: (Greek-Roman Myth) - Medusa is one of the Gorgons, daughters of the ancient sea-gods, Phorcys and Ceto, who were overthrown when the Olympian God Zeus conquered Olympus and overthrew the Titans. The Gorgons became attendants and priestesses of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, afterward and she took vows from them that they would remain virgins to honor her. It was a difficult promise for Medusa and her sisters to keep. All three of them were courted by the sea-god Poseidon. Euryale bore the giant Orion to Poseidon and Medusa bore him another son, the giant Chrysaor.

(Incredible Hercules#128 (fb)/Greek-Roman Myth) - When Athena realized that Medusa Gorgon had been having sexual relations within one of her temples, she stripped all three Gorgon sisters of their beauty and converted them to hideous hags with snakes for hair. They fled to earth in the region of Ancient Libya to live in isolation away from the eyes of mortals and immortals and transformed all who were foolish enough to find them into stone statues. All their descendants had to live with the same curse.

(Greek-Roman Myth) - In the Fourteenth Century BC, King Polydectes of Seriphos sent Perseus on a search for Medusa to kill her and return with her head as proof. In the young heir’s absence, Polydectes hoped to marry his mother, Danae, and through her gain control of Argos. Athena meanwhile guided Perseus in his adventure and had the Graiae provide him with several weapons required in confronting Medusa. Although he had to ransom the sacred eye of the Graiae to attain their cooperation, Perseus was eventually armed with winged sandals, a cap that made him invisible, a pouch that was immune to Medusa’s power and a sword to use against her before being sent into the area where he would hope to find Medusa and her sisters.

(Greek-Roman Myth/Journey Into Mystery I#96 (fb) - He finally located the Gorgons living isolated in the wilderness surrounded by the stone statues of their previous victims. Watching them through the shining reflective surface of his shield, he waited until they fell asleep and then crept among them and slew Medusa with one single blow, decapitating her in the process. Medusa’s sisters rose to fight their invisible invader, but could not find him to confront him. They instead returned to mourn and bury their sister. From her corpse, the winged horse Pegasus burst forth and fled off into the night. Her blood seeping into the Earth, however, turned into serpents. Athena saved some of the blood and gave it to King Erichthonius of Athens. One drop cured disease and another drop became a deadly poison.

(Adventures Into Terror#15 (fb)) - Medusa had secretly had a daughter, and when Medusa died, she spirited her daughter away to a subterranean world below Athens. There, in what would become Medusa-Land, her daughter, also known as Medusa, came to the rule city. Her descendents--each named Medusa and possessing similar powers to the original Medusa--each ruled the city after the deaths of their mothers.

(Greek-Roman Myth) - Perseus reached that night the Garden of the Hesperides where the daughters of the Titan Atlas treated him warmly as a guest. The Titaness Themis, however, had warned Atlas that a son of Zeus would one day rob the apples from the garden and treated him inhospitably. Wanting to take down some of the apples as a gift to his mother, Perseus tried to abscond with a few of them, but Atlas noticed him and screamed at him to stay away from them. Perseus then struck back by using Medusa’s head to turn him to stone; Atlas had managed to revert back to normal by the arrival of Hercules, the real threat of which Themis had warned him. Perseus also used Medusa’s head to turn King Polydectes to stone, but eventually realized the head was too dangerous for him to keep and he gave it to Athena for safe keeping. She emblazoned the surface of her aegis (breastplate) with its gruesome image.

    Mopsus, one of the Argonauts, was killed by one of the serpents born from Medusa’s blood in Libya as they struggled to return to Greece.

    Athena eventually saved a clipping from Medusa’s hair and concealed it in an urn to give to Hercules two generations later. He gave it to Sterope, a princess of Tegea and daughter of his good friend King Cepheus, and told her it could be used to ward off any army. She kept it hidden away as a weapon for Tegea as her father joined Hercules in a war against Sparta.

(Marvel Preview#10) <@ 1250-1225 BC> - King Kreon of Pylos sent Hercules and the Argonauts to retrieve the gold of Medusa hidden on the Isle of Fear. Kreon knew Medusa had no gold and hoped to be rid of them by sending them on the dangerous adventure. Reaching the island and encountering griffins en route, they encountered Medusa concealing her face behind a hood. She offered Jason a bite of a golden apple with the promise of immortality, but Hercules realized the truth and shot an arrow trying to kill her, but it instead knocked her hood off. Jason was turned to stone as a result as Medusa turned on Hercules, but the Old One shot an arrow and killed her to defend Hercules. With Medusa dead, Jason and all her prior victims returned back to normal as the Argonauts collected her golden apples for King Kreon and seized her winged horse.

(Greek-Roman Myth) - Sometime in the Seventh Century BC, Athena also took two ribs from Medusa’s corpse to create a flute, but she could never understand why Aphrodite and Hera broke out laughing when she tried to master playing it. She eventually saw a reflection of herself as she looked trying to blow through them and cast the flutes to earth as she cursed the person who found them. The satyr Marsyas discovered them and learned to play them excellently, but he got involved in a musical contest with the god Apollo that was judged by Midas, the king of Phrygia. Apollo won by playing his lyre upside down, but Marsyas lost his life after trying to do the same thing with the Medusa flute.

(Avengers I#4 (fb)) - Some years later, a group of Greek soldiers surprised an extraterrestrial alien from the planet D’Bari on Earth. He used a weapon to turn one of the soldiers to stone. Because of that feat and his weird appearance, they fled believing that he was Medusa returned back to life.

(Journey Into Mystery I#96 (fb)) - The extraterrestrial race known only as "Gorgons" were also mistaken for Medusa at various times. Like Medusa, they could transform people into stone with their countenance.

(Journey Into Mystery I#73 (fb) - BTS) -  Ages ago, Medusa was imprisoned in the dungeon of a castle in Europe, to protect humanity from her gaze. Centuries went by and the castle remained vacant, due to fear of the curse contained within it.

(Tales To Astonish I#32) - In the 1920's, Medusa adopted the identity of "May Dusa" and became a famous award-winning photographer, keeping her face concealed beneath a black hood. On one occasion, a man attempted to rob from her, and gained access to her apartment by claiming to want his picture taken. Curious to see if "May Dusa" was as beautiful under the hood as he believed, the criminal removed the hood and was instantly transformed into stone.

(Adventures Into Terror#15 - BTS) <1954> - Anthropologist Professor Lansing discovered the existence of Medusa-Land and led a group of criminals there to steal its wealth.

(Mystery Tales#17) - Medusa lived in Pairs with her husband, a blind man from Greece who wins an art competition by entering a man Medusa has turned to stone.

(Tales of Suspense I#10 (fb)) - Medusa came to be kept in the possession of a curio shop owner, who kept her locked behind a heavy iron door. On one occasion, a criminal robbed the store and, thinking that the iron door concealed the owner's most valuable treasures, forced him to open it. Upon gazing at Medusa, he was immediately turned into stone.

(Tales of Suspense I#10) - The shop owner placed the criminal's stone body in his shop. Some time later, a customer wanted to know the story behind the "statue", and the owner told him; the customer did not believe him, but when the owner challenged him to open the door himself, he fled in terror, convinced.

(Journey Into Mystery I#73) - Mr. and Mrs. Grey bought the European castle containing Medusa, ignoring the curse. They eventually came upon the locked cell of Medusa. Unaware of what was behind the door, Mrs. Grey went to fetch a crowbar, after which the door opened easily for Mr. Grey. Medusa mocked Grey as she revealed her face, but she was amazed when he did not turn to stone.Thinking that her own curse had worn off, she looked at herself in the mirror; instantly, she felt her own body begin to stiffen and petrify. As Medusa turned to stone, Mr. Grey revealed that he was blind.

(Moon Knight I#16/2 (fb) - BTS) - The head of Medusa was found in an archaeological dig in Greece by Mr. Collins. He held on to the head for many decades, until it was stolen from him by Mr. Karg.

(Moon Knight I#16/2) - Mr. Collins hired Marc Spector to recover the head of Medusa from Mr. Karg for him. Spector was followed by Collins' daughter, who wanted to keep her father from reclaiming it. They were both captured by Karg, who attempted to use the head of Medusa upon them, but Spector used a piece of broken glass to reflect Medusa's visage back upon Karg, turning him and the head into stone. Spector broke off Karg's right hand so that he could return the petrified head to Mr. Collins.

Comments: Adapted by an unnamed writer and Tony DiPreta.

Medusa allegedly appeared in USA Comics#6 (December 1942): "The Ghost's Gaze of Death ." If so, this would be her first appearance.
-Per Degaton

    According to the myth, Medusa was the only one among the Gorgons who was not immortal. This seems suspect and was likely added later to the myth as a convenience to make it that much more easier for Perseus to slay her.

    Considering that the Graiae (also called the Gray Sisters) are sisters of the Gorgons and were also likely goddesses at one time as well, it is reasonable to speculate that they were also found at fault for the sins of their sisters. If the Gorgons were stripped of their beauty, perhaps they were stripped of their eternal youth enchantments. In “Clash of the Titans,” they were excellently and faithfully depicted visually as three Stygian witches and their eye depicted as a crystal ball.

    Medusa has also made a few other appearances worthy of mention. She appeared in the 1963 movie, “The Gorgon” which starred Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Barbara Shelley. In DC Comics, her ghost appears in Super-Girl I#8 and possesses Super-Girl in an attempt to take over of her body and restore herself to life, but she was defeated by the spirit of Perseus in the body of Super-Girl’s boyfriend. Later, in Wonder Woman II#3, Phobos, the son of Ares, used the ashes of Medusa’s corpse to create the demoness Decay. In the episode, “Friends Till The End” of “Friday The Thirteenth: The Series,” Michelle Foster and Ryan Daillion searched for numerous cursed objects, among them the Chard of Medusa that could transform people to stone in the classic horror series.

    Also, according to the myth, Pegasus is reputedly to have sprung from Medusa’s head. As the last offspring of Poseidon and Medusa, it probably sprang from her corpse after she died, but only because Athena’s curse possibly prohibited her from conceiving it naturally. Medusa’s son, Chrysaor, is sometimes said to have sprung from her corpse too, but this must as be error, because his daughter, Echidna, the wife of Typhon, was killed several generations prior by Argus, a former sentry of Mount Olympus.

    It is hard to reconcile the later Medusas past her death by Perseus with the others described and encountered in the Marvel Universe.

  • Conceivably, the other Gorgons may have used unidentified means to restore her to life, but this is unlikely considering Athena orchestrated her death and would know if she were restored to life even after going through the effort of tearing her body apart to make talismans and musical instruments.
  • It has been suggested in some non-canonical stories that Medusa’s spirit can enter the bodies of others and transform them into clones of her true body, but this has yet to be confirmed.
  • Since the Greeks mistook a D’bari extra-terrestrial for Medusa, it is also possible that they used her name for all the Gorgon-like creatures which they encountered.
  • It could be that she was a Deviant or Inhuman assuming her identity for unknown reasons.
  • My guess is that perhaps either: (1) <most likely to me> Medusa was killed the one time by Perseus, her one sister gorgon (Stheno or Euryale) slain by the Old One of the Argonauts, and the remaining sister making the succeeding appearances or (2) Both apparent deaths of Medusa were actually her sisters, Stheno and Euryale, and Medusa herself survived on into the modern era.--Snood
  • It could also be her daughter or one of the people from Medusa-Land.

    It is also possible that Perseus was actually guided by the Eternal Thena who reportedly acted as the representative of the goddess on Earth, but considering Medusa’s connection to Athena to the Olympian Gods, this seems doubtful especially concerning that Athena admitted in recent years to have protected Perseus when she gave the aegis to Trey Rollins.

In Supernatural Thrillers#3, a man named James Allison, on his death bed, recalled how he had existed in a previous life as Niord Worm's Bane. As Niord Worm's Bane, he had fought a worm-like monster. Allison believed that vague racial memories of this conflict had given rise to stories of Perseus fighting the kraken or sea monster.
---Per Degaton

    Concerning Marvel Preview#10: There never was a King Kreon of Pylos although in the Marvel Universe, he could have briefly controlled the city once during the rule of King Nestor who ruled it in Hercules’ lifetime. Although, there could have also been another second foreign city with that name under control of the Ancient Greeks.

    According to Adventures Into Terror#15, Medusa could not only turn people into stone, but turn them into animals, as well. I wonder if they got confused with Sersi?

    Concerning Dr. Zeus’s Menagerie of Myth, it could be possible that the spirit of Medusa was somewhat connected to her biological duplicate. While Dr. Zeus might have been able to mutate a Medusa-like creation, it is curious how he would be able to get it to petrify anyone with a glance unless Medusa’s spirit was working through her. Perhaps a variant of the Grey Gargoyle's serum?--Snood.

   The story from Adventure into Terror#15 is reprinted in both Vault of Evil#3 and Monsters on the Prowl#23.

    The story from Journey into Mystery I#73 is reprinted in Fear#5

John McDonagh pointed out that Medusa's fight with Perseus was in a Flashback in Journey into Mystery I#96.

For a great resource on where to find story reprints, check out Prime Eternal's Marvel Comics Archive: http://www.reocities.com/mh_prime/archive.html

Thanks to adam craik for pointing out the Medusa appearance in Mystery Tales#17.

In Incredible Hercules#123 we learn that an army of cursed Gorgons attacked Atlantis in the Pre-Cataclysmic Era. This would place the events of Athena cursing the Gorgons long before the Great Cataclysm.
--Markus Raymond

Medusa would make another great ally/agent for Set.

Medusa was called by the Greeks Medousa. Using her Greek name will save on the confusion with the Inhuman of the same name. Next Medousa and Perseus do indeed appear in flashback only in USA Comics#6 (December, 1942)'s Captain America story "The Ghost's Gaze Of Death" ---Cap and Bucky fight Medusa (Professor Anton Harvey). As for how Medousa had survived being beheaded by Perseus, the answer could be as easy as Defenders I#4 (February, 1973) and what the Enchantress did to Barbara Norriss' body when she turned her into the Valkyrie by putting Brunnhilde's spirit into it or as easy as Infinity Gauntlet#1 when Adam Warlock brought himself, Gamora and Pip the Troll back to life in the bodies of 3 dead human beings that he transformed into duplicates of their original bodies.
--Gammatotem

Due to the rules of Medusa-Land several characters named Medusa existed over the millennia. The history above deals with all of them.

Profile by Will U, Prime Eternal, and Snood

CLARIFICATIONS:
Medusa is not to be confused with:

  • The D’Bari mistaken for Medusa, Avengers I#4
  • Dr. Medusa, Dr. Myrna Rhodes, member of the DC's Creature Commandos
  • Medusa, Medusalith Amaquelin Boltagon, member of the Inhumans Royal Family, @ Fantastic Four I#36
  • Medusa, clone of the Inhuman Medusa created by Death, @ Giant-Size Fantastic Four#3 --or any of her alternate dimensional counterparts
  • Medusa, creation of Dr. Zeus for his Menagerie of Myth, @ Marvel-Team-Up II#2
  • Medusa Moonrider, counterpart of the Inhuman Medusa in the Amalgam Earth reality, @ Challengers of the Fantastic#1
  • Medusa, Hostess Pie villainess who battled the Flash
  • Medusae, alien extra-terrestrial race who aided Seeker 3000, @ Seeker 3000#2
  • Medusa Web, International mercenary organization in the New Universe, @ Psi-Force#17
  • Medula, female Deviant, mother of Ransak the Reject, @ Fantastic Four Unlimited#10
  • Medulla, telepathic feminist villainess from the old Super-Friends TV-Series, Episode “Attack of the Mind Maidens,”ABC-TV
  • Grey Gargoyle, Thor and Iron Man foe whose touch turns things to stone, @ Journey into Mystery I#107
  • Glazier, woman whose touch turns things to glass, @ Incredible Hulk I#262
  • Midas, Ancient king of Phrygia whose touch turned things to gold, Marvel Tales I#159
  • Ishiti of the Hyborian era, another snake-head chick, @ Conan the Barbarian I#134

King Cepheus, friend of Hercules, is not to be confused with:

  • King Cepheus, King of Ethiopeia (c. 1510 BC), son of Belus (Not seen in the MU)
  • King Cepheus, King of Eithiopeia, (c. 1380 BC), father-in-law of Perseus (Not seen in the MU)

Enyo, Medusa’s sister, is not to be confused with:

  • Bellona, goddess of discord who was also once known by that name, @ Doctor Strange III#54

Medusa-Land

Though its origins and original population are unknown, it is a subterranean world beneath Greece. It came to be ruled by the daughter of Medusa, and came to accumulate great wealth, with Medusa's descendents--all of whom were apparently named Medusa--ruling after the deaths of their mothers.  Around 1954, anthropologist Professor Lansing discovered the existence of Medusa-Land and led a group of criminals there to steal its wealth. They successfully located the city, and Lansing played up to the current Medusa, who became attracted to him and kissed him (he hid his revulsion to avoid making her angry). Later that night, Lansing began to loot the wealth of the city. Medusa caught him in the act and added him to her serpentine locks.
    Only one other resident was named: Athene, who was a close friend of the Medusa of the 1950s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though all of the inhabitants had snake-like hair, only the leader was descended from Medusa. The ruler, at least, could transform victims into snakes to add to her hair. When first transformed, the new snake's greatly resembled its original face, though over time they apparently took on a more normal serpent countenance.

--Adventures Into Terror#15 (15(fb), 15

 

 

 


Images taken from:
Tales To Astonish I#32, page 5, panel 8;
Incredible Hercules#128, p12, pan2 (without curse; recap page included)
Tales To Astonish I#32, page 1


Appearances:
Adventures Into Terror#15 (January, 1953)
Mystery Tales#17 (January, 1954) - Paul Reinman (artist)
Tales of Suspense I#10 (October, 1960) - Steve Ditko (artist), Stan Lee (editor)
Journey Into Mystery I#73 (October, 1961) - Steve Ditko (artist), Stan Lee (editor)
Tales to Astonish I#32 (June, 1962) - Don Heck (artist), Stan Lee (editor)
Journey into Mystery I#96 (September, 1963) - Stan Lee & Larry Lieber (writers), Larry Lieber (pencils), Paul Reinman (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Avengers I#4 (December, 1963) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (pencils), George Roussos (inks)
Marvel Preview#10 (Winter, 1977) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Val Mayerik (artist), John Warner & Ralph Macchio (editors)
Moon Knight I#16 (February, 1982) - Jack C. Harris (writer), Denys Cowan (pencils), Steve Mitchell, Joe Rubinstein & Klaus Janson (inks), Denny O'Neil (editor)
Incredible Hercules#128 (June, 2009) - Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Dietrich Smith (pencils), Terry Pallot (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)

Last updated: 09/04/11

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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