MERU the MIND-BENDER
Real Name: Meru
Identity/Class: Extraterrestrial (native of Cherron; part of the Haifs sect)
Group Membership: Haifs
Affiliations: Formerly one of the prisoners of the Stranger
former lover of Dalia the Shape Changer;
Enemies: Dr. Spectrum (Joe Ledger) of Earth-712, Haif-Nas, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Stranger, Thor Odinson, Valkyrie
at least formerly Dalia
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Currently unrevealed;
formerly the Stranger's laboratory world;
formerly mobile throughout space;
formerly an unspecified planet;
formerly planet Cherron
First Appearance: Marvel Team-Up I#115 (March, 1982)
Powers: As one of the Haif sect/race of Cherron, Meru had psychic powers. It is not clear whether all of the Haifs had mental powers equivalent to (or perhaps greater or lesser than) Meru's.
Meru can submerge dominant personality traits in others,
bringing out often baser traits or personality elements. Meru refers to
his power as "draw(ing) forth the inner shadow -- the second self in
all beings that cries out for release."
The mind-blast initially causes fiery pain in the mind of victims before the effects set in.
In the case of a person with two distinct personae (such as Thor and Donald Blake, or presumably the Hulk and Bruce Banner), Meru can switch one personality from the subconscious to the conscious; the effect is typically disorienting, leaving the victim at a strong disadvantage. For example, with Thor, Don Blake was not experienced with combat, and despite his courage and Thor's body's strength, he was no match for Meru, who was significantly less strong than Thor.
In the case of people with a single consciousness/persona, Meru's power could bring to fore less domintant (or perhaps repressed) personality traits. For example, Spider-Man (Peter Parker) had his sense of responsibility/duty submerged and became selfish, feeling he shouldn't risk himself for unappreciative people.
The effect was strongest initially, overwhelming the victim's dominant personality/traits, but over time, victims' strong submerged traits could overwhelm those brought to fore.
While Meru's own psychic energies were limited, such that manipulating a couple people taxed his reserves; for example, after affecting a guard and Spider-Man, he didn't have the energies to affect Thor at that time. However, he could use his technology, including that within his hovercraft and in his handheld weapon, to amplify his own abilities. Or perhaps, he can store his energies within these device or replicate them artificially. When knocked off his energy platform after blasting multiple people in a crowd over 24 hours after exhausting his energies against Spider-Man and a guard, he still lacked sufficient power to act directly (or perhaps while the hovercraft boosted his powers, he was still exhausting his own energies and not recharging), and relied on his handheld weapon to affect Thor.
Meru could psychically sense Dalia even when she mentally submerged her memories via self-hypnosis.
Meru has some degree of superhuman strength (perhaps lifting 25 tons; see comments) and durability, allow him to weather assaults from Thor and Spider-Man. Meru was also apparently an experienced combatant.
Meru had the means -- presumably a starship -- of interplanetary and
interstellar travel. He also had a hovercraft containing a psionic
booster that allowed him to fire psychic blasts across a greater
distance on multiple targets in rapid succession. This booster's power
pack could be detonated, allegedly releasing sufficient power to reduce Manhattan to "steaming slag."
Meru also carried a handheld weapon for use when his personal reserves were exhausted and he was not able to access his craft. Additionally, the device could -- at least if overloaded -- completely disintegrate two superhuman beings.
Like many of the Haifs, he may have been a philosopher or scientist. He seemed to speak an alien language, or perhaps he was speaking telepathically.
Following their bodies' physical destruction, Meru and Dalia, at least, could survive as disembodied consciousnesses/energies that could inhabit inanimate objects (at least) and mentally influence others (even an Asgardian, such as Valkyrie).
While merged with Dalia, Meru/they demonstrated the ability to enter and levitate inanimate objects. Perhaps, it was only the mystic properties of the sword Dragonfang that allowed them to control the Valkyrie.
(Marvel Team-Up I#115 (fb)) - Meru was a native of the planetCherron, a world divided into two sects: The Haifs -- telepaths, philosophers, and scientists -- who allegedly subjugated and enslaved he Haif-Nas. Eventually, the Haif-Nas revolted, and when the Haifs refused to take the Haif-Nas seriously, the Haif-Nas plotted to destroy a series of key power stations across Cherron, setting up a chain reaction that would tear apart the planet's core.
(Marvel Team-Up I#115 (fb) - BTS) - In spite of the stigma to each of them, Meru and Dalia had fallen in love. Perhaps following a suggestion of Dalia's, Meru took her to a world where they could share their love freely. Thus they were both off world when Cherron was destroyed, and each was the last survivor of his or her sect.
Meru was furious that Dalia had known that this was coming, and Dalia fled from him.
Meru tracked Dalia for "ages" and across galaxies.
Eventually Dalia came to Earth, where she transformed into the form of "Jane Doe" and induced a hypnotic-trance to wipe her brain clean of all memory, as protection from Meru's probes.
At some point, Meru nonetheless tracked Dalia to Earth, although his ship was left in ruins on the outskirts of Manhattan.
(Marvel Team-Up I#115 (fb) - BTS) - "Jane Doe," now a homeless woman living on the streets of Manhattan, was badly injured during a shoot-out between the police and some bank robbers. She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital where her underwent live-saving surgery by Dr. Donald Blake.
At that same time, Meru finally pierced Dalia's veil, and he sought her out in in mid-operation.
(Marvel Team-Up I#115 (fb) - BTS) - Meru wore an overcoat, facial bandages, and a hat and glasses to conceal his inhuman nature.
(Marvel Team-Up I#115) - Thusly disguised, Meru entered the hospital. When a security guard questioned his presence outside of visiting hours, Meru unleashed a psychic blast that submerged the guards' sense of responsibility and brought to fore his resentments and suspicions, causing him to flee. Meru took the elevator to the 6th floor and physically battered the guards who accosted him, during which time one the guards tore his coat, and Meru she the garment, revealing his inhuman nature.
Soon enough, Meru -- sensing and tracking Dalia's presence -- burst into the operating theater, after which Spider-Man attempted to stop Meru. A brief struggle led to them crashing into the Operating Room seconds after Dr. Blake completed surgery on his patient, after which Meru mind-blasted Spider-Man. His sense of responsibility submerged, Spider-Man departed.
As Meru pursed the still unconscious "Jane Doe," Don Blake transformed into Thor and confronted Meru, blocking his path to "Jane." Physically outmatched and with his psychic powers partially exhausted, Meru rushed past Thor, leapt out of a building, and fled.
(Marvel Team-Up I#115 (fb) - BTS) - Meru retrieved his hoverdisc, which contained a psionic booster, as well as a hand-held weapon that could focus his psychic powers.
The next day, Meru next showed up in Times Square atop his hoverdisc, blasting all the people there, and demanding (in an alien language...maybe he was using telepathy) that the city turn over Dalia to him. Meru's public actions made the news, and upon seeing him, "Jane" regained her memory.
Traveling to Times Square, Thor tackled Meru off of his hoverdisc, but this time Meru used his hand-weapon to focus his power on Thor, putting Blake's mind in ascendance. Unused to fighting, or to moving Thor's much larger frame, Blake panicked, and he was no match for Meru, who swiftly subdued him.
(Marvel Team-Up I#115 (fb) - BTS) - Presumably via his hoverdisc, Meru transported himself and the unconscious Thor to a rooftop.
(Marvel Team-Up I#115 (fb) - BTS) - Meru noted that if the humans delivered Dalia to them, he would leave them in peace; otherwise, he would detonate his psi-booster's power pack and reduce the entire island to steaming slag. As his proposed time limit approached, Meru decided that perhaps the humans did not think he would carry out his threat. To convince the people of his sincerity, Meru prepared to hurl Thor off a roof (acknowledging him as formidable foe), Spider-Man -- able to overcome his own selfish emotions -- swung to Thor's rescue. Spidey tackled Meru, and ended up getting tossed off the roof himself, but again Spider-Man's actions gave Blake some extra time, which allowed him to collect himself. In the fury of battle, Thor's mind took control again, and he made short work of Meru.
"Jane" suddenly appeared on her own hoverdisc, revealed herself as Dalia, levitated Meru to her, and then hurled him to the ground below . Spidey saved Meru, who revived and attacked Dalia. As they chided each other for betrayal, Meru overloaded his hand-weapon, which blew up and disintegrated them both.
(Marvel Team-Up I#116) - Meru and Dalia's formless, intertwined essences floated through Manhattan, and they came to the agreement that they wanted revenge on Spider-Man and Thor, whom they blamed for their plight.
They sensed the magical properties of the sword Dragonfang, entered it, and used its energies to take control of the Valkyrie. They then sent the Valkyrie on a rampage, hoping to attract the attention of their targets. Spidey showed up first, and attempted to subdue the bloodthirsty Valkyrie. Thor came along soon after, and mistaking the Valkyrie to be the victim, he swatted Spidey aside, but then had to defend himself from Val's sword.
During the course of the battle, Spidey had noticed that Val seemed less battle-crazed when she parted with Dragonfang. He swung down and pulled it from Val's hands as she fought Thor, which cleared her mind, and left her and Thor to make googly-eyes at each other, as the possessed Sword pulled him into the air and across town. Spidey finally got their attention, and Thor shattered the sword, expelling the disembodied form of the merged aliens. Thor then made a warp in space and sent the energy form away.
BTS - Meru (and most likely Dalia, since they were last seen merged) was captured by the Stranger. He was returned to his original form, and imprisoned on the Stranger's laboratory world, where he underwent various forms of tests.
(Quasar#14, 15-BTS, 16) - During the Overmind's attack on the Stranger, Meru was one of those freed and sent to attack the Stranger's allies. Meru was one of several former prisoners being transported to the site of the struggle between the Overmind and the Stranger's forces. Dr. Spectrum (of the Squadron Supreme) was the transporter, but in mid-flight he regained his own mind, as the Overmind withdrew his influence to focus his full power against the Stranger. Spectrum then dropped Meru and the others, leaving them to fend for themselves. Many of the Stranger's former prisoners escaped after this struggle, but Meru's fate is unrevealed.
Comments: Created by J. M. DeMatteis and Herb Trimpe.
Haifs and Haif-Nas...Haves and Have-Nots...get it...boy, is that a clever one.
And it's not the only one -- Donald Campbell points out that "I think the fact that Meru and Dalia's home planet was named 'Cherron' was a nod to a Star Trek episode entitled "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" which was also about racial prejudice. In that story, the Enterprise crew encountered Bele and Lokai, two humanoids from Cheron, a planet whose humanoid inhabitants had truly bizarre pigmentation patterns. All Cheronians were neatly bisected in their skin colouring, with one half of their bodies being solid black and the other half being solid white. Those who were black on the right side were dominant over those who were black on the left side. Anyway, the people of Cheron also wiped each other out but without destroying the planet."
I know Meru went one-on-one with Thor, but Thor was at a disadvantage because Blake's personality was in running the show. I'd put Meru closer to Spidey's class of strength. I know he ripped some webbing, but it was within seconds of it being formed, and we've seen countless times where it gets ripped up relatively easily before it's had a chance to "set."
I hope I don't have to explain to anyone that before Thor's alter ego was Jake Olsen (and before Sigurd Jarlson), it was Don Blake. Man, that makes me feel old.
I'm pretty sure it was Dr. Strange that reforged Dragonfang for Val, but I can't remember where. Any help?
Meru the Mind-Bender has not known connection to:
Marvel Team-Up I#115-116 (March-April, 1982) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Herb Trimpe (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), Tom DeFalco (editor)
Quasar#14-16 (September-November, 1990) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Mike Manley (pencils), Dan Panosian (inks), Len Kaminski (editor)
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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