Real Name: Gerald Marsh

Identity/Class: Human technology user

Occupation: Jeweler, extortionist

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: None

Enemies: Ant-Man (Hank Pym)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "The Unknown Protector" (on cover only)

Base of Operations: (Marsh) His jewelry store at 523 Elm Street; (Protector) his hideout in a vacant tenement on Evans Road

First Appearance: Tales to Astonish I#37/1 (November, 1962)

Powers/Abilities: Marsh was a normal human, but as the Protector, he wore platform shoes and a bulky exoskeleton to increase his size and strength.

He also had a "disintegrating gun," which he used to seemingly destroy the gems of those who could not or would not pay him for his "protection."

He briefly employed a child's water-pistol against Ant-Man; he later used a common vacuum cleaner and glue to trap the tiny hero.

Height: (Marsh) 5'8"; (Protector) 6'8"
Weight: (Marsh) 180 lbs.; (Protector) 315 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: White

History:
(Tales to Astonish I#37/1 (fb) - BTS) - Gerald Marsh was a jeweler whose business was doing poorly. He decided to steal from his competitors, and came up with a plan to hopefully avoid capture. Disguised with an over-sized costume that concealed a bulky exoskeleton, and armed with a fake disintegrating ray, he became the Protector (see comments).

   As the Protector, Marsh struck at other jewelry stores, where he demanded weekly payments for his "protection" racket, or else he would batter the store owners and seemingly destroy their gems; his competitors were too terrified to refuse his demands, or to even call the police.

   To divert suspicion from himself, Marsh reported to the police that he had been beaten by the Protector, and that his gems were destroyed; but like all the other store owners, he claimed to be too scared to sign a complaint.

(Tales to Astonish I#37/1) - But when some ants had heard the wail of police sirens heading to Marsh's store, they relayed a message to Ant-Man, and the tiny hero went to investigate.

   When Ant-Man reached Marsh's store, the jeweler told the hero his fanciful tale: Marsh claimed the Protector had entered his store and threatened him; when Marsh told the villain that he didn't have the money to pay him, the Protector disintegrated his merchandise and warned him that something even worse would happen if he didn't pay up next time.

   Having heard enough from Marsh to go on, Ant-Man left the store and went back to his laboratory. Realizing that the police couldn't keep an eye on every jewelery store in town, he used his long-range equipment to contact the multitudes of ants in the area, and had them station themselves in front of all the jewelery stores in town.

   Ant-Man's trusty ants, trained to key on words such as "Protector" or "Disintegrating Ray," informed him of the Protector's next attack on a jeweler at 600 Harley Avenue. When he got to the store, Ant-Man tripped up the Protector with a bunch of loose pearls from a broken necklace, then lured the villain outside; but the Protector quickly countered with a squirt from a water-pistol (which he stole from a boy on the street), and the stream of water threatened to wash Ant-Man into a sewer drain. Fortunately, the tiny hero was able to have some ants bring him a discarded lollypop stick laying in the street, which saved him from falling through the grating.

   A week later, Ant-Man, as Henry Pym, rented out a jewelry store to set himself up as a target for the Protector. Sure enough, the Protector eventually made an appearance, seemingly destroyed the merchandise, then left after making his standard demands.

   Pym shrank down to become Ant-Man, and he was soon in hot pursuit. Following the signals of some ants he had trained to climb on the Protector's boot, Ant-Man located the villain's hideout; but he inadvertently walked into a trap -- the Protector sucked him into a vacuum cleaner, which he then sealed with glue, so the meddling hero would suffocate.

   But Ant-Man, with his normal human strength, quickly fought his way out of the vacuum's paper bag. When the Protector noticed a hole torn in the bag, he removed his goggles to look for the tiny hero. Ant-Man then switched on an electric fan to blow the dust from the bag into the Protector's face, and the villain was blinded and paralyzed by a sneezing fit until the police arrived -- fortunately, Ant-Man always had a group of ants at the police station, who formed a written message with their bodies via his electronic signals.

   The Protector was unmasked as Marsh, but Ant-Man, as both a biochemist and a robotics expert, had easily determined who he was before that. He reasoned that the Protector wouldn't have bothered to work his racket on Marsh, whose business was going so poorly, and he saw drops of machine oil at the scenes of the crimes, which identified an exoskeleton as the source of the Protector's strength. He then explained the false disintegration ray, and directed the cops to Marsh's safe, where they would find the gems that Marsh had stolen from his competitors.

Comments: Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby.

This story (alongside Strange Tales I#101 (see Destroyer)) wins the "Reads Most Like a Scooby-Doo Episode" award.

These early issues are classics. You've got to read them.

The Protector has an entry in Marvel Legacy: The 1960s Handbook.

It was never revealed where Marsh got his exoskeleton and "disintegrating gun" -- maybe he bought them from the Terrible Tinkerer (Phineas Mason), who would later be known for supplying equipment to other criminals (e.g. Bruno Caper, Goldbug, Stinger). -- Ron Fredricks

Profile by Snood. Expansion by Ron Fredricks.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Protector (Gerald Marsh) has no known connections to:


Protector's "disintegrating gun"

Supposedly a weapon that reduced matter to dust, it was used by jeweler Gerald Marsh when he disguised himself as the the Protector. He intimidated the owners of competing jewelery stores and forced them to pay for "protection"; as a demonstration of its power, the Protector used the gun to "disintegrate" their merchandise.

But the "disintegrating gun" was merely a non-functional prop -- it only produced a puff of dense smoke, which the Protector used as a cover to steal the gems himself, then he dropped common sand to take their place.

(Comment: Although the artwork above implies that the display case was partially disintegrated, we later learned that the gun was a fake -- my guess is that the Protector used his enhanced strength to break the case in half first. And I'm guessing that he carried all that sand in hollow sections of his large platform shoes.)

--Tales to Astonish I#37/1


images: (without ads)
Marvel Legacy: 1960s Handbook, p40 (Main Image - The Protector; refurbed version of Tales to Astonish I#37, Cover)
Tales to Astonish I#37/1, p4, pan1 (Headshot - Gerald Marsh, telling Ant-Man (right) about Protector))
Tales to Astonish I#37/1, p9, pan1 (Protector picks up jewelry display case; Hank Pym (background))
Tales to Astonish I#37/1, p13, pan1 (with his costume removed, Protector revealed to be Gerald Marsh wearing exoskeleton; three police officers, Ant-Man (right))
Tales to Astonish I#37/1, p9, pan2 (Protector draws his "disintegrating gun" from holster; Hank Pym (background))
Tales to Astonish I#37/1, p9, pan3 (Protector fires "disintegrating gun")
Tales to Astonish I#37/1, p9, pan4 (display case and "disintegrated jewelry" (actually piles of sand); Protector, Hank Pym (background))


Appearances:
Tales to Astonish I#37/1 (November, 1962) - Stan Lee (plot/editor), Larry Lieber (script), Jack Kirby (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Artie Simek (letters)


First Posted: 09/08/2001
Last updated: 10/22/2021

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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