SCARLET BEETLE

Real Name: None

Identity/Class: Terrestrial insect mutate

Occupation: Would-be world conqueror

Group Membership: "People's Defense Force" (Beasts of Berlin, Madame X, el Toro, the Voice, an unnamed spy)

Affiliations: Insects of the world (allies); former agent of communist leaders of Hungary

Enemies: Ant-Man (Hank Pym), Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Bluebird (Sally Avril), Dollar Bill, Garth, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, Morris Walters, West Coast Avengers (Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Moon Knight, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: Scarlet Beetles,"Insecto", "Clifford the Big Red Bug" (the latter two are nicknames used by Spider-Man)

Base of Operations: Manhattan, New York City; formerly Hungary

First Appearance: Tales to Astonish I#39/1 (January, 1963)

Powers/Abilities: The Scarlet Beetle consistently possesses human level intellect and life span, as well as the ability to control other insects. Certain hive type insects, such as bees and ants, have proven to be more difficult to control. In some circumstances, it sought to use the power of the Ant-Man's cybernetic helmet to amplify its own control abilities.

The Scarlet Beetle has on two occasions achieved human size and strength, although it is usually only slightly larger than a normal insect. In its normal form, it possesses the same strengths and weaknesses of a normal beetle (although it has proved as strong as Ant-Man, who possesses his normal strength at insect size). At human size, it possesses slightly greater than human strength (@ enhanced human), as well as superhuman durability. On one occasion, it achieved great size and strength, at the cost of its intellect. In this form, it possessed nearly Class 100 strength.

On one occasion the Scarlet Beetle gained the ability to mentally control a single human mind at a time, in addition to its control of insects.

On one occasion the Scarlet Beetle existed in the form of an army of human sized versions of itself, known as the Scarlet Beetles.

On one occasion, the Scarlet Beetle utilized an army of robot insectoids, including a large and powerful version of itself, which it personally operated from a cockpit in its head.

The Scarlet Beetle has proven capable of returning from seeming death on several occasions. It is not clear whether it merely escapes injury, if it has superhuman regenerative abilities, or if it can transfer its mind into an insect, which it can then transform into a duplicate of its original form.

History: (Tales To Astonish I#39) - The Scarlet Beetle was originally a normal beetle which was mutated by exposure to radiation into a glowing, intelligent form. It determined that the insects of the world (since they had existed before the age of man and were greater in number) should take over the world. It organized a small army of insects, which drew the attention of the original Ant-Man. Overpowering him with its vast army, the Scarlet Beetle stole his gas belt, grew to human size, removed his helmet, and trapped him in a pit. It then began an insect onslaught on the city of New York. However, Ant-Man was found and rescued by ants; he re-shrunk the Scarlet Beetle, overpowered it, and then drained its radiation. Now possessed of the mind of an ordinary beetle, it was released to live out its life.

(Untold Tales of Spider-Man#12) - The Scarlet Beetle's radiation levels soon returned and it possessed a residue of the Pym Particle in its system. It managed to tap into and activate the Particle, but not to control it. It grew too large for its mind to function and mutated into an immense, virtually mindless insect. It rampaged through the streets of Manhattan all the while sending out psychic distress calls, seeking help. In this form, it was encountered and battled by Spider-Man. Bluebird, another costumed hero, assisted Spider-Man in the struggle and managed to interpret the Beetle's psychic cries. Spider-Man, after learning what had happened, figured that if he could shut down the Scarlet Beetle's mind, it would stop activating the Pym Particle and shrink back to normal size. He used one of Bluebird's containers of ether against it. It worked too well, and the Scarlet Beetle abruptly shrank out of sight.

(Iron Man I#44/2) - The Scarlet Beetle's mind and powers eventually returned, and it began to assemble a new army. Ant-Man again discovered its lair, but was again captured. However, a down-on-his-luck shopkeeper working in the shop above the Scarlet Beetle chose that time to try to burn down his shop to gain the insurance money. The smoke drove the other insects away, and Ant-Man fled. As the Scarlet Beetle pursued him, it was apparently crushed by a kerosene can dropped by the shopkeeper Wilbur Grabowski.

(West Coast Avengers II#34) - When next seen, an army of human sized Scarlet Beetles served the communist government of Hungary in an effort to capture Dr.Pym (formerly Ant-Man) and the West Coast Avengers. The Beetles were overpowered, and many were crushed in the battle.

(Amazing Spider-Man Annual#24/5) - The Scarlet Beetle, again in solitary form, somehow gained the ability to control a single human mind in addition to the insects it could already control. In this form, it took control of the current Ant-Man (Scott Lang) and forced him to come to its lair. It sought to steal his cybernetic helmet to amplify its mind control ability and control a larger number of people at once. Lang succeeded in retaking his helmet and used it to try to turn the ants against the Scarlet Beetle. The conflicting mental commands caused the ants to attack each other violently, causing the chamber to collapse. Lang narrowly escaped, initially thinking it a mere dream, until he saw the tear in his costume from the battle.

(Sensational She-Hulk#60) - The Scarlet Beetle next somehow gained an army of human sized (as well as one giant robot) insects. It used these to attack the She-Hulk (apparently because no other comic would take it at the time). She, together with her father, Morris Walters, and her zombie-servant, Garth, took up an arsenal of big guns and destroyed the robot insect. She-Hulk dropped the giant bug with a can of bug spray, and uncovered the Scarlet Beetle as the culprit. When he made a mad laugh and predicted vengeance, she smashed him with a newspaper.

 

(Marvel Monsters: From the Files of Ulysses Bloodstone and the Monster Hunters#1) - The Scarlet Beetle went on the show Inside the Monster's Lair, hosted by Dollar Bill. He was offended by the host and audience laughing at how he had been defeated in the past and demanded the interview be ended.

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

In the story in Amazing Spider-Man Annual#24, the Scarlet Beetle claimed to be a mutant. I'll chalk that up to an attempt to cash in on mutant popularity, or an error.

I think the Scarlet Beetle got the army of robot insects from his secret ally the Faceless One. Following his last humiliating defeat, the Scarlet Beetle has been laying low, operating behind the scenes with the Faceless One as part of the Cockroach Conspiracy.

The issue of Amazing Stories magazine for August '46 has a back cover showing an imagined view of life on the planet Altair, a planet in the Aquila constellation. Enigmatically, the artist chose to show a swarm of giant flying red beetles (like the Scarlet Beetle) attacking a species quasi-humanoid lemur-men, a la falcons harvesting prairie dogs.
--JRP

CLARIFICATIONS:
Scarlet Beetle should not be confused with:

  • giant scarab, fought Elsa Bloodstone @ Bloodstone#3
  • Scarlet Scarab, Abdul Faoul the Invaders foe @ Invaders I#23
  • Scarlet Scarab, Mehemet Faoul the son of Abdul @ Thor I#326
  • Beatles imposters, fought Thing and Human Torch @ Strange Tales I#130
  • Beetle, today known as Mach-5 of the Thunderbolts @ Strange Tales I#123
  • Beetle, of the Redeemers @ Thunderbolts#47
  • any other beetle or scarlet character

images: (without ads)
(Scarlet Beetle main image)
Tales to Astonish I#39, Cover (Scarlet Beetle first appearance)
(Scarlet Beetle VS Spider-Man)
Sensational She-Hulk#60, p18, pan2-4 (Scarlet Beetle squashed)


Appearances:
Tales to Astonish I#39 (January, 1963) - Stan Lee & Larry Lieber (writers), Jack Kirby (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Iron Man I#44 (January, 1972) - Roy Thomas (writer), Ross Andru (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
West Coast Avengers II#34 (July, 1988) - Steve Englehart (writer), Al Milgrom (pencils), Mike Machlan (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Amazing Spider-Man Annual#24 (1990) - Tony Isabella (writer), Steve Ditko (artist), Rick Parker (inks), Jim Salicrup & Bob Budiansky (editors)
Sensational She-Hulk#60 (February, 1994) - Scott Benson & Len Kaminski (writers), Pat Olliffe (pencils), Steve Montano (inks), Renee Witterstaetter (editor)
Untold Tales of Spider-Man#12 (August, 1996) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Pat Olliffe (pencils), Al Vey & Pam Eklund (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Marvel Monsters: From the Files of Ulysses Bloodstone and the Monster Hunters#1 (January, 2006)


Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

Last Updated: 10/23/10

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