Real Name: Neil Donaldson
Identity/Class: Human mutant (de-powered)
Occupation: Professional saboteur, artist
Group Membership: Formerly agent of Obadiah Stane
Affiliations: Obadiah Stane
Enemies: Osgood Fetison, Iron Man (James Rhodes),Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff), Tony Stark
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Mobile in Silicon Valley area of California
First Appearance: Iron Man I#189 (December, 1984)
Powers/Abilities: Termite originally possessed the mutant power to dissolve the bonds between the molecules of any material he touched, causing it to disintegrate. This ability was later removed using the neutralizer device constructed by Forge. Termite also used a suit of protective armor which included a one-hour air supply to allow him to burrow underground for an extended duration.
History: (Iron Man I#190(fb)) - The man who would become the Termite was a sculptor who awoke one morning to find that he had the ability to dissolve substances at a touch. Seeking to use his new gift to create the largest statue in history from a single mountain, he sought the funds to purchase such a mountain and began to take jobs as an industrial saboteur under the moniker of Termite. One such task was the destruction of the Fetison Electronics plant for businessman Obadiah Stane.
(Iron Man I#189) - Termite burrowed into the Fetison plant and disrupted some electrical equipment, starting a fire that quickly swept the building. The next day, Osgood Fetison, the owner of Fetison Electronics, expressed despair that his company couldn't continue operating under such conditions to Clytemnestra Erwin of Circuits Maximus. Erwin, who was a friend of James Rhodes (then operating as Iron Man), arranged for him to guard the Fetison plant to prevent further sabotage.
That night, as Iron Man watched TV inside the plant, the Termite broke in to complete the building's destruction. Termite was not being paid to fight superheroes, however, and attempted to make good his escape. Iron Man mistakenly assumed the Termite's powers were technological in origin, and used his armor's magnets to pull off the mutant's gloves. Believing the threat to be dealt with, he locked Termite in the room and went to get the police. Meanwhile, Termite tunneled out and escaped. He reported his trouble to his employer, Stane, who advised him to finish his job in an alternative fashion.
Later that week, after Iron Man had seen no further sign of Termite, Tony Stark suggested that he check underneath the plant. Although Iron Man angrily brushed him off, he nonetheless went to investigate, and soon found an opening which led to an extensive network of tunnels under the building--the handiwork of the Termite. He quickly followed them to Termite himself, who evaded Iron Man's strike and ran away. Iron Man's wayward punch caused the already-weakened foundation of the Fetison plant to give way, and he was forced to break off his pursuit of Termite to catch Osgood Fetison and brace the collapsing building with a nearby car. Once that was done, Iron Man caught up with Termite's van and carried it high into the air. Termite, however, once again eluded capture by dissolving the bottom of the vehicle and falling out, breaking his fall by collapsing the ground below him. While Iron Man searched for a body near the site of impact, a loud crash alerted him that his makeshift brace had failed and Fetison Electronics had been destroyed.
(Iron Man I#190) - Termite continued his trip underground to avoid detection, stopping only briefly to create a statue of a man in a large underground cavern and to recall his origin. He continued on, but his trip weakened the stalactites hanging from the cavern ceiling, such that they fell in when Iron Man followed the tunnels to the cavern later. Investigating, Iron Man found Termite's exit tunnel, and was soon back on his trail. As Termite emerged into a roadway, he inadvertently caused an accident, and was finally able to lose Iron Man as the armored hero stopped to save the trapped driver of one of the vehicles and hurl a blazing trailer full of liquid oxygen high into the sky.
That night, Termite snuck into an outdoor art exhibit in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and created a duplicate of the statue in the cavern from a boulder on the property. The story was picked up on a news broadcast that Iron Man was watching, and he headed to the exhibit in the hope that Termite would be there.
Termite's ego had in fact kept him at the exhibit, where he was standing in full costume(!) near his statue, eagerly awaiting the public's reactions. When one of the visitors opined that the sculptor should "go back to statue school," Termite angrily accosted him. Before the situation could escalate further, however, Iron Man arrived, and savagely beat Termite into submission. As he dissolved the top layer of molecules from Iron Man's gloves in a desperate attempt to escape, Tony Stark arrived with the Avenger Scarlet Witch, whom he had contacted earlier. Scarlet Witch had brought with her the neutralizer device designed by the mutant Forge based on technology used by the Spaceknight Rom, and Stark fired it at Termite, who collapsed in agony, his powers eliminated. Iron Man, feeling that Stark had interfered in his fight, then tore the neutralizer apart.
(Iron Man I#190) - BTS) - The Termite was sent to prison.
(Iron Man I#194 - BTS) - Obadiah Stane became concerned that the Termite could compromise him and decided to have him eliminated. Stane's associate, Madame Masque, assisted him by contacting the Enforcer and offering him fifty grand to kill the Termite. The Enforcer accepted the contract and was on his way to "the slammer" to kill the Termite when he was gunned down by a bag lady (actually the Scourge of the Underworld making his first public kill).
(Iron Man III#75) - Much later, in a prison recreation room, the Termite watched as Tony Stark (now publicly known to have been Iron Man) announced that he was pursuing the position of US Secretary of Defense. He pleaded weakly with his fellow prisoners to change the channel, apparently still haunted by his old defeat and the end of his artistic dreams.
Comments: Created by Denny O'Neil, Luke McDonnell and Steve Mitchell.
James Rhodes' behavior was increasingly erratic and violent during this period due to an incompatibility between his brainwave patterns and the software running the Iron Man armor.
The Termite's powers seem to have developed some time after puberty, uncharacteristic for a mutant. However, not only does the art make him look older than a teenager, but he was apparently an artist for some time prior. It's possible that his powers started at puberty, but increased slowly over time until he was finally able to affect the molecular bonds enough to break them, I suppose.
Actually, mutant abilities have been shown to develop at any point, usually during stressful events; this includes birth, childhood, puberty, and even death, as well as any other time of stress, even if it is emotional pressure, etc. (such as in the case of Vincent Farnsworth, who was middle-aged when his mutant powers first developed).
I actually felt pretty bad for Termite until he was standing there at that art show in that doofy armor of his. Which is like a silly green version of the old Ant-Man suit, isn't it? And when you're a silly version of Ant-Man, you have costume troubles. Still, an interesting character, even if his story is pretty much told. Unless he has a secondary mutation that turns him into a ravening insect-man or something. You never know what the Cockroach Conspiracy is up to...
Given that the Neutralizer's effects on Storm wore off (albeit under unusual circumstances), the Termite could potentially regain his powers as well.
It's also possible he might get his powers back, as an equal/opposite effect of M-Day (the Scarlet Witch's restoration of the mainstream Marvel Universe to pre-House of M normalcy). Leaving him free to break out of prison during the current War Between the Capes. Or, maybe even recruited into the new Heroes For Hire!
His real name was reveald in his entry in Iron Manual Mark 3.
Thanks to Donald Campbell for adding the information from IM#194.
Clarifications: Termite, enemy of Iron Man, has no known connection to
Osgood Fetison was the owner of Fetison Electronics. He was acquainted with Tony Stark, whom he held in high regard. His factory produced equipment such as industrial robots, but was eventually destroyed by Termite under contract to Obadiah Stane of Stane International. Fetison himself was nearly killed in the collapse, but Iron Man saved him. Though the building was well-insured, it is unknown whether Fetison was able to rebuild his business.
--Iron Man I#189 (Iron Man I#190
Full shot - Iron Man I#190, p17 (including ads)
Head shot (unmasked) - Iron Man I#189, p19
Head shot (masked) - Iron Man I#190, p3
Fetison - Iron Man I#189, p24
Iron Man I#189 (December, 1984) - Dennis O'Neil (writer), Luke McDonnell (pencils), Steven Mitchell (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Iron Man I#190 (January, 1985) - Dennis O'Neil (writer), Luke McDonnell (pencils), Ian Akin & Brian Garvey (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Iron Man III#75 (February, 2004) - John Jackson Miller (writer), Jorge Pereira Lucas (artist), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Last updated: 10/23/10
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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