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BIG BEN

Real Name: Unrevealed

Identity/Class: Human mutate (British citizen)

Occupation: Hero, "demi-god;"
former government operative

Group Membership: Marvelman's new gods; formerly the Spookshow

Affiliations: Marvelman (a.k.a. Miracleman), Miraclewoman, Young Miracleman/Young Marvelman, Fenris/Overdog, Mors (Qys ambassador), Huey Moon (Firedrake), Winter Moran, Phon Mooda, Kana Blu (Warpsmith ambassadors);
formerly Sir Dennis Archer, two unidentified handlers

Enemies: Formerly Marvelman ("Major Molotov")

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: The Man with No Time for Crime

Base of Operations: Olympus;
formerly unspecified government facility (Zarathustra II presumably)

First Appearance: (Cover only) Warrior Summer Special (a.k.a. Warrior#4; Summer 1982); (in-story) Warrior#9 (January, 1983; US reprint in Eclipse's Miracleman#3, November, 1985); (own story) Warrior#19 (June, 1984)

Powers/Abilities: Big Ben possesses superhuman strength (able to throw boulders hard enough for them to shatter against Marvelman's face, or uproot a medium size tree with effort - so lowish level, maybe 5 tons?), endurance and durability (he survived being struck by Marvelman and sent flying dozens of yards, through several tree trunks and impacting the ground hard enough to leave a crater, but was injured and knocked unconscious - so probably bulletproof but not much more than that). He can fly at undefined speeds, and possesses some martial arts skill (based on a flying kick to the face he delivers in one scene). He was disconnected from reality, interpreting events around him through a mind programmed to believe he was a superhero protecting his country from Communist menaces. 

History: (Warrior#9/Miracleman#3, "Out of the Dark" (fb) - BTS) - After the official closing down of Project Zarathustra in 1963, and the apparently successful termination of the three superhuman operatives - Marvelman, Young Marvelman and Kid Marvelman - created by Dr. Emil Gargunza, Spookshow director Sir Dennis Archer had his scientists study the incomplete notes left by Gargunza when he absconded. Though Gargunza had destroyed or taken most of the files, and despite having only a dim understanding of the process, the scientists nevertheless succeeded in creating a new, less powerful but more controllable, operative, who they dubbed Big Ben.

(Warrior#11/Miracleman#3, "Zarathustra" (fb)) - Five years after Gargunza's disappearance, in 1968 it was decided to proceed with the project. Zarathustra Mark II was not an unqualified success, due to the gaps in their technical knowledge, and resulted in the creation of the flawed superhuman, Big Ben. His achievable power levels were markedly inferior to his predecessors of 15 years before, but more importantly, due to the limited understanding of the para-reality programming necessary to control the replicates, Big Ben received inadequate conditioning; his mind became unbalanced, and although his condition left him ideally suggestible, it limited his effectiveness against rational opponents.

(Warrior#11/Miracleman#3, "Zarathustra" (fb)) - Like his predecessors, Big Ben was conditioned and contained in a Virtual Reality ("para-reality"), in his case, a simulated spy drama where he was a top agent defending the realm from the Kremlin's minions.

(Warrior#9/Miracleman#3, "Out of the Dark") - After Marvelman returned, Sir Dennis sent assassin Evelyn Cream to find Marvelman's vulnerable human alter ego and slay him. Discovering Cream had instead struck up an alliance with Marvelman, and had directed him to the decommissioned Project Zarathustra bunker in the remote Cotswold Hills, Sir Dennis sent Big Ben into the field to stop Marvelman before he could expose the Spookshow's secrets.

(Warrior#10/Miracleman#3, "Inside Story") - Sir Dennis informed Big Ben that Zarathustra was under attack by top Soviet agent Major Molotov, sent to steal Zarathustra's newly invented Death-Ray.

(Warrior#9/Miracleman#3, "Out of the Dark") - In the early hours of July 9th, 1982, Marvelman penetrated the bunker's outer defenses and slew the human guards; he was just about to enter the bunker when Big Ben arrived. Tapping his target on the shoulder with his umbrella, Big Ben warned Marvelman ("you Bolshevik Blighter") to prepare for a trouncing.

 

 

(Warrior#10/Miracleman#3, "Inside Story") - While narrating an inner monologue, Big Ben attacked Marvelman, kicking, punching and then hitting him with a thrown boulder - but his opponent watched on impassively, barely acknowledging the assault. Marvelman wondered who his assailant was and where he came from, given that he was clearly a fellow superhuman, and wished the attacker would stop hitting him, but hesitated to retaliate as he recognized Big Ben to be less powerful than himself and mentally disturbed - "flawless China blue eyes that never blink, and glitter like marbles. He's a psychopath." Though none of his attacks had made even the slightest impact, Big Ben persisted with more of the same, uprooting a tree and smashing it against his foe, convinced he would eventually stumble upon "Molotov's" secret weakness to some everyday substance. 

 

Getting tired of being struck, when an exhausted Big Ben demanded he surrender or fight like a man, Marvelman obliged, casually swatting Big Ben away with a backhanded slap that sent the Man with No Time for Crime flying. In the nearby woods surrounding the bunker, Evelyn Sweet's examination of some soldiers slain by Marvelman was interrupted by the noise of breaking trees, moments before Big Ben crashed to ground nearby with the impact of a rocket. Checking the crater, Sweet saw that Big Ben was out cold, battered and bruised, though not seriously injured.




(Warrior#11/Miracleman#3, "Zarathustra") - Having been knocked out minutes before Marvelman breached the bunker at 2.39am, Big Ben regained consciousness around 3.35am. Despite having teeth missing and one eye swollen shut, plus other undefined injuries, he limped towards the bunker intent on finishing the fight he had started. He entered the bunker unnoticed at 3.42am, and as a result witnessed Marvelman and Sweet watching video footage discussing Big Ben's creation. His worldview shattered, Big Ben sat quietly on his knees and broke down into tears. Still unaware of Big Ben's presence, Marvelman and Sweet departed by 4.10am.






Shortly afterwards Big Ben's two handlers arrived, put the unresisting superhuman into an enhanced straitjacket, and took him back to his unspecified lockdown facility; in his own mind, a hallucinating Big Ben rationalized what he had witnessed, convincing himself that Major Molotov had used a brain beam to make him question his own identity, a fiendish trick that had nearly worked. Luckily his Bulldog Brigade allies, Jack Ketch and Owlwoman (his handlers) arrived from Owlwoman's mountain fortress with her ultra-vest (the straitjacket) that could drain off the harmful mind-clouding radiation.

(Marvelman Special#1) - Two cleaners sent to clear up the Zarathustra bunker after Marvelman's incursion amused themselves by watching video tape recordings of four of the Marvel family's illusory adventures, then one of Big Ben's: "Big Ben vs. King Arthur." (see illusory Big Ben history for details). The elder cleaner, bored with the video, covertly yanked the plug out with his broom, cutting off his younger partner's viewing.

(Miracleman#14, "Book III: Olympus, Chapter 4: Pantheon") - The Warpsmiths detected Big Ben, but because of his madness it was decided to leave him alone until a cure could be found.





(Miracleman#16, "Olympus") - In the wake of Johnny Bates' destruction of London, Miracleman (Marvelman, but at this juncture he's being published as Miracleman) and his allies rebuilt Earth, taking control of the planet from human leaders. They reprogrammed Big Ben with dreams designed to segue his fictional reality with their own, having "Owlwoman" introduce him to Miraclewoman, and once he was in synch with the real world, they awoke him.

He adapted perfectly to his new circumstances, and feeling his costume looked rather drab compared to his colleagues, he had a new one made, assuming a new name to go with it: British Bulldog. He soon acquired a Herculean reputation amongst the human populace, saving children from runaway vehicles and the like. A few years later, with most of Earth's problems seemingly solved, British Bulldog joined his fellow superhumans in celebrations atop Olympus, the gigantic eight-kilometre high edifice Miracleman had constructed to replace the ruined London.

(Miracleman#23, "The Secret Origin of Young Miracleman") - In 19EM (Era of Miracles, a.k.a. 2003 AD) Miracleman introduced the newly resurrected Young Miracleman to his pantheon, including British Bulldog. Still not entirely attached to reality, British Bulldog asked Young Miracleman if he remembered him, oblivious to the fact that Young Miracleman had died a decade before Big Ben had been created. When the revived hero admitted he did not recall British Bulldog, Bulldog wrongly concluded that this was because of his costume change and informed the confused newcomer that he used to be Big Ben, the Man with No Time for Crime, a revelation that clarified nothing. 

Comments: Created by Dez Skinn and Ian Gibson. The character is copyright to Dez Skinn. Why include an entry for him on the Marvel Appendix then? Because Marvel now owns Marvelman and is reprinting and completing the Moore, Gaiman, et al Marvelman / Miracleman series, so though (and I want to make this doubly clear) Marvel does not own Big Ben, they will be publishing the adventures of this incarnation of the character. 

Most of the Marvelman / Miracleman stories above were written by Alan Moore and drawn by Alan Davis (all bar Miracleman#16 and #23) and John Totleben (Miracleman#16); Miracleman#23 was written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Mark Buckingham. The British Bulldog revamp was done by Alan Moore and John Totleben.

Though Big Ben debuted first in Warrior's Marvelman strip, his first produced story, written by Dez and drawn by Ian Gibson, was the one subsequently published in the Marvelman Special as the tale set in Ben's illusory world. Big Ben appeared again in his own solo stories in Warrior#19 to 27, written by Dez Skinn and drawn by William Simpson. These stories are not set in Marvelman's reality and there is no appearance, mention or interaction with any of the Marvelman characters; instead it is an alternate reality version of Big Ben, an alien shapeshifter. However, just as in the Marvelman story, the new tale had two versions of Big Ben - a "real" world version, plus a dream version in a stylized reality much like the illusory world the Marvelman Big Ben initially resided in. Since that incarnation of Big Ben is not going to be published by Marvel, he doesn't warrant an entry on the Appendix. 

Profile by Loki.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Big Ben has no known connections to


Big Ben (illusory version)

Real Name: Lord Benjamin Charterhouse Fortescue

Identity/Class: Unrevealed (British citizen)

Occupation: Government operative, Lord

Group Membership: Bulldog Brigade

Affiliations: Jack Ketch, Owlwoman, Fosdyke, Miraclewoman; (unseen, mentioned) Doc Thunderbolt

Enemies: King Arthur; (former) Major Molotov (a.k.a. real world's Marvelman); (unseen, mentioned) Menace, the Crimson Finger, the Sponge, Dr. Panic and his Phantom Robot, Phineas Fiske (the Creature with the Cobalt Brain)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: The Man with No Time for Crime

Base of Operations: Clocktower of the Palace of Westminster (colloquially, if inaccurately, called "Big Ben")

First Appearance: (cover only) Warrior Summer Special (a.k.a. Warrior#4; Summer 1982); (in-story) Warrior#9 (January, 1983; US reprint in Eclipse's Miracleman#3, November 1985); (own story) Marvelman Summer Special (Summer 1984)

Powers/Abilities: Big Ben possesses low-level superhuman strength, endurance and durability. He can fly at undefined speeds, and possesses some martial arts skill. He is alerted to missions by his "Alarm" clock, a communicator hidden inside his fobwatch, and has a hidden base within the House of Commons, accessible via a grandfather clock in the House of Lords. His wristwatch conceals a powerful laser, and his bowler hat is sturdy enough to survive being used to head butt people. He wields a closed umbrella in battle; it has a spiked end, is strong enough to block sword blows, and when opened and twirled it can generate gale force winds.

History: (Warrior#11/Miracleman#3, "Zarathustra" (fb) - BTS) - Big Ben was a top agent defending the realm from the Kremlin's minions.

(Marvelman Special#1) - At 9.43 precisely, M.P. Sir Barrington Makespeech Fotheringay was being driven along a country road towards London when his car was attacked by an armored knight on horseback. More armored brigands clubbed his driver, and Fotheringay was kidnapped at sword point. By 12.27 the news had reached London via the early evening editions of the newspapers, but Lord Benjamin Charterhouse Fortescue, who had no time to read the papers as he rushed to the House of Lords to deliver a speech, missed this. However, mid-speech and much to the disapproval of the other Lords present, Lord Benjamin's watch alarm went off, and Tanya informed him he had an urgent mission. Making his excuses to the outraged peers, Ben left the chamber and used a nearby corridor's secret grandfather clock entrance to access the route to his hidden base behind the clockface of "Big Ben." His clock-faced computer informed him that the museum Castle Chronos was under attack by medieval knights. Hurriedly Lord Benjamin changed as the clock tower struck, transforming into his alter ego: Big Ben, the Man with No Time for Crime!


Soon arriving at the Castle, he engaged the attackers in battle, using both fists and brolly (umbrella). Noting numerous reinforcements charging towards him, Ben opened up his umbrella and swirled it, generating gale force winds that knocked them off their feet, kicked up a dust storm, and generally dissuaded them from continuing the assault. Taking a captive inside Castle Chronos, he had the butler Fosdyke torture the man with the Truth-Timer, until he revealed he was working for a "mad geezer" called Arthur King who operated out of the Camelot Café. Flying to the Café, Ben discovered it was literally a front, a movie prop, masking a warehouse, and entered to find the armored "King Arthur" holding several kidnapped peers in a descending-portcullis death-trap. As Ben moved to fight Arthur, a dozen knights attacked, but Ben easily dispatched them, then returned his attention to Arthur. They grappled, but with only seconds left to save the captives Ben head-butted Arthur with his bowler hat, then used his laser watch to free the peers just before the portcullis would have skewered them. Leaving the ungrateful MPs commenting on his improper dress sense and manners ("button down collars and now flying, indeed!"), Ben departed to make his report to Tanya.

(Warrior#10/Miracleman#3, "Inside Story" (fb) - BTS) - The villainous Menace kidnapped Doc Thunderbolt's beautiful assistant Valerie. Doc Thunderbolt teamed up with Big Ben to rescue her, and they finally defeated their foe when they discovered Menace was vulnerable to common tap water.

(Warrior#10/Miracleman#3, "Inside Story," - BTS) - Sir Dennis Archer informed Big Ben that Zarathustra was under attack by top Soviet agent Major Molotov, sent to steal Zarathustra's newly invented Death-Ray.

(Warrior#9/Miracleman#3, "Out of the Dark") - In the early hours of July 9th, 1982, Molotov penetrated the bunker's outer defenses and slew the human guards; he was just about to enter the bunker when Big Ben arrived. Tapping his target on the shoulder with his umbrella, Big Ben warned the Bolshevik Blighter to prepare for a trouncing.






(Warrior#10/Miracleman#3, "Inside Story") - Big Ben attacked Molotov, kicking, punching and then hitting him with a thrown boulder - but his opponent watched on impassively, barely acknowledging the assault. Though none of his attacks had made even the slightest impact, Big Ben persisted with more of the same, uprooting a tree and smashing it against his foe, convinced he would eventually stumble upon Molotov's secret weakness to some everyday substance, just as he had when he had fought Menace. When an exhausted Big Ben demanded he surrender or fight like a man, Molotov obliged, casually swatting Big Ben away with a backhanded slap that sent the Man with No Time for Crime flying. He crashed to ground nearby with the impact of a rocket, out cold, battered and bruised, though not seriously injured.

(Warrior#11/Miracleman#3, "Zarathustra") - Big Ben regained consciousness around 3.35 am. Despite having teeth missing and one eye swollen shut, plus other undefined injuries, he limped towards the bunker intent on finishing the fight he had started. However, once inside Major Molotov used a brain beam to make Benquestion his own identity, a fiendish trick that nearly worked. Luckily his Bulldog Brigade allies, Jack Ketch and Owlwoman arrived from Owlwoman's mountain fortress with her ultra-vest to drain off the harmful mind-clouding radiation. Ben learned from them that though Molotov had bested him, Ben had delayed Molotov long enough to enable Ketch and Owlwoman to prevent Molotov from escaping with the Death-Ray.

(Miracleman#16, "Olympus") - Owlwoman introduce Ben to Miraclewoman, and to a world changed by other superbeings. He adapted perfectly to his new circumstances, and feeling his costume looked rather drab compared to his colleagues, he had a new one made, assuming a new name to go with it: British Bulldog.

…and at this point the illusions segue into the "real" world of Marvelman.

Comments: Given that the Marvel family members' secret identities in their illusory worlds matched their secret identities in the "real" world, it's possible that "real" world Big Ben shares his true identity with his illusory world counterpart - presumably minus the Lordship.

Castle Chronos is described by Ben as his "favorite museum" but then proves to be a time-themed castle with a butler who knows Ben and has a time-based torture device, all of which suggests it is Ben's home - but then, it's a dream, and dream-logic can be skew-whiff.

Big Ben in his illusory career encountered a being called Menace! who is vulnerable to common tap water; could that creature share a connection with the Menace from Inferno Isle?
--Mikel Midnight


Fosdyke

The butler of Castle Chronos, he apparently knew Big Ben well, and had a temporal torture device, the Truth-Timer, which he used to extract information from criminals at Big Ben's request.

 

-- Marvelman Summer Special

 



Jack Ketch

 

Jack Ketch was a grim superhero who employed a hangman motif. He was a member of the Bulldog Brigade and an ally of Big Ben and Owlwoman.

 

Comments: The real life Jack Ketch was a notorious 17th century public executioner working for the English crown. He became famous for botching executions - beheadings, though brutal, were meant to be relatively swift and painless for the condemned, killing them with hopefully a single blow, but Ketch, either through incompetence or sadism, hacked away multiple times with at least two victims, William Russell, Lord Russell and James Scott, the 1st Duke of Monmouth, so that both men suffered slow, torturous deaths, to the point where even the bloodthirsty crowds that enjoyed attending such events became incensed against Ketch. Thus, for all the worst reasons, his name became a byword for death and executions.  

  

--Warrior#11/Miracleman#3





Owlwoman

 

Owlwoman was a high tech superheroine who employed an strigiforme theme. Based out of a mountain fortress, she traveled to crimes via her hovering Owlcar. She was a member of the Bulldog Brigade and ally of Big Ben and Jack Ketch.

 

She later introduced Big Ben to Miraclewoman.

 

-- Warrior#11/Miracleman#3, Miracleman#16


 


images: (without ads)
Marvelman#3, p19, pan2 (main)
Marvelman#3, p19, pan3 (headshot
Marvelman#3, p7, pan7 (confronting Miracleman)
Marvelman#3, p9 (attacking Miracleman)
Marvelman#3, p11, pan7 (getting swatted)
Marvelman#3, p19, pan6 (learning the truth)
Marvelman#3, p22, pan4 (getting strapped into straitjacket)
Marvelman#3, p22, pan6 (being taken home)
Marvelman#16, p22, pan1 (being reprogrammed)
Marvelman#16, p22, pan2 (British Bulldog)
Warrior Summer Special, cover (illusory Big Ben main)
Marvelman Summer Special, Big Ben story p1, pan2 (unmasked headshot)
Marvelman Summer Special, Big Ben story p5, pan5 (flying next to Big Ben)
Marvelman Summer Special, Big Ben story p8, pan3&4 (umbrella whirlwind)
Marvelman#3, p22, pan3 (getting strapped into ultra-vest)
Marvelman#3, p22, pan6 (heading to Owlcar)
Marvelman Summer Special, Big Ben story p8, pan6 (Fosdyke)
Marvelman#3, p22, pan3 (Jack Ketch)
Marvelman#3, p22, pan3 (Owlwoman)


Appearances:
Warrior#9-11 (January, April & July, 1983) - Alan Moore (writer), Alan Davis (art), Dez Skinn (editor)
Miracleman#3 (November, 1985) - Alan Moore (writer), Alan Davis (art), Dez Skinn (editor)
Miracleman#14 &16 (April, 1988 & December, 1989) - Alan Moore (writer), John Totleben (art), Letitita Glozer (editor)
Miracleman#23 (June, 1992) - Neil Gaiman (writer), Mark Buckingham (art), Valarie Jones (editor)
Marvelman Special (Summer 1984) - Big Ben story only - Edgar Henry (writer), Ian Gibson (art), Dez Skinn (editor)


Last updated: 05/25/15

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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