gray_man-88194-cm3-healed_face.jpg GRAY MANgray_man-88194-pre-mutilation-upper.jpg

Real Name: Frederick Gramon

Identity/Class: Extradimensional/alternate reality (Earth-88194 / "Shadowline") human, conventional weapons user

Occupation: Covert military intelligence agent

Group Membership: Military Response and Covert Techniques Squadron ("Merchants")

Affiliations: Dr. Henry Clerk and his loyal Merchants

Enemies: Gordon Castle, Michael Devlin, Doctor Zero, Donald Gaffney, Gregor Gerasimov, Merchants (Franklin Retler), Murray, John Nighthunter, Professor Peppal, Powerline (Lenore Castle, Victor Guillermos), Dirk Ravenscore, Johnny Sheehan, Dr. Ashad Shuriff, Dr. Smyth, Ripley Weaver, Sheila Willis;
   
subway engineer/driver/motorman Jerry;
    six other unidentified nuclear physicists

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
    last active within Ft. St. Vrean
    mobile

First Appearance: Critical Mass#2 (February, 1990)gray_man-88194-sewn.jpggray_man-88194-cm7-scarf-front.jpg

Powers/Abilities: Gramon was fanatically dedicated to his cause and was a trained killer.

    He was especially skilled in catching others offguard with savage assaults. He was experienced in fighting with knives and guns, snapping the neck of an adult man, and with ambushing people with hanging and electrocution attacks.

    Gramon's scarred appearance caught opponents off guard and frightened them, allowing him to more easily take them out.

    Gramon was a master of psychological warfare, obtaining information via torture and/or brainwashing others into following his instructions even to horrific ends.

    His tongue amputated and his mouth sewn shut, Gramon could not speak, and he tended to communicate via written notes.

Height: 5'10"
Weight: 185 lbs.
Eyes: Blue (brown in some images)
Hair: Dark gray, white on sides

History:
gray_man-88194-pre-mutilation.jpg(Critical Mass#2/2 (fb) - BTS) - An unspecified number of years in the past, Merchants co-founder Professor Henry Clerk placed the zealot Sergeant Frederick Gramon with the MRCTS.

    Clerk erased records of Gramon's dangerously unbalanced mental state, keeping him in reserve for a time when he might need an uniquely dedicated individual.

(Critical Mass#2/2) - Merchants leader General Franklin Retler gave permission to Clerk to proceed with his plans to link all of the United States nuclear power sites via a grid that would enable the achievement of a safe, inexpensive, and virtually unlimited power source.

    In reality, the grid was to be a system of interlocking detonators waiting to be triggered by a massive discharge of radiation.

gray_man-88194-tongue-amputation.jpg(Critical Mass#2/2) - Realizing he needed an exceptionally dedicated individual to fully marshall the other Merchants (who would follow orders without question), Clerk considered the 42 year old Gramon "a fanatic all too aware his years were slipping past him" and "desperate to leave his mark on the military at any cost" the perfect man for the job.gray_man-88194-sewing.jpg

    Clerk thus met with Sgt. Gramon, and inducted him into his secret plan, giving him two specific requirements: That he question no order and that he never speak out on any part of their operation.

     With Clerk's guidance (showing him a scalpel, scissors, and suture), Gramon assured his own loyalty and secrecy by cutting off his own tongue and sewing his lips together. 

    Gramon began the process of murdering the other most intelligent nuclear physicists on the planet who might discover Clerk's true plans.

    Gramon slew Marconi Systems' Ashad Shuriff, rendering him unconsciousness, hooking him up to a noose suspended from a tree over his car, and then driving his car away.

(Critical Mass#2/2 (fb) - BTS) - Gramon slew Dr. Smyth, strapping electrical wires around his molars and electrocuting him in his own house.

(Critical Mass#2/2 (fb) - BTS) - Gramon similarly faked the suicides of six other nuclear experts. 

(Critical Mass#2/2 - BTS) - Influenced by the MRCTS, an unidentified inspector ruled Smyth's death as suicide, ignoring evidence of his murder. Investigating, Dr. Zero forced the inspector to reveal his orders had come from the government. 

(Critical Mass#2/2 (fb) - BTS) - Seeking the aid of his old ally Gregor Gerasimov, Dr. Zero arranged for British officials to implicate the Soviets in these deaths.

(Critical Mass#2/2 - BTS) - A Russian government (KGB?) agent sent Gregor Gerasimov to investigate. 

(Critical Mass#2/2 - BTS) - Working together, Gregor and Dr. Zero discussed the common involvement in the reports of the mysterious "Gray Man" and that all victims had at some point worked with Henry Clerk.

(Critical Mass#2/2) - Gramon poured gasoline into and than set fire to the pool in which Professor Peppal swam. While Zero rescued Peppal, Gregor confronted Gramon, beating him down, but then falling victim to a dagger slash to his throat. Zero healed Gregor, but was forced to allow Gramon to escape in the process.

(Critical Mass#3 - BTS) - Donald Gaffney, a science expert on detachment from the US Navy to the MRCTS, asked why Clerk had to have a dozen men killed rather than simply locking them up. Clerk argued that he was just stopping those who would oppose America's independence. Clerk convinced General Retler to allow him to use the Merchants to distract and otherwise occupy Zero (without direct conflict with the powerful shadow) to prevent Zero from discovering Clerk's recovery.

(Critical Mass#3) - Clerk had Gramon and Merchants under his command investigate ships and crews coming into contact with ice masses within range of those in which Zero had recovered from Clerk's first assault.

    Gramon heard a sailor Johnny Sheehan bragging how he had come across dolphins carrying a man while aboard the ship of oceanographer Sheila Willis who seemed to have a relationship with Zero. Gramon subsequently arranged for Sheehan to take a phone call in the back, where Gramon could ambush him in private. Tying Sheehan up and swinging him off a dock to crash into the wood repeatedly, Gramon forced him to reveal the oceanographer's name to be Sheila Willis. 

(Critical Mass#3 - BTS) - To save his life, Dirk Ravenscore told the Powerline shadow partners (Lenore Castle & Victor Guillermos) and their ally, fellow shadow Ripley Weaver, of Henry Clerk's plans.gray_man-88194-vs-weaver.jpg

(Critical Mass#4 - BTS) - Clerk initiated the process of secretly disabling the sensors that would otherwise alert the staff of the elevating levels of radiation leakage he would need to institute his plan.

(Critical Mass#4/interlude (fb) - BTS) - Alongside a Merchants crew (perhaps including Gramon), Clerk visited "Nixon's Pyramid" -- a billion dollar anti-ballistic missile facility designed to detect and take out Soviet nuclear missiles, which President Nixon had negotiated to deactivate -- and took most of the sensors.

(Critical Mass#4/2) - Learning that Ripley Weaver and Victor Guillermos were investigating his actions, Clerk instructed Gramon to "delete this Powerline contingent from the equation."

(Critical Mass#4/2) - Gramon and a number of Merchants ambushed Victor Guillermos, Ripley Weaver, and Ripley's agent, Murray, in a Manhattan subway just after they got on at 42nd street; one of them made the introduction, distracting Weaver by asking him if he wasn't "Ripper? The wrestler?" after which Gramon put a gun to Weaver's back. Another Merchant then slew subway engineer/driver/motorman Jerry and took control of the train (re-routing it) before reporting that they were a go.

    Weaver knocked away Gramon's gun hand and pushed him back, after which Guillermos created a force field to block their attackers' bullets. Guillermos' field weakened without being linked with Lenore Castle's power,  but it subsequently shorted out the electrical systems, causing a blackout. When Murray projected light to help Guillermos and Weaver escape, one of the Merchants grabbed Murray, but Murray increased his light's intensity to blind his attacker, then sent Guillermos and Weaver into the next car, after which he used lasers to sever the connection between cars.

    Ignoring "the fat one" (Murray) as the other two were the primary targets, a trio of Merchants jumped between the separating cars to follow them, although O'Neill didn't make the jump and fell painfully (and perhaps fatally). The two other Merchants tackled the fleeing Guillermos and Weaver, but they fought off the Merchants and then took them out with an electrified chain and one of the Merchants' guns, respectively.

    Gramon and at least another pair of Merchants pursued Weaver and Guillermos, whose field buckled under the continued gunfire. When the Merchant who had slain the driver confronted them at gunpoint, Weaver and Guillermos kicked out and dove out a window, with Guillermos' field proving strong enough to protect them from the impact of landing in water far below the bridge to which they had been re-routed. 

    Appreciating the connections and influence of their foes, Weaver convinced Guillermos they needed to ally with Doctor Zero to stop Clerk.

gray_man-88194-cm5-sheila.jpg(Critical Mass#5/2) - Clerk chose the Idaho Falls SL-1 reactor facility, which had already had a number of minor leakages and failures as the site from which to initiate his plan. Clerk had Gramon brainwash one of the night staff, trainee Richard Delming, and led him to slay his co-workers and pull the control rods from the reactor, leading to a nuclear explosion.

    Later still, Clerk and Gramon ambushed Sheila Willis, the girlfriend of Dr. Zero, presumably planning to kidnap her to prevent Zero's interference. However, she fought back furiously and pushed Clerk over the limit, and he beat her to death as Gramon watched.

gray_man-88194-cm6-neckbreak.jpg(Critical Mass#6/2) <1345 hours> - Clerk, Gramon, and his other agents performed a complete takeover of Colorado's Ft. Vrean nuclear plant, which they then pushed aggressively towards meltdown.

(Critical Mass#6: Epilogue Two - BTS) - Retler scrambled Merchant troops to oppose Clerk's plans.

(Critical Mass#7 (fb) - BTS) <1422 hours> - Retler's Merchant troops entered Ft. St. Vrean with the objective of retaking the town and the reactor; they blacked out media coverage.

(Critical Mass#7 - BTS) - Zero forced Gaffney to share the information the Merchants had on Clerk's activities.

(Critical Mass#7) - In Ft. St. Vrean, Clerk was pleased and thanked Gramon as he delivered a report that the reactor's alarm had signaled the loss of coolant. As Gramon handed Clerk an automatic rifle, Clerk noted that he would stay there to continue to oversee the experiment, and he instructed Gramon and his troops to see to it that no one reached the reactor before his theories were tested.

(Critical Mass#7 (fb) - BTS) - Gordon & Lenore Castle, Michael Devlin, Doctor Zero, Gregor Gerasimov, Victor Guillermos, Nighthunter, and Ripley Weaver flew a helicopter into Ft. St. Vrean to oppose Clerk's plot. 

(Critical Mass#7 - BTS) - Led by Gramon, Clerk's Merchants, patrolled the city, firing on any citizens they encountered and had firefights with Retler's Merchants. Zero flew into the city, obliterating the hostile soldiers he encountered before flying into the reactor. 

(Critical Mass#7/3) - Michael Devlin located Clerk's Merchants rounding up innocent people and overpowered the oppressors. 

    At the municipal building, which Clerk's Merchants had taken over, Gramon passed on the written order to execute all of the prisoners in order to preven their interference with Professor Clerk's experiment. As the Merchants raised their weapons, Devlin fired an energy blast that knocked the Merchants back and set the prisoners free.gray_man-88194-cm7-slashed.jpg

    As Devlin targeted Gramon, recognizing him as the head of the serpent and intending to stop him from rallying the Merchants against the townspeople, Gregor asked Devlin to enter the reactor to check on Zero, who had been in there too long. 

    As Gerasimov approached, Gramon pulled his knife and slashed at him, but Gregor was prepared this time; dodging the knife-strike and pinning Gramon's knife arm, Gregor mocked Gramon, asking if the government had his tongue. Telling Gramon to open his mouth and speak, as he was eager to hear what he had to say, Gregor slashed open Gramon's mouth, and Gramon screamed in pain.

(Critical Mass#7/3 - BTS) - Gregor presumably slew Gramon before fleeing back to the helicopter.

(Critical Mass#7) - Devin, Zero, Victor Guillermos, Lenore Castle, and their allies thwarted Clerk's plot, isolating Ft. St. Vrean.

Comments: Created by D.G. Chichester, Margaret Clark, Brett Ewins, and Steve Dillon.

    I know Military Response and Covert Techniques Squadron does not spell MERCHANTS. I think it is more a sound...MR-CTS...Murr--Sits...sort of...I don't know...I didn't write it.

Profile by Snood.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Gray Man has no known connections to:


images: (without ads)
Critical Mass#2, pg. 44 (second story, not including interlude, pg. 8), panel 2 (face, pre-mutilation);
          panel 3 (upper body, military uniform);
       pg. 45 (2/2, pg. 9), panel 4 (cutting off tongue);
          panel 6 (sewing lips shut);
       pg. 46 (2/2, pg. 10), panel 3 (freshly sewn);
    #3, pg. 35 (interlude, pg. 4), panel 5 (face, healed scars/stitches);
    #4, pg. 55 (4/2, pg. 20), panel 1 (vs. Ripley Weaver);
    #5, pg. 57 (5/2, pg. 22), panel 3 (vs. Sheila Willis);
    #6, pg. 57 (6/2, pg. 29), panel 6 (breaking guard's neck);
    #7, pg. 68 (7/3, pg. 16), panel 6 (scarfed face; front);
       pg. 71 (7/3, pg. 19), panel 6 (face slashed);


Appearances:
Critical Mass#2 (February, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Kyle Baker, Mark Texiera, Mike Manley (artists), Marc McLaurin (managaing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
Critical Mass#3 (March, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Ron Randall, Stan Drake, Grey Morrow, John Ridgway, Denys Cowan, Kent Williams (artists), Marc McLaurin (managaing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
Critical Mass#4 (April, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Jim Lee, Mike Manley, Dan Spiegle, Grey Morrow (artists), Marc McLaurin (managaing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
Critical Mass#5 (May, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Brett Blevins, Mike Manley, John Ridgway, Jorge Zaffino (artists), Marc McLaurin (managaing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
Critical Mass#6 (June, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Grey MorrowJohn Ridgway, Jorge Zaffino, Dan Lawlis, Al Williamson, & James Sherman (artists), Marc McLaurin (managaing editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)
Critical Mass#7 (July, 1990) - D.G. Chichester and Margaret Clark (writers), Grey MorrowJohn Ridgway, Jorge Zaffino, Dan Lawlis, Al Williamson, & James Sherman (artists), Marc McLaurin (editor), Carl Potts (executive editor, Epic Comics)


First posted: 10/23/2018
Last updated: 10/23/2018

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