Dr. W. Lee Benway
Real Name: W. Lee Benway
Identity/Class: Human; mad scientist-type
Occupation: Illicit research scientist;
pretended to run a secret network to smuggle wanted criminals out of the USA
Group Membership: Employed an unidentified number of assistants (notably Li) and henchmen
Affiliations: His creatures, Li, Sheriff Bradley Martin, unidentified henchmen
Enemies: Arizona State Patrol (see comments), Hulk (Bruce Banner), Scotty
McDowell, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Captain Alexander Walsh (LAPD),
Johnny Yen and other victims
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
formerly a clinic in his villa ten miles north of Jude, New Mexico
First Appearance: Marvel Team-Up I#97 (September, 1980)
Powers/Abilities: Dr. Benway could design powerful robots, most in the form of monstrous, semi-humanoid bipeds. These were possibly controlled by human brains, which he could apparently transplant into such bodies.
He may or may not have been able to mutate people into monstrous form.
He possessed +/- designed a rifle-like pleasure ray that fired a beam that stimulated the brain's pleasure centers. This was able to relax the Hulk sufficiently to cause him to revert back into Bruce Banner.
He also used a a hand-held nerve-paralyzer pistol/blaster. An initial
dose could incapacitate Spider-Woman long enough for her to be taken to
a pit and chained to the wall. However, due to her immunity power, a
second-such dose only stunned her. When Sheriff Martin later struck her
with a double-dose, that stunned her long enough to leave her at his
Benway is shown using the nerve-paralyzer in the top right main image and in this image.
His henchman also used conventional artillery and jeeps.
Unrevealed (he was never shown in direct relationship to anyone of
known height; he didn't seem particularly tall or short, so perhaps
5'8" to 6')
Weight: Unrevealed (perhaps 150-190 lbs.)
Eyes: Dark (perhaps dark blue or brown)
Hair: Bald, with black or dark brown eyebrows
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 (fb) - BTS) - For years, Dr. Benway sought to create a creature that could survive a nuclear blast and that could exist on the hostile worlds that he believed mankind must someday conquer.
Benway experimented on developing such a creature while harvesting human organs under unspecified circumstances.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 (fb) - BTS) - Dr. Benway's medical license was revoked for illegal trafficking in human organs for transport.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 (fb) - BTS) - Based out of a clinic in his villa near Jude, New Mexico, Benway lured criminals to him under the pretext of getting them across the border (to Mexico, presumably). He then harvested their brains, which he transferred into his creations. To finance his operations, he sold his victims' remaining organs on the black market.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 (fb) - BTS) <Two years before the main story> - Dr. Benway began bribing Sheriff Bradley Martin to ignore his activities and to report significant events to him.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 (fb) - BTS) - While working as a bounty hunter, Spider-Woman sought to collect Johnny Yen, wanted for three counts of murder by the Los Angeles Police Department. Via her intelligence gathering expert, Scotty McDowell, Jessica Drew followed his trail via bus to Jude, New Mexico.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 (fb) - BTS) - Spider-Woman had the LAPD's Captain Walsh contact Sheriff Bradley to inform him that a bounty hunter would be coming to see him.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 - BTS) - After the Hulk arrived in Jude, New Mexico (see comments), Sheriff Martin instigated a conflict and rampage by the Hulk, after which the bus carrying Jessica Drew arrived.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 (fb) - BTS) - Dr. Benway was performing an unspecified procedure (see comments) on an unspecified patient.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97) - Sheriff Martin reported the Hulk's presence to Dr. Benway, who noted that he had finally earned his pay. Dr. Benway then instructed Li to assemble the men as there was business to attend to, dismissing her concerns that his patient would die if he stopped the procedure, and noting that while they had other "guests," this might be a once in a lifetime chance to encounter the Hulk.
Benway and Li joined various men in taking jeeps to higher ground, and when he spotted the Hulk, he had one of his men fire a large jeep-mounted gun at him to get his attention. While the blast did little more than bring the Hulk to the ground, Benway then greeted the Hulk and then had another agent fire a weapon that stimulated the Hulk's brain's pleasure centers, causing him to relax sufficiently to transform back into Bruce Banner, whom Benway's men then blasted unconscious and brought back to Benway's villa.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 - BTS) - Spider-Woman met with Sheriff Martin, asking about Johnny Yen, and Martin told her that he thought he had seen Martin in town but that he had headed up to a clinic, giving her directions to Benway's villa.
Martin then called Dr. Benway, advising him to tell his guards to stay on their toes, as he had super-powered company on the way.
Entering the clinic, Spider-Woman noted non-human creature patrolling the shadows before finding Yen, who repeatedly asked for help; pulling back the sheet, she saw his lower body in the form of some monstrous, hairy creature with bird-like hands.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97) - Asking if his work was awe-inspiring, Dr. Benway then greeted Spider-Woman alongside a pair of monstrous creatures that then attacked her. As she fought off the first creature, Benway dropped her with a blast from his nerve-paralyzer. He then bade her pleasant dreams, noting that she was going to be quite useful.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 (fb) - BTS) - Benway's agents placed Spider-Woman in a pit and shackled her arms to the wall.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97) - Impressed as Spider-Woman swiftly awakened, Dr. Benway began to introduce himself, but Spider-Woman noted that she had recognized him on first sight due to him be wanted in several states. After discussing his goals and means, Benway blasted Spider-Woman with another dose of his nerve-paralyzer ray while telling her that she would get a much closer look at his experiments later and that he was sure that such a knowledgeable woman could not wait to sacrifice even herself for the pursuit of knowledge. Benway then instructed his "pets" that she should be stunned into unconsciousness and give them no trouble, but if she did, they should rip her to shreds.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 - BTS) - Her immunity power having allowed her to resist Benway's second blast, after Benway's departure, Spider-Woman broken her restraints, leapt out of the pit, and vaulted past many of the creatures, before one of them got the drop on her.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97) - As Benway prepared to lobotomize Banner so he could safely unlock the secrets of gamma radiation locked in his body, one of Benway's creatures knocked her into the room. Although not recognizing Banner, Spider-Woman nonetheless considered anyone as undeserving of being the fodder of Dr. Benway's experiments, and she broke his restraints and fled with him...unfortunately, she fled into a dead end closet.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 - BTS) - Spider-Woman began slapping Banner to wake him up so he could flee on foot while she fought off Benway and his creatures. These slaps not only awakened Banner, but stimulated him into transforming into the Hulk, who struck back. Spider-Woman dodged his strike, but he smashed through wall back into the chamber containing Benway and his creatures.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97) - Benway urged his creatures to recapture the Hulk at any cost, but after a single swing of the Hulk smashed two of his creations, Benway realized that conflict was futile, and he ordered the pleasure ray to be brought out so they could turn him back into Banner; he also ordered one of his men to go after Spider-Woman and kill her.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 - BTS) - As Spider-Woman began taking out Benway's men with her venom blasts, she further noted that the Hulk's destruction of Benway's creatures had made it clear that they were actually robots.
Feeling things were getting out of control, Spider-Woman called Captain Walsh, told him her location, and asked him to call the Arizona State Patrol and send them there immediately. Walsh recognized the name of Dr. Benway and complied after Spider-Woman explained that he local sheriff had been bought off.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97) - Considering the whole project wasted, Dr. Benway fled on foot with Sheriff Martin, Li, and a few other henchmen. Spider-Woman caught up and blasted Benway unconscious.
(Marvel Team-Up I#97 - BTS) - Sheriff Martin knocked Spider-Woman out of the air with a more powerful version of the nerve-paralyzer that almost knocked her out. As he prepared to deliver another blast at point blank, however, the Hulk knocked over a shelf full of chemicals in Benway's clinic that caused an explosion, shrapnel from which knocked out Sheriff Martin. After Spider-Woman took out the rest of Benway's agents, the Arizona State Patrol showed up to arrest Benway and his associates.
Comments: Created by Steven Grant, Carmine Infantino, and Alan Gordon.
Why "W. Lee..."? Why an abbreviation rather than a first name, whether it was William, Wallace, Warren, Weatherby, Wilbur, Wookie, etc...?
What was the deal with Benway's creations?
Spider-Woman recognized Benway on sight since he was wanted...but not Bruce Banner, who was also wanted? Out of context, I suppose Banner is just another slim, brown-haired Caucasian male...but those purple pants, stretched out to fit a frame seven times his mass?
The Hulk was drawn back to New Mexico by his subconscious desire to return to Desert Base, where he was created; this was caused by the Maestro-9500, who had been transported back in time from his own reality and destroyed by the gamma bomb explosion, and whose consciousness psychically drew the Hulk back there to absorb gamma radiation to facilitate his own resurrection.
Although Li noted that Benway was in the midst of an operation, the
patient had no mask or endotracheal tube or any anesthetic
machine/circuit within view. Neither Benway nor Li were wearing gloves,
masks, or caps, no was there any evidence of blood or an incision. The
patient was lying on a table with a sheet covering him from chest down.
I'd say a procedure or treatment was done, but there wasn't any surgery
going on based on that image.
For that matter, the character looked a lot like Johnny Yen, although that is unconfirmed.
The introductory text on pg. 1 identifies the town
as Jude, New Mexico, while Spider-Woman has Captain Walsh call in the
Arizone State Patrol. I don't think Jude is a real city in New Mexico
or Arizona (every search just brings up St. Jude locations), but maybe
it is near enough to the western border of New Mexico that Benway's
villa, which was 10 miles north of Jude, is just west enough that it's
Or did I miss something that clarified that?
The title of the story was "Doctor of Madness," but Benway was never called that in-story, so I'm just leaving it to the comments.
Johnny Yen will get his own profile, as will Sheriff Bradley Martin.
Profile by Snood.
Dr. W. Lee Benway should be distinguished from:
| Benway had a number (at least 5-6) of robotic monsters (see comments/note)
in the forms of various hybrids of different animals. Most of the forms
were quadrupeds, with a thick torso, relatively short legs, and feet
with bony claws for toes.|
They were strong enough to smash through walls, but they were no match for the Hulk's strength, as he shattered a pair of them with a single blow.
| One had the head of a horse and webbed feet. |
One had some sort of alligator head with a more stocky torso but longer legs.
One with a bird-beak but a more reptilian form, lacking feathers and having green skin, a long neck and a stocky body.
One had an insectoid head, with pincer mandibles and antennae, but otherwise a more reptilian purple skin.
One had a snake-like head.
One looked to have a more ape-like head.
|--Marvel Team-Up I#97|
Note: See the main profile comments for discussion of the nature of Benway's creations.
| Li was the primary nurse/assistant to Dr. Benway during his medical procedures.
She also drove the jeep when he went out to capture the Hulk.
She was presumably aware of the illegal nature of what he was doing and was thus most likely arrested alongside him.
--Marvel Team-Up I#97
Note: She is only referred to as Li, which may be her whole first name, a shortened form of a longer first name or perhaps a surname.
| Dr. Benway had at least three henchmen who participated in captures, conflicts, etc.
Three henchmen drove a jeep following Benway and Li when they left the villa in pursuit of the Hulk, and they fired the gun from their jeep to knock the Hulk out of the sky.
One of them operated the the pleasure ray, which caused the Hulk to revert back to Banner, who was then incapacitated by another weapon (which appeared to be different than the nerve-paralyzer Benway used on Spider-Woman) and taken back to the villa.
After Spider-Woman freed Banner and caused him to turn back into the Hulk and the Hulk began to smash Benway's robots, Benway sent the one henchman to get the pleasure ray to subdue the Hulk and sent the other to find and kill Spider-Woman.
However, Spider-Woman found and blasted the henchman seeking her, and the Hulk presumably unintentionally punched the snake-headed-robot into the henchman carrying the pleasure ray, presumably knocking him out and perhaps destroying the pleasure ray.
--Marvel Team-Up I#97
Dr. Benway possessed +/- designed a rifle-like pleasure
ray that fired a beam that stimulated the brain's
This was able to relax the Hulk sufficiently to cause him to revert back into Bruce Banner.
After using conventional artillery to bring the Hulk to the ground, Benway's henchmen used the ray to convert the Hulk into Banner, after which they captured him.
When the Hulk revived and ran amok, Benway instructed one of his henchman to retrieve the pleasure ray, but the Hulk presumably unintentionally punched the snake-headed-robot into the henchman carrying the pleasure ray, presumably knocking him out and perhaps destroying the pleasure ray.
--Marvel Team-Up I#97
Dr. Benway operated a clinic out of a villa 10 miles north of Jude, New Mexico
--Marvel Team-Up I#97
Marvel Team-Up I#97 (September, 1980) - Steven Grant (writer), Carmine Infantino (penciler), Alan Gordon (inker), Dennis O'Neil (editor).
First posted: 11/26/2021
Last updated: 12/03/2021
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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