Real Name: Stromm (first name unrevealed)
Group Membership: None
Enemies: The Commandant and other military personnel
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: A weapons testing facility in an unidentified European nation
First Appearance: Tales to Astonish I#65 (March, 1965)
Powers/Abilities: Stromm was a brilliant geophysicist who designed weapons for his government. The torture he was subjected to left him a blank, mostly unresponsive human being.
Height: 5'9" (by approximation)
Weight: 120 lbs. (by approximation)
History: (Tales to Astonish I#65/2 (fb) - BTS) - Professor Stromm was a resident of an unidentified European nation and became one of that country's most noted geophysicists. However, Stromm wanted to escape his oppressive homeland and defect to the United States. When he attempted to do this, the military captured him and released a statement claiming Stromm was dead. Stromm was subjected to "disciplining" to make him loyal to the state but the torture he endured left a hollow mockery of the human condition. Since he was believed dead, Stromm was made to work for the state in secret from a heavily-armed prison facility.
(Tales to Astonish I#65/2) - Professor Stromm was working on a project at the prison when the guards brought through their new captive, Dr. Robert Bruce Banner. Banner was shocked to see Stromm was alive and all the more stunned to see Stromm was in a fugue-like state, staring blankly instead of reacting to Banner. Shortly afterward, Banner became the Hulk and destroyed much of the facility.
Comments: Created by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Dick Ayers.
The country in this story is not identified and that actually helps it so far as Marvel-time is concerned. It's definitely supposed to part of the Soviet bloc (the "Iron Curtain" is referenced).
While the US originals didn't specify the
communist nation, the UK reprints were modified and identified it as
Bodavia, a fictional stand-in for various Communist nations in early
Marvel UK reprints. Bodavia eventually got namechecked in the US comics
too, starting with Marvel Premiere#49 (August, 1979).
Per Tony Isabella:
In the 1970s, in various Marvel reprint titles, references to and symbols of various Communist regimes were removed and replaced with references to and symbols of various fictional evil empires. My memory is that such alterations were reserved for only the most over-the-top and bordering-on-racist depictions of "those stinking commies," but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.
When it comes to comics reprints, I'm something of a purist. Save for correcting coloring and spelling errors, I prefer to see these old stories presented in as close to their original form as possible. Anyway, these changes were the subject of a discussion on one of my mailing lists and I was able to offer the list members some behind the scenes information on same:
This type of thing began in the British weeklies I edited for Marvel in the early 1970s. Our UK partners objected to what they called our "Reds under the bed" stories and wanted us to remove any references to Russia and Red China.
I created a new country--Bodavia--for these reprints. It was so large it encompassed citizens who looked European AND Oriental. It was also utterly evil, sworn to destroy our democratic society. The hammer-and-sickle and red star insignias on aircraft and tanks were replaced by a lightning bolt in a circle or sometimes just a lightning bolt. This didn't satisfy our UK partners entirely, but they stopped bitching and moaning when they realized we wouldn't go any further or skip these stories in the reprint cycle.
Personally, even though I thought the commie menace stories were silly, these changers struck me as even sillier. Had this decision been up to me, I would have told the Brits to go pleasure themselves.
This profile was completed 07/19/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary's celebratory event.
Profile by Prime Eternal.
Professor Stromm has no known relationship to:
The commandant was the Communist leader who oversaw the weapons testing facility where scientists were forced to design weapons for his country. The commandant would use solitary confinement to break the wills of his scientists and claim to the public they were deceased so that no one would come looking for them. Professor Stromm and another unidentified scientist were among his captive staff. After Bruce Banner was picked up in a submarine near Astra Isle, he was brought to the weapons testing facility so they could force him to design their weapons. After the commandant showed Banner the state of his scientists, Banner was morally outraged. The commandant threw Banner into a cell to force his compliance but Banner transformed into the Hulk and broke his way out of the cell. Facing the Hulk's monstrous might, the commandant had his staff use various weapons from the facility against him, including the High-Intensity Field Cannon and Vaporizer, but they had little effect. Finally, the commandant tried to kill the Hulk from behind by blasting him with a Proton Beam but the unidentified scientist jumped in the path of the beam to save the Hulk's life. Faced now with a wrathful Hulk, the commandant fled and hid as the Hulk tore apart the facility in retaliation for his friend's death.
--Tales to Astonish I#65/2 (#66/2,
The High-Intensity Field Cannon was one of the weapons designed at the weapons testing facility. This floor-mounted energy beam was operated by one seated personnel member and could fire a sustained burst of energy. Whether this weapon could have harmed the Hulk is unknown as the Hulk tore up the floor to shield himself from its energy then smashed the floor, toppling the device over and rendering it useless.
--Tales to Astonish I#65/2
The Proton Beam was a powerful hand-held energy weapon housed at the weapons testing facility. The gun had a cord leading to a backpack which was evidently needed to supply the weapon's power. The Proton Beam could unleash a single deadly blast of protons then required an hour to recharge. The commandant used this weapon to fire a beam at the Hulk in the hopes of killing him but the dissident scientist jumped in the path of the beam, sacrificing his life for the Hulk. The commandant discarded the Proton Beam as he ran for his life from the wrathful Hulk.
--Tales to Astonish I#66/2
Another scientist at the same facility as Professor Stromm was subjected to the same debilitating conditions as he but, unlike Stromm, he continued to resist the military. When he saw Bruce Banner had been captured by the military, he broke off the conditioning he had been subjected to. Flying into a furious rage, he called on his fellow scientist to revolt, shouting "better death than slavery." When he began smashing the weapon he had been working on, the guards restrained him and he was thrown into solitary confinement until he remembered the military were his "friends." Later, when the Hulk smashed through the facility, his cell was broken open. Approaching the Hulk, he told the monster he was a friend. Noting that the Hulk had been injured by the Vaporizer weapon, he produced a salve to counter the effect of the Vaporizer on the Hulk's bloodstream. He then gave the Hulk a large supply of food, hoping that the Hulk would regain his strength and help overthrow the dictatorship commanding the military. However, the facility's commandant attacked the Hulk with a Proton Beam. Believing it was important that the Hulk stay alive and continue to fight tyranny, the scientist flung himself in the path of the Proton Beam, dying for his friend. Enraged by his friend's death, the Hulk destroyed most of the remains of the facility.
--Tales to Astonish I#65/2 (#66/2d,
The Vaporizer (or Evapo-Ray) was another energy beam weapon designed at the weapons testing facility. This device was mounted on wheels so that it could be easily moved around. The energy beam fired by the Vaporizer was so powerful it could disintegrate a block of stone within seconds and go straight through solid walls. The Vaporizer caused a slight wound to the Hulk before he clapped his hands, unleashing a shockwave which knocked the Vaporizer backwards through a wall. The wound caused by the Vaporizer could have led to an infection in the Hulk's blood but it was quickly healed by a dissident scientist using a salve he invented.
--Tales to Astonish I#65/2
images: (without ads)
Tales to Astonish I#65/2, page 5, panel 7 (Stromm, main image)
Tales to Astonish I#65/2, page 5, panel 6 (Stromm from behind/side)
Tales to Astonish I#65/2, page 5, panel 5 (commandant)
Tales to Astonish I#65/2, page 8, panel 1 (High-Intensity Field Cannon)
Tales to Astonish I#66/2, page 2, panel 1 (Proton Beam)
Tales to Astonish I#65/2, page 6, panel 3 (unidentified scientist)
Tales to Astonish I#65/2, page 9, panel 2 (Vaporizer)
Tales to Astonish I#65/2 (March, 1965) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Steve Ditko (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks)
Tales to Astonish I#66/2 (April, 1965) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Steve Ditko (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks)
First posted: 09/23/2021
Last updated: 09/22/2021
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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