Real Name: Percy Van Norton

Identity/Class: Human mutate (World War II era)

Occupation: Axis agent; former crime-fighter

Group Membership: Battle-Axis (Dr. Death/James Bradley, Human Meteor/Duke O'Dowd, Skyshark/Elias Schleigal, Spider Queen/Shannon Kane, Volton)

Affiliations: (As crime-fighter) President Don Amigo, King Lorac, President Gregory, unidentified friends;
    (as Axis agent) formerly Golem (Jacob Goldstein), Vision (Aarkus)

Enemies: (As crime-fighter) General Moslav, Nilats, Sanchez;
    (as Axis agent) Blazing Skull (Mark Todd), Golem (Jacob Goldstein), Invaders (Captain America/Steve Rogers, Human Torch/Jim Hammond, Sub-Mariner/Namor McKenzie, Miss America/Madeline Joyce, Whizzer/Bob Frank), Silver Scorpion (Betty Barlow), Vision (Aarkus)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "Perfect Human," "Man of Tomorrow"

Base of Operations: Mobile

First Appearance: (Historic) Crash Comics Adventures#1/1 (published by Tem Publishing Co., Inc., May, 1940);
    (Marvel) Invaders II#1 (May, 1993)

Powers/Abilities: Although a bit slow-witted, Strongman had super-strength (at least Class 10) and durability; apparently, he was unable to swim (see comments).

Height: Unrevealed (6'2"; by approximation)
Weight: Unrevealed (350 lbs.; by approximation)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Black

(Crash Comics Adventures#1/1 / Invaders II#3 (fb) - BTS) - The past of Percy Van Norton is largely unrevealed, but he was the son of a millionaire. When he was a child, Percy was always picked on, so by 1940, he used his money to purchase an experimental drug which endowed him with super-strength and durability. Despite the physical enhancements to his body, the drug apparently had deleterious effects upon Percy's brain, and it would eventually slow his thought processes (see comments).

   With his increased strength, he became the costumed superhero known as Strongman--to cover his heroic identity, Percy wore a monocle and portrayed himself as a foppish and hedonistic tuxedo-clad playboy.

(Crash Comics Adventures#1/1) - Percy was dining at a night club with his two girlfriends, one of whom was wearing the famous Jodpur pearls (worth a cool million!); but then a pair of armed robbers burst in and stole the pearl necklace, then dashed out. The mild-mannered Percy excused himself and stepped out on the terrace, where he tore off his tuxedo and went into action as Strongman! The hero chased the thieves' high-speed car to the docks, where he watched as they boarded an ocean liner from "a dictator nation now at war" (probably Germany). The robbers turned the loot over to their boss, the ship's captain (probably a German--he said "Ach!" a lot)--the captain rewarded the "American fools" by shooting them dead. 

    Meanwhile, Strongman had investigated further and discovered that the captain was using the loot to pay for cannons, so he could arm his ship to become a raider. Strongman fought with the ship's crew, but he was temporarily overcome when the sailors shot a blast of deadly steam at him; the sailors tied the unconscious hero to an anchor and threw him overboard. But Strongman was revived by the cold water and broke free from his bonds; he climbed back aboard the ship and tore the cannons loose, then he hurled them into the sea. Fearing capture, the captain sailed out to sea and scuttled the ship--with the vessel rapidly sinking beneath the waves, Strongman jumped off into the water as the crew took to the lifeboats, but the captain went down with his ship. As he was swimming to shore, Strongman remembered the pearl necklace, so he swam back and retrieved it from the wreck; later, Percy returned the necklace to his grateful girlfriend.

(Crash Comics Adventures#2/1) - In the Central American country of El Matador, Sanchez seized power and became dictator after overthrowing President Don Amigo; Sanchez then allied with an "aggressor nation" (probably Germany) for a plot to destroy the Panama Canal with a Big Bertha cannon. Don Amigo made his way to the United States and informed Strongman about the threat to the canal, so the hero took him back to El Matador aboard Percy Van Norton's yacht. Upon seeing their deposed leader return, the people of El Matador were encouraged to start a revolt, and Strongman joined them to oppose the "foreign soldiers" who were encamped there. Strongman destroyed the cannon, and the Panama Canal was saved; Sanchez fled on a mule, and President Don Amigo was restored to power.

(Crash Comics Adventures#3/1) - After leaving El Matador and sailing in the Atlantic Ocean, Van Norton's yacht received a coded radio message. Percy deciphered the transmission and learned that Nilats (Hint: Read it backwards), the dictator of Aissur (ditto), was planning to invade the Balkan kingdom of Rutania; since King Lorac, the ruler of the country, was an old friend of his father's, Percy had his crew set course for Rutania. As Strongman, he defeated the Aissurian army, after which he coerced Nilats into agreeing to a peace treaty.

(Crash Comics Adventures#4/1) - While his yacht was sailing through the Mediterranean Sea, Percy learned that General Moslav, the tyrant of an unidentified European nation, had led his army in an invasion of Scanlandia, forcing President Gregory to go into hiding. Strongman first made arrangements with an American aircraft company to supply warplanes to Scanlandia, and then he swam ashore and captured Moslav; but the tyrant was accidentally killed by his own forces when they fired upon the invincible Strongman. With their leader dead, the enemy soldiers surrendered to Scanlandia's President Gregory.

(Crash Comics#5/1) - While vacationing with his friends in the European nation of Polaria, Percy spotted the forces of the "Sixth Column" (the military of an unidentified aggressor nation) at the country's border, so he assisted the Polarian army as Strongman and drove the invading army away.

(post-Crash Comics#5 / pre-Invaders II#1 - BTS) - At some point in early 1942, Strongman was approached by Dr. Death, and he joined the team of Nazi operatives known as Battle-Axis; Strongman's motivation was that he felt his strength would be more appreciated by the Nazis. The team prepared for the "Mojave Project," Dr. Death's elaborate scheme involving a device called an "oscillotron," which would cause an earthquake on the American west coast that would destroy war industry plants and release poison gas from underground storage, thereby causing the U.S. to withdraw from the war-effort in order to deal with the crisis at home. Strongman's absence from the public eye was noticed by the Thin Man (Bruce Dickson), who was keeping tabs on potential members for the Liberty Legion.

(Invaders II#1) - On the night of June 22, 1942, three of the Invaders -- Captain America, Sub-Mariner, and Human Torch -- confronted a Nazi U-boat in New York Harbor; but the members of Battle-Axis (who were aboard the submarine) counterattacked. While his teammates fought and defeated Captain America and the Human Torch, Strongman took on the Sub-Mariner. Although Namor landed the first punch and sent Strongman flying back toward the U-boat's conning tower (where he left a sizable dent), the uninjured Strongman followed up with a mighty punch of his own. The Human Meteor zipped by and struck the stunned Sub-Mariner, but Strongman insisted on finishing off the Atlantean prince on his own ("All my life I've been beat up by guys like him! And this is where I get even, if it takes a million punches!"), then he proceeded to mercilessly pummel the Sub-Mariner to near unconsciousness; with the trio of heroes defeated, Battle-Axis departed.

   Later, Battle-Axis ambushed the Whizzer and Miss America in a city park. The Human Meteor knocked out the Whizzer, and the unconscious speedster was carried away by Strongman as their first prisoner; but Miss America took flight and managed to escape.

(Invaders II#2) - In the dark of night, the members of Battle-Axis traveled to Los Angeles, California aboard Skyshark's dirigible. While Dr. Death and the Golem captured the Human Torch, the trio of Strongman, Spider Queen, and Human Meteor went to the science center on the campus of UCLA to steal the oscillotron. During this mission, they killed Dr. Carson (designer of the oscillotron) and private detective Dan Hurley, and they rendered unconscious Hurley's secretary Betty Barlow.

   As Strongman lifted up the oscillotron, he was noticeably irritated when Spider Queen addressed him as "Percy" ("Don't call me Percy! There is no Percy Van Norton--not anymore!"). But suddenly, Captain America and Miss America came crashing in through a window and battled the three Nazi operatives. The two heroes were later joined by the Silver Scorpion (Barlow). But noticing that daybreak was approaching, Strongman was concerned that Dr. Death would leave without them -- and since the Human Meteor had learned enough about the oscillotron from Carson before they killed him, Dr. Death could use the information to complete his own version of the device. The three members of Battle-Axis fled, but before they left, Strongman punched some machinery and toppled it upon the oscillotron, so as not to leave the working model intact.

(Invaders II#3) - In the secret base of Battle-Axis beneath the Mojave Desert, the captured Human Torch and Whizzer were imprisoned within transparent cylinders; the members of Battle-Axis elaborated on their backgrounds to their captives. Strongman told about the experimental drug that increased his strength, and he also mentioned that it apparently slowed down his brain (see comments).

   When the rest of the Invaders attacked the base, Battle-Axis fought them to a standstill (Strongman's absence during this clash was unexplained, but the Golem provided enough muscle to take his place). But then Dr. Death used Professor Enoch Mason's "dimension smasher" to summon the extradimensional Aarkus the Vision, after which he forced the unearthly being to defeat the Invaders.

(Invaders II#4) - With all the Invaders individually confined inside transparent cylinders, Dr. Death explained his scheme to them, after which he released a gas within the cylinders that weakened the prisoners. After ordering Volton and the Golem to stand guard over the Invaders, Dr. Death and the others attended to the oscillotron. Dr. Death told Strongman to move the device to the precise spot where it would cause the greatest destruction, and although he effortlessly lifted and carried the device, Strongman still griped about having to move it again.

   But the Invaders managed to escape from imprisonment, and during the final confrontation between the two groups, Dr. Death activated the oscillotron before he was seemingly killed by Volton. As the oscillotron's destructive power began to build up, Strongman was momentarily stunned by the sting of the Silver Scorpion (as retribution for the deaths of Carson and Hurley). The battle between the two groups finally ended when the Sub-Mariner smashed the oscillotron and caused it to explode; the fact that Namor survived unscathed apparently surprised Strongman ("Not even I could've survived that blowup!").

   Strongman and the other defeated members of Battle-Axis surrendered to the Invaders, and they were presumably taken into custody.

Comments: Created by Bill Scott (as Scotty Walters) and an unidentified artist for Tem Publishing Co., Inc.; adapted for the Marvel Universe by Roy Thomas, Dave Hoover and Brian Garvey.

    Please note that Strongman's Golden Age Crash Comics Adventures stories listed above (as well as some of the Affiliations and Enemies) didn't necessarily occur on Earth-616 (mainstream Marvel Universe). Similar events and details could apply to the Marvel Universe's version of Strongman, but these are not confirmed.

    Although the final caption of the Strongman story in Crash Comics#5 promised "an even more thrilling adventure" in the next issue, the series ended with that issue.

    Of course any resemblance of the Golden Age Strongman to National Comics (aka DC)'s Superman was purely coincidental (...and probably intentional--after all, the Man of Steel was one of the biggest selling comics characters in the 1940s). Maybe the original publishers were worried about getting sued because DC was already taking legal action against other publishers who had characters even remotely similar to Superman (e.g. Fox's Wonder Man, Fawcett Comics' "Shazam" Captain Marvel), so they probably just decided to play it safe and discontinue their character.
(However, the Marvel version of Strongman did wear his hair with a bit of a "Superman spit curl".)

    The caption in his first Golden Age appearance mentioned that Strongman had "the strength of a hundred elephants, the speed of a racing car, and the skin with the toughness of a rhinoceros"; he was also depicted as making Hulk-like leaps, and he had "super-breath" and "super-sight". But I've only listed the powers that Strongman displayed in the Invaders mini-series, wherein his powers were downgraded a bit: He described himself as being as strong as an elephant (singular), with skin as tough as a rhino.

    After the first clash with the three Invaders on the U-boat, the unconscious heroes got knocked into the water, and Strongman told his teammates to go after them because he couldn't swim, yet in nearly all his original adventures, he's seen swimming. Maybe the Marvel Universe version of Strongman had too much muscular mass to stay afloat.
    Or maybe as Strongman's mind deteriorated, he forgot he could swim.--Snood

    Also, I've seen it mentioned on a couple of sites that the original Strongman carried a "boomerang rope," but this was actually just an improvised weapon he used only once in Crash Comics#5 -- with his powerful hands, he fashioned the boomerang from a rock(!), and tied the cords from an abandoned parachute together to form one long rope, then he used this "boomerang rope" to capture an entire company of parachuting enemy soldiers...anyway, this was something that he didn't use on a regular basis: Strongman carried no additional paraphernalia during his crime-fighting career.

    The original stories also made mention of Strongman's "brilliant mind," but in Invaders II#1, Captain America mentioned that Strongman "talked like a New York cabbie," which implies to me that he didn't sound like he was very bright (No offense intended to you New York cabbies out there!)

    The closest thing we got to an origin for Strongman in the original stories was this single panel from the first story, which attributed his incredible power to his many years of performing yoga exercises; but in Invaders I#3, he mentioned that he got his strength after being injected with an experimental drug in 1940. I guess we can reconcile both origins by saying he was injected with the drug, then he did the yoga exercises to develop his muscles.
    (I wonder: Could that experimental drug possibly have had some connection to Abraham Erskine's Super Soldier serum? And maybe Strongman's hostile and aggressive behavior was the result of some form of roid rage from that drug.)

    Roy Thomas originally intended for Battle-Axis to consist of some of the minor 1940s heroes of Timely Comics (predecessor of Marvel) who'd vanished from comics by 1942 and hadn't been reintroduced in modern times at that point--Strongman's position in Battle-Axis was probably originally intended for Captain Terror. But editor Mark Gruenwald preferred not to see even long-forgotten Timely heroes turned into Nazis, so Thomas instead dredged up some characters from defunct 1940s publishers that were in the public domain, which is why Strongman and and the others were used.

    Strongman hasn't been seen at Marvel since that Invaders mini-series, but he (along with several other public domain characters) did make an appearance in a Golden Age characters sketch section in Dynamite's Project Superpowers#1--however, I don't believe Strongman was ever actually used in any of the stories.

    This profile was completed 7/13/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.

Profile by Ron Fredricks.

Srongman has no known connections to:

Percy Van Norton's yacht

It was a large and luxurious watercraft owned by millionaire Percy Van Norton.

It transported Percy and his entourage of friends to the Central American country of El Matador; later, it carried them all across the Atlantic Ocean and to the European countries of Rutania, Scanlandia, and Polaria.

(Comment: The yacht was seen only in the Golden Age stories, and it was unrevealed if the Marvel Universe version of Strongman owned such a craft.)

--Crash Comics Adventures#2 (2-4

Percy Van Norton's friends

An entourage of unidentified females and males from high society, they accompanied playboy Percy when he traveled to such places as Central America and Europe.

They generally regarded Percy to be cowardly, lazy, and useless (...and even told him so to his face!) because he always seemed to disappear whenever there was danger present--but unknown to them, Percy vanished because he was actually dealing with the trouble as the heroic Strongman!

(Comment: They were seen only in the Golden Age stories, and it was unrevealed if the Marvel Universe version of Strongman had any "friends" like these (...but he'd be better off without these insulting and snobby free-loaders!)).  

--Crash Comics Adventures#1 (1-4; Crash Comics#5

images: (without ads)
Invaders II#1, p7, pan1 (Main Image - Strongman)
Invaders II#3, p5, pan6 (Headshot - Strongman talks about power granted to him by experimental drug)
Crash Comics Adventures#1, cover
Invaders II#3, p3, pan3 (Strongman puts the "kibosh" on Human Torch (Hammond))
Invaders II#4, p8, pan2 (Strongman lifts oscillotron; Battle-Axis (background))
Crash Comics Adventures#1/1, p2, pan3 (Strongman's "origin" in flashback - Secret Book of Yogi Exercises)
Invaders II#3, p5, pan4 (Strongman's origin in narrated flashback - experimental drug syringe)
Project Superpowers#1, p26-27 (Strongman)
Crash Comics Adventures#2/1, p4, pan4 (Percy Van Norton's yacht; Percy Van Norton invites friends to join him (foreground))
Crash Comics Adventures#1/1, p2, pan4 (Percy Van Norton (center) with two girlfriends)
Crash Comics#5/1, p1, pan2 (Percy Van Norton (center) with friends (2 females, 1 male) in Polarian taxi cab)

Tem Publishing Co., Inc.:
Crash Comics Adventures#1/1 (May, 1940) - Bill Scott (as Scotty Walters) (writer)
Crash Comics Adventures#2/1 (June, 1940)
Crash Comics Adventures#3/1 (July, 1940)
Crash Comics Adventures#4/1 (September, 1940) - Bill Scott (writer), Bert Whitman (pencils and inks)
Crash Comics#5/1 (November, 1940) - unidentified writer, Rey Isip (as Pagsilang R. Isip) (pencils and inks)

Invaders II#1-2 (May-June, 1993) - Roy Thomas (writer), Dave Hoover (pencils), Brian Garvey (inks), Pat Brosseau (letters), Paul Becton (colors), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Invaders II#3 (July, 1993) - Roy Thomas (writer), Dave Hoocer (pencils), Brian Garvey & Brian Akin (inks), Pat Brosseau (letters) Paul Becton (colors), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Invaders II#4 (August, 1993) - Roy Thomas (writer), Dave Hoover (pencils), Brian Garvey (inks), Pat Brosseau (letters), Paul Becton (colors), Mike Rockwitz (editor)

First Posted: 09/01/2021
Last updated: 08/29/2021

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

Non-Marvel Copyright info
All other characters mentioned or pictured are ™ and © 1941-2099 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. If you like this stuff, you should check out the real thing!
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