ZALME

Real Name: Zalme (first name unrevealed) 

Identity/Class: Human mutant 

Occupation: Soldier 

Group Membership: United States Army, unidentified anti-mutant taskforce

Affiliations: Formerly unidentified anti-mutant U.S. Army unit (Crespi, Flakbottom, Captain Smith, others)

Enemies: Dazzler (Alison Blaire), unidentified anti-mutant U.S. Army unit (Crespi, Flakbottom, Captain Smith, others)

Known Relatives: None 

Aliases: Dinosaur Man (called this by Marvel editor Ralph Macchio)

Base of Operations: Formerly unidentified hidden military base, Sierra Nevada Mountains

First Appearance: Dazzler I#30 (January 1984)

Powers/Abilities: Zalme was a mutant able to transform into a giant purple saurian form. In that form he possessed an unspecified degree of superhuman strength, a powerful tail, clawed splayed toes, vicious looking fangs, and scaly skin thick enough to withstand rifle fire and lasers; he did not appear to have any claws on his hands however.

    Zalme was unaware of this ability or that he was a mutant until the mutant booster device triggered his abilities; he may have been a latent mutant, or it may be that without some sort of power boost he was incapable to transforming. It is also feasible that without the booster but now that his powers have been activated that he might still be able to transform into his saurian form, but a smaller, weaker version.

    It is also uncertain how much of his human intellect he would normally retain after transforming; in his single story he appeared virtually animalistic once he changed, but that might have been the disorienting effect of the booster combined with the stress of a first-time power use. He apparently could return to human form; this was not directly witnessed, but he managed to slip away from the convention unnoticed, which would have been hard to do as a giant reptile.

Height: (human) Unrevealed; (saurian) 16' (by approximation)
Weight: (human) Unrevealed; (saurian) unrevealed
Eyes: (human) Unrevealed; (saurian) green
Hair: (human) Brown; (saurian) none 

 History:
(Dazzler I#30) - Zalme was a soldier in Flakbottom's covert anti-mutant army unit, and, unknown even to himself, a mutant. Witnessing Crespi announce he had plans for a mission the moment Flakbottom had left the unit's base, Zalme swiftly reminded the interim commander that Flakbottom had instructed Crespi not to do anything stupid, but Crespi rebutted him, pointing out that he was in charge now, and had plans to test his latest gadget in the field. Zalme made a second attempt to dissuade Crespi, asking him to forget his mad scientist toys, and suggesting they head into town and pick up girls, but Crespi rejected this too.

  Zalme was part of the squad Crespi took to San Diego to eliminate Dazzler, and as Crespi shouted orders to them while they unloaded the components of Crespi's device to take into the convention center, Zalme whispered under his breath that Crespi was on a power trip. Hearing Zalme's voice, though not perhaps exactly what he had said, Crespi shouted at him to clam up and hustle. Once inside they swiftly assembled the device and Crespi activated it, but as it radiated out its power-boosting energy field, Zalme began to feel funny, his face flushed and sweating profusely. He collapsed to his knees and grabbed at his temples, then his clothes started to rip as his skin hardened, turned purple and expanded. Once started, the change accelerated rapidly, and he transformed into a gigantic saurian. In pain from the power-booster, he sent some of the soldiers flying, struck by his new tail as he spun around. The crowds panicked and stampeded in all directions, and his former compatriots opened fire, only to learn their weapons had no effect on his thick hide other than to annoy him. Reacting in rage, he struck them all down.

   Witnessing this, and needing to release her own pent-up power anyway, Dazzler vaporized the device with a laser blast, ending the pain both were feeling, but not, unfortunately, calming the enraged beast. As he raced menacingly towards her, Dazzler blinded Zalme with a burst of light, but this barely slowed his charge, and she was forced to dive to the side to avoid him. Absorbing the noise of his demolishing the wall behind where she had just been standing, she disorientated him with strobing lights, then blasted him head on with a laser, but even this failed against his thick hide. Changing tack, Dazzler sliced some of the pillars holding up the roof near Zalme, and his own thrashing around helped bring half the roof down on top of him, finally ending the battle.

(Dazzler I#30 - BTS) - Zalme apparently reverted to human form, crawled out the rubble and fled.

Comments: Created by Ken McDonald, Frank Springer and Vince Colletta.

    Zalme is presumably named after Marvel colorist and cartoonist Ron Zalme.

    Zalme appeared in a story that was part of Assistant Editor's Month, a string of deliberately off-kilter, slightly silly issues produced when the main editors were away attending San Diego Comic Con. The Dazzler story was actually one of the least silly that month, and also the only one I believe to actually feature both the Comic Con and relevant editor, Ralph Macchio, as part of the tale. Macchio gave Dazzler a lift to the convention, and was present as a bystander caught up in Zalme's rampage.

    Zalme only has one appearance thus far, and so his fate after Dazzler I#30 is unrevealed. He might have been depowered on M-Day, assuming he even survived that long in a world often hostile to mutants. It's also possible he'll turn up on Krakoa among the mutants gathered there. But I won't be holding my breath.

    This profile was completed 9/25/2020, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.

Profile by Loki.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Zalme has no known connections to:


Unidentified U.S. army unit

    An unidentified U.S. Army unit headed by Flakbottom and backed by influential individuals in "very high places" was provided with a hidden underground base in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and provided generous support for covert anti-mutant operations. Almost certain Alison Blaire, the singer known as the Dazzler, was a mutant, and suspecting she might be the most powerful and dangerous yet known, they decided to sanction her even at the expense of civilian casualties. Having learned she was aboard a private Learjet belonging to movie star Roman Nekobah, Flakbottom sent fighter pilot Captain Smith to shoot the civilian craft down. However, though his attack successfully incapacitated both Nekobah and his pilot, Blaire used her powers to destroy Smith's fighter jet before he could finish them off. Bailing out in time, Smith reported the failure of his operation to a disappointed Flakbottom, just before the senior officer departed for a week of meetings at the Pentagon, leaving his subordinate, Crespi, in charge, with instructions not to do anything stupid.

   Crespi immediately did something stupid, and tried to redeem their unit by targeting Dazzler again, this time using an experimental device designed to generate an energy field harmless to humans but which would boost the powers of nearby mutants until they ran out of control. This would then expose secret mutants, and, Crespi hoped, result in them causing destruction, chaos and panic, thus vilifying them to the general public. The intelligence branch tracked Dazzler to San Diego, and Crespi's team followed her into San Diego Comic Con, finding that in a hall full of people in outrageous costumes and displays that nobody gave so much as a second glance to a bunch of soldiers publicly setting up a gigantic gadget in full view of everyone. When they activated the device, they discovered that one of their own, Zalme, was himself a mutant, as he transformed into a humanoid saurian and ran amuck. Though one of his fellow soldiers was reluctant to fire upon his former squadmate, and another sensibly suggested they should switch the device off as it was enraging the creature, Crespi ordered them to open fire; however, Zalme's transformed state proved to be bulletproof, and he smashed the soldiers to a pulp, perhaps killing them 


--Dazzler I#29  (Dazzler I#30

Note The unit may be a sub-section of Project Wideawake, which was active around this time, but it doesn't come across that way. Given their willingness to "sanction" mutants, they could well have been set up by a faction of the U.S. government/military who considered Wideawake's methods for dealing with mutants as too soft.


 Flakbottom

   

    Flakbottom was the officer in charge of a covert anti-mutant unit within the U.S. Army. He was disappointed with Captain Smith for failing to kill Dazzler and losing an expensive fighter jet in the process, but had little time to chastise Smith before departing for a week of meetings at the Pentagon.

  

--(voice only) Dazzler I#29; (seen and identified) Dazzler I#30


 Crespi

    Crespi was a scientist attached to Flakbottom's covert anti-mutant army unit, and had developed a gadget he hoped would boost mutant's powers to the point where they lost control.

    Left in charge of the unit in Flakbottom's absence, he immediately ignored his single instruction not to do anything stupid and initiated a mission to eliminate Alison Blaire, the Dazzler. Though the rest of his team felt he was on a power trip, they nevertheless obeyed his orders, following Dazzler into San Diego Comic Con's conference center and constructing the device in the main thoroughfare. Gloating about the problems he was about to cause Blaire if her mutant powers ran out of control in the crowded venue, and of his hopes that the ensuing panic might inspire regular citizens to form anti-mutant lynch mobs, he activated his device, but to his shock one of his own soldiers, Zalme, was also affected. Seeing the giant creature Zalme had become, Crespi shouted that it was a mutant and to kill it, and opened fire himself, but moments later was sent flying when Zalme's tail struck him, leaving him stunned or dead on the floor.

  


--Dazzler I#30

Note Crespi may be named after Marvel production manager Danny Crespi. 


Captain Smith ("Smitty")

(Dazzler I#30 (fb) - BTS) - Captain Smith, a.k.a. Smitty and call sign Catspaw, was a fighter pilot attached to Flakbottom's covert anti-mutant army unit. When Flakbottom decided to eliminate suspected mutant Alison Blaire while she was flying on Roman Nekobah's private Learjet, Smitty was sent to shoot the aircraft down, with the two prospective human casualties considered acceptable collateral.

(Dazzler I#29) - Flying over the mountains, Smitty spotted Nekobah's plane and moved to confirm it was his intended target. Once he had done so and relayed this back to base, he was instructed to attack and opened fire. The civilian pilot, Harvey "Hack" Hathaway, undertook emergency evasive maneuvers as Smitty's pass saw several bullet's hit the civilian aircraft's nose, and  successfully evaded the worst of the gunfire. Rounding for a second run, Smitty struck Nekobah's plane along its left side, hitting Hack and beginning to riddle the passenger cabin, but before it could do so, Smitty's jet was engulfed in blinding light generated by Dazzler and set on fire. As his burning jet raced towards the ground, Smitty ejected.

(Dazzler I#30) -Picked up by a rescue team, Smitty returned to base to report the details of his encounter and be chewed out by Flakbottom for the loss of an expensive fighter jet.

--Dazzler I#29  (Dazzler I#30  


images: (without ads)
Dazzler I#30, p17, pan1 (main image)
Dazzler I#30, p15, pan8 (human headshot)
Dazzler I#30, p17, pan4 (saurian headshot)
Dazzler I#30, p16, pan3-4 (Zalme's transformation)
Dazzler I#30, p19, pan3 (buried by falling roof)
Dazzler I#30, p10, pan4 (anti-mutant unit)
Dazzler I#30, p10, pan5 (Flakbottom)
Dazzler I#30, p10, pan7 (Crespi)
Dazzler I#30, p15, pan2 (mutant power boosting device)
Dazzler I#30, p10, pan2 (Smitty)


Appearances:
Dazzler I#30 (January 1984) - Ken McDonald (writer), Frank Springer (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks), Bob Harrass (acting editor), Ralph Macchio (absent editor)


First Posted: 09/13/2021
Last updated:
09/11/2021

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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