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Molten Man (Spider-Man character) ablaze

Molten Man


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

The Molten Man was an early foe of Spider-Man, who appeared in 1965. He has kept returning, but went through various tragic character arcs instead of being played as a straight villain. This gives him a surprisingly full biography, and he eventually became more of a benign “retiree” from the superhuman scene.

Of course, yet another bad event such as a medical complication or blackmail could make him a villain again. It certainly has happened before.

And yes, the Molten Man was not particularly molten, or melting, or anything during the bulk of his appearances. Bit of a mystery, that.


Background

  • Real Name: Mark Raxton
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Wilson Allan (stepfather), Doris Raxton (mother), Elizabeth “Liz” Allan Osborn (stepsister), Harold “Harry” Osborn (stepbrother-in-law), Norman “Normie” Harold Osborn (nephew)
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of the Exterminators
  • Base Of Operations: New York City
  • Height: 6’5” Weight: 550 lbs (in superheated state)
  • Eyes: Gold Hair: Gold


Powers & Abilities

An experimental, energised liquid metal coated Raxton’s epidermis then gradually fused with his skin, muscles and blood. This made him superhumanly strong and durable.

During the first few hours of his transformation the Molten Man was slightly less strong than Spider-Man, yet slightly tougher. After that, both his strength and durability rapidly increased. The Molten Man soon became strong enough to lift 17-ish tons, and tough enough to withstand anti-vehicles fire, extreme heat and Spider-Man’s full-strength punches.

However he’s more vulnerable toward energy-based attacks, such as being electrocuted, and toward gasses.

Turning up the heat

In 1974, Raxton started manifesting a variant state where his metabolism runs extremely hot. He was considerably above 150&deg:C (300°F). This accompanied an increase in his body density, which about doubled his strength and augmented his durability. Most ordinary objects touching the Molten Man in this state will catch fire.

However, if this heat can be put out — vast quantities of water might suffice — the Molten Man will be knocked out for hours.

The Molten Man (Mark Raxton) and a stunned Spider-Man

With the increased density, Spider-Man no longer can hurt the Molten Man by hitting him. And if Raxton is his in his superheated state, Spidey will need gloves made of webbing to punch him without burning himself. However, the superhumanly strong Parker was consistently able to knock Raxton down or back to keep him at a distance.

Though the Molten Man was originally highly confident in his durability, he came to irrationally underestimate it. Neither Spider-Man nor the NYPD could hurt him in a straight fight in his superheated state, but he would nevertheless flee when he felt outnumbered or otherwise at a disadvantage.

The Molten Man is super-dense – though not as dense as a metallic statue of the same volume would be. He can easily damage the floors he’s walking on, though after he went straight he presumably had custom shoes made to avoid that problem.

Other abilities

Raxton has an unclear science background, probably in chemistry. While he’s no science luminary, he’s competent at the job and could ably assist a cutting-edge researcher or brew up unusual compounds. He also claimed to know all the verses of Miss Otis Regrets, so he’s presumably a Cole Porter  connoisseur.

The Molten Man is remarkably fast. He could land punches on an early Spider-Man more often than not. However, this speed did not increase whereas Spider-Man grew faster and more agile, decreasing Raxton’s odds to land blows. Spidey once described the Molten Man as being almost as agile as he is, but that clearly was dramatic exaggeration.

Early on Raxton had access to lifelike masks, including some made of asbestos. He also procured fireproof clothing – though the clothing couldn’t handle his heat anymore as he approached death. Well, except his briefs. His briefs are extraordinarily durable. They should make everything out of that fabric.

During the 1990s Raxton put most of his problems behind him. His temper was mostly under control, and being less aggressive allowed him to have normal interactions with people around him.

He also learned some business skills. However, one gets the impression that his role as Osborn’s CEO wasn’t hands-on decision making but a supervisory role in both the basic business aspects and the chemical research and processes.


History

Mark Raxton was a difficult and conflict-prone child. He left his family as soon as he graduated from high school. He then acquired a scientific education in an unrevealed manner — secondary sources  list a B.S. in chemical engineering.

During the 1960s he was the research assistant of Spencer Smythe, an inventor best known for his Spider-Slayer series of robots. Raxton and Smythe worked on a revolutionary liquid metal alloy, reportedly derived from an “organic meteor”. However, a dispute arose about sharing the future benefits, and the two researchers came to blows.

The Molten Man (Mark Raxton) choking Spider-Man atop a commuter train

During the brawl, the alloy was accidentally hit by an energy beam then poured over Raxton. The assistant walked away in a daze, but soon discovered his power. Elated and not wanting to waste this opportunity, he decided to commit some formidable and highly lucrative crime ASAP.

However Spider-Man (Peter Parker) had witnessed the fight and transformation. He thus caught Raxton in his apartment. The two men fought, and Raxton was inspired to adopt a code name (the Molten Man) and a “costume” (Hulk-style shredded trousers revealing his gleaming golden skin) like Spider-Man.

Though his strength rapidly grew above Spidey’s level, the Molten Man was captured and arrested.

Tales of metallic villainy, part 1

Some months later the Molten Man was back. This time he used masks and disguises so he wouldn’t be identified. But Spider-Man nevertheless intuited that the mystery super-robber was Raxton, defeated him and had him arrested. The Molten Man remained imprisoned until 1974.

During these years, his health deteriorated. His body temperature rose and his skin began melting. His temperature kept rising, and he was transferred to a prison hospital. Doctors equipped him with a permanent mask, as they correctly assumed that he would go postal if he saw the damage to his face. His stepsister Liz Allan joined the nursing staff so she could take care of Raxton.

The unstable Raxton escaped and discovered his state. Now that he no longer was medicated, the reaction within him accelerated and made him even crazier. Despite this, he stole a number of radioactive compounds throughout New York City, to reconstitute the liquid metal that had given him his powers and cure himself.

Spider-Man attempted to stop him, and the Molten Man was last seen plunging into the East River to retrieve his stolen isotopes.

Tales of metallic villainy, part 2

As it turned out, pollutants in the river freakishly stabilised his condition for a few years.

The Molten Man resurfaced in 1977, still trying to cure his condition. He forced Liz Allan to steal from the hospital so he could medicate himself. However, she was caught – and Spider-Man deduced that Raxton was the real culprit. Spidey failed to stop the Molten Man, who completed the serum he had been working on.

This serum was initially successful, but Raxton spent less than a minute in human form before the reaction reasserted itself.

Sensing that he was about to die, Raxton demanded to speak with his stepsister. As he was getting out of control, Spider-Man evacuated Liz before her stepbrother would accidentally kill her. The dying Molten Man disappeared as the burning building collapsed on him.

Going straight

Said building was a pharmaceutical company the Molten Man had been raiding for chemicals. When it collapsed, Raxton ended up in the basement with the chemicals stores. Once again was a strange reaction. This time he remained in suspended animation for five years.

After waking up, Raxton found his stepsister – now Liz Osborn, as she had married Harry Osborn. However the Osborns, their neighbours and Spider-Man drenched the Molten Man with vast quantities of water, putting his heat out and knocking him unconscious.

The Molten Man (Mark Raxton) throws Spider-Man against some furniture

Raxton was again imprisoned, but his body temperature remained stable – he was no longer in his superheated state. He was released from prison in 1990, and decided to go straight.

He went to see Liz Osborn to request a loan, but there was a misunderstanding and Spider-Man intervened as he thought that Raxton wanted to extort the sum. After Parker defeated Raxton, the situation was cleared. Harry Osborn hired Raxton at his chemicals company, and Liz made a go at establishing a more normal familial relationship with her stepbrother.

Within months, the Hammerhead mob (represented by Tombstone) came to strongarm Raxton, threatening to frame the ex-con if he didn’t help them rob Osborn Chemical. The Molten Man allied with Spider-Man to foil the mobsters, and they were unexpectedly helped by the Green Goblin (Harry Osborn). Though the police was suspicious of him, Raxton was apparently cleared of any wrongdoing.

Osborn Chemicals

Two years later, Harry Osborn had a schizophrenic episode and again became the Green Goblin. At Spider-Man’s request, Raxton broke the news to his stepsister and helped her with her grief. They grew closer than they had ever been.

Liz, little Norman and Mark were briefly captured by a demented Harry, and though Raxton didn’t find it in him to really fight his benefactor, Spider-Man intervened and took the Green Goblin down.

A few months later, Harry died of poisoning from his experimental Green Goblin strength formula. Raxton stayed with his stepsister and her son to help them. With Harry gone, uncle Mark provided a substitute paternal presence for his nephew.

Liz inherited the Osborn corporation, but preferred to remain a silent partner. She had Raxton handle the business. He eventually took over the CEO role. When New York City was plunged into chaos during the 1993 “Maximum Carnage” events, Raxton protected his sister as well as the Parker family and friends.

Legacy of evil

In 1996, Liz discovered that an Osborn subsidiary was siphoning off improbable amounts of cash from Osborn Chemical. She warned Mark. Raxton discovered that the man running the subsidiary was a villain named Gaunt. With the help of Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) and the then-depowered Peter Parker, Raxton chased Gaunt and his mercenaries away.

However, a trio of “female Goblin”-themed robots then kidnapped little Norman. Spider-Man correctly suspected that these robots were a post-mortem scheme by the insane Green Goblin (Harry Osborn). He asked investigative reporter Ben Urich to research this lead, and Liz Osborn asked her stepbrother to bodyguard Urich.

Thanks to Urich, Parker and Raxton discovered that Liz Osborn was being mind-controlled. The three men narrowly freed her. They also prevented little Norman from being dunked into Green Goblin formula to perpetuate the demented legacy.

The Molten Man (Mark Raxton) vs. Spider-Man

Months later, thefts of potent chemicals took place at Osborn Chemical. Rivals on the corporation’s board came to suspect Raxton due to his past. Knowing that guarding the plant himself would just increase suspicion, Raxton approached lawyer “Foggy” Nelson.

His stepsister was back then dating Nelson, and Raxton knew that the lawyer had a connection with Daredevil. With the Black Widow’s help, DD stopped the Grey Gargoyle, who had been committing the thefts.

However, the Gargoyle was actually working for Mister Fear (Larry Cranston). Cranston used psychoactive gas to sabotage the next Osborn corporate meeting and send Raxton rampaging as a diversion. Daredevil intervened again and dispersed the gas, allowing Raxton to regain his composure.

Return of the Green Goblin

By 1998, the original Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) made his full return after undergoing the Gathering of Five mystical ceremony. To prevent Peter Parker from being warned, he kidnapped Mark Raxton (then inexplicably in human form) and implanted him with a mind control device, then sent him ploughing through Manhattan to kill a witness.

Raxton was stopped just in time, and recovered his free will.

When Spider-Man publicly unmasked during the superhuman Civil War, a number of revenge schemes were launched, including one by the Chameleon (Dmitri Smerdyakov). Smerdyakov forced Mark Raxton to cooperate by threatening to kill little Norman, then used the kid as his bait for a trap. Molten Man worked along with the Will O’ the Wisp and the Scarecrow as “the Exterminators”.

Spider-Man and the Black Cat overwhelmed the Exterminators. Raxton told Parker that the Chameleon was going after his aunt – but Aunt May had already neutralised the villain.

Raxton then registered as a superhuman. But all it got him was to be deployed by S.H.I.E.L.D. as a trap to catch anti-registration activists Captain America (Steve Rogers) and the Punisher (Frank Castle). The Punisher stunned the Molten Man by throwing a cannister of riot control foam at him.

Relapse

Circa 2007, Raxton experienced a relapse to his superheated Molten Man form. This again threatened his life and made him irrational. He was again put in treatment, but no hospital would have him. Harry Osborn, who had recently returned from his seeming death, bankrolled a high-tech treatment unit that could stabilise Raxton. It had to be installed in Liz’s house.

Harry further attempted to renew his ties with his family but Liz, little Norman and Mark all reacted very poorly. Disfigured and irrational, Raxton ended up pulling free from his medical unit and attacked Harry.

However, in an attempt to convince Liz that he had changed, Harry had had his researchers devise a cure for Raxton. With Spider-Man’s help, the serum was administered and the Molten Man reverted to an intact human form.

Whether this cure will hold remains unrevealed.


Description

During his early appearances there are numerous references to Raxton being made of molten metal, but there’s nothing molten visible on the page. He looks like a solid golden statue, and is wearing ordinary clothing without the fabric catching fire.

Raxton is seldom drawn as being 6’5” as per official measurements – he’s usually closer to 6’1”. But there are some stories, such as Legacy of Evil, where he’s that tall.


Personality

Mark Raxton always had a temper. Even as a kid, he’d keep getting into verbal fights with his stepfather (Liz Allan’s father). During his early Molten Man career he wasn’t psychologically stable – apparently as a side effect of his transformation on his neurochemistry.

Initially he “just” wanted to commit a few lucrative crimes to be rich and revel in his power. But as his physical conditions degraded he became a desperate man experiencing frequent episodes of pathological paranoia. He increasingly panicked as he realised that he was going to die crazy and alone.

The Molten Man (Mark Raxton) holding a roof

He came to irrationally blame Spider-Man for a good part of his predicament. Or perhaps not so irrationally, since Spider-Man’s attitude wasn’t the most constructive. Raxton also alternated between irrationally blaming his stepsister Liz and wanting her to be there for him. But even with these flip-flops it is very unlikely that he would have deliberately harmed her.

Molten Man… no more !

After he decided to go straight, Raxton gradually overcame his anger issues. This may have taken years of therapy. Early on he was still liable to smash things when angered, just to let off steam, but he genuinely improved. He and Liz came to have a healthy relationship as brother and sister, and he took care of his nephew.

By this point Mark no longer wanted to be called “Molten Man”.

Though his priority is to protect Liz and her family, Raxton remains a rough-and-tumble blue collar New Yorker. There was a time where he was reluctant to use violence due to his old issues, but he’s now more confident. He can even occasionally act like a super-hero if he’s working with heroes.


Quotes

“Even though my fingers are still flexible, they have the power of solid metal ! I can use them like weapons… without feeling any pain !! Hah ! That frightened fool leaped out of his car and ran off ! Let him go ! Let them all go ! They can’t harm me !”

“First, using the metallic power of my molten body, I’ll crush all the fight out of you with an unbreakable bear hug !”

“Perhaps now you understand, Spider-Man. No longer am I the creature you once fought — my body has indeed evolved ! What harmed me at one time now has no more danger for me than a feather-flick. You’re doomed, wall-crawler. Do you hear me ? You life is worth nothing — NOTHING !”

“Human decency went out the window when I became a flaming freak ! I didn’t tell him to follow me here, Liz ! I didn’t ask him to attack me !”


DCU History

Molten Man would be a former henchman of Goldface, and a Green Lantern foe.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Molten Man

Dex: 04 Str: 10 Bod: 09 Motivation: Power, then Psycho, then none as such
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Former chemical engineer
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 013 HP: 030

Powers:
Density increase: 02, Flame immunity: 03, Hypersensitive touch: 03, Skin armour: 03

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Density Increase is Always On and factored into the stats above
  • Hypersensitive touch only works on hard metals
  • Skin Armour doesn’t increase RV against Planned Knockback Attacks (but Density Increase does diminish the KB distance)
  • Skin Armour protects against lasers due to its reflective properties

Skills:
Artist (Actor): 03, Martial Artist (AV): 07, Scientist: 04, Thief (Escape artist, Locks & Safes): 08

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Martial Artist is Contingent Upon STR
  • Thief (Locks & Safes) is Contingent Upon being able to use Hypersensitive Touch
  • Thief (Escape Artist) is Contingent Upon his frictionless skin Advantage, and receives a penalty for those bonds where a frictionless skin wouldn’t help

Advantages
Familiarity (Cole Porter songs), Misc.: the Molten Man has frictionless skin, and any action relying on sticking to him (e.g., Spider-Man’s webbing) has its OV/RV increased by 3 CS, Misc.: the Molten Man’s metallic fists are not considered to be an unarmed attack but an attack with a hard metallic object by those characters with special resistance to unarmed attacks.

Connections:
None

Drawbacks:
Dependent (Liz Osborn, little Norman Osborn), Minor Rage, MIA toward Explosive temper, Public ID, Distinct Appearance, Socially Inept, Mistrust


Power metal

Originally the Molten Man had STR 06 and BODY 07, but this very quickly rose to the levels in the stats block. His skin was also a bit less slick – the penalties started at 1 CS.

During a 1982 encounter, he seemed to have increased his Martial Artist (AV) to about 09, though it may just have been lucky rolls.


…and I bring you… fire !

In his superheated state, the Molten Man is significantly more powerful :

  • Raise Density Increase by one AP (but it’s still Already Factored In)
  • Raise both his STR and BODY by 01
  • Add Flame Being: 04, which is Always On and at full intensity
  • His MIA toward Explosive temper becomes a SIA – possibly a CIA if he’s afraid of dying
  • This condition is fatal, but in game terms this is a Subplot.
  • Neutralising Flame Being will knock the Molten Man out for hours, and there’s a good chance he will not resume his superheated state after that.

Count to ten to stay calm

Once Raxton had been making efforts to go straight and keep his temper under control for months or years, he seemed markedly less dangerous in a fight. His STR became a 08 (which lowered his Martial Artist APs since those are Contingent) and his BODY became a 06. He did not spend HPs either.

On the other hand he acquired a Familiarity with business management. He also seemed free of his Socially Inept Drawback by the mid-1990s.

By 1996, Raxton no longer suffered from the penalties in the above paragraph. However, he had but 15 HPs since he no longer was an active adventurer. He had also learned to start and stop his superheated state without ill effects on his health, though one gets the impression that he has to keep these superheated moments brief.

His Wealth presumably increased to 06 or so as Osborn Chemical’s CEO.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Primarily Spider-Man comics.

Helper(s): Peter S Piispanen

Writeup completed on the 2nd of February, 2014.

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