The Acrobat (Human Torch enemy) (Marvel Comics)


(Carl Zante)

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


At times, it seems all early Marvel villains were astounding successes who grew to become very distinctive characters. Not so for the Acrobat, who’s only noticeable for being a very early Human Torch enemy. He first appeared in 1963.

However, it is worthwhile to note that his second appearance was an excuse to ask the fans if they wanted to have Captain America come back. They said yes, apparently.

Either that or the question was rhetorical and/or meant to fabricate support to convince the publisher to let Cap return. As if Stan Lee  would ever engage in flashy but empty patter and showmanship for the purpose of entertainment and brand-building !



  • Real Name: Carl Zante.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed, presumably single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Was briefly a member of the Torrid Twosome (along with the Human Torch).
  • Base Of Operations: USA.
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 190 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown

Powers and Abilities

Carl Zante is :

  • A gifted acrobat.
  • A skilled acrobatic fighter.
  • A silver-tongued ruffian.
  • Skilled with all sorts of cool weapons and vehicles.
  • An expert sky-diver.
  • Wealthy enough to afford said weapons and vehicles.

Generally he’s fast on his feet – both physically and mentally.

Where the Acrobat got his high-tech weapons and vehicles is unclear. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he had been the first client of the Tinkerer. If so, Zante presumably got excellent rates on the Tinkerer’s wares as the gadgeteer  established his rep.



The Acrobat struck during the first few months of existence of the Fantastic Four. Back then, the Human Torch (Johnny Storm) was even more of an immature hothead. Thus, Zante easily convinced the youth that Reed Richards was exploiting him and that he was by far the real star in the FF.

The impulsive Torch accepted the Acrobat’s offer. Johnny even made himself a Torrid Twosome uniform out of unstable molecules to match his new partner’s.

The Torrid Twosome’s name may have aged badly, yeah

The Torrid Twosome rushed into action to prevent a bank robbery. But just after Johnny burned through the safe, he realised there weren’t any robbers. He was double-crossed by Zante who took him out and absconded with the loot.

However, Sue Storm, who had invisibly followed them, called on the remaining Fantastic Four. Together, they stopped Zante. The Torch, who had been shot in the arm by his “partner”, caught the fleetly fleeing felon. He then rejoined the FF.

A scam with America

Zante next resurfaced with a daring, clever scam. He posed as legendary war hero Captain America, who had been missing for years. Then, he made an appearance at the Glennville Antique Auto Show (back then, the Storms lived in Glennville).

“Captain America” even spectacularly “foiled” the daring theft of a priceless automobile. Of course, the criminals Zante stopped in Captain America-like fashion were his accomplices. When the Human Torch intervened along with his childhood idol, “Captain America” told him to beat it and stop attempting to steal the spotlight from him.

“Captain America” then easily robbed a bank, using a distraction. He clashed with the Torch again. Zante managed to escape from and even briefly defeat the young hero. But soon the Acrobat was stopped, unmasked and arrested.

The real deal

The actual Captain America later resurfaced. When the Torch heard that Zante had escaped and was trying to rob yet another bank, he called Captain America. They hunted Zante down. Meanwhile the Torch recounted Zante’s scam, and how the people of Glennville fell for the deception as they all wanted to see Captain America.

When they eventually cornered Zante, the Acrobat nimbly evaded them. But Captain America was so annoyed that people had actually mistaken a two-bit crook for him that he pumped Hero Points  into an awesome shield throw with multiple ricochets. He took the Acrobat out in one blow.


The Acrobat is a beatnik  – a wealthy beatnik. He always goes for the flashy flair, warm brilliant colours and European style. Of course, he wears a beret and smokes imported cigarettes.

In fact, during his very first appearance he wore… a raspberry beret , marking him as a man of taste and distinction.


The Acrobat comes from the circus world. Thus he tends toward the grandiose, self-confident banter. This is doubly true when he presents himself as the world’s greatest acrobat.

This being 1963 and his being a beatnik, he comes across like some vaguely Communist rabble-rouser. He deludes Real Americans like Johnny Storm into thinking they are exploited by pipe-smoking authority figures. Everybody knows that you should trust pipe-smoking authority figures.

A true thrill-seeker and hedonist, the Acrobat enjoys coming up with clever plans. These will often exploit the credulity of crowds and youths like the Human Torch.

Yet, the Acrobat enjoys action more than he does deception. And he enjoys being the centre of attention even more.

DC Universe History

He could have tricked any of the Teen Titans back in the days, really… Kid Flash being the most obvious victim.


Sue Storm : “Now I’ll leave you two alone for your man talk !”
Acrobat (executing a somersault) : “Ah ! Now to business ! I, Carl Zante, am… the world’s greatest acrobat !”
Johnny Storm : “Say — that was real sharp !”
Acrobat : “And you, fire-boy, are sharp too ! But Mr. Fantastic is taking advantage of your youth and innocence ! He is exploiting you !!”

Acrobat : “And now, for my offer ! I’m here to ask you to leave the Fantastic Four and team up with me ! With your flame and my acrobatic skill, we’d make an invincible pair of crime fighters ! I can see it now… the Torrid Twosome ! We’d be a great success and we’d divide everything equally – glory, money, everything ! You’d become richer and more famous than you ever were before !”
Human Torch : “Golly, I never looked at things this way before !”

“This Ferrari will outrace almost anything on wheels ! So get going ! And remember… be sure to be seen ! I want as many cops as possible chasing you !”

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats


Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Thrill Seeker
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Adventurer
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 009
Init: 019 HP: 015

Acrobatics (Athletics, Climbing, Dodging, Gymnastics): 08, Charisma (persuasion): 06, Martial artist: 06, Vehicles (air, land): 05

Lightning Reflexes.

Underworld (Low), some shady gadgeteer (probably the Tinkerer) (Low).

MIA to flashy tactics.


  • Liquid asbestos spray [BODY 03, Neutralize (fire): 09, Ammo: 04, R#03 – this looks like a small flamethrower, with a small tank slung over the shoulder and a one-handed muzzle].
  • Strangely jamming-prone .45 colt M1911A1 [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 07, R#05].
  • When masquerading as Captain America, he of course had a steel star-spangled shield MEDIUM SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 10, EV 03 (05 w/STR, 07 w/Martial Artist), Recommended STR 03, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 2 APs, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 2 APs]. He wielded it as a shield with skill, but didn’t use it as a thrown or otherwise offensive weapon.
  • It is unclear whether his Cap costume was made of the same type of chainmail as the real deal – but I strongly doubt it. In either case, the costume also came with a parachute [BODY 03, Gliding: 01].
  • FLOATING AEROPLATFORM [STR 08 BODY 07, Flight: 05] including a BARNA MKII WINCH [STR 02, BODY 05, Misc.: includes a 6 APs long line]. The PLATFORM bears a ONE-MAN ROCKET [STR 07 BODY 08, Flight: 12, R#03] with an ESCAPE CAPSULE [STR 05 BODY 06, Jumping: 10, Limitations : Jumping has Ammo: 01 and No Reload In The Field]. This strange contraption is a platform capable of hovering, bearing a small rocket. The capsule can be ejected if the rocket is damaged. See illustration.].

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Early 1960s Strange Tales issues (Marvel Universe).

Helper(s): Kal El el Vigilante, Roy Cowan.