This obscure Marvel character’s primary claim to fame is that he was an early foe of the incredible Hulk, back in 1963.
For decades he had but two real appearances. And the second was in Rom (that’s where I saw him for the first time). Which is now outside of Marvel’s IP and may thus never get reprinted.
Writer Saladin Ahmed unexpectedly brought Metal Master back in 2017. He also gailsimone’d him – giving a cardboard cutout character an inner life, a characterisation, more complex motivations, etc..
- Real Name: Molyb.
- Note: His name presumably refers to the metal, molybdenum.
- Known Relatives: Meryn (husband, deceased).
- Group Affiliation: Briefly a prison gang leader.
- Base of Operations: Mobile.
- Height: 5’6″ (1.67m). Weight: 120 lbs. (54 Kg.).
- Eyes: Black. Hair: None.
Ad Astrans per handbooka
The 1983 edition of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (now available as a big deluxe collection, hint hint) had handy mini-entries for alien species.
The one for Astrans — Metal Master’s species — goes :
- Origin galaxy: Milky Way.
- Star system: Mu Cephi.
- Planet: Astra (second from the sun).
- Habitat: .5 of planet’s surface is metallic ore, .25 water, .25 soil.
- Gravity: 1.85 of Earth’s.
- Atmosphere: .5 Earth density, high oxygen content.
- Population: 10 million.
- Physical characteristics:
- Type: Humanoid.
- Eyes: Two (on head).
- Fingers: Five (including opposable thumb).
- Toes: None (spatulate feet).
- Skin colour: Yellow.
- Average height: 5’6″.
- Special adaptations: Hairless, have four lungs, special excretory glands over his abdomen. (In 2017 we learn that they also have two hearts, and blood that quickly coagulates — Ed.).
- Type of government: Theocracy.
- Level of technology: Earthlike, but they can also build starships with intermediate stardrive capacities.
- Cultural traits: ¾ of the Astran population are either priests or artists.
Powers & Abilities
Astran physiology is more redundant, and less vulnerable to blood loss, than Human physiology. This means that the Metal Master is more likely to survive laceration or impalement.
He also knows how to operate several kinds of spaceships, and to conduct signal surveillance from orbit. For instance, to assess the combat strength of a planet.
I *assume* that he speaks Kree, the local galactic group’s lingua francaLanguage used as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different..
Molyb can psionicallyPsionics are sci-fi style psychic powers control metal on an atomic level. This is visible as a ray coming from his brow. It seems to be a common ability of his species.
Common applications include :
- Liquefying metals without changing their temperature.
- Animating metal with as much precision as if it were his limbs.
- Reshaping a mass of metal on the fly. For instance into a cage.
- Creating semi-autonomous metallic creatures. See below.
- Animating a large metallic structure to have it behave as a giant monster. But he needs to concentrate on directing that “creature”.
- Telekinetically moving vast masses of metal through the air.
- As a variant, flying at extreme speeds (8K MPH (13,000 km/h) or so) whilst standing on a metal plate. This somehow protects him from friction, lack of breathable air, etc..
- As a variant, taking over the trajectory of metallic projectiles.
- As a variant, stopping even the Hulk through a barrage of metallic projectiles. The jade giant could barely move forward against this onslaught, and all the impacts eventually exhausted him.
This power is nigh-unlimited. The Metal Master seems able to affect anything he sees, without a clear limit in terms of mass, target count, or area. It also takes place with but a thought, and with a global range.
He can also affect objects he has previously manipulated, even if he cannot see them. Say, because they’re on the other side of the planet.
(It is *possible* that Molyb is much more powerful than his fellow Astrans. If so, perhaps that this ties with his insanity. There’s no data.)
The Metal Master’s power level is closer to the conventions for the 1950s “a super-alien comes to Earth and can only be defeated through this guy’s clever trick” Atlas Comics, than the then-re-emerging super-hero scale.
The rise and fall of Molyb Metaldust and the spiders from Astra
In 1982, the Metal Master was backed by six giant metallic spiders.
These could easily be mistaken for robots. But apparently they are mostly hollow, without any true mechanism within.
They can make fairly complex decisions, but they’re just helpers and not meant as serious combat assets. Their role was just to take metal samples from a junkyard (using their bladed legs and their mandibular acid to pry stuff loose where necessary) and store them within their body.
People will complain if I don’t put in a song to evoke 1963, so lessee… Yeah, “If I had a hammer” is actually from the early 1950s, but it strongly resurfaced during the early 1960s. It’s great to evoke the latter era.
Here’s the 1963 cover by Trini Lopez, which was everywhere.
History (part 1)
Astra seems to be a peaceful planet, chiefly interested in art and spirituality. But Molyb was different.
Molyb wanted to rule and command. He even built himself a palace.
His husband Meryn, a sculptor, realised that Molyb was dangerous. He tried to organise fellow Astrans to stop Molyb, but his husband killed him.
Molyb was deemed a criminal. He was forced aboard a tiny starship and exiled into space.
(Since this is such a strange course of action, one imagines that Astrans had no idea what to do with a criminal. This may have been the first time something like that happened in their culture(s).)
Molyb “roamed the galaxies” for “time beyond measure”. He was looking for a suitable planet to conquer, and found Earth.
(The Metal Master also boasted that he came from “many galaxies away”. But we have since learned that it wasn’t the case. So the statements above are grain-of-salt material.)
From his starship, he spent a while studying likely opposition to his impending takeover. Then in 1963, he landed in the Southwestern US – at Desert Base, commanded by General “Thunderbolt” Ross.
After demonstrating his power, the Metal Master demanded Earth’s surrender.
Gamma all your lovin’
The Metal Master narrowly defeated the attacking Hulk (Bruce Banner).
He then flew around the world, wrecking various large metal structures to show off his might. The Metal Master also repulsed a number of attempts at blasting him from the sky.
However, the Hulk confronted him again – wielding a big cannon. The Metal Master attempted to destroy it… and failed. Molyb obsessively doubled down for minutes, refusing to accept that there existed metal that he couldn’t control.
Eventually, he got close enough for the Hulk to grab him. The Hulk forced him to repair all the damage then flee Earth in his spaceship.
At this point, Rick Jones realised that the “cannon” was actually made of plastic and cardboard. It had just been painted and built to look like metal.
(Presumably, Astrans never had any reason to discover or use materials other than metals).
(One can also hypothesise that from his surveillance the Metal Master had a rough idea about Adamantium and Vibranium. And had been obsessively expecting to face these impregnable metals at some point.)
The Metal Master reportedly returned to Astra. What happened there is unrevealed.
However, there are two oddities, contradicting prior statements about the Metal Master being the sole hostile Astran :
- He now thought that conquering a suitable world would make him a hero in the eyes of his people.
- He mentioned delivering less desirable metals as scrap on Astra.
Since the Metal Master seemed irrational by this point, here’s one hypothesis :
- When he returned to Astra, the locals hired bounty hunters to drive the madman away.
- Now fully realising that he’d never see his world again, Molyb started making up stories about how he would return and be accepted again.
Again, it’s just one idea. And it’s even less supported than Elvira.
Remarks by his successor imply that the Metal Master did make significant conquests, perhaps during this span. There’s no further data.
I shall return ! (part 1)
In 1982 he returned to Earth.
He was now even better prepared. He had a fuller spaceship, wore body armour, and had begun discreetly stealing Earth metals to analyse them all.
Among other sites, he and his metal spiders hit a junkyard in Virginia. While reviewing the metals found there, Molyb spotted Rom the Spaceknight.
He and his creatures attacked to test the Spaceknight’s… metal aha aha that was a joke. Metal…mettle… ah aha ah. Get it ? Get it ? Get it ?
I shall return ! (part 2)
Rom overcame the Metal Master’s servants. Satisfied that his foe was worth his while, the Metal Master attempted to take over Rom – as he thought it was a power armourStrength-enhancing body armour, like Iron Man’s suit.
However, the plandanium used to build spaceknights isn’t just a super-advanced metal. It is also a living compound incorporating the knight’s former organic body. The Metal Master failed to control this.
In shock, the alien wandered off. Meanwhile, Rom rescued the junkyard owner, and left him the Master’s spaceship. The idea was that the man would sell it to the government for his trouble.
History (part 2)
In 2000, the Metal Master was glimpsed during the “Maximum Security” crisis. This likely means that :
- He was captured and put in a space prison between 1982 and 2000.
- Possibly by bounty hunters paid by Astrans, if you’re using this hypothesis.
- He was identified as capable of causing considerable havoc.
- And thus was among the alien criminals secretly deported to Earth to keep the locals busy and out of the way.
Based on the panel where he appears, the Metal Master may have been defeated by the Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff).
The Conclave of Seven Planets
The Metal Master was eventually arrested again – this time by a brutal space police serving the Conclave of Seven Planets. It is possible that he tried to conquer part of their turf.
He was thrown into a secret, expensive prison-for-hire. Formerly a secret Inhuman gaol, it had been taken over by a powerful but insane prisoner. Reality therein was tenuousVery thin; insubstantial, and the Warden gained even greater power by repeatedly killing and resurrecting his most powerful prisoners.
By this point, the Metal Master seemed much older and frailer.
- Perhaps his species does not age quite like Humans do.
- Or perhaps the prison affected him, since he was there for years.
- One statement is that he was there for decades. My sense is that his Maximum Security appearance was overlooked.
- Or perhaps this was a result of depowering him. Apparently, the Warden forcefully ripped his power away from Molyb, since he was too complicated to control otherwise.
But over the years, the Metal Master’s power trickled back to him.
The Midnight King
The Metal Master endured the torture, and gradually recruited a gang. The ones plotting with him to escape were :
In 2017, they made their play. The first attempt — after a brief detour involving Monsteroso — failed.
But Lockjaw came in. This allowed Black Bolt to escape, repower himself, break in, free the gang, and conduct another attempt.
During this attempt, the would-be escapees were confronted by telepathic visions of the dead. Unlike his accomplices, Molyb couldn’t tear himself from his vision of Meryn. Before he could fully turn against the others, Raava ran him through with her sword.
Free at last
It was a calculated risk. The unskrulled knew that Astrans had better-than-you’d-expect chances of surviving impalement. And Molyb indeed survived.
In the meantime, the others destroyed the Warden. The Absorbing Man sacrificed himself to accomplish that, though that too was a calculated risk.
The escapees went their separate ways. As he telekinetically built a starship for himself, the Metal Master stated that his goal was to try to undo a lifetime of misdeeds.
However, in the meanwhile, another rogue Astran arose. One Molyn admired Molyb’s life of conquest. The youth decided to honour the elder by becoming the new villainous Metal Master.
The Metal Master’s aspect changes significantly from appearance to appearance.
Since Molyn also looks different, it seems possible that they go through physiological shifts as part of their maturation/aging/senescence process.
The Metal Master was a raging, pathological megalomaniac. He obsessively craved grandeur, intimidation and domination.
He was deliberate and methodical about it. He just didn’t barge half-cocked on any planet. Instead, he picked a suitable one, and seriously researched its defences. Nerd.
As part of his mania, Molyb is obsessed with proving that he can control any metal. If he cannot impose his will on some, he will just try and try and try until he’s exhausted. Failure will trigger what seems to be a full depressive episode.
By this point, Molyb was markedly older, more collected and wiser. He seemed largely benign, regretting his past crimes and patiently plotting his way toward freedom.
He was particularly haunted by having murdered his husband.
His obsession about mastering all metals seemed entirely gone.
(1963) “And now, hear my ultimatum, for I begin to tire of these childish feats ! You will surrender this entire base to me immediately, and the planet Earth itself must accept me as supreme ruler within 24 hours !”
(1980) “Be swift, my silver creatures ! Consume all the earthly metal your arachnid abdomens can contain, and then let us return to our waiting craft where the Metal Master may analyse the metallic samples you have ingested ! I must learn if there is any metal on Earth capable of foiling the plans of the Metal Master !”
(2017) “A lifetime ago, I was a conqueror. More than once I tried to take Earth. Wasted years of my life plotting against your homeworld.”
(2017) “At what cost ? Enslaving a child ? That is a dark sort of power, Raava the unskrulled. I had it once myself. I fell in love with conquest. It cost me everything. My home. The man I loved. Chasing power can lead you off a cliff, my dear.”
DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 03||Str: 02||Bod: 04|
|Int: 05||Wil: 05||Min: 02|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 04||Spi: 02|
|Init: 012||HP: 025|
Cell Rot: 18, Deflect/Reflect: 18, Enhanced Initiative: 12, Flight: 15, Force shield: 18, Invulnerability: 06, Snare: 18, Telekinesis: 18
Bonuses and Limitations:
- All Powers but Invulnerability are Contingent Upon Telekinesis.
- All Powers but Enhanced Initiative and Invulnerability only affect metals and/or require metals of opportunity.
- Cell Rot and Telekinesis have a +8 Special Range Bonus.
- Cell Rot and Telekinesis can have their effects reversed even if Metal Master cannot currently perceive the affected objects.
- Cell Rot can have a selective 8 APs Area of Effect.
- Cell Rot affects all metals.
- Enhanced Initiative can only be engaged if the Metal Master commits to using a non-Invulnerability Power as his Dice Action on the next Phase.
- Flight requires a metal object to stand on. If the metal object is heavier than 1 AP of weight, reduce APs of Flight to match.
- Invulnerability rolls only occur every minute.
- Snare cannot deploy more APs than the BODY of the main metal it is made of.
Accuracy (Snare, Telekinesis): 06, Vehicles (Space): 04
Familiarity (Defenders of Earth), Language (Kree), Stabilization.
CIA toward Proving He Can Control Any Metal, Exile (Involuntary), Traumatic Flashback (Failing to control a metal).
- BODY ARMOUR [BODY 15, Enhance (Ballistic, Slashing, Piercing, Corrosive, Laser RV): 03 (cap is 15), Enhance (Flame, Blunt, Lightning, Cold RV): 01 (cap is 15), Partial Coverage (Long Coat)].
- METAL SPIDERS (x6) [DEX 05 STR 03 BODY 03 INT 01 WIL 01, Acid (No Range): 08, Claws: 04, Cling: 02, Snare: 05. Snare was also used to produce a tether to the Metal Master’s ship, which they could quickly “climb” to return there].
- His spaceships were only seen in the background. They fly and have sensors – that’s about all we know. One looked somewhat Skrull-ish.
You can’t kill the metal / The metal will live on
As an old man, Molyb’s power level was less outrageous. But he seemed psychologically more stable.
That’s MIN and SPI 04, no Equipment, no Drawbacks, no Special Range Bonus for his Powers, and Powers capped at 15 APs. And his Motivation becomes Responsibility.
AP levels are based on an early 1960s smart-ish Hulk, not later power levels. They also assume that Metal Master will pour on the Hero Points whenever a metal resists him.
The “giant metal monster” thing he did against Rom is covered by Telekinesis (for attacks) and Snare. Making the metal of opportunity monster-shaped is just cosmetics.
The metal spiders weren’t written up as Pets. Were they Pets, he would always have them up just in case. And the Metal Master is never seen taking a Dice Action while the spiders do, which would have been a good indicator of Petness.
Stats for the 1982 armour are entirely arbitrary for lack of data. I went high on the caps and BODY because a suit of metal armour assembled by the Metal Master *sounds* like it should be super-good.
Wealth is arbitrary and generic. Since we don’t know what he conquered during his career, or when.
Blast it !
One scene has the Metal Master holding the Hulk at bay (and eventually felling him) with a sustained barrage of projectiles. I haven’t modelled the “keeping at bay” aspect here, since it’s not Character-specific. Others (say, Cyclops (Scott Summers)) often pull the same trick.
It’s not quite covered by DCH rules, but as of this writing a satisfying approach hasn’t emerged. When it does it’ll be in the misc. new rules document.
Source of Character: Marvel Comics.
Writeup completed on the 4th of January, 2021.