Far from Home Hydro- Molten and Sandman

We all knew Mysterio was coming. However, as the FAR FROM HOME trailers unspooled, we witnessed Spidey having to tangle with a being made of pure water; a towering man of rock, sand, and soil; and a roiling pile of lava in the shape of human being. These elemental monsters came as a surprise. Fans had not expected to encounter them in the film at all.

However, these elemental monsters do have their roots in three classic Spider-Man villains of yore. The first of these, Sandman, is likely the most familiar to people who are only familiar with Spider-Man through his silver screen appearances. After all, Thomas Haden Church already brought him to life in the otherwise divisive SPIDER-MAN 3. Only fans of the comics, however, are likely to know about Hydro-Man or Molten Man.

While it remains unclear if the elemental monsters are really those villains or just some kind of pastiche on the brand, we here at ComicsVerse want to make sure you are in the know. Thus, we have put together a primer on the trio below, including biographies of each and a key story for you to seek out if you want to see them at their most interesting.

Elemental Monsters Hydro-Man
Hydro-Man shows off a late-in-career costume. He mostly favored jeans and a t-shirt during the majority of his career. (Courtesy of Marvel Comics)

Elemental Monster: Hydro-Man

Morris Bench, after a reckless youth, finally seemed to be going straight. A crewman on the USS Bulldog, he had a steady job and a positive future, possibly for the first time. However, when Namor decided to attack the surface world for, let’s say, the 30th time, the Bulldog ended up being the staging ground for much of the Submariner’s fight against ol’ Webhead himself, Spider-Man.

Rather than discontinue testing the new powerful generator, the Bulldog pushed onward. Unfortunately, Spidey and Namor’s battle knocked Bench overboard into the charged water below. Despite the fall and the experiment, Bench managed to survive.

While he did survive, he was not the same. Due to the combination of the generator’s radiation, the water, and Bench’s physical body, he became able to manipulate his body on a molecular level. Specifically, he demonstrated the ability to shift between a flesh-and-blood man and a being of pure water. He could become completely H2O, change just an arm or leg, or fire “himself” like a water cannon at enemies. Additionally, he had superhuman strength, endurance, and durability. While he rarely would, he certainly had the capacity to grow enormous like FAR FROM HOME’s elemental monsters.

His anger at Spider-Man for the accident initially fueled many of his early supervillain activities but, eventually, Hydro-Man became the man he always was — singularly motivated and obsessed with the acquisition of wealth.

Elemental Hydro-Man
Hydro-Man happily offers Spider-Man a quick dip. A quick deadly dip! (Courtesy of Marvel Comics)

Hydro-Man’s Best

Due to his nature as an also-ran and perennial B-level villain team player, truly great storylines featuring Hydro-Man have been rare. He has shown up a lot but seemed forever stuck in the role of roster filler. As a result, he largely lacks marquee work.

So I went back-issue-bin-diving for one shining moment instead. Allow me to suggest a largely ignored limited series in which Hydro-Man proved a pretty impressive threat, handing Spider-Man and Deathlok their lunches — albeit briefly. Entitled SPIDER-MAN: THE POWER OF TERROR, it featured Hydro-Man, along with the Beetle and Speed Demon, in the employ of Silvermane. When the cyborg crime boss decided that his rickety first-generation body was slowing him down, he fixated on Deathlok as the best and most obvious replacement. Scoop out Deathlok’s current “owner,” inset himself, and off Silvermane can go to new heights of villainy.

Deathlok, of course, was less thrilled with this idea. With Spidey by his side, he took on the trio of villains. However, like I said, Hydro-Man appeared smart, competent, and arguably the most dangerous of the villainous trio. It is near impossible to find another book or arc featuring Hydro-Man where you can say that.

Elemental Monsters Molten Man
Molten Man deals the Wallcrawler some brutal blows. (Courtesy of Marvel Comics)

Elemental Monsters: Molten Man

Of the three elemental monsters depicted in the trailer, Molten Man has the least history of being able to match the giant raving monster of FAR FROM HOME. For one thing, the comic Molten Man has never had full control of himself at a molecular level. He cannot pull from the elements around him to grow larger and more monstrous. No matter how powered-up Molten Man has gotten, he has largely maintained a human size and shape. Sure, he might appear golden or have tongues of fire covering his skin, but he has never lost his general human appearance.

Mark Raxton, stepbrother of perennial Spider-Man supporting character Liz Allan, was an assistant to Spencer Smythe. He was also a greedy man so when Smythe seemed to have developed a surefire moneymaker, Raxton stole it. His recklessness, however, led to him being coated in the experimental metal alloy.

He quickly came to realize the metal had coated his skin and made him super strong and resilient. Unfortunately, at times, his skin also became so hot it began to destroy him from the outside in. He then lived a cure and re-affliction cycle. His heat ability would be diminished or eliminated. Then, slowly, it would return until, once again, it began to rage out of his control. When that happened, his health quickly degenerated simultaneously. Often, his ability to make healthy and moral choices suffered, as well.

He does appear completely cured in current continuity, at last. Even the alloy has been stripped from his skin. Given Raxton’s previous luck, though, that may prove short-lived.

Elemental Molten Man
Molten Man shows off what happens when he decides to make it hot. (Courtesy of Marvel Comics)

Molten Man’s Best

Raxton definitely proved his most interesting when acting the anti-hero. In those moments, his only goal was to protect his stepsister. See, in his entire brutal life, she repeatedly showed him love and kindness when no one else did. When Liz had a son, Raxton’s sense of protection immediately extended to his nephew.

That instinct led him into battle with more than a few supervillain types. None of them proved as out of control or dangerous as Allan’s own husband, Harry Osborn. After months trying to make the Green Goblin identity a force for good, Osborn succumbed to it. With that came the same issues the Goblin Formula induced in his father. Angry, erratic, and frequently violent, Osborn crossed the line into full supervillain. That all came to a head in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #189 when Osborn kidnapped his own family.

Raxton, of course, refused to sit on the sidelines. Could the Molten Man stand up to Green Goblin at his most wicked, though?

Elemental Monsters: Sandman
In comics, Sandman has not hesitated to get gigantic like FAR FROM HOME’s elemental monsters when the situation called for it. (Courtesy of Marvel Comics)

Elemental Monsters: Sandman

William Baker, aka Flint Marco, caught a bum rap from birth. Abandoned by a convict father, anxious to fit in and thus easy to manipulate, he quickly found himself drummed out of high school. Left without many options, he followed in his father’s low-level criminal footsteps. After escaping a brief prison stay, he ended up on a nuclear test beach. The irradiated sand “infected” Marko until his cells became completely rewritten as silica, the most common form of sand. Of this trio, Baker has proven far and away the most likely to embrace his ability to render himself an elemental monster.

Over the following years, Sandman became a sort of the best-of-the-worst figure. A well-known and powerful supervillain, he nonetheless seemed to fail every time he tangled with a costumed hero. To make matters worse, Marko began to battle health problems, including cancer and degenerating cellular cohesion.

Marko also struggled with trying to embrace a non-criminal lifestyle. As a hero, he repeatedly demonstrated he could be an excellent ally and a force for good. Alas, the lure of crime or the acts of past allies have repeatedly sucked him back into the life.

Elemental Monsters Sandman
Sandman contemplates a history of putting a hurting of Spider-Man. (Courtesy of Marvel Comics)

Sandman’s Best

A bittersweet tale of Flint trying to be a better parent than his dad, “Keemia’s Castle” (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #615-616) hits me in the heart every time I read it. Written in a mix of fairy tale and straightforward storytelling, and featuring incredible artwork from Javier Pulido, it is a story that focuses on the “man” part of Marko while still showing off how devastating Sandman’s powerset can really be.

There are no happy endings for anyone in the story and it lingers with you long past the last page.

Keeping an Eye Out

No one can trust their eyes or ears when taking on Mysterio. Thus, it is very possible that these elemental monsters might be nothing more than holograms. Even if they are real, they may just be “borrowing” names from comic book characters. In other words, we might get a Molten Man, but he will not actually be Mark Raxton.

In just under a month we will get a chance to see for ourselves. Either way, though, I urge you to read the stories mentioned above and perhaps more. Spider-Man has one of the best sets of villains in comics. Give yourself an opportunity to enjoy their street-level sensibilities and goals.

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