RWG Character Spotlight: M.O.D.O.K. – Rhymes With Geek
Welcome to the RWG Character Spotlight – a series dedicating to exploring the strange and complicated history of comic book characters. Hopefully after reading these articles you will have enough of a background to wade your way through a conversation at the local comic book store. While this isn’t an exhaustive summary (we’re not wikipedia for god’s sake) we focus on the high’s and low’s of the character and what makes them special in comics.
I don’t think it’s any secret that I love M.O.D.O.K. Heck, my column on this very site is named after him.
It’s a great time to be a fan of the Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing. He’s been having a great – and hilarious – run in Secret Avengers thanks to Ales Kot and Michael Walsh. It’s also been announced that he’ll be getting his own mini series during Marvel’s Upcoming Secret Wars event called MODOK: Assassin.
If that wasn’t enough Kevin Smith is lending his talents to playing him in the new Marvel Experience Tour. Yes it seems everwhere you look M.O.D.O.K. is taking over the world. Heck there’s even a Lego minifig of him and, rather worryingly, an adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey entitled 50 Shades of MODOK (click at your own risk…).
So, in short, he’s everywhere at the moment. But just who the devil is he?
Starting life as a technician called George Tarleton, the man who would be MODOK worked for an evil organisation called AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics); you might recognize these guys as recurring foes for Captain America and later the entire Marvel Universe.
As we learn in Captain America #133 (1971), ol’ George actually aided AIM in creating the mysterious Cosmic Cube (or the Tesseract as it’s known in the movies). As a thanks for this, AIM decided to show that they care for all of their employees by mutating Mr Tarleton into the MODOC (Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing), so that he can study and improve the very thing he’s just created. Also because Science.
Whether it was the effects of the Cosmic Cube or, you know, the sudden and brutal body horror he’d just gone through, MODOC went insane, changed his name to MODOK (the K now standing for killing, proving that even after everything, George still had a sense of humour) and took control of the entire AIM empire.
With the extreme advancements in brain capacity, MODOK could no longer support his own head, so naturally he designs a ‘magnetic-enhanced mobile chair’, which may sound terrifying but in reality just makes him look like a giant floating head (with little dangly legs). On the plus side, his magnificent mental capacity brings with it MIND BEAM POWERS. C’mon…what’s not to love about this guy? Mind Beams, you guys!
Over time and many ass-whoopin’s at the hands of various superheroes, MODOK understandably gets a little obsessed with destroying anything in a cape.
This annoys AIM, who feel like this guy who they horribly mutated and drove insane isn’t dedicated enough to what they want. So naturally they abandon him for his failures and even successfully kill him (hiring the not-evil-sounding-at-all Serpent Society who murderise him in Captain America #313).
Now completely MODOK-less, AIM obviously do the mature thing and move on, learning from their mistakes. Just kidding! They build another MODOK. This time a female version called MODAM.
When they attempt to build another Cosmic Cube however, AIM realise they can’t quite manage it without the original Georgey T and resurrect MODOK (in Avengers #387). He then immediately takes over AIM again.
Since then he’s been around in some capacity; always involved with AIM, sometimes getting up to evil stuff and things, most recently ‘helping’ Maria Hill in the aforementioned Secret Avengers vol 3.
As a side note, my favourite MODOK story is actually in the short-lived, all-ages series Marvel Adventures The Avengers from 2006. In issue #9 (entitled “A not-so-Beautiful Mind”), written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Juan Santacruz, MODOC (‘All-Ages’ means he’s now only interested in Conquest rather than Killing) turns all of the Avengers into mini-MODOCs!!
It’s genuinely one of the funniest Marvel comics I’ve ever read. It’s hard to get in print but if you’ve got Marvel Unlimited you can read it here or purchase the digital edition.
And that’s pretty much all you need to know about MODOK!
Oh, as a bonus: A trio of Elvis MODOKs that shoot cheeseburgers. Seriously, go read Nextwave. Like, right now.