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Lava Men are a race of Subterraneans living in tribes
in underground caverns deep beneath Earth's surface. The
Lava Men were originally members of the Gortokians, the
first race of Subterraneans cloned and genetically engineered
from the cells of human beings many centuries ago by the
Deviants. The Gortokians finally
successfully revolted against Deviant rule and became
independent of them. Eventually a minority of the Gortokians
formed a religious cult, which worshipped a demon whose
identity has not yet been determined. This demon transformed
his worshippers into a new race of Subterraneans who have
become known as the Lava Men, and who abandoned the Gortokian
civilization. Today there are two known tribes of Lava
Men, one associated with the Lava Man witch doctor Jinku,
and another, which was nomadic for centuries, but recently
established a village in caverns beneath the New York
State site of the research facility Project: Pegasus.
Lava Men are humanoid in height and form, but they have
red skins of rock-like consistency. The density of their
bodies is greater than that of a human being, and they
are about twice as strong as the average human male. Lava
Men are highly resistant to extreme heat, and can stand
in molten lava without harm to themselves. These physical
differences between the Lava Men and other Subterraneans
are the result of the transformation of the original Lava
Men by the demon they worshipped. These changes have been
inherited by their descendants.
The demon also gave the Lava Men various superhuman powers,
at least some of which are semi-mystical in nature. Lava
Men constantly generate tremendous heat, so that the ground
is often seen to melt around their feet, and oxidation
occurs around their bodies, often causing flame (to which
they are immune) to appear around them. A Lava Man can
increase the amount of heat he generates, so as to create
a sphere-like area of intense heat about himself that
will melt a weapon pointed towards him, or to melt a deep
hole beneath his feet almost instantaneously. A Lava Man
can generate an internal body temperature of thousands
of degrees on the Fahrenheit scale. A Lava Man can mystically
cause large amounts of volcanic ash to appear seemingly
from nowhere or transform metal into volcanic ash. Some
Lava Men can mystically transform themselves into sentient
giants, over twenty feet tall, composed of hardened lava.
Some Lava Men can mystically command molten lava to do
their bidding through performing a ritual prayer to the
demons they worship. Upon death a Lava Man immediately
decomposes into dust.
Lava Men have a primitive tribal culture in which science
is virtually unknown. Tribes are headed by chiefs, but
great power in the tribes is held by the shamans (sometimes
called witch doctors) who are their religious leaders.
The first reported appearance of a Lava Man on Earth's
surface occurred when Loki,
the Asgardian god of evil, maneuvered the Lava Man Molto
into battling Loki's arch foe, the thunder god Thor.
However, Thor and Molto parted as friends. Subsequently,
against Molto's wishes, his tribe attempted to attack
the surface world, urged to do so by the shaman Jinku.
However, this attempt was thwarted by Thor and his fellow
Avengers. Years later, Jinku persuaded the tribe's chief
to have the tribe steal advanced machinery belonging to
the Mole Man. Jinku planned to use this machinery to activate
every volcano on Earth simultaneously, thereby destroying
much of human civilization and leaving much of the surface
world ripe for conquest by the Lava Men. Molto went to
warn Thor, but was struck down by a blast of radiation
from Jinku's staff. Molto nevertheless made it to the
surface world and warned Thor and the Human Torch before
dying. Thor and the Torch, assisted by the Mole Man's
Subterraneans, defeated the Lava Men, and Thor destroyed
the machinery Jinku planned to use against the surface
world. Still later, people at Project: Pegasus began drilling
down into the caverns where, unknown to them, a tribe
of Lava Men had established a village. Thinking they were
being invaded, the Lava Men tribe invaded Project: Pegasus.
However, the Avengers made
peace with this tribe, and Project: Pegasus began drilling
for magma in another direction instead.
No more than a thousand Lava Men are believed to exist
at this time.
First Appearance: (Molto) JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY
#97, (Jinku and his tribe) AVENGERS #5, (tribe beneath
Project: Pegasus) AVENGERS #236