Adapt and Survive, Survive and Prosper: The Shifting Identities of Kyra Zelas, the Adaptive Ultimate.

By Dr. Peter Coogan and Dennis Power

Kyra Zelas in her Mari Blanchard identity starring as “Kyra Zelas” in the film She-Devil (1957)


Kyra Zelas was an unwanted child.  Her parents, poor and uneducated, never planned for her.  She grew up reminded every day that her existence had been forced on them, that she was the reason they had married, the reason they were poor, the reason her father drank, the reason her mother whored.  When she was six, Henry Zelas abandoned his wife and child.  In school, she did not fit in.  She was a drab, plain, uninteresting child; her hair oily, unkempt and stringy; her features flat and unattractive.  As she grew she tried fitting in, tried to adapt herself to different cliques, but they knew her for an imposter and rejected her.  In high school she never dated, she was invisible to the boys.  The girls never noticed her even to make fun of her.  Her mother took her out of school at fifteen and sent her to work in a sweatshop.  She contracted tuberculosis and was sent to “Grand Mercy Hospital” in Boston to die.[1]  Her mother never visited, she had no other family.

But she didn’t die.  Dr. Herman Bach saved her, to his everlasting shame and regret.

Bach was a genius.  He attracted other geniuses to work with him.  Dr. Dan Scott, a young biochemist, was one of these.[2] Scott was a research scientist working under Bach who discovered a basic principle of life, that adaptation was the key to survival.  It was adaptation that drove the engine of evolution, adaptation that took humankind from its single-celled origins to become master of the planet.  He researched adaptation and began experimenting on the most adaptive of insects, the common fruit fly.  Fruit flies, he found, were “known to produce a higher percentage of mutants than any other, more freaks, more biological sports” (Scott, “Inherited” 15).  The eyes of fruit flies would change color when exposed to x-rays, and these changes were heritable.  Scott developed a serum from fruit flies that acted, he believed, on the pineal gland, enlarging it and causing it to produce the hormone pineal.  He was wrong in this belief, but he only discovered that years after unleashing an amoral horror on the world—a beautiful, intoxicating, desirable horror—the adaptive ultimate.

One crisp fall day in 1933 Scott burst in on Bach in his office to announce the development of his adaptive serum.[3]  He had tested it on tubercular guinea pigs; they adapted to the tubercle bacillus and were cured.  He tried it on a rabid dog; it adapted and was cured.  He tested it on a cat with a broken spine; the spine knitted, the cat walked again.  He applied to the board of Grand Mercy for funds to test his serum on an anthropoid, but they refused his application. He came to Bach to get permission to advance to human trials.  Bach resisted the idea, suggesting the Stoneman Foundation, but Scott was loyal to Grand Mercy and wanted it to have the credit.  The old doctor found Scott a mercy case, a hopeless, friendless young woman dying of tuberculosis.  He knew it was against medical ethics, but felt that no harm could come of Scott trying to cure her.  He would regret that decision the rest of his life.

Zelas had only hours to live when Scott injected her with his serum.  It worked.  The following day she had improved, but her case still looked hopeless.  At the end of a week, the spots on Zelas’ lungs were gone, and she flourished under Scott’s care.  Scott began to notice odd things about his patient.  Skin punctures would heal immediately after blood was drawn.  He did not notice, though, that he was drawn to her.  Scott wanted to keep her under observation, so Bach offered to let her live at his house employed as a housekeeper.  She accepted the offer.  Scott suggested she take a walk in the park to get exercise and then come to Bach’s house.  She took his advice.

Zelas walked out of Grand Mercy Hospital into Christopher Columbus Park.  There she saw an old man who visited the park daily to feed the pigeons.  His wallet was stuffed with cash.  Zelas saw the cash when the old man paid for his day’s peanuts.  Without hesitation or thought, Zelas picked up a rock and smashed the old man’s head in.  A crowd gathered and she was arrested.  But at her trial she was acquitted.  Witnesses saw a thin, ugly, little woman with dark hair and dark eyes commit murder.  The court saw a magnificent platinum-blond creature, lithe as a panther, with a voice low, resonant, and thrilling.  Scott attended the trial, saw this creature, and fell hard in love with her, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.  She was Zelas.  She had adapted herself to survive the trial.  Her dark hair bleached itself white, her plain features transformed themselves to match the interests of the judge and the all-male jury.  Her mien adapted to seem innocent.  The judge dismissed the charges as the witnesses could not identify her as the mousy, dark-haired killer. 

Scott and Bach met her after the trial and extended their offer of a place to stay.  Scott moved in as well, planning to keep an eye on Zelas and prevent her from committing further murders.  Scott experimented on his formerly tubercular guinea pigs and discovered that they had enlarged pineal glands, and deduced that Zelas’ adaptive abilities came from the pineal hormone.  Scott and Bach tested Zelas’ powers, injecting her with morphine to no effect.  They tried anaesthetizing her with ethyl chloride, she adapted.  She laughed at their efforts, and to show them that they could not harm or control her, she plunged a knife full into her bosom. The wound healed instantly.

The next day she killed a child.  She saw a car she wanted and stole it.  In her escape—the car’s owner shouting at her—she ran over a boy.  She drove the car around the block and abandoned it.  She felt no remorse, telling Scott, “I have learned something.  What one needs in this world is power.  As long as there are people in the world with more power than I, I run afoul of them.  They keep trying to punish me with their laws—and why?  Their laws are not for me.  They cannot punish me” (Weinbaum 68).  Scott made her swear never to leave Bach’s house without him.  She swore it. The next day she—and all the cash in Bach’s house—disappeared.  Bach noted, “The lie as an adaptive mechanism deserves more attention” (Weinbaum 68).  Zelas’ lies could never be detected by her listeners, who would see in her whatever they wanted to as she adapted her appearance and manner to their desires. 

Scott and Bach tracked Zelas through the newspapers.  William Woodin, upright secretary of the treasury, had begun to change his ways and was seen often in the company of the beautiful Zelas.[4]  She acquired the unofficial title of “the tenth cabineteer” for her growing power and influence in Washington.  Zelas returned to Bach’s house to taunt her scientist creators.  She told them of her plan to have Woodin issue a supremely insulting statement about the war debts, one that would draw the ire of Europe, specifically three nations just waiting for the chance to break with the U.S. over the issue.  She did not clarify what would follow from these actions, but wondered aloud what sort of empress she might make. 

Scott and Bach decided to take action.  Knowing they could not keep her locked up—she would merely adapt to the situation and “develop enough strength in her writes to break the locks on the doors” (Weinbaum 72)—they decided to fix the situation permanently.  They would apply the fundamental biological law that no creature could live in its own waste product and poison her with carbon dioxide. As she slept, they sealed her room and filled it with carbon dioxide.  She woke after her candle was extinguished, but was too weak to smash the window and collapsed.  The doctors operated on her, removing her pineal gland, reverting her to her original plain and unattractive appearance.  Her hair shifted from blond to black and lost its luster.  They had undone the evil of their science, “A flame had died; she was goddess no longer” (Weinbaum 78). Scott still loved her, still saw the beauty she had once had.

This closes the record of Kyra Zelas that Weinbaum left, but we turn to other sources to continue this story.  Bach and Scott were confident, supremely talented doctors.  But they fell under their own spell, believing themselves smarter than those who surrounded them, including Zelas.  Little did they know that Zelas had eavesdropped and overheard their plans to poison her and remove her pineal gland.  She adapted to this situation, not by fighting them but by letting them think they had won.  Secretly she laughed as they watched her performance, her struggles against the poisoned atmosphere of the room.  Conscious during the operation but unaffected by the pain, she let them remove her swollen pineal gland.  The next day, she refused Scott’s offer of marriage and fled the house in tears, crocodile tears as Scott and Bach would learn.  Scott searched for her but never found her, and he and his mentor considered the case closed.  With no adaptive abilities, Zelas was just another powerless woman, sucked into the whirlwind of the Depression, lost to the anonymity of urban America.

But Scott’s medical powers had been greater than he imagined.  The adaptive abilities of his guinea pigs and Zelas came not from an enlarged pineal gland—this was just a freak side effect of the treatment—but from what might be called “digital DNA.”  Of course, Bach and Scott had no notion of DNA, which would not be discovered for two decades after their debacle with Zelas.  But somehow Scott had come up with a genetic serum that gave its recipient the ability to instantly rewrite its genome, to resequence its own DNA to fit its needs.  Zelas was even more powerful than Scott and Bach had imagined.  And even more ruthless than they knew.

Zelas left Boston and returned to Washington, only to find that Woodin had been forced to resign his position due to a minor scandal: the Senate Banking Committee had found his name on a list of J. P Morgan's preferred customers and discovered that he had been given preferred stock options.  We suspect that he took these options to afford the high life he had been living with Zelas.  In December he had suffered a breakdown and resigned on New Year’s Eve; he died on May 3, 1934.  Her plans were ruined, and though she could have seduced another cabinet secretary, she decided to seek a more direct route to power.

Zelas preferred to avoid the problem of dealing with Scott and Bach—despite Zelas’ cold, calculating nature she retained some affection for Scott (Weinbaum p. 66, 73).  She did not want the truth about her exposed: Scott and Bach viewed her—incorrectly—as a mutant (Weinbaum p. 64) and she knew from her time in Washington that the government was organizing itself to persecute mutantkind.[5]  She simply wanted power and did not want to have to murder her creators, so she fled the country.  She went to Japan, where she knew the military was rising and where she knew she could help shape the modernizing nation into a great power.  Her adaptive powers allowed her to pass as Japanese and to learn the language quickly.  We have been unable to discover the identity she lived under in Japan, but she may have been the source of several Dragon Lady characters in the popular media.  We know that she used the code name Tsunami, for she would become a great force that would wash over the planet like a tidal wave.[6]  She rose quickly within the Japanese establishment, starting as a courtesan and working within the Black Dragons—a secret society of ultranationalists heavily involved in the conquest of China and in control of the opium trade; the Black Dragons are believed to have been behind the attack on Pearl Harbor.[7]  She had learned to rule from behind the scenes—never again would she repeat the mistake of drawing press attention.[8]  We have been unable to track down sufficient evidence to put together a picture of her time in Japan, but we have learned enough to suspect a few things.  First, we suspect that she may have taken on a male identity as an adaptation to patriarchal Japanese society.  Second, we believe that she may have been involved in the germ warfare laboratory developed by one Major Ishi in Manchuria, although we have no direct evidence.  Ishi did use funds generated by the Black Dragon’s opium trade, and Zelas could easily have passed herself off as a capable scientist and may have used the names of Dr. Scott and Dr. Bach to establish credentials with Ishi, though she may have merely revealed her adaptive abilities to him—having someone incapable of being infected with the various diseases brewed up by Ishi’s labs would have been incalculably valuable.  Third, we also suspect that she was involved in the “Rape of Nanking” but have only hints of her involvement.

In 1936, Zelas was sent as a special ambassador to Nazi Germany as part of the Japanese Olympic delegation.  While there, she foiled an assassination attempt on Hitler’s life.[9] This act gave her the gratitude of the Führer and access to the German High Command, including Karl Haushofer, known as “Hitler’s Merlin.“  Haushofer was the genius behind the creation of the Axis alliance of Germany and Japan and may have ghostwritten portions of Mein Kampf; he was the source of much of Hitler’s intellectual philosophy and coined the concept of Lebensraum, which was used to justify the Third Reich’s imperial ambitions.[10] Zelas told them that she was an Ainu, an indigenous Japanese population with Caucasoid features.[11]  The Nazis accepted her as an Aryan because they, specifically Heinrich Himmler, believed the Ainu to be Aryan.  These connections would prove of great help in later years.[12]

Back in Japan as part of the Black Dragons, she initiated and planned the attack on Pearl Harbor.  She led it as well, not trusting others to carry it out.  The plan worked spectacularly, the American fleet was destroyed.  She was then given the authority to plan a strike on the American mainland.  Several weeks after Pearl Harbor, in February 1942, Tsunami led a small demonstration force to the shores of Santa Barbara with the intention of demonstrating that Japan could strike the U.S. proper in order to convince the American public that it should not retaliate against Japan but settle their differences through diplomacy.  This plan, conceived by Zelas, if effective would have kept the U.S. out of the Second World War and would have allowed Japan free reign in Asia.  Likely it would have led to Zelas’ becoming Empress of Japan.  But the attack failed because of Zelas’ lack of impulse control.

The small force was spotted and reported by some small fishing boats several miles off the coast of California.  Namor, the Sub-Mariner, was in Los Angeles and was asked to lead a force to intercept the invaders.[13]  Regular Navy vessels followed, but Namor’s areosub outpaced them.  Zelas spotted Namor emerging from his sub and was overcome with desire.  Namor was the most beautiful man she had ever seen, a powerful specimen of masculinity, a man who could be her equal.  As Namor attacked, Zelas turned on her troops, slaughtering them and ramming her lead ship into one of the other two, scuttling both.  She fired indiscriminately on her men.  Between the two of them, Namor and Tsunami quickly disposed of the Japanese force.[14]

Zelas’ reaction to Namor ties in with a pattern involving men that has run through her life.  Her father abandoned her family when she was little, so she always sought the acceptance of older, powerful men.  Basically, she wanted a “strong daddy.”  At the same time, her hatred of her father for abandoning her and the taunting and rejection she received from boys and men while an adolescent left her with a desire to dominate men.  She wanted to both control and be controlled by men, an ambivalence that played itself out in almost every relationship she had following the transformative treatment by Scott.  Additionally, her upbringing gendered her to the idea that only men had power; consequently, when she attempted to gain power, she tended to attach herself to a strong man who was already in a position of power, as she did with Secretary of the Treasury Woodin.

Creating an identity on the spot, Zelas told Namor that she was Miya Shimada, an American Nisei who had been experimented upon and misled by the Japanese.  She joined him and returned to America with him.  Namor was taken in, her role as a persecuted Nisei in America struck a chord with him.  When she told him of going to the relocation camps in search of her family, his heart ached for her.[15]  He knew what it was like to lose family and to be a stranger in a strange land.  When she found it inconvenient to live with a Japanese identity due to the reactions of white Americans during wartime, she took on blond hair and fair skin and began calling herself Namora, telling Namor that she was Ainu and had been forced to dye her hair black and to darken her skin with melanin treatments.  The two seem to have been happy, but Namor maintained his relationship with Betty Dean, a Baltimore police woman.  Then, according to Dennis Power, in early 1943:

Namor found that for some reason he was undergoing a further transformation into one of the Deep Ones. His eyes became more protruding, his hands and feet developed webbing and he discovered that he had to immerse himself in water at least once an hour or else he would sicken and perhaps die. (“Submariner”)

This transformation repulsed Zelas, who regarded Namor with horror because of the associations physical ugliness had in her life.  She associated ugliness with her former self, an identity she loathed.  She broke with Namor, but realizing that she was several months pregnant, she brought the baby to term and delivered it at Balitmore hospital.  She could have spontaneously miscarried, but because she wanted to leave the baby as a taunt for Namor, her body and the baby adapted, and it was born healthy and fully developed.  After recovering from the delivery, she pinned a note to the baby, which read, “Give this to Betty Dean, Baltimore PD, tell her it’s his.”[16]

Deciding, as she had done years earlier with Dr. Scott, to leave her problems behind and to seek political power, she chose Germany as her destination.  By this time, it was apparent (at least to Zelas’ inside knowledge of the strength of the Japanese war effort) that Japan would lose to the U.S., and so she decided to pursue her Nazi contacts.  Posing as an American soldier, she shipped to Britain, and then simply walked undersea across the English Channel to France.  From there, she traveled to Berlin in the identity of an SS major whose uniform she stole, and reestablished herself as the Japanese ambassador codenamed Tsunami.  She told the German High Command that Japan was working on occult researches, including the summoning of Oni demons to fight the Americans.  Very likely she revived her acquaintance with Karl Haushofer, although it is likely the two had been in contact during her time in Japan as well.  Her Nazi handlers showed her various occult projects, including Project Ragna Rok (a.k.a. the Fatal Destiny), one of several doomsday projects initiated by Hitler to stave off defeat or change the course of the war.  In Project Ragna Rok she found her way in to power in the person of Ilsa Haupstein, a Nazi scientist on the fringe of the project.  Zelas announced that she was returning to Japan to brief the Imperial Government and apparently left Berlin, but she doubled back, killed Haupstein, and assumed her identity.[17] 

By 1943, Project Ragna Rok had been hijacked by its leader, Grigori Efimovich Rasputin, the supposedly dead Russian Monk, and turned from Hitler’s purposes.  Shortly after Rasputin’s supposed death in 1935[18], Heinrich Himmler found Rasputin in retreat in a small Italian village and hired him to head the project.  Rasputin promised Hitler a miracle that would reverse the course of the war and bring victory to Nazi Germany, but the mad monk knew the days of the Third Reich were numbered and turned the unlimited resources Hitler put into his hands to his own designs.  Rasputin guided the project team into creating the Ragna Rok Engine, a device for summoning, magnifying, directing, and containing the forces that would conjure forth a demon that could act as a conduit for freeing the Ogdru Jahad, a seven-part evil demonic dragon elder god, from its prison in seven rock cocoons floating in deep space.[19]

In early 1944, Heinrich Himmler proposed project "Vampir Sturm,"[20] and sent Zelas to Castle Giurescu to recruit the vampire Vladimir Giurescu to the war effort.  Giurescu was not a true vampire but a Romanian nobleman of the Napoleonic Era who had been thrown from his horse into a river in winter and lost under the ice.  His father’s servants found and freed his frozen body, and the father gave his son to Hecate, a lamia or ancient demon witch-goddess.[21]  Hecate made Giurescu immortal, linking his revival to a room in Castle Giurescu where the wounded or injured Vladimir would be brought to bathe in the light of the full moon and be healed, even be returned to youth and vigor from a skeletal state.

Zelas fell in love with Giurescu, although the details of their meeting and romance are known only to her and have never been revealed.  Zelas seems to have been successful in her mission, and she returned to Project Ragna Rok, which took her to Tarmagant Island, a small island off the Scottish coast, on December 23, 1944, where the Ragna Rok project was to come to fruition.  Rasputin succeeded in summoning the demon child, but it broke through to the earthly plane in East Bromwich, England, rather than on Tarmagant Island.  Although General Klaus Werner von Krupt, the German officer assigned to monitor the project for Hitler, regarded this failure as a betrayal by Rasputin, the mad monk intended this result.  

Some weeks before, on December 3, Hitler, out of fear of Giurescu’s power, had ordered the Romanian and his six vampiric wives arrested and taken to Dachau, where they are all impaled, decapitated, and burned.[22].  This betrayal turned Zelas bitter and she planed to kill Hitler, but Rasputin told her that the Third Reich had less than five months to live and promised that he would return her love to life.  Although Rasputin ordered Zelas and the other principles of Project Ragna Rok to their den in Norway, Zelas returned to Germany, likely intending to kill Hitler despite his foretold demise.  Once there, for some unknown reason, Zelas accepted reassignment to Castle Wagner and Project Fimbulvetr, “The Winter of Winters,” a back-up project designed as insurance against treachery by Rasputin.

Project Fimbulvetr was headed by Baron Erik Wagner and had been initiated by Hitler after von Krupt, who was much more knowledgeable than Rasputin imagined, informed Hitler of the true nature of Project Ragna Rok, the summoning of a demon.  Wagner assembled a team of German sorcerers and scientists and kept his team under firm control in his castle in outside Elbing in East Prussia.  Hitler intended this demon to serve as breakwall on which the Red Army would falter, thereby allowing him to redeploy his armies to the west.  Zelas was rewarded for her service with the title baroness and promised lands in Bavaria if the demon could be turned to the German war effort as Zelas had done with Giurescu.  Likely Zelas saw this demon as her opportunity to gain power.  Knowing that the Third Reich was doomed, she would have probably tried to seduce the demon into an alliance with her.  The expected post-war chaos would provide plenty of opportunities to shape the coming world and to exercise power, perhaps even create a new nation; it is impossible to know Zelas’ plans though.  As she had done with Giurescu, she engaged the demon in carnal relations; the result was Kurt Wagner, also known as the Nightcrawler.

The identity of the demon summoned by Wagner’s team is uncertain, but significant clues about it have emerged.[23]  Nightcrawler originates from extra-dimensional aliens who are the source Earth’s legends about demons.  The name Belshazaar is associated with him in some way and the name Azazel with his father.  Finally, Nightcrawler was born at the end of World War Two.[24]

One thing is certain, the demon father’s name was likely never revealed to any comic book writer, nor for that matter even to Zelas.  Demons guard their true names, but the tidbits above give us a definite lead on aspects of the father’s identity.  The first clue is that Azazel is a goat demon.  The second clue is that Nightcrawler’s father’s people were the source of demon legend on Earth.  There is a known history of a race of goat-shaped aliens who inspired humanity’s image of demonkind, the Teff-Hallani.[25]

The name Belshazaar is our next clue. Belshazaar was the last king of Babylon, son of Nabonidus and grandson to Nebuchadnezzar.  At a massive feast, he and his princes drank from sacred vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem, and the hand of God appeared among the revelers, tracing the king’s doom on a wall; that very night the kingdom of the Chaldeans came to an end and Belshazaar was slain. The Babylonian connection is very important.  The name Belshazaar has been connected with Nightcrawler, therefore the demon is “the father of Belshazaar.”  Literal thinking would lead one to conclude that the demon’s name is therefore Nabonidus or possibly Nebuchadnezzar (who is named as Belshazaar‘s father in the Bible).  Thinking poetically, though, the demon is father of the last king of Babylon, that is, the father of the Babylonian/Chaldean dynasty that can be traced back to Gilgamesh, King of Ur.[26]  Gilgamesh is descended from the gods, hence the demon by being the father of the line of Babylonian kings is a god.  This conclusion points to the identity of Nightcrawler’s father.  In The Chained Coffin, Hellboy’s father appears as a horned and tailed goat-like creature.  He says, “Was I not God in old Babylon?” and claims to have been like a god to the women of East Bromwich, Lancashire, and Faversham in England, where he impregnated the nun who later gave birth to Hellboy.  These connections lead to the conclusion that Nightcrawler and Hellboy are brothers, and their father is a Teff-Hallani who was somehow trapped in another dimension but could be summoned to Earth and had been since the ancient days of Ur.

Wagner employed a smaller copy of the Ragna Rok Engine at the same moment that Rasputin summoned Hellboy, and Wagner similarly succeeded.  He brought “Azazel‘s” spirit to Castle Wagner and trapped him in the body of a young SS officer.  It was this beautiful young man whom Zelas was introduced to as the demon who might save the Third Reich.  The version of this story told in various Marvel Comics has to be viewed with suspicion.  The story that emerges there is contradictory and illogical.  The current Marvel Comics version asserts that Nightcrawler was born in 1980, although he first appeared in the 1975 Giant-Size X-Men.  “Raven Darkholme Wagner,” a.k.a. Mystique, plays the bored, sexually frustrated wife of Baron Wagner,[27] but comics published around 1980 portrayed her as both the deputy director of DARPA, raising her foster child Rogue, and living as Mallory Brickman, a U.S. senator’s wife. Finally the Wagners have access to highly advanced infertility treatments while at the same time ruling over superstitious rural peasants who take up the pitchforks and torches at the sight of the Baroness’ true form, so the time cues in the story are muddled.

The truth is much simpler, but some facts about “Mystique” must be established.  First, Zelas never used the name Mystique nor the name Raven Darkholme; second, she was never blue-skinned.  These distortions arose at Marvel.  Chris Claremont, the writer of Ms. Marvel learned about Zelas’ impersonation of DARPA director Mallory Brickman, the wife of Senator Brickman.[28]  At the direction of Odd John Wainwright, Zelas had assumed Brickman’s identity. Odd John had mentally manipulated Brickman into a near breakdown and telepathically prodded her into retreating to a rest clinic, where he installed Jacquline Castagnet, whom Marvel has portrayed as the precognitive mutant Destiny, as a doctor.[29]  Brickman took a leave of absence from DARPA and went to the clinic.  Zelas returned in Brickman’s form a week later and spent the next several weeks as Brickman in DARPA, researching the government’s plans for dealing with mutants, such as Project Wideawake.  After Zelas learned all Odd John needed, she announced as Brickman that she was taking another vacation, but a brief one. Mallory Brickman was “cured” and when she returned to work, her coworkers and family treated her as if she had been gone just a week or so, which suited Brickman fine as she wanted to keep her supposed illness as quiet as possible.

Claremont learned of all this and would have included it in Ms. Marvel, but Stan Lee had been warned by Odd John not to reveal enough about Zelas to draw her attention.  As will be discussed below, she had previously nearly killed a man for writing a book about her, and Lee passed on to his subsequent editors-in-chief the danger of drawing her attention, hence “Raven Darkholme,” “Mystique,” and the blue skin.

The demon impregnated Zelas in early January.  Whether the child came to term quickly because of its demon heritage[30] or if Zelas’ body once again sped up the pregnancy is unknown, but the child was born on February 9, 1945, as the approaching Red Army encircled Ebling.  The birth of the child gave the demon father the anchor he needed in this dimension to assume his natural form and the body of the handsome SS officer melted away to be replaced by a great red, horned, tailed, and cloven-footed beast, stinking of musk and brimstone.  Zelas was horrified, as she always was by physical ugliness.  She grabbed the newly delivered child and fled the castle, adapting great speed to flee her demon mate, who was bound to the castle by a temnos, or magic circle.  Hearing the guns of the approaching Soviet army and seeing Red Army tanks rolling up the road, Zelas fled to the grounds behind the castle and a bridge that crossed a roaring waterfall.  Having forgotten that she carried the child, she suddenly noticed it and hurled it down the waterfalls, not caring if it lived or died.  Baron Wagner, whom Zelas had murdered a few days previously and assumed his identity, had ordered a serving girl to keep track of the baby, not knowing what to expect of the unusual circumstances of the child’s conception and birth.  The girl did so and saw Zelas just as she hurled the child down the falls.  The servant took the low path and rescued the baby from the river.  Returning to the castle, she found neither the Baron nor the demon.  A few weeks later she sold the baby to Margali Szardos, a sorceress and gypsy queen, who was fleeing the Red Army herself.  Margali joined up with a small Bavarian circus where she worked as a fortuneteller and raised the child alongside her own children.

After the war, Zelas somehow found her way back to the United States.  We next encounter her working for the U.S. government in the identity of Namora.  The exact nature of this work is unknown at the present and we cannot hazard a guess at her motive for working with the U.S. government.  From our sources (which are very sketchy) we have surmised that Zelas was recruited sometime in late 1945 or early 1946 for some sort of government work.  We suspect that she revived her Namora identity and explained that she was Namor’s cousin.  Someone in the FBI likely contracted with Marvel Comics to produce comic book versions of her adventures, and this agent might have been “Jimmy Woo,” who was later instrumental in gathering the “1950s Avengers.”[31] 

In 1948, Zelas seems to have been floundering about for a direction for her life, although she appears to have maintained her Namora identity off and on throughout the 1950s.  Having tried political and supernatural routes to power, she now chose a cultural one.  Picking an easy path for one of her beauty, Zelas took up modeling, signing with the Conover Model Agency under the name Mari Blanchard.  Cartoonist Al Capp spotted her and incorporated her into L’il Abner as Stupifying Jones.  He then sent her on a nation-wide tour as Jones to promote Sadie Hawkins Day, the annual gender-reversal holiday he had invented.  After seeing an adaptation of Weinbaum’s “Adaptive Ultimate” on CBS’s Escape (broadcast March 26, 1949), she got the idea of moving to Hollywood to pursue a movie career and took a number of small roles, but was bored by the movie business.  She made the acquaintance of an established Hollywood star, Rita LeMar, who was actually Jacqueline Castagnet, an Oddian mutant born in the Champagne region of France in 1765.[32]  Castagnet’s parents were dull peasants and her childhood, with her supernormal intelligence, was cramped and ravenous.  She was betrothed to a neighboring farmer but ran away into a life of prostitution.  Over the centuries, she lived variously as a prostitute, a mistress, and a wife, discovering a capacity for a kind of spiritual sexual therapy, even developing disciple prostitutes to aid in her healing mission.  She suffered from overwork, exhaustion, and strain, and retreated into marriage, seeking status in the social world via marriage to a Russian prince, whom she put on the path to the throne by playing politics.  Again she felt overwhelmed and fled the Bynzantine world of Moscow royalty.  From then on she served primarily in her healing way, with respites of varying length into the refuge of marriage to recharge and recover.  Odd John Wainwright met her as a prostitute in Paris in 1926, just after she had reestablished herself after a year of recovery in an asylum due to the strains she suffered from working her therapy in the vast need of the Weimar Republic.

In the late twenties, Castagnet shifted her therapeutic work and took to the stage under the name Rita LeMar.  Through the catharsis of terror and pity she offered a healing performance for her audiences.  She made a few films and found acting to be a suitable refuge from the exhausting work of her spiritual therapy.  She expected to continue as a Parisian actress, but the destruction of Odd John’s Colony in 1933 and the coincidental rise of the Nazis prompted Castagnet to consider her vulnerability.  She knew the Nazis would not stop with Germany, nor with the persecution of the Jews.[33]  The Colony’s failure taught her that mutants like her would also be targeted if ever discovered.  She left for Hollywood, using her fame in French cinema to establish herself comfortably.  She resumed her therapeutic role, but the Puritanical attitude toward prostitution in America pushed her more toward acting.  To compensate, she began a romance advice column, and subsequently a radio show, under the pseudonym Venus, the Goddess of Love.  For the hardest cases, she followed up her advice with telepathic therapy sessions, telling her listeners that if they imagined that they were talking to her it would seem as if she replied.  This role suited her well.  She was able to maintain her therapeutic work without driving herself into exhaustion.  Because of her Oddian constitution, she did not age as other women and over time she found that more and more of the Hollywood community commented on her ability to stay young looking.  In her LeMar identity, she announced her retirement and was forgotten by the fickle world of fame in a few years, but she kept the Venus identity and its attendant work.  It was just after her retirement that she met Zelas.

Castagnet and Zelas became fast friends and then lovers.[34]  Each supplied something vital to the other.  Castagnet saw in Zelas a damaged spirit that needed her ministrations.  Zelas took refuge in Castagnet’s attentions, the first pure and unselfish love she had ever felt.  Zelas reshaped the Blanchard identity to match Castagnet’s appearance and they shared the role of Mari Blanchard, glamorous B-movie star.  In 1956, Zelas discovered that the rights to “The Adaptive Ultimate” had been optioned and decided that she should star in the film version instead of letting someone else play her, as had been done on television in the series Escape in 1949 and Studio One in 1955.  Stanley Weinbaum had heard Zelas’ tale from Dr. Bach, a family friend, and had published the short story in Astounding Stories (November 1935).  Weinbaum died of cancer shortly thereafter in December 1935.  Had Zelas known of the story at the time, she probably would have killed him, but after two decades the Weinbaum’s version of events merely amused her. 

As a joke on both Scott, whom Zelas discovered still lived, and the deceased Weinbaum, Zelas acquired the rights to her story (as she saw it) and produced and starred in She-Devil, a fairly straight-forward adaptation of “The Adaptive Ultimate.”  She wanted Scott to know she was alive and to have this knowledge to gnaw at him, powerless as he now was to find her or expose her, having guiltily destroyed all records of his earlier involvement with her.[35]

We suspect that Odd John Wainwright recruited Zelas at some point during the late 1940s; possibly he was the impetus for the revival of her Namora identity and her career in intelligence.  We suspect that he suggested her modelling and Hollywood career, possibly engineering her encounter with Castagnet, knowing that the two women would be attracted to each other’s strengths and needs.  We know that she played a part in the formation of the Legion of the Strange, the group portrayed in comic books as both the X-Men and the Doom Patrol.[36]  In the decades after the destruction of the Colony, Odd John traveled the world as X, building a network of contacts among talented individuals, including Doc Savage and the Supermen. He may have met Zelas at that time, though the mid-forties seems more likely.  And we suspect that the two have had at least one together and possibly more. 

In the early fifties, she was on a mission to assassinate an East German scientist; whether this mission was for the United States government or for Odd John is unknown at this point.[37]  During this mission she met Victor Creed (Sabertooth) and entered into a sexual relationship in her identity as East German scientist Leni Zauber.  It is possible that she had encountered him earlier, following her escape from Castle Wagner, and used him to return to the United States.[38]  She abandoned her son, Graydon Creed, to an orphanage shortly after his birth, as is typical for Zelas.

The rest of Zelas’ life is difficult to track.  The published records are inaccurate and contradictory, and little documentary evidence has emerged.  Additionally, the nature of her abilities makes it easy for her to assume, and be depicted in, any number of identities, two of which include Madame Rogue—foe of the Doom Patrol as part of the Brotherhood of Evil; and Mystique—enemy the X-Men as part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  All four of these groups were founded and backed by Odd John Wainwright, and her involvement in them—despite the appearance of the published record—was in service of his ends.  We do know that she encountered and adopted an Evil Twin (atelhs antigratho), as undertaking missions for various branches of the federal government at various times.[39] Further research is needed to untangle her life of the past few decades.


Special thanks to Joshua Falken, Henry Covert, Ivan Schablotski, Loki Carbis, and Ana Quintero for reading and responding to this article.


Works Cited

Campbell, John.  The Mightiest Machine. [1935]. New York: Ace Books, 1947.

Cooke, Jon. “‘The Mutant Blackhawks’: The Real Origin of the New X-Men.” Comic Book Artist Summer 1998: 75.

Hübinette, Tobias. “Asia as a Topos of Fear and Desire for Nazis and Extreme Rightists as Evidenced in the Case of Asian Studies of Sweden.” Paper presented at “The Question of Asia in the New Global Order,” Asian/Pacific Studies Institute, Duke University, Durham, NC1 Oct. 2004.

Power, Dennis.  “Submariner.” The Secret History of the Wold-Newton Universe.  203.

Tatara, Peter. “Der Puppenspieler: The Role of Karl Haushofer in the Third Reich.” Ithaca College History Journal 2.1 (Fall 2003). <>.

Scott, Daniel. “Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics in Fruit Flies.”  The Journal of the Evolutionary Society of New York 4.3 (1931): 15-20.

---. She-DevilBoston: Author, 1960.

Weinbaum, Stanley G. "The Adaptive Ultimate." 1935. A Martian Odyssey and Others. Reading, PA: Fantasy Press, 1949.

[1] We suspect that “Grand Mercy” is in fact St. Eligius Hospital, named after the eponymous saint who was well known for caring for the poor.  It was nicknamed “St. Elsewhere” because “elsewhere” is where private hospitals would send patients who could not afford their care.  Zelas was one such patient. St. Eligius was founded in the 1930s by a Roman Catholic priest named Father Joseph McCabe. He was the son of a cabinetmaker and named the hospital after his father's favorite saint—Eligius is a patron of craftsmen.  McCabe was something of a rebel and an iconoclast, whose often unorthodox management techniques attracted caring doctors such as Herman Bach and Daniel Scott. 

Although the television show, St. Elsewhere, gives the date of 1935 for the hospital’s opening (episode 85, “Time Heals”), this date is deceptive as it does not account for the delay between events and their transformation into broadcast television.  Given the production process for network television, we suspect that the events of St. Elsewhere must have occurred at least two to three years before they were broadcast, thereby establishing a date of 1932-1933 as the latest possible for the founding of the hospital.  Very likely it was 1929 or 1930.  Perhaps the hospital was founded in partial response to the Depression, though this seems unlikely.

[2] Dr. Dan Scott is better known as Dr. Daniel Auschlander, whose later life was depicted on the television series St. Elsewhere. Daniel Auschlander was Jewish, but as young man he did not look like a typical Jew.  The casting of Norman Lloyd to play him on St. Elsewhere reflects this appearance.  On the television show, Lloyd is the classic elderly Jew, but as a young man he had blond hair and in fact played a Nazi saboteur in the classic Hitchcock thriller Saboteur. Other casting of the character followed this line, as the blond James Stephens (best known as the main character James Hart from the law school series The Paper Chase) played Auschlander in the flashback episode, "Time Heals: Part 2" (episode 4-18, aired February 20, 1986).

Upon graduating from high school, Dr. Auschlander realized that many avenues of research would be closed to him, so he attended medical school under the name Daniel Scott, using his middle name as his last, and legally changed it for certification before taking his medical boards.  As Daniel Scott he joined the staff of St. Eligius in the early thirties.  Daniel Scott hid his Jewish heritage mostly by ignoring anti-Semitic remarks and by acting like a good Boston wasp, attending a good gentile church.

His experience with Kyra Zelas brought home one fact to him: no matter one’s ability to adapt, it is often best to accept who one is rather than trying to change oneself to suit the surroundings.  Scott left St. Eligius shortly after the Zelas affair and had himself re-certified under his full name. As Dr. Daniel Scott Auschlander he was a bright and upcoming surgeon and researcher. When the war with Germany came, he joined the armed forces as a surgeon because, having embraced his Jewish heritage, he wanted to fight against the Nazis. He may have also heard rumors that Zelas was aiding the Axis. Overseas, he met and married a young English woman named Katherine.  Working for a prestigious hospital he resigned after being denied an important medical award due to anti-Semitism. He rejoined the staff of St. Eligius after the war under his full legal name. Father McCabe, of course, knew him and was understanding when Daniel told him the reason he had initially joined St. Eligius under a different name. This may be why when a young Donald Westphal called Auschlander a kike, Father McCabe reacted so uncharacteristically violently, instantly slapping Westphal off his feet. Much of this history of Auschlander is contained in a two-part episode of St. Elsewhere, “Time Heals” from season four.

[3]Some may wonder about this serum and whether or not another scientist discovered the same properties in fruit flies and if there are other adaptive ultimates in the world.  The simple answer is no.  Was there something unique about Zelas’ genome that made the serum effective on her alone?  Absolutely not.  Zelas is as ordinary as can be.  The secret to the efficacy of the serum lies in the cow Scott injected in order to derive his serum.  In “The Adaptive Ultimate,” Scott explains, “So I used fruit flies.  I putrefied their bodies, injected a cow, and got a serum at last, after weeks of clarifying with albumen, evaporating in vacuo, rectifying with—” (p.  55). 

This account leaves out much that Scott was unaware of.  After Zelas turned bad, Scott destroyed his serum and all his lab records.  He did not want to risk the creation of another monster.  He need not have bothered.  According to his self-published biography of Zelas, She-Devil, Scott ran several unsuccessful trials before getting a serum that worked.  He assumed that the difference originated in a radioactive treatment of the fruit flies, but in fact the difference lay in the cow.  The successful test cow—and Scott had no way of knowing this—was no cow at all.  It was an “evil twin” of a cow. 

Many novels, films, and television shows turn on the notion of an evil twin, someone who looks just like the protagonist but acts completely differently.  The term is actually a misnomer, arising from a translation error of the Greek term, atelhs antigratho, coined by Dr. James Clarke Wildman Jr. to describe the phenomenon in reference to a creature he encountered in Antarctica in 1925.

Very briefly, a space ship was discovered during an expedition to the Antarctic.  Dr.  Clark Wildman (popularly known as Doc Savage) joined this expedition in September 1925 under the assumed identity of McReady, a meteorologist who had studied medicine.  This adventure was recorded in the short story, “Who Goes There?” (1937) by John Campbell.  Rick Lai provides a succinct summary of the story:

The expedition discovered a frozen alien from outer space in the ice.  The alien‘s had crashed in Antarctica millions of years ago.  When the alien was defrosted, it was to be alive.  The alien had the power to copy any other life forms.  It could also split off parts of its body to copy more than one life form.  The expedition was faced with the horror of being gradually murdered, and then replaced by duplicates that were parts of this monstrosity from another world.  An expedition member named McReady came up with a scientific test to tell the real humans from the duplicates.  Under McReady‘s leadership, the remaining humans destroyed the invader from the stars.  (Lai, Chronology of Bronze, 102-103)

Dr. Wildman coined the term atelhs antigratho or “imperfect copy” to describe the copies of people and animals made by the alien, but the term has been mistranslated as “evil twin” and applied to a whole range of beings created by other protoplasmic aliens.

A surviving segment of this creature threatened humanity on two separate occasions, as depicted in the films The Thing From Another World (1951) and The Thing (1982).  It may be that these films depict encounters with two separate crashed spacecraft, one in the Arctic and the later one in the Antarctic, but we consider this unlikely. More likely is our supposition that in The Thing From Another World the location of the ship is moved to the Arctic for dramatic purposes, likely to hint at the threat of infiltration from the north, ie. from Communist Russia, a common bit of Cold War thinking. We have not yet identified the R. J. MacReady involved in the later incident, nor do we know if he has any connection with Dr. Wildman.

These protoplasmic aliens have been identified by Gryphon Institute researchers as belonging to an offshoot of the Founder species, although their specific planetary origin is not known.  The Founders are a protoplasmic shape-shifting species capable of taking on any form, probably best known from the depiction of Constable Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  In “Through a Faceted Lens of History: The Trek to the Legion” (, we theorize that the Founders and other shape-shifting species in the Milky Way Galaxy were descendents of the shapeshifting Eddorans from the Andromeda Galaxy.  Other offshoot races include the beings that have been depicted by Marvel Comics as Skrulls and Dire Wraiths.  The beings described by DC Comics as Chameleon Boy's Duralans and the Proteans were in fact Founders stranded in the Alpha Quadrant. 

The being that created the evil twin of the cow, which we will refer to as the Evil-Twin Maker, was most likely a Dire Wraith scout sent to the Earth as an information gathering agent in the distant past; it could reshape itself into the form of the people it met in order to fit into the society it was studying.  It is possible these are the are the same beings as those sent by the Outspacers, an alien race living in the Alpla Centari system and depicted in the 1953 Philip K. Dick story “Imposter” (film version, Imposter, (2002)). In “Imposter” the Outspacers (clearly a term applied by Terrans to the aliens and not an indigenous name) send a biological robot with a bomb embedded in its heart to kill the Earth’s chancellor.  In the film version, two such “robots” are sent.  It may be that the Outspacers are themselves Proteans, but it seems more likely that they have somehow adapted Proteans—either captured or bred for the purpose—to their needs.  If so, it seems likely that the Proteans would not be used merely for assassination but would also serve as spies.  Both versions of “Imposter” are set in the near future (clearly, given his oeuvre, Dick had access to some sources of information sent back in time), but it is possible that the Outspacers maintained surveillance of the Earth for millennia.

Unlike the “Things” depicted in “Who Goes There?” and the two films, the Evil-Twin Maker’s craft did not crash land and get buried under tons of ice and snow.  The creature seems to have been able to carry out some aspects of its mission but  was nearly killed during the volcanic eruption at Thera, circa 1650 BC.  Its ship had been hidden near the Santorini volcano when it exploded, and the communications equipment aboard it was destroyed either in the massive volcanic eruption or the subsequent tsunami.

Yet this destruction remains only a dim memory for the Evil-Twin Maker.  Severely burned and reduced in mass, the creature needed to absorb a great deal of protein matter to regenerate and regain its original mass.  It chose the easily available charred human tissue of the living and dead bodies of humans and animals in the region of the volcano. This regeneration left it damaged and defective as a result of its injury and of incorporating so much “alien” tissue into its biomass.  Although it no longer remembered its mission, it took on a pathological feelings of abandonment and resentment, knowing that it could not return home and not understanding why it was stranded on this wasteland of a planet, forever cut off from its kin and kind.

Its reproductive system—heavily influenced by the various terrestrial reproductive cycles newly incorporated into its system—no longer worked as it should have, which was to meld with another of its species and form a new duplicating being.  Ever since its regeneration, it has been producing evil twins, albeit unintentionally.  It now has monthly discharges of eggs, the resulting offspring being a duplicate of the being it first encountered when entering estrus.  This new body egg, a sort of homunculus, falls off when quite small and grows, usually in some hidden nest.  The egg takes nutrients from its surroundings and grows into a fully sized duplicate of the being—human, animal, or insect—that the Evil-Twin Maker encountered during estrus.  The duplicate awakens with distorted memories of a life based upon the memories of its original, but with an underlaying of the Evil-Twin Maker’s emotional state of resentment, abandonment, and alienation, resulting in an internal conflict. 

Typically, human evil twins construct identities based upon their originals’ lives and go on to have ordinary but unhappy existences.  Most turn to drugs and alcohol, and many seek acceptance through prostitution.  They do not live long, however, as Evil Twins are subject to an insidious form of cellular degeneration that is often misdiagnosed as cancer, leprosy, muscular dystrophy, and various others ailments.  Even without this biologically driven short lifespan, most human Evil Twins die soon after emergence because they tend to pick lifestyles that are inherently dangerous, often involving criminal activity, frequent violence, and other self-destructive behavior.  This tendency toward self-destruction and psychological need for affiliation has led many evil twins into the role of henchmen for crime lords, supervillains, and criminal organizations such as Hydra, AIM, SPECTRE, and THRUSH.  In the rare instances in which they reproduce, the psychological problems inherent in the evil-twin parent are passed on to the children through both nature and nurture. 

The cow that proved a successful medium for Scott’s serum was an evil twin, whose alien DNA enabled the adaptive serum to work.  Such animal evil twins are rare, and their distemper often leads to them being put down if domesticated or shot if wild.  The chances of finding another such cow, especially given the mimicking abilities of the alien DNA (some evil twins so successfully duplicate their original’s DNA that even genetic testing cannot reveal that they are anything other than what they appear), is extremely small.

[4] In “The Adaptive Ultimate” Woodin is called John Callan and is said to be a bachelor, but this name is clearly a pseudonym, probably an effort to protect Woodin’s reputation.  Willilam Hartman Woodin (1868-1934) was appointed secretary of the treasury in 1933, but resigned after only one year due to illness and a scandal.

[5] It was during her visit to Washington in early 1934 after the resignation of Woodin that she first learned of Odd John Wainwright. According to records of the briefing (available through a Freedom of Information Act request) given to President Roosevelt, the United States Navy had taken part in the destruction of Odd John’s Colony.  The Colony was considered communistic and the association of mutanity with communism led to the development of strongly anti-mutant policies in the U.S. government, including the genocidal Project Wideawake.  For more on Wainwright, see Olaf Stapledon’s novel Odd John or Power and Coogan’s “Deceptive Brilliance: The Lethal Luthors.  Part One: Luthor by Nature But Not by Name; Jonathan ‘Odd John’ Wainwright, 1910-1933 (?).” <>.

[6] Tsunami is a Japanese word with the English translation, "harbor wave." Represented by two characters, the top character, "tsu," means harbor, while the bottom character, "nami," means "wave." In the past, tsunamis were sometimes referred to as "tidal waves" by the general public, and as "seismic sea waves" by the scientific community. The term "tidal wave" is a misnomer; although a tsunami's impact upon a coastline is dependent upon the tidal level at the time a tsunami strikes, tsunamis are unrelated to the tides. Tides result from the imbalanced, extraterrestrial gravitational influences of the moon, sun, and planets. The term "seismic sea wave" is also misleading. "Seismic" implies an earthquake-related generation mechanism, but a tsunami can also be caused by a nonseismic event, such as a landslide or meteorite impact.

[7] For more on the Black Dragons, please see “Japan, Incorporated: Black Dragons” at

[8] While we have not been able to track down much information regarding Zelas’ life in Japan, it is possible that she gave birth one or more children there.  If so, according to Joshua Falken (via private correspondence), it is possible that a grandson of hers was the short-lived hero, Sunfire.  Sunfire was not the superpowered mutant portrayed in the X-Men comics, but he did have an ability to tolerate very high temperatures.  He was involved in Project Sunfire, an attempt by the Japanese government to develop portable weapons, in this case a flying firesuit much like the one developed by Norgil in World War Two that served as the basis for the Human Torch (according to Jess Nevins, “The All-Aces Squad: Super Heroes at War,” <>).  The Japanese government lent him to the international team put together in the mid-seventies.  Unfortunately a freak accident caused a leak in his fuel tanks, which exploded, killing him instantly.

                We also believe that she is the great-grandmother of Princess Akiuki Orugawa, a current leader of the Black Dragons (please see Jeff Christiansen, “Black Dragon Society.”  The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe. <>).

[9] For a mangled account of this, see X-Men: True Friends #3.

[10] For an excellent, brief overview of Haushofer’s life, please see Peter Tatara’s “Der Puppenspeiler.”

[11] The Ainu are Caucasoid but not Caucasian or Aryan.  For a brief discussion and reference to the belief that Ainu are Aryan, see Hübinette’s “Asia as a Topos of Fear and Desire for Nazis and Extreme Rightists.” Additionally, Haushofer considered the Japanese as the “Aryans of the East” (see Tatara).

[12] We do not know the exact relationship between Karl Haushofer and Zelas, but we suspect that he played a significant role in her ascent to power, both in Japan and in Germany.  He was likely one of the driving forces behind Project Ragna Rok and likely smoothed Zelas path into the role of Ilsa Hauptstein.

[13] Namor’s life has also been portrayed by DC Comics via the characters Aquaman and Neptune Perkins.  For more on Namor, see Dennis Power’s “Submariner.”

[14] Young All-Stars #2 (July 1987).

[15] Young All-Stars #4 (September 1987).

[16] This child would grow up to be Namorita, also known as Deep Blue and Indigo.  Betty Dean raised her, but told her that her mother had died.  Dennis Power reports that Namorita:

was perfectly human in appearance and behavior until her puberty when she developed pointed ears. In her early twenties, she moved to Texas living by the Gulf of Mexico. While living in Galveston, she met and had an affair with an oil man from Dallas named Ewing, despite him already being married. She became pregnant with his child. The pregnancy's hormonal changes transformed her rapidly into a scaled humanoid Dyzan from the destroyed city of Y'Psoodsn. She dove into Baltimore harbor and was not seen again. In the mid-seventies however a humanoid male with webbed fingers and feet, purportedly lacking memory of his origins. He was given the name Mark Harris by Dr Elizabeth Merrill, and was then drafted into the Foundation For Oceanic Research. After aiding them several times against a man named Schubert, he disappeared again. A highly fictionalized version of his life appeared in the television series, The Man From Atlantis.

[17] Wake the Devil, detailing events from the early 1990s, depicts the return of a youthful Haupstein, who has supposedly been in suspended animation, to aid in Rasputin’s freeing of the Ogdru Jahad.  This person was not, in fact, Haupstein, but the real Haupstein’s daughter, also named Ilsa, in remarkably good shape for a woman in her fifties (it is possible that the daughter discovered her mother’s secrets, went to Norway, found the cryogenic chambers, and placed herself into suspended animation).  The daughter Ilsa had been born a few years before Zelas murdered the mother; she had been conceived as part of Himmler’s Lebensborn Aryan breeding program and was being raised in an “SS Mother Home,” one of several Lebensborn homes established in Germany and Norway as orphanages for these children.  See “Hitler’s Children” by Joshua Hammer.  Newsweek International, March 20, 2000. <>

[18] Rasputin’s “death” is detailed in The Shadow Strikes #4 (December 1989).  Rasputin is depicted as degenerate, grifting, murderous, lecherous, jealous old man, who was castrated in the 1916 murder attempt.  He is shown falling to an icy death off the Brooklyn Bridge after being shot and stabbed by The Shadow in a death scene that recalls his 1916 murder in Russia.  The Shadow reports him as killed, but the body is not shown.  He likely survived this death and retreated to Italy, where Himmler found him a year later.  Then again, the depiction of Rasputin here differs so greatly with the one in Hellboy that one wonders if they are the same man.  As with Merlin and Dracula, Rasputin’s name drew imitators.  Either Rasputin from The Shadow Strikes or Hellboy (or both) might be imposters.

[19] The story of Project Ragna Rok and Rasputin’s role in it are told in several Hellboy collections, including Seeds of Destruction and Wake the Devil.

[20] It seems likely that other aspects of project Vampir Sturm are depicted in “Why We Fight,” an episode of the television program Angel in which a German submarine transporting three vampires is intercepted and taken over by American naval forces.  Nazi experiments on vampire brains to control the undead and turn them into soldier-slaves are hinted at.  One of the vampires, called “The Prince of Lies,” seems to be Count Orlok, portrayed by Willem Defoe in Shadow of the Vampire (2000).

[21] The files of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense are vague as to the true nature of Hecate.  They contain a brief history given by Vladimir Giurescu’s father to the effect that Hecate was some sort of demon witch-goddess cursed by Thoth into a half-human/half-snake form, unable to live in sunlight.  This version was recorded by Hellboy, but the truth behind it is indeterminable.  It seems possible that Hecate‘s is related to that of the vampires depicted by Ann Rice in the Vampire Chronicles.

[22] Mignolia, Wake the Devil, ch. 2.

[23] Dave Cockrum first learned about Nightcrawler while serving on Guam in 1968 (Cooke 75).  He claims to have created Nightcrawler to distract himself from storms buffeting the island, but, curiously, there was an ex-Nazi living on Guam at the time who had published a highly fictionalized memoir titled I Was a Nazi Sorcerer, a battered copy of which turned up in a bookstore in Denver where we acquired it.  Nazi Sorcerer appears to have been written by a former German solider named Hans Liegendsäufer, who claims to have been a Nazi wizard in charge of Project Fimbulvetr.  He claims that after the war the U.S. took him in and put him in charge of various secret occult programs.  The book is suspect as much of it appears to be cribbed from Nazi occult writings and the author’s name translates at Hans Lyingdrunkard.  But Liegendsäufer apparently wrote the book in the middle sixties while living on Guam.  It is possible that Cockrum encountered him or picked up a copy of the book.

[24] Christopher Claremont discovered this piece of information (see “X-MEN COMIC BOOK QUESTIONS, Part 3,”  Claremont originally supposed that Mystique was Kurt Wagner’s father and Destiny his mother, but this supposition arose from his knowledge of Zelas’ and Castagnet’s roles in raising Rogue.  Claremont proposed that Zelas might have taken the form of man and impregnated Castagnet, but this proposition was not based upon hard evidence, instead it was an extrapolation based upon Rogue’s family situation.

[25] The following history of the Teff-Hallani is drawn from The Descent by Jeff Long, Merlin's Godson by H. Warner Munn, and The Mightest Machine by John W. Campbell.  A description is given in The Mightiest Machine:

Their faces were long and narrow, and they had hors, but their eyes and their noses and their mouths were something like those of humans.  They had a torso and a pair of true hands, but their feet were the feet of goats and their bodies were hairy. And the strange light [of the underground caverns] had bred something into them that made them red, for the light was greenish in hue. They were hideous. It was hot in those depths, and they loved heat. (75-76).

The Teff-Hallani live in caverns beneath the surface of the Earth, are carnivorous, and have carried off human beings as breeding stock cattle. They were once ordinary humans mutated by radiation that caused them to become horned, hoofed, hirsute and to a certain extent telepathic with enhanced senses. Obviously this radiation is limited to the caverns they inhabit, otherwise all under ground dwellers would have these traits.

The Teff-Hallani are led by “Lucifer” or “Satan,” or rather someone claiming to be such. This is an entity whom we have called The Demon and who has the ability to not only inhabit different bodies but also to traverse time so he can have simultaneous incarnations in the same time period.

Originally the Teff-Hallani lived above ground, but they aligned with the forces of Darkness during the time of Lemuria and were driven underground. They surged forward once again to try to retake Lemuria, which caused the destruction of that civilization.  Memories of this war lived on through myth, and the Teff-Hallani became a trans-cultural model for evil among the nations of the earth.

A group of Teff-Hallani led by “Lucifer” stole an experimental space vessel before they caused the destruction of Lemuria. They were followed by a group of Lemurians in another vessel capable of space travel. These two groups gave birth to the interplanetary civilizations seen in The Mightiest Machine. Some of the Teff-Hallani stayed behind and continue to live in the caverns beneath the Earth, still led by one of the incarnations of the Demon.

[27] Wagner and Zelas were never married.  The source of Marvel’s version of Nightcrawler’s birth is a long footnote from the monograph Die Deutsche Bauern, eine Geschichte und Untersuchung (Berlinisher Polytechnic, 1963.  694-697).  The footnote is a transcription of an oral history taken from a Prussian peasant woman regarding supernatural phenomenon in her village.  The woman tells of having been a serving girl at Castle Wagner and of rescuing a demon child when its mother, the baroness, flung it over a waterfall.  She then sold the baby to a band of Gypsies.  The woman’s discussion of the Baron and Baroness were thought by the interviewers to refer to a married couple, which Wagner and Zelas were not.

[28] Brickman is of course a pseudonym.  We have been unable to determine the true identity of Senator Brickman.

[29] According to Marvel Comics, Destiny’s true name is Irene Adler.  This name is obviously suspect as it is the name of Sherlock Holmes lover and the mother of Nero Wolfe.  Is this name a joke on the part of someone at Marvel or is it a clue intended to lead researchers to some conclusion? For Adler’s place in the Holmes’ family tree, please see “Watching the Detectives, or The Family Tree of Sherlock Holmes” by Brad Mengel, <>.

[30] Such quick pregnancies seem to be common for human women impregnated by demons.  For one such instance, please see “Expecting,” an episode of Angel in which Cordelia is impregnated by a demon and comes to term in one day.

[31] The adventures of Namora and her earlier history with Namor as children was either created by Bill Everett or made up by Zelas.  The story of the “1950s Avengers” is given in What If #9 (June 1978).

[32] Rita LeMar plays a small role in Anthony Boucher’s The Case of the Baker St. Irregulars (New York: Collier, 1962, copyright 1940), which tells the story of the derailing of a production of The Speckled Band at MGM (called Metropolis Pictures in the novel).  Thanks to P.J. Lozito for bringing LeMar to my attention.

[33] It is possible that Castagnet was herself Jewish.  Her prediction about the Nazis was correct, and all the Jews from her home village were sent to Auschwitz.  Castagnet’s precognitive powers are not mentioned directly in Odd John, but are hinted at (p. 105).

[34] For an analysis of Zelas and Castagnet’s sexuality (as revealed in various X-Men comics), see “Mystique and Destiny's Bisexuality” by Tilman Stieve <>.

[35] After the release of the film She Devil, Dr. Auschlander researched, recorded, and self-published a version of Zelas’ life, She-Devil.  He was found nearly dead of natural gas poisoning in November 1961.  The police report, which I have reviewed, indicates a gas burner had been left unlit in his kitchen.  He was found bound to his bed by a neighbor, who happened to drop by his house.  I suspect that Zelas found out about his book (which was rejected by several publishers, according to Scott’s preface), posed as his wife, tied him up during sex (claiming that she wanted to try something kinky—it was the sixties, albeit the early sixties—to spice things up), and had sex with him.  But during the sex she lost the control she kept against adapting to the other person's desires and began to revert to her original form .  It seems likely, given the attachment Dr. Scott is portrayed as having for Zelas in “The Adaptive Ultimate” even after she apparently lost her beauty, that Auschlander may have been attracted to Zelas’ original form, and so she may have reverted to it to adapt to his desires.  Discovering her appearance, she would have been revolted at herself and furious with Auschlander. Thus, her reaction would likely have been to turn on the gas and leave him to die, her attachment to him still strong enough to keep her from murdering him directly.

[36] This gathering was depicted in What If #9 (June 1978), “What If the Avengers Had Been Formed During the 1950s?” Zelas is portrayed as Namora.

[37] The exact date of this mission is uncertain, but it was likely in 1952.  In the comics, this mission is dated to 1961, but that date is impossible.  Mystique conceived Graydon Creed during this mission and he ran for President in 1992.  The comics present his campaign as occurring in the 1996 election cycle, but this cannot be as the system of comics production does not provide enough lead time for the events to have occurred in the 1996 and then have been retold in comics form.  To run for President, Creed would have to be thirty-five and was likely a few years older than that.  A 1951 or 1952 date places Creed at about forty when he is assassinated (which likely happened in late 1991 before the primary season proper).

[38] X-Men Unlimited #40

[39] The story of this Evil Twin, code-named Rogue, will be told in a forthcoming article, “Rogue Things from Another Planet.”  In her Madame Rogue identity, Zelas worked for the so-called “Brotherhood of Evil” and had a child, who has grown into the woman code-named Gemini.