For this weekend’s light-hearted, escapist superhero post here’s a look at another Marvel Comics character that never became a hit for some reason.
MARVEL PRESENTS Vol 1 #1 (October 1975)
Title: Dweller from the Depths (despite the title on the cover)
Villains: The Possessor and the Dweller from the Depths
NOTE: This story introduced the character Ulysses Bloodstone, a mysterious monster hunter who has been alive for thousands of years, sustained by the fragment of an alien Blood Gem lodged in his chest. With his custom-made weapons and the paranormal powers granted to him by the Blood Gem, he has hunted down and destroyed countless monsters for millennia.
Synopsis: The Dweller from the Depths rises from San Francisco Bay, summoned by the otherworldly music from a blind flutist who is possessed by an alien entity. The Dweller rampages through San Francisco and suddenly a muscular man with blonde hair and wearing a Big Game Hunter outfit attacks it.
That man’s thoughts tell us he is Ulysses Bloodstone and that the fragment of an alien gem in his chest unerringly leads him around the globe whenever monstrous creatures are about to strike. While television news crews and the police look on, Bloodstone battles the enormous beast.
Our hero’s superhuman strength, reflexes and a degree of invulnerability help keep him alive while he shoots the Dweller over and over again from many angles with the shotgun he carries in a holster on his back. The custom-made gun weighs nearly a hundred pounds and fires shells that strike with the force of cannonfire. Only Bloodstone’s extraordinary strength lets him wield the weapon so casually.
Cheap filmmaker P.D.Q. Werner (a sort of combination of William “One Shot” Beaudine and Roger Corman) and his leading man Brad Carter are on hand and the thrifty Werner films the Dweller’s rampage to use the footage in his next movie. “Film the parade,” anyone? After a lengthy battle, Bloodstone realizes that the blind flutist’s music is controlling the creature so he knocks out the musician.
Released from the music’s control, the Dweller stops its rampage and returns to the Pacific Ocean. Bloodstone picks up the unconscious flutist because he realizes the man must be possessed by one of his supernatural foes. He carries the man off into the night while the police try to restore order following all the chaos.
Hours later, Bloodstone is in his hotel room with the unconscious flutist lying on a bed while he watches news footage of his battle with the Dweller from the Deep. We learn from the news report that the mysterious Ulysses Bloodstone has killed or driven off plenty of grotesque creatures and the public ponders if there is a connection between him and the things he fights.
The entity who possessed the flutist now emerges from the man’s body and assumes its real form as a gigantic blue beast whose body is made of solid energy. Bloodstone once again goes into action, displaying expert knowledge of all manner of cryptids as he tries to work out a strategy against this new threat.
As our hero tries to save hospital patients from the energy-beast, it probes Bloodstone’s mind to see if it can possess him. Before the creature is driven out of Ulysses’ mind, the alien and we readers get some tantalizing glimpses of the hero’s origin.
Ten thousand years earlier, Bloodstone was a normal human out hunting with a spear when he encountered an alien named Ullux’yl. That’s all we are shown for this issue but we’ll get more in the next one below.
As the battle continues, actor Brad Carter is drawn to the scene and he is among the bystanders as Ullux’yl, the human-sized alien with a monstrous octopus head, appears. (Obvious Cthulhu riff) Meanwhile, the Possessor (the large energy-being) shoots Ulysses Bloodstone from behind with odd energy beams which pierce the hero’s back and exit through the Blood Gem in his chest.
Bloodstone, shocked that he seems to actually be dying, collapses to the pavement for this issue’s cliffhanger ending.
MARVEL PRESENTS Vol 1 #2 (December 1975)
Title: Hellfire Helix Hex
Villains: The Possessor and Ullux’yl
Synopsis: Brad Carter rushes to the fallen Ulysses Bloodstone. It turns out that he’s not dead, merely inert and being mind-probed again by the Possessor.
Brad Carter grabs Bloodstone’s custom shotgun and, after struggling to lift and aim it at the Possessor, fires it. The shot goes wild and the kickback from the weapon breaks Brad’s arm and shoulder in three places.
While the actor’s arm and shoulder are being tended to by paramedics on the scene, we readers get to see the rest of Bloodstone’s origin story.
Ullux’yl the octopus-headed alien leads the fascinated, primitive hunter who became Bloodstone into a cavern. Once inside, Ullux’yl shows our hero an altar on which rests the large Blood Gem in its original, whole form. It’s about twenty or thirty times bigger than the fragment that will soon become lodged in the blonde man’s chest.
The alien uses the Blood Gem on his altar to enhance our main character’s intelligence and strength, healing abilities, etc. He also uses the gem to coerce the blonde hunter to go and bring the rest of his village to the cave – men, women and children alike.
At first the hero’s fellow tribesmen are skeptical but then the blonde man shows them how his “new friend” Ullux’yl gave him enough strength to wrestle and kill a woolly mammoth with his bare hands. The other villagers want to gain the same strength so they follow the hunter back to the cave.
Once they are all assembled there, Ullux’yl has the Blood Gem’s energies flow through all of them. However, the other villagers aren’t as physically strong or resilient as the blonde man was when he was exposed to those energies. The other villagers begin to writhe in agony.
Ullux’yl was misleading the ancient Earthlings. He wanted to tap into the full power of the Blood Gem but needed to filter its power through lesser minds to avoid being overwhelmed by it. The Blood Gem is a relic that is the figurative “heart” from which all magical energies in the universe are pumped and distributed, like blood pumping from the heart throughout a body. This process is powered by the Hellfire Helix at the jewel’s core.
At any rate, our ancient hunter wants to free his fellow villagers from the pain the Blood Gem is subjecting them to. He rushes to and lashes out at the gem, which explodes, with one fragment lodging in his chest and the hundreds of other fragments being blown all across the world.
Ullux’yl received so much of the blast that he was put out of action for years afterward. All of the other villagers perished, leaving Bloodstone as the sole survivor. The gem fragment in his chest kept him alive and sustained his paranormal abilities.
Over thousands of years, the gem has led our hero in hunting down assorted terrestrial or extraterrestrial monsters around the world. Periodically he has clashed with Ullux’yl, who has been trying to recover all the scattered fragments of the Blood Gem so that he can reassemble it and try again to raise himself to godhood with its power.
The villain has recovered a few fragments over time, but Bloodstone has thwarted his efforts other times. Ultimately, Ullux’yl will need the fragment in our hero’s chest to completely reconstruct the Blood Gem, so the pair are destined to clash over and over again.
With Bloodstone’s origin tale completed, we readers are shown that his healing powers have finally allowed him to recover enough to once again engage the Possessor in combat. Eventually, Bloodstone defeats the entity, causing its energy-body to disperse in death.
As this story ends, Ulysses Bloodstone, Brad Carter and P.D.Q. Werner ponder an alliance.
RAMPAGING HULK Vol 1 #1 (January 1977)
Title: Trail of the Starstone
Villains: Ulluxy’l and Goram
NOTE: Unfortunately, the 2-part story that introduced Bloodstone to the world did not sell well enough to launch its own series. Just over a year later, Marvel Comics gave the character another shot as a backup feature in the new black & white magazine starring the Hulk.
And for some reason the original, whole Blood Gem is now being called the Starstone instead. Plus, Ullux’yl is now being spelled Ulluxy’l. More retcons will be introduced as we go.
Synopsis: Ulysses Bloodstone and his sidekick Brad Carter are leaving Rio de Janeiro by ship. A passenger on the vessel had a fragment of the Starstone in their luggage and a handful of armed men managed to get it aboard so that customs would not see the jewel.
Female reporter Samantha Eden is on board and notes not only the general hubbub over Bloodstone being a fellow passenger but also the suspicious behavior of a handful of men that we readers know are the ones who killed to get the Starstone fragment on the ship.
That night the 3 men sneak into Ulysses’ quarters to try to kill him in his sleep. His powers from the gem fragment in his chest warn him and he outfights them, having to shoot one of the men to save Brad Carter’s life. The shot from our hero’s custom shotgun blows the armed thug and part of the wall out into the ocean.
Cut to the tentacle-headed Ullux’yl watching all this through one of his own fragments of the Starstone. The villain is puzzled because the attackers were not his men and he wonders who else might be trying to round up gem fragments.
Back on the ship, Samantha Eden photographs the aftermath as Bloodstone’s connections and special permits keep him in the clear regarding any legal repercussions. Samantha informs Bloodstone and Brad that she’s been trailing them since Sao Paolo because our hero is so newsworthy.
A kaiju-sized sea creature called Goram attacks the ship, and the remotely watching Ulluxy’l is even further perplexed about who it could be that is not only after gem fragments but can control sea-beasts. Aboard ship, Bloodstone’s senses tell him that Goram is NOT one of Ulluxy’l’s creatures, and he, too, wonders about the new players in the game.
The passengers panic, except for Samantha Eden, who takes photos all the while as Bloodstone and his weapons take on the enormous Goram. The monster’s attack rips open part of the ship, and the steel case containing the gem fragment that was smuggled on board is among the cargo sinking to the bottom of the sea.
Eventually, Bloodstone’s battle with Goram takes them both under the waves, where our hero’s massive strength and ability to hold his breath for long periods keep him alive. Both Ulysses AND Goram are able to supernaturally sense the presence of the gem fragment and, after an intense fight, Goram seizes it and makes off with it.
Bloodstone swims to the surface, where Brad Carter and Samantha Eden are waiting for him at the ship’s railing. Ulysses informs them that Goram beat him to the Starstone fragment and left, but on the bright side that means he won’t attack the ship again.
Repairs are made and the ship continues its journey, by which time Bloodstone has invited Samantha to join him and Brad on their dangerous mission. Back at Ulluxy’l’s lair he is still furious about the new, unknown parties contending for fragments.
The alien refers to his own allies as “the Conspiracy” and is surprised by the arrival of a supervillain the other members of that plot have sent to help him. It is the costumed villain called Killer Shrike (in his first ever appearance) and he vows to eliminate Bloodstone or any other creatures who get in the way of his bosses.
NOTE: Killer Shrike is still an active villain in Marvel Comics, decades after Ulysses Bloodstone was through.
RAMPAGING HULK Vol 1 #2 (April 1977)
Title: The Battle of Bloodstone Island
Villains: Goram, Ulluxy’l and Killer Shrike
NOTE: Once again, Ulysses Bloodstone is not featured or mentioned on the cover of this issue, so that is why there is no cover picture depicted here.
Synopsis: This issue picks up an hour after the end of the previous one. Goram, still stalking the ocean floor with the (to him) tiny steel suitcase in one hand, is approached by a futuristic sub run by the mysterious group that Goram knows only as his “master”.
A beam from the sub temporarily paralyzes Goram while a team of scuba divers retrieve the steel suitcase containing the Starstone fragment. After they return to the sub with it, the vessel journeys on.
The story jumps now to 12 hours later. During that time the limping ship with our heroes on board reached a safe harbor and from there Ulysses Bloodstone used his money and connections to board his private sea-skimmer.
That vessel has been transporting Bloodstone, Brad Carter and Samantha Eden to our main character’s private island, named after himself, naturally. The men have updated Samantha on a few more details about their activities and resources. As the sea-skimmer reaches futuristic Bloodstone Island they are all shocked to see that Goram is there, already looking for more gem fragments.
While Ulysses once again battles the huge creature, Samantha and Brad go to a balcony of one of the island’s buildings, where she snaps more photos of Bloodstone in action. Our hero fights his way to the roof of one of the other buildings, from where he accesses the island’s high-tech defenses.
Enormous steel tentacles, like gigantic versions of Dr. Octopus’ arms, emerge from nearby buildings and restrain Goram while also channeling electricity to keep the beast numb and immobile. From high above Bloodstone Island, the costumed Killer Shrike has been watching, hovering in the air via his battle suit’s anti-gravity technology.
The mercenary decides that the best way to find out for Ulluxy’l and the Conspiracy bosses just who the unknown interlopers are would be to free their beast Goram and then follow Goram to them. He flies down to the island and uses his armor’s talons and energy blasts to free the sea creature.
Rather than head for home, Goram prefers to stay and continue looking for gem fragments. Killer Shrike is annoyed but decides to attack Bloodstone himself while he’s here. The villain’s outfit also grants him superhuman strength, so he and Ulysses go at it in a Battle Royal with every weapon they have.
Eventually, Goram slips back into the Atlantic Ocean and flees, but Brad Carter follows him aboard one of Bloodstone’s compact submarines. While he trails Goram and our main character battles Killer Shrike, we cut to a commercial airline taking a scientist named Oliver Quinn to a professional seminar in Europe. Without warning an enormous, monstrous winged creature seizes the plane in its claws and flies off with it.
Back at Bloodstone Island, the clash between Ulysses and Killer Shrike ends with our hero defeating and knocking out the villain. While Bloodstone and Samantha secure the mercenary and worry about Brad Carter, we cut to Brad in the sub.
The former actor has followed Goram to an undersea grotto and foolishly drives the sub inside, where he discovers a high-tech headquarters. He also comes face to face with the enigmatic leader of the other parties looking for fragments of the Starstone, but we will not be shown who it is until next issue.
On Bloodstone Island, Ulysses and Samantha have been comparing notes about a case that Bloodstone had thought was unrelated to the gem fragments and monsters, but now realizes there may be a connection after all.
News of the scientist Oliver Quinn’s plane vanishing with the pilot’s last radio message describing an enormous winged creature reminds both of them about a rash of disappearing scientists from around the world. Samantha had done more research into it than Bloodstone because she was sniffing out a story, so she agrees to help him contact some prominent scientists to see what they can turn up.
This issue closes with Samantha saying their best bet is to start with one of the most famous scientists on her list – Tony Stark.
RAMPAGING HULK Vol 1 #3 (June 1977)
Title: Notes from Eden
Villains: Ulluxy’l and Centurius
Synopsis: We pick up the evening of the following day. Bloodstone is away from his island trying to covertly rendezvous with Tony Stark about the missing scientists and the possibility that several of them were abducted by gigantic creatures.
While he is away from Bloodstone Island, reporter Samantha Eden, whom he gave access to his archives, goes through them with a fine-tooth comb, to pick up what information she can. She commits everything to her notes, from Ulysses Bloodstone’s origin to his ongoing monster hunts and war with Ulluxy’l.
Over time, Bloodstone has gained special status with most countries around the world for monster-slaying missions he has undertaken for them. He has secret contacts everywhere, it seems. Samantha also learns that Bloodstone Island was once the secret HQ of the Hulk’s old foe the Gremlin, a Soviet Mutant. Now it is owned by Ulysses.
Cut to the Long Island offices of Stark International. Bloodstone had no luck finding Tony Stark elsewhere so he has slipped onto the grounds at Stark’s Long Island headquarters. His powers and skills allow him to get as far as the roof of Tony’s private office before Ulysses finds himself under attack by Iron Man.
NOTE: Back then, the world did not know Tony Stark was really Iron Man. Tony pretended that Iron Man was just his high-tech bodyguard.
At any rate, Iron Man has never met Bloodstone and assumes he’s an enemy so the pair fight it out for awhile. Shortly, their destructive battle nearly kills several Stark employees working the night shift, but the danger causes Iron Man and Bloodstone to work together to save their lives and patch things up.
Soon, at a nearby office on the complex, Iron Man and Ulysses compare notes. S.H.I.E.L.D. had warned Tony Stark about the disappearing scientists lately and that’s why Iron Man jumped to conclusions about Bloodstone’s intentions.
Our main character explains to Iron Man that the compact sub that Brad Carter used to follow Goram had a built-in tracer but vanished at a certain spot in the Atlantic Ocean. The two heroes combine their information and Tony realizes that the person behind the abductions must be an old S.H.I.E.L.D. foe called Centurius.
Cut to the secret grotto where we see that Centurius is indeed the supervillain who has taken Brad Carter prisoner and is behind the abducted scientists. He has Brad in high-tech restraints near where he has the missing geniuses in cryo-tanks while his other machines pluck all their scientific secrets from them.
The mad scientist does a Villain Rant in which he explains to Brad that he has added the occult to his fields of study and by combining the mystic Starstone fragment that he had Goram steal for him with the scientific knowledge he has plundered from the abducted geniuses he has concocted a weapon that he says will pave the way for world conquest.
Cut back to Long Island, where Iron Man and Bloodstone have been conferring via video call with Nick Fury. The heroes give him the location they have triangulated for Centurius’ base and give him a time to rendezvous with them there with a squadron of S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft.
We return to Centurius’ base later, where the activities of him and his obedient amphibian/ human hybrid army are interrupted by an alarm going off. Centurius mobilizes his troops but suddenly, Ulluxy’l teleports into the villain’s midst, coming face to face with him.
The alien tells Centurius that he has much more of a claim on the Starstone fragments than he does and he demands the one that Centurius stole. While the villains and some of Centurius’ army of hybrids fight it out, we see that elsewhere, Iron Man has begun an aerial assault on the villain’s base.
While Tony has been clashing with Centurius’ troops and high-tech defenses, Bloodstone stealthily entered the island base from below. He fights his way through the interior of the HQ, using his usual weapons plus an adamantium sword and a launcher for blades that impale the amphibian-men.
At length, Iron Man is attacked by the enormous, winged creature that grabbed a commercial airliner last time around. In the lower corridors of the base, Bloodstone has run into a huge chamber where Goram lunges at him.
Naturally, both heroes emerge victorious in their respective battles and keep up their attack. In Bloodstone’s case he killed Goram by rigging up a special glove weapon that let him strike directly at the monster’s brain.
At one point Bloodstone shoots his way into the room where Brad and the scientists are being held. It’s also the room where Ulluxy’l is fighting with Centurius and his hybrids.
In the three-way brouhaha that results, Centurius ultimately uses his gem fragment-powered weapon to kill Ulluxy’l. And yes, believe it or not, Ulluxy’l really is dead. Centurius escapes after a clash with Bloodstone.
Iron Man comes flying in, so he and Bloodstone quickly free the scientists and Brad and get all of them ready to be evacuated by the arriving S.H.I.E.L.D. air squadron.
Typical of pop fiction, the escaping Centurius has timed explosives set to go off and the evacuation is completed just in time. After a post-action conversation between our heroes, Iron Man flies off for Long Island while Bloodstone and Brad Carter head for Bloodstone Island, where Samantha awaits.
RAMPAGING HULK Vol 1 #4 (August 1977)
Title: Return from Oblivion
Villains: The Exo-Mind and the Conspiracy
Synopsis: Back at Bloodstone Island, our hero and his sidekick are attacked by the island’s automated defenses. They fight past them and learn that they were set off by Samantha, who feared they were the bad guys.
Ulysses, Brad and Samantha relax and catch each other up. They also discuss the unexpected twist of the ancient Ulluxy’l being killed off by what had seemed to be merely human competitors.
Elsewhere, Interpol agents have a meeting about how active the mysterious, possibly criminal Ulysses Bloodstone has been lately.
Back at the island, our hero asks Samantha to be his P.R. Agent since it has been getting more and more difficult to stay under the radar. She agrees to consider the offer and will meet up with Bloodstone in a few days with her answer. Then she departs for her home in Marseilles.
Bloodstone tells Brad he needs to meditate for a few days to reassess strategy now that Ulluxy’l is dead. He goes into isolation and communes with the Starstone fragment in his chest. The mystic relic is “hijacked” to broadcast a message to Ulysses from the Exo-Mind, the intelligence behind the enigmatic, robed Conspiracy members.
The intelligence within the Hellfire Helix has been regaining independent power the more gem fragments that the Conspiracy has rounded up and is now running the entire plot. It also reveals that Centurius was secretly an additional member of the Conspiracy.
Centurius’ use of science and the occult allowed the villain to use his gem fragment as a power source for a weapon powerful enough to kill even a being like Ulluxy’l. With Ulluxy’l dead, the other members of the Conspiracy simply raided the dead alien’s old lair and helped themselves to all the Starstone fragments that Ulluxy’l had rounded up over the last 10,000 years.
Combined with the fragments the other members of the Conspiracy had rounded up and kept secret from Ulluxy’l, it was enough to restore sentience to the Exo-Mind of the Hellfire Helix. The being now plans to defy even its godlike creators of so long ago by using its incredible power for itself.
The Exo-Mind and its human allies now need only a few more fragments to completely reassemble the Starstone, and naturally one of those fragments is the one in Bloodstone’s chest. They fondly anticipate killing him to obtain that gem fragment.
When Bloodstone finally comes out of his meditation he tells Brad he knows what the Exo-Mind will try next and that they must prepare for all-out war. Meanwhile, in Marseilles, Samantha Eden is seized by a lurking masked figure in her apartment. The figure, calling himself Domino, is a superpowered Interpol agent and wants to know everything she does about Ulysses Bloodstone or he will kill her.
NOTE: This is an entirely different “Domino” than the later female character of that name.
RAMPAGING HULK Vol 1 #5 (October 1977)
Title: Suite Fear
Villains: The Conspiracy
Synopsis: Bloodstone and Brad Carter arrive in New York City and check into a posh hotel on 59th Street. Ulysses has pulled strings to be able to address a secret U.N. session in a day or so about the pressing matter of the Starstone and the Conspiracy.
Agents of the Conspiracy watch him in his hotel room via concealed cameras. Elsewhere, Conspiracy agents carry out suicide attacks in major cities. The masked Interpol agent calling himself Domino absurdly dines with Samantha Eden at a Marseilles restaurant while trying to interrogate her. Nobody says anything about his mask.
The Conspiracy uses nuclear warheads to utterly annihilate Bloodstone Island so that our hero will have no base to return to ever again. At a New York hospital, Killer Shrike is under police guard but is still comatose from his battle with Bloodstone a few issues back.
Next comes all action as the Conspiracy agents reveal that Bloodstone’s hotel room is a high-tech trap. He has been sealed in with titanium steel doors and walls and is then subjected to a series of very high-tech death traps designed to destroy his body but leave the gem fragment in his chest unmolested.
Our hero survives every trap, then manages to burst out of the room and save all the other visitors at the hotel from a powerful explosion. Taking in the aftermath, the exhausted Bloodstone reflects that at last he knows where the members of the Conspiracy can be located.
Meanwhile, at the hospital mentioned previously, a supervillain called the Modular Man has covertly entered the hospital where he brings Killer Shrike out of his coma and provides him with a copy of his battle suit. The villains then leave with a civilian-garbed Conspiracy agent.
NOTE: In the future, Marvel will retcon this ending so that it is really an agent of the sinister group called the Corporation that Modular Man and Killer Shrike are hired by.
RAMPAGING HULK Vol 1 #6 (December 1977)
Title: Conspiracy Ascendant
Villains: The Conspiracy and Sharzan
Synopsis: This issue opens up with Bloodstone a few floors above his hotel suite. He bashes into a room filled with five of the mysterious international members of the Conspiracy whose presence his gem fragment-senses detected on the premises.
Ulysses overcomes all the physical threats thrown at him by the quintet, then for the first time comes face to face with several of the Conspiracy’s participants. The multiracial group of men unleash their personal mystic forces on him, forces granted by the Exo-Mind they worship like a god.
Meanwhile, Brad Carter arrives back from the airport after picking up Samantha Eden. There is a lot of chaos in the hotel, with one entire floor destroyed by Bloodstone’s efforts against the high-tech death traps last time around.
The situation isn’t helped when Ulysses, after overcoming the mystic might of the five Conspiracy members in the room, thus killing them, bursts out of their suite through a wall. After calming down the hotel management, Bloodstone leads Samantha and Brad to a cab which races off before any more Conspiracy operatives can arrive on the scene.
The trio take the cab to a shady bar in Harlem, where it turns out that the man who runs the place knows that Bloodstone is the secret owner of the establishment. The man ushers our hero and his 2 friends to the secret underground level which is tricked out in Bloodstone’s usual high-tech equipment.
Brad tells Samantha he’s been with Ulysses for 2 years and this is the first time he’s been brought to this particular backup hideout. Samantha hires on as our hero’s P.R. agent and Bloodstone is glad. He then tries to tie in with the computers on Bloodstone Island but is unable to. He hopes it’s just a technical glitch, unaware that the Conspiracy members nuked it into ruins last time around.
Ulysses dispatches Brad to the island in the sea-skimmer to see what the problem is at that end. He also tells Samantha to use this base’s computers to decipher a coded communique he took from the Conspiracy members’ suite during their clash.
Bloodstone himself goes off to his scheduled address to the United Nations. Once there, he discusses how the current crisis is beyond anything ever before encountered in the modern age. He requests sovereignty for Bloodstone Island to use as a spearhead for the international effort he will need to coordinate.
Before he can speak any further, a gigantic horned monster called Sharzan materializes outside the U.N. building and attacks the building to get at our hero. Amid the typically destructive battle, the fight spills out onto the New York City streets.
Bloodstone throws everything he has against Sharzan but can’t defeat him because of the being’s elemental powers. The creature overcomes him and teleports away with him.
The two appear in the other-dimensional chamber of Kaballa the Unclean, the demonic sorcerer who battled Marvel’s character the Golem multiple times.
(I gave a general review of the failed Golem series HERE.)
Ulysses shouts defiance at the villain, but Kaballa warns him that he will either serve him (Kaballa) or die. So saying he immerses our hero in a pool of foul black liquid.
The closing blurb of this issue stated that Bloodstone’s fate would be decided in Rampaging Hulk #8, NOT 7. The extra time was supposedly to see if there was sufficient interest from the fans to justify going with a final chapter that kept the character alive or if Marvel’s writers could just go ahead and kill him off, ending his never-popular saga.
RAMPAGING HULK Vol 1 #8 (April 1978)
Title: Earth Shall Have a New Master
Villains: Kaballa, the Conspiracy, the Exo-Mind and Centurius
Synopsis: This final part opens up with Bloodstone emerging from the black liquid he was immersed in for an unknown amount of time while Kaballa and Sharzan look on.
NOTE: Okay, as you can guess the revived Bloodstone series did not garner enough interest to keep it going. Marvel didn’t exactly help it by never even MENTIONING Bloodstone’s backup series on the cover of issues of Rampaging Hulk.
Steve Gerber replaced John Warner as the writer for this final installment, just one of many seemingly hostile moves against this once-promising series. It’s like Gerber and the editors took some kind of spiteful glee in utterly degrading the character of Bloodstone and the story elements of his saga.
Back to the mostly pointless story. Bloodstone’s immersion in Kaballa’s foul liquid has not only dulled his mind but left his body tender enough that the gem fragment embedded in his chest can at last be removed and restored to the Starstone, which is back to being called the Blood Gem.
Kaballa claims that the Exo-Mind (or the Hellfire Helix, maybe, very little of this rushed ending makes sense) had deceived Bloodstone during his recent meditative communion with it. It was just using him so that it could experience being human for a while (10,000 YEARS!) and now wants to see humanity through other eyes.
NOTE: Yes, this makes no sense and ignores most of what went before. And if you think this is bad, wait til you see what they do to some of the other characters. Oh, and if you’re wondering about Killer Shrike and the Modular Man, don’t bother. Whatever their mission was for the Conspiracy we’ll never know because they don’t appear in this wrap-up story.
Next up, they rob all dignity from Ulysses Bloodstone’s character by having Kaballa tell him that the gem fragment in his chest intentionally kept him (supposedly) “stupid”, which is not at all like the figure we read about all along. Greater insults are still to come.
After Kaballa uses his mystic energy blasts to beat down the token resistance that the nearly enthralled Bloodstone can muster, he tells him to prepare to meet all the surviving members of the Conspiracy … and to die.
Cut to Samantha Eden researching at the 42nd Street branch of the New York Library to try translating the message Ulysses found back at the hotel. She decides it’s all just gibberish and that Bloodstone and his whole message and crusade were nothing but superstition and nonsense.
(And no, that conclusion makes no sense given what she has witnessed during this story.)
She encounters Domino, once again walking around with his mask on and nobody saying anything. Now we get more contradictory gibberish. Domino tells Samantha that he no longer needs her to report Bloodstone’s activities to him, as he is now dead.
Domino also claims that his main goal was to prevent her and Ulysses from falling in love, since “love” would have been able to save Bloodstone from his fate. You can’t count how many ways that’s wrong. For just one thing it ignores the fact that it was Samantha and BRAD CARTER who were a thing, not Samantha and Bloodstone.
Plus, does that mean Domino has really been working for the Conspiracy and NOT Interpol?
Even worse, Gerber now utterly destroys Samantha Eden’s character to such a degree that she has NEVER been used again in any story. Samantha says she didn’t care about Bloodstone (no, she had a fling with Brad) but was just leading him on to get a story out of him. (He and Samantha never flirted or seemed interested in each other, so this is REALLY stupid.)
To make you thoroughly despise Samantha Eden after Domino walks off, she reflects to herself that she found Ulysses Bloodstone to be the biggest bore she ever met and that he was “fun to watch, agonizing to know.”
Cut to Brad Carter as he arrives at Bloodstone Island where he is horrified by the wreckage. (Presumably he’s absorbing residual radiation, too.) Before he can try to radio Bloodstone’s Harlem hideout about what happened, one of Centurius’ amphibian/ human hybrids shows up, tells him Ulysses is already dead and then blasts him to death with his energy gun. Worse, as the hybrid leaves, he taunts the dead Brad Carter by saying “You died as you lived, thespian – tritely. Let that be your epitaph.”
Okay, the spite-fest rolls along as we cut back to Kaballa and the tranquilized Bloodstone. Gerber now strips the villains of all menace by showing our hero that the remaining members of the Conspiracy consist of an intelligent dolphin who found a Blood Gem fragment, Centurius, with his fragment, and an amoral surgeon, who will extract the fragment in Bloodstone’s chest.
And the final member of the Conspiracy is a stripper called Bubbles O’Day, who found her own fragment. Adding to the weirdness is the fact that Bubbles is dressed to resemble Mera, Aqua-Man’s mate. I don’t know if it’s a follow-up joke to the dolphin or what. (And it was decades too early for an Amber Heard joke.)
Now that none of us can take any of the story seriously, the docile Ulysses Bloodstone removes his shirt and lies down on the operating table so that the evil surgeon can remove the gem fragment from his chest without anesthesia.
Our hero dies bloody during the perverse surgery. The doctor hands Kaballa the final fragment to restore the Hellfire Helix/ Blood Gem/ Starstone/ Whatever. He and the other members of the Conspiracy have done all this … so that the Hellfire Helix will grant them as long a life as Bloodstone himself lived.
WHAT? Kaballa himself has been alive since the time of ancient Egypt. His previous schemes involved conquering the world by trying to take over the Golem’s indestructible body. Combined with his own mastery of sorcery, he would have strength equal to the Hulk and magic powers greater than Dr. Strange. Now suddenly he just wants to live longer?
Anyway, Kaballa, Centurius, the dolphin, the stripper and the surgeon now perform the Ritual of Joining, adding all their fragments to the hundreds of others that were already recovered to make the Blood Gem/ Hellfire Helix/ Starstone/ Whatever whole once more.
Before we are shown the results of that ritual we cut back to Bloodstone’s dead body. Staying inconsistent EVEN WITHIN THE SAME ISSUE, we are now told that residual energy from the gem fragment reanimates our hero’s corpse, but he no longer has any powers or any intelligence beyond the primitive hunter he was 10,000 years ago. (They’ll contradict that, too, in a few minutes.)
Running frantically through Kaballa’s lair, the comparatively simple-minded Bloodstone (complete with a bloody cavity in his chest where the gem fragment used to be) discovers the now-dead form of Sharzan. Why is it dead? None of our business!
Frantically trying to escape the cavernous domain of Kaballa, our hero plunges back into the pool of black liquid and swims along … until he surfaces in a pond in Central Park in New York City. Just to rub it in, Gerber’s narration tells us that apparently Kaballa’s lair lies in a cave underneath Central Park.
NOTE: Sheesh! Now Gerber’s pissing on ANOTHER series, too! In the short-lived Golem series it was stated that Kaballa was trapped in another dimension from which his only escape was to take over a body that was still in our plane of existence. He wanted the Golem’s body for reasons stated above. According to this pointless twist all Kaballa ever had to do to escape was SWIM.
Our hero is now running in search of the restored gem, driven by vague memories. He catches up with it and we see that the Blood Gem or whatever has grown gigantic, has sprouted legs and is rampaging through New York City like a jeweled version of the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man in a certain movie 6 years in the future.
A face of each Conspiracy member shows in a facet of the walking gem. The gem talks to the panicked New Yorkers, encouraging as many people as it can to “join” with it and gain the powers of a god. Bloodstone, still shirtless and mutilated, dives into The Gem That Walked Like A Man to try fighting the forces inside of it.
Once inside it’s like a whole world in there, like Marvel would later depict regarding souls absorbed by Adam Warlock’s Soul Gem. Our hero sees that all of the Conspiracy members are suffering and are trapped forever in the hellish gem, which lied to them about being granted lives as long as Bloodstone’s had been.
Ulysses, still in his primitive state, focuses enough mental energy to conjure up a mystic spear. Hey, why not at this point? He fights his way past the Exo-Mind to reach the Hellfire Helix at its core. He then uses his magic spear to destroy the helix and the gem forever.
The rampaging gem-creature, far short of its goal of absorbing every soul on Earth, shatters, and collapses into nothing but ordinary glass now. Left in its wake is the skeleton of Bloodstone, still wearing his pants and boots.
The puzzled New Yorkers who just witnessed all this weirdness ponder what happened. And that wraps up this joke at the expense of anybody who was actually interested in this series in the 1970s. What a bizarre waste!
NOTE: Decades later, Marvel Comics would have supervillains like the 2nd Baron Zemo trying to lay their hands on Bloodstone’s skeleton to tap into the residue of Blood Gem energies suffusing it. Also decades later, Marvel launched Ulysses Bloodstone’s daughter Elsa as a monster hunter in her own right.
BLOODSTONE PREQUEL STORIES: Marvel later retconned events so that a few of the monster-defeating characters from their 1960s monster comics were really Bloodstone. Among those stories:
STRANGE TALES Vol 1 #73 (February 1960)
Title: Grottu, King of the Insects
Synopsis: Bloodstone travels to Kenya to defeat a kaiju sized soldier ant called Grottu by the Kenyans. It was mutated by radiation from illegal Soviet nuclear tests in the jungle and was also controlling other ants psychically.
TALES OF SUSPENSE Vol 1 #9 (May 1960)
Title: I Saw Diablo, the Demon from the 5th Dimension
Synopsis: Arriving in Trinidad & Tobago, Bloodstone saves the world from a smoke monster called Diablo, the scout for a planned invasion from the 5th Dimension.
I would have added these clashes with Xemnu:
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #62 (November 1960)
Title: I Was a Slave of the Living Hulk
Synopsis: Bloodstone, using the false identity Joe Harper, frees Earth from the hypnotic control of a huge, furry alien criminal called Xemnu the Living Hulk. Our hero prevents Earth’s destruction at Xemnu’s hands and traps him in orbit around the sun.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #66 (March 1961)
Title: Return of the Living Hulk
Synopsis: Bloodstone, again using the false Joe Harper name, loses contact with Xemnu’s spaceship prison. Alarmed, he tracks the escapee to Pineville, NC where Xemnu has enthralled the citizens to construct a world-conquering device for him. Bloodstone succeeds in disintegrating the alien with its own weapon.
BLOODSTONE FAN RETCON – I would insert Ulysses Bloodstone instead of Power Man into this team-up with the Thing (see below).
From its title you can tell it’s partly a tongue-in-cheek salute to the kind of monster tales that Marvel thrived on before returning to superheroes in 1961. In other words the above kind of stories that Marvel itself had already retconned Bloodstone into having participated in.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #13 (January 1976)
Title: I Created Braggadoom, the Mountain That Walks Like a Man
NOTE: This story came out just one month after Bloodstone’s 2-part introduction in Marvel Presents #1 & 2. It would have worked well as a promotional piece, since unsold copies of his intro tale would have still been lingering at places where comic books were sold back then.
Krasner’s Bio-Systems, Incorporated would hire Ulysses Bloodstone rather than Power Man to subdue their escaped experimental creation Braggadoom as quickly as possible before the Avengers or Fantastic Four get involved.
Dialogue would let us know that Bloodstone makes a lot of money from corporations when their carelessness unleashes creatures spawned by radiation or pollution. In the case of Braggadoom, it started out as a small blob of mutated protoplasm which fed upon a reporter and the owner of Krasner Biosystems, then began growing and growing.
Our hero would take the case, then rush with his new assistants Brad Carter and P.D.Q. Werner to Central Park, where Braggadoom is on a rampage. We would learn that Bloodstone employs Carter and Werner to film his battles with assorted monsters so that he can have video records for his files of the creatures he faces.
At the concert pavilion in Central Park, Bloodstone would find the Thing already battling the enormous monster because he and Alicia Masters were attending the concert when Braggadoom struck. Bloodstone and the Thing would eventually cause the creature to stop growing and to revert to the size of one foot tall, like happened in the original story.
Comment: Because Braggadoom never appeared again this would not only nicely slip Bloodstone into an additional story, but one that would not impact anything else in the Marvel Universe.
FOR MY LOOK AT DOC SAMSON, A NEGLECTED MARVEL HERO WITH A HAPPIER ENDING – CLICK HERE.
FOR MY LOOK AT THE ORIGINAL GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY STORIES 1969-1977 CLICK HERE.
FOR MY LOOK AT STAR-LORD’S EARLY ADVENTURES BEGINNING IN 1976, CLICK HERE.
FOR MY LOOK AT IT, THE LIVING COLOSSUS, MARVEL’S POTENTIAL KAIJU SERIES, CLICK HERE.