The good guys in the Asbestos Man universe weren’t particularly good so it followed that the bad guys weren’t particularly bad. Another running theme I discovered rereading the stories is that, with one exception, the villains that Asbestos Man faced weren’t born villains. They were victims of circumstances. These circumstances always happened off-screen, but with one exception there was an explanation for their villainy.
Dr. Krelg-Not really a doctor but a government food inspector Aloysius Krelg slipped off a catwalk in a factory and fell into a vat of butterscotch pudding. It had previously been his favorite flavor. The experience left him deeply embittered and determined to control his destiny in destructive ways. After renting a shed atop local Peak Lookover and converting it into a laboratory he began experimenting. His experiments with bandanas and hats were failures. His only success was animating wigs. They would eventually turn on him when they realized he couldn’t pay them minimum wage.
Professor Fliddro-Formerly an eccentric teacher at a private school for pre-adolescent boys Elmore Fliddro was doing his normal weekly grocery shopping when a shelf of baby food toppled over on him. The experience left him deeply embittered and determined to control his destiny in destructive ways. It also left him obsessed with children’s toys. His nefarious schemes were limited to taking over local malls, particularly the toy stores. He was assisted by two henchmen and a giant animated quilt.
Kevin-One of Professor Fliddro’s henchmen Kevin was deeply loyal in spite of being puzzled by his boss’s schemes.
Ralph-Like Kevin Ralph was puzzled by Professor Fliddro’s schemes, but went along anyway, as long as they stopped for regular coffee breaks. When, as a warm-up for a larger heist, they rob a local Fuddrucker’s Ralph also orders a cheeseburger to go.
The Quilt-A Sesame Street quilt standing nearly seven feet tall. The Quilt had the power to absorb people and carry them long distances, although under duress it would release them. The Quilt’s exact origins are unknown.
Note: A guy in the dorm room next to me had a Sesame Street quilt. I never did ask why, but it seemed like kind of a funny thing to bring to college.
Roderick Skwelm-Formerly a normal English teacher Skwelm used correct but unusual words almost constantly. For instance after a shower he wouldn’t “dry off”. He would “pursue aridity”. His fiancée left him both because she couldn’t understand him and because his apartment was filthy. The experience left him deeply embittered and determined to control his destiny in destructive ways. His mother left him the secret to animate tapioca pudding. He would use this to create a large slimy mass set loose to confuse the city.
Slimy Mass-Animated tapioca pudding. The Slimy Mass meandered through the city spouting non sequiturs it had learned from Roderick Skwelm’s trademarked English language learning tapes. “Please send the valet up to my room,” it would say, or, “I have been working out and my liver is feeling much better.” Taken to the Asbestos Parlor it briefly served as Asbestos Man’s receptionist until it dissolved.
Havel Freezener-Potentially Asbestos Man’s only real nemesis, the Joker to his Batman so to speak, Freezener’s exact origins are unclear, but he is at the heart of a crime syndicate that sneaks banned books into schools and sells experimental acne medications. The police have had great difficulty in capturing him, but, when Asbestos Man first encounters Freezener he’s locked in jail on an illegal parking charge. He is assisted by his henchman Boris.
Boris-Boris and Freezener met on a school trip to Europe and bonded over their hatred of all things related to Belgium, including Belgians. Boris takes advantage of Asbestos Man’s ignorance and goodwill and attempts to use him as a messenger to deliver Freezener’s bail money. The plot is thwarted when Captain Brunge and Officer Zumstein learn some weirdo is trying to deliver Freezener’s bail money.
Those were the bad guys, but there was also a whole set of characters off to the side who were neither good nor bad but simply caught in the crossfire. They were a strange collection of individuals. Stay tuned.