Charles Bell joined one of the major gangs in the City of Dakota. He was among the hundreds of gang members who fought in the Big Bang, a turf war on Paris Island (Dakota's poorest neighborhood) that would determine which gang was the city's most powerful. The situation worsened with the arrival of Dakota police officers, who deployed a special tear gas to help them more easily capture all the gang members. Unknown to the officers, the gas had been secretly laced with Quantum Juice,a bizarre mutagenic substance that killed 90 percent of those at the Bang while the survivors known as "Bang Babies" became genetic freaks. In Bell's case, he was now a being of molten asphalt due to his body merging with the section of the street where he passed out. Bell renamed himself Tarmack and used T-1000, the shapeshifting villain from the Terminator 2 movie, as inspiration to hone his new powers.
The only things holding Tarmack from a being a major supervillain was his low intelligence and lack of vision. Enter Holocaust, a Bang Baby determined to forge his own criminal empire after being expelled from the street gang, the Blood Syndicate. He thought Tarmack would be an excellent enforcer for his organization. Apart from his formidable abilities, Tarmack's low intelligence and fear of Holocaust's fiery powers eliminated any chance of him turning traitor. Now having a clear purpose, Tarmack proved to be as loyal and deadly an enforcer as Holocaust had hoped.
Tarmack's near perfect record ended with his first encounter with a superhero, namely Static. Holocaust heard how the teen crimefighter soundly defeated the superfast gang leader Hotstreak, whom the crimelord had considered hiring. Holocaust ordered Tarmack to test Static's abilities, recruit him he was worthy, and kill him if he proved too moral for his crime syndicate.
Tarmack raised all sorts of havoc throughout Dakota to lure out Static. This proved a mistake since the well-prepared Static employed various subzero substances he had acquired earlier (dry ice, liquid oxygen, etc.) against Tarmack, who began to freeze solid. To add insult to injury, Static then flattened the immobile enforcer with a steamroller. An impressed Holocaust had been observing the battle and offered Static a place in his criminal organization. Though tempted, Static ultimately declined and thus earned Holocaust's eternal enmity.
His loss to Static aside, Tarmack played a major role in defending and expanding Holocaust's criminal empire. Eventually, Holocaust felt he had amassed enough clout to earn a seat on the Coalition, an alliance of Dakota's most powerful crime families. However, the Coalition felt he was too low class to join their group. Enraged, Holocaust led Tarmack and new recruit Bad Betty in a full assault of the home of Coalition member Elijah Sinclair. Despite the total destruction of Sinclair and his Paris Blood criminal corporation, the Coalition still would not relent to Holocaust. So, Tarmack joined Holocaust and Betty to attack the headquarters of crime boss Sanchez Cantano, the most vocal opponent of Holocaust joining the Coalition. Before his demise, Cantano used his Coalition connections to "persuade" Mayor Jefferson to send police assistance. Arriving on the scene, the police strike team GRIND promptly launched a rocket attack on Holocaust and Tarmack. While Holocaust shrugged off the rockets, Tarmack was shattered by the explosion. After repelling GRIND, Holocaust and Betty retrieved Tarmack's remains and withdrew to their Hot Spot headquarters. A day or so later, Tarmack had fully reassembled himself and learned that Holocaust had finally earned his seat in the Coalition…at the cost of his name. Holocaust now called himself Pyre.
Pyre's Coalition status greatly expanded the business opportunities (legal and illegal) for all in his organization. The most significant was Utopia Park, a multibillion dollar futuristic theme park established on Paris Island that would prove a huge financial windfall for the Coalition. However, construction of the park bred resentment among the neighborhood's residents, many of whom had been pushed off their land and into hastily built projects. Realizing the potential backlash, Pyre agreed to form Pyre's Brigade, a team of superhuman security guards like Tarmack, which would eliminate anyone who breached the park's defense perimeter. Sure enough, on opening day, the Blood Syndicate led a crowd of disgruntled Paris Island residents to the gates of Utopia Park to protest their mistreatment. Pyre's Brigade moved in to diffuse the situation, but instead wound up engaging the Syndicate in fierce combat. As the tide of battle began to turn against the Brigade, an infuriated Pyre unleashed his full pyrokinetic fury against everyone around him. All the combatants escaped except for Tarmack, who found himself being painfully consumed by the firestorm. He would have died had not the invulnerable Wise Son of the Syndicate used reason to calm Pyre down and end his rampage.
By this point, Utopia Park was being torn apart by a riot sparked by a regular security guard accidentally killing one of the protesters. The Syndicate quickly decided to break into the park's main terminal and neutralize its superpowered guards so that Wise Son could use the public announcement system to quell the riot. In a surprising display of initiative, Tarmack along with Bad Betty agreed to help the Syndicate. The plan was successful, and the riot came to an end.
Despite being nearly killed by Pyre, Tarmack again pledged his loyalty to the crimelord. Pyre decided to focus his energies in consolidating his criminal organization's power before planning his next move. Then, two events occurred that led to a radical shift in the status quo of the Dakota underworld. First, months after the Utopia Riots, the Blood Syndicate disbanded in the wake of the seeming demise of Syndicate member Kwai and her mortal enemy, Demon Fox of the Coalition. Second, several Coalition members had suffered major setbacks thanks to Dakota's numerous superheroes. Seizing the opportunity, Pyre formed a new Blood Syndicate consisting of members of the original gang as well as his own enforcers, including Tarmack and Betty. Thus began the so-called "Blood Reign," in which Pyre used his new Syndicate to become the most powerful Coalition member by taking "tribute" from rival crime families. Those that refused would see their operations completely wiped out as occurred to crime boss Milton St. Cloud.
Having subjugated Dakota's underworld, Holocaust (now having abandoned his Pyre alias) next planned to destroy the city's superheroes, starting with his nemesis, Icon. Using Fade as bait, Holocaust lured Icon to the original Blood Syndicate's Factory headquarters, where the Hero of Dakota was ambushed by the new Syndicate. Icon anticipated such treachery by Holocaust and brought along back-up in the form of Rocket, Static, and Hardware. Syndicate member Harm revealed himself to be a double agent allied with Icon, and the battle between the two sides was joined.
Tarmack was defeated early in the battle when he was frozen solid by a cryonic shell fired by Hardware. The battle was then interrupted by the arrival of those original Syndicate members who refused to join Holocaust's criminal empire. Wise Son then faced Holocaust in a duel for control of the Syndicate, which ended in the latter's death. Now leaderless, the new Syndicate promptly surrendered.
Powers and Abilities
- Unique Physiology: Tarmack's superhuman abilities stem from his organic body being merged with asphalt. He is superhumanly strong and durable. Tarmack can easily shrug off high-caliber gunfire and has withstood electric shocks that would be lethal to a normal human being.
- Superhuman Strength
- Superhuman Durability
- Superhuman Stamina
- Thermokinesis: Tarmack's internal body temperature is higher than the human norm so that his asphalt based form remains fluid enough for him to move normally. He can consciously increase his internal body temperature up to a maximum limit of 300 degrees F (the melting point of asphalt). When heating up, Tarmack's touch can burn flesh, wood, glass, plastics, and even soft metals.
- Metamorphosis: Tarmack also has complete subliminal control over the particles that compose his body. By using this ability in conjunction with his temperature control, he can quickly change his shape in any way imaginable. Hence, Tarmack can stretch his arms or use his elongated legs as stilts to walk over barriers like walls. His shapeshifting grants him offensive capabilities as well like changing his hands into weapons (hammers, blades, etc.) or morphing into a giant ball to run over his enemies. Tarmack can even turn himself molten asphalt while retaining his sentience. In his this fluid state, Tarmack is immune to conventional injury and can slither under any door to invade enemy strongholds. One of his favorite tricks is to disguise himself as harmless street pavement until he suddenly ambushes, envelopes and suffocates an passing foe.
- Density Control: Tarmack's control over his internal structure and temperature is such that he can affect select portions of his body. Hence, he can render his fist solid to strike an opponent while leaving the rest of his form liquid to defend against counterattacks.
- Regeneration: His extensive control also enables him to reform if the particles in his body are dispersed as by a large explosion. Tarmack finds such dispersal and reassembly of himself to be a major psychological and physical strain. Hence, he avoids it as much as possible.
- Diminished Intellect
- Vulnerability to Temperature Extremes: Tarmack is vulnerable to extreme changes in temperature beyond his safe range.
- Vulnerability to Cold: If exposed to extremely cold substances like dry ice, he will rapidly freeze and become immobilized. If permitted to thaw, he will slowly revert to his regular temperature and be no worse for wear.
- Vulnerability to Heat: Conversely, temperatures well above Tarmack's maximum limit can cause him to ignite inasmuch as his body is composed of a petroleum-based substance, i.e., asphalt. Prolonged exposure would consume enough of his form to be fatal. If he can flee from such intense heat, Tarmack will begin to subconsciously repair the damage.
Various melee weapons formed from his own body.
- Enemy of Static
- Tarmack was among several characters to appear in the Milestone: The Dakota Universe trading card series that debuted in 1993. He appears on Card #29.
- 5 Appearances of Charles Bell (Dakotaverse)
- 3 Images featuring Charles Bell (Dakotaverse)
- Quotations by or about Charles Bell (Dakotaverse)
- Character Gallery: Charles Bell (Dakotaverse)
This character is or was primarily an enemy of Static. This template will categorize articles that include it into the category "Static Villains."