- Pretty hideous, isn't it? Not a face at all, really... But a mass of scar tissue-- The results of radiation-burns suffered when I opened a container filled with atomic wastes... In the mistaken belief it actually held a payroll shipment! But my deformity is the price I paid for my power! The radiation turned me into a walking atomic furnace-- Burning up the energy of a normal man in mere minutes! --But I can replenish it... By stealing energy from others!
- — Parasite src
Raymond Maxwell Jensen, alias Parasite, was an enemy of Superman who could absorb powers.
Maxwell Jensen was a menial laborer employed at a research facility, who resented his poor treatment by his employers and had a bad attitude towards honest work. Believing that toxic waste disposal containers were being used to stash employee payrolls, Jensen incautiously opened one and was saturated by the radioactive emissions of unknown substances retrieved from space by Superman for scientific analysis. As a result, Jensen was mutated into a hideously disfigured, purple-skinned creature with a ravenous physiological demand to directly consume extrinsic sources of energy: The Parasite! Jensen began by sapping the life-forces from the scientists at the facility and planned to get revenge on the society whose contemptuous indifference he chafed under. The first step was to absorb power from Superman himself. Having also absorbed Superman's memories, Parasite learned his secret identity as Clark Kent and planned to threaten to expose it in order to keep the Man of Steel at bay as he went on a looting spree through Metropolis. Ultimately, Superman and the Parasite got into a fight of raw brawn, where Parasite had the advantage due to taking energy from Superman every second that the two traded blows. Parasite was unable to reveal Superman's secret identity due to having inadvertently rendered everyone in the vicinity of their battle unconscious with his energy-absorption, and though Parasite was on the verge of beating Superman to death, his body could no longer contain Superman's power and disintegrated into microscopic particles.
An alien geographer found the cloud of dispersed matter which was once the Parasite and reconstituted the villain in his spaceship, whereupon the Parasite absorbed the alien's entire life-force and used the ship to return to Earth. Absorbing enough of the skills of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen to make an impression on Perry White, the Parasite found employment at the Daily Planet under the false identity of "Larcon P. Leech." Paired with Clark Kent for his first several assignments, Parasite decided that the proper strategy would be to absorb Superman's power incrementally, over such a long period of time that neither Superman would notice it nor would the absorbed energy overload his body. However, Clark did notice that his powers were ebbing at critical periods, pieced the Parasite's scheme together, and neutralized him with the cooperation of the fellows of the unfortunate alien who restored the Parasite. The Parasite was taken prisoner by the aliens and taken from Earth to stand trial for murder on the aliens' home-world. The Parasite eventually escaped the alien penal colony he was sentenced to. During the getaway, a guard's laser blast struck him on the side, somehow changing his physiology such that his cells would reintegrate over time if dispersed, as though acting under their own willpower.
Many years later, the Parasite returned to Earth and stalked Lex Luthor for an undisclosed amount of time. Eventually, Parasite made his move when both Luthor and he were visiting the Superman Museum in disguise. Parasite nudged Luthor slightly in a congested exhibit hall, but that was all it took for Parasite to replicate Luthor's voice, fingerprints, and everything essential about Luthor's physical form in order to convince the criminal genius's henchmen that he was their boss. Consequently, the Parasite manipulated Luthor's organization into giving him access to Luthor's fleet of automated flying saucers and mobilized them around Metropolis to give the city an ultimatum: Either the people and government of Metropolis would surrender to a wave of unrestrained pillage, or the flying saucers would annihilate the city from the tallest skyscraper to ground level with their directed energy weapons. Superman intervened, but the Parasite exploited the fact that Superman believed it was Luthor whom he faced, timing the moment of power-absorption with the very moment that Superman's fist made contact with his face to sap all the strength from it and direct it straight back at a baffled Superman with his own Sunday punch, which proved sufficient to knock Superman into a state of semi-unconsciousness. Lex Luthor had to interfere with Parasite's plot himself to stop it, less so to preserve Metropolis as to punish Parasite for hijacking his operations, and with Luthor's scientific help, Superman managed a way to transfer his willpower to a statue made in his own image and to use it as an animate avatar with which to smash the flying saucer fleet and negate Parasite's powers. The Parasite was temporarily transformed back into a powerless, normal man, in which state it was a relatively simple matter for the Metropolis Police Department to flush him out with a city-wide sweep and arrest him.
The Parasite was one of the super-villains gathered by the psychic conjurings of the alien planetary-saboteur Mister Xavier, grouped with Lex Luthor and Mister Mxyzptlk and sent to the Rocky Mountains to await their own chance to fight Superman in a gauntlet. When it became their turn, the threesome fared poorly, as all it took was for Superman to duck beneath Lex's energy-blaster weapon for the stream of power to hit Parasite. Instantly addicted to the power flow, Parasite forgot about the fight and tried to forcibly prevent Luthor from turning the weapon off, ultimately making it overload and blow up in both of their faces. It is unknown what happened to the Parasite after this but he was presumably returned to prison.
Using the genius-level intelligence that he obtained by absorbing the intellects of various scientist victims, the Parasite synthetically formed a Prism of Power which would boost his capacity to drain energy at a distance, but due to irregularities in the crystalline lattice of the Prism, the absorbed energies would randomly disperse any time light dispersed through the Prism. As a consequence, when Parasite used the Prism to absorb energies from Superman at long-distance, shares of this extracted power were accidentally distributed to Jon Ross, Jenet Klyburn, and other Metropolis citizens, and a side-effect of this power-distribution was that it would render its "beneficiaries" temporarily insane, causing the individuals who gained Superman's powers to go on destructive tantrums which Superman himself tried his best to quell. In the end, the Parasite revealed his responsibility for the situation to the Man of Tomorrow and used his willpower to channel the stolen shares of Superman's power through the Prism into his body. Then, Superman and Parasite broke out into a super-powered fight, which was only ended when Superman removed the Prism of Power from the Parasite's person. This had the effect of causing the Parasite to overload on the absorbed power and disintegrate again, just like during their first conflict.
This was not to be the true end of the insidious Parasite, as the cells of his body coalesced back into a coherent form. The Parasite dreamed up a more ambitious scheme than ever before: Collaborating with Gotham City crimelord "Mad Dog" Doyle, the Parasite purchased a hunk of mineral originating from Krypton from a carnie and used it to forge a message from Lara Lor-Van which attested to the existence of a long-lost hunchback brother of Superman. According to the fabricated story, "Kor-El" was kept hidden from Jor-El by Lara so as to prevent him from reacting with embarassment to siring such ugly progeny, especially with a handsome babe like Kal-El to tout to the Kryptonian populace. Then, when Krypton was in its death-throes, Lara left Kor-El in a cave with the tablet bearing the message telling the story in Kryptonese, and by a miracle, the cavern, its occupant, and the tablet survived being propelled the light-years from Krypton to Earth. Kor-El spent his formative years on the outskirts of Smallville, Kansas, observing Superboy in secret until such time as he could reveal his existence to his brother, but Superboy trapped Kor-El in a Kryptonite asteroid in order so he could retain his unique position on Earth among its people. In a shootout with the Gotham City Police Department, "Mad Dog" Doyle parlayed to exchange the tablet bearing the first half of this phony story in exchange for an hour of immunity from police pursuit. Through this method, the tablet came into the possession of Batman, who summoned Superman to the Batcave to verify its authenticity. Although perplexed by the message, Superman confirmed that the language was Kryptonese and that the material of the tablet did originate on Krypton, backing up the facade's verisimilitude. Later, an alien traveler contacted the Justice League of America with a claim that he found Kor-El drifting through space in the Kryptonite asteroid and aroused the JLAers' unthinking, righteous indignation by relating the second half of the fictive Kor-El origin story. Guilt at having committed a crime he couldn't remember and immense pressure from his teammates motivated Superman to risk his own death to break "Kor-El" free from the K asteroid. Back on Earth, "Kor-El," actually the Parasite wearing a distorted replica of Superman's form, rode his sudden wave of popularity to rapidly build a dictatorship over the United States of America, while appointing "Mad Dog" Doyle as his consigliere and preparing to call the United Nations to appoint him leader of a one-world totalitarian government. Superman was revived from the brink of death by the alien who was manipulated by the Parasite into doing his bidding, while Batman uncovered evidence that "Kor-El" wasn't Superman's true brother. Telling the JLA not to overtly challenge "Kor-El" to avoid turning Earth into a bloodbath, Superman and Batman executed a multi-part scheme to put "Kor-El" into contact with Kryptonite, accomplished by artificially converting Doyle's tablet into Green K, coating the giant statues of Jor-El and Lara in the Fortress of Solitude with a film made of this K, hidden beneath a thin layer of new paint, and donating the statues to "Kor-El" at the United Nations Building while disguised as dignitaries. Upon touching the statues, Kor-El was shocked back into his true form, that of the Parasite, and disintegrated once again.
The Parasite's form reconstituted itself once more, this time in a dumpster outside the UN building. However, Parasite retained a memory absorbed from physical contact with one of the American dignitaries he rubbed across as "Kor-El," giving him knowledge of an orbital satellite weapon being secretly developed by the United States Government, called the L.D.S. or Laser Defense System. With that knowledge, the Parasite masterminded a new plan, starting by using the Prism of Power to catalyze the strange reactions which created the zombie monstrosity Solomon Grundy on Earth-Two, using supernatural swamp matter brought by Grundy to the Earth-One dimension on a previous rampage as the substrate. The Parasite thereby created a new Solomon Grundy, who fought Superman in a running battle to prove his physical superiority. When Grundy failed to defeat Superman per the Parasite's designs, Parasite switched his strategy to using the Prism of Power to absorb away Superman's learned inhibitions regarding the utilization of his powers, in so doing deceiving Superman into believing that he was inexplicably becoming more powerful. U.S. military top brass gave Superman the mission of defending a lighthouse on an island held as government property from frogmen working for a hostile foreign power. Skeptical of the story fed to him by the generals, Superman instead had to deal with an octopus-like amphibious tank manned by the hostile foreign agents and afterwards learned that the "lighthouse" was truly a United States Army installation concealing the L.D.S. His inhbitions eroded away to nothing, Superman responded by lashing out at the military policemen assigned to guard the island and trashing security protecting the installation; meanwhile, the Parasite waylaid a physics professor hired by the military to be the chief designer of the L.D.S., and without whom no one would be able to use the system. The Parasite then absorbed the entire mentality of the captive professor as Superman, who deduced Parasite's involvement in the strange series of events, caught up with him. Unfortunately, Superman incorrectly believed that Parasite had used the Prism to boost his base power levels and compensated for his inability to properly control them by applying a "sunscreen" that would filter out the EM frequencies from which he derives his strength. As a result, the Parasite quickly absorbed Superman's power in a mid-flight chase, leaving Superman utterly powerless and in freefall. Barely surviving collision with the ground, Superman fell into a deep unconsciousness, during which time the Parasite killed the remaining military police on the island with the L.D.S. facility, took control of the orbital satellite laser weapon, and used it to ransom the city of Metropolis for $1,000,000,000 or face obliteration. Superman regained consciousness and washed off the "sunscreen" in time to return to his original power levels and faced off with Parasite in a heat-vision-beam showdown, although it was Parasite's own creation, the Solomon Grundy of Earth-One, who delivered the knockout blow in a moment of delicious irony.
The Parasite was incarcerated in the Mount Olympus Correctional Facility, AKA "Superman Island," along with Metallo and the Atomic Skull. Parasite's cell utilized a facsimile of his Power Prism to continuously drain energy from Parasite and divert it into powering the cell's hi-tech safeguards. One week after the prison was made fully operational, its designer and warden Carl Draper stole the power-packs from Parasite's cell as well as those of the other prisoners, in order to replicate their powers for Draper's own outing as the Master Jailer. The Parasite later escaped and formulated a two-pronged strategy to wear Superman down by attacking both his identities as the Man of Steel and as Clark Kent. Assuming the form of a Santa Claus impersonator during the Christmas season, Parasite sneaked up on government operative Cory Renwald and attacked him from behind. Although Renwald fought him off, the brief contact allowed Parasite to absorb Renwald's memories of his agency's standard operating procedure, thus allowing him to impersonate his superiors at pre-arranged rendezvous points and send Renwald on a mission to investigate Clark Kent for allegedly conspiring against the United States with alien invaders. Meanwhile, Parasite infiltrated the Fortress of Solitude and caught Superman unawares, stealing part of his life-force. Parasite then ambushed Clark Kent in the Galaxy Communications building later that day, stealing more of his energy and defeating him publicly as Superman. Meanwhile, Renwald broke into Clark's apartment at 344 Clinton Street and uncovered some of the alien artifacts kept stored there, but unable to believe that Clark would ever betray his country (due to having spent time with Jonathan and Martha Kent in the foster-care system during his troubled childhood), he instead concluded that Clark was holding onto certain items on behalf of Superman. Superman prepared himself for his next encounter with the Parasite by exposing himself to a low dosage of Kryptonite radiation and treating himself with a chemical cocktail to mask the effects. Therefore, when Parasite next tried to drain his energy, he absorbed the K-radiation into his own body, causing him to collapse.
Powers and Abilities
- Unique Physiology: The Parasite's body has been mutated such that his metabolism approximates a "living atomic furnace."
- Energy Absorption
- Power Absorption: This ability was such that it could not only drain powers, but also skills, memories and even qualities, as Parasite had stolen Superman's popularity on an occasion.
- Energy Absorption
- Vulnerability to His Victims' Vulnerabilities: Parasite took over the weaknesses of his victims; these included Superman's vulnerability to Kryptonite. The Parasite seems to not have been aware of this limitation when he first gained his powers, as he boasted to Superman in their first battle about how he would have no Kryptonite weakness once he absorbed the totality of Superman's power, due to not physiologically matching a Kryptonian.
- Obsession: Parasite is addicted to the energies that he absorbs from other power sources, including and especially living beings and super-powered beings.
- Prism of Power (Formerly)
- This version of Maxwell Jensen, including all history and corresponding appearances, was erased from existence following the collapse of the original Multiverse in the 1985–86 Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series. Even though versions of the character may have since appeared, this information does not apply to those versions.
- Parasite was one of the main characters in the second Marvel/DC crossover between Spider-Man and Superman (Marvel Treasury Edition #28). In this story, he was recruited by Doctor Doom as an agent in Doom's latest plan to conquer the world by wiping out all power sources but his own fusion reactor. Doom claimed that he needed the Parasite to function as an invincible bodyguard, capturing the Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman and giving the Parasite a harness that would allow him to retain their powers for prolonged periods. However, Doom's true intention was to kill the Parasite by allowing him to absorb so much power that his cells would burst, giving him access to a crystal that would allow Doom to perfect the reactor. This plan was thwarted when the Parasite briefly absorbed Spider-Man's powers, causing his borrowed spider-sense to alert him to Doom's treachery and turn on Doom, although he was subsequently defeated by Superman using a gauntlet of Doom's that prevented the Parasite from absorbing his energy.
- 23 Appearances of Maxwell Jensen (Earth-One)
- 6 Images featuring Maxwell Jensen (Earth-One)
- 7 Quotations by or about Maxwell Jensen (Earth-One)
- Character Gallery: Maxwell Jensen (Earth-One)
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