Returning from war and seeking to start a family, Dennis Sykes' father chose to move to Queens because he hoped the community feeling would have a positive influence on his children. Working as a steel worker, Dennis' father tried to instill certain values in him, such as hard work and finding a job that you love. Growing into a normal man with a normal job, Dennis Sykes sought nothing more than to keep a job he hated so that he could afford to care for his wife and recently-orphaned niece. Forced to take back funds promised to a children's hospital's sculpture garden, Dennis felt overwhelming guilt over the act, but broke the news to the hospital anyway.
Leaving the hospital he spotted medical waste truck being robbed, the thieves supposedly seeking drugs. Deciding he had to take a stand, Sykes went to the driver's aid, only to be grabbed by the thieves and his mouth held open while medical waste was poured down his throat. Seeking to then kill the man, the thieves were stopped by the arrival of the Thing who promptly scared the men away and took an unconscious Sykes to the Baxter Building. Examined by Mr. Fantastic, Sykes was told he had several forms of cancer and had, at best, a month to live. Choosing not to tell his family, and against Mr. Fantastic's suggestion of staying for treatment, Sykes went home to spend his last days with his family.
At home, Sykes was forced to deal with his niece being upset over the incident (clearly fearing for his safety as her own parents' death, her father of cancer and her mother of a car accident a year ago), resulting in her breaking a picture frame given to her by her father and her storming off. Trying to put the frame back together, Sykes accidentally manipulated the material, reforming the frame with new abilities. Believing this ability to be a result of a cure for cancer that Mr. Fantastic had administered without his knowledge, Sykes decided to take the money needed for the children's hospital's sculpture garden from the bank he had worked for (having quit earlier in the day after years of feeling bad about what he did). Melting through the wall and making off with the money, he returned home and stored it in a vent, then went to bed, only to wake the next morning to find that is wife had discovered what he'd done. Realizing he'd made a mistake, Sykes went back that night to return the money, but as he attempted to leave, he was confronted by Spider-Man, believing him to be a criminal returning to the scene of the crime. Convincing Spider-Man he had just made a mistake, Sykes was allowed to leave. On his way home, he stopped by the sculpture garden and used his abilities to create the sculptures he'd seen the children design, taking his wife and niece there the next day to show he'd found a new use for his abilities.
Later calling Mr. Fantastic to thank him for curing his cancer and giving him powers, Sykes was devastated to learn that Mr. Fantastic had done no such thing, and that he still had less than a month to live. Later seeking out Spider-Man, Sykes convinced him to train him to be a super-hero and help him do what he felt he needed to do with his remaining days. Informed he needed a costume and code-name, Sykes adopted an old army uniform worn by his father and the code-name "Matter." After being shown what New York City looked like from Spider-Man's view, Sykes' returned home to find it under attack by Mr. Negative's enforcer Hammerhead and Negative's men, who had set it ablaze. Using his abilities to form earthen hands to knock out the thugs and transmute the oxygen near the fire to something that would no longer fuel the fire, Sykes saved his family, then promptly passed out. Waking, he informed his wife and niece that he was dying, only to hear a knock on the door, and outside, the Fantastic Four, who sought his help.
Ego the Living Planet
Accompanying the Four into the center of the Milky Way, Sykes was informed of the threat they needed to solve: Ego was forcibly consuming stars, gaining in mass and his continued rate of expansion would eventually lead him to explode, destroying the galaxy. Inducted into the Four and given a new costume and code-name, "Flux", he was led to the planet, where his powers would be integral. Using those powers, he began forcing Ego to release the energy he'd absorbed, but in so doing, found he was causing Ego pain. Analysis by Mr. Fantastic showed that a cancerous entity was growing within Ego, causing his current madness. Focusing his powers on the entity, Sykes forced it to the surface and hurled it into space. As the Four left Ego's surface, Ego thanked Sykes for his help before returning to his travels.
Collapsing after the ordeal, Sykes spent three days in a coma before reviving in the Baxter Building with his wife and niece waiting. Told the extraneous use of his powers had left him with only one week left, his wife angrily confronted him about rushing off so quickly after first telling them, then apologized for her anger. Informed then of a blooming Resurrection Lily in the Savage Land, a flower that bloomed once every ten years and would be able to cure his cancer, Sykes initially turned down the opportunity, wanting to spend his remaining time with his family, but relented at his wife's request. Accompanied to the Savage Land by Wolverine, Abbey, and Kelly, the group met up with Savage Land protector Ka-Zar and his ally Zabu, only to be immediately confronted by the mercenary group Tag Team, who also sought the Lily at the behest of a Mr. Scrath. After the firefight was halted by Sykes transforming the mercenaries into an unknown substance, Kelly was discovered shot. Forgetting his last chance at survival, Sykes used the Lily to save Kelly's life, in the process allowing Kelly to finally express her love for her uncle.
Confined to bed in his final days, Sykes did what he could to instill his father's lessons in his niece and spend time with her and his wife. When Hammerhead returned to the neighborhood to try and scare the neighbors away so that Mr. Negative could purchase the area, Sykes was forced to confront the man, saving his wife and niece and buying time for an arriving Avengers to defeat the man. Offered Avengers' membership, an overwhelmed Sykes accepted, but shortly after entering his home, he collapsed from the stress he'd endured in the short battle, and died with his wife by his side. In honor of his memory, a statue was erected at the children's hospital he'd helped shortly after gaining his powers.
Powers and Abilities
Can manipulate all forms of matter, repairing broken objects, melting walls, creating sculptures from materials present or from water molecules in the air. Also able to manipulate matter in living beings, enabling him to expel foreign bodies and transform living tissue into other substances.
- Cancer: Dennis was exposed to toxic waste when it was forced down his throat after he tried to stop some criminals. Reed Richards informed him that he had several forms of cancer and had, at best, a month to live. The toxic waste, however, ended up giving him the ability manipulate all forms of matter. He's more easily exhausted when using his powers than he might otherwise be.
- Created by Stephen Wacker and the various writers and artists in the series after Wacker had to deal with a cancer death in his own family.
- Second Avenger to die of cancer.
- 6 appearance(s) of Dennis Sykes (Earth-616)
- 23 image(s) of Dennis Sykes (Earth-616)
- 2 quotation(s) by or about Dennis Sykes (Earth-616)