Robert L. Frank was the son of noted scientist Dr. Emil Frank. While on expedition in the Cameroon with his father, Robert was bitten by a cobra. A mongoose subsequently appeared and killed the cobra, but itself was severely wounded in the fray.
Dr. Frank, fearing for his son's life, recalled an old wives' tale and injected the mongoose's blood into his son's veins. Dr. Frank died of a heart attack brought upon by the shock and exertion, but Robert recovered, and found that due to a strange reaction of his apparently mutant physiology to the mongoose blood, he had developed the ability to move at superhuman speed.
Originally intending to continue his father's work, Robert Frank eventually became inspired by the proliferation of superhumanly powered crime-fighters in the United States, and returned home to develop the identity of the Whizzer. In the years prior to World War II, the Whizzer achieved limited fame as a costumed crime-fighter.
World War II
It was during World War II that the Whizzer became nationally famous. Shortly after the United States entered the war, the team of Allied champions known as the Invaders were captured and brainwashed by the Nazi agent the Red Skull. Under the Red Skull's influence, the Invaders attacked a domestic defense plant. Bucky Barnes, who had escaped capture, commandeered a New York City radio station, and began a marathon broadcast to round up available superhumanly powered crime-fighters to counter the threat. Barnes had located existing FBI files on several such crime-fighters, including the Whizzer, and broadcast specifically to contact them.
The Whizzer heard the message through a nearby automobile radio while battling a Nazi spy ring in upstate New York, a mission in which the Whizzer first met and fought alongside the superhuman crime-fighter Miss America. The Whizzer and Miss America were attracted to each other, and traveled together to New York City to join Bucky Barnes. Bucky's effort was successful, and after the Invaders were rescued from the Skull, the group that Bucky assembled stayed together to combat Nazi espionage in the United States under the name of the Liberty Legion.
The Whizzer and Miss America occasionally left the Liberty Legion to fight alongside the Invaders during state-side missions.
After the war ended, the Whizzer and Miss America became members of the short-lived All-Winners Squad. The All-Winners Squad disbanded after a few years, and the Whizzer and Miss America resumed their civilian identities of Robert Frank and Madeline Joyce, and were married. In 1949, they began work for the United States government as non-costumed superhuman security agents at a secret nuclear project located in New York City. Unbeknownst to the couple, Isbisa, a former enemy of the All-Winners Squad, sabotaged the facility and staged a nuclear accident which exposed the Franks to massive amounts of radiation. Although Isbisa's act of revenge did not kill the Franks, Madeline was pregnant at the time, and several months later gave birth to a radioactive mutant son, Robert, Jr., later called "Nuklo". Because the baby emitted dangerous levels of radiation, the United States government took custody of him and placed him in an experimental chrono-module. There he would be kept in suspended animation until he ceased to emit dangerous levels of radiation.
Leaving the research facility with a generous government pension, the Franks decided to travel the world. Madeline Frank became pregnant again, and was in the tiny Balkan country of Transia when the pregnancy came to term. The Franks had found refuge in the scientific citadel atop Wundagore Mountain at the recommendation of nearby villagers who believed it to have modern medical facilities. With the evolved cow called Bova as midwife, Madeline gave birth to a stillborn child, even more radioactive and mutated than her first child, and died moments later due to the rigors of childbirth. Bova attempted to pass off twins who had been born days before at Wundagore as Robert Frank's children, in order to give the children a good home and to assuage Frank's grief over his wife's death, but the distraught Robert Frank fled Wundagore alone.
For the next two decades, Robert Frank was a semi-amnesiac vagabond, wandering all over the world primarily on foot, never staying in one place for more than a week. The chrono-module containing Frank's son Nuklo was accidentally unearthed from its secret location decades after it was buried. Captain America and Iron Man of the Avengers discovered it while rescuing victims of a collapsed building. The Avengers took the chrono-module into custody for study. Frank read a newspaper account of the incident, and recognized the chrono-module from photographs to be the device containing his son. Using his superhuman speed for the first time in many years, Frank resumed the identity of the Whizzer in an attempt to steal the chrono-module back. During the battle that ensued at Avengers Mansion, the module smashed open and the child emerged, having grown to large proportions and radiating dangerously. The child named itself Nuklo in infantile imitation of the Vision's pronouncement of a "nuclear nemesis", and began a campaign of destruction. Nuklo was ultimately subdued and placed in the care of the United States Army. The Whizzer, meanwhile, suffered a massive heart attack during these events, a result of doing superhuman battle after many years of inactivity.
For many months, the Whizzer remained hospitalized. During this time, the Scarlet Witch had believed Frank was her father, but Quicksilver was dubious. Robert Frank emerged from the hospital in an acute state of depression. He began to drink heavily, and spent several months as a derelict on New York City's Bowery. Eventually, the Salvation Army took him in and had him placed in a hospital charity ward. He eventually recovered from his depression, and undertook long and difficult legal action to locate and obtain custody of Nuklo. Obtaining access to high-level government records, the Whizzer discovered that the U.S. Army was holding Nuklo in California. He traveled to California, where the attempt to recover his son brought him into physical battle with the Living Laser. Once again, superhuman exertion placed tremendous stress on him, and he suffered another heart attack. Nuklo, meanwhile, was relocated to a specially-equipped scientific hospital in the New York area.
After being discharged from the hospital, the Whizzer was ordered to restrict his activities and was placed under the financial care of Tony Stark. He would, however, ignore his doctors' orders and fight alongside the Avengers. Although the Avengers repeatedly protested his involvement in their battles, the Whizzer proved himself an asset in combating a number of threats to society. He was finally persuaded to retire from superhuman activity entirely, again under financial provisions provided by Stark.
After several years of retirement, the Whizzer again attempted to obtain custody of Nuklo. Officials at General Hospital in Manhattan informed him that the conditions under which they were keeping Nuklo were the only ones which would keep Nuklo's radiation at safe levels. During the controversy, Isbisa revealed himself after years of hiding and battled with the Whizzer, his supposed daughter the Scarlet Witch, and her husband the Vision. In the course of the battle, the Whizzer learned what the Scarlet Witch had discovered some months before, that they were not related. The Whizzer died in combat, but as a consequence of the battle, Robert Frank's son Nuklo was cured of his excessive radiation level.
Powers and Abilities
- Hyper-Speed: Whizzer possessed the ability to move at superhuman rates of speed. In his prime the Whizzer could run at speeds of up to 100 miles an hour for up to an hour before fatigue impaired his performance. With middle age, however, the Whizzer's ability to move at superhuman speed was diminished considerably. The Whizzer's practical reaction time was about four times faster than an ordinary human being's when the Whizzer was in his prime, and the speed at which his brain processed information was heightened to a level commensurate with his bodily speed, enabling him to perceive his surroundings while traveling at high velocities.
- Adaptive Physiology: The Whizzer's entire body mutated in ways that adapted it for the rigors of high speed running. His cardiovascular and respiratory systems were many times more efficient than those of a normal human being's. He metabolized an estimated 75% of the caloric energy content of foodstuffs. The chemical processes of the Whizzer's metabolism were so highly enhanced that his body generated unusually low amounts of fatigue poisons, the normal by-products of locomotion which force the body to rest. His joints were smoother and were lubricated more efficiently than those of an ordinary human being's. His tendons had the tensile strength of spring steel. His bones contained unknown materials significantly more durable than calcium to withstand the dynamic shocks of his feet touching the ground at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. The Whizzer's lachrymose was more viscous than a normal human being's, thus preventing rapid evaporation and replenishment of surface fluids on his eyeballs under the influence of high wind velocity to occlude his vision.
The Whizzer had mastered a style of hand-to-hand combat which exploited his ability to move at superhuman speeds.
The Whizzer possessed superhuman strength primarily in his lower body as part of his body's adaptations for running. With his upper body he could lift slightly more than a normal human being of his age, height, and build who engaged in intensive regular exercise could. In his prime, the Whizzer could leg press approximately 1500 pounds under optimal conditions.
- There are conflicting accounts of how Madeline Frank died. According to Robert Frank, he and Madeline had stayed at Wundagore for months as the guests of the High Evolutionary and Madeline died a few days after giving birth to healthy twins. However, Bova claimed that the Franks had been at Wundagore for only a matter of days and that Madeline had died only moments after giving birth to her stillborn second child.
- Bova's claim that the birth-mother of the twins was a woman named Magda was disproven by the revelation that their real mother was Natalya Maximoff, then known as the Scarlet Witch. Additionally, thanks to the Sliding Timescale and the fact that Wanda is considered to be in her late twenties, it is no longer possible for her to have been born in the 1950s, as would be required by the stories told by both Robert Frank and Bova.
- 98 appearance(s) of Robert Frank (Earth-616)
- 6 minor appearance(s) of Robert Frank (Earth-616)
- 14 mention(s) of Robert Frank (Earth-616)
- 32 image(s) of Robert Frank (Earth-616)
- 2 quotation(s) by or about Robert Frank (Earth-616)
Links and References
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #14
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (Vol. 2) #20
- Whizzer's profile at www.MarvelDirectory.com
- The Whizzer's profile at www.AvengersForever.org
- Whizzer's chronology can be found in W section of the The Marvel Chronology Project
- The Whizzer can be found in the www.ComicBoards.com's Unofficial Handbook of the Marvel Universe
- There is a brief entry on the Whizzer at Jess Nevin's Golden Age Heroes Directory