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The Parasite is the name of several fictional characters that appears in Superman comic book stories published by DC Comics. A supervillain, Parasite has the ability to temporarily absorb the energy, knowledge, as well the super-powers of another being by touch, making him a formidable foe for the Man of Steel. In 2009, The Parasite was ranked as IGN's 61st Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time. [1]

Fictional character biographyEdit

Pre-CrisisEdit

Raymond Maxwell JensenEdit

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Raymond Maxwell Jensen was a lowlife who got a job as a plant worker for a research center. Wrongly believing that the company payrolls were hidden in storage containers, Maxwell opened one and was bombarded with energies from biohazard materials (which was actually waste collected by Superman when he traveled into outer space), which transformed him into a purple skinned, parasitic entity, becoming the Parasite; any time he touched someone, he could absorb their physical and mental properties. Touching Superman would instantly absorb a sizable fraction of his superhuman powers (it was established early on that he is not capable of acquiring the whole of his powers). On one occasion, while attempting to absorb a greater portion of his adversary's powers than previously, his body disintegrated for a period of time due to the pressure to his cells. Despite these abilities, the Parasite became depressed because he could no longer embrace his wife and children. The Parasite made a number of reappearances before the Crisis, yet he never successfully found a means to permanently defeat Superman. Despite this, he had knowledge of his foe's alter ego and often used this to attack Clark Kent. Gaining sizable intellect from his multiple encounters with Superman, Parasite devised the means to reanimate dormant plant remains left behind from the Earth-Two supervillain Solomon Grundy, creating a newer and stronger version of the creature to plague his adversary. On another occasion, Parasite devised the means to transfer the powers of the hero Air Wave to the young hero's adversary Davy Jones temporarily.

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.

Post-CrisisEdit

Rudy JonesEdit

Originally a menial slacker, Rudy Jones was transformed into the Parasite while working as a janitor at a Pittsburgh S.T.A.R. Labs facility. Unknown to anyone at the scene, the Lord of Apokolips, Darkseid, remembered the Pre-Crisis Parasite and manipulated Jones to become the modern version. He made Rudy think that a waste container might have held something valuable. He opened it and was exposed to strange radiation that changed his body into the bald, green-skinned villain (Parasite 1.0[citation needed] ). Jones now had the ability to absorb the life energy of other people, leaving smoldering skeletons. This power was necessary for his survival as his own body is in a constant state of hunger for energy that it can't sustain on its own. During this time, Martin Stein, one half of the Firestorm matrix (Ronnie Raymond being the other half) learned he was dying and decided to destroy all the nuclear weapons in the world. This did not sit well with Earth's governments, particularly the United States, who sent the Suicide Squad to Times Square, where Firestorm was holding a press conference. Things quickly got out of control as the Squad and the Justice League, both intent on subduing Firestorm, fought one another, and the Parasite (who was brought on the mission against the protestations of both Amanda Waller and Colonel Rick Flag Jr.) is released. He goes on a rampage and apparently kills Multiplex, only being brought under control by the cooperation of both teams. Later, he attacked the new Firestorm, who easily subdued him and left him near death.

During one of his stints at Belle Reve Prison, doctors attempted to make him human again. Despite their intentions, the doctors only managed to change his skin color to the more familiar purple and also inadvertently increased his absorption power, enabling him to feed on other forms of energy, such as electricity and heat (Parasite 1.5[citation needed] ). After a number of years, the Parasite became involved in the plot to save Superman from overloading on solar energy. Rudy and Superman battled on the moon where Superman uncontrollably unleashed an immense blast of heat vision that the Parasite absorbed, causing him to mutate even further into a huge, hulking monster with teeth resembling a leech's. This mutation (Parasite 2.0[citation needed] ) again increased Rudy's draining abilities, allowing him to absorb fast-moving objects' inertia, as well as making him impervious to telepathic attack to an unknown extent, since he could now drain energy through a mental link as he displayed when Dubbilex telepathically attacked him. His extra size and power did have a downside, however; he needed to absorb more energy more frequently in order to stay alive.

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Unfortunately for a scientist that was tending to Rudy during one of his terms in imprisonment, he was tricked by Lex Luthor and somehow absorbed into the Parasite. This joining was different from Rudy's others as, apparently due to unspecified modifications to Rudy's physiology during this stint at S.T.A.R. Labs, he actually retained the scientist, Dr. Torval Freeman, as a part of his own mind. This combined intelligence made the Parasite even more menacing. He is later recruited by Morgan Edge to be part of the second Superman Revenge Squad. After Superman's powers were converted into energy-based ones, the Parasite returned to see what he could absorb from the Man of Steel. However, at this point in time, Superman was not in full control of what was happening with his powers and nearly killed the Parasite.[2] Later, Parasite returned once again, looking to make trouble for Superman, but finding himself facing off against Supergirl instead, absorbing some of her new angelic powers and nearly killing himself due to the 'divine judgment' of Supergirl's new 'wings'.

At one point, Rudy was contracted to help drain off a being named Strange Visitor's excess electromagnetic energy as she could not fully control it. This exposure to Strange Visitor's power caused the Parasite to mutate again, giving him the ability to fully and permanently retain the intellects of all of his victims and also allowed him to maintain any stolen energy for up to twenty-four hours. Like Torval Freeman, Rudy also absorbed an unknown shapeshifter into his biology, granting him the permanent power to mimic the exact genetic makeup and appearance of his victims (Parasite 2.5[citation needed] ).

After he later escaped from S.T.A.R. Labs in the early 2000s, the Parasite began to form a plan to get back at Superman. He began stalking Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen in an attempt to get to those closest to Superman. The Parasite had taken the form of one of his previous victims, an old man, and was run down in the pandemonium that evening when Lois came to his aide. Not realizing that she was actually in contact with the Parasite, a simple touch was all Rudy needed to get her knowledge of Superman. Rudy was surprised to learn from Lois Superman's secret identity. A new plan formed when he realized how close Superman actually was to Lois; the Parasite decided to take her place and tear him down emotionally by pretending to be a scorned Lois Lane, apparently even having an affair with Luthor in the process. In a fit of rage uncharacteristic of Lois Lane, Rudy punched Clark out of their apartment and into the streets of Metropolis. Shortly after this display, Superman got the Parasite to reveal himself in the guise of Lois Lane. Rudy couldn't handle the fact that anyone other than himself as the Parasite took down the Man of Steel. Just as the Parasite was about to lay the final blow to an exhausted Superman, Rudy drops, completely crippled by kryptonite poisoning he had drained from Superman, unbeknownst to either Rudy or Clark. Superman finally realized the reason he has felt so weak recently was because he was being constantly drained by the Parasite and also the victim of the mysterious kryptonite poisoning. When he asked Rudy how long he had pretended to be Lois, the Parasite related his story to the Man of Steel. In his final moments, he tells Superman that he still needed to have contact with Lois once every twenty-four hours to maintain his charade, confirming that she is still alive. He also told him that Lois loves him more deeply than he could ever know, and loves him in a way that nobody ever loved the Parasite. The Parasite died before he could tell Superman where Lois was imprisoned (Superman [vol. 2] #157). Although Superman initially tried to investigate himself, his efforts were hampered by a bout of kryptonite poisoning, and Steel was forced to contact Batman to help the investigation. Accompanied by Superman, Batman tracked a spree of recent disappearances to the Parasite's hiding place, and Lois was soon found alive by the two heroes. Lex Luthor, with whom it is implied the Parasite had engaged in amorous, "extramarital" activity while in Lois' form[citation needed] , was infuriated when he learned of the Parasite's schemes. As such, Luthor went to great efforts to obtain the Parasite's remains.

In Justice League of America (vol. 2) #2, the Parasite is found to be holed up in St. Roch, Louisiana, where he uses his power-absorbing abilities to temporarily neutralize the powers of villains, for a fee, so they might evade detection during the course of criminal efforts. It is not explained how Rudy survived his apparent death by kryptonite poisoning several years earlier, although Jones has shown in the past to be capable of regenerating his entire body from being burnt down to the skeleton, so he may very well have simply healed from the kryptonite radiation. How he escaped Lex Luthor's custody is another question entirely. There is also the possibility that this Parasite may not even be Rudy/Torval at all; his face is lacking the monstrous teeth that the Parasite has had for most of his career, his vocabulary is more sophisticated than what is normally associated with Rudy Jones, although this may be a result of Torval Freeman possibly being the dominant personality currentlyTemplate:Or, and his costume is the one worn by Maxwell Jensen, which the Post-Crisis Parasite had never worn before. The only characteristic of the Parasite shown in Justice League of America that is consistent with previous appearances of Rudy Jones would be his hulking physique. On a side note, he also recognized Black Lightning.

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In Action Comics Annual #10, a headshot of the Parasite was seen as part of "Superman's Top 10 Most Wanted" that bore a resemblance to the version seen in Justice. This version of the Parasite later appeared in Action Comics #751 wearing the Superman: The Animated Series-inspired costume Parasite wore circa 2000, and is later seen as a member of the new Injustice League. It has not yet been revealed if this Parasite is the same that appeared in Justice League of America (vol. 2) #2, but he has been revealed to be a resurrected Rudy Jones by Lex Luthor in Superman: Last Son.

He can seen as the member of Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains.

In the New Krypton storyline where 100,000 Kryptionian refugees are freed from the bottle city of Kandor; the Kandorians decide to take it upon themselves to eliminate Superman's enemies. A group of Kandorians break the Parasite out of prison, killing several prison guards in the process and imprison the Parasite in the Phantom Zone.[3] Superman freed Parasite, so he could be taken to Belle Reve, but Parasite escaped.[4]

Alex and Alexandra AllstonEdit

After the villain Ruin (who was secretly Professor Hamilton) performed some experiments, two new Parasites debuted, one purple, the other green. The two new Parasites were teenagers named Alex and Alexandra, who wanted to seek vengeance on the people who made their lives difficult; they were soon subdued by Superman after a battle. After attempting to escape from a meta-human prison, Alex was killed by an OMAC while his sister Alexandra escaped and joined the Secret Society of Super Villains under Alexander Luthor, Jr. (who was posing as Lex Luthor). Alexandra has not been seen since then. She is one of the villains sent to retrieve the Get Out of Hell free card from the Secret Six.

Powers and abilitiesEdit

All Parasites are able to absorb the life energy of other beings leaving them withered corpses. They are also able to absorb virtually any other energy form and use it.

Rudy Jones and Dr. Torval Freeman gained enhanced strength, agility and endurance by absorbing the energy of other beings.

After contact with the Strange Visitor, Parasite’s powers changed enabling him to keep the energy he took longer. Somewhere Jones and his scientist counterpart gained new powers by absorbing a shape-shifter as well. Now not only does he sap the life energy out of his victims he can actually become his victims right down to their DNA.

Other versionsEdit

Superman: Red SonEdit

In Superman: Red Son, an incarnation of Parasite is one of various enemy's of Superman created by Dr. Lex Luthor.

All-Star SupermanEdit

An incarnation of the villain appeared in DC comics' All-Star Superman #5 as an antagonist in the main subplot. He passes by Clark Kent, who is interviewing Lex Luthor, a prisoner on Death Row at the 'Stryker's Island' prison. Clark is surprised to see the Parasite; the entity feeds on Superman's ambient energy. This provides enough power for the Parasite to go on a murderous rampage. The sheer amount of energy causes the Parasite to evolve into little more than a body and a mouth. Clark uses subterfuge and his strength to ultimately defeat the creature; Lex believes his attempts actually helped.

Kingdom ComeEdit

In the DC Kingdom Come alternate timeline, the Parasite is involved in the explosion that destroys Kansas. Besieged by a group of metahumans led by Magog, the weakened Parasite desperately lashes out at Captain Atom, tearing through his outer shell (essentially splitting Captain Atom) and causing the Captain's nuclear energy to erupt. The ensuing explosion destroys everything within a large radius and annihilates over a million people. With the exception of Magog and the enormous hero Alloy, none of the metahumans involved in the battle, nor the Parasite, are shown by the story to survive.

JusticeEdit

Justice features the faceless, pre-crisis version of the Parasite as part of the Legion of Doom. While not identified by name in the story, it is revealed, via Batman's computer filesTemplate:Clarify, that this version of the Parasite is Maxwell Jensen.

JSA: The Liberty FilesEdit

In the second JSA: The Liberty Files miniseries entitled JSA: The Unholy Three, Parasite is a former KGB agent working freelance as a contract killer.

ElseworldsEdit

In Marvel Treasury Edition 28, Dr. Doom manipulates the Hulk into freeing the Parasite from prison, and the Parasite and Doom come into conflict with Superman and Spider-Man.

In other mediaEdit

The New Adventures of SupermanEdit

The Parasite first appeared in the 1960s Filmation cartoon, The New Adventures of Superman. However, despite the same name and powers, his appearance has little in common with the comic book version. Here the Parasite is a thief named I.C. Harris, who is portrayed as a balding man with a mustache, and doesn't have purple skin. In the episode, Superman knowingly tricks the Parasite into absorbing so much of his energy that he explodes.

DC Animated UniverseEdit

Superman: The Animated SeriesEdit

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The Parasite later appeared in the 1990s television series Superman: The Animated Series, where he was vocally played by the late Brion James. The origin for the animated Parasite is fairly consistent with his modern origin. This version is able to duplicate the voices of whoever he drains.

He first appears in the episode Feeding Time. Rudy Jones, janitor at S.T.A.R. Labs, is caught mid-robbery with a crook named Martin Lebeau (played by voice-actor Robert Patrick) while they are trying to steal a chemical stored in barrels with unknown properties. When Lebeau and Rudy make their getaway in a pickup truck after narrowly evading the security, Lebeau's anger at Rudy leads him to make Rudy ride in the back with the ill-closed barrels. The barrels soon open, spilling their contents all over Rudy, transforming him into the Parasite; Rudy soon uses his new powers to go after Lebeau in revenge, almost killing him but for the timely intervention of Superman, from whom the Parasite is able to drain a substantial amount of energy during their first encounter, greatly weakening Superman. With Superman's powers, Parasite goes on a rampage and even finds Superman in his flat, draining him once again, learning his secret identity (Clark Kent, but surprisingly, not Kal-El), and trapping him inside a boiler room in S.T.A.R. Labs as a "daily recharge" for his crime sprees (hence the title, "Feeding Time"). While the Parasite is away, Jimmy Olsen stumbles across Superman in the boiler room and frees him just as the Parasite returns and almost kills him. Superman, having regained some of his strength, slips into his titanium-lead alloy Kryptonite armor and engages the Parasite in a ferocious battle which ends when the Parasite grabs a piece of kryptonite which drains him of all his Kryptonian powers to the point of unconsciousness and amnesia. He is subsequently incarcerated in a S.T.A.R. Labs holding cell.

In Two's a Crowd, the Parasite becomes a supporting protagonist. Superman and Maggie Sawyer ask the Parasite's help to absorb information of an atomic bomb that has been hidden by rogue ex-S.T.A.R. Labs scientist Earl Garver (voiced by Brian Cox) since Earl has been knocked unconscious. In exchange for Cable TV in his cell, the Parasite agrees. Somehow, Earl's mind takes over the Parasite's body. After wrong locations revealed, Superman is forced to fight Garver/Parasite at the location of the bomb, while Rudy and Garver fight inside the Parasite's mind for control of the Parasite's body. Superman and Jones manage to defeat Garver and stop the bomb, and Rudy regains control of his body. With Earl Garver recovered and incarcerated, Parasite gets his end of the bargain.

The Parasite makes his final appearance in the series in the episode Double Dose, where Livewire breaks him out of prison and forms an uneasy alliance with him to destroy Superman. However, the Parasite's greed gets the better of him when he constantly attempts every opportunity to take Livewire's powers for himself. Every attempt fails, until the two encounter Superman, protected against both the Parasite and Livewire by a layer of latex. Livewire shatters it, however, with liquid nitrogen, and the Parasite drains Superman of his powers, but then turns on Livewire and does the same to her, intending to keep both of them trapped and alive as a "daily recharge", as in Feeding Time. With both Superman's and Livewire's powers, the Parasite confronts Superman alone, but is quickly defeated when Superman tricks him into burning a mop and setting off an emergency shower which drains the Parasite of all his new powers and memories (including Superman's secret identity) to the point that he no longer remembers who he himself is. He is then arrested and returned to prison.

Justice LeagueEdit

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Parasite later makes subsequent appearances in the 2000s series Justice League where he is now vocally portrayed by Brian George, owing to Brion James' passing. Gorilla Grodd recruits him into the Secret Society, along with Giganta, Killer Frost and Sinestro to resurrect Clayface and defeat the Justice League in the episode, Secret Society. Once again, he manages to drain significant energy from both Superman, the Flash and Wonder Woman, and even thwarts Batman's attempt to stop him but is knocked aside by Martian Manhunter, who is immune to the Parasite's powers. In the end, he is defeated by Wonder Woman, who swings him around a football stadium with her lasso until he is knocked out upon impact with a billboard.

In Justice League Unlimited, he defeats Elongated Man and Metamorpho before being taken down by the appearance of Captain Marvel. He is later seen once again as a member of Gorilla Grodd's Secret Society. In the two-part final episode of Justice League Unlimited, the Parasite is among the villains believed dead after Killer Frost freezes them within a block of ice, and afterwards the entire place is destroyed by Darkseid.

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A future version of Parasite appears as one of the enemies of the JLU as a member of the Iniquity Collective on a Justice League Unlimited/Batman Beyond crossover episode Epilogue. During the battle, he is defeated and knocked out by Warhawk. It is not confirmed if it is either the same Parasite as the previous series because of his new, more grotesque appearance akin to his body seen in his later comic appearances or a new Parasite, although the latter is more likely, due to the Rudy Jones Parasite's apparent demise before the events of Batman Beyond. This Future Parasite was played by Marc Worden.

Static ShockEdit

A Bang Baby (Metahuman), named Leech (played by David Arquette) appeared in an episode of Static Shock. In his quest to became an ultimate metahuman, he steals the powers from Talon, Ebon, and Hotstreak and gets defeated by Static. He has green skin and similar powers to Parasite.

SmallvilleEdit

In Smallville, Shawn Ashmore played local child Eric Summers. There is fan speculation that the character of Eric Summers is Smallville's version of the Superman villain Parasite. Although Summers did not possess the abilities to absorb energy himself. Instead, he absorbed Clark's powers by possessing a chunk of kryptonite while being struck by lightning and maintaining physical contact with Clark, the kryptonite acting as a conduit and the lightning as the carrier for the transfer. Eric could not absorb Clark's knowledge nor was it ever shown that he could use the same means to absorb the energy of anyone other than Clark. He is later seen in Belle Reve teaming up with former student Ian Randell, and successfully "leeched" Clark's abilities again, kill Ian, and to be stopped by Clark.

There is also another episode which in Season Eight featured a character named Sebastian Kane who had the ability to absorb knowledge but not energy through physical contact, mostly handshaking. It was revealed that he is a meteor freak named William Turner, and was released from Black Creek correctional facility in Montana to spy on Lois Lane for Tess Mercer. He was killed at the end of the episode by Chloe Sullivan who used her Brainiac infection in order to protect Clark's secret.

In the season 8 episode "Injustice", Rudy Jones aka Parasite, appears with Livewire aka Leslie Willis, Neutron aka Nathaniel Tryon, and also Plastique aka Bette Sans Souci, whom form into a team of meteor freak rogues (Metahumans) who search for Davis Bloome aka Doomsday. He is played by actor Brendan Fletcher. His powers are similar to the animated series' character, except that he permanently absorbs the powers of those he touches. He can also return them.[5] It's not yet certain if Jones can absorb memories from his victims. When Rudy stole someone's abilities, an image of a transparent purple figure would exit his body, enter his victim's, then leave and go back into his body, robbing the person of their powers. This figure resembled how Parasite appeared in the comics.

Video gamesEdit

Brian George reprises his role as Parasite as a boss in Superman: Shadow of Apokolips video game for GameCube and PlayStation 2. Parasite was featured in concept art for Superman Returns. Parasite is set to appear in the upcoming video game DC Universe Online.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Parasite is number 61, IGN.
  2. Adventures of Superman #552
  3. Superman #682
  4. Superman #684
  5. Al Septien, Turi Meyer (writers) & Tom Welling (director) (2009-05-07). "Injustice". Smallville. episode 21. season 8. The CW. 

External linksEdit

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