September 29, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #378: Turner D. Century

One weird villain wants to set people back to a more gentile time with help from a flamethrowing umbrella.

Every so often, I come across some character, good or evil, who is so inherently ridiculous that I more or less have to cover them.  Like, say, some jerk in an early 20th century suit, riding a flying tandem bicycle with a dummy dressed as a woman of the same period with an umbrella that acted as a flamethrower.

That describes Marvel’s Turner D. Century.

Turner is really one Clifford F. Michaels, the son a rich man’s….chauffeur.  When his father died, the wealthy Morgan MacNeil Hardy took young Clifford in and finished raising him.  One small problem:  Hardy was old.  Really old.  So old, he was largely responsible for rebuilding San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.

OK, sliding time scale and all, let’s consider that Turner first appeared in Spider-Woman #33 in December of 1980.  If we look at him as being roughly 25 years old, that means he was born in 1955.  If Hardy was old enough to rebuild a city in 1906, well, he wasn’t really some spring chicken himself.  However, regardless of how old Hardy was, he did have something else in common with a lot of old people since the dawn of time:  he thought society was sliding into oblivion thanks to a lack of old fashioned manners and ideals.  As such, he naturally raised Clifford to believe in the style and decorum of the first decade of the twentieth century.

Naturally, Clifford decided that meant dressing up like a man from that time and committing crimes on a flying bicycle by striking out at anyone he saw as a violation of the standards he believed in.  And so, off he went as Turner D. Century, a man who thought poor manners and style of dress were somehow worse crimes than, I dunno, theft and murder.

Now, I suppose it’s worth noting that, as near as I can make out, Turner does not have a specific hero that he consistently matches wits with.  While many villains often tangle with the same heroes over and over again, Turner D. Century seems more like a freelance bad guy that, if anything, battles Spider-Man the most, and even then, doesn’t seem to be a member of Spidey’s Rogues Gallery.

Case in point: here’s the one of the few images I found of Turner battling a hero, and I have no idea who that guy is.

If anything, he seems to be best known for dying many times.  He was among the various villains killed by the Scourge of the Underworld, a reoccurring plotline that ran through multiple Marvel books in the 80s, but came back as a clone created by Armin Zola.  The clone was then killed by Deadpool.  The Hood, meanwhile, resurrected a bunch of dead supervillains to take on the Punisher, and yes, Turner D. Century was there.

That Turner was killed by the Scourge a second time.


I think at this point, Marvel lost track on whether or not he’s dead or alive, but the point is, for a guy that ridiculous, dying repeatedly probably isn’t that unbelievable.

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