Real Name: Victoria Murdock
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The Asbestos Lady was a gifted scientist who designed a flameproof costume from asbestos and wielded a flame-thrower and guns that fired asbestos-lined bullets.
Victoria Murdock was the sister of “Killer” Murdock, a racketeer, and used her brother’s connections to begin a career as a criminal scientist. She provided herself and her accomplices with asbestos-lined clothing to protect them from fire, then set fires to hold back the police while they robbed banks. Wanting to exploit her asbestos gimmick even further, the Asbestos Lady looked up Fred and Nora Raymond, a pair of leading asbestos scientists, intending to force them into assisting her. The android hero of the ‘40s, the Human Torch, came to the couple’s rescue, and rounded up the Asbestos Lady’s gang while she escaped.
Determined to make the Raymonds pay, the Asbestos Lady spied on them, and when the couple left town on a train, she placed a tree trunk ahead on the tracks, derailing the train and killing them both. However, the Raymonds’ son Thomas survived, and joined a circus where he became Toro, the Fire-Eating Boy. Hearing of his act on the news, the Asbestos Lady decided to kidnap him. Expecting the Human Torch to appear again, she and her gang drove a truck full of water towards the circus and pretended to spin out of control when they saw the Torch. When the hero came to assist them, they hosed him with water and threw him in the tank. However, the Torch generated so much heat within the tank that the steam burst the truck open, and he melted the Asbestos Lady’s feet to the asphalt road to keep her from escaping.
The Asbestos Lady continued in her career, and in the midst of one crime was captured by the Black Marvel. She eventually was approached by a collection of businessmen who feared the coming of superheroes, and they funded her to continue on as the Human Torch’s chief adversary. When her brother was captured by the Torch and Toro and was ultimately executed, she attempted to take his place in racketeering, taking control of his gang and assuming possession of a disintegrator gun he had found in Germany. She tried to kill the Torch and Toro with the gun, but the Torch melted it, and she barely escaped them. In her next plot, she had her gang trap the fiery duo and throw them into a lake, then supplied one of her men with a costume which could simulate the Human Torch’s powers, sending him on a crime spree to make the authorities think that the Torch had turned against them. However, the Torch and Toro escaped the trap at the lake, and the Torch pretended to be the Asbestos Lady’s own underling until he returned her, then knocked out his imposter.
The Asbestos Lady was again imprisoned, but learned in the years that followed that she had contracted cancer due to her constant exposure to asbestos. Her final fate is unknown, but she is believed to have succumbed to the disease.
First Appearance: The Human Torch (1940) #27
View a chronological listing of this character's appearances
All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (2006)
#1 Captain America (1968)
- 'Abraxas to Batwing'
#253 Captain America Comics (1941)
- 'Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot'
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (2008)
The Human Torch (1940)
The Invaders (1975)
- 'The Fire that Died'
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