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James Talbott grew up poor, often getting picked on and beaten up by the children at school for wearing clothes with holes in them, no matter the fact that his parents had to choose between new clothes and food for the family. James' father died when he was still in school and he worked two jobs, one before school and one after to help his mother put food on the table. In his teens he was able to get a job loading trucks two days of the week. It was during this time that he noticed that he was becoming quite fit and muscular. Feeling like he had nothing else, he placed all importance on his body, honing it, training it to be the best it could possibly be.
His mother soon passed away as well and James found himself wanting more from life than the small apartment they lived in. He wanted to travel, and with no money it was either the Navy or the circus ad he had seen in the paper. He chose the circus and got a job cleaning the animal cages and being a caretaker, but longed for more. Fascinated by the trapeze artists, he would practice at night, by himself until after a couple of years, he had mastered the skills. He was able to convince the owner to promote him to trapeze artist alongside the beautiful Gretchen. The two performed together night after night and soon fell in love, choosing to become husband and wife.
One night, while performing, Gretchen was distracted by Frankenstein's Monster on the ground, who had wandered into the circus (the body of the monster possessed the brain of Dr. Owen Wallach after a brain transplant, and horrified, Wallach went out searching for a new body to transplant his brain into, choosing to look for an athletic body of a handsome man at the circus). Gretchen missed the catch from James because of this distraction and fell to her death. On the ground as James raced for her, Wallach, in the body of Frankenstein's Monster, knocked him unconscious and brought him back to his laboratory where he planned to use his advanced machinery to swap minds.
Wallach hooked James up to the machine and started the transfer, not realizing that a mouse had run up the body of James and under the transposer on his head. The mind of Wallach was transferred into the mouse, while the mind of the mouse was transferred into Frankenstein's Monster's body, while James remained as himself, waking up to see to the monster, only to be knocked unconscious again. The mouse, in the monster's body, crushed his former mouse body, killing Wallach and then wandered out, instinct taking him to dark places like back alleys.
Meanwhile, Derek McDowell, who had performed the brain transplant that put Wallach's mind into the body of Frankenstein's Monster, had been laying dead at the bottom of a river after Wallach freaked out realizing what Derek had done and killed him. An outside force however, raised him from the dead and he went back to the lab. Using the same equipment, he transferred minds with James. So now James was in the bloated rotting corpse of Derek McDowell, and Derek was in the perfectly sculpted body of James Talbott. Using that body, he hunted down Frankenstein's Monster, still believing Wallach's mind to be in possession of the monster's body. He was able to get the monster back to the lab where he used the mind transferring equipment once more. This time, from Frankenstein's Monster's body, to the original monster's brain, which had been sitting in a container within the lab. His plan was to place Wallach's mind into just the monster's brain so it would have to sit in the lab, never being able to do anything but be aware of it's own existence and be miserable. This was to be his revenge. In place, the monster would get his own brain back. Derek transferred the brains, but when all was done, the brain that ended up in the container was a tiny brain, the brain of a mouse, which Derek was unaware of. In his confusion, he didn't hear the monster come up behind him, having his own brain restored, and was killed when he was thrown against a wall, the head of James Talbott smashing open, killing Derek.
James as this point, woke up in the lab to find himself in the corpse of Derek, and to see his own perfect body, head smashed in, laying on the floor of the lab. He explained to the monster his story, only to suddenly have the urge to lead the monster to a very specific house across town. James (in the body of Derek), was being controlled with voodoo by The Master. The same man that had raised Derek from the dead. James led the monster to The Master's house, and upon entrance, not needing James anymore, The Master crushed the voodoo doll of him that he had been using, killing James.
For what turned out to be a very minor character (only ever appearing in a handful of issues within the Marvel Universe), James was given almost an entire story in Monster's Unleashed #7 revealing a very detailed origin. It makes it slightly harder to believe then, that so much time was invested in telling his origin, only to have him murdered and out of the way a couple of pages later.
Also to note, in all the issues he appeared in, he was only ever referred to as James. In the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Horror issue, published in 2005 under the entry for Frankenstein's Monster, James' last name was revealed to be Talbott.
First Appearance: Monsters Unleashed (1973) #5
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Monsters Unleashed (1973)
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