I have a fondness for obscure superheroes, finding something charmingly incongruous in the very idea. And you’d be hard-pressed to find one more obscure than Mercury Man, an alien scientist superhero who appeared in only two issues of Charlton’s Space Adventures (44 and 45, early in 1962).
I’ve always suspected he was intended as a replacement for Steve Ditko’s Captain Atom, whose adventures had ended in Space Adventures 42.
Drawn by Rocco “Rocke” Mastroserio, sporting the fashionable pointed ears of a Namor or a Spock, Mercury Man was a combination of Superman and Klaatu, hoping to help Earth avoid the nuclear war that had wiped out his civilization on the planet Mercury. He had survived by transforming himself into a living metal, and displayed superhuman strength, telepathy, indestructibility and the ability to project disintegration rays as well as fly at 50,000 miles per hour.
He arrived on Earth in time to save the United States from a nuclear attack. In another adventure, he transported world leaders to his home planet to let them see the effects of nuclear war firsthand. Perhaps they should have appeared to be more impressed, because the frustrated hero left them stranded there.
Made of the metal mercury, from the planet Mercury, and bearing wings on his ankles just like the Roman god Mercury’s talaria or flying sandals, this superhero was created by somebody who really knew how to underline a theme.