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MEDUSA

Real Name: Medusa

Occupation: Recluse, former priestess of Athena

Legal Status: Non-Entity

Identity: The general populace of Earth is unaware of the existence of Medusa except as a mythological figure.

Other Aliases: Various, including May Dusa

Place of Birth: Unknown

Marital Status: Single

Known Relatives: Phorcys (father), Ceto (mother), Stheno, Euryale (sisters, possibly deceased), The Graiae (Deinos, Enyo, Pephredo – sisters),  Chrysaor (son), Pegasus (daughter, presumably), Orion (nephew, deceased), Callirrhoe (daughter-in-law), Geryon (grandson, deceased), Echidna (granddaughter, deceased), Typhon (grandson-in-law), Cerberus (great-grandson), Ladon, Chimaera, Orthrus (great-grandsons, deceased), Hydra, Phaea, Sphinx (great-granddaughters, deceased),

Group Membership: The Gorgons, former member of the Olympian Gods

Base of Operations: Mobile, formerly an unknown outpost somewhere in Ancient Libya

First Appearance: Marvel Preview #10

Final Appearance: (death) Clash of the Titans (1981)

History: Medusa is a member of an extra-dimensional race of beings known as the Olympians, who were worshipped as gods by the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Medusa was one of the Gorgons, daughters of the ancient sea-gods, Phorcys and Ceto, who were overthrown when Zeus conquered Olympus and overthrew the Titans who previously reigned over the Olympians. Afterward, the Gorgons became attendants and priestesses of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and she took vows from them that they would remain virgins to honor her, a pact that they were more than negligent in obeying. Beautiful in appearance, the Gorgons were courted by the sea-god Poseidon and conceived him children. Euryale bore the giant Orion to Poseidon and Medusa bore him Chrysaor. Athena however discovered their indiscretions within her temple and cursed them heavily by stripping them of their godly beauty so that they would never attract any other mortal man or god. The Gorgons fled to Earth for the boundaries of Ancient Libya to live in isolation away from the eyes of mortals and immortals. According to legend, they had became so hideous that any man who discovered them was turned to stone. Whether this was a product of Athena’s spell or a power acquired by the Gorgons to punish invaders is unrevealed.

In the Fourteenth Century BC, King Polydectes of Seriphos courted Princess Danae of Argos in order to lay claim to her lands. To insure he would have no other claimant to the throne, he sent her son, Perseus, on a quest to slay Medusa and return with her head as proof, expecting him to be killed in the dangerous adventure. Perseus, however, was the son of Zeus, and was guided by Athena  to visit the Garden of the Hesperides for the goddesses there to provide him with several weapons required in confronting Medusa. Perseus was armed with winged sandals to move quickly through the air, a cap that made him invisible, a pouch that was immune to Medusa’s blood and an enchanted sword to use against her. Afterward, Perseus sought out the Graiae, the sisters of the Gorgons, who had been stripped of their eternal youth for their complicity in their sisters’ sins to learn where to find them. Although he had to ransom the sacred eye of the Graiae to attain their cooperation, Perseus procured from them the location where he should seek out the Gorgons before returning their eye. 

Ashamed and angry at the world, the Gorgons had fled beyond the boundaries of the known world seeking solitude, finally coming to rest in a deserted Greek outpost near the shore of Ancient Libya surrounded by the stone statues of their previous victims. Medusa was slain by Perseus concealed from her by his cap of invisibility and using the reflection of his shield to avoid looking upon them directly. The other Gorgons rose up to battle Perseus, but he escaped away unseen, later using Medusa’s head against Atlas and to punish Polydectes for his folly. From Medusa’s body, the infant form of Pegasus, a winged horse, sprung forth as the offspring of Poseidon and Medusa. The Gorgons greatly mourned their sister and saved her blood for its mystical anathema. Athena used it as a healing potion and gave vials of it to King Erichthonius of Athens and the young healer, Asclepius, informing him which portions cured disease and which was a deadly poison. Athena also saved a clipping from Medusa’s hair and concealed it in an urn to give to Hercules, the great-grandson of Perseus, two generations later. He gave it to Sterope, daughter of King Cepheus of Tegea, and told her it could be used to ward off any army while her father was away at war. Serpents conjured from Medusa’s blood also menaced the Argonauts as they returned to Greece.

By all accounts, Perseus had beheaded Medusa and her corpse was ravaged that fragments of it could be used in the precision of mystical spells and rituals. A stone chard of her body even eventually fell into the possession of awarlock named Lewis Vendredi in the Twentieth Century. Athena had two flutes from her ribs, which she later discarded after her inability to create music from them. Medusa’s head, however, eventually became too dangerous to keep and Perseus tossed it to the sea as an offering to Athena. She emblazoned the front of her aegis with it to wear into battle. However, there is speculatory evidence that Medusa’s spirit managed to survive and she returned to life several times by infusing her essence into mortal women and transforming them into duplicates of her original body. Hercules and the Argonauts encountered her while procuring gold from the Isle of Fear in the Black Sea and slew her once again, her victims restored to life from the stone effigies they had become afterward. Some years after her death, Greek soldiers were surprised by an extra-terrestrial scout from the planet D’Bari and confused him with Medusa because of his alien appearance and weapon that turned men to stone.

During the Twentieth Century, Medusa’s spirit took possession of a number of human bodies, each of them becoming some variation of her original body with snakes for hair due to Athena's curse. Hoping to avoid heroes wanting to confront her, she tried to live out a normal existence under the name May Dusa and became a mortal photographer, shunning notoriety and public appearances, but when she was burglarized, her assailant tore off her hood used to conceal her appearance and was turned to stone by her. She sold him as a piece of artwork afterward. However, an unidentified person realized the truth and sought to destroy her, but must have had pity on her instead and imprisoned her in an unidentified castle in Europe. She was soon discovered here as well and released from her cell by a blind man responding to her cries of distress. Not knowing her rescuer was blind and wondering why he was not transformed to stone in her presence, Medusa looked into a mirror and unwittingly turned herself to stone.

It is unsure how many of these appearances truly are Medusa or actually those of her sisters who survived into recent times. (It is known that her sister, Stheno, recently aided Deimos and Phobos in a scheme in Gotham City, New Jersey against Batman and Wonder Woman.) According to one account, Medusa and Poseidon had at least one daughter who was entirely normal. Athena granted this daughter a kingdom of her own hidden within the earth, but a disreputable anthropologist named Edward Lansing leading a band of fortune hunters invaded it. When they tried to pillage her city for its treasure, Medusa’s daughter turned them all into serpents. This woman could account for some of Medusa’s extraneous appearances on Earth. However, it is also possible this woman is actually a member of the Eternals or the Deviants who were often mistaken for the Olympian gods.

Actually craving vengeance on the Olympian gods, Medusa attempted to possess the original Supergirl for her Kryptonian powers in a plot against Zeus and Athena. Supergirl managed to stave off the possession to fight off the Justice League of America, but after she accidentally turned them to stone, she realized Medusa was taking more control over her. Medusa was eventually confronted by the spirit of Perseus inhabiting the human form of Supergirl’s boyfriend, and actually helped Supergirl to destroy the last of Medusa’s earthly remains, breaking her last link to Earth and removing her spirit from earth. Some years later, Phobos, the son of Ares, used these ashes to create the demoness, Decay, to battle Wonder Woman.

Under unknown circumstances, Medusa remained active in spirit form, taking possession of a bio-engineered Gorgon body created by a geneticist with the DNA of a human woman and a snake, but she was again slain by Hercules. Sometime after, she took possession of a female sculptor in Leeds Point, New Jersey, turning wayward tourists into statues. In this form, she possibly gained her most humanoid appearance so far, but she was again confronted and beheaded by Percy Jackson, a mortal son of Poseidon.

Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 395 lbs.
Eyes: Green
Hair: Black

Unusual Physical Traits: As goddesses, the Gorgons were revered as the most beautiful of the early Olympian gods with wings of gold, resembling angels from Judeo-Christian Religion. Cursed by Athena, they became more serpentine in appearance with green thick scaly skin, snakes for hair and wings of bronze. In additional to these mystical mutations, they attained brazen hands and long tongues, which lolled from their mouths between tusks like those of swine. In some of her modern appearances, Medusa is depicted as having a long serpentine body. Her eyes glow white when she uses her power to turn men to stone.

Known Superhuman Powers: Medusa once possessed the conventional attributes of an Olympian goddess. Like all of the Olympians, she was extremely long-lived; her spirit being able to exist on Earth long after her death. When she was alive, she aged at an extremely slow rate and could not die by conventional means. She was immune to all Earthly diseases and was resistant to conventional injury. If she were somehow wounded, her godly life force would enable her to recover with superhuman speed. However, due to Athena’s curse, she was bereft of much of her godly attributes and made much more vulnerable to conventional injury. It is unknown if she retained any of her superhuman strength or Olympian metabolism. (Olympian flesh and bone is three times denser than comparable human tissue, contributing to their superhuman strength and weight.).

As a goddess, Medusa and her sisters had limited abilities to tap into and manipulate mystical energies. While it is unsure as to the extent of her powers, it is obvious that she lost the majority of her mystical powers under the effects of Athena’s curse. However, it is unclear as to whether transforming people to stone was under Medusa’s power or a part of Athena’s curse. The fact that Perseus could resist being turned to stone just by avoiding directly looking upon Medusa and deflecting her gaze seems to suggest that this power is more under Medusa’s power than part of Athena’s curse; otherwise, everyone who ever came within proximity of Medusa without seeing her directly would be turned to stone. Furthermore, since one person resisted being affected just by being blind suggests that the mystical process was accomplished on Medusa’s behalf by direct eye contact with the person she managed to catch in her gaze. This process involved the transformation of all cellular human tissue into stone except for clothing and articles on that person. At least after Medusa’s death, her victims could be restored to life (even after several years) once she was slain so at least part of this power must have weakened after her physical death.  

Abilities: Medusa is a capable archer with a bow and arrow.

Comments: This bio pretty much encapsulates Medusa as she has been seen in the Marvel Universe with aspects of her appearances in DC Comics and the TV-Series, “Friday The Thirteenth: The Series.” She was also active behind the scenes in "The Gorgon" (1965) starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

According to the myth, Medusa was the only one among the Gorgons who was not immortal. This seems suspect and was likely added later to the myth as a convenience to make it that much more believable for Perseus to slay her.

Considering that the Graiae (also called the Gray Sisters) are sisters of the Gorgons and were also likely goddesses at one time as well, it is reasonable to speculate that they were also found at fault for the sins of their sisters. If the Gorgons were stripped of their beauty, perhaps they were stripped of their eternal youth enchantments, becoming vastly aged goddesses victim to the ravages of old age. In “Clash of the Titans,” they were excellently and faithfully portrayed visually as three Stygian witches and their eye depicted as a crystal ball. 

According to the myth, Pegasus is reputedly to have sprung from Medusa’s head. As the last offspring of Poseidon and Medusa, it probably sprang from her corpse after she died, but only because Athena’s curse possibly prohibited her from conceiving it naturally. Medusa’s son, Chrysaor, is sometimes said to have sprung from her corpse too, but this must as be error, because his daughter, Echidna, the wife of Typhon, was killed several generations prior by Argus, a former sentry of Mount Olympus.

Medusa was played by Tony Randall in “The Seven Faces of Doctor Lao” (1964) and by Uma Thurman in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief." She was animated in stop-motion (photo above) by Ray Harryhausen for “Clash of the Titans” (1981) and animated in CGI for "Clash of the Titans" (2010). It should be added, there is no mythical basis for Calibos, the main villain in the movie.

Historically, Medusa was possibly an ancient death-goddess of Libya, her ability to turn men to stone an allegory for rigor mortis. She was likely eliminated by Perseus in Libya to make room for worship of Zeus.

Profile by: WillU

CLARIFICATIONS: Medusa is not to be confused with:


Last updated: 09/13/2010

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