Asbestos may now be known as a mesothelioma-causing fiber that should be avoided at all cost, but this was not always so. In fact, for a short time during the 1960s asbestos was linked to one of Marvel Comics’ favorite superheroes.
Asbestos Man, a fire retardant enemy of the Human Torch, first appeared in the 1963 comic book Strange Tales #111. Originally known as Professor Orson Kasloff, a well respected analytical chemist who became disheartened as he started to believe his scientific ability was not being properly acknowledged, he developed the alter-ego Asbestos Man in order to enter a life of crime he believed would afford him the life of grandeur he felt he deserved.
In order to gain the respect of his fellow criminals, Asbestos Man began his career as a villain by setting out to challenge and defeat the Human Torch (nee Johnny Storm).
The suit Kasloff wore while posing as Asbestos Man was described in the comic as a suit and shield made of flame-resistant super asbestos. For good measure, the chemist also managed to develop a net that converted heat into explosive charges.
Asbestos Man’s plans for criminal dominance using the fire-retardant suit initially worked (he defeated the Torch in their first encounter). However, his luck soon ran out when – during his plot to rob the State National Bank – the Human Torch returned and forced A.Man to surrender after using his flames to consume all of the oxygen in the room with his flames.
Asbestos Man, as well as the similar-but-unrelated Asbestos Lady who was also used in some comics at the time, are both a testament to how commonly used asbestos was during the first half of the century. Additionally, it also demonstrates that the fire-retardant benefits of asbestos were also commonly known.
However, what was not as commonly known at the time was just how deadly asbestos was if inhaled. Because of this, countless plants and factories exposed their workers to asbestos on a daily basis, while it was also utilized in a number of commonly used household items. The health risks of asbestos exposure were not fully realized by many until decades later, when it was linked as the primary cause of many types of lung cancer, including asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Proving he was indeed a product of his asbestos-laden time, Asbestos Man was never used again in the Marvel Universe.
If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos by product or former employer before and have now been affected by an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, contact an asbestos attorney to see if pursuing mesothelioma lawsuit is a possibility.