Cover art for The Twelve No. 6.
Art by Paolo Rivera.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceU.S.A. Comics No. 1 (Aug. 1941)
Created byCharles Nicholas
Basil Wolverton
In-story information
Alter egoDaniel Rose
Team affiliationsThe Twelve
Abilitiessuperhuman strength, superhuman speed, superhuman toughness, hand-to-hand combat skills

Rockman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in U.S.A. Comics No. 1 (August 1941), published by Marvel predecessor Timely Comics during the 1930s to 1940s period historians and fans call the Golden Age of Comics. As credits were not routinely given in comic books of this period, his writer and artist co-creators are unknown, although the first page of his debut story was drawn by Charles Nicholas (itself a house pen name) and the remainder by Basil Wolverton.[1]

Publication history

Rockman appeared in USA Comics #1–4 (Aug. 1941 – May 1942), with two stories drawn by Basil Wolverton and at least one signed by writer and future Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Stan Lee.

Marvel announced in July 2007 that Rockman would appear in the 2008 limited series The Twelve.[2][3] The first three 1940s Rockman stories were reprinted in The Twelve No. 0 (Feb. 2008) and #1/2 (Nov. 2008).

Fictional character biography

In his historical origin, Rockman was the leader of an underground race of beings who were the descendants of the first white colonists of North America. Their kingdom was known as Abyssmia, and was located underneath the country.[4] Noticing the effects of war overhead, Rockman leaves Abyssmia to assist the United States in its war effort.[5] He has super-strength and speed, has a super-tough body, and doesn't need oxygen to breathe.[6]

The Twelve

Main article: The Twelve (comics)

Some time after his official introduction as a superhero, Rockman joins Captain America, the Invaders and a cadre of second-tier superheroes in the Battle of Berlin.[7] There he is ambushed and captured along with Blue Blade, The Black Widow (unrelated to the modern character of that name), Captain Wonder, Dynamic Man, Fiery Mask, Laughing Mask, the original Master Mind Excello, Mister E, Phantom Reporter, the Witness and the telepathically controlled robot Electro.[volume & issue needed]

As Electro is deactivated and unable to help the other heroes, they are doused with sleeping gas and placed in cryogenic stasis by Nazi scientists, who hope to dissect them and discover the secret of their superhuman abilities. Rockman, along with the others, is "lost" when the scientists are killed during the fall of Berlin. Years later in 2008, the heroes are found.[volume & issue needed]

He and his teammates are brought to live in a luxurious mansion, while adjusting to modern life; a task in which he fails miserably. Still pining for his lost kingdom, Rockman never moves from the basement, futilely slamming his hands on the ground in an attempt to contact any Abyssmians.[volume & issue needed]

It is strongly hinted that Rockman's historical origin has simply been a delusional fantasy when Danielle Rose, a young girl from West Virginia, tells the military caretakers of Rockman that the hero may be her lost great-uncle Daniel Rose. Apparently, Rose was a miner who lived in Tarleton, West Virginia, and became well known for being the first miner to advocate unionizing. Rose lived there with his wife and daughter (whom he referred to as his "little princess"), until Boss Clete, the corrupt head of the Lufton Fuel Company, hired some thugs to silence the growing trade union.[volume & issue needed]

Rose accepted the fight, and brought his trade union down into the mine to confront Clete's men. At the last moment, Boss Clete attempted to flee, while exploding behind himself a hidden dynamite charge that was intended to seal off the mine and kill Daniel Rose and his men. However, Boss Clete forgot to take in account the eventual methane chain reactions.[volume & issue needed]

As a result, the mine collapsed around the men, killing everyone except for Rose. Exposure to hidden pockets of an "unknown mutagenic gas" gave him extended reserves of strength and durability, along with making him impervious to harm. When Rose returned to the surface, after two days of constant digging, he discovered that the resulting sinkhole had swallowed the whole Tarleton, killing everyone he held dear, included his beloved wife and his "little princess".[volume & issue needed]

Daniel Rose snapped, and in his stupor was left pounding the ground, calling his lost family to him. Exhausted and utterly unbalanced, Rose abandoned his town only to resurface later as "Rockman, King of Abyssmia", which may have been a psychological coping mechanism to deal with the shattered figments of his former life.[volume & issue needed]

Danielle presents proof of her findings, and shows the caretakers a photograph of Daniel Rose. However, they lie to Danielle and send her away, acknowledging that the hope of being reunited with his lost family is the only thing holding Rockman's remaining shreds of sanity together.[volume & issue needed]

Rockman's story ends ambiguously. He is caught in a collapsing building, and apparently hears his "princess" coming to get him. When his team-mates excavate, in an attempt to retrieve his body, they instead find a tunnel that goes for a mile into the earth.[8]

Powers and abilities

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Besides having access to advanced Abyssmian technology, including a "digger car" for transport and advanced monitoring equipment, Rockman has the powers of superspeed, super toughness, super strength, and super hand-to-hand combat skills. He does not need air and can withstand the extreme pressures of the bottom of the sea.

After his revival in The Twelve he has not demonstrated his super-speed powers, and his physical prowess, nigh-invulnerability and durability are explained as the exposure to a still unknown underground gas[citation needed]. As Rockman is revealed to be a citizen of the U.S.A. named Daniel Rose, his Abyssmian technology is now retconned, or explained as enhanced digging instruments, as Daniel Rose was a professional miner.[citation needed]

His mental state, precarious after the tragic loss of his family, continues to erode as he is brought into modern times. Rockman is in a state of constant mourning, waiting for his dead loved ones to return.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Grand Comics Database: USA Comics #1
  2. ^ Comics Book Resources (July 26, 2007): "Mystery Men's Dozen: Brevoort Talks The Twelve"
  3. ^ Newsarama (Aug. 16, 2007): "12 Days of the Twelve: Rockman
  4. ^ Steranko, Jim (1970). The Steranko History of Comics, vol 1. Supergraphics. p. 63.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Kurt; Thomas, Roy (2019). American Comic Book Chronicles: 1940-1944. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 68. ISBN 978-1605490892.
  6. ^ Nevins, Jess (2013). Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes. High Rock Press. p. 226. ISBN 978-1-61318-023-5.
  7. ^ DeFalco, Tom; Sanderson, Peter; Brevoort, Tom; Teitelbaum, Michael; Wallace, Daniel; Darling, Andrew; Forbeck, Matt; Cowsill, Alan; Bray, Adam (2019). The Marvel Encyclopedia. DK Publishing. p. 385. ISBN 978-1-4654-7890-0.
  8. ^ The Twelve trade paperback