First appearanceFantastic Four #1 (November 1961)
Race(s)Deviant Mutates
Lava Men
Lizard Men
CharactersMole Man
Mole Monster
PublisherMarvel Comics

Subterranea is a fictional realm far beneath the Earth's surface appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.


Subterranea is a network of massive caves, passages, and tunnels, some large enough to hold cities, that are inhabited by the various races of Subterraneans. The first recorded entrance to Subterranea was found at Monster Isle. Subterranea contains water in underground rivers, pools, and lakes. It has high temperatures and no weather and its atmosphere is roughly the same as Earth's surface, with fresh air supplied through passages to the surface world.

In addition to the different races of Subterraneans, the Outcasts live in Subterranea and serve the Mole Man.


Subterranea is a kingdom that was built beneath the surface of the Earth. At one point, it was home to the Deviants. Subterranea did not actually lie at the center of the Earth, but instead consisted of a seemingly planet-wide network of caverns lying miles beneath Earth's surface.[1]

Around 20,000 years ago, the priests of the city of Netheria (which was located on Atlantis) foresaw that Atlantis would be attacked by the Deviants who had their empire based in Lemuria. Therefore, the people of Netheria enclosed their city in a dome of an unknown plastic-like substance and excavated and fortified their city's foundations. Consequently, when Atlantis sank, Netheria remained intact and its people survived, having discovered a means of recycling their air supply. Netheria sank more deeply over the years, until it finally came to rest in a huge sub-sea cavern. Afterwards, the Netherians renamed their realm the Netherworld and are now known as the Netherworlders.[2]

The Fantastic Four made their first journey into Subterrenea where they discovered that the Mole Man and his Moloids reside there. It is also where the Deviant Mutates from Monster Isle make their home.[3]

The immortal Roman scientist/sorcerer Tyrannus also makes his home in Subterranea, where he rules over the Moloid offshoots called the Tyrannoids.

During the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, Mister Sinister has built his own city (based on Victorian-era London) in the Moloids' tunnels within Subterranea. The city is inhabited solely by clones of himself and his castle is on the back of a clone of Krakoa. After disposing of a rebel clone, he explains to one of his other clones that he has foreseen that the Phoenix Force would come after Hope Summers and that the Avengers would try to stop it and clash against the X-Men, resulting in the creation of the Phoenix Five (consisting of Phoenix Force-possessed versions of Cyclops, Colossus, Emma Frost, Magik and Namor). He also knows that the Phoenix Five will soon come after him and intends to take the Phoenix energy away from them by using a group of Madelyne Pryor clones.[4] The Phoenix Five leave their teammates behind and track Mister Sinister to Anchorage, Alaska (Cyclops' birthplace) finding out that he built his city in the tunnels beneath Anchorage. Mister Sinister then orders his clones to enter into war against the Phoenix Five.[5]

Points of interest

There are some famous locations in Subterranea:


Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearance(Ghouls)
Marvel Mystery Comics #10 (August 1940)
X-Men (vol. 1) #41 (February 1968)
(Lava Men)
Journey into Mystery (vol. 1) #97 (October 1963)
(Lizard Men)
Tales to Astonish (vol. 1) #24 (October 1961)
Avenging Spider-Man #1 (January 2012)
Fantastic Four (vol. 1) #22 (January 1964)
The Incredible Hulk (vol. 1) #5 (May 1962)
Created by(Gortokians)
Roy Thomas and Don Heck
(Lava Men)

Jack Kirby
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Subterranea has various races that live in this underground location. The races of Subterranea are referred to as Subterraneans. Among the known Subterraneans are:


The Ghouls (or the Demons of the Mist) are a Subterranean race of unknown origin. There were two variants of the race, distinguished by their different sizes.

The Ghouls first appeared in Marvel Mystery Comics #10.


The Gortokians were the first race of Subterraneans. They were created millennia ago by the Deviants as a slave race, but they soon rebelled. In recent years, the Gortokians were planning an invasion of the surface world, but an underground nuclear test staged by an unwitting surface nation devastated the entire race, killing them all either outright or by the resulting radiation poisoning. The only known survivor is Grotesk, who is best known for having apparently killed the X-Men's leader Professor X (but who was actually the shape-shifter Changeling).

The Golden People of the Savage Land are the descendants of the Gortokians.

The Gortokians first appeared in X-Men #41 (February 1968), and were created by Roy Thomas and Don Heck.

Lava Men

The Lava Men are a race of Subterraneans who were mutated by the demon Cha'sa'dra (a native of Limbo) into a lava-skinned form. The first Lava Man to visit the surface world was Jinku, who was propelled to the surface by a volcanic reaction triggered by the trickster god Loki. This Lava Man fought Thor before he was returned underground. Later, he and other Lava Men later fought Thor's teammates, the Avengers. Cha'sa'dra was among the demons of Limbo who appeared on Earth during the "Inferno" storyline, and when he was destroyed in combat with the Avengers, the Lava Men were apparently transformed into solid, non-living matter.

Lava Men have red skin of rock-hard consistency. A Lava Man's body has twice the density of a normal human being's. Upon death, a normal Lava Man immediately decomposes into dust. A small number of Lava Men have undergone a metamorphosis, giving them golden skins. Grotesk has rendered all Lava Men mute under his rule. No clearly female Lava Men have been depicted to date.

Less than 1,000 Lava Men are known to exist. The Lava Men formerly had a tribal government, but became a monarchy ruled by Grotesk, although the golden Lava Men remained under tribal rule. Their technology level is primitive and the Lava Men are deeply religious, and peaceful except when stirred to war by religious fervor. Lava Men were formerly nomadic. Though not a Lava Man himself, Grotesk ruled the red Lava Men. Jinku was a shaman of the golden Lava Men. Other known Lava Men have included the golden Lava Men Akor, Danka and Kelak, as well as the deceased Molto. Enemies of the Lava Men have included the Avengers, Thor, the Moloid and Tyrannoid Subterraneans, Brutus and the Deviants. Major allies of the Lava Men have included Grotesk, Captain Marvel II and formerly Cha'sa'dra.

The first reported appearance of a Lava Man on Earth's surface was Molto, in Journey into Mystery #97 (October 1963) by Jack Kirby.

Molto appeared on Earth's surface, and battled Thor in New York City. Molto became Thor's friend afterwards, however.[6] The Avengers later fought the Lava Men in Subterranea when they tried to force a 'living rock' that was emitting deadly sound waves to the surface, hoping that, when it eventually exploded, it would wreck Earth and not their realm. However, the Hulk was tricked into striking the spot, which ended up destroying it. Thor allowed the rest of the Lava Men to return home.[7]

Jinku plotted to use the Mole Man's machine to activate all volcanoes on the Earth. Molto was mortally wounded by Jinku, but warned Thor and the Human Torch about Jinku before dying. Thor wrecked the machine and the Torch led the Moloid Subterraneans in defeating the Lava Men.[8]

A Project: Pegasus borer probe wreaked havoc in a Lava Man settlement and the Lava Men retaliated by invading Project: Pegasus. The Lava Men clashed with the Avengers again before returning to Subterranea.[9] The Lava Men became involved in a war against the other Subterranean races and managed to capture the Mole Man.[10]

Jinku magically created a group of non-sentient Lava Men that attacked the Avengers and Hydro-Base. It was revealed how the demon Cha'sa'dra transformed a group of Gortokian Subterraneans into the first Lava Men and how Cha'sa'dra's death killed hundreds of Lava Men and placed others in an immobile "chrysalis" state. The vengeful Jinku unleashed a monster against the Avengers in Subterranea. The immobile Lava Men attained new golden forms and Jinku was similarly transformed. However, they all made peace with the Avengers.[11]

Later, the remaining untransformed red Lava Men came under the rule of Grotesk. Some of the Lava Men fled to the surface to escape the war in Subterranea, but were forced to return.[12]

Lava Men have a high resistance to extreme heat and flame. They continually generate intense heat from their bodies and can increase the amount of heat at will, enough to be able to melt a weapon in its vicinity. They have a mystical ability to cause large amounts of volcanic ash to appear, seemingly from nowhere, and to transform metal into ash. They also have immunity to aging. Some Lava Men can mystically transform themselves into 20-foot-tall (6.1 m) giants composed of hardened lava. Some Lava Men can mystically command molten lava to do their bidding by performing a ritual prayer to the demons they worship. The golden Lava Men can transform their shapes, and in doing so, even merge their bodies with one another. They once formed themselves into a large sphere that could defy gravity. Jinku has mystically created non-sentient Lava Men which possess the superhuman powers of the real Lava Men. Lava Men had unusually acute hearing and night vision to enable them to function more easily in the darkness of Subterranea.

Lizard Men

The Lizard Men of Subterranea are a race of humanoid lizards created as slaves to the Deviants. When the Deviants abandoned Subterranea, the Lizard Men of Subterranea grew into an underground society.

The Lizard Men of Subterranea traveled through a system of Earth's caves where one of their numbers became lost in the Himalaya Mountains. They sent a scout with a fur covering out to look for that operative where the Lizard Man in question was mistaken for a Yeti. The scout ended up coming across Victor Cartwright who was faking a documentary of a Yeti when he and his assistant Fred Cooper could not find the actual one. The scout took Victor underground with Fred in pursuit. When the Lizard Men planned to kill Victor in order to keep their society a secret, Fred came to Victor's rescue.[13]

Sometime later, a hardened convict named Eric Kane serving a life sentence in an African prison camp escaped and hid in a cave behind a waterfall where he stumbled into the underground society of unrelated Lizard Men while looking for another way out. The Lizard Men ended up welcoming him and stating that a special diamond had given them light. When Eric asked the Lizard Men why they have not gone to the surface for light, they tell him that they cannot breathe the surface world's air, even in the upper regions of the cave. The Lizard Men allowed Eric to be their honored guest. Eric, however, was interested only in taking the diamond. When Eric managed to take the diamond and run, the Lizard Men went after him as they warned him to drop the diamond while he has the chance, as it was dangerous. Eric was too fast for the Lizard Men. The diamond emitted radiation that transformed him into a Lizard Man, making him unable to breathe the surface world's air, and he retreated back to the Lizard Men. The other Lizard Men shunned Eric, despite the fact that he had returned the diamond to them. While living as an outcast, Eric was left wondering if the diamond's effects will ever wear off and return him to human form.[14]

Kro later dispatched the Lizard Men to the Midnight Mountains in Borneo in order to assist in the capture of Makkari (who had taken the disguise of the superhero Hurricane to serve as a member of the Monster Hunters). Makkari's teammates aided him in the fight against the mutant monster Gorgilla as Makkari is ensnared by a Bloodhound Missile launched by the Lizard Men. The Lizard Men dragged Makkari down into Subterranea with Ulysses Bloodstone in hot pursuit. The Lizard Men destroyed the entrance to their tunnel to keep Ulysses Bloodstone from following them. At least one Lizard Man was left behind and his mind was probed by Doctor Druid.[15] The Monster Hunters later left the last Lizard Men under the care of Gorgilla.[16]

The Lizard Men of Subterranea are much different from the Lizard Men that reside in the Savage Land and the Lizard Men of Tok (from the Microverse).

The Lizard Men of Subterranea first appeared in Tales to Astonish #24.


The Molans are a race that was created by the Deviants. After the Deviants left Subterranea, the Molans grew into their own distinct society. They first appeared in Avenging Spider-Man #1 when they, alongside their leader Ra'ktar, end up overthrowing the Mole Man after his Moloids had captured Mayor J. Jonah Jameson.[17] Spider-Man and the Red Hulk end up coming to J. Jonah Jameson's rescue, where the Red Hulk ends up fighting Ra'ktar. Ra'ktar manages to easily cut down the Red Hulk.[18] Spider-Man manages to get J. Jonah Jameson back to the surface while he goes back for the Red Hulk. Spider-Man later duels Ra'ktar, using a weapon that Ra'ktar had forged for him. Spider-Man managed to defeat Ra'ktar and managed to work out a treaty between the Molans and the Mole Man.[19]

The Molans first appeared in Avenging Spider-Man #1.


The Moloids (or the Mole People) were the next race to be created by the Deviants. The Moloids are the physically weakest of the Subterraneans and consequently they almost always act in great numbers. Due to their physical and mental weakness, the Deviants rejected them and attempted to exterminate them all. Today, they serve the Mole Man, and have frequently fought the Fantastic Four alongside their master and his monsters.

The Moloids have a yellow-skinned subspecies called the Disians who live in the tunnels of the Savage Land.

Moloids are seen collecting and spiriting away the Punisher's body parts, after he is dismembered and decapitated by Wolverine's son Daken, acting on the orders of Norman Osborn. They are seemingly operating under the protection of the Man-Thing.[20]

Four evolved Moloids named Kor, Mik, Tong and Turg are members of the Future Foundation.

The Moloids first appeared in Fantastic Four #22 (January 1964), and were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.


The Tyrannoids are an offshoot of the Moloids who serve the nearly-immortal surface world exile Tyrannus, to whom they showed the Fountain of Youth. They are not quite as weak or simple-minded as their Moloid cousins. As pawns of Tyrannus, the Tyrannoids have fought the Hulk on several occasions.

The Tyrannoids first appeared in The Incredible Hulk (vol. 1) #5.

Other versions


In the crossover miniseries JLA/Avengers, Subterraneans are among the enthralled villains defending Krona's stronghold.[21] The Lava Men are among the first villains faced. The Moloids are defeated by Iron Man and Aquaman.[volume & issue needed]

Secret Wars (2015)

During the 2015 Secret Wars storyline, the Mole Man of Technopolis establishes the underground kingdom of Subterranea near the Shield. The Mole Man even had the security of Subterranea by using stolen technology from Technopolis and modifying deactivated Ultron Sentinels from Perfection. The Punisher of Egyptia and the Iron Fist of the Domain of Apocalypse stumble onto this, where they help to stop a malfunctioning Ultron. Even though the Mole Man broke one of God Emperor Doom's laws, he was allowed to continue running Subterranea as the Shield's sub-domain without having to submit to God Emperor Doom.[22]

In other media


Video games


  1. ^ Avengers Annual #20. Marvel Comics.
  2. ^ Tales of Suspense #43. Marvel Comics.
  3. ^ Fantastic Four #1. Marvel Comics.
  4. ^ Uncanny X-Men (vol. 2) #14. Marvel Comics.
  5. ^ Uncanny X-Men (vol. 2) #15. Marvel Comics.
  6. ^ Journey Into Mystery #97. Marvel Comics.
  7. ^ Avengers #5. Marvel Comics.
  8. ^ Marvel Team-Up #26. Marvel Comics.
  9. ^ Avengers #236-237. Marvel Comics.
  10. ^ Fantastic Four #313. Marvel Comics.
  11. ^ Avengers #305-306, 308. Marvel Comics.
  12. ^ Avengers Annual #20. Marvel Comics.
  13. ^ Tales to Astonish #24. Marvel Comics.
  14. ^ Journey into Mystery #64. Marvel Comics.
  15. ^ Marvel Universe #6. Marvel Comics.
  16. ^ Marvel Universe #7. Marvel Comics.
  17. ^ Avenging Spider-Man #1. Marvel Comics.
  18. ^ Avenging Spider-Man #2. Marvel Comics.
  19. ^ Avenging Spider-Man #3. Marvel Comics.
  20. ^ Dark Reign: The List - The Punisher #1. Marvel Comics.
  21. ^ JLA/Avengers #4. Marvel Comics.
  22. ^ Secret Wars Journal #5. Marvel Comics.