Johnny Horton was a small-time criminal who was captured by agents of the second subversive organization to be known as the Secret Empire. The Secret Empire assigned a surgeon in its employ to transform Horton into a superhuman being by using various techniques, including grafting wings and claws onto Horton's body permanently and administering an experimental mutagenic serum into him. Horton was named the Griffin after his new appearance, which vaguely resembled the mythological griffin, a creature that was half lion and half eagle.
At first, Horton retained his normal intelligence and sanity in his new form. He loathed his new appearance, believing he was now a freak, but nevertheless obeyed the Secret Empire's orders to attack the mutant known as the Beast. The Beast and his colleague, the Angel, defeated the Griffin, who was sent to prison. While in prison, the mutagenic serum the Griffin had taken caused him to go insane and further transformed his body, giving him a spiked tail and vastly increasing his strength. The Griffin broke free of prison and hunted down the surgeon who had transformed him. When the surgeon was unable to tell him the location of his former masters in the Secret Empire (which had by this time been defeated), the Griffin hurled the surgeon from a great height in rage. The costumed crimefighter, Spider-Man, caught the falling surgeon, but the two men struck a water tanker when Spider-Man's webbing broke and they both plunged into the water. The Beast, who had learned of the Griffin's escape, helped Spider-Man and the surgeon to safety. Although Spider-Man took the brunt of the impact against the tanker, the surgeon died. Together, Spider-Man and the Beast defeated the Griffin, who was taken into police custody. 
Months later, the Griffin broke into Avengers Mansion, seeking to challenge the hero team known as the Avengers. The Griffin had realized that the serum continued to mutate him whenever he pushed his superhuman abilities to the limit; hence, he intended to battle as many superhuman champions as possible in order to increase his own powers. During his subsequent battle with Spider-Man and the Avenger, Wonder Man, the Griffin's strength further increased, and he gained the facial features of a lion. But finally, while lifting a flaming Avengers Quinjet in order to hurl it at his two foes, a further mutation caused the Griffin to lose his human intellect. Reduced to the mental level of an animal, the Griffin was seized by terror at the sight of the flames and dropped the Quinjet, seemingly being crushed beneath its weight. However, the Griffin survived the impact and used his claws to dig his way to safety underground.
Several months after that, the criminal named Headlok found the Griffin wandering through the Adirondack Mountains and put him under his mental control. When Headlok and the Griffin attacked the West Coast Avengers, the Griffin had further mutated so that he had grown even stronger than before and had developed a tough, scaled hide and large plates standing atop his back like those of a stegosaur. While Headlok was distracted during the battle, the Avenger, Tigra, succeeded in calming the Griffin down using her empathy for feline animals. Headlok was defeated, and the Griffin was sent to the Vault, the federal maximum security prison for superhuman beings.
Subsequently, the Griffin escaped the Vault during a prison break by several superhuman criminals. He was recently used as a pawn against the Sub-Mariner. The Sub-Mariner defeated the Griffin and released him in a meeting of the Roxxon Oil Company's Board of Directors, believing the Griffin's attack was sponsored by Roxxon. The current status of the Roxxon Board of Directors is unknown. The Griffin continued to mutate further into a docile state, and as such became subservant to the Sub-Mariner.  As such, the Griffin aided the sea prince on several adventures; and Namor routinely rode him like a flying horse.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Mutagenic and Surgical Transformation: Johnny Horton's body has been almost completely transformed to resemble the form of the mythological beast called the Griffin. Johnny's physiology includes a combination of feline and avian features. As a result, Horton possesses various superhuman abilities.
Superhuman Strength: Horton possesses great superhuman strength that has increased dramatically since he was first transformed. His strength has increased to the point where he is capable of lifting about 90 tons.
Superhuman Speed: Horton can run and move at speeds that are beyond the physical capability of the finest human athlete.
Superhuman Stamina: Horton's advanced musculature produces considerably less fatigue toxins during physical activity than the musculature of an ordinary human. At his peak, he can currently exert himself physically for about 24 hours before the build up of fatigue toxins in his blood begins to impair him.
Superhuman Durability: Horton's body is highly resistant to physical injury. He can withstand powerful impact forces such as being struck repeatedly by Wonder Man, falls from great heights, exposure to extremely high temperatures, and high caliber bullets without being injured.
Superhuman Agility: Horton's agility, balance, and bodily coordination are enhanced to levels that are beyond the natural physical limits of even the finest human athlete.
Superhuman Reflexes: Horton's reflexes are similarly enhanced and are superior to those of the finest human athlete.
Flight: Horton possesses huge, eagle-like wings that have grown from between his shoulder blades and as a result can fly through the air at great speeds. It is believed that he can achieve a maximum speed of around 150-160 miles per hour.
Fangs and Claws: Horton also possesses extremely sharp and powerful teeth and claws that he often uses as offensive weapons. They're sufficient to rend most conventional materials such as wood, flesh, stone, and even some types of metals.
Tail: Horton also possesses a long tail covered with spikes that he is known to use as an offensive weapon.
Ongoing Mutation: For some unexplained reason, Horton's body undergoes radical changes whenever he pushes his powers to their limits, resulting in further mutation. Horton's body has mutated on multiple occasions, resulting in his change from mostly human to his current form. Also, all of his physical attributes have continually increased, though his intelligence has currently been reduced to below human levels.
Avian Telepathy: Horton also possesses the ability to mentally communicate with and control birds. However, he no longer possesses human level intelligence as a result of further mutations. As a result, while he still has this ability, he lacks the intelligence to utilize it.
|Power Grid |
|* Higher intelligence pre-transformation|
The Griffin possesses superhuman strength, enabling him to lift around 90 tons.
Flight under own power.
- 72 Appearances of John Horton (Earth-616)
- 14 Images featuring John Horton (Earth-616)
- 1 Quotations by or about John Horton (Earth-616)
- Character Gallery: John Horton (Earth-616)
- Fan-Art Gallery: John Horton (Earth-616)
- Gamers' Handbook to the Marvel Universe
- UnOfficial Handbook of the Marvel Universe
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