Kevin Marlow has a history that spans over 70 years of publications. Below is his complete history. For an abridged version see the Abridged history of Kevin Marlow.
World War II
Kevin "Keen" Marlow was an American reporter who was sent to Europe as a war correspondent during World War II. Reporting from Nazi Germany, and was forced to accept information from the Nazi Propaganda Bureau for news. When Marlow learned of Strohm Prison was the site of prisoner abuse, Marlow broke into the prison to get the real story. Accused of being a enemy spy, Marlow was captured and incarcerated in the prison, finding himself suffering the same fate as its prisoners. There he met Eric Schmitt who had developed a variation of the Super Soldier Serum before being sent to prison due to his Jewish heritage. Dying Schmitt had Marlow ingest the formula, granting Marlow a body of peak physical perfection. With his enhanced abilities, Marlow broke free from his cell and helped free the prisoners.
Kevin then developed the costumed identity of the Destroyer and vowed to terrorize the Nazis from within Germany and helped those who were oppressed by Adolf Hitler's regime. His costumed was fashioned after the striped prisoner uniforms that the Nazis forced those in the concentration camps to wear. His raids on the Nazis led to Gestapo commander Friedrich von Banger to go after the hero, however the Destroyer evaded capture, leaving a mocking note to Von Banger upon his escape. Also during this period he established the cover identity of travel writer Louis Kramer.
The Destroyer next clashed with Nazi agent the Scar, who used a new device that suffocated a mob of angry citizens who were arguing with Gestapo agents at a ration line. Among those killed was the father of Florence von Ward who the Destroyer took on as a confidant so she could avenge her fathers death. The Destroyer was captured by the Scar, but managed to break free with Flora's help, and the battle ended with the Scar being blown up by one of his own bombs.
After this adventure, Kevin and Flora got engaged, and she was soon captured by the Nazis and placed in a concentration camp in order to pressure her uncle Professor Herman Berg into creating a chemical weapon for the Nazis to place in a bomb. The Destroyer came to Flora and Herman's rescue, literally pushing Hitler (or one of his impostors) out of the way to destroy the bomb before it could be unleashed on England.
In October of 1941 while on a solo mission the Destroyer kidnapped German reporter Emil Hansen from a Nazi train. He then forced the reporter to accompany him as he took over another Nazi train, loaded with explosives and sending it crashing into the front wall of Reibnich Concentration Camp, freeing the prisoners inside so that Hansen could see the horrors of the Third Reich. By this time, Flora had developed the alias of Florence von Banger. While Kevin and Flora were out on a date they came across Nazi scientist Herr Wilhelm von Sin testing devices to sink British battleships. As the Destroyer, Kevin destroyed Sin's device and sent Sin falling to his death. By this time, Brian Falsworth had also received a sample of Eric Schmitt's formula and began adventuring as the Destroyer as well. Apparently, Marlow allowed this to further sow confusion as to who the Destroyer's real identity was. If Marlow and Falsworth had met during this period is unknown.
Continuing his attacks on the Nazis, the Destroyer learned of Dr. Dragon's attempt to launch an invasion of England by digging a tunnel under the Channel. The Destroyer located the tunnel and blew it up, the resulting flood. The Destroyer took Dragon prisoner and turned him over to the English military as a prisoner of war. Returning to Nazi Germany, the Destroyer then took up the guise of a waiter at a hotel where he helped free a British spy. This outraged Hitler that he hired his best Gestapo agent, and apparently Hitler's only friend, Von Maus the Manhunter after the hero. The Destroyer easily bested Von Maus and imitated the manhunter to deliver a personal and humiliating defeat to Hitler himself. Later, the Destroyer learned that Anti-Nazi preacher Paster Muller was to be executed by the Gestapo for his Anti-Nazi articles. The Destroyer went to the concentration camp where he was being help prisoner and rescued him from the clutches of Nazi executioner Bungler the Butcher. Soon after this, the Destroyer came to the aid of Freedom Station, a pirate radio station that used their equipment to hijack broadcasts whenever Hitler made a public address, and insulted the dictator.
Learning that Gestapo chief Captain Achhimmel and spy Inga von Leche were seeking an actor to pose as the Destroyer in order to draw the hero out to investigate his impostor, Kevin posed as German actor Lewis Kramer. Through this ruse, the Destroyer helped free three German anti-Nazi writers from being executed, and killed Achhimmel. Unaware that "Kramer" was really the Destroyer, Inga took Achhimmel's place. The Destroyer decided to keep the "Kramer" identity to use later, but any other instances where he used this cover are unrecorded.
Next the Destroyer learned that Nazi operative Herr Gruber was using slaves to build secret underground munitions factories in Germany's Black Forest that were invisible to Allied bombers. The Destroyer tracked down the factory's location and destroyed it, killing Gruber in the process. The Destroyer next posed as Captain von Nuisance to free Florence as well as some underground press reporters that were to be tortured at the hands of the Brander.
In 1943, the Destroyer learned of a planned invasion of Britain, but learned this was a ruse to distract him from an actual invasion of Switzerland. Travelling there he clashed with a tank battalion of Nazi soldiers, slaying them all and thwarting their invasion plot. Relocating to France, the Destroyer helped Free French resistance fighters escape from the Nazis by slipping them a drug that simulated death for a short period of time, allowing them all to escape. Returning to Germany, the Destroyer assisted a spy named Gloria escape the country with Nazi secrets, clashing with Captain Krause.
Smuggling himself to North Africa, the Destroyer next derailed a train carrying some of Hitler's best soldiers and slaughtered them all. Returning France, the Destroyer helped French resistance fighters along the French/Swiss boarder, liberating the town from Nazis led by Colonel von Bitters. Back in Germany, the Destroyer assisted French rebels in painting Nazi targets with luminescent paint to make them easier targets for Allied bombers, a plan that was almost thwarted by a traitor in their midst
In December of 1943, time displaced American soldier Paul Anselm returned from the future with the Cosmic Cube to restore some of his friends who were killed in battle. The Cube ended up getting into the hands of the Red Skull who used the Cube's power to reshape reality so that the Nazis ruled the world. The Destroyer was among Earth's wartime heroes who were slaughtered by the Skull, who impaled his corpse on a massive wall with his other victims. Later when the Skull clashed with the Invaders and the time travelling New Avengers and Mighty Avengers, Paul reclaimed the Cube. With the Cube, Paul resurrected the Destroyer and all the other heroes who then swarmed the Skull. With the Skull defeated, reality was restored to normal and the Destroyer's memories of events were erased.
As the war raged on, the Destroyer broke into the home of Adolf Hitler on another direct attack on the dictator. There he saw a gathering of Hitler impersonators and that the Fuhrer himself was apparently terminally ill, the cause being his guilty concious over the atrocities caused by the war. Satisfied that Hitler would either renounce the war or die, the Destroyer left him to his fate. As Hitler has been seen in fine health since this encounter, this was likely a trick.
On another mission, the Destroyer meet with Allied forces and is given false information on a planned invasion of France, a trick to lure local Nazi forces into a trap. The Destroyer then led the Nazis on a wild goose chase and allowed himself to be captured in order to full believe in the ruse. Sure enough, the Nazi forces stormed the French town of Chapelle and were decimated by Allied Forces, while the Destroyer once more escaped Nazi capture. When a prisoner exchange between the Nazis and the Allies were finalized, the Destroyer decided to spy on the Nazis to insure that there was no double cross. Sure enough he found that the Nazis were planning on replacing the captured Allied soldiers with Nazi impostors to launch an attack on England. The Destroyer saved the Allied soldiers from execution and tricked the Nazis into thinking their own men were really their captors, shooting them dead while the Destroyer and the prisoners escaped.
With the war in Europe taking a turn on the side of the Allies, the Destroyer then decided to relocate to Japan to battle Imperial Japanese forces there. Hijacking a German plane, the Destroyer flew to Tokyo where he instantly clashed with Japanese forces, and easily defeating the Juggernaut, their best fighter before evading capture. Travelling to the so-called Valley of Death, the Destroyer found a biological weapon factory run by a disfigured scientist known only as the Face. There the Destroyer destroyed the weapons, killing the Face and his men with their own toxic gas. Travelling to Korea, the Destroyer helped Mother Ting and her resistance fighters destroy weapons factories under the command of General Muki. Returning to Japan, the Destroyer discovered that Captain Suicide was planning a Zeppelin attack on the United States through a secret tunnel under the Pacific Ocean. Clashing with Japanese forces, the Destroyer destroyed the tunnel killing Captain Suicide in the process, and returns to the United States.
Back in his home country, the Destroyer assisted the authorities in trying to stop a number of Japanese spies from smuggling themselves into California, but some escaped. Tracking the spies down, the Destroyer prevented them from stealing a captured German buzz-bomber and sent the craft crashing into the Japanese sub waiting for them out at sea. The Destroyer was next sent back to Japan to discover how the enemy was sinking American battleships undetected. He uncovered and foiled the Japanese who were using submarines disguised as destroyed battleships to sink the vessels. Joining Allied Forces on a Japanese controlled Pacific Island, the hero rescued a number of American prisoners of war from execution and helping them kill their captor the so-called Bloody Baron. In his last wartime adventure, the Destroyer also stopped a joint Nazi/Japanese plot that combined a Japanese sub fleet with the German's buzz-bombers. Destroying the entire fleet, the Destroyer was picked out of ocean by Allied Forces.
With the war over the Destroyer returned home to the United States and set up operations in New York City, working from the office of his friend, Private Detective Jerry Crane. When rival mobsters were being mysteriously gunned down from some unseen shooter, the Destroyer tracked the trajectory of the shots to the Union State Building. There he stopped mob leader Trigger Connolley and his gang from assassinating more of their rivals. Next the Destroyer found himself investigating a protection racket that was threatening businesses in Chinatown. There he tracked down Killer Sikes and his mob and brought them to justice easily, partially due to their mobs attempt to bump off their leader in order to get a better cut of the profits from their racket. In his last recorded appearance in the 1940s, the Destroyer tracked down Rocky Scarpulla and his gang the "Agency of Death".
Marlow continued with his Destroyer persona after the war, acting as a government operative. He acquired quite a rogue's gallery of enemies over the subsequent decades. When he was told that he didn't have much longer to live, Marlow decided to kill off anyone who he thought could pose a threat after he was gone. As a result, he killed his brother, Richard Marlow, in addition to several other of his foes. In particular, he wanted to find Scar, his arch-nemesis who knew his secret identity and who robbed his wife of her right arm during their last encounter years before. When the villain learned that Marlow was looking for him, he decided to come out of retirement in an attempt to kill his old foe. To achieve this, he kidnapped Marlow's daughter Felecia, and destroyed her house in an attempt to lure the Destroyer into a trap. The Destroyer, along with Felecia's husband and Marlow's former partner who came out of retirement as Turret, tracked Scar to an abandoned tire factory. There they faced the villain, who had gathered several of the Destroyer's other remaining foes, including Bruiser, Crocodile and the Organite. Scar slit Felecia's wrists, but Turret was able to rescue her in time to save her life. Marlow, meanwhile, killed Bruiser and Crocodile before ripping off Scar's arm and attempting to feed it to him in revenge for what he had done to his wife. He then proceeded to beat Scar's head into a fine pulp before Turret was able to pull him off.Later, while recovering in hospital, Marlow learned the location of terrorist organization Horde's central headquarters. Eager to cross another enemy off of his list, he led an assault team of soldiers against them. He was not fully healed from his wounds, however, and quickly found himself in trouble. Luckily, Turret followed the assault team and saved Marlow's life. Turret then killed Horde's ultimate leader, Krakoom.
A few days later, while lying in bed with his wife, Marlow had a third heart attack and appeared to momentarily die. His soul traveled to a sort of limbo where he was approached by three grim reapers attempting to make him go to the light. The Destroyer savagely beat the three beings and woke up while being attended to by a team of paramedics. His doctor told him that his heart actually seemed to be repairing itself somehow, giving him a second chance at life. While again recovering in hospital, Marlow learned that his old foe Techtronica had uploaded her consciousness into the minds of several computer technicians at the Pentagon. The government, however, wasn't interested in having his help this time though, as Turret proved himself to be faster and stronger than his old mentor, adopting the mantle of Destroyer for himself. Initially worried about his daughter having to cope with Darius acting as a superhero, he was later happy to pass on the legacy to him, calling him his greatest achievement. It is presumed that he then decided to retire and live out the rest of his days peacefully alongside his family.
Due to a number of retcons in the 1970s and 2000s Kevin Marlow's continuity has become somewhat confusing. The Destroyer character appeared in many Timely Comics publications in the 1940s and was intended to be Kevin Marlow. However, a retcon in Invaders #18 specified that Brian Falsworth was really the Destroyer and that Kevin Marlow was not a real person. The role of the Destroyer was then taken up by Roger Aubrey when Brian became the next Union Jack. However, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol 4 #8 and Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #3 clarified that all three men were active as the Destroyer during the same period of time. Further confusing things is Marvels Project #7 which suggested that Brain Falsworth used Keen Marlow as an alias. This however was likely an error on the part of writer Ed Brubaker as Marlow is considered part of Marvel cannon.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mystic Comics #6
- ↑ Marvels Project #7
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 USA Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1
- ↑ All Winners Comics #2
- ↑ Mystic Comics #7
- ↑ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #3
- ↑ All Winners Comics #3
- ↑ Mystic Comics #8
- ↑ All Winners Comics #4
- ↑ Mystic Comics #9
- ↑ All Winners Comics #5
- ↑ Mystic Comics #10
- ↑ U.S.A. Comics #6
- ↑ All Winners Comics #7
- ↑ U.S.A. Comics #8
- ↑ All Winners Comics #9
- ↑ U.S.A. Comics #9
- ↑ All Winners Comics #10
- ↑ U.S.A. Comics #10
- ↑ Avengers / Invaders #10
- ↑ Avengers / Invaders #12
- ↑ All Winners Comics #11
- ↑ Appearance in U.S.A. Comics #11 and U.S.A. Comics #12 go here
- ↑ All Winners Comics #12
- ↑ U.S.A. Comics #13
- ↑ Mystic Comics Vol 2 #1
- ↑ Amazing Comics #1
- ↑ The story states that he was in Tokyo's Industrial District this is refuted by Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #3
- ↑ Mystic Comics Vol 2 #2
- ↑ Appearance in Complete Comics #2 goes here
- ↑ All-Select Comics #6
- ↑ Mystic Comics Vol 2 #4
- ↑ Daring Comics #11
- ↑ U.S.A. Comics #16
- ↑ Kid Komics #9
- ↑ Daring Comics #12
- ↑ U.S.A. Comics #17
- ↑ All-Select Comics #10
- ↑ Destroyer Vol 3 #1
- ↑ Destroyer Vol 3 #2
- ↑ Destroyer Vol 3 #3
- ↑ Destroyer Vol 3 #4
- ↑ Destroyer Vol 3 #5