Cover art for Fantastic Four: Foes #5.
Art by Jim Cheung.
|First appearance||Fantastic Four Vol.1 #13 (April 1963)|
Stan Lee (writer)|
Jack Kirby (artist)
|Alter ego||Ivan Kragoff|
Use of devices and weapons
The Red Ghost (Ivan Kragoff) and his Super-Apes (Mikhlo/Михло, Igor/Игорь, and Peotr/Пётр) are a group of fictional supervillains appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The characters started their career fighting the Fantastic Four, before confronting other Marvel heroes such as Iron Man and Spider-Man.
Fictional character biography
Ivan Kragoff was born in Leningrad, in what was at the time the Soviet Union. Before becoming the Red Ghost, Ivan was a Soviet scientist bent on beating the Americans to the moon and claiming it for the Communist empire. He assembled a crew of three trained primates — Mikhlo the Gorilla, Igor the Baboon, and Peotr the Orangutan — which he subjected to specialized training regimens of his own design, then took off on his lunar rocket trip on behalf of the USSR, while on the very next panel, the Fantastic Four were aiming their own rocket for the same destination.
Kragoff knew enough of the Fantastic Four's history, and he purposefully designed his rocket in such a way that he and his crew would be heavily exposed to the cosmic rays that would, he expected, give them superpowers. This was successful: Kragoff gained the ability to become as intangible and invisible as a "ghost", Mikhlo became superhumanly strong and durable, Igor gained the ability to shapeshift and could transform into nearly anything, and Peotr gained the ability to control either gravity (like Graviton) or magnetism (like Magneto) (accounts vary by writer). They landed on the Blue Area of the Moon.
The Red Ghost and his Super-Apes, as he called them, battled the Fantastic Four soon after gaining their powers, first meeting the Thing. Red Ghost encountered Uatu the Watcher during this fight, who said he would bring the two warring groups together in a fight for supremacy over the Moon. The Red Ghost and his apes first defeated the Four and kidnapped the Invisible Girl. But he was defeated by the Fantastic Four and left on the Moon when the apes rebelled against him after the Invisible Girl deactivated a force field, allowing them access to the food the Red Ghost kept from them. Mikhalo then broke down the metal door, freeing the Invisible Girl. The Red Ghost got into the Watcher's base hoping to use his secrets, but was unable to understand the technology, and was thrown from the area by the Watcher. The Fantastic Four then used a paralyzing ray to stop him.
With his Super-Apes, he later again battled the Fantastic Four on the moon, and again encountered the Watcher. Kragoff was accidentally teleported to Earth by the Watcher's matter transporter. The Red Ghost was expelled from the Communist Party and his Super-Apes were impounded. He formed an alliance with the Mole Man who was trying to use an earthquake machine to attack the surface world, and battled the Avengers, but was defeated. Back with the Super-Apes again, Kragoff appeared among the villains assembled by Doctor Doom to destroy the Fantastic Four. Kragoff eventually lost his original powers. He formed an alliance with the Unicorn to steal Anthony Stark's cosmic-ray intensifier, which he used to gain the new superhuman power of a mist-like form and to give powers to his new trained apes, Alpha and Beta. He battled Iron Man and the Unicorn, but was defeated by Alpha and Beta, who turned against him. He later formed an alliance with Attuma and battled the Defenders, but was defeated.
Kragoff next experimented with a cosmic-ray intensifier to attempt to increase his own superhuman powers but instead unintentionally caused himself to be unable to leave a state of intangibility. He had his original Super-Apes kidnap Anthony Stark and forced him to build a “cosmitronic cannon" and return him to a tangible state. He battled Iron Man, but the next time Kragoff became intangible, his atoms began to disperse as a side effect of his treatment with the cannon. Kragoff’s consciousness managed to force his atoms to remain together, although his body remained in an intangible and, at times, invisible state.
Months later, Mister Fantastic went into space to expose himself to cosmic radiation to revitalize his own powers. Unknown to Richards, Kragoff, still intangible, was also aboard the spaceship. Kragoff used his invisibility to hide from Richards for days until he was able to immerse himself into cosmic radiation. The radiation restored his powers to what they originally had been. The Red Ghost could again become tangible or intangible and visible and invisible at will. He even gained the power to make other objects in his vicinity intangible and invisible. Fully recovered, he battled the Fantastic Four, and escaped.
With the Super-Apes, the Red Ghost attempted to steal a rare mathematical treatise from Empire State University. He battled Spider-Man, but escaped. He attempted to cause earthquakes in Soviet cities, and battled the Soviet Super-Soldiers. He forced the Black Fox to accompany the Super-Apes on robberies. He once again battled Spider-Man, but escaped.
Alongside Klaw, Living Laser, and Venom during the Acts of Vengeance, he attempted to steal alien technology from the Watcher's home on the moon. Red Ghost used the powers he had gained from his re-exposure to attack Quasar. He was captured in this attempt. With the Super-Apes, the Red Ghost attempted to steal the alien technology of the smartship Friday; he battled Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, and Power Pack, and was captured.
The Super-Apes later show up alone, having divorced themselves from the Red Ghost and started a life of crime on their own by taking over a private zoo in Salina, Kansas. They had turned the animals against the local population and captured three members of the New Warriors when they entered the complex. Instead of fighting their way out of the situation, they used their intellects and settled on a peaceful coexistence with the people of the town.
Shortly after the Fantastic Four returned from a pocket dimension created by Franklin Richards, the Super-Apes had gained high levels of intelligence and were working on a virus that would take out humans, leaving simians dominant. The Red Ghost, conversely, had degenerated into a childlike mental state and spent most of the time interested in a bunny rabbit.
The Red Ghost and the Super-Apes teamed up again and the Red Ghost regained his original intelligence. They attempted to build a new Communist state in the political vacuum of Niganda — the Socialist Simian Republic of Niganda, "A country where a new form of Marxist-Leninist socialism can grow, based on the purity of the ape world."
Red Ghost later appeared as a member of Intelligencia. While Red Hulk was fighting the X-Men, Red Ghost managed to capture Beast and Black Panther and sent his Super Apes to assist Red Hulk only to attack Red Hulk. Mikhlo was killed by Red Hulk which enraged the Red Ghost.
The Red Ghost replaced Mikhlo with Grigori, a baby gorilla that was possibly stolen from the Leningrad. The Red Ghost gave Grigori super strength via scraps left behind by Department X. Red Ghost's new team was short lived as not long after creating Grigori, the She-Hulks attacked and captured the foursome.
The Red Ghost was with the Intelligencia when they were attacked by the Sinister Six. During the battle, he and his Apes were killed when Doctor Octopus used the Zero Cannon to launch them into space.
They later appeared working on a new science project when Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, enters the laboratory. Red Ghost sends the Super-Apes to attack Steve, who kills them one by one. Red Ghost tries to escape, losing his right arm and left leg in the process, and gets killed by Steve, who confiscated his project so he could use it for his own agenda.
Powers and abilities
The Red Ghost possesses the ability to become intangible at will. Through concentration, the Red Ghost can achieve different degrees of intangibility and can even become like a diffuse mist. He can either float while intangible or walk on air (in a manner similar to Shadowcat). He has used his power offensively by leaving an object inside a person's body or phasing out their heart. The Red Ghost can become transparent or invisible when in intangible form, to the extent that Reed Richards was unable to detect him hiding in the same spacecraft over several days with sensitive equipment. The Red Ghost can alter the tangibility of parts of his body independently of each other. Thus, he can grab an object in a hand while the rest of his body remains intangible.
Since his additional exposures to cosmic rays, Red Ghost can make people and objects become intangible if they are nearby or in his field of vision.
While he is intangible, his body metabolism enables him to go without eating or without breathing for extended periods of time.
The Red Ghost is a scientific genius with advanced knowledge in fields including rocketry, engineering, communications, genetics, robotics, physics, hypnotism, and the training of simians. He is an expert in radiology with a Ph. D. in radiology. He has perfected force-field devices, devices to mentally communicate with and control other primates, a cosmitronic gun, freeze ray pistols, rocket fuel from material found in a meteorite crater, and spacecraft made of transparent ceramic plastic to be unshielded against cosmic ray storms. He has studied various forms of socialist and communist theory.
The Ultimate Marvel version of Ivan Kragoff was introduced in Ultimate Fantastic Four #47 (Dec 2007). He is based in a laboratory in Siberia, and is first seen experimenting on a bear named Misha, with the ability to talk. He is in contact with Dr. Franklin Storm, and persuades Storm that Sue and Reed might be interested in his work. His assistant Sorba Rutskaya then destroys their plane with a beam weapon and captures them. It appears Kragoff's work is focused towards reviving a woman named Irina, whom Storm believes is dead. Sorba later stabs Kragoff, and reveals that she plans on using a beam of energy from the N-Zone to merge herself with Sue so that she can gain her powers and use them to destroy those that she believes are harming nature. As the beam is about to combine the two, Sue escapes and the beam hits Sorba and several vials of simian DNA. When the smoke clears, it is revealed that Sorba has become a gigantic, deformed, gorilla-like creature with multiple simiian limbs and heads, as well as a single human head which retains her insane personality. In addition to possessing the intangibility powers of the original Red Ghost, Sorba can also create apes and monkeys from her body that are subservient to her will where each of them is capable of manifesting N-Zone superpowers. She begins to attack Sue as Reed, Johnny, Ben, and The Crimson Dynamo rush to save Sue. Sue is able to "overload" her by inserting many other samples of animal DNA.
Stuck between dimensions with the simian version of Speedball, Red Ghost finds himself allied with the simians in the Marvel Apes world fighting against the Marvel Zombies.
In other media
- The Red Ghost (alongside his Super-Apes) appeared twice in the 1960s Fantastic Four TV series, voiced by Vic Perrin.
- In the Iron Man episode "Enemy Within, Enemy Without," Red Ghost was the one responsible for the creation of MODOK when he was jealous for his love for Alana Ulanova.
- The Red Ghost appeared in the The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "The Breakout" Pt. 1. He and his Super-Apes are shown as inmates of the Big House when a mass breakout occurs. In the episode "Ultron-5", Red Ghost and his Super-Apes are shown unconscious after having been defeated offscreen by Hulk and Black Panther.
- The Red Ghost appears in the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episode "The Defiant Hulks", voiced by J. B. Blanc in a Russian accent. After Red Hulk and Skaar captured Abomination at the time when Hulk was covering for Mayor Stan of Vista Verda (who is on vacation), Red Ghost and his Super-Apes intercepted their transport so that they can drain the gamma energy from Abomination as part of Red Ghost's plans to make an army of Abomin-Apes. He started with his Super-Apes as a test run. Once Hulk, She-Hulk, and A-Bomb arrived at Red Ghost's castle, the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. were able to defeat Red Ghost and his Super-Apes (who regressed back to normal). Red Ghost, his Super-Apes, and Abomination were mentioned to have been remanded to S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.
- The Red Ghost appears in the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer video game, voiced by Dwight Schultz. The Fantastic Four fight him and his Super-Apes on a space station. He reveals to them that Galactus is coming, and that they must stay on the station if they hope to survive. In the end, the Fantastic Four escape and tell him to come with them off the station (which is self destructing), but he refuses and disappears when they leave. It is unknown if he survived.
- Fantastic Four #13
- Fantastic Four #29
- Avengers #12
- Fantastic Four Annual #3
- Iron Man #15
- Iron Man #16
- Defenders #7-8
- Iron Man #82-83
- Fantastic Four #197
- Amazing Spider-Man #223
- Marvel Super-Hero Contest of Champions #1
- Amazing Spider-Man #255
- Quasar #6
- Power Pack #61-62
- Fall of the Hulks: Alpha
- Hulk Vol. 2 #20
- She-Hulks #2
- Amazing Spider-Man #676
- Deadpool Vol. 2 #55
- Captain America: Steve Rogers #4
- Ultimate Fantastic Four #49
- Red Ghost at Marvel.com