Death’s Head has been referred to as both a Cyborg and a robot, but he has stated that he is a Mechanoid, a machine life made to resemble a humanoid form. He is created in the Extra dimensional realm of Styrakos, which shifts between magical area zone only and mechanical area zone only.
He is created by the being, Ty Rejutka Lupex who, due to the immense magical energies coursing through his body, was dying. Lupex creates the Mechanoid in hopes it will be his vessel, however his consort Pyra, is repulsed by his actions and seeks to give the Mechanoid its own personality. When Lupex finishes the process and activates Death’s Head, he quickly goes against the idea of being a possession and instead flees. However, there is a shift and all the mechanical components stopped working but Death’s Head tremendous will allows him to still move. As Lupex is coming right after him, Lupex takes him and is about to transfer his energies to Death’s Head, when the zone changes to only mechanical, which allows Death’s Head to easily kill Lupex.
The Doctor (yes, THAT Doctor) steals Death’s Head from Styrakos, altering his origins and places him in the robot world Scarvix (Earth-5555). With his new origins Death’s Head believes himself to have killed his programmer, stole his money and torched his mansion. Death’s Head encounters a mercenary who told him “Never kill for free and never turn a contract down - whoever the target is!”. He spends years trying to build his reputation to become a great mercenary but fails. Instead, the Doctor takes him to another universe and has him modified, increasing height and upgraded weapons.
Creation and Publication History
Death's Head was originally created as a "throwaway character" for use in the UK Transformers comic, a bounty hunter who would feature in a single story-arc and then, according to writer Simon Furman, would "be discarded down the line (probably at the end of the first story arc)".
Geoff Senior then showed Furman the initial character designs, at which point they decided that the character had potential beyond his planned appearance as a "generic, stock mech-with-an-attitude". As a result of this, Simon Furman also rewrote the Transformers scripts to change Death's Head's dialogue in line with the revised character concept.
To avoid Hasbro claiming ownership of Death's Head, Marvel UK made a one-page strip starring Death's Head on the backcover of their magazines. The story was called High Noon Tex and was featured in a number of Marvel UK titles before his actual debut in Transformers #113.
After the initial Transformers storylines, the character appeared in Doctor Who Magazine #135 (Apr. 1988), in a story which saw him reduced from a giant robot to a more human stature, by means of "one of the Master's Tissue Compression Eliminators." He then made a guest appearance in Marvel UK's Dragon's Claws #5 (Nov. 1988), which led into an ongoing series of his own (December 1988), mostly written by Furman (issue 8 was written by Steve Parkhouse). The first issue prompted a letter from Stan Lee, praising the character and creative team, but a variety of factors, such as distribution and Death's Head's smaller size ('US format') causing it to be obscured by larger comics, meant the comic was cancelled at #10.
After the cancellation of the series, Marvel UK published an origin story for the character, "The Body in Question", initially serialised in the Marvel UK anthology Strip #13-20, and later collected in a single trade paperback.
Death's Head returned to the main Marvel Universe in S.W.O.R.D. #1 (November 2009), written by Kieron Gillen. Gillen has confirmed that the character will feature in the first story arc, spanning issues 1-5. Gillen has said "if you can't bring back a time-traveling dimension-skipper, who can you bring back?" He asked Furman before using the character. It was implied that this was Death's Head before he meets the Transformers (see Fictional Biography).
Death's Head appeared in the Panini Comics title Marvel Heroes #33 (March 2011). He appears in the last frame of "The Hero Inside" written by Ferg Handley, with art by John Ross. Death's Head battles The Hulk in part two "The Brute and the Bounty Hunter," written by Simon Furman. with art by Simon Williams.
In 2013, Death's Head started to show up in "Marvel NOW!". He appeared in both Kieron Gillen's Iron Man, as part of the start of The Secret Origin of Tony Stark and in Avenging Spider-Man #17. In the latter, he's human-sized and still working for the TVA.
Major Story Arcs
Versus the Transformers & Entering The Marvel Universe
Death's Head's first appearance after High Noon Tex was in the Transformers, seeing him attempt to claim the bounty that Rodimus Prime had placed on Galvatron's head, travelling back in time to the 1980s in pursuit of his quarry. Realising the error he had made in placing the bounty, Rodimus followed him back, and stopped him from destroying Galvatron, forcibly returning him to the future. Subsequently, Death's Head was contracted by the Decepticons to take out Rodimus Prime, a piece of business that Death's Head considered a pleasure. However, Rodimus outsmarted him, and instead paid him to terminate Cyclonus and Scourge. Over the course of the next year, Death's Head pursued them, eventually confronting them on the Planet of Junk, where they all fell under the mental control of Unicron.
Death's Head tried to resist the control, but was manipulated into killing Shockwave, only to eventually help Rodimus Prime seal Unicron within the Matrix. Finally, prevented from escaping the scene by the explosions wracking the area, Death's Head forced himself, Cyclonus and Scourge through Unicron's time portal, vowing to kill them "another time". However, in the course of the time travel they became separated, and while Cyclonus and Scourge wound up on Cybertron in the past, eventually joining with Scorponok and becoming Targetmasters, Death's Head instead encountered the Time Lord known as the Doctor. As a matter of self-defense, The Doctor shrank him to human size and shot him off through time. He arrived on Earth in the year 8162, leading to an encounter with the future government's troubleshooting team, Dragon's Claws, where he was heavily damaged in an explosion and buried under a collapsing building.
Death's Head was recovered by the Chain Gang and rebuilt (with a redesigned body) by one of their members, Spratt. In exchange for this rescue, he confronted Dragon's Claws again on the Chain Gang's behalf, defeating and capturing Scavenger. When the Claws came to recover their missing member, Death's Head defeated Dragon - but opted not to kill him, instead walking away and stating that his chronometer was "a minute slow" and his contract had therefore expired. The Chain Gang were arrested and Spratt, who had escaped arrest, opted to join Death's Head.
Death's Head and Spratt then relocated to the Los Angeles Resettlement, where Death's Head once again went into business as a Freelance Peacekeeping Agent. Death's Head was later hired to capture the Doctor and his TARDIS, which led him to being stuck in the present day (where he confronted the Fantastic Four) and then sent by Reed Richards to the year 2020 (where he met the Iron Man of that era and gave him friendly advice on mercenary work). The series was ended abruptly with a cliffhanger at issue 10 due to the closure of Marvel UK's own creative team.
In 1990, the ongoing storyline was resolved in the Marvel UK Death's Head: The Body in Question story, which was serialized in the magazine Strip before being reprinted in the Marvel Graphic Novel format. In this story, Death's Head was becoming worried that he was starting to enjoy killing and was prolonging missions for fun rather than simply doing it for money. In addition, Death's Head's origins were revealed to him for the first time. His mechanoid body had originally been constructed to host the life energy of the techno-mage Lupex, a psychotic who hunted beings for sport and stole their bodies upon killing them. However, a woman named Pyra, who wished to steal Lupex' secrets, ultimately decided to use the mechanoid body against him. She gave it a cold and calculating business-like mind, but before it could be used against Lupex, the body was stolen by an unknown party, enlarged to the size of the Cybertronians, and catapulted through time. Death's Head was used as a pawn by Pyra, who wished to get him to a point where he could kill Lupex, while Lupex had begun to hunt Death's Head with the intention of gaining his body. Driven to his mental limits and nearly killed, he eventually was able to kill Lupex and, refusing to be anything like his "father", killed him quickly while declaring he "kill[s] only for profit or survival!".
Around this time, Death's Head's also made a few appearances in some US Marvel comics, most notably the Fantastic Four, (where he was hired by the Time Variance Authority) She-Hulk (where he resigned from the TVA), and Marvel Comics Presents.
In the final issue (#12) of The Incomplete Death's Head, the Doctor claims to have been responsible for sending Death's Head to the Transformers Universe. Despite being a manipulative being, especially in his seventh incarnation, it could be that this claim is false. There is nothing else within Death's Head's history to substantiate this claim.
But Death's Head is soon met with misfortune, when the cyborg known as Minion absorbs one of Death's Head's targets. Feeling robbed Death's Head tracks Minion down and the two battle. In the end, Minion proves to be too much for Death's Head and his body is destroyed by Minion, who also absorbs his mind in the process. The result of Minion absorbing Death's Head's mind has very unexpected results on Minion, who now has developed free will and a bad attitude, thus Death's Head II was born.
Death's Head (with no explanation as to how he has been restored after his death at Minion's hand) has recently returned as a bounty hunter for SWORD, hunting aliens for Henry Gyrich. Since Death's Head is both a reality and time traveler, the best explanation for his return is likely that this is an alternate reality, where Death's Head, who never died by Minion's hand (like the one who beat Minion in What If...?) or that this is the Death's Head who was destroyed by Minion, but being a time traveler has yet to meet his fate. Death's Head's return lead to two notes of irony, one that he is working for SWORD when he is technically an extraterrestrial himself, and two that Death's Head II (Minion) is also alive and well, working as a member of MI 13, leading to the question of whether the two Death's Heads will ever have another face to face meeting.
Godkiller and the Superior Spider-Man
In both of these recent story-arcs, Death's Head is hired to bring in two of Marvel's top heroes, Iron Man (in the Godkiller arc) and Spider-Man (in the Superior Spider-Man arc) with the help of some other nameless bounty hunters. Death's Head is able to bring Iron Man in, to answer for the death of the Phoenix Force for the Shi'Ar government. However, he is less successful with the job he is hired to do by the Time Varience Authority in capturing Spider-Man, who (possessed by Doctor Octopus) shows just how deadly Spider-Man actually can be, when not holding back, and mercilessly hands Death's Head the worst beating he has received since Minion.
In 2014's Revolutionary War, Death's Head II takes a contract from Psycho-Wraith Prime to capture Captain Britain so that he can track where the villain's base is and find out if Mys-Tech is returning (and so he could have the money). When he is himself double-crossed and is captured and gets handed to an earlier Evelyn Necker to be dissected, he sends a fail safe signal to Tuck to hire the earlier Death's Head—this one human-sized, rather than the Transformer-sized version in contemporary settings - and come to his rescue. ("Hrm. That's me? Bio-organic? Droopy horns? No cape?! You're right -- I really do need saving!") After a brief fight, the two of them tare through an army of Death's Head 3.0's but are defeated and the original Death's Head is captured to be used to create a portal to Hell. Both Death's Heads and Tuck fights against Mephisto's armies, gunning down the demonic Killpower. Afterwards, they depart to discuss the future.
The Death's Head one-shot had multiple references to the character's history and fan views: Necker controlls Death's Head II and sics him on the original, as in Death's Head II #1, only for the original to stab him through the head and remark "the past always catches up with you, yes?". Necker decides on the name "Minion" after getting Death's Head 2 under control and tells him she'll see him again in 2020. Both characters are dismissive of the Death's Head 3.0's sharing their name, remarking "you can't beat the real thing".
In Iron Man's "Godkiller" story arc, an all new, the original Death's Head reappears. At this point he’s 30 feet tall, not yet miniaturised to human size. This arc follows on from the S.W.O.R.D. series, where the X-Men Beast inspires it to describe itself as a 'freelance peacekeeping agent' for the first time.
- Death's Head appears in X-Men '92 come to collect a bounty on Lila Cheney and is teleported with the other to a distant planet inhabited by mutant Brood.
- In issue #54 of the What If (vol. 2) series, Simon Furman and Geoff Senior wrote and drew a tale showing Death's Head surviving Minion's attack and later killing the cyborg; something Furman has said was "deeply satisfying and cathartic". Death's Head rebuilt his injured body into a larger, more heavily armed form; meanwhile the Minion cyborg went on to kill Reed Richards, only to be possessed by Strucker and became Charnel itself. Evelyn Necker had to hire Death's Head to stop this threat. Using a time machine, Death's Head went back in time to gather the surviving Fantastic Four and several other superheroes, offering them a shot at avenging Reed by ending Charnel - and then let them all get killed softening up Charnel for him. Using his firepower on Charnel and goading him at not using the full potential of his gestalt mind, he got the cyborg to access these scientific minds - knowing this would allow Reed Richards' mind (still fighting within Charnel) to take control of the cyborg's motor functions, allowing him to kill it. His mission complete, Death's Head thought about the selfless, non-profit nature of heroes: "I just hope it's not catching, yes?"
Powers and Abilities
- As a mechanoid, Death's Head possessed:
- Superhuman Strength
- Superhuman Stamina
- Superhuman Durability
- Superhuman Agility
- Superhuman Reflexes
- At 30 feet in height, his strength was likely in the 100-ton range. However, after being shrank down to around 7 feet in height by The Doctor, his strength was reduced significantly to a possible maximum of 25 tons.
- Marksmanship: Death's Head is an outstanding marksman, having been able to knock out some of the Fantastic Four's roof defenses, and being able to hit the FF's rogue security system in the air.
- Master Combatant: Death's Head is a very skillful combatant, being able to hold his own against several known fighters, such as the Hulk.
- Rocket boots
- Multi-use hand: Death's Head can switch his hand out for several attachments including, a blaster, a mace, a rocket, and a projectile spear simultaneously.
Various firearms, multiple weapons in the form of switchable hands, a double-bladed battle axe and a mace.