Morris "Morrie" Bench gains his superpowers while as a crewman on the cargo ship the U.S.S.Bulldog, having been knocked overboard accidentally by Spider-Man (after the hero had finished a fight against Namor) while a powerful experimental generator is being tested in the ocean. The combination of unknown radiation and his immersion in a deep ocean dwelling bacteria turns him into the Hydro-Man. When he realized that he had become a man-of-water, he blamed Spider-Man for his disgrace and started to hunt him (through many showers, sewers and water valves), in order to get revenge on the hero, but was defeated in combat.
Hydro-Man was created by Dennis O'Neil and John Romita Jr in 1981 and first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man # 212.
One of Morris's most embarrassing defeats was when he merged with Sandman to form a Mud Monster during a bar brawl. This monster was almost unstoppable, until the police managed to use a special gun to defeat it.
After his initial defeat at the hands of Spider-Man, Morris joined many different super-villain teams. Most notably the Sinister Syndicate, Sinister Twelve or the Frightful Four. Despite having immense power, Morrie is not the most intelligent person and as a result is often defeated and is no where near the level of threat that he has the potential to be. His most recent appearances involve trying to purchase the Venom symbiote and escaping from the Raft. He then got into a conflict with Spider-Man before being apprehended by War-Machine and Komodo. However, despite this, his most recent appearance has shown that he is a member of the newest incarnation of the Frightful Four.
As powerful and willed as he is, Hydro-Man is usually defeated and sent right back to where he started.
Major Story Arcs
Hydro-Man is a typical low rent super criminal, joining supervillain teams such as the Sinister Syndicate or Frightful Four. While working with the Sinister Syndicate, Hydro-Man demonstrates a willingness to put up with just about anything in the name of financial gain. He ignores the constant politicking of the other members and looks past the Beetle's betrayal of the group to the Kingpin in the belief that the group was economically beneficial to him.
Hydro Man was a member of Crimson Cowl's Masters of Evil, and battled the Thunderbolts. After the disintegration of the group, he began to cooperate with the Shocker. He was hired by the Green Goblin to be part of his Sinister Twelve to help kill Spider-Man, but was defeated.
When a member of Wizard's Frightful Five, Hydro-Man received a costume from Wizard that is made from the same material as the Human Torch's costume. In the Frightful Five's fight with the Fantastic Four, Hydro-Man was frozen in Titan's atmosphere
After his defeat by the hands of Spider-Man, Morris went to a bar to drown his sorrows only to see his old girlfriend, Sadie Frickett, being wooed by Sandman. The two fought over her and made enough commotion to Spider-Man's attention. Once confronted, the two decided to team up to take Spider-Man together. Spider-Man was able to trick them into bashing into each other, however, that forced them to combine into a single mud monster.
With their intelligence lessened due to the transformation, they instinctively sought out Sadie. She manipulated the new creature into appearing an a stage show as an oddity. It inevitably lashed out at the crowd and was ultimately stopped by a police helicopter. The helicopter used a gas that dehydrated the beast and caused it to crumble. Over time, both Hydro-Man and Sandman were able to reconstitute themselves.
Acts of Vengeance
During the Acts of Vengeance, Jester is given an opportunity to prove his worth and mettle to Dr. Doom by assembling a cadre of villains to attack the Avengers. Hydro-Man is one of his recruits alongside the Fenris twins, Rock to represent the Leader, a robotic Hulk and the duo of Cloak and Dagger. The Assembly of Evil would attack the Avengers during a public forum where a number of reporters and innocent civilians are in danger. Hydro-Man would engulf Iron Man in his watery form but gets shocked when the iron Avenger discharges a portion of his power from his storage batteries. Hydro-Man recovers and ensnares Captain America and Iron Man where he attempts to drown his enemies within his body. However, Hydro-Man and Iron Man are sucked into Cloak's body while Captain America is saved by Dagger. Hydro-Man and Iron Man are trapped inside the dark dimension where these horrific sponge men begin to absorb Hydro-Man's liquid form. Dagger would save Iron Man from the dark dimension and they carry out an unconscious Hydro-Man back to the original battle site.
A number of super-powered criminals would attack the Fantastic Four during the Acts of Vengeance as they testify in front of Congress. Mr. Fantastic discovered that Dr. Doom was using an aggression enhancer device on the villains sent to destroy the Fantastic Four but it also wiped out their memory of the recent past. After the Fantastic Four defeated the Super Adaptoid inside an assembly building, Hydro-Man and Water Wizard crash through a wall simultaneously and claimed they were the someone who would destroy the Fantastic Four. The two water base villains started arguing with each other and began fighting while the other members of the Fantastic Four watched.
The Hero Killers
Hydro-Man and several super-powered cronies like like the Beetle, Constrictor, Rhino, Blacklash, Bombshell, Speed Demon, Boomerang, Stiletto and Discus would work as one of Justin Hammer's operatives where they come into conflict with Spider-Man and the New Warriors when Speedball is kidnapped. The Sphinx worked with Justin Hammer where his operatives kidnapped various heroes including Auric and Silver. They were held captive at the Target Technologies complex in New Jersey where they analyzed the heroes' abilities for their own ends. Hydro-Man and the rest of Hammer's operatives would lure the webhead and the rest of the Warriors into a prearranged location where they are trapped by a special bubble shield. Hydro-Man appears to have eluded capture when the New Warriors break free and defeat the Sphinx.
Felicia Hardy aka Black Cat is invited to the estate of Lester Cromwell, an old family friend to test out his security system. The two had no idea that Hydro-Man was hidden inside the estate's swimming pool as they head towards Cromwell's personal museum. After seeing a number of treasures inside the museum, Felicia goes outside and prepares for the gauntlet. Hydro-Man remained as a large puddle of water as he worked his way inside the estate. Hydro-Man would follow Black Cat as she uses the dumbwaiter to reach the personal museum. Hydro-Man reveals his true forms and hits Black Cat with a water blast. Hydro-Man wanted the Cromwell treasure for himself but had to go through Black Cat first. Hydro-Man chased Black Cat until she turned the corner and used a medieval tapestry like a giant towel to temporarily soak up Hydro-Man. Black Cat threw the entire tapestry inside an airtight and bulletproof case where Hydro-Man remained trapped.
The Power of Terror
Hydro-Man, Beetle and Speed Demon are hired by Silvermane to perform a special task regarding the cybernetic warrior known as Deathlok. The three villains attack Deathlok at Coney Island and Hydro-Man lures Deathlok towards the New York Subway tunnels when he threatens to drown a subway car full of senior citizens. Hydro-Man waits alone in the tunnels until his help arrives which turns out to be a new female villain called Scorpia. The two ambush Deathlok when Hydro-Man turns into a puddle of water and works his way under the cyborg while Scorpia uses Hydro-Man's watery form as a conductor for her energy blast. Deathlok raises his surge protection so Hydro-Man calls for back up. Spider-Man sees the Beetle burrowing into the ground and gives chase. Spider-Man tries to help Deathlok but Hydro-Man hits the the cyborg with a powerful water blast that launches him back to the streets where he lands in the middle of Times Square. Suddenly, Silvermane appears on numerous video screens and tells Deathlok that he wishes to inhabit his body. Silvermane tells Deathlok that he must comply or he would devastate the city.
Hydro-Man was a prisoner in the Raft when Electro hits the super prison with a massive electrical surge and the other incarcerated super villains were able to leave their cells. Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, Luke Cage and Jessica Drew were in the lower levels of the Raft when the breakout occurs and come into conflict with Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde is defeated and the heroes find themselves in an area filling up with water. Hydro-Man reveals himself and attempts to drown his enemies. Jessica Drew grabs Foggy Nelson and they fly out of the pool of water while Murdock and Cage eventually escape as well. It is unclear whether Hydro-Man escapes from the Raft or returns back to his cell when Iron Man and SHIELD arrive on the scene.
Hydro-Man, Shocker and Boomerang are wanted because they are superhuman offenders and not licensed with the government. Hydro-Man and his two associates come into conflict with Spider-Man who was also wanted for being an unlicensed hero. The party is broken up by members of the Initiative and the three villains are hit by some SPIN tech weapons shot by Komodo. The three criminals run off into an abandoned building a few blocks away and think they have escaped. Boomerang, Shocker and Hydro-Man didn't realized they were being followed by members of the Shadow Initiative. Hydro-Man and company hear some voices coming out of the darkness when they are taken down by the Scarlet Spiders.
Hydro-Man would receive some upgrades from the Broker who was actually the former CEO of Damage Control, Walter Declun. Hydro-Man would be part of the Broker's army which included other villains like Mandroid, Carolyn Trainer, Armadillo, Porcupine and Absorbing Man. Hydro-Man and his fellow teammates would come into conflict with Shuri, Namor and members of the Fantastic Four when they invaded the Broker's island deep inside the South Pacific. Hydro-Man uses his focus cannons to unleash a powerful water blast towards the Human Torch but he gets punched in the face by Shuri. The blow would deflect Hydro-Man's water blast towards Namor and it revitalizes him. Namor would then knock out Hydro-Man with a single punch and the rest of his teammates are eventually defeated.
Brand New Day
Hydro-Man is hanging out at the Bar With No Name with other villains when a low-life baddie named the Basher calls out Spider-Man on a website. A man called the Bookie begins to take bets on the fight and a number of shady patrons become angry when they realize the Spider-Man that fights the Basher is an imposter. However, the real Spider-Man shows up and discovers that the imposter is the woman known as Screwball. She tells Spider-Man that the Bookie could be found at the villain bar hangout. Spider-Man shows up and a brief scuffle occurs. The bartender stops the fight and Spider-Man leaves when he gets the information he needs on the Bookie.
Hydro-Man goes on a series of random adventures after this, working for Doctor Octopus (who is actually Spider-Man) in a bid to get back his body. This plan fails and he is defeated.
Hydro-Man later reappears, having ingested a large portion of New York's sewage and demanding money if he isn't paid. He is stopped by Spider-Man and Deadpool. The next time he makes an appearance is as a goon for Oasis Spring Water, a criminal business infringing upon a reservation. He comes in conflict with Hawkeye and Red Wolf, the former of which constantly makes belittling jokes about his watery powers. They are saved by friends from the reservation who use tasers to dispatch him. Hydro-Man then fights the Thing and Human Torch when he sees them interrupt his visit to Dr. Rachna Kool, believing the whole thing to be a trap. When she allows him to leave, Hydro-Man reconstitutes at a camp somewhere in the wilderness and comes across Wolverine.
When Captain America visits Atlantis to plead with Namor, he discovers Hydro-Man held captive and learns that Namor stole some of his water powers to literally gain control over the seas for himself.
Hydro-Man was one of three regulars of the Bar with No Name hired by Boomerang to pretend to attack him. They were part of Boomerang's plan to trick Spider-Man into getting the Lifeline Tablet so Boomerang could give it to Kingpin. Tricking Spider-Man turned Boomerang into a hotshot around the bar, and when Boomerang's old teammate, Overdrive, came calling with a proposition, Hydro-Man would fall in with Boomerang's team again. With Kindred's help, they were sent to a graveyard where Spider-Man was being attacked by other members of his rogues gallery. Kindred announces they were all hellbound villains who could earn a spot as Kindred's assistant, free from torture, if they killed Spider-Man.
When a new team of six, including Morlun, joins the fight, Boomer sacrifices himself to Morlun to spare Spidey. Hydro is hit by his teammate's death and is inspired to betray Kindred's plan. Eventually, Doc Ock uses a piece of Black Ant's helmet to knock everyone, including Hydro, out through the ear centipedes Kindred was using to control them.
Hydro-Man was sitting in prison when he was approached by a host-less Carnage. Believing that Carnage was looking for a new host, Hydro-Man agreed thinking it was a means to escape, however, Carnage decided to take him captive instead. Even in his water form, he somehow could not escape Carnage's tendrils. Cletus is keeping Hydro-Man locked up so he can stretch his tendrils deep into Morris at a molecular level and unlock his full potential, which Carnage steals for himself.
Powers & Abilities
Hydro-Man is able to bodily transform himself into a watery liquid substance; he can access secure areas and small openings with relative ease; when his bodily mass is dispersed in this form it simply reforms, albeit slowly depending on how far apart the mass was. All of Hydro-Man's cells remain fully under his control when he is in his liquid state. Hydro-Man can also merge with and manipulate larger bodies of water when he is in his water form. He can increase his mass and cause tidal waves. He can turn parts of his body to liquid while retaining the rest of his human form, allowing him to slip from a foe's grasp or have projectiles like bullets harmlessly pass through him. Through great mental exertion, Hydro-Man can also turn to ice and steam. Other examples of manipulating his watery form include firing off small streams such as a fire hose, shaping parts of his body into 'solid-water', constructs, and mixing himself with other compounds for different effects. However, this last example can be used against him, since certain substances can either harden him (like cement or concrete), or make him feel sick (such as fire-extinguishers and chlorine). The Wizard enhanced his powers, through the use of sophisticated equipment. These artificial enhancements granted him increased and more precise control over bodies of water and moisture near him, which he demonstrated by absorbing nearly all the moisture in the Trapster's body.
Other upgrades he would receive through retrofitted villain tech from The Broker would increase his focus power. Hydro-Man claims that he has not aged since he gained his powers.
Hydro-Man possesses a certain degree of superhuman strength, and has been shown to be an exceptionally skilled fighter, and adept at using his powers for that purpose. In some incarnations, depending on the writer, Hydro-Man can form his forearms into weapons such as Sandman does, except that Bench's weapons are made of ice.
Bench has extensive experience in street-fighting techniques due to his experience as a criminal before his transformation. Though cunning, he has been consistently depicted by writers as a low tier henchman with little formal education and is often tricked into using his powers in ways that incapacitate him (as explained above). His normal attire consists of a black shirt and blue/or green pants, as well as a costume invented by the Wizard.
In Other Media
- Hydro-Man appears as one of the Elementals attacking Europe in Spider-Man: Far From Home. He is never referred to by name, but a nearby boat sign read "ASM212." Hydro-Man made his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #212. Spider-Man faces Hydro-Man in Venices, before being destroyed by a newly-arrived superhero called Mysterio. It is later mentioned that Hydro-Man was speculated to be a missing U.S. sailor named Morris Bench, who supposedly developed water-based superpowers after being exposed to an experimental underwater generator. However, it is eventually revealed that Hydro-Man and the rest of the Elementals were merely illusions created by Mysterio in order to make himself look like a hero. Production visual effects supervisor Janek Sirrs stated in an interview with IndieWire that they explicitly mentioned Morris Bench in the movie to leave it ambiguous whether or not a real Hydro-Man exists, possibly hinting that there may be an accurate portrayal of the character in further installments.
- Hydro-Man first appears in the self titled episode "Hydro-Man" in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, during which he is now a former ex-boyfriend of Mary-Jane Watson.In this continuity he gained his super-powers in much the same way he did in the comics, during his premiere appearance he begins a crime wave through New York and kidnaps Mary Jane to force her to love him. However he ends up battling Spider-Man on top of a hot rooftop resulting in him evaporating when crashing into the hot roof, while Spider-Man theorizes he could return due to his water body.The original Hydro-Man never returns in the show, although he returns as a clone by scientist Miles Warren who gathered a sample of the original's Hydro-Man and cloned him.He then manufactured a water based clone of Mary Jane much the same as he had done for Hydro-Man. Following yet another confrontation with Spider-Man Hydro-Man and the Mary Jane clone end up dissolving. He was voiced by Rob Paulsen.
- Hydro-Man appears in the Fantastic Four: The Animated Series episode "And the Wind Cries Medusa," where he is a member of the Wizard's Frightful Four. He was voiced by future Everybody Loves Raymond star Brad Garrett.
- Morrie Bench appears in the Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Shear Strength," voiced by Bill Fagerbakke. Had the show been renewed for a third season, Bench would've eventually become Hydro-Man.
- Hydro-Man appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Forces of Nature," voiced by James Arnold Taylor.
- Hydro-Man appears in the game adaptation of Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
- Hydro-Man appears as an enemy in Marvel Avengers Alliance.
- Hydro-Man appears as a boss in Spider-Man Unlimited, voiced by Matthew Mercer.
- Hydro-Man was featured in ToyBiz's line for Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
- Hydro-Man appeared in ToyBiz's Spider-Man Classics line.
- Bowen Designs released a Hydro-Man statue.
- Eaglemoss Publications released a Hydro-Man figurine.
- Hydro-Man was featured in Diamond Select's Minimates line as part of the Classic Spider-Man box set, which also included Spider-Man, Symbiote Spider-Man, Sandman and Venom.
- Hydro-Man appeared in the HeroClix figure game.
- Hydro-Man appeared in Eaglemoss Publications' Marvel Chess series as a rook.
- Hydro-Man was featured in Hasbro's Marvel Universe line.
- Hydro-Man was featured in Hasbro's Marvel Legends line as part of the Spider-Man: Far from Home tie-in wave.