While on an archaeological expedition with Dr. Charles Ferris and the Challengers of the Unknown on the remote Island of Ruins, assistant Duncan Pramble stole an ancient chemical called "liquid light" and, following the directions supplied in ancient hieroglyphics - which stated that once the formula was drank, he would gain "...extra lives and with each life a different power" - downed it.
Pramble immediately felt the result of the liquid light as his body was engulfed by a bright aura from which powerful rays emanated. These rays, he quickly discovered, acted to both strongly attract and repel objects. Pramble faced the Challengers with his newfound ability, effortlessly holding the heroes at bay. Fortunately, another cache of ancient chemicals found by Dr. Ferris contained the antidote to liquid light. At the edge of a towering cliff overlooking the sea, the Challengers used the antidote against their foe and his powers were removed.
But Pramble was determined not to be captured, and taking the ancient instructions at their word, the fleeing villain chose to test the promise of renewed life and threw himself headlong into the pounding surf far below.
Pramble did indeed gain a second life, and with it, a new set of powers - this time endowing him with aquatic powers, which allowed him to escape. Now named Multi-Man (because the Challengers felt he was "many men in one" thanks to his powers), Pramble embarked on his criminal career.
Major Story Arcs
Challengers of the Unknown
During his first imprisonment by the Challengers of the Unknown, the liquid light serum had a weird effect on Duncan Pramble, causing his body to shrink and his limbs to reduce to a weak, spindly appearance even as his head enlarged to make room for an over-sized brain. Using his newfound brilliance, Multi-Man effected his escape from prison. Once again, the Challengers intervened and captured the diminutive villain, placing him in a special escape-proof cell deep within their headquarters in Challengers Mountain.
The inescapable prison proved to be anything but for the genius of Multi-Man. Over the following years, Multi-Man was able to escape time and again from captivity to plague the Challengers. He isolated the substance that caused his changes and created pellets that, when taken, allowed him to change at will. He created a giant robot called Multi-Woman, which could change its shape at will. Yet despite his criminal creativity, the Challengers always wound up triumphing over their foe and imprisoning him in their mountain headquarters. It was out of one such imprisonment that grew the League of Challenger-Haters, a loose coalition of incarcerated villains who teamed to battle their common foes. They included Kra: King of the Robots, Volcano Man, Linus Drabney; and a series of rebuilt and improved Multi-Woman robots.
Eventually Multi-Man was returned to his human form as Duncan Pramble and left powerless. He did, however, gain strong telepathic powers later on, but in his final battle with the Challengers he was left in a state of catatonia, his mind destroyed by its own powers.
The Joker's Last Laugh
Multi-Man was a member of Justice League Antarctica and the Suicide Squad with his fellow team members of the Injustice League. Big Sir and Clock King were the only casualties during the Squad mission. Multi-Man also died during the mission but was reborn because of his special powers and was later seen in prison at The Slab with only his super-intelligence powers.
When Joker believed he was dying, he began a break-out. Needing someone to get everyone's power restraints off, he turned to Multi-Man. Joker killed Multi-Man over and over again - nearly seventy times - in order to get him to manifest a power he considered useful. Among the powers Joker rejected were empathic senses, super-conductive abilities, turning metal into acid, super-vision, the ability to go into the second dimension, and eternal bliss for that life (this was Pramble's favorite power ever). One of his powers managed to free himself, but Joker continued to kill him in order to free others. Joker was particularly brutal in terms of murder methods - he slowly electrocuted Multi-Man, jammed kitchen forks into his skull, used a blender on his brain, and doused him with oil and then lit him on fire. Eventually Multi-Man's body was constantly on fire, and he could cause powerful explosions at will. Multi-Man was able to blast a hole through the floor, allowing Joker and his henchmen to reach other prisoners. Joker was prepared for this - after Multi-Man followed his orders and blew up part of the floor, Joker froze him and then shattered his body. Joker continued to kill Multi-Man until he was reborn at a height of only about two inches. Joker then had Multi-Man climb into Dr. Polaris's restraints and break them. Polaris then used his magnetic powers to break everyone else out.
Multi-Man's suffering was not yet over. He watched all of the other inmates except Joker and Mr. Mind get poisoned by Joker's mind-altering laughing gas (in his small state he retained his mental functions), was forced to watch as Copperhead and others beat Canary nearly to death, and then was slipped into Black Mass' pocket by Joker. Following Joker's orders, Black Mass blasted himself, the Man-Eaters, and a few other prisoners into a black hole, and Multi-Man was sucked in. Agents Dina Bell and Shilo Norman (then a former Mister Miracle) were also sucked in, and were fighting off the prisoners while trying to get back into their home dimension.
Shilo found Multi-Man, who had just been killed after Black Mass fell on him; Multi-Man explained that the way to escape from the black hole was through Black Mass, but Bell had already shot Mass to death. Multi-Man stated that he hated Joker and wanted to return to Earth, but didn't want to be killed again. Bell ignored him and began killing Multi-Man over and over until he made a power useful for their escape (she rejected powers such as telepathy). Eventually he manifested the ability to reanimate dead tissue to a very limited degree and Bell told him to do this as much as he could on Black Mass. Though Mass still remained a vegetable, Multi-Man restored his brain to the point that he could be mind controlled by Mr. Mind who Norman kept from betraying them by attaching the minuscule Mr. Mind to his finger with a noose made from dental floss. Mr. Mind had the Black Mass body bring them back to Earth, though the Slab ended up on Antarctica. To reward Multi-Man for his help (and because he was an unwilling participant in Joker's plot), Norman let him have extra privileges with the opportunity to do tasks around the prison. Among them was cleaning Mr. Mind's terrarium, as the caterpillar-like creature was in a cocoon because of the stress of the cold.
Powers & Abilities
Multi-Man is immortal, gaining a new superpower every time he dies and comes back to life. However, he never knows what that power will be and never retains a power from a previous life.