Hydro-Man is a powerful man-of-water who uses his transformation abilities to become a professional Super Villain. Whether alone or on a team of sinister proportions, he is always onto the next criminal conquest and battling the bane of his existence, Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man.
Crewman to Criminal
Cargo ship crewman Morris “Morrie” Bench was accidentally knocked overboard by Spider-Man (who was battling Namor McKenzie, AKA Namor the Sub-Mariner) during the testing of a powerful new experimental underwater generator. The generator’s energies combine with gas from undersea volcanoes and trigger a weird mutation in Bench, who transforms into living water.
Physically and emotionally unstable, he travels through the sewers, pipes, and drains of New York hunting Spider-Man. The media dubs him Hydro-Man and he soon attacks the webslinger, blaming him for his condition. But he evaporates after Spider-Man scatters his liquid form amidst the hot sunshine of the city’s rooftops. However, the particles of Bench’s body soon reintegrate, and he embarks on a long criminal career.
Man O’ Water
Hydro-Man can transform himself wholly or partially into a water-like liquid substance, the particles of which he can mentally animate and manipulate at will. By generating force from within this fluid, Bench can emit high-pressure water blasts, like a fire hose. Bench mentally controls every drop of his bodily liquid, and his watery form will gradually reintegrate if it has been vaporized or otherwise dispersed. He can merge with or absorb ordinary, existing water in his environment, often using it to increase his mass and volume.
Bench’s strength is slightly enhanced by his abnormal physiology. Alterations of Bench’s powers by the Wizard enable Bench to mentally manipulate water sources outside his own body, and give Bench a finer degree of control over his own fluid form; however, the Wizard also intentionally weakens Bench’s molecular cohesion, and develops a device enabling him to reduce Bench to an inert mass of liquid if necessary, ensuring Hydro-Man’s loyalty.
Both alone and as a member of teams, Bench fights a wide array of foes such as Silver Sablinova, AKA Silver Sable, William Baker, AKA Sandman, the Fantastic Four, Tyrone Johnson, AKA Cloak, and Tandy Bowen, AKA Dagger, the Avengers, the New Warriors, Eric Masterson, AKA Thunderstrike, the Thunderbolts, Remy LeBeau, AKA Gambit, and T’Challa, AKA Black Panther, but most often clashes with Spider-Man.
Partners in Crime
Hydro-Man is one of many super criminals employed by corrupt billionaire Justin Hammer of Hammer Industries, and later serves in the Masters of Evil assembled by Hammer’s daughter Justine, AKA Crimson Cowl.
Hydro-Man has also partnered with his fellow Spider-Man foes in various criminal teams, such as the Sinister Twelve, the Sinister Six, and a reorganized Sinister Syndicate, each group bested in turn by heroes, such as Spider-Man, the Avengers, Harley Cooper, AKA Guiding Light, and the Initiative’s Scarlet Spiders.
Professional Criminal Record
When Bench and rival criminal Sandman fought over the affections of barfly Sadie Frickett, the two men accidentally merged into a monstrous “mud-thing” that the police were ultimately forced to dehydrate into seemingly inert rubble. Hydro-Man and Sandman eventually separated themselves back into their original forms, but both were humiliated and traumatized by the experience.
Sandman was so shaken that he went straight for years (until the Wizard brainwashed him into returning to crime), while Hydro-Man did most of his criminal work in groups from that point on, perhaps seeking safety in numbers, like the Sinister Syndicate.
Trying and failing to go straight, Bench was recruited back into the Wizard’s Frightful Four, who have since been defeated repeatedly by the Fantastic Four.
Later, Hydro-Man is employed by Justin Hammer at Hammer Industries alongside other super criminals. Justin’s daughter, Crimson Cowl, recruited Bench into the Masters of Evil and the team went up against the Thunderbolts.
After Justine’s arrest and the apparent death of Justin, Hammer Industries phased out its criminal enterprises and Bench, along with fellow employee Herman Schultz, AKA Shocker, is laid off. The Shocker and Hydro-Man teamed up, seeking enough money to retire; but Hydro-Man’s endless thirst for revenge against Spider-Man led to their defeat.