Not feeling valued for his marvelous combat suit designs, Alex Gentry takes matters into his own hands and uses one of his suits. He becomes the one-man regiment, the Porcupine, a criminal with criminal intent.
A Prickly Start
After United States Army weapons designer Alexander “Alex” Gentry spends months working on overtime building a battlesuit emulating the abilities of the porcupine, he convinces himself a person wearing it could conquer cities. Demoralized by his superiors’ treatment of his previous creations, he suspects he would be paid almost nothing for its development. Gentry considers the suit to be worth a fortune, so he opts to keep the suit and use it for crime. He first targets a bank opening, which features a high-tech security system designed by Dr. Henry Pym, AKA Ant-Man. Knocking Pym, the accompanying Janet Van Dyne, AKA the Wasp, and the rest of the attendees unconscious with sleeping gas, Porcupine departs via jet-powered quills in his suit. Numerous ants witness a second heist, who communicate Porcupine’s activities to Ant-Man, and lead the hero to Porcupine’s location, the Army ordnance base. Porcupine gets the upper hand against Ant-Man, stripping the miniature adventurer of his costume before throwing him in a filled bathtub to drown. The Wasp rescues Ant-Man and the two again confront Porcupine, this time using liquid cement. Defeated by the pair, Porcupine escapes and swears vengeance.
All Sharped Up
Porcupine’s final battlesuit grants him enhanced strength and superhuman durability, though it slightly limits his agility; other suits only grant him only superhuman durability, and markedly limit his agility due to its bulk. These armored suits’ durability protects Porcupine from conventional weaponry assaults and even small nitroglycerin explosions, as well as protecting him from corrosives, toxins, and extreme temperatures and pressures. These suits, composed of steel and advanced plastics, are equipped to fire the razor-tipped metal quills that comprised the outer layer, which seriously injures any normal person contacting his armor. Many of the non-firing quills are disguised tubes equipped with lasers, concussive bombs, small rockets, various gases (including anesthetic and tear gas), smoke, acetylene torch flames, liquid cement, ammonia, liquid fire, fog pellets, adhesives, high voltage electric shock-producing mechanisms, miniature wheels that gave off hypnotic lights and nets, among other things.
The original suit contains back and belt jets capable of short flights. Both suits are equipped with gas masks to defend not only from attack, but from Porcupine’s own devices. The controls for the suits are in the gloves and belt.
Gifted in the engineering field, Porcupine designs every weapon and utility in his suits himself, and designs other items as well, including a car equipped with DDT-emitting devices and traps specially made to catch the Wasp. Gentry was also a skilled automotive mechanic, though he had limited physical endurance.
Gentry’s most often goes up against Ant-Man and the Wasp, though his interactions with them sometimes leave him in a precarious pint-sized situation.
In his efforts to use his suit to steal and participate in other villain’s world-conquering goals, Genry clashes with the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Defenders, and Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, which often ends in defeat.
When he leaves his criminal life behind, he makes a deal with Cap so that his suit doesn’t fall into anyone else’s hands. In return, he’d help lure the Serpent Society into a trap, but being the criminal that he is, he betrays Cap, leading to the latter’s near-capture. In the scuffle between Cap and the Society, Gentry flees and while running from Society member Rachel Leighton, AKA Diamondback, he falls, dying by one of his discharged quills. Cap never finds out about the betrayal and gives him a hero’s honor in death.
Porcupine teams up with several Super Villain armies to cause all kinds of chaos. Whether it’s joining Dr. Victor Von Doom, AKA Doctor Doom, Count Luchino Nefaria, AKA Count Nefaria, or Elihas Starr, AKA Egghead’s Emissaries of Evil, he’s always acting on their behalf. He also joins other villains in the Lethal Legion, the Celestial Mind Control Movement, Crime Wave, and Batroc’s Brigade.
A Brief History of Crime
After Pym changed costumed identities to Giant-Man, Porcupine struck again, assaulting Giant-Man and injuring his leg. He then posed as a fan of Giant-Man’s to join the hero’s
fan club. When the club visited the hospitalized Pym, Porcupine attacked again and took Wasp captive before fleeing. Purposely letting her escape, Porcupine tracked her to Giant-Man’s headquarters and launched yet another assault. This time, however, his equipment failed, and the panicked villain stole Pym’s size-changing capsules, hoping to use them to grow as tall as his adversary. Instead, he consumed multiple shrinking capsules, which temporarily reduced him to a near-microscopic level.
After the capsule’s effect wore off, Porcupine kept a low profile before being among the criminals induced by Doctor Doom’s Emotion Charger to attack Reed Richards, AKA Mister Fantastic, and Susan Storm, AKA Invisible Woman’s wedding. Clashing with the Fantastic Four and numerous other heroes, Porcupine and the other villains were defeated when Richards used the Sub-Atomic Time Displacer to send them back in time just before Doom influenced them.
Along with Leopold Stryke, AKA Eel, Samuel Smithers, AKA Plantman, Ebenezer Laughton, AKA Scarecrow, and Milos Masaryk, AKA Unicorn, Porcupine was recruited by Count Nefaria to act as Maggia lieutenants in his bid to take Washington, DC hostage. Preemptively striking against potential opponents, Nefaria’s agents were sent to capture the X-Men. Though they received the ransom money for Washington they demanded, the lieutenants abandoned Nefaria in lieu of keeping the money for themselves. Confronted by both the X-Men and the military, Porcupine and the rest were forced to flee without the ransom money; initially blaming his allies for the failure, Gentry suspected he himself was ill-suited for battling superhumans.
Next recruited into an incarnation of Elihas Starr, AKA Egghead’s Emissaries of Evil, Porcupine was hired to help guard a nuclear warhead just inside the Canadian border that Egghead planned to use to blackmail the US. The Flight—a prototype of the later Alpha Flight team—was sent to intervene and only barely succeeded when Flight member St. Elmo absorbed the nuke’s energy, apparently dying. Porcupine was then recruited into Batroc’s Brigade along with Dave Cannon, AKA Whirlwind, in a failed attempt to attack Captain America (Rogers). Along with Eel, a Plantman simulacrum and Scarecrow—all of whom Porcupine had served with in other teams—the four joined Jordan Stryke, AKA Viper, as the Crime Wave, led by Sgt. Brian Muldoon, AKA Cowled Commander. This too was quickly foiled by Captain America and Sam Wilson, AKA Falcon (later Captain America) when the heroes escaped a brief capture, took down the Crime Wave and exposed the Cowled Commander as a highly-respected police officer.
Tiring of their numerous defeats and convinced they were failures, Porcupine, Eel and Plantman sought the counsel of Mr. Nebul (secretly the alien Nebulon the Celestial Man), leader of the Celestial Mind Control Movement. Though Plantman scoffed and departed, the other two were converted to “Nebul’s” cause and were sent against the Defenders, who defeated the duo when Kyle Richmond, AKA Nighthawk, knocked Porcupine into Eel, mildly electrocuting the former and rendering him unconscious. Perhaps seeking lower profile crime, Porcupine later led a group of henchmen to rob a hotel safe and then loot a fashion show’s wealthy attendees but was dealt a humiliating defeat by the insect-sized Yellowjacket (Pym) and Wasp, while Nighthawk overpowered his men.
Porcupine subsequently joined a group posing as Defenders after that team’s existence was exposed in a publicity stunt recruitment drive instigated by well-meaning supporter Aaron Tagma English, AKA Dollar Bill. The “Defenders” went on a citywide rampage until opposed by the real Defenders, along with the “Defenders for a Day”—the group of heroes who had responded to the actual recruitment drive. Defeated after Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat, used temporary mental powers to knock the villains unconscious, Porcupine was arrested.
Soon enough, he was free again, recruited this time by Justin Hammer to serve in a Super Villain army defending Hammer from Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man. Iron Man easily took down Porcupine, destroying the villain’s battlesuit. Porcupine refined the battlesuit, making it slimmer, more versatile and strength-enhancing, but after so many failures and defeats, opted to sell the new suit and retire his criminal career. The Secret Empire, interested in the suit, demanded Porcupine test it out first by engaging and defeating their mutual enemy, Captain America. Defeating Cap’s partner Jack Monroe, AKA Nomad, Porcupine used him to lure Cap into a trap and was nearly successful until Nomad returned to the fight, giving Cap the chance to knock out Porcupine with his shield. Still trying to rid himself of the suit, Porcupine took advantage of the mass disappearance of New York City’s Super Hero community (many of whom were taking part in the cosmic Beyonder’s “Secret Wars” in another galaxy) but was again defeated by remaining heroes Michael O’Brien, AKA Guardsman, and Marc Spector, AKA Moon Knight.
Not long after, he joined a short-lived incarnation of the Lethal Legion but was again quickly defeated after they battled many Super Heroes in the Marvel Comics building. After a brief prison sentence and frustrated even further, Gentry renounced his Porcupine identity. Following refusals to buy the suit from the Secret Empire, Hydra, Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin, Maggia, Tinkerer, Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), and the Serpent Society, a despondent Gentry contacted Captain America, hoping the hero would buy the suit if for no other reason than to keep it out of others’ hands. Learning Gentry had contact information for the Serpent Society, which Cap had been tracking, Cap offered Gentry $10,000 for the suit on the condition he don it one last time to lure the Serpents into a trap. Gentry agreed and again contacted Society leader Seth Voelker, AKA Sidewinder, this time offering a captured Cap. Four Society members were sent to meet Porcupine and retrieve the captive hero. The ruse worked, and as Cap sprang into action against his enemies, Porcupine fled, wanting nothing more to do with his costumed life. Society member Diamondback chased him, and as he tried to repel her, he tripped and fell on one of his own discharged quills, puncturing his heart. After Cap defeated the remaining three Serpents, he found Gentry and comforted him as he apparently died. To honor Gentry, the Avengers buried him in a grave reserved for those who had fallen in battle, and Cap had the Porcupine armor put on display in Avengers Mansion, where it remained for years.
Since his death, Gentry’s legacy has lived on in numerous ways. Lou Dexter, AKA Dead Ringer—a mutant who could duplicate dead costumed heroes and villains—recovered some of Gentry’s tissue, using it to turn into a doppelganger of him for a time. Arnim Zola also utilized some of Gentry’s DNA to give life to a clone-like proto-husk which, outfitted in a copy of Gentry’s armor, joined Zola’s Corpse Corps until being apparently destroyed by Wade Wilson, AKA Deadpool. Roger Gocking acquired a duplicate of Gentry’s armor as well and used it to become a new Porcupine, though he has met with as little success as Gentry.