The U-Foes are a fictional supervillain team appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics usually as enemies of the Hulk. The group consists of four members: Vector, the group's leader who can repel matter telekinetically; Vapor, who can transform into any form of gaseous matter; X-Ray, who can generate and project radiation and fly; and Ironclad, who has a metallic body and can control his density.
The U-Foes first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #254 (December 1980) and were created by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema. Per The Incredible Hulk #254 credits, editor Al Milgrom designed the costumes of the U-Foes while
editor-in-chief Jim Shooter helped with the names of the U-Foes
As noted on the first page of that issue, the group's name was inspired by the 1979 Graham Parker song "Waiting for the UFOs".
Fictional team biography
Simon Utrecht, a former politician and multi-millionaire, funds an operation to gain superpowers the same way the Fantastic Four had, by flying into space and being exposed to cosmic rays. He chooses three other members to join him: Ann Darnell, Jimmy Darnell, and Mike Steel. What the group did not know was that they would be exposed to much higher amount than the Fantastic Four and that it would most likely kill them. The Hulk, in his Bruce Banner form, brings the ship down by reprogramming their computer before the group was exposed to the terminal levels of cosmic rays. The group did manage to gain powers and the newly christened U-Foes attacked Banner for interfering, convinced they could have become even more powerful without his intervention. Banner transforms into the Hulk and a fight ensues, but the U-Foes lose due to their inexperience with their newly gained powers and inability to fight as a team. In the end, their own ongoing mutations incapacitate them, and the team is scattered as they lose control of their increasing abilities.
Some time later, as their powers stabilize, the U-Foes reunite with the goal of revenge and making a name for themselves in the public eye by killing the Hulk. Though they find the Hulk a more formidable foe, with the intelligence of Bruce Banner then in control of the Hulk, X-ray discovers a way to keep Banner in his human form by generating 'anti-gamma rays'. The U-Foes imprison Banner at the former Gamma Base and hijack television broadcasts worldwide, intending to gain infamy by killing Banner in front of the world. However, Banner is freed by his allies Betty Ross, Rick Jones, and Bereet, and defeats the U-Foes as the Hulk. Ironically, the U-Foes' attempt to gain fame at the Hulk's expense instead reveals to the world that Banner is in control of the Hulk's power, and leads to a brief period of Banner/Hulk as a popular celebrity and true superhero (ending when the savage Hulk persona re-asserts itself).
After several defeats at the hands of the Hulk and his allies, each of the U-Foes are banished to a different dimension. They manage to reunite and find their way back to Earth when the mutant Portal's powers began manifesting. The U-Foes attempt to murder Portal to keep him from opening another portal to banish them, but are defeated by the Avengers. They later attempt to kidnap Portal to exploit his mutant powers, and are defeated once again by Captain America, Darkhawk, and Daredevil.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the team generally work alone, but occasionally work as hired hands for other villains. Working for the Leader, they attack the Pantheon, injuring dozens of civilians. Despite the handicap of an orphan girl who had gotten mixed up in the battle, the Hulk and the Pantheon soldiers manage to subdue some of the U-Foes. The villains are tricked into hurting each other. During the Acts of Vengeance, the U-Foes face the West Coast Avengers with the help of the Mole Man, but they are defeated.
Around this time, they play an important part in The Vault prison breakout in "Venom Deathrap; The Vault". The various U-Foes work together and with other villains to fight against the prison's security, its forces, Freedom Force and the Avengers. The U-Foes and other prisoners are neutralized by technological mind-control.
The team later encounters the Hulk in the Arctic ice fields outside the Leader's devastated sanctuary for cancer victims. The Hulk, believing he had just lost his friend, intimidates them into fleeing.
Both of the fights with the Hulk are part of manipulations by the Pantheon's ancient leader, Agamemnon. Neither side realizes the old man is secretly a power-crazed murderous psychotic who enjoys manipulation.
Later, the U-Foes are again part of a breakout from the Vault. During this, they manage to destroy the entire facility.
The U-Foes also are freed from the Raft, when Electro breaks them out in the New Avengers, but are distracted from escaping by a confrontation with Crossfire and his team of mind-controllers--including Mandrill, Mister Fear, Corruptor and the Controller--over technology that had been stolen from them, until Spider-Man, Captain America and Iron Man are able to capture them.
During the Civil War storyline, the Superhuman Registration Act brings the U-Foes to the attention of the United States government. The U.S. sends the B-Squad version of the Thunderbolts (Blizzard, Joystick, Fixer and Quicksand), after the U-Foes. After a battle in Portland, the U-Foes are arrested. Instead of due process, they are given the choice of joining the team or facing jail time.
The U-Foes are among the villains recruited to join Hood's crime syndicate. In Avengers: The Initiative #25, the U-Foes are seen to be among the new recruits for Camp H.A.M.M.E.R..
During the Dark Reign storyline, the U-Foes are revealed by new Initiative leader Norman Osborn as the new Initiative team for the state of North Carolina. Osborn orders the U-Foes to attack the Heavy Hitters after they secede from the Initiative. They help the other Initiative teams to defeat and capture the Heavy Hitters' leader, Prodigy.
The U-Foes play a role in the beginning of Siege, when Norman Osborn sends them to fight Volstagg. The resulting clash leads to Volstagg being (falsely) blamed for destroying Soldier Field and killing thousands, and giving Osborn the excuse to start his war with Asgard. With the help of other villains, they bring down Thor after he is attacked by the Sentry. When Osborn is defeated, the whole team surrenders and is then incarcerated.
During the "Opening Salvo" part of the Secret Empire storyline, the U-Foes are among the villains recruited by Baron Helmut Zemo to join the Army of Evil.
- Real Name: Simon Utrecht
- Power: Telekinesis, limited to attract or repel matter from his own body. Enormously powerful, as by focusing his power into blasts he was even capable of flaying most of the Hulk's skin and muscle tissue from his body when the latter resisted, and repelled the structure of reality itself within the 'Crossroads' nexus, with force he claimed was sufficient to hurl entire worlds. Also capable of flight.
- Background: Simon Utrecht was a successful businessman, industrialist, and politician who craved more power. He used his resources to copy everything about the Fantastic Four's flight into space, and hired a crew in the hopes of gaining superpowers.
- Real Name: Ann Darnell
- Powers: Has the power to alter her form into any known gas, usually the most lethally poisonous she can imagine while invading an opponent's body. Vapor can transform into her fully human state for only brief periods, and is vulnerable to having her gaseous form scattered by strong winds or explosive force.
- Background: Ann Darnell is Jimmy Darnell's older sister. She was hired by Simon Utrecht to be the life-support technologist on his space ship. During the Acts of Vengeance storyline, Vapor tried to kill Scarlet Witch.
- Real Name: James "Jimmy" Darnell
- Powers: Has been permanently transformed into a living energy field, intangible and immune to most physical harm although his powers cannot affect lead. Has the power to expel various forms of heavy radiation in the form of very potent blasts, shown capable of hurting even the Hulk, and severely weakening Thor when combined with three other energy blasts  and the ability to fly in supersonic speed, or turn invisible. He has also been able to emit negative-gamma rays that turn the Hulk back into Bruce Banner, but this is only effective so long as he is conscious.
- Background: James Darnell is the younger brother of Ann Darnell. He was hired by Simon to be the spaceship's fuel-propulsion engineer.
- Real Name: Michael "Mike" Steel
- Powers: Permanently transformed into organic metal similar to the X-Man Colossus. Superhuman strength, durability, and the ability to increase or decrease his own weight, hovering in the air, or crushing like a mountain. Ironclad's form was initially composed of jagged folds of metal; however, after briefly losing control of his weight-altering powers and sinking deep into the Earth's crust, he emerged with his body smoothed and polished by the friction of his passage.
- Background: Michael Steel is a scientist, engineer, and skilled pilot. He was hired by Simon to pilot his spaceship. he helped his comrades defeat their enemies multiple times after he changed to a great team man.
In JLA/Avengers, X-ray is among the enthralled villains defending Krona's stronghold when the heroes assault it in #4. He is seen fighting Captain Atom.
In other media
- The U-Foes appear in the animated series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, with Vector voiced by Cam Clarke and Vapor voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey while X-Ray and Ironclad had no dialogue. In the episode "Hulk Vs. the World", Vapor, Vector, X-Ray cameo as inmates of the Cube while Ironclad was possibly seen from the back, but it is unclear whether or not it was him, but all their blood samples were seen. The U-Foes later return in the episode "Gamma World" Pt. 1 to distract the Avengers from destroying the Gamma Dome Generator. The U-Foes' powers are increased by Gamma Boosters made by the Leader. In the end, they are defeated along with the Wrecking Crew and Zzzax when Black Panther destroys the generator.
- The U-Foes appear in their self-titled Avengers Assemble episode with Vector voiced by Glenn Steimbaum, Vapor voiced by Catherine Taber, X-Ray voiced by Jeremy Kent Jackson, and Ironclad voiced by Eric Ladin. Backed by HYDRA, four scientists ride a spaceship into a cosmic gamma storm. When their spaceship threatens to crash into Vista Verde, Hulk ends up redirecting it. Upon emerging from the spaceship, the scientists discover their powers and take the name U-Foes because their spaceship resembled a UFO. Unwittingly mentioning HYDRA's involvement in front of him, Hulk ends up attacking them only to be subdued. Heading to a HYDRA base, the HYDRA Agents are informed by U-Foes that they will lead them as the Avengers attack. The U-Foes fight them while the HYDRA Agents download everything top secret to them before escaping. Later on, the U-Foes and HYDRA infiltrate an abandoned S.H.I.E.L.D. base and steal an old-fashioned Helicarrier. While preventing the crashlanding Helicarrier from heading into a nuclear power plant, the Avengers trick the U-Foes into going into a room where they were subdued by knockout gas.
- The U-Foes appear in The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga.
- The U-Foes appear in The Incredible Hulk with Vector voiced by S. Scott Bullock, Vapor voiced by Rachael MacFarlane, X-Ray voiced by Keith Ferguson, and Ironclad voiced by Mitch Lewis. While Ironclad and Vapor appear virtually identical to their comic book incarnations, X-Ray is presented as glowing green with a silhouette of his skeletal structure visible through his flesh, and Vector retains a normal human appearance rather than being physically transformed. In this version, their original intention was to duplicate the accident that created the Hulk using atmospheric rather than gamma radiation. Their rage is subsequently directed at the Hulk due to him destroying the antenna that was gathering the radiation. The U-Foes attack the Hulk, but he defeats all of them. After the Hulk leaves the area, the U-Foes recover and decide if Hulk interferes with them again, they will kill him. After playing through the initial battle with the U-Foes in the game's story mode, the villains occasionally appear, individually or in pairs, in different parts of the city as random encounters in sandbox mode. Ironclad can also be unlocked as a playable character skin if the player can manipulate one of the other U-Foes (Vector, X-Ray, Vapor) into injuring another during an encounter.
- The U-Foes are featured in the Playdom game Marvel: Avengers Alliance as recurring bosses.
- ^ DeFalco, Tom; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1980s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. Dorling Kindersley. p. 199. ISBN 978-0756641238.
Inspired by the 1979 Graham Parker song Waiting for the UFOs, the creation of the U-Foes was truly a team effort. Writer Bill Mantlo and artist Sal Buscema produced the first U-Foes story, but editor Al Milgrom helped design the costumes and Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter suggested some of the names.
- ^ Incredible Hulk #304-305 (Feb.-March 1985)
- ^ Incredible Hulk #397
- ^ New Avengers vol. 1 #01
- ^ Thunderbolts #104
- ^ New Avengers #32 - 37 (2007)
- ^ Avengers: The Initiative #26
- ^ Avengers: The Initiative #28
- ^ Siege #1
- ^ Captain America: Steve Rogers #16
- ^ The Incredible Hulk vol. 1 #398 (Oct. 1992)
- ^ a b Incredible Hulk vol. 2 #305
- ^ a b The Incredible Hulk vol. 1 #397 (Oct. 1992)
- ^ Siege #1
- ^ The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga for DOS (1997) - MobyGames