The latest in my series of portraits of the OMW (Obscure Marvel Women) of the OMU (Original Marvel Universe) presents the globe-spanning misadventures of a simple-minded savage who was swept up into a world beyond her understanding.
The woman who would come to be called Lorelei was born a member of a primitive tribe known as the Swamp Men, who inhabited the Savage Land, an artificially-maintained prehistoric jungle hidden on the continent of Antarctica. She was raised to worship her tribe’s pantheon of gods, supreme among which was Umbu, guardian of the Glowing Machine. An enormous stone statue of Umbu loomed over their village, and the Swamp Men treated it with reverence. To keep their gods appeased, the Swamp Men would periodically offer human sacrifices to a tyrannosaurus held within a large stone pyramid.
During Lorelei’s youth, her tribe often came into conflict with Ka-Zar, the self-proclaimed “Lord of the Savage Land,” who sought to put an end to their practice of human sacrifice. During one such clash, Ka-Zar caused a herd of mastodons to smash down part of the high wall that surrounded the Swamp Men’s village, in order to rescue two outlanders who were about to be sacrificed: a girl with red hair and a man with wings, both of whom were dressed in strange yellow and black costumes. They proved to have three similarly-garbed associates who routed the Swamp Men’s forces with black magic. In the aftermath of the battle, the Swamp Men repaired the damage to their village, and told many tales of the evil Ka-Zar and his five demons.
A year and a half later, a great calamity befell the Swamp Men. When Ka-Zar and another outlander tampered with the Glowing Machine, the statue of Umbu came to life, fulfilling the tribe’s ancient prophecies. However, despite his gigantic size, Umbu was defeated by a hulking green monster and collapsed face-down in the mud. Terrified, the Swamp Men scattered into the jungle, and later confirmed that their god was dead and the Glowing Machine was no more. Ka-Zar had at last succeeded in destroying their religion.
A silver-haired stranger appeared at that moment to take advantage of the chaos and seize the Swamp Men’s village. He released the captive tyrannosaur and converted the stone pyramid into a fortress, which he filled with bizarre machinery. Calling himself the Creator, he immediately began experimenting on members of the tribe, mutating them into strange forms possessed of uncanny powers. Finally, he chose a young female and placed her in the mutation chamber, where she was likewise transformed. When she emerged, he re-named her Lorelei.
Lorelei’s first task was to defeat Ka-Zar and his five demons, who had once again stormed the village. She did this merely by “singing,” as an eerie hypnotic sound emerged from her lips which instantly cast her enemies into a trance. Unfortunately, Lorelei’s powers had no effect upon her female adversary, who managed to demolish the Creator’s machine. Without its emanations, Lorelei and her tribesmen immediately reverted to their original forms. The pyramid then collapsed, the village burned to the ground, and the Creator was believed killed. The tribe retreated deeper into the swamp, for the wicked Ka-Zar had triumphed over them again.
One year later, the Creator returned, rebuilt his machines, and permanently restored Lorelei and her tribesmen to their mutated states. However, he merely took the one called Piper and returned from whence he came, leaving the other mutates to fend for themselves. Two of their number, Brainchild and Equilibrius, hatched a scheme to kidnap scientists from the world outside and force them to create more mutates, until they had an army with which to conquer the Savage Land. Unfortunately, their plot was foiled by a group of super-powered outlanders calling themselves the Avengers. The defeated mutates were taken out of the Savage Land to a place called Chile, where they were to face kidnapping charges.
Lorelei was separated from her male compatriots and sent to a prison housing only women, upon whom her strange powers had no effect. Due to her limited intellect and naiveté, as well as her ethereal beauty, Lorelei was savagely abused by guards and inmates alike during the sixteen months of her incarceration. Finally, she was rescued by the Creator, now calling himself Magneto, who used his own incredible powers to smash the prison and slay many of her tormentors. Lorelei gratefully followed her savior to a land far to the north, where he soon made her his lover. She came to worship him as a god.
After living in the filth and squalor of a Chilean prison, Lorelei found Magneto’s new headquarters to be quite luxurious, even though it was located within a cavern underneath a desert. Nor did she mind his other followers, a creepy trio called Mastermind, the Blob, and Unus the Untouchable. Fearing their master’s wrath, they dared not lay a hand on the beautiful Lorelei, but confined themselves to furtive, lascivious glances. She ignored them as she did what she could to support Magneto as he continued his experiments to create the ultimate mutate. Finally, as his plans were about to come to fruition, they were attacked by another group of super-powered beings called the Defenders. Lorelei nearly brought down two of their number with her siren song, but they managed to knock her unconscious at the last moment. When she came to, she saw that Magneto had at last unleashed his latest creation, a giant brute he called Alpha. After causing a cave-in to trap the Defenders, Magneto ordered Alpha to teleport their group away. A shimmering radiance enveloped them, and Lorelei suddenly found herself in the middle of an incredible city, the like of which she had never seen—the city of New York.
She joined Magneto and the others as they stormed into an imposing edifice called the United Nations building, where Magneto demanded that the assembled council turn control of the world over to him. To coerce them into agreement, Magneto had the rapidly-evolving Alpha raise the building high into the sky with his seemingly limitless powers. The Defenders attacked again, and Lorelei watched as Alpha took them on single-handedly. At the crucial moment, however, Alpha refused to kill the Defenders, turning on his creator and passing judgment against Magneto and his group. Then, with a wave of his hand, Alpha regressed Lorelei, Magneto, Mastermind, the Blob, and Unus to infancy.
Trapped in an infantile form of her mutated state, Lorelei’s memories and powers lay dormant within her. Along with the others, she was taken to a research complex on a bleak island in a northern sea, where she spent the next twenty months. She grew and developed at a normal rate, learning again to crawl and then to walk, to speak rudimentary words and phrases, and to play with her caregivers and the other children. Unexpectedly, then, one midwinter day, a man in strange red armor appeared and bathed them in an alien energy that restored them to adulthood, with all their memories intact. They escaped the research installation, but Magneto and his armor-clad ally had no use for the rest of them, and so they were summarily dismissed. Mastermind went his own way, and, having no other option, Lorelei accompanied Unus and the Blob as they left the island.
Once away from Magneto, the pair of villainous mutants forced Lorelei to finally satisfy their lusts, and she became their plaything for a month, until they were all captured by a giant robot and pressed into the service of another mutant, who called himself the Vanisher. He, too, made use of the compliant Lorelei as he finalized his own plans of revenge against their enemies. At last, they traveled to a distant coastal city, called Los Angeles, where, as an elaborate ruse, some of the Vanisher’s giant robots pursued Lorelei, Unus, and the Blob into the headquarters of a team of super-powered beings called the Champions. Lorelei recognized two of them as having been among Ka-Zar’s demons many years before. She played along with her new master’s scheme, not knowing what else to do. Unfortunately, the Champions overpowered them, destroyed the robots, and defeated the Vanisher.
Once again, Lorelei found herself in jail. This time, however, the courts soon declared her to be mentally incompetent to stand trial. She was remanded to the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, where her refusal to speak and her failure of a battery of incomprehensible tests led to her being diagnosed as mentally retarded. She was institutionalized in a long-term care facility, her expenses paid for by Worthington Industries, and she was eventually forgotten by the world at large.
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men # 63
Final Appearance: Champions # 17