Janus Stark

Real Name: Jonas Clarke.

Identity/Class: Mutant (?) human

Occupation: Escapologist

Affiliations: Blind Largo

Enemies: Simon Tragg

Known Relatives: Largo (adopted father), unidentified brother, Ben Stark (brother's descendent), John Stark (brother's descendent, son of Ben)

Aliases: Charles Raven (see notes below)

Base of Operations: Victorian London

First Appearance: Smash! (I.P.C., 15 March 1969-71); Valiant (1971 - 73)

Powers/Abilities: Janus has bones like rubber, allowing him to contort in unbelievable ways and get through the smallest spaces or out of the tightest bindings. When he contorts himself his muscles give off sufficient heat that he can melt ice merely by standing near it.

History: Young orphan Jonas Clarke is thrown into the rat-infested cellar of Hemlock Hall by the brutal Simon Tragg. He escapes by wriggling through a tiny gap using the strangely rubbery quality of his bones. Once on the street he is befriended by Blind Largo, who teaches him light fingered trickery and the art of lockpicking. He grows up and adopts the name Janus Stark, escapologist and master of illusion. With his new identity he became a famous part of Victorian society, battling evil and injustice and solving mysteries. He and Scotland Yard Inspector Bryant maintain an uneasy relationship, as the Inspector is reluctant to believe that Janus is innocent of many of the crimes he investigates.

(Untitled, Smash Annual 1972) After demonstrating his powers to a group of scientists, Janus is informed that he generates a fair amount of heat when he contorts. Later Janus is asked to check the security of a rich client's new vault. While he is there a robbery attempt is made by a criminal who plans to use a freezing device to shatter the impregnable vault door. The device goes haywire, locking all of them in ice, and it is only through the information imparted to him by the scientists that Janus is able to figure out a way to get free.

Comments: Created by Jack Legrand, and written by Tom Tully, with art by Solano Lopez. Other Janus Stark writers included Angus Peter Allen and Marcus Scott Goodall (Scottish writers, both of whom wrote mainly for the French strip).

Blind LargoRight - Blind Largo, Stark's friend and mentor. In spite of his blindness he remains extremely knowledgable of all that is happening in the London underworld.

Janus had many of his adventures printed in France, as the star of his own comic, as well as many new adventures produced for that market, including the death of the character when the series ended. Check out the French website for Janus Stark. Many thanks to Alain Decayeux for letting me use information from that site to enhance this one.

A homage to Janus, called Charlie Raven, turned up in Paul Grist's Jack Staff.

CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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