The Two Faces of Janus

Real Name: Cliff Adam

Identity/Class: Human mutated by magic

Occupation: Former playboy, now reporter

Affiliations: Unnamed scientist who designed his masks

Enemies: Master, Count Mephisto

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: England

First Appearance: Pow! and Wham! #53 (20 January 1968)

Powers/Abilities: Janus appears to have some small degree of superhuman strength and agility, being able to leap up the sides of buildings.

History: Cliff Adams was a playboy, squandering the money he had inherited to pursue his hedonistic tastes. The papers were full of tales of his prowess as a sportsman, athlete and hunter, and was these attributes along with what remained of his fortune that attracted an evil looking stranger to him. The man promised to lead Cliff to riches beyond imagining if he would bankroll an expedition for the two of them into the wilds of Brazil. Carried away by greed, Cliff agreed. But when they reached their destination, the stranger would have killed Cliff, shooting him in the back, if the local tribe, the Jurus, had not slain the villain first. The tribe's wise man recognised that their was good in Cliff, but that because he had always had everything he wanted, he had become selfish. Determining that Cliff needed to learn humility and that good stems from within a man, he cursed the playboy, transforming his features into a hideous visage. Then he sent Cliff on his way, informing him that he could return when he had proved he had "become a force of good to combat evil", and then he would be shown mercy.

When Cliff made his way back to civilisation, the full extent of the curse became clear. People instinctively thought the worst of him upon seeing him, judging him evil because of his appearance. Ill fate would bring him to the scenes of crimes, where he would be instantly painted the criminal regardless of the evidence, and the police would unquestioningly instigate a "shoot on sight" policy. Finally returning home, he tracked down a scientist who had been a life long friend, and convinced him of his true identity. After several days he managed to develop a paper-thin mask of Cliff's original face that he could wear to disguise his new one. However exposure to the light would cause the mask to eventually decay after a few hours.

As Janus he infiltrated the underworld, letting them believe him to be a crook too, so that he could tip off the police to their activities, while as Cliff Adam, he went  to work as a reporter at the Daily Banner. He faced such foes as the villainous Count Mephisto.

Comments: Long before Darkman we have a superstrong hero with a hideous face who hides his deformity with masks that decay if exposed too long to the light.

As seen on the left, Janus is portrayed as having green skin. But in his early episodes, before the authorities start after him, he wanders around in public, and while many people note his hideous visage, nobody goes "And he has weird green skin!" Plus, on the cover of his debut issue, he's depicted as having a normal skin tone (see right), so the transition to green must have taken place later. As often happened in old black and white British comics, when the colourist is let loose on the rare bit of coloured artwork, nobody actually gives him a guide as to what the correct colour scheme is, and so we get some weird and wonderful guesses.

Mike Murphy notes that "A version of Janus, renamed Janos, appeared in Stormwatch Vol 1 #44 as part of a ridiculous-looking 60s superteam along with Jenny Sparks. He lacked his green skin tint and looked a lot more like Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows."

Roger Springthorpe informs me that "the two faces of Janus in Pow is famous for being the place for the first professional work of the much revered Barry Windsor Smith, artist of the original Marvel Conan series."

CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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