Created by artist/co-writer Jack Kirby and writer Stan Lee, the character first appeared in The Fantastic Four No. 1 (Nov. 1961). The character's name was at the time spelled "Moleman" in one word. The spelling "Mole Man" came in The Fantastic Four No. 22 (Jan. 1964).
The Mole Man was originally Harvey Rupert Elder, an American nuclear engineer and explorer. Elder was socially shunned due to a combination of his abrasive personality and his homely, dwarfish appearance. Furthermore, his fellow explorers ridiculed him for his eccentric, crackpot theories regarding a Hollow Earth. In 1956, while following the group of explorers called the Monster Hunters, he stumbled upon Monster Island, which was at the time a base of the Deviant Warlord Kro.
When Elder fell into a massive cave leading deep into the underground realm of Subterranea, he decided his theories had finally been vindicated. However, he suffered permanent damage to his eyes when he gazed directly upon a highly reflective deposit of diamonds. Partially blind and apparently secluded from the surface world forever, Elder dubbed himself the Mole Man and began exploring his new home. He eventually became the ruler of the branch of Subterraneans now known as the Moloids, and the ruler of much of Subterranea and the caverns of Monster Isle. He used the Deviant-derived creatures and technology that he found in Subterranea to strike back at the outer world in numerous attempts to rule or humble the world that had rejected him.
The Mole Man conducted attacks on the surface world by destroying power plants until he was opposed by the Fantastic Four in their first adventure on Monster Isle. He captured Mister Fantastic and the Human Torch and told them his plans. When he released a horde of monsters the Human Torch sealed his realm's entrance. The Mole Man appeared to have destroyed Monster Isle in an atomic blast. The Mole Man's Deviant-bred monstrous mutates, collectively known as the "Mole Man's Monsters", include the three-headed Tricephalous, the horned Megataur, and the flying bird-insect creature known only as "Skreeal". The Mole Man also has a group of superhuman allies called the Outcasts.
The Mole Man later stole buildings from New York City, but was thwarted by the Fantastic Four and appeared to be killed in an explosion. With the Red Ghost, he next battled the Avengers and tried to use a machine that caused earthquakes to take over the world by threatening to destroy all life on Earth, capturing Giant-Man who had been warned by ants of the earthquakes as they sensed them first. Later the Wasp released Giant-Man and he shrunk down to ant-size and sabotaged the machine. Iron Man then sealed the tunnel entrances. The Red Ghost then broke up the partnership. Mole Man was among the criminals later assembled by Doctor Doom's mind-control device to attack Reed and Sue's wedding. Mole Man then fought a war against rival Subterranean ruler Tyrannus, capturing the Fountain of Youth which allowed Tyrannus to stay young. Tyrannus teleported the Hulk underground to help him regain the Fountain. Finally, he was able to restore himself. Mole Man used the original X-Men as pawns in his war against Tyrannus. The Mole Man later trapped the Fantastic Four in a house that blinded them. Mole Man continued to fight a war with Tyrannus.
He later teamed with Kala, the queen of the Subterranean Netherworlders, and fell in love with Kala. He plotted to destroy the surface world, but was betrayed by Kala and Tyrannus. Some time later, Mole Man and Kala were betrothed to be married. Namor, the Atlantean prince, helped out the Moloids when a conquering force was slaughtering many while using them for slave labor.
Much later, Mole Man befriended the Thing and then plotted to raise a new continent at the cost of sinking California, but was again thwarted by the Fantastic Four. He was captured by Lava Men later. Mole Man then attempted to bring peace to Subterranea, but was attacked by Fantastic Four clones. He contended with Skrulls, and tried unsuccessfully to capture a Skrull technotroid egg.
Mole Man later allied with Grotesk and Tyrannus against Deviants led by Brutus. He aided the Hulk in fighting Brutus's Deviants. Together with his allies, he triumphed over Brutus, and welcomed back Kala as his consort.
Mole Man became involved with the West Coast Avengers when one of his monsters attacked Los Angeles. His Moloids were caught in the middle of a Skrull revenge scheme on the Fantastic Four. A replacement Fantastic Four, consisting of Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, the Hulk and Wolverine were tricked into entering the Mole Man's territory and battling his forces.
He later battled the West Coast Avengers along with the U-Foes during the Acts of Vengeance, but their attempts met with failure.
Later, he surrendered his desire for conquest and revenge and began assembling a sanctuary for others who had been rejected by the surface world. His two attempts to do so led to the deaths of most of the visitors to his sanctuaries. Briefly, the Mole Man allowed Adam Warlock's superhero team, the Infinity Watch, to use Monster Island (more specifically, a castle located on its grounds) as a base, on the reasoning that they could help protect him from any meddlers, which they did on several occasions. They proved helpful when the United Nations invaded the island. The Watch, primarily Gamora, drove away the invading force with an absolute minimum of harm. The Avengers assisted with the United Nations, then recognized the Mole Man's rulership over the island.
Mole Man tended to keep out of the way when the cosmic plans went on. The Watch occupied the Monster Island castle until their dissolution as a team. Following their departure, the Mole Man apparently returned to his solitary, vengeful existence. Aside from occasional fits of hostility, he seems for the most part content to rule his subterranean kingdom, and for the past few years his surface activities have mostly been limited to reacting to threats (real or imagined) to his people.
In one incident, he was causing property damage purely to help the Moloids, whose water and food had become polluted. He appeared in The Mighty Avengers having led an attack on New York, claiming retaliation for his underground home, which he says is destroyed. He was humiliated by a female-formed Ultron, who destroyed his remaining monsters, and he was arrested.
Mole Man was also behind a series of Chupacabra attacks in Puerto Rico. His motive was to protect the blood-drinking race from extinction. He was defeated by the Fantastic Four.
In the "Live Fast" story arc of Runaways, the Runaways are fighting a huge tall sky-scraper sized monster. When Victor suggests Nico shrink it, Nico mentions she already used that spell on Mole Man.
In Incredible Hulk 605, Mole Man witnessed the return of the Hulk, which pleased him. However, when the Hulk was defeated and his stone ship destroyed, various creatures from planet Sakaar were released into the underground. Mole Man trained the alien beasts and lead them to attack New York once more. However, the creatures were really waiting for that arrival of Skaar, the Hulk's son. However, Tyrannus rose to challenge Mole Man's claim and used magic to pervert the aliens so that they could destroy the surface. Skaar went into a berserker rage and thus both Tyrannus and Mole Man fled.
Mandarin's White Light Ring approached Mole Man in order to help it and the other rings have revenge on Tony Stark where he became Mandarin-Six. Mole Man and the other Mandarins later travelled to Svartalfheim in order to confront Malekith the Accursed, who had hunted down other three Mandarins and had taken their rings from them. The Mandarins thwarted any attempt of Malekith to hide or flee, as the rings could locate each other. Malekith made a pact with Iron Man (who was also at the time in Svartalfheim to retrieve the rings) disposed of his ring and escaped to safely, as he could no longer be tracked. Following their failure to kill Malekith, the Mandarins resumed their own paths. The Mandarins joined forces once more to help Mole Man's plan to create ring-powered weapons with which destroy cities from their base in Sinister London. A test was thwarted by the Fantastic Four. Before they could release one of the actual machines, Iron Man pinned them down along with the Trojan Guard and Abigail Burns. The Mandarins failed to escape as Iron Man's ally Dark Angel used magic to prevent them from teleporting. After the other Mandarin's are defeated, Mole Man's ring declared him the Prime-Mandarin. Instead, Mole Man abandoned his ring and retreated.
Mole Man was later contacted by unknown individuals to bring them Athol Kussar, the half-brother of mine owner Faust Swart who laundered money to fund HYDRA's African base after he knew about his half-brother's actions and had been previously imprisoned in a mine by Swart while evading the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents. When Mole Man broke into Kussar's cell, Kussar did not want to leave due to a bomb inside his body that would detonate if he left his cell. Mole Man was attacked and knocked down by Invisible Woman who disposed of the bomb and placed Kussar in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.
As part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel event, Mole Man and his fellow Subterraneans ended up in a civil war with the Subterraneans that are on the side of his son Mole Monster.
When Squirrel Girl's friends, Nancy, Tippy Toe and Koi Boi, help set her up an online dating profile, it leads to many unsuccessful dates, one of which ends with an encounter with the Mole Man, who is angered by how Doreen's earlier suggestions to Kraven has affected his home. Doreen apologizes to him and the two have a conversation about his situation, leading the Mole Man to proposing to Doreen on the spot and a number of follow up schemes to get Doreen to go on a date with him. He threatens to bury a number of worldwide landmarks if she doesn't date him, and after Nancy is nearly kidnapped by him and being swarmed by the media, she goes to confront Mole Man only to find that the Tricephalous is in love with him. She lets the Tricephalous defeat her to woo Mole Man and they leave for good.
Mole Man later appears attacking New York with a group of monsters, but he is defeated by Hulk, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.
The Mole Man has no true superhuman abilities. He is an extraordinary genius, with knowledge of technology centuries beyond conventional science. He was able to master alien principles of technology totally foreign to his culture and environment. Due to his poor eyesight, his senses have naturally compensated to the degree that they are, like those of Daredevil, heightened to nearly superhuman levels.
The Mole Man fights with a staff and has developed a fighting style that resembles bōjutsu; despite his small size and relative weakness he is a highly proficient hand-to-hand combatant when armed with his staff. He also commands an army of monsters and Subterraneans that are absolutely loyal to him.
The Mole Man is extremely near-sighted due to damage his vision suffered years ago, and his eyes are extremely sensitive to bright light. He is virtually blinded by normal illumination. To counter this, he wears protective glasses (an early version of a nuclear weapons test Range Officer's flash-goggles) that both reduce bright light to levels his weak eyes can tolerate and increase dim light to levels by which he can see. His sense of hearing, smell, and touch are far more sensitive than that of a normal human; these senses are heightened, but not superhuman. He possesses a "radar sense" that supplements his own weak natural vision.
Mole Man has a series of similar-looking staves (6 feet long, made of wood or aluminum), designed by the Mad Thinker, which contain built-in weapon(s) and additional features. Among such weaponry are an electrical blaster, a flame-thrower, a vibro-charge blaster, and a laser cannon. All the staffs appear to have a low-energy radar. All staves are booby-trapped with a galvanic response meter that is tuned solely to the Mole Man's skin conductivity; this prevents anyone else from activating his staves.
Mole Man's life has made him an expert on subterranean geography, spelunking, understanding Deviant weapons systems, and monster training. He has mastered the principles underlying Deviant technology that he discovered in Subterranea and has made radical improvements upon much of it.
On an earth formerly dominated by Skrulls, Mole Man goes by the name 'Harvey'. When Galactus comes to eat the planet, Harvey is a vital part of the battle by having his monsters undermine the landing spot of their enemy.
The spaceflight which grants the Fantastic Four their powers ends with them crash-landing on Mole Man's monster-inhabited islands. Mole Man ends up capturing Ben and Sue and takes a power source and potential explosive off the group's ship.
This incarnation of the Mole Man looks physically different from his 616 counterpart, with a taller, more muscular build and apparently increased strength, being able to hold up Johnny Storm with only one hand.
Later, there are hints Mole Man's island is connected to the Inhumans' city of Attilian.
In the Mutant X reality, when the Goblin Queen laid siege to New York City, Harvey, alongside his lover Callisto, provided a safe route of evacuation for tens of thousands of humans and mutants out of the city. When Ben Grimm was thrown out of a building by Reed Richards, his excessive bulk led him to the Morlock/Moleoid tunnels, where he helped organize the evacuations, and began planning a rebellion.
In this modern-day re-imagining of the Fantastic Four, the Mole Man is swiftly talked down from his first attack on New York. Reed and Sue hire him and he becomes a valued employee of the Reed business empire. He later assists in the battle against a rage-maddened Namor by re-powering Ben Grimm and giving him the assistance of a monster.
In the Spider-Man newspaper strip, The Mole Man travels to the surface and attempts to make Mary Jane Parker the queen of his underworld kingdom. When he learns MJ is already married to Peter Parker, these plans are dashed. That same evening, he bumps into May Parker and becomes instantly smitten with her. He eventually decides to kidnap both May and Mary Jane and takes them to his kingdom. Peter chases after them as Spider-Man but is bested in combat by the Mole Man, forcing him to seek out help from The Fantastic Four's Thing. The Mole Man and Aunt May begin to bond romantically, to the point May agrees to marry him. Spider-Man and The Thing arrive and after a short confrontation and conversation, are convinced to honor May's wishes that she spend the rest of her days making a lost soul happy. The wedding, however, is interrupted by May suffering from a physical condition called Spelunker's Lung, which causes her to have severe breathing problems when underground. This condition is what ultimately forces Spider-Man and the Thing to take May back to the surface along with MJ. Mole Man, realizing his newfound love can never rule alongside him due to this condition, reluctantly says goodbye to her and returns home to rule alone.
In this continuity, Mole Man's real name is revealed as "Melvin".
In the House of M universe created by an insane Scarlet Witch, the Mole Man (under the name Mole-King) appears in Fantastic Four: House of M as an enemy of the Fearsome Four, which is composed of Doctor Doom, the Inhuman Torch, the Invincible Girl, and It. This version of the Mole Man is killed by the Fearsome Four during a battle with them.
In Marvel Zombies, the Mole Man, along with several other undead villains, first appears to attack Galactus; after Galactus is defeated by several heroes, Mole Man gets into an argument with Colonel America over who gets to eat the injured Galactus, and is subsequently blasted apart by the cosmically powered colonel.
The zombie Mole Man also appears in the prequel to Marvel Zombies, Marvel Zombies: Dead Days, appearing to attack Nova alongside the Wizard.
In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Mole Man was a Baxter Building scientist named Dr. Arthur Molekevic. Nicknamed Mole Man by the students, he was fired due to his experiments in creating life after being warned off. He claimed the files as his own but was told by the governmental officials firing him, which included Sue and Johnny's father, Dr. Franklin Storm, that everything he created was the property of the United States government. He soon disappeared into underground caverns with his Moloids. These caverns contained advanced technology, which Mole Man claimed had been built by an ancient race. Parts of the caverns were also under the Baxter Building itself, which provided Mole Man with links into their security system. His ability to spy on the team fostered his delusion that he was a father figure to them. When the Fantastic Four gained their powers and were transported across the world, Sue, while unconscious, was kidnapped and transported to his caverns. Mole Man sends one of his created monsters to New York to retrieve the others. The other members of the team manage to defeat it. They follow the hole the monster made and confront Mole Man, eventually rescuing Sue. The Four defeat his forces but the Mole Man escapes. However, he returned and kidnapped several Baxter Building students while explaining more details of his life. He was eventually driven off when he left the students behind and went to confront the Fantastic Four, who had arrived to try to rescue them. The students created weaponry from the alien technology and drove off all parties (Mole Man, Fantastic Four and the government), intending to build their own civilization in the ruins of the city.
According to his story, which he told to the abducted Baxter students, Mole Man left his family after he devolved his younger sister into a lungfish and turned his father over to the government for money. His first bioexperiment went unsuccessfully and he sneaked into Europe in the guise of a washerwoman (he adds that he kept the costume and later added sequins to it). He was led to the ruins of the underground civilization by an insane Italian man who was a part of a NATO expedition to find the lost city, the third group to try. (The first two groups perished and the rest of the third group either starved to death or killed each other.) Though Mole Man found the Italian man's insane antics amusing, he later fed the Italian to an underground monster to gain the monster's trust.
Ultimate Mole Man physically resembles the original character. However, he is bulkier, rarely washes and has an unsightly skin condition. The Ultimate Moloids are fungus-based life-forms engineered by Mole Man himself; though initially simplistic and animalistic, they are more intelligent in their second appearance, even speaking a language which Mole Man understands. Some new Moloids are engineered to have various super-powers.Mole Man appeared on the Iron Man segment of The Marvel Super Heroes, voiced by Paul Kligman.
Mole Man appeared twice in Fantastic Four, voiced by Jack DeLeon. In the episode "Menace of the Mole Man", the Fantastic Four land on a remote island where Mole Man traps them and plans to submerge the largest cities of the world. In the episode "Return of the Mole Man", Mole Man creates earthquakes in order to sink some buildings. One of the building ends up being the Baxter Building where Mole Man has his Moloids capture Invisible Woman.
In Spider-Man, Spider-Man encountered a villain Mugs Riley calling himself The Mole Man and ruling a race of Green, hairy humanoids thousands of feet below Earth; this villain shared only a name and modus operandi with the Mole Man of the comics.
Mole Man made one appearance on the Fantastic Four episode "The Mole Man", voiced by Ted Cassidy.
Mole Man appeared in theFantastic Four episode "Mole Man", voiced by Gregg Berger.
Mole Man appears in Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, voiced by Paul Dobson. He is introduced in the episode "De-Mole-Ition", which uses the basic plot of Fantastic Four No. 1, adding elements from later stories.
Mole Man first appears in the The Super Hero Squad Show episode "And Lo? A Pilot Shall Come", voiced by Ted Biaselli. This version is shown to have burping and farting problems. He was sent to lead his monsters (consisting of Tricephalous, Manoo, and Megataur) and Fin Fang Foom into attacking Super Hero City. Mole Man finds the Infinity Fractal and uses its power to gain longer legs (giving him super speed) and mind-control and plotted to take over the Lethal Legion. While the others dealt with Mole Man's monsters and Fin Fang Foom, Iron Man and Falcon fought Mole Man. Thor and Storm baited Mole Man's monsters and Fin Fang Foom with lightning-cooked meat while Falcon rammed the Helicarrier into Fin Fang Foom crushing Mole Man and enabling the Super Hero Squad to claim the Infinity Fractal. While Fin Fang Foom and the other monsters were wrecking Mole Man's lair, Iron Man and Falcon carried Mole Man and the Infinity Fractal to the Vault. However, Doctor Doom uses his powers to withdraw Mole Man and deal with him personally. In the episode "From the Atom...It Rises," he helps Doctor Doom, MODOK, and Abomination in a plot to use an underground area dug up by Mole Man's Moloids in a plot to use an Infinity Fractal to control a black hole to use on Super Hero City. In the episode "Wrath of the Red Skull," Mole Man attempted to burrow into the Vault but ended up burrowing into a garbage dump. Red Skull later had Mole Man excavate the UberSkullbot as part of his Plan USB.
Mole Man appears in the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episode "Of Moles and Men", voiced by David Harvard Lawrence. Mole Man was ridiculed for his Hollow Earth theories when he moved to Subterranea and his history with the Fantastic Four is mentioned as well. Hulk encounters Mole Man where they have been captured by the giant Larvae-Beasts. A-Bomb comes to their aid where they discover that the Larvae-Beast eggs were placed upon a floor with lava underneath for incubation. Mole Man also informs them that they will also have to deal with the Queen Larvae-Beast before any more of the Larvae-Beasts can make it to the surface. Mole Man uses the Moloids to help fight the Queen Larvae-Beast. After the Queen Larvae-Beasts are defeated, Mole Man and the Moloids return to Subterranea.
Tim Blake Nelson portrays Harvey Allen in the 2015 film Fantastic Four. Nelson was originally supposed to portray Harvey Elder in the film but his character's last name was later changed to Allen. In this version, he is the directional figure of the dimension traveling mission Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Victor von Doom, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm are on. He first has doubts towards Dr. Franklin Storm, due to him failing to meet up with the Military's expectations despite their funding for him but is impressed once he sees the results of the abilities of the surviving travelers. Allen is murdered by Victor von Doom after his return from Planet Zero.
Mole Man appears in Fantastic Four, voiced by Barry Dennen. In the game, he sent out his creatures to battle the Four rather than fight himself (in the same way as Puppet Master sent his puppets). After his Monstroid (closely resembling Giganto from his first comics appearance) is destroyed, Mole Man escapes and swears revenge on the Fantastic Four.
Mole Man appears in Marvel Super Hero Squad, voiced by Ted Biaselli.
Mole Man appears as a villain character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online.
Mole Man appears as a boss in Marvel Heroes, voiced by Roger Rose.
Mole Man is featured as table artwork in the Fantastic Four virtual pinball game for Pinball FX 2.
Mole Man makes a guest appearance in the syndicated comic strip Scary Gary, in the strip of November 14, 2008.