The year is 1947. Blonde-haired, brown-eyed knockout Victoria Murdock pours herself into a green mini-skirt and a purple cape. She steps out with her mile-long gams, points her flamethrower and proceeds to try to take over the world!
Or such is the story as told by Marvel Comics throughout the latter half of the 20th century. As Marvel tells it, Asbestos Lady was a “gifted scientist who designed a flameproof costume from asbestos and wielded a flamethrower and guns that fired asbestos-lined bullets.” She was the sister of racketeer “Killer” Murdock, which influenced her career choice to become a criminal scientist. An arsonist and racketeer, she provided herself and her henchmen with asbestos-lined clothing to protect them from fire. (No word on how she protected her hair — asbestos shampoo, maybe?) This bad girl set fires, holding back the police while her team robbed banks.
She was also the chief nemesis of that fiery super man, Johnny Lowell Spencer Storm — aka, “the Human Torch.” To fight her fiery foe, she created asbestos bullets to puncture his defenses. He, in turn, melted the bullets.
When Asbestos Lady kidnapped asbestos scientists Fred and Nora Raymond, the Human Torch again foiled her plans. But she eventually murdered the scientific pair, and the couple's deaths caused their son, Thomas, to run away to become Toro, the Fire-Eating Boy. (Toro eventually joined forces with the Human Torch. Naturally.)
Later, Asbestos Lady created a Human Torch costume for one of her henchmen, complete with simulated powers. Accordingly, she sent him on a crime spree to make the authorities think the Torch had turned evil. In turn, the real Human Torch pretended to be the henchman and successfully captured the toxic lady. (He melted her feet to the ground to keep her from escaping.) As a result, Asbestos Lady spent time in and out of jail.
Alas, Asbestos Lady didn’t live long enough to reap the benefits of her life of crime. After a lifetime of exposure to the toxic fibers, she contracted cancer in 1990. While her fate is unknown, she is believed to have succumbed to the disease.
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Image courtesy Marvel Comics