Joseph Monteleone (Tar Pit)

Tar PitThe Reverse-Flash Returns, this week’s episode of The Flash, didn’t introduce any new character, but in the trailer for the next one, Fast Lane, we already get a look to the new “freak of the week”. While Barry Allen teams up with Harrison Wells to find a way to close the breaches to Earth-2 for good, in fact, a new metahuman will arrive to distract them from their duty, one who is able to turn himself into liquid asphalt… and who Cisco promptly nicknames Tar Pit. The villain will be portrayed by Marco Grazzini, and he promises to put Barry’s abilities to the test in a brand new way. Waiting to watch the villain’s live action debut, let’s take a look at the original one.

Joseph Monteleone was the youngest heir of the infamous Monteleone Family, a powerful Mafia organization who controlled criminality in Keystone City. The head of the family was Joseph’s brother, Jack “The Candyman” Monteleone, and Joey lived pretty much on his big brother’s shoulders, always waiting for him to solve the messes he caused. Jack, who took care of the family business, tried to involve Joey in it, and to give him a job in the drug trafficking branch, but the sense of business didn’t run the same in the family, and Joey was simply not interested, preferring to exploit all the privileges coming from the Monteleone’s wealth without getting too involved with the “serious stuff”. Joey often played with pretty criminality, believing himself invincible and untouchable because of Jack’s connections, but eventually the day came he pushed it too far: bored and in search of a thrill, he attempted an armed robbery, and he got arrested by the local police. Even in jail, Joey acted all arrogant tarpitcomics1and insolent, sure that his brother would have solved the situation for him once again… but Jack this time didn’t do anything (whether he hadn’t influence enough to take Joey out of prison or he wanted to teach his little brother a lesson, remains unknown). Joey realized this time he would have had to pay for his actions the moment he was transferred to Iron Heights Penitentiary, an event that brought him on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Finally, Joey was forced to grow up and to take responsibility for what he did… but first he needed to learn to control himself and to stay focused, so he started practicing meditation while in prison. Of course, he had heard that “meditation makes you free”, but in his case it became quite literal: finally spending some time with himself, Joey discovered a latent ability he had always had, but never bothered to find. He was, in fact, a metahuman with the ability to project his astral form (more or less his soul) into inanimate objects and to possess them. Obviously, he used this power to “possess” objects and items outside the prison, having fun by wreaking havoc in town, while his body stayed in his cell.

Joey also enjoyed to play some pranks on the local hero, the third Flash, while in his disembodied form, such as when he inhabited a fire hydrant and sprayed the superhero. One night, however, while trying to escape from his abusive cellmate, he ended up projecting himself into a vat of hot asphalt, getting a body of burning tar. Much to his surprise, Joey was stuck in that new body, unable to come back to his old self. Joseph Monteleone’s original body remained in Iron Heights, comatose, while his essence now permanently inhabited the liquid asphalt: he had become Tar Pit… and he wasn’t exactly sad about it, seeing all the potentialities of his newfound power. After spending some days mastering his new body, Tar Pit realized Keystone City was celebrating a big hockey game… and he decided to crash the party by stealing the Stanley Cup. The appearance of a gruesome fiery monster obviously created panic, and most of the attendants escaped… but the city’s hero couldn’t just stay and watch, and The Flash intervened. At tarpitcomics2first, Tar Pit caught the hero off-guard, and managed to have the upper hand against him, exploiting the fact that Flash couldn’t possibly touch him. Unexpectedly, a new player intervened: Captain Cold, who teamed up with Flash to stop Tar Pit. The combined forces of the two unlikely allies eventually subdued Tar Pit, who ended up damaging himself with a solvent. In the time The Flash took care of the unconscious metahuman, however, Captain Cold stole the Stanley Cup for himself, outsmarting both of them. Joey was brought back to Iron Heights, but he escaped soon after, and tried to begin a new criminal career… only to meet The Top, a veteran supervillain who hypnotized him and forced him to be a part of his new Rogues, whom he sent against Captain Cold’s original ones. In the following battle, Tar Pit fought Cold, Flash, Heat Wave and the original supervillains, until they were all stopped by an unwelcome guest, Professor Zoom. In the chaos that followed, The Top lost control on his men, and Tar Pit escaped thanks to the help of Mirror Master. The experience, albeit a negative one, had taught Joey that in a team he had more chances to success than alone, so he later joined the Secret Society of Supervillains: a brand new life was waiting for him… maybe.

Joseph “Joey” Monteleone is a childish and whimsical young man, unable to take anything seriously, a spoiled kid who only thinks of himself… and most of all, of having fun. Originally a metahuman able to project his astral form into inanimate objects, he’s now Tar Pit, a hulking monster made of molten tar, a super-strong and invulnerable behemoth who can burn things and people just by touching them, who can shoot chunks of flaming tar from his body, and who can merge with the nearby asphalt to increase his mass and strength (as well as to trap eventual enemies). Nearly unstoppable, Tar Pit’s greatest weakness is still his arrogance and his not-so-bright intellect, limits he’s pretty much oblivious to.