As with all the foes Javaman (not to be confused with Java Man, who fights crime through internet coding) faces, Expressonator is coffee themed. Despite being newer than foes like The Decaffinatrix or Unfair Trade, Expressonator remains a reader favorite.

His origin is detailed in Javaman #271. As Karl Sprecht he was the unscrupulous owner of a Stubb’s Coffee franchise (Stubb’s sued over this, and later reprints and retcons substitute the fictitious Queequeg’s Coffee, making the original print run a minor collectable). When he wasn’t fleecing customers with cheap Sav-Mart coffee in expensive packages, Sprecht was tinkering on a machine to create a more efficient expresso, one that would use a minimum of expensive beans and a maximum of cheap water and pressure.

His homemeade machine exploded, leveling the shop but imbuing Sprecht with the ability to generate and control impossibly potent expresso at will. In addition to being able to use boiling streams of expresso as weapons and expresso steam to fly, the newly christened Expressonator was able to manipulate those who had been exposed to his highly addictive product, demanding service in exchange for continued ultraconcentrated expresso.

While the Expressonator appeared to perish in a thermonuclear blast at the end of his first story arc (Javaman #271-288), he was brought back by subsequent creative teams and survived the company-wide reboot that reset Javaman to issue #1 after issue #498. Later writers and artists tweaked Expressonator’s origins, introducing darker innovations like his pre-transformation addiction to narcotics (#2), dalliances with the rebooted Decaffinatrix (#12), and a new look in which he hid a hideously scarred quadrant of his face behind a mask (#27) or combed-over hair.

In the Javaman movie, Expressonator wore no costume and was never referred to by his villain name but rather called Sprecht at all times. As played by Kevin Bacon, Expressonator had no innate powers, relying on a combination of cocaine hidden in coffee and an arsenal of steam-powered weapons (and machine guns) to dominate the city. Fans had a mixed reaction to these and other changes to the character; when the Javaman film series was rebooted two years later, Expressonator was revamped once again. As essayed by Danny DeVito, the villain’s superpowers and outfit were returned but he served as a campy comedic foil to the film’s major villain, a re-imagined Unfair Trade played by Sean Penn.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!
Advertisements