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Basil Elks was a common criminal from Norristown, PA. He was trying to steal a mystical gem from a museum when he was shot at by a security guard. Instead of striking Elks, the bullet hit and shattered the gem. The shards of the gem struck Elks, transforming him into the Basilisk: his skin became green and scaly and his eyes large and red. As the Basilisk he possessed superhuman physical attributes and could generate and manipulate energy via beams projected from his eyes; this energy could generate heat and ice and allowed him to fly.
The gem that empowered him was actually a Kree artifact called an Alpha Stone which had crash-landed on the Earth millennia ago along with another gem, the Omega Stone. The Basilisk sought the second gem to increase his powers. While in the primitive Savage Land he obtained it only to fall into a pit of magma. The Omega Stone actually solidified the magma, encasing the Basilisk in a protective shell. He was later freed by an underground race of subterraneans. Now powered by both stones, he fought Spider-Man, the Thing and Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) in New York City. He created a volcano in the Hudson River, only to once again fall into magma and be petrified. Upon resurfacing, he decided to attack Four Freedoms Plaza, the headquarters of the Fantastic Four, the group to which the Thing belonged. However as soon as he appeared he was shot and killed by the vigilante called the Scourge of the Underworld.
Years later, the Basilisk was resurrected by the Hood to murder Frank Castle, and was one of a number of villains who took part in a mass jailbreak from the superhuman holding facility called the Raft. He was apparently the cellmate of the Man Bull for a time, and the pair briefly assisted Hercules against a common foe.
Powers and abilities
Upon absorbing the Alpha Stone, the Basil Elks version of Basilisk possessed enhanced physical strength, reflexes, and stamina. The Basilisk's main offensive weapon were his eye beams, which could be concussive force (these could also be directed at the ground for limited flight) or energy that manipulated temperature (to boiling or freezing extremes) or molecules. Upon absorbing the Omega Stone, Basilisk's powers increased to their full extent, allowing him to generate volcanoes worldwide, including in the Savage Land and New York City.
Wayne Gifford was a normal human until becoming the Basilisk, a large humanoid reptile. The creature possesses superhuman strength and agility, and a paralyzing stare. The Basilisk's one weakness is its reflection, which serves as a reminder of its former state.
The Mike Columbus version of Basilisk possesses an overly-fleshy head devoid of all features except for sunken ears, a slit-like mouth, and a single centered eye socket. A camera-like device is located in this socket that allows Basilisk to control his superhuman mutant ability to emit a pulse of high-frequency strobe light from his brain. The light paralyzes any sentient being that views it, with the length of the effect varies depending upon the willpower of the onlooker.