Cargo ship crewman Morris Bench was accidentally knocked overboard by Spider-Man (who was battling Sub-Mariner) during the testing of a powerful new experimental underwater generator, the energies of which combined with gases from undersea volcanoes to trigger a weird mutation in Bench, who began to transform into living water. Physically and emotionally unstable, Bench dubbed himself Hydro-Man and soon attacked Spider-Man, but he evaporated after Spider-Man scattered his liquid form amidst the hot sunshine of the New York rooftops; however, the particles of Bench's body soon reintegrated, and he embarked on a long criminal career.
When Bench and rival criminal Sandman fought over the affections of barfly Sadie Frickett, the two men accidentally merged into a monstrous "mud-thing" that the police were ultimately forced to dehydrate into seemingly inert rubble. Hydro-Man and Sandman eventually managed to separate back into their original forms, but both were humiliated and traumatized by the experience. Sandman was so shaken that he went straight for years (until the Wizard brainwashed him into returning to crime), while Hydro-Man did most of his criminal work in groups from that point on, perhaps seeking safety in numbers.
Both alone and as a member of teams like the Sinister Syndicate, the Frightful Four and the Assembly of Evil, Bench fought a wide array of foes such as Silver Sable, Sandman, the Fantastic Four, Cloak; Dagger, the Avengers, the New Warriors, Thunderstrike, the Thunderbolts, Gambit and Black Panther, but most often clashed with Spider-Man. Hydro-Man was one of many super-criminals employed by corrupt billionaire Justin Hammer for a time, and later served in the Masters of Evil assembled by Hammer’;s daughter Justine, alias the Crimson Cowl; however, after Justine’s arrest and the apparent death of Justin, Hammer Industries phased out its criminal enterprises and Bench, along with fellow employee the Shocker, was laid off. The Shocker and Hydro-Man then teamed up for one last crime, seeking enough money to retire, but Hydro-Man’s thirst for revenge against Spider-Man led to their defeat. Trying and failing to go straight, Bench was recruited back into the Wizard’s Frightful Four and, more recently, the Sinister Twelve.
Powers and Abilities
Hydro-Man possesses the ability to bodily transform himself, in whole or in part, into a watery liquid substance of unknown composition. While in this state, his consciousness can control every droplet that comprises his body. Thus he can will himself to turn liquid whenever struck. (Presumably if he were to will just his torso liquid, his still solid head and arms would fall to the ground. It is not known if this would cause injury to his solid parts or not. The Hydro-Man can also propel the liquid particles of his body at great pressure in the same style as water shooting through a fire hose. It is not known how he generates the pressure to create this effect. Also he can harden his fist as if it were ice hard. Apparently Hydro-Man's liquid particles each possess some form of attraction for one another so that his disintegrated consciousness can draw all of the particles back into cohesion after total dispersal. It is not known if there is a limit to the particles' ability to attract one another. Nor is it known if there is a limit to how long Hydro-Man can remain in a completely aqueous state. Although he can merge with ordinary water, or use if to increase his mass, he does not gain mental control over this liquid as he does his own. Apparently, he has no difficulty reforming his solid physical state, even while fully immersed in water. Hydro-Man consciousness either resides in each of the billions of droplets that his body becomes, or exists in an intangible perhaps gas-like state. Since Hydro-Man can convert his entire head into water, and his brain is still capable of rational motivated thought, his brain can no longer be organic. It is probably that even in its solid state when it appears to be made of flesh, tissue, and bone; the Hydro-Man's body is no longer truly organic, it is not known if the Hydro-Man needs to eat, sleep, or eliminate waste products anymore
In other media
Hydro-Man first appears in the 1990s Spider-Man. This version is portrayed as Mary Jane Watson's ex-boyfriend who has returned to reclaim Mary Jane Watson's love. Morris Bench once dated Mary Jane in high school, but she broke up with him after realizing she had made a big mistake. Soon after, Morrie was expelled from school and his parents enlisted him in the navy, thinking it would keep him out of trouble. While in the special research unit working as a crewman he was knocked overboard into the ocean where his body was covered by a strange chemical which changed his cellular structure, allowing him to control any liquid at will, and turn into water. However, as M.J. repeatedly rejects Bench's advances, Hydro-Man becomes even more desperate in his attempts and incensed against Spider-Man as a competitor. After robbing a museum and stashing untold amounts of riches inside a water filtration plant, Hydro-Man kidnaps Mary Jane and keeps her inside the plant. Upon an eventual discovery of the plant, Spider-Man and Hydro-Man fight it out over Mary Jane, which eventually evolves into a battle on a high-rise rooftop away from the water. He attempts to attack Spider-Man physically only to end up evaporated, due to his being separated from the water that feeds him. Hydro-Man again appears in a two-part Season 5 episode, "The Return of Hydro-Man". However, Hydro-Man was really a clone of the original Hydro-Man created by Professor Miles Warren. He kidnaps Mary Jane again, which leads to the final encounter in the underwater base, where Miles works. After Miles explained his story of how he cloned Hydro-Man and Mary Jane to Spider-Man, the clones dissolve into water and evaporate. Hydro-Man was utilized in place of the Sandman, who was unavailable for use in the show due to being considered as one of the villains in James Cameron's attempted Spider-Man film.
Hydro-Man appears in the Fantastic Four. In this appearance, he is a member of the Wizard's Frightful Four. On a related note, this episode aired one week from Hydro-Man's debut appearance in Spider-Man.
Morris Bench appears in The Spectacular Spider-Man. He appears as a demolition expert for Norman Osborn. When the bomb's countdown is activated by the Master Planner, Bench is unable to fix it. However, Spider-Man arrives and saves Bench, along with Osborn and Donald Menken, from the explosion.
Hydro-Man appeared in the Ultimate Spider-Man. When Spider-Man, Kid Arachnid, Iron Spider, and Scarlet Spider answer a distress signal at an abandoned mall in Queens, they find a vacuum-sealed room where Hydro-Man was being held. Hydro-Man claimed that Nick Fury was keeping him in this hideout for his own protection, and they decide to bring him to the Triskelion. However, when Iron Spider looked up Hydro-Man's criminal record and found out that he is villain, Hydro-Man sheds his charade and attacks the group, causing Iron Spider to do an emergency landing in the Queens neighborhood where Aunt May resides. In order combat Hydro-Man, Spider-Man, Kid Arachnid, Iron Spider, and Scarlet Spider had to use freeze webs until they ran out. As a final plan, Spider-Man had his fellow spiders throw their web cartridges into Hydro-Man, which caused the released webbing to absorb Hydro-Man. Back at the Triskelion, Spider-Man receives word that the jet carrying Hydro-Man back to his prison got intercepted. This causes Spider-Man to suspect that Doctor Octopus was behind it and now has a possible candidate for the Sinister Six. This was confirmed in the episode "The New Sinister 6" Pt. 1 where Hydro-Man appears as a member of Doctor Octopus' Sinister Six. He is shown sporting a new outfit (similar to the second outfit from the comics). During the attack on the Triskelion, Cloak uses his abilities to send Hydro-Man to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Hydro-Man returns where he causes a tidal wave on the Triskelion and then forms a waterspout around it. In the episode "The New Sinister 6" Pt. 2, Doctor Octopus has Hydro-Man destroy the Triskelion as he heads out to claim the key to Dr. Curt Connors' latest device. This causes Spider-Man to awaken Sandman in order to fight Hydro-Man. After Doctor Octopus' Octopus Island crashes into the sea, Sandman catches the escape pod that Spider-Man and Aunt May are in and then defeats Hydro-Man.
Hydro-Man appears in the Spider-Man Questprobe game, as well as in the Spider-Man Animated Series game for Super NES.
Hydro-Man is featured as a boss in the Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
Hydro-Man has been featured as a mid-level boss in the mobile game Spider-Man Unlimited
The Water Element that appears in Spider-Man: Far From Home, is based on Hydro-Man. He appears as one of the secondary antagonists as one of the members of the Elementals alongside Molten Man, Sandman, and Cyclone. This marks the first live-action appearance of Hydro-Man.