Subterranea is a fictional realm far beneath the Earth's surface in the Marvel Comics universe. Subterranea is a network of massive caves, passages, and tunnels, some large enough to hold cities, that are inhabited by the various races of Subterraneans. The first recorded entrance to Subterranea was found at Monster Island. Subterranea contains water in underground rivers, pools, and lakes. It has high temperatures and no weather, and its atmosphere is roughly the same as Earth's surface with fresh air supplied through a passage to the surface world.
The Gortokians were the first race of Subterraneans. They were created by the Deviants as a slave race centuries ago, but they rebelled. Eventually, the Gortokians died of disease, and the only known survivor is Grotesk, who is best known for having apparently killed the X-Men's leader, Professor X (but who was actually the shape-shifter Changeling).
The Moloids (or "Mole People") were the next race to be created by the Deviants. The Moloids are the physically weakest of the Subterraneans, and consequently they almost always act in great numbers. Due to their physical and mental weakness, the Deviants rejected them, and attempted to exterminate them all. Today, they serve the Mole Man, and have frequently fought the Fantastic Four alongside their master and his monsters. The Tyrannoids are an offshoot of the Moloids who serve the near-immortal surface-world exile Tyrannus. They are not quite as weak or simple-minded as their Moloid cousins. As pawns of Tyrannus, the Tyrannoids have fought the Hulk on several occasions.
Moloids are seen collecting and spiriting away the Punisher's body parts, after he is dismembered and decapitated by Wolverine's son Daken, acting on the orders of Norman Osborn. They are seemingly operating under the protection of Man-Thing.
The Lava Men are a race of Subterraneans who were mutated by the demon Cha'sa'dra, a native of Limbo, into a lava-skinned form. The first Lava Man to visit the surface world was Jinku, who was propelled to the surface by a volcanic reaction triggered by the trickster god Loki. This Lava Man fought Thor, and he and other Lava Men later fought Thor's teammates, the Avengers. Cha'sa'dra was among the demons of Limbo who appeared on Earth during the "Inferno" storyline, and when he was destroyed in combat with the Avengers, the Lava Men were apparently transformed into solid, non-living matter.
Lava Men had red skin of rock-hard consistency. A Lava Man's body has twice the density of a normal human being's. Upon death a normal Lava Man immediately decomposes into dust. A small number of Lava Men have undergone a metamorphosis giving them golden skins. Grotesk has rendered all Lava Men mute under his rule. No clearly female Lava Men have been depicted to date.
Less than one thousand Lava Men are known to exist. The Lava Men formerly had a tribal government, but became a monarchy ruled by Grotesk, although the golden Lava Men remained under tribal rule. Their technology level is primitive and the Lava Men are deeply religious, and peaceful except when stirred to war by religious fervor. Lava Men were formerly nomadic. Though not a Lava Man himself, Grotesk ruled the red Lava Men. Jinku was a shaman of the gold Lava Men. Other known Lava Men have included the golden Lava Men Akor, Danka, and Kelak, as well as the deceased Molto. Enemies of the Lava Men have included the Avengers, Thor, the Molian and Tyrannoid Subterraneans, Brutus, and the Deviants. Major allies of the Lava Men have included Grotesk, Captain Marvel II, and formerly Cha'Sa'Dra.
Jinku plotted to use the Mole Man's machine to activate all volcanoes on the Earth. Molto was mortally wounded by Jinku, but warned Thor and the Human Torch about Jinku before dying. Thor wrecked the machine, and the Torch led the Molion Subterraneans in defeating the Lava Men.
A Project: Pegasus borer probe wreaked havoc in a Lava Men settlement, and they retaliated by invading Project: Pegasus. The Lava Men clashed with the Avengers again before returning to Subterranea. The Lava Men became involved in a war against the other Subterranean races, and managed to capture the Mole Man.
Jinku magically created a group of non-sentient Lava Men that attacked the Avengers and Hydro-Base. It was revealed how the demon Cha' Sa' Dra transformed a group of Gortokian subterraneans into the first Lava Men, and how Cha' Sa' Dra's death killed hundreds of Lava Men, and placed others in an immobile "chrysalis" state. The vengeful Jinku unleashed a monster against the Avengers in Subterranea. The immobile Lava Men attained new golden forms, and Jinku was similarly transformed. However, they all made peace with the Avengers.
Powers and abilities
Lava Men have a high resistance to extreme heat and flame. They continually generate intense heat from their bodies and can increase the amount of heat at will, enough to be able to melt a weapon in its vicinity. They have a mystical ability to cause large amounts of volcanic ash to appear, seemingly from nowhere, and to transform metal into ash. They also have an immunity to aging. Some Lava Men can mystically transform themselves into Script error giants composed of hardened lava. Some Lava Men can mystically command molten lava to do their bidding by performing a ritual prayer to the demons they worship. The golden Lava Men can transform their shapes, and in doing so, even merge their bodies with one another. They once formed themselves into a large sphere that could defy gravity. Jinku has mystically created non-sentient Lava Men which possess the superhuman powers of the real Lava Men.
Lava Men had unusually acute hearing and night vision to enable them to function more easily in the darkness of Subterranea.