Hey everybody, welcome to another fantastic character spotlight right here in Marvel Snapshot! There are a few good comic book pod casts out there, but one in particular does a better job than most when it comes to spotlighting certain characters or events (Comic Geek Speak). When anyone revives Silver Age greatness by Kirby and Lee, you’ve got to pay attention! Some of these great characters that have either lived on and are still prospering today, or even met their end, decades ago, are so important to what’s going on in the Marvel Universe, it’s criminal to not give them their due!
One of these characters is certainly the Puppet Master! When Kirby and Lee created him back in 1962 (FF #8), we saw a creepy guy that had some kind of mysterious means of controlling others. Over time, though, we learned more about how and why he did these things, so let’s get into that right now!
If you read some of the very early issues of the Fantastic Four, you’ll probably be shocked at how different things were then compared to nowadays. Reed and Sue were on again, off again with their relationship (Namor was creeping around from an early age). Johnny was in and out of college, and his identity was a secret in Strange Tales, but not in issues of the FF. The Thing was angrier than ever, and would sock a normal citizen in the face if they ticked him off. One thing was constant, though, and that was an influx of devious villains that would mold the team into what it is today.
Phillip Masters was a scientist and was partners with Jacob Reiss. Masters was jealous of Reiss, as far as his wealth, and family, so when a tragic accident caused their lab to explode, killing Reiss one day, Masters saw his opportunity to advance his situation. He pretended to grieve for Reiss, and then moved in on his widow and her child, Alicia. He coerced her into marrying him, and then had the money and resources to do whatever he wanted to scientifically. It’s also important to note that Masters grew up in the Balkans, and close to Mount Wundagore. It was there that he obtained some of the mystical/radioactive clay at the foot of that area.
He concocted a plan for world domination, but was thwarted by the Fantastic Four. As they tried to apprehend him, he fell out of a window, presumably to his death. He lived on, though, and after healing sufficiently, he once again accosted Marvel’s first family. Over the years, he’s used Namor to attack the team, then even members against each other either for a scheme or just his enjoyment. He has often teamed up with the Mad Thinker, and the two pose quite a threat against the FF.
One recurring theme was the fact that the Puppet Master would get involved any time Alicia would get close to anyone. She was engaged to Johnny Storm (although it was later retconned to be a Skrull, if I remember correctly), and would be a long time love interest of Ben Grimm. These relationships would infuriate the Puppet Master, and quite honestly would borderline on being like some kind of creepy obsession. In one story, he used his clay to control the mighty Thor himself, and set him on a path to destroy the FF!
More recently, in the pages of Heroes for Hire, the Purple Man had been influencing the Puppet Master to control Misty Knight, and use her heroic organization to commit criminal acts for him while in prison. After a fight in The Raft, between Shroud, Elektra, and some of the inmates, Purple Man was stopped from exacting revenge on the Puppet Master. What he’ll do next, is a mystery!
As usual, check out my recommended reading list, along with some great cover shots featuring the Puppet Master! See you next time!
Fantastic Four Omnibus vol. 1 – HC
Fantastic Four #356-358 (vol. 1, 1991)
Marvel Team-Up #5 & 6 (1972/73) (Essential Marvel Team Up vol. 1 – Tpb)
Marvel Two-in-One #9 (1975)