- But I've always been a weak man ... a terribly terribly weak man...
- -- Puppet Master src
Philip Masters was born in the tiny Balkan country of Transia, his parentage unknown. He lived there until the age of eight when his parents emigrated to America. A precocious child, Masters learned English rapidly and did very well at his studies in school. He was, however, a social outcast, for his cultural differences and personality made it difficult for him to make friends. He spent much of his spare time making wooden marionettes and sculpting clay figurines from the unusual clay he had brought with him from his native land.
Masters eventually enrolled in college and sought a degree in biology. While there he met two fellow students, Jacob Reiss and Marcie Deaton, who became his first real friends. Upon graduation, Masters joined Reiss as a partner in a small research center in upstate New York which Reiss’s inheritance had enabled him to establish. Reiss had by that time married Deaton and had sired an infant daughter Alicia. Masters soon began to resent the success of his partner, believing that he would never have the same. One night, his bitterness overwhelmed him and he decided to rob his partner of one of his successes by sabotaging the research facility where they worked. Reiss, however, had noticed the lights on in the main building and stopped to investigate, leaving his family in the car. Caught in the act, Masters pummeled his partner, finally knocking him into a vat containing some of the unusual clay from Transia, which they were using in their experiment to recreate the primordial conditions on Earth which promoted the first development of life. Reiss’s plunge into the vat precipitated the explosion which Masters had rigged. The explosion caught Masters, as well as Marcia and Alicia, who had come from the car to see what was keeping Reiss. Although they all miraculously escaped major injury, Alicia was blinded by exposure to hot, vaporized clay.
Not revealing exactly how Jacob Reiss had come to die, Masters courted his partner’s widow. She married him a year later, simply so her daughter would have a father. Masters had finally achieved all the things that had been his partner’s, but at the expense of his step daughter’s sight. He determinedly tried to reformulate the mixture that had exploded believing that its formulation might contain the answer to curing Alicia’s blindness. But he failed in this task, and at some point his wife Marcia died from long-acting poisons to which she had been exposed in the explosion. Soon after Marcia’s death, Masters sold the research center and moved to Manhattan. Placing his stepdaughter in a school for the visually handicapped, he opened a sculpture workshop and withdrew into his own world of figurine-making. Masters taught the art of sculpture to Alicia, who proved to have great talent for it.
Masters learned that his special clay had properties that he had never dreamed possessed. By molding it into the likeness of a person, Masters found he could mentally control the actions of that person by manipulating the figurine. Calling himself the Puppet Master, he decided to use the clay’s powers to gain power over other people.
As a test of his power, The Puppet Master used a clay puppet to force a man to leap to his death from a bridge. The man was saved by the Human Torch, a member of the Fantastic Four. Learning what had happened, the Puppet Master decided to use the clay’s powers against the Fantastic Four. Carving a puppet of the Thing from his special clay, the Puppet Master compelled the Thing to come to him. The Thing was followed by his teammate, the Invisible Girl, whom the Puppet Master captured. Seeing a close resemblance between the Invisible Girl and Alicia, the Puppet Master disguised Alicia as the Invisible Girl and told her to accompany the Thing back to the Fantastic Four’s headquarters. Alicia, unaware of her stepfather’s motives, obeyed. Once the disguised Alicia and mesmerized Thing were inside the team’s headquarters, the Thing attacked the Torch and the team’s leader, Mister Fantastic. During the battle Mister Fantastic succeeded in freeing the Thing from the Puppet Master’s control.
Mister Fantastic rescued the Invisible Girl, but the Puppet Master had used a puppet to force a prison warden to set free his prisoners. The Fantastic Four recaptured the prisoners. Alicia, meanwhile, was distraught to learn of her stepfather’s criminal actions. He came to her bearing a puppet of himself dressed as a king, and told her how, having successfully tested his power, he planned to rule entire nations. Alicia grabbed his arm, protesting that no one should have so much power. She slipped and fell, dropping the puppet, and the Puppet Master, trying to pick up the puppet, tripped over her and plunged from a window.
Alicia and the Fantastic Four believed the Puppet Master to be dead, but he miraculously survived, and returned to menace the Fantastic Four on numerous occasions. Over the years one of the Puppet Master’s primary concerns has been the happiness of his stepdaughter Alicia. After their meeting during the Fantastic Four’s first encounter with the Puppet Master, the Thing and Alicia began a long-term romantic relationship. Opposed to this relationship, the Puppet Master long sought to destroy the Thing.
He also proved a threat to other superhuman beings, such as the X-Men, the Sub Mariner, and the Hulk. He allied himself with the Mad Thinker on several occasions. He was also amongst the many super-villains who, manipulated by Doctor Doom, attacked the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm.
The Puppet Master, Mad Thinker, and the criminal scientist Egghead once formed a short-lived alliance in order to attempt to blackmail the United States government with an orbiting satellite that could fire highly destructive laser beams at Earth.
At one point the Puppet Master himself became a being composed of the mystical clay he used. In this form, he could morph his own clay body into the form of the person he wished to control. He could even control multiple subjects by splitting into a number of smaller simulacra. However, he was returned to normal human form by the being called the Sphinx.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
- Sympathetic Magic: By means of a special method he has developed, the Puppet master may mentally control the minds of others. The process requires him to carve and color an effigy of his intended victim from radioactive clay brought from Wundagore Mountain in his native Transia. Once the effigy resembles a specific individual, he can grasp it and actively control the real person’s body and mind. By physically manipulating the figure, he can cause his victim to perform identical movements. Such cases cause the victims to retain consciousness but lose control of their bodies. The Puppet Master can even control a person by simply grasping the effigy and concentrating on it. This enables him to perform more complex feats. He is able to blot out a victim’s mind, alter the victim’s memory, and force them to perform complex activities. Generally he can control only a single individual at one time.
- Note that the Puppet Masters does not know his power is Magical in nature. Note also that because the effigy must continually resemble the victim, Masters is incapable of directly harming a victim by mutilating the effigy. The reason is that altering the effigy’s appearance automatically breaks the control over the victim.
- Mind Transferral: With Dr. Doom’s assistance, Masters developed this ability. By using his special clay and Doom’s devices, he was able to transfer the minds of the main Fantastic Four team, as well as Franklin, Alicia, Dr. Doom, and Masters himself into miniature android bodies.
- Mineral Body: Early in his career, Masters’ body was destroyed in a battle with the Fantastic Four. However, his conscious mind survived and was able to create a duplicate body from his own clay. This new body resembled his original body but possessed unique features. Masters was able to split himself into 1-10 smaller replicas. These replicas shared a communal mind but were capable of independent actions. Furthermore, each replica was capable of shape-changing to become an effigy of an intended victim. Once the change was complete, the effigy could control that person’s actions. Masters’ clay form was later returned to normal flesh.
|Power Grid |
The Puppet Master is an expert in the field of biology. He is also an excellent toymaker and sculptor specializing in portraiture.
- Psychic Clay: The Puppet Master’s powers are derived from his special clay. This radioactive clay contains low level isotopes; it is incapable of directly harming anyone. The clay comes from deposits found on Wundagore Mountain in Transia. While Masters originally attributed its powers to its isotopic content, the truth is that the clay possesses magical energy leaked from the body of the demon Chthon, who was trapped for centuries beneath Wundagore. The clay can only be used to form a single effigy. Once that effigy is no longer used, the magic and radiation dissipate. Because of this, Masters must periodically return to Transia for a fresh supply.
- Liddleville Device: This is a tabletop diorama and computer system built by Masters and Doom. When a person under Master’s control lays on one of the pallets ringing the table, that person’s mind is transferred into a miniature android replica
- Puppet Master is also a citizen of the fictional European country Transia.
- 99 Appearances of Phillip Masters (Earth-616)
- 13 Images featuring Phillip Masters (Earth-616)
- 3 Quotations by or about Phillip Masters (Earth-616)
- Character Gallery: Phillip Masters (Earth-616)
- Fan-Art Gallery: Phillip Masters (Earth-616)
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