|First appearance||Fantastic Four #8 (Nov. 1962)|
|Created by||Stan Lee (Writer)|
Jack Kirby (Artist)
|Full name||Phillip Masters|
Extremely talented craftsman
Ability to construct dolls with radioactive clay with which to physically control people
Puppet Master (Phillip Masters) is a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.
The Puppet Master uses radioactive clay to make puppets in the likenesses of real people, whom he can then control by attaching the clay puppets to strings and moving them about. Presumably he has some sort of psionic ability that enables him to do this. He has a deep hatred of the Thing, who is romantically interested in his stepdaughter, Alicia Masters. He once tried to take over the world but was thwarted in this effort by the Fantastic Four.
The Puppet Master's first appearance was in Fantastic Four #8 (November 1962), and he was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. His last name, Masters, was revealed in the letters page of Fantastic Four #42 (Sept. 1965), as suggested by a reader, who was given a No-Prize for her service to Marvel. The Puppet Master's origin is told in Marvel Team-Up #6 (January 1973).
Phillip Masters, the man who becomes the Puppet Master, was born in Dragorin, a town in the small fictional Balkan nation of Transia. He moved to the United States at the age of eight. Growing up he was socially maladjusted and had no friends. (According to Spider-Man Family #4, his mother died when he was young and he was often picked on, which caused him to turn to his puppets for "friendship".)
After he finished college he went into business with Jacob Reiss. Philip was jealous of Reiss' wealth and of his family and decided to sabotage his workplace, but Reiss caught him in the act. The two of them break into a fight which results in an explosion that kills Reiss and blinds his daughter Alicia, who was also caught in the blast.
Phillip plays the explosion off as an accident, and then starts a relationship Reiss' wife, Marcia. He marries Marcia and adopts Alicia. Later, Marcia dies and it is more than he can bear and he loses his sanity. He begins experimenting with the radioactive clay puppets that he uses to control specific individuals' bodies. When the Human Torch interferes with one of his experiments, he sets about bringing down the Fantastic Four. He captures the Invisible Girl and the Thing, and masterminds a mass jailbreak using the warden's trustee. He then falls through a window to his death after tripping over Alicia's hand.
Though his fatal fall is alluded to in his subsequent appearance, it is never explained how he is still alive. He has himself committed to a sanitorium for several months in the belief that this will allow the world to forget him. Upon release he takes control of Namor and uses him to battle the Fantastic Four. He also pits the Human Torch and the Thing against each other. He teams up with the Mad Thinker and uses the original X-Men to battle the Fantastic Four. Teaming up again with the Thinker, who would become his frequent ally, he battles the Thing and the Torch again, using animated life-size mannequins to battle the pair.
The Puppet Master is later seen among a group of criminals assembled by Doctor Doom. He then controls Namor again. He opposes the original X-Men through the mind-controlled Mimic. He also sparks a battle between the Hulk and Namor by controlling the Hulk.
The Puppet Master next allies with the Mad Thinker and Egghead in their attempt to blackmail the U.S. He forces Iron Man to battle Captain Marvel. He again teams with the Thinker, and attacks the Fantastic Four using androids of their past foes. He controls Ballox the Monstroid, and battles Spider-Man and the Vision. With the Thinker, he battles Spider-Man and the Thing. He then forces Thor to battle the Fantastic Four. He then controls the Wrecker and Power Man. Eventually, the Puppet Master returns to his homeland, where he encounters Modred the Mystic.
With Doctor Doom, the Puppet Master traps the Fantastic Four within the miniature artificial city of "Liddleville", their minds trapped inside tiny cybernetic, part-organic copies of their original bodies. However, Doom perverts what had been intended by the Puppet Master as a chance to give Alicia and Ben a normal life into a trap, and he eventually helps the Fantastic Four learn the truth and escape Liddleville while trapping Doom in the android body he had used to monitor the Fantastic Four. He is defeated by Doom in Liddleville  and seemed to have been destroyed, but his mind is then resurrected in a body of living radioactive clay. He battles the Thing on the mental plane, and his physical clay body is destroyed. He is eventually resurrected in his original body by the Sphinx.
He was once thought to have been killed when he fell out of the window of a fairly tall building, but miraculously survived.[volume & issue needed] The Puppet Master has exhibited an uncanny ability to cheat death, dodging mortal threats that have included bomb blasts,[volume & issue needed] drownings,[volume & issue needed] and even a giant squid attack.[volume & issue needed] Liddleville would later be used against the Micronauts and X-Force.[volume & issue needed]
The jealous Puppet Master often uses his clay to manipulate the lives of the Fantastic Four, especially where his stepdaughter was concerned. He is particularly concerned with guarding his precious Alicia from marrying the likes of the Thing.[volume & issue needed] But he is later just as outraged when she is engaged to Johnny Storm, also a member of the Fantastic Four.[volume & issue needed]
With the Thinker and the Wizard, Masters attempts to disrupt the wedding of the Human Torch and Alicia. The plan was to launch an attack on the church after the wedding ceremony, but when he sees how happy Alicia is to marry Johnny, Masters is overcome with remorse and turns on his associates, launching the Dragon Man against them: his wedding gift to Alicia and Johnny.
Later, Masters is reformed, remarried, and has a stepson; the toys he crafts for his son inadvertently caused a battle between Power Pack and the alien Ciegramites. He reveals to the Thing that he had discovered that the Alicia Johnny had married was actually a Skrull.
The Puppet Master has been shown on two occasions attempting to leave his (overtly) criminal life behind. In the first, he found some measure of spiritual enlightenment in the service of the billionaire philosopher/cultist Satori. Satori employs Masters to construct a "perfect man" from his clay, which would then receive life and the power cosmic from the Silver Surfer and absorb Satori's mind, so that he might survive his body's death and serve as a proper leader to his flock.[volume & issue needed] Masters at some point left this cult, and entered a S.H.I.E.L.D.-maintained witness protection program, using his abilities to aid the government through the dulling of memories of other so-protected criminals' previous associates. Masters reached out through his powers to control Ben Grimm and Alicia, duping Ben into a "married life" with his despondent daughter, whom Ben had stopped seeing years before. Ben was freed, but the Fantastic Four were prevented from taking any measure of revenge upon Masters, given his S.H.I.E.L.D. affiliation.[volume & issue needed]
The Puppet Master returned to criminal life and affiliated himself with the Mad Thinker. Utilizing a device constructed by Mad Thinker, he was able to control a large number of non-super-humans, most notably members of the Yancy Street Gang to escalate a battle between the two different factions in the superhero Civil War.[volume & issue needed]
In that same issue he reveals that he always planned to kill the person he was working with in past team-ups and that he has anger management problems. Mad Thinker gives him the number of a good therapist. This exchange seems to contradict previous interactions between the two.
The Puppet Master is then in the business of selling slaves (primarily females). Some of those under his control are superhuman females captured by members of the Chilean Army, and among those held captive are Dusk, Tigra, Silverclaw, Stature, and Araña. The Puppet Master also has random male slaves fight to the death. Once again the Puppet Master is presumed dead when he detonates explosives hidden beneath the house he used as a base, in a battle against Ms. Marvel.
During the Fear Itself storyline, Puppet Master is seen in a comatose state in the Raft's infirmary. It is revealed that Purple Man was the one who had Puppet Master manipulate Misty Knight's Heroes for Hire organization to establish a criminal organization for him while he was in jail. Before he could kill Puppet Master, Elektra and Shroud arrive and prevented Purple Man from killing Puppet Master. Purple Man spared Puppet Master and took control of some inmates to attack Elektra and Shroud before escaping from the Raft.
Puppet Master later appears by Misty Knight's side where he uses the villains on Misty Knight's side as payback on Purple Man.
Later, the Puppet Master has been murdered, with all evidence pointing to the Thing as the person responsible. The crime took place in a sealed room that even Mister Fantastic could barely enter with Alicia as the only witness, and even she cannot decipher what has happened. Although the Thing claims innocence, he allows himself to be locked up. As it turns out, the dead Puppet Master was a decoy and the real Puppet Master had been hidden away by the Quiet Man, the mastermind behind Thing's framing and other misfortunes the Fantastic Four had suffered. Mister Fantastic later finds the real Puppet Master captive in the Quiet Man's building.
The Puppet Master has no revealed superhuman abilities, but he possesses a genius-level intellect and was once a brilliant biologist with a doctorate in biology. He is an extremely talented craftsman and very gifted in experimental science. His greatest strength was his ability to create extremely lifelike marionette puppets with extreme speed that he modeled after real people. Through intense concentration, he is able to control the physical actions of anyone after whom he models one of his puppets. How he did this was never adequately explained other than he used some type of special radioactive mixture. The clay he used in this mixture was magical, slightly radioactive, and came from a remote area near Wundagore Mountain, Transia, site of the prison of the elder god Chthon. He cannot control the actions of essentially mindless creatures, and his control can be broken by beings with supremely strong will-power. His control is limited to one person at a time, and the degree of control decreases with the distance from the person controlled.
In August 2009, TIME listed the Puppet Master as one of the "Top 10 Oddest Marvel Characters".
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