Puppet Master (comics)

Puppet Master (comics)


caption=Puppet Master
Fantastic Four #8
character_name=Puppet Master
real_name=Phillip Masters
publisher=Marvel Comics
debut=Fantastic Four (Vol.1) #8 (Nov 1962)
creators=Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
relatives=Marcia Masters (wife; deceased), Alicia Masters (step-daughter)
powers=Ability to construct dolls with which to physically control people|

The Puppet Master, real name Phillip Masters, is a fictional character, a supervillain in the "Fantastic Four" comics. His first appearance was in "Fantastic Four" volume 1 #8. His origin was told in "Marvel Team-Up" volume 1 #6.

Fictional character biography

The Puppet Master uses radioactive clay to make puppets of people that he can then control, attaching them to strings and moving them as puppets, presumably he has some sort of psionic ability that enables him to do this. He is the stepfather of Alicia Masters, a blind girl who holds an attraction to the Thing. He once tried to take over the world but was thwarted in this effort by the Fantastic Four.

The man who would become the Puppet Master was born in the small fictional Balkan nation of Transia. He moved to the United States at the age of eight. He was socially maladjusted and had no friends. (According to Spider-Man Family issue 4, his mother died when he was young and he was often picked on, causing him to turn to his puppets as "friends".)

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 and when the two fought Reiss was accidentally killed in an explosion. Unfortunately, Reiss' daughter Alicia was caught in the explosion and blinded as a result.

Playing the explosion off as an accident, he started a relationship with and then married Reiss' wife, Marcia, and adopted Alicia. When his wife died it was more than he could bear and he lost his sanity. It was at this time that he first began experimenting with radioactive clay that he was somehow able to use to psionically control specific individuals' bodies. He thought to exploit this talent to the fullest and drew up a plan to take over the world. He didn't get very far with the plan before the Fantastic Four stopped him.

He was once thought to have been killed when he fell out of the window of a fairly tall building, but he miraculously survived. Later on, he was transformed into living clay. Yet, he was eventually returned to normal by the Sphinx. The Puppet Master has exhibited an uncanny ability to cheat death, dodging mortal threats that have included bomb blasts, drownings, and even a giant squid attack.

He has frequently been an ally of the Mad Thinker and, in dramatic fashion, Doctor Doom, who once aided him in trapping the Fantastic Four within the artificial city of Liddleville; their minds were trapped inside tiny robot bodies. Liddleville would later be used against the Micronauts and X-Force.

On several occasions the jealous Puppet Master would use his clay to manipulate the lives of the Fantastic Four when his stepdaughter was concerned, whether it be to "guard" his precious stepdaughter from marrying the likes of the Thing (or later Johnny). His wedding gift to Alicia and Johnny, in the end, was deciding not to crash the wedding as he'd planned. He quickly made enemies with the villains who'd planned the attack with him, but could not bear to ruin Alicia's happiness. Masters would later reveal to the Thing that he had discovered 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 , who employed Masters to construct a "perfect man" from his clay that would then receive life and the power cosmic from the Silver Surfer and absorb Satori's mind, that he might survive his body's death and serve as a proper leader to his flock. 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, the FF were prevented from taking any measure of revenge upon Masters, given his S.H.I.E.L.D. affiliation.

Criminal life again

The Puppet Master was seen to have returned to criminal life and affiliated himself with the Mad Thinker. Utilizing a device constructed by The 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 Super Hero Civil War.

He revealed in this issue that he always planned to kill the person he was working with in his past team-ups and that he has anger management problems. The Thinker gives him the number of a good therapist. This exchange seems to contradict preivous interactions between the two. ["Fantastic Four #538" ("August, 2006")]

The Puppet Master is shown to now be in the business of selling slaves (primarily females). Some of them are superhuman females captured by members of the Chilean Army under his control. Among those held captive are Dusk, Tigra, Silverclaw, Stature, and Arana. The Puppet Master is shown having random male slaves fight to the death. ["Ms. Marvel #18"] The Puppet Master is presumed killed when he detonates explosives hidden beneath the house he used as a base while still inside. ["Ms. Marvel" #20]

Powers and abilities

The Puppet Master has no revealed superhuman abilities, but was once a brilliant biologist. He is an extremely talented craftsman and very gifted in experimental science. His greatest strength was his ability to create marionette puppets that he modeled after real people in order to physically control them. 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 Wundergore Mountain, Transia, site of the prison of the elder god Chthon. He may have some type of psionic ability which complimented this process, enabling him to control his victims, although the process may be entirely the result of the magical properties of the clay. He has a Doctorate in biology.

Other media


* The Puppet Master appeared in the Sub-Mariner portion of "The Marvel Superheroes".
* The Puppet Master appeared in the 1982 "Incredible Hulk" cartoon. He appears in the episode Bruce Banner: Unmasked where he gets control of the residents in Mesa City while also attempting to control the Hulk- his Hulk 'doll' even allows him to exert some slight influence over Bruce Banner, although Banner simply feels uncomfortable rather than falling under the Puppet Master's control-, simultaneously causing the Hulk's true identity to be revealed. The only person he doesn't make a puppet of is his stepdaughter Alicia, which allows Bruce and Rick to track him down, Rick subsequently using the Puppet Master's equipment to erase all memory of the Hulk's true identity prior to its destruction.
* The Puppet Master appeared in the "Fantastic Four" TV series voiced by Neil Ross. He took control of the Thing and use him to capture Invisible Woman. Mister Fantastic freed the Thing from his control and defeated the Puppet Master. Upon returning to his apartment to reclaim his final doll, he ended up in a fight with Alicia, then he apparently fell to his death from the apartment window. The Fantastic Four weren't able to find his body and claimed that he "vanished from Earth."
* The Puppet Master appears in "" TV series voiced by Alvin Sanders. As is the case with Alicia, the Puppet Master is African-American in this series. Debuting in the episode "Puppet Master," he was a sculptor whose clay was hit from a fragment of the same space station where the Fantastic Four were in when they got their powers. After touching his clay, he discovered he can manipulate the person of whoever he sculpts, resulting in him taking over the Thing and kidnapping the award-winning artists and Alicia. When the other Fantastic Four members arrived, the Puppet Master sculpted the Human Torch and took control of him until Alicia broke the sculptures and the Puppet Master is jailed. However, the ending hints at him escaping, as he disguised some clay as a pair of sunglasses. In the episode "Strings," he had manipulated his guards into bringing him enough of his clay to control all of the city officials, allowing him to have the FF evicted and turned into wanted criminals. He ultimate goal was to have Reed Richards enhance his powers, but he was foiled. In the final scene, while locked up in the Vault, he removes some clay from under his false teeth, only to have Sue Storm take it from him.


* In the extended edition of the "Fantastic Four" DVD, the Thing notices puppets in a scene with Alicia Masters at her art gallery. She says they belong to her stepdad.

Video Game

* The Puppet Master appeared in the 2005 "Fantastic Four" video game voiced by James C. Mathis III. Although you do not fight him directly, he sends several exhibits at a museum (ex. mummies and dinosaurs) after you to protect Alicia. In the end, after the heroes destroyed the statue of Horus, he escapes to the back door. His last line is "Next time, fantastic fools, the Puppet Master will not fail." The heroes aren't aware that he was responsible for the disaster, believing it instead to be a side-effect of the cosmic rays that gave them their powers. In the instruction booklet that comes with the game, The Puppet Master's bio is given, explaining that he uses radioactive clay to control whoever he chooses. This is probably how he made the exhibits in the museum come to life and attack the Fantastic Four.


* An episode of "" (titled "The Case of the Dreadful Dolls") featured a villain called the Dollmaker who uses magic mud to create dolls to control the Superfriends, a "modus operandi" very similar to the Puppet Master's.
* In the Nickelodeon anime television series, "", a season 3 episode is entitled "The Puppetmaster", an obvious reference to this villain.


External links

* [http://marvel.com/universe/Puppet_Master Puppet Master] at Marvel.com

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