The Puppet Master


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The Puppet Master

(pop culture)
For a man who plays with dolls, the Puppet Master is one of the most dangerous enemies of the Fantastic Four (FF). He first pulls the group's strings in Fantastic Four vol. 1 #8 (1962), when writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby show him taking control of the FF's strongest member, the Thing, via a miniature proxy he forges of radioactive clay, and psionically maneuvering him into combat against his teammates. Detached from humanity but determined to control it, the Puppet Master endeavors to establish himself as a global king, with the FF as his slaves. His blind stepdaughter Alicia intervenes, appalled by his megalomaniacal rants, accidentally making him drop a puppet he has made in his own likeness—which, in a karmic twist of fate, causes the Puppet Master to fall out a window to his death. But death and supervillains rarely walk hand in hand. The Puppet Master soon resurfaced, determined to control the FF, plying his puppetry alone and often as the partner of the Mad Thinker; he has even allied with Dr. Doom. In his original design for the character, artist Kirby fashioned the Puppet Master's face after that of a ventriloquist dummy—he is bald, with a Cheshire Cat–like toothy smile, pronounced lips, and exaggerated eyelashes. These features give the Puppet Master an androgynous appearance that widens the chasm between the paternal father figure he should be and his actual personality as a self-absorbed madman. Marvel Team-Up vol. 1 #6 (1973) offered a peek into his past, where the Puppet Master— actually Philip Masters—was an alienated youth reared in a Balkan nation appropriately named for a man with no allegiance to others: Transia. He is responsible for the accident that blinded his stepdaughter, and through Alicia Masters readers have occasionally witnessed what little compassion the Puppet Master possesses. Prone to emotional flare-ups, the Puppet Master is essentially a coward who relies upon manipulation for personal empowerment. He has appeared on television cartoons in a 1982 episode of The Incredible Hulk and a 1994 episode of Fantastic Four. A scene deleted from the live-action movie Fantastic Four (2005) acknowledged the Puppet Master's existence; this deleted scene's inclusion in the film's European DVD edition placed the Puppet Master into contention as a villain in the movie's sequel, planned for a 2007 release.