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Looking like a shabby version of Vincent Price, Mastermind debuted in X-Men vol. 1 #4 (1964) as a member of Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Created by writer/editor Stan Lee and coplotter/ artist Jack Kirby, Mastermind had the mutant ability to create illusions. Mastermind's principal claim to infamy, however, lies in his key role in Chris Claremont and John Byrne's “Dark Phoenix Saga” in The Uncanny X-Men (1979–1980). The rather ugly Mastermind used his powers of illusion to make himself appear handsome, and, under his alleged real name, Jason Wyngarde, applied for membership in the ruling Inner Circle of the notorious Hellfire Club. (Claremont and Byrne were inspired by the use of the Hellfire Club in an episode of the British television series The Avengers, in which the lead villain was played by actor Peter Wyngarde.) For his initiation test, Mastermind used a device to project his illusions directly into the mind of the X-Men's Phoenix, also known as Jean Grey, drawing out the dark side of her personality. Thus Mastermind brainwashed Phoenix into becoming the Hellfire Club's new Black Queen. But Mastermind had unleashed forces he could not control: she broke free of his mental domination and transformed into the satanic Dark Phoenix. Years later Mastermind succumbed to the lethal “Legacy Virus,” although it's possible that his death may prove to be yet another of his illusions. Mastermind is survived by two daughters: Martinique Jason, alias Mastermind II, and Regan Wyngarde, known as Lady Mastermind. The original Mastermind appeared in X-Men: The Animated Series (1992–1997) and the animated X-Men: Evolution (2000–2003).
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.