Who the Clix? Puppet Master

Who the Clix? is a series of articles featuring information on comic book characters that have been made into figures for the popular tabletop game Heroclix. These articles are meant to help Heroclix players learn more about the characters behind their favorite pieces.

It’s taken almost 20 years to get him back in Heroclix, but he’s here: Puppet Master

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Appearances in Heroclix: Fantastic Four: Future Foundation, Universe, Infinity Challenge
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #8 (Nov. 1962)
Team Affiliantions: N/A
Created by: Jack Kirby and Stan Lee

Artwork and character is copyright/trademark Marvel; used under Fair Use

Phillip Masters begins his life in the small town of Dragorin in the nation of Transia. After losing his mother at a young age, Phillip and his father move to the United States when the boy is only 8 years old. Being picked on for his odd appearance and lacking certain social graces, Phillip turns to his puppets for companionship.

After growing up and finishing college, Phillip goes into business with Jacob Reiss. Masters grows jealous and resentful of Reiss, with his money and happy family and attempts to sabotage his partner. Reiss catches him in the act and the two fight before the planned explosion goes off, killing Reiss and blinding his daughter Alicia. Phillip claims the explosion was merely an accident and begins courting Jacob’s widow. Masters marries Marcia and adopts Alicia as his own, seeming to be content for a time. However, when Marcia dies, Phillip’s fragile sanity breaks and he spirals into madness. He begins using radioactive clay to create puppets that allow him to mentally control human beings and soon calls himself the Puppet Master.

The Human Torch interferes with one of the Puppet Master’s experiments, which draws the villain’s attention to the Fantastic Four. He uses puppets of the Thing and Invisible Woman to engineer a massive jail break. When the heroes are able to free themselves, he trips over Alicia’s hand and falls out a window. Seemingly to his death.

Somehow, he actually survives the fall and has himself committed to a sanitarium in order to be forgotten by the world at large. When he is released, he sets about trying to ruin the Fantastic Four’s lives. He takes control of Namor and uses him against the heroes, before also turning the Human Torch and Thing against each other. Partnering with the Mad Thinker, he creates massive mannequins to battle the Torch and Thing with. Each plan ends up foiled.

His villainy expands beyond the Fantastic Four as he battles the X-Men and uses Namor to battle the Hulk. He also joins the Mad Thinker and Egghead in attempting to blackmail the US government. He controls Iron Man and forces him to battle Captain Marvel. He battles more heroes including Spider-Man, Vision, Thor and Luke Cage. He eventually returns to Transia and faces Mordred the Mystic.

Dr. Doom tricks Puppet Master into trapping the Fantastic Four in a small robot town and when Phillip learns this, he helps his former foes to escape. He is eventually killed and transfers his consciousness into a radioactive clay body only for that to be destroyed. He is eventually resurrected by the Sphinx. He continues to be a thorn in the side of the Fantastic Four and his own stepdaughter, Alicia. He even aids the Thinker and Wizard in attacking the wedding of Johnny Storm and Alicia only to change his mind when he sees how happy Alicia is.

After this, he appears to reform his wicked ways. He remarries and has a new stepson that he makes toys for. These accidentally lead to a battle between Power Pack and a race of aliens, but Puppet Master does not intend this. He then joins a a cult led by Satori. Satori intends for Puppet Master to make him a perfect body of clay empowered by the Silver Surfer and housing Satori’s own mind. Phillip leaves the cult and enters a SHIELD witness protection program. While there he works for the US government and also tries to force the Thing into married life with Alicia.

When Puppet Master returns to his criminal life, he jumps right into superhuman trafficking. This brings him into conflict with Ms. Marvel and he seems to die in the ensuing destruction of his base. The Quiet Man later takes Puppet Master hostage and has a decoy created in order to frame the Thing for the murder of the villain. Mister Fantastic eventually finds the real Puppet Master and is able to clear his friend’s name.

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