Mastermind with Jean Grey.
Art by Steve Lightle.
|First appearance||X-Men volume 1, #4 (March 1964)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Alter ego||Jason Wyngarde|
|Team affiliations||Secret Empire
Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
|Abilities||Illusion generation, Memory manipulation|
Mastermind is a Marvel Comics supervillain, an adversary of the X-Men. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist/co-writer Jack Kirby, he first appeared in X-Men #4 (March 1964). He was given his "real name" of Jason Wyngarde by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.
The original Mastermind was a mutant with the power to generate complex telepathic illusions. He was a founding member of the first Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and later a probationary member of the Lords Cardinal of the Hellfire Club, where he played an important role in "The Dark Phoenix Saga."
The visual appearance of Jason Wyngarde was originally based by artist John Byrne on that of British actor Peter Wyngarde, who played the leader of the Hellfire Club in an episode of The Avengers. Peter Wyngarde is best known for playing Jason King, whose character visually resembles that of Jason Wyngarde a great deal.
After Wyngarde's death from the Legacy Virus, his three daughters appeared, two of whom possessed his illusion-creating abilities (Martinique Jason uses his code name, while Regan Wyngarde calls herself Lady Mastermind) and third is the X-Man, Pixie.
In 2009, Mastermind was named IGN's 98th Top Comic Book Villain of All Time.
Nothing is known of Jason Wyngarde's life before joining the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, except that he was a carnival mentalist. With Mastermind's help, the Brotherhood was able to take over a South American country, with an illusion of thousands of soldiers. However the X-Men were able to free the country, as Professor X quickly realized Mastermind's illusions, helping the X-Men when they believed they were trapped by a wall of flame. As a member of the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, he aided Magneto in repeated clashes with the X-Men. He showed an attraction to the Scarlet Witch, but he repulsed her. After the Brotherhood's defeat by the X-Men, the group attempted to lure the Stranger to their cause. Mastermind used his illusions on the Stranger to try and make him submit. The Stranger, being an enigmatic cosmic entity, instead of a mutant, temporarily turned Mastermind into stone, making him so heavy he crashed through the floor.
After the spell wore off, Jason joined Factor Three, an organization that attempted to conquer the Earth. Factor Three eventually disbanded when their leader turned out to be an alien, instead of a mutant. They teamed with the X-Men to defeat the alien Mutant Master. Mastermind was then captured by Sentinels, but freed by the X-Men. Former members of Factor Three, Blob and Unus, joined with Jason to reform the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
This new Brotherhood was looking for new recruits. Mastermind attempted to recruit Beast to his group, but ultimately failed and wound up battling him instead. Mastermind was also briefly held captive by the second Secret Empire. Magneto returned to the Brotherhood to resume his leadership and created Alpha the Ultimate Mutant. The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants battled the Defenders, but this new creation of Magneto's turned the entire Brotherhood team into infants, including his master.
After being restored to adulthood, Mastermind became involved with the Hellfire Club during the famous "The Dark Phoenix Saga," in which he was largely responsible for turning Phoenix into Dark Phoenix. He initially posed as Nikos, and began a romance with Phoenix. Then, he manipulated her through the use of his own powers and a mind-tap mechanism created by Emma Frost, which he used to project his illusion directly into her mind, causing her to believe she was a Victorian aristocrat, married to Jason Wyngarde (Mastermind), and that she was the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. He eventually turned her against the X-Men. Cyclops attempted to free the Phoenix in a duel with Mastermind on the astral plane, but was soundly defeated when Mastermind "killed" him during the fight, which Cyclops' physical body barely survived. Instead of binding the Phoenix to him forever, as Mastermind had hoped, the shock of Scott's psychic "death" broke her free from his control. Enraged at what he had done to her, the Phoenix reached into his mind and expanded his consciousness, literally making him one with the universe. This experience flooded his mind with images of the cosmos and left him catatonic.
When Mastermind was able to regain his sanity, he sought revenge on everyone that caused him pain. He gave the final nudge to Rogue towards leaving Mystique for the X-Men through subtly manipulating Rogue's rapidly deteriorating mental state, while at the same time inflicting nightmares on Mystique. He interfered with the engagement of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor by manipulating the X-Men into thinking Madelyne was the Dark Phoenix. Mastermind also ruined the wedding of Wolverine and Mariko Yashida by psionically compelling her to reject Wolverine. Cyclops uncovered Mastermind's plot to trick the X-Men into believing that Pryor was the reincarnation of Phoenix and defeated Mastermind in a battle in the X-Mansion in which he had used illusion to manipulate the other X-Men into attacking Cyclops. Jason later sought to tap into the power of the Phoenix Force, but this time he had to face Rachel Summers and Excalibur and was defeated. He was imprisoned with the delusion that he had achieved cosmic awareness.
After his death, Mastermind appeared in a flashback sequence that revealed that he was paid by the supervillain known as The General to put one of his illusions into the mind of Sentry, making the Sentry "...so scared to use his powers, [That] he'll think the world will be attacked by the devil if he does." This would make Mastermind responsible for the creation of the Void, the evil counterpart of the Sentry, who is actually the manifestation of the inhibitions that Mastermind implanted in the Sentry to prevent him from using his powers.
In the miniseries "Magneto: Not a Hero", Joseph is resurrected under unknown circumstances and forms a new Brotherhood of Mutants with Astra and mutated deformed versions of Blob, Mastermind, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Toad. It is soon revealed that the mutated versions of Blob, Mastermind, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Toad are clones created by Joseph.
Mastermind's name and powers still live on through his daughters: Martinique Jason and Regan Wyngarde. Both appear to be stronger than the original Mastermind; Martinique can create city-wide illusions that even hypnotize people to believe they are in a whole new era and Regan's lethal illusions can last even after being knocked unconscious.
In the second issue of X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back, the X-Man Pixie's mother teleports herself to the Wyngarde Mansion, where Regan and Martinique are fighting one another. Pixie's mother claims Pixie is their sister, revealing Jason is her father.
Mastermind's mutant powers are of illusion casting. He can psionically cause other people to see, hear, feel, smell, and/or taste things that do not actually exist. He can also cause people to sense things in ways that they would not naturally; for example, he can make himself look and sound like a different person, or look and feel like a wall, or even seem invisible. For this to work, these people have to be within a range of his powers. With artificial aids, Mastermind can cause only one person among many who are present to see his illusions. He is even capable of affecting telepaths as powerful as Professor Xavier and Jean Grey, although to manipulate Dark Phoenix he required an amplifying device called a "mind-tap mechanism" provided by the White Queen that enabled him to project illusions directly into the entity's mind, so that the entity "saw" them, and to monitor the entity's thoughts, both over great distances.
Jason Wyngarde was a slight man with matted grey hair. He frequently used his illusory powers to assume the appearance of a younger, more handsome man. In his favorite disguise, he sported Victorian era style whiskers.
In the Age of Apocalypse, Jason Wyngarde was one of the many victims of Apocalypse's regime. He was a victim of the experiments of a time-traveling Sugar Man, which left him mute, though he was rescued by a time-traveling X-Man, as well as Forge and Magneto. Years later, he joined Forge's Outcasts, a resistance cell traveling under the cover of a theater troupe. He was ultimately killed by the bounty hunter Domino.[volume & issue needed]
Mastermind has also appeared in the Ultimate Universe. His look, however, has changed drastically. While 616 Wyngarde used to be of average build, with cropped black hair and long sideburns, Ultimate Mastermind is lanky and white-haired, sports sunglasses and a ponytail, and looks like a beatnik. Here too he appeared as a member of Magneto's Brotherhood, here called the "Brotherhood of Mutant Supremacy". He replaced Mystique's role posing as Magneto in the S.H.I.E.L.D. prison, though with the company of his girlfriend Stacy.
Mastermind is later present, partnered with Pyro, when Magneto and certain Brotherhood members clash with the Ultimates at Magneto's base in the Savage Land. After enthralling the Valkyrie in an illusion of her greatest fear, he suggests that he and Pyro "play" with her while she is incapacitated (hinting at a sexual assault) and indicates that he has done so with other victims. Before either man can act on the suggestion, the Valkyrie awakens and uses her sword to kill Mastermind and dismember Pyro at the wrists. Why or when he had abandoned his post at the Triskelion and the subsequent reaction of S.H.I.E.L.D. realizing Magneto was no longer in custody is never shown.
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