The Crime Master is a Marvel Comics super-villain, of the professional-criminal type, and an enemy of Spider-Man. Created by writer Stan Lee and designed by artist Steve Ditko, he first appears in The Amazing Spider-Man #26 (July 1965). The character was most notable for having briefly been the partner of the Green Goblin. Both villains aspire to take over the criminal mobs of New York and form an uneasy partnership. They are both aware of the other's secret identity which keeps them from outwardly betraying the other. The Crime-Master only lasted two issues, being killed at the conclusion of The Amazing Spider-Man #27; however, there was a second Crime Master in the 1970s, and new stories were written in the pages of Untold Tales of Spider-Man that featured the original character before his death.
The Crime Master debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #26, his identity unknown. He was killed and revealed as Nicholas "Nick" "Lucky" Lewis after his death. His son, Nicholas Lewis Jr. became the second Crime Master in Marvel Team-Up #39 (November 1975) and #40 and teamed up with the second Big Man. This Crime-Master did not know the identity of his partner and betrayed and shot to death the Big Man, who turned out to be his girlfriend Janice Foswell, daughter of Frederick Foswell, the original Big Man, after unmasking. Devastated by the discovery, Lewis Jr. has not appeared as The Crime-Master since.
The original Crime Master was also featured in an untold story from before his death in Untold Tales of Spider-Man #23 (August 1997) and again in Untold Tales of Spider-Man #25. That issue is somewhat controversial as it alters the storyline from The Amazing Spider-Man #26-27. This story shows the Crime Master and Green Goblin reveal their identities to each other. The Goblin, however, is wearing a mask of J. Jonah Jameson under his Goblin mask so as to suggest that The Crime Master really believed that Jameson was the Goblin instead of Norman Osborn. This does not make sense in the continuity of The Amazing Spider-Man #26 as thought bubbles reveal that the Goblin is concerned about The Crime-Master revealing his identity.
A third Crime Master has recently appeared. starting in the revival of the Venom book. This one is a powerful crime lord, with extensive resources, connections, and henchmen, chief among them the new Jack O'Lantern. It was ultimately revealed that the third Crime Master is Bennett Brant, the brother of Betty Brant.
Fictional character biography
Nicholas Lewis Sr. ("Lucky Lewis")
|Crime Master I|
|First appearance||Amazing Spider-Man #26 (July 1965)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
Steve Ditko (designer)
|Alter ego||Nicholas "Nick" "Lucky" Lewis|
Nick "Lucky" Lewis was a masked criminal who attempted to organize all non-Maggia New York City crime gangs under his control. He was opposed by Spider-Man, and his attempt failed when he was killed.
Nicholas Lewis Jr.
|Crime Master II|
|First appearance||Marvel Team-Up #39 (November 1975)|
|Created by||Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema|
|Alter ego||Nicholas "Nick" Lewis Jr.|
|First appearance||as Bennett Brant: The Amazing Spider-Man #11
as Crime Master: Venom #1 (March 2011)
|Created by||as Bennett Brant: Stan Lee
Steve Ditko (designer)
as Crime-Master: Rick Remender and Tony Moore
|Alter ego||Bennett Brant|
|Team affiliations||Savage Six|
In his early life, Bennett Brant is the brother of Betty Brant. He ended up in a gambling debt with a gangster named Blackie Gaxton to pay for his mother's medical bills. With the help of Doctor Octopus, Blackie Gaxton kidnapped Bennett and Betty as insurance against anyone who prevents him from leaving the country. Bennett was double-crossed by Blackie Gaxton who refused to free him of any debts. Blackie was fatally shot during a melee between Blackie Gaxton's gang, Doctor Octopus, and Spider-Man.
Many years later, a new Crime Master has appeared in the Venom series. He is a shrewd planner, with substantial resources and many henchmen. His paths first crossed with Flash Thompson (The current Venom) when Flash was sent to stop a mad scientist who has developed powerful Antarctic Vibranium bullets for Crime Master.
He has since created his own team to destroy Venom called the Savage Six consisting of himself, Jack-O-Lantern, Human Fly, Death Adder, Megatak, and Toxin (which now has Eddie Brock as a host after he lost his Anti-Venom symbiote back in the Spider-Island storyline). When Betty is brought before Crime Master, she is shocked when the Crime Master reveals himself to be Bennett Brant who offers Betty to join him into killing Venom. After his unmasking, Brant claims the Crime Master identity goes back centuries, and that the bearer of the of it is chosen by an enigmatic criminal empire. After Venom arrived at his hideout, Bennett Brant almost killed him with a sonic pistol and a flamethrower, but he was shot and killed by Betty. When Venom began to make a comment on this, Betty stated that her brother "died a long time ago."
Imposter Crime Master
Venom later came across another Crime Master who was smuggling weapons into the city. Venom fights this Crime Master and notices that he is acting differently. At the same time, The Superior Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus's mind in Spider-Man's body) gets a call from Spider-Island 2 about Venom and the Crime Master and proceeds to have a small army assemble outside the building in which they are fighting. The Superior Spider-Man breaks into the building just as the Crime Master takes off his mask. It is revealed that the man under the mask is an unnamed Maggia operative who had just bought the Crime Master identity and gear from the Hobgoblin. The Maggia operative then surrenders.
An unnamed Crime-Master exists in the Marvel Noir universe, and serves as one of the primary antagonists in Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without a Face. He has taken over New York since Norman Osborn was put on trial as The Goblin. His personal henchmen include the Enforcers and Sandman. He also helps to sponsor Otto Octavius in his experiments on African-Americans. He is dating Felicia Hardy, but is enraged when he finds out that she sheltered Spider-Man, and slashes her critically. She phones the FBI Agent Jean DeWolff, who then goes to Ellis Island and busts Crime Master.
In other media
- The Crime-Master is mentioned by Vulture's henchmen in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. This version seems to be an enforcer working for Hammerhead. In his orders, he killed Fancy Dan and put him in a garbage can due to him flirting with Hammerhead's girlfriend Janice Foswell.
- Manning, Matthew K.; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1960s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. Dorling Kindersley. p. 29. ISBN 978-0756692360.
While he wouldn't have the same staying power as many other Stan Lee/Steve Ditko creations, the Crime Master gave villainy a good shot in this first half of a two-part Spider-Man adventure.
- The Amazing Spider-Man #27
- Marvel Team-Up #39-40
- The Amazing Spider-Man #11
- Venom vol. 2 #1
- Venom vol. 2 #17
- Venom vol. 2 #20
- Venom vol. 2 #21
- The Superior Spider-Man #22
- Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without a Face #1-4
- Crime Master (Nick Lewis Sr.) at Marvel Wiki
- Crime Master (Nick Lewis Jr.) at Marvel Wiki
- Crime Master (Bennett Brant) at Marvel Wiki
- Crime Master I at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
- Crime Master II at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
- Crime Master (Bennett Brant) at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe