Gladiator (Melvin Potter)
Art by Alex Maleev.
|First appearance||Daredevil #18 (July 1966)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
John Romita Sr.
|Alter ego||Melvin Potter|
|Team affiliations||Emissaries of Evil
Maggia (Nefaria family's branch)
|Abilities||Skilled martial artist|
Potter was one of the first enemies of the superhero Daredevil. In civilian life, he is a costume-designer at the Spotlight Costume Shop in New York City. He eventually reformed and became one of the staunchest supporters of Daredevil.
Fictional character biography
Melvin Potter was a costume designer who decided to become a professional criminal. He designed a suit of battle armor for himself, complete with deadly wrist blades, and became known as the Gladiator. He battled Daredevil in his first criminal outing, and then met the Masked Marauder, another enemy of Daredevil's. Gladiator later appeared in Europe, where he fought Daredevil again, and was then invited to join the Maggia. He joined Electro's Emissaries of Evil to attack Daredevil again. Later, Gladiator aided Whitney Frost in a raid of Stark Enterprises, where he first fought Iron Man.
Gladiator later battled Daredevil again. Some time later, he fought Daredevil aboard an airplane in flight. He later allied with the Death-Stalker, and later still allied with the Beetle. While under control of the Purple Man, he attacked Daredevil. Gladiator had one last battle against Daredevil before deciding to reform. He began undergoing therapy from Betsy Beatty, whom he later married.
Potter was pressured into producing a Daredevil costume for a madman in the employ of the crime lord known as the Kingpin. Potter later donned his Gladiator costume again to discourage a youth from a life of crime.
He was later forced into working for the Kingpin's elderly predecessor Alexander Bont, who claimed that Potter had a four year old daughter that he had never met and that she would die if Potter did not help. Gladiator brought Murdock to Bont, who attempted to kill Murdock and assume his old mantle but instead died of a drug-induced heart attack. The Gladiator was defeated by the new White Tiger, and went back to prison.
Gladiator is accused of murdering two fellow inmates and Matt Murdock's law firm is defending him. Murdock's super-senses indicate that he is telling the truth when he claims he is innocent. However, at the end of the issue, taunted by another inmate, Gladiator snaps his handcuffs and brutally assaults the inmate and a guard, only to surrender to another guard and claim once again that he didn't do it. Later, after being broken out of an armored car, Melvin beats a confused Daredevil and moves to the sewers, heading for his Gladiator costume. Gladiator then goes on a rampage in Chinatown killing innocent people and then attacking Matt and Milla in a restaurant. After being knocked out, Matt reawakens in a police car to hear a voice that Gladiator will murder his wife. Matt finds the Gladiator and Milla, rescues Milla, and defeats the Gladiator. Melvin realizes what he has done and attempts suicide, but is saved by Daredevil. Potter is taken back to prison, and is heavily sedated after repeatedly banging his head against the wall. It is revealed that Larry Cranston had administered chemicals to Potter that caused his outbursts.
Powers and abilities
Gladiator has no superhuman abilities. However, he is a superb martial arts fighter and very physically powerful. He wore a thick metal armor with a helmet and metallic gauntlets, and was armed with an arsenal of edged weapons and whirling, jagged circular blades made of titanium steel, one mounted on each gauntlet; small rotors in the gauntlets cause the blades to rotate at high speeds.
In civilian life, Potter is an accomplished clothing designer, proficient in drafting, design and sewing.
House of M
Gladiator appears as an assassin of the Kingpin.
Potter appeared in the Daredevil novel Predator's Smile, written by Christopher Golden. It is not known if this novel is considered regular Daredevil continuity.
- Daredevil #18
- Daredevil #22-23
- Daredevil Annual #1
- Iron Man #7-8
- Daredevil #63
- Daredevil #85
- Daredevil #113-114
- Daredevil #140
- Daredevil #154
- Daredevil #166
- Daredevil #173-175
- Spectacular Spider-Man #77
- During the Born Again storyline, Daredevil #230-231
- Marvel Comics Presents #98
- Daredevil vol. 2 #67-70
- Daredevil vol. 2 #95
- Daredevil vol. 2 #96-99
- Daredevil vol. 1 #18
- House of M: Avengers #3
- Ultimate Spider-Man #60
- Gladiator at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe