Madame Masque

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Madame Masque
Madame Masque.jpg
Madame Masque.
Art by Jim Cheung.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance (as Whitney Frost)
Tales of Suspense #98
(February 1968)
(as Madame Masque)
Iron Man #17
(September 1969)
Created by Stan Lee
Gene Colan
In-story information
Alter ego Giulietta Nefaria (originally), Whitney Frost (legally changed)
Team affiliations Maggia
Hood's Unnamed Crime Syndicate
Inner Guard
Notable aliases Big M, the Director, Kristine "Krissy" Longfellow
Abilities Skilled hand to hand combatant
Expert markswoman
Master strategist and organizer
Proficiency with robotics

Madame Masque, real name Whitney Frost and also known as Masque, is a fictional character, a supervillain that has appeared in various comic book series published by Marvel Comics. She is an occasional love interest, and sometimes enemy of Iron Man within the Marvel Universe. She originally wore a golden mask to cover up her disfigured face, and continues to do so after her face was healed.

Publication history[edit]

Whitney Frost first appeared in Tales of Suspense #98 (February 1968), and was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. She first appeared as Madame Masque in Iron Man #17 (September 1969).

Fictional character biography[edit]

Madame Masque was born as Giulietta Nefaria, the daughter of the master criminal Count Luchino Nefaria, in Rome, Italy. Her mother died when giving birth and Luchino wanted his daughter to lead a respectable life, so he gave the child to Byron Frost, a wealthy financier and an employee of Nefaria, and his wife Loretta to be raised. He called the child Whitney and raised her as his own.

As a young adult, Whitney was a debutante and socialite, and became engaged to politician Roger Vane. The Frosts die and Count Nefaria approaches Whitney and reveals her true parentage. He tells Whitney that he wants her to take his place as leader of the Maggia, a Mafia-like organization based on the East Coast of the United States. Whitney at first refuses, but when she tells Roger about her father, he leaves her, afraid that her connections to a known criminal would hamper his political career.

Whitney accepts her father's offer to become a professional criminal mastermind and is trained by him in strategy, criminal activities, and combat. She turns out to be a brilliant student and when her father is imprisoned, she becomes the new Big M, the leader of the Nefaria family of the Maggia. Her role as Big M brings her into conflict with Iron Man.[1] Whitney is forced to flee after a raid on his company, Stark Industries. The plane she escapes in crashes and Whitney's face is scarred, but she is saved by the criminal Mordecai Midas and starts to work for him. Midas is obsessed with gold and Whitney hides her face behind a golden mask and uses the alias "Madame Masque".[2]

Madame Masque meets Tony Stark (Iron Man's alter ego) and he shows concern for her despite her scarred face. She turns on Midas to save Stark, but leaves Stark because of her criminal past. Unable to forget him, she returns as Krissy Longfellow, Stark's personal secretary. Both come to know each other's secret identity and start a romantic relationship. Their happiness is short-lived as Count Nefaria, her father, is dying as the result of an attempt to gain superhuman powers. Whitney hires the Ani-Men to bring her father to her and then asks Stark to find a cure for him. Nefaria tries to use violence to force Stark, and a battle starts between the Ani-Men and Iron Man. Whitney is unable to choose between her father and her lover, and when Nefaria's life-support is damaged in the fight, she goes insane with guilt and grief.[3] Whitney returns to the Nefaria Maggia and as "The Director" becomes its leader. She often fights Iron Man and his friends.[volume & issue needed]

At one point, Frost becomes paranoid and starts to create copies of herself, known as bio-duplicates. One of her bio-duplicates known as Masque, becomes an ally of the Avengers.[volume & issue needed] She also creates robotic servants known as the Inner Guard and names them individually after notable historical traitors, Benedict, Brutus, Fawkes, Quisling, Monmouth (based on Benedict Arnold, Marcus Junius Brutus, Guy Fawkes, Vidkun Quisling and the Duke of Monmouth) and two other, unnamed members.[4][5]

One member of the Inner Guard, Benedict, recaptures Masque for Whitney. Masque tries to convince her the Avengers are benevolent and that she should reach out to Stark again, but Whitney is still too fearful to do so. She continues to be a criminal figure of importance, until her father returns from the dead once again and destroys her base. She reluctantly assists the Avengers and the Thunderbolts against Nefaria, but she secretly plans to betray and destroy both sides, her increased paranoia causing her to believe that both sides want only to kill her. Masque again tries unsuccessfully to convince her to side with the heroes, then joins the battle in Whitney's place. Masque uses a weapon designed to disrupt Nefaria's ionic energy that Whitney was saving until the Avengers were dead and Nefaria weakened, and is slain by Nefaria. Madame Masque is shocked by her duplicate's nobility and sacrifice, with Iron Man's dismayed reaction at what appears to be her death compared to Nefaria's glee forcing her to recognize that her duplicate was right about the Avengers. Whitney joins the battle and plays a key role in her father's defeat, her weapon causing him to begin leaking ionic energy until he finally collapses. She renounces her criminal past, and MACH-II of the Thunderbolts offers her membership, but she declines, departing to parts unknown to consider her future. Before leaving, she asked MACH-II to thank everyone for her, especially Iron Man.[6]

Madame Masque is hired by the Hood to take advantage of the split in the superhero community caused by the Superhuman Registration Act.[7] She becomes the Hood's second in command (and his lover) and helps them fight the New Avengers. She is taken down by Doctor Strange and taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.[8] A group of Skrulls disguised as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents try to learn her true face so they can switch her out. The Hood frees her and kills all the Skrulls except one. In an unknown location attended by most of the Hood's army, they learn from the Skrull agent that the Skrulls plan on taking over Earth, believing it to be rightfully theirs.[9] Madame Masque rejoins the Hood's crime syndicate and attacks an invading Skrull force.[10] She is among the Hood's crime syndicate as they assist the heroes in their final battle against the Skrulls.[11]

During the Dark Reign storyline, Norman Osborn puts a bounty on Tony Stark's head. He personally calls Madame Masque over to Stark Tower, offering the locations of multiple Iron Man armories to help her find Stark. She tracks Stark to Russia, which Pepper Potts had also done.[12] Masque captures Pepper, torturing her, before demanding that Stark tell her his true feelings to her real face. Stark admits that, though they have been fighting, he always loved her, to which Masque reciprocates.[13] However, when faced with a direct choice between Pepper or Masque, he chooses Pepper. As he escapes to Afghanistan, Masque and Pepper go hand-to-hand with each other.[14] Madame Masque is imprisoned in Stark's discarded Crimson Dynamo suit[15] while Pepper, disguised as Masque, reports to Osborn that she killed Pepper in combat, and returns to the United States with the Rescue armor, which is placed in storage with other Stark armors that Osborn has acquired.[16]

Madame Masque is part of a surprise attack on the New Avengers, a trap set up by Norman Osborn.[17] Later, when The Hood attacks Doctor Strange in order to become the Sorcerer Supreme, she tries to help him deal with his possession by Dormammu, taking off her mask and confessing her feelings for him.[18]

When Osborn calls off the hunt for Stark, due to his being in a persistent vegetative state, Masque decides to take matters into her own hands, and hires the Ghost to eliminate Stark, a task at which he fails.[19]

Masque, along with the rest of the Hood's gang, joins in helping Osborn with the Siege of Asgard.[20] However, Loki retakes the Norn stones from the Hood to help the Avengers and Asgardians battle the Void. Masque helps the Hood slip away. The Hood is pessimistic, knowing that his gang would simply sell him out.[21] Therefore, she seeks out her father Count Nefaria for help. The New Avengers track her and the Hood using John King. After a battle with Nefaria, the New Avengers capture all four and bring them to Maria Hill to place them under arrest.[22]

During the Heroic Age storyline, Hood escapes from prison and makes a play to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet and meets up with Madame Masque. Using his reality gem, he heals her face.[23]

She appears in Madripoor for the auction of a videotape showing Hawkeye assassinating an Asian dictator. However, the real Madame Masque is later revealed bound and gagged in her hotel room, with her costume and identity having been stolen by Kate Bishop.[24] After the tape is destroyed, Masque vows vengeance on Hawkeye and Bishop.[25] Masque later attempts to capture Bishop by luring the girl to her home in California, where she drugs her. The teen manages to escape and wrecks the house in the process, causing Masque to once again swear vengeance.[26]

In the pages of Avengers Undercover, Madame Masque appears as a member of the Shadow Council's Masters of Evil in Bagalia. She works as Baron Helmut Zemo's right-hand woman.[27]

Other versions[edit]

House of M: Masters of Evil[edit]

In the House of M universe, Masque fulfils a similar role as her mainstream counterpart. In this, she is the second in command of the Hood's Criminal Syndicate, as well as being his mistress. She is with him during the uprising, and invades the foreign country with him. She is one of the few criminals who decides to stay with Robbins when the other criminals decide that the heat from Magneto is too much. She is killed in the final battle, and it is remarked that Robbins and Masque had a very powerful love, that kept Parker fighting.[28]

Marvel Noir[edit]

In the Marvel Noir Universe, a version of Masque exists, first is one in Spider-Man Noir. Unlike the mainstream version, however, this version is Felicia Hardy. She is powerless, and does not become Madame Masque until the end of Spider-Man Noir: Eyes without a Face. Previously, she had been slashed by the Crime Master in the face and various parts of the body. Eventually, she recovers, but in the final panel, her face is shown, wearing a mask similar to mainstream Madame Masque.[29]

In Iron Man Noir, another version of Madame Masque appears in as an explorer working with Tony Stark, not to mention a former flame as well.[30] Dr. Gialetta Nefaria, along with Tony, Virgil Munsey, an editor for a magazine called Marvels, and Rhodey are on a trip in British Honduras. After acquiring a rare Jade mask in a temple, she is later seen betraying Stark and his friends to Baron Zemo, his commander Von Strucker. Though Rhodey and Tony escape, they set off a bomb and in the explosion, Gialetta is forever scarred.[31] Gialetta is revealed to be alive, wearing the Jade mask, with the Nazi's having captured Pepper Potts, and Orichalcum, Atlantis' power source.[32] When Tony attacks Von Strucker's airship, Gialetta tries to stop Tony, but is struck down by Pepper, who was tortured by her.[33]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Madame Masque has no superhuman powers, but is an athletic woman and a skilled hand-to-hand combatant in various martial arts and an expert markswoman. She is a master strategist and organizer, although she suffers from mental instability and is believed to be criminally insane. She has access to advanced technology like her bio-duplicates.

Madame Masque wears body armor of an unknown composition with a gold metal faceplate, underneath which her face was chemically scarred. The faceplate is hard enough to deflect bullets without causing her any permanent injury. She carries a .475 Wildey Magnum revolver and other handguns, in addition to weapons that fire concussive blasts of energy or sleeping-gas cartridges.

As leader of the Maggia family, Madame Masque commands unspecified numbers of Dreadnought robots modified from the original designs stolen from HYDRA.

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • Madame Masque appears in the 1994 animated series Iron Man episode "Beauty Knows No Pain" voiced by Lisa Zane.
  • In the animated series Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Madame Masque is the alter ego of Whitney Julietta Stane (voiced by Kristie Marsden), neglected daughter of Obadiah Stane, and the mask she uses is a prototype disguise device constructed by Stark International, whose unchecked radiation emissions eventually drive her insane. Whitney appears in several episodes as a recurring character and appears as Madame Masque in the episodes "Masquerade", "Chasing Ghosts", "Don't Worry, Be Happy", "Best Served Cold" and "Iron Monger Lives".

Video games[edit]

Music[edit]

  • British progressive rock group Icarus recorded a song about Madame Masque, called simply "Madame Masque", for their 1972 album The Marvel World of Icarus. Of the eleven individual Marvel Comics characters featured on songs on this album, Madame Masque is the only villain.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tales of Suspense #98
  2. ^ Iron Man #17
  3. ^ Iron Man #116-117
  4. ^ Avengers volume 3 #32
  5. ^ Inner Guard at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe Retrieved 19.July 2013
  6. ^ Avengers, volume 3 #34
  7. ^ New Avengers #35
  8. ^ New Avengers Annual #2
  9. ^ New Avengers #46
  10. ^ Secret Invasion #6
  11. ^ Secret Invasion #7
  12. ^ The Invincible Iron Man #12-14
  13. ^ The Invincible Iron Man #15 (July 2009)
  14. ^ The Invincible Iron Man #16 (August 2009)
  15. ^ The Invincible Iron Man #18 (September 2009)
  16. ^ The Invincible Iron Man #17 (September 2009)
  17. ^ New Avengers #50
  18. ^ New Avengers #52
  19. ^ Invincible Iron Man #20-24
  20. ^ Siege #3
  21. ^ New Avengers #64
  22. ^ New Avengers Finale one-shot
  23. ^ The Avengers #9 (February 2011)
  24. ^ Hawkeye #4 (November 2012)
  25. ^ Hawkeye #5 (December 2012)
  26. ^ Hawkeye Annual #1
  27. ^ Avengers Undercover #1
  28. ^ Civil War: House of M Issues #1-4
  29. ^ Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without a Face Issue #4
  30. ^ Iron Man Noir #1
  31. ^ Iron Man Noir #1
  32. ^ Iron Man Noir #2
  33. ^ Iron Man Noir #4

External links[edit]