|First appearance||as Crusher Crock
All-American Comics # 85
Green Lantern Vol. 1 #28
Manhunter #17 (September 1989)
|Alter ego||Lawrence Crock|
|Team affiliations||(Crock)Injustice Society
(Gover) Suicide Squad
Legion of Doom
|Notable aliases||Crusher Crock|
|Altered in-story information for adaptations to other media|
|Team affiliations||Secret Society of Super Villains (Justice League Unlimited),
League of Shadows (Young Justice)
The Sportsmaster is the name used by two DC Comics villains who used their sports skills for criminal purposes. The original Sportsmaster first appeared in All-American Comics #85 (May 1947), and was created by writer John Broome and artist Irwin Hasen.
Lawrence "Crusher" Crock
He was the foe of the original Green Lantern as well as Wildcat. He was first known as Crusher Crock, a frustrated athlete who turns to a life of crime. He was a member of different incarnations of the Injustice Society. He helped capture the JSA using an exploding ball, after which they were hypnotized and then during the Patriotic Crimes he steals Old Ironside. He teams up with (and later marries) the Golden Age villainess Huntress. Later they have a child named Artemis Crock who became the third Tigress. In his later years he spent time behind bars but at least on one occasion was broken out of prison by his daughter - then a member of Injustice Unlimited. Following his death, his body was cloned by a secret organization called The Council for their enforcers (they had previously used Paul Kirk, Manhunter).
In the Elseworlds miniseries The Golden Age, set outside regular DC Comics continuity, Sportsmaster's real name was revealed to be Lawrence Crock. he first appears in issue #2, robbing a jewelry store in the same building as the GBS radio station. He battles Alan Scott in a physical fight. According to the mini-series, he had a daughter he could not see and was hoping to earn enough money committing robberies to win her back. Later he joins the forces of Tex Thompson (secretly Ultra-Humanite in Thompson's body). He dies trying to save a little girl from being killed by Dynaman. His death convinces Alan Scott to join the fight.
The Earth-One version of the character (see DC Comics Multiverse) had the same name and origin, but was the foe of Robin and Batgirl. He also married his universe's version of the Huntress. After losing a villains versus heroes baseball game, they reformed and have not been seen since. Since the Crisis on Infinite Earths, this version was apparently wiped from existence or merged with his Earth-2 counterpart.
There was also another Sportsmaster whose identity was Victor Gover, a former football player who possessed "photographic reflexes." He fought against Manhunter and later became a member of the Suicide Squad for one mission during War of the Gods. They are sent on an intelligence-gathering mission against the magic-user Circe. The Sportsmaster's allies included Black Adam, Javelin, and the author avatar of Grant Morrison. Sportsmaster was one of the few members to survive this mission. Gover resurfaces later, betting on himself in a fight against Wildcat, which led the latter to uncover a betting parlor based on metahuman fights. Gover then fought against a handicapped JSA, who were taking a dive to ensure the kidnapped Ma Hunkel's safety. After Wildcat freed Ma Hunkel, the JSA quickly routed him. Wildcat then took Gover to the alley where the whole incident began, beat Gover savagely, and forced Gover to retire as a supervillain and attend Gamblers Anonymous.
There were two individuals who modeled their modus operandi after the Sportsmaster, the Sportsman of Earth-2 and the Sportsman of Earth-1.
The Earth-2 version gained his powers from absorption of an anti-proton globe which enhanced his physical attributes and allowed him to wield seemingly telekinetic control of various sports related implements. This version embarked on a life of crime as a result of the globe's effect on the rational functions of his cerebral cortex. He battled several heroes including the Golden Age Robin and Wildcat.
The Earth-1 version was Martin Mantle, Jr. and appeared only in Batman #338 (1981). During Mantle's youth, his father, disgusted by his son's poor athletic performance, forcibly subjected him to unsafe enhancement treatment in a twisted attempt to make him more "manly." Although emotionally scarred by the incident, Mantle indeed grew up to become a champion athlete, only to learn his father's procedure was altering his body in a way that would eventually kill him. As the Sportsman, he embarked on a brief life of crime with Olympian-level physical attributes and specialized equipment of his own design. His adversary was the Silver Age Batman who allowed him to "win" once he became aware that Mantle's life was nearing its end.
Final Crisis Aftermath
A Sportsmaster appears as one of General Immortus' followers in Final Crisis Aftermath: Run!. His real name, origin, and any connection to Crock have yet to be revealed. He is killed in an explosion. His look is modeled on the Earth-One Sportsman.
The New 52
In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), a character named 'Mad Dog' appears in Suicide Squad #3. His appearance is based on the Lawrence Crock version of Sportsmaster that appeared in Young Justice.
Powers and abilities
Crock uses sporting-themed weapons such as exploding baseballs, flying bases, rocket baseball bats, knockout basketballs, lacrosse snare nets, exploding hockey pucks. Their outfits generally included a baseball cap, catcher's mask, padded jersey, catcher's chestguard, football-style pants, and cleats.
Each of the Sportsmasters and Sportsmen had superb physical attributes on par with Olympic athletes in their prime. As noted above, Victor Gover also had "photographic reflexes".
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Sportsmaster is imprisoned in Doom prison. During the prison break, Sportsmaster was forced by Heat Wave and Eel O'Brian attempt to breakout from cells. Sportsmaster's heart is torn out by Eel O'Brian.
In other media
- In the Justice League episode "Legends," the Sportsman (voiced by Michael McKean) is based on the original Sportsmaster - the episode utilising many pastiches of Golden and Silver Age heroes. Upon hearing of Music Master's experience with the Justice League, he partakes in a contest where the one who pulls off the most spectacular crime will come up with the plan to destroy the Justice Guild. With crimes revolving around the elements, Sportsman hijacks a truck containing the trophy for the Seaboard City Clay Corps Championship only to run afoul of Catman and Martian Manhunter. Sportsman manages to get away with the trophy. When Dr. Blizzard wins the contest, he partakes in his plot to destroy the Justice Guild. He alongside the other Injustice Guild are defeated in the end.
- In Justice League Unlimited, Sportsmaster made a brief appearance as the first opponent seen being defeated by Wildcat in the secret metahuman tournament Meta-Brawl held by Roulette. He later appears as a member of Gorilla Grodd's Secret Society.
- The Lawrence Crock version of Sportmaster appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Invasion of the Secret Santas" voiced by Thomas F. Wilson. He interrupts a holiday bowling tournament by creating human bowling pins out of the participants, only to be defeated by Batman and Blue Beetle. Sportsmaster returns in "Night of the Huntress" as an inmate at Blackgate prison. In "Hail the Tornado Tyrant", he and his gang rob a bank before being defeated by Red Tornado and his son Tornado Champion. He has a small cameo in "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure" where Aquaman notices Sportsmaster driving near him and then notices that he is also on a road trip with his wife Tigress (AKA: Huntress) and daughter Artemis.
- Sportsmaster appears in the Young Justice episode "Drop Zone" voiced by Nick Chinlund. He is shown as an operative of the Light (Project Cadmus' Board of Directors) at the time when they had Kobra mass-produced a neo-steroid that is a combination of the Venom Drug and the Blockbuster formula. His costume and physical design have also been drastically altered, with a simple featureless Hockey mask covering his face, paramilitary armor, and an arm plate. His personality is also similar to that of supervillain Deathstroke, and he is implied to be a mercenary. Though Young Justice manages to stop the shipment, Sportsmaster only recovers one remaining sample and hands it over to the Light. Sportsmaster is later revealed to be working with the League of Shadows in the episode "Targets" where he is hired by Ra's al Ghul to assassinate Lex Luthor, which was later revealed to be a ruse orchestrated by Lex Luthor and Ra's al Ghul. Sportsmaster ends up fighting Red Arrow and Aqualad alongside Cheshire. While it appears their plan was foiled, the assassination was never meant to come to pass. Sportsmaster also claims there is a mole on the Team. In the episode "Misplaced", Klarion the Witch Boy, Wotan, Blackbriar Thorn, Felix Faust, and Wizard's spell that split the Earth into the kids dimension and the adults dimension enabled a diversion for Sportsmaster and Riddler to steal an organism, (revealed to be part of a tentacle from Starro) from S.T.A.R. Labs. It is brought before the Brain during his meeting with the other members of the Light as Brain tells Klarion the Witch Boy that they plan to bring the organism "into the Light". In the episode "Insecurity", Sportsmaster infiltrates Belle Reve to spring Professor Ivo from prison. Sportsmaster brings Professor Ivo to a New Orleans warehouse, to Klarion the Witch Boy and the Brain. When Sportsmaster emerges from a building and rides off in his boat, Red Arrow and the others end up pursuing him in the distance. Sportsmaster is secretly alerted to the team's presence by Cheshire as Sportsmaster gets away. Red Arrow places a tracer on Sportsmaster's boat. Sportsmaster gives the Starro sample to Professor Ivo, Klarion the Witch boy, and Brain. Sportsmaster then takes his leave. Sportsmaster and Cheshire fought Artemis, Red Arrow, and Kid Flash until Klarion gets them out of the warehouse. Sportsmaster later appears in Artemis' bedroom where it is revealed that Sportsmaster is her father. He ends up asking what would happen if her team found out who she is related to. Sportsmaster states/taunts that Artemis will not fight her family's legacy for long and that she has to switch sides sometime. In the episode "Usual Suspects", Sportsmaster accompanies Lex Luthor, Queen Bee, Bane, and Blockbuster into manipulating Superboy, Miss Martian, and Artemis to do their part. Sportsmaster ends up joining Cheshire in fighting Artemis. Sportsmaster is trapped in tar as Cheshire gets away enabling Artemis to knock out Sportsmaster. In the season two episode "Salvage" set five years later, the Light's Black Beetle sends Sportsmaster to deal with Bruno Mannheim and Whisper A'Daire while the Appellaxian Golem attacks the Arlington Nuclear Power Plant. Sportsmaster later tells the Partner that Bruno Mannheim and Whisper A'Daire have been put in a catatonic state to serve as a warning to anyone who goes against The Light. In the episode "Satisfaction", Sportsmaster and Cheshire oversee Paula Crock and Wally West visiting Artemis' grave. Sportsmaster tells Cheshire that Black Manta should have told him of this beforehand if he wanted to kill his daughter and then tells Cheshire that she can deal with Aqualad while he deals with Black Manta. In the episode "True Colors", Sportsmaster is at the Light's headquarters in the Mongolian Mountains when he issues his complaint towards the Light about Aqualad killing his daughter. Sportsmaster also encounters Deathstroke who he suspects as his replacement. After escaping on a helicopter with Cheshire, Sportsmaster tells her that they are free to pursue their goals of vengeance. In the episode "Complications", Sportsmaster and Cheshire infiltrate Black Manta's ship in order to get revenge on Black Manta and Aqualad. Sportsmaster fights Black Manta and the Manta Men. Tigress fights with Sportsmaster as Black Manta retreats to Aqualad's room. After Tigress shuts down the controls of the Inhibitor Collar, Miss Martian uses her powers to stop the fighting so that Tigress can reveal what really happened between Aqualad and Artemis to Sportsmaster and Cheshire and what he had to do to learn about the Reach. After the mind release, Tigress proves to Sportsmaster that she is indeed Artemis. Tigress then asks for Sportsmaster to do her a favor. Sportsmaster then faces off against Deathstroke as Cheshire and Tigress fake a battle. After Miss Martian subdues Tigress, Sportsmaster and Cheshire get away.
- Sportsmaster appears as a boss in the video game Young Justice: Legacy. Nick Chinlund reprises the role. During the game's first mission, Sportsmaster is tasked with securing a piece of an ancient statue for The Light in a Greek museum. He encounters Artemis and the Team, teasing her to leave the heroes before a fight. Sportsmaster manages to escape, leaving to Verhoyansk to assist Icicle Jr. in securing another piece. He and Icicle are defeated by Superboy and a squad of heroes after a tag-team battle.
- In The Batman Adventures comic (set in the DC Animated Universe), Sportsmaster appeared as one of Black Mask's lieutenants.
- Broome, John (w), Hasen, Jack (p), Belfi, John (i). "The Rise and Fall of Crusher Crock" All-American Comics 85 (May 1947), DC Comics
- Wallace, Dan (2008), "Crazy Creations", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 92, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Thomas, Roy (w), McFarlane, Todd (p), DeZuniga, Tony (i). "Beat the Clock" Infinity, Inc. 35 (February 1987), DC Comics
- "Suicide Squad #58 (1991)
- "Final Crisis Aftermath: Run" #1-4 (2009)
- Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #3
- Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #2 (July 2011)
- Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #3 (August 2011)