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|First appearance||Uncanny X-Men #283 (1991)|
|Created by||Whilce Portacio|
|Notable aliases||Harold Smith|
|Abilities||Omnipathic awareness places him in constant contact with every mind on the planet by way of the astral plane|
Fictional character biography
Very little is known about the life of the mutant known as the Gamesmaster. In his own words, he is "like Churchill's riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma". Presumably, his mutant ability of omnipathy emerged at an early age, affecting his sanity. In his life before the Gamesmaster, he led a regular life with a wife and child; however, years of omnipathic exposure to other peoples' minds drove him to a point where he managed to forget his real name.
At some point, the Gamesmaster was contacted by the immortal sorceress Selene, then Black Queen of the Hellfire Club and together they organized the Upstarts, a competition for wealthy and powerful individuals with the sole purpose of killing mutants for points in a twisted game. He agreed, if only to provide a distraction from the constant chatter in his mind. By focusing on the ambitious and powerful thoughts of the Upstarts, the Gamesmaster was able to somewhat drown out the rest of the world.
In his capacity as referee of the Upstarts' games, the Gamesmaster oversaw the Upstarts' activities, which included confrontations with the team of adolescent mutants known as the Hellions and the team of superhuman mutant adventurers known as the X-Men. When Selene was removed from the game by the Upstart Trevor Fitzroy, the Gamesmaster continued to monitor the competition.
After the Upstarts captured several young former members of the mutant trainee team the New Mutants and took them to the Gamesmaster's base in the Swiss Alps, their teammates in X-Force and the New Warriors attempted to rescue them. The Gamesmaster would have defeated them if not for the intervention of Paige Guthrie, the mutant sister of X-Force's Cannonball, who argued that a greater game would be to compete with Professor X, the telepathic founder of the X-Men, and others like him who hoped to find and guide the next generation of mutants. The Gamesmaster agreed and, after allowing the heroes to leave, disbanded the Upstarts.
Later, the Gamesmaster took possession of both Doctor Weisman of the Weisman Institute for the Criminally Insane and one of the patients, a young boy named Jeremy Stevens. The Institute had a history of involvement with Xavier, who sensed something was amiss and sent Siryn, the mutant daughter of former X-Man Banshee, to investigate. On arriving, the Gamesmaster clouded Siryn's memories, but she was rescued by her ally, the mercenary known as Deadpool. Unbeknownst to Siryn, Deadpool himself was captured but she eventually became aware of his predicament and, with the help of her X-Force teammate Shatterstar, came to his rescue.
The Gamesmaster later forced Shatterstar to return to the Institute. Shatterstar's life had become intertwined with that of one of the Institute's patients, Benjamin Russell, and Shatterstar merged with the body of Russell in order to live. As this all occurred under the watchful eye of the Gamesmaster, the full implications of these events have yet to be revealed.
Soon after, the Gamesmaster attempted to mind control members of the X-Men by trapping them into a world of his own design in order to hide the fact that he had kidnapped the telepathic Jean Grey. However, the X-Men learned of the Gamesmaster's deception and confronted him. The Gamesmaster subsequently revealed that it was part of a game he was playing with the X-Men to see how they would react to their perfect world, one that feared mutants no longer. He took Grey prisoner as she was the only telepath among the X-Men who could challenge him. However, the Gamesmaster had underestimated the X-Man named Joseph, unknowingly a clone of the self-styled master of magnetism Magneto, and it was this error that allowed Grey to break free and defeat the Gamesmaster.
Years later, Gamesmaster resurfaced, still in possession of his mutant powers following the events of M-Day. He showed a strong interest in the mutant X-23 and promised to watch her closely even against her will.
Powers and abilities
The Gamesmaster is an omnipath; a superhuman telepath so powerful that he can hear the thoughts of every being on the planet. However, he cannot block the thoughts out, and thus his mind is constantly filled with seven billion voices unless he is able to greatly concentrate on a distraction. The Gamesmaster also possesses the ability to manipulate the thoughts of others, and has suggested that in addition to controlling minds en masse (as he once did with Salem Center in New York) he can also manipulate the thoughts of the entire population of the Earth simultaneously (though this was determined by Jean Grey to be a fallacy while in combat with him).
To a lesser extent, the Gamesmaster is also able to control the actions of other sentient beings, as well as their thoughts. He has also proven capable of keeping other superhuman abilities in check, such as he once did with the X-Man Rogue. So far only three people have proven to be immune to his powers; Jean Grey, Husk (although Husk was only able to resist his telepathy by "husking" into a certain form) and Speedball.
- Uncanny X-Men #283 (December 1991)
- Uncanny X-Men #301 (June 1993)
- X-Force #32-33 (March–April, 1994)
- X-Force vol.1 #56 (July 1996)
- X-Force vol.1 #61 (December 1996)
- X-Men Annual 1997
- X-23 #1 (September 2010)
- X-Men Annual 1997