Masters of Evil

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Masters of Evil
The original Masters of Evil on the cover of The Avengers #6 (Aug. 1964)
Art by Jack Kirby and Chic Stone.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceThe Avengers #6 (July 1964)
Created byStan Lee
Jack Kirby
Chic Stone
See: List of Masters of Evil members

The Masters of Evil is a fictional supervillain team appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The first version of the team appeared in The Avengers #6 (July 1964), with the lineup continually changing over the years.

Publication history[edit]

The first version of the Masters of Evil debuted in The Avengers #6 and were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.[1]

The second version of the Masters of Evil debuted in Avengers #54 and were created by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and George Tuska.

The third version of the Masters of Evil debuted in Avengers #222 and were created by Jim Shooter, Steve Grant, and Greg LaRocque.

The fourth version of the Masters of Evil debuted in Avengers #270 and were created by Roger Stern, John Buscema, and Tom Palmer.

The fifth version of the Masters of Evil debuted in Guardians of the Galaxy #28 and were created by Jim Valentino, Herb Trimpe, and Steve Montano.

The sixth version of the Masters of Evil debuted in The Incredible Hulk #449, written by Peter David and drawn by Mike Deodato, although they were actually created by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley.

The seventh version of the Masters of Evil debuted in Thunderbolts #3 and were created by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, and Vince Russell.

The eighth version of the Masters of Evil debuted in Secret Avengers #21.1 and were created by Rick Remender, Patrick Zircher and Andy Troy.

The ninth version of the Masters of Evil debuted in Thunderbolts #10 and were created by Jim Zub, Jon Malin, Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley.

Fictional team biography[edit]

Baron Heinrich Zemo's Masters of Evil[edit]

The original Masters of Evil (consisting of existing Marvel Comics supervillains the Black Knight, the Melter, and the Radioactive Man) was gathered by former Nazi scientist Baron Heinrich Zemo.[2] Despite attempting to capture the Avengers with Adhesive X and spreading it over the city, the Avengers find an antidote with the help of Paste-Pot Pete, give it to the Masters in secret (causing them to accidentally free people), and then send most of the members to jail. Zemo is tricked into opening a container filled with tear gas inside his helicopter, but escapes anyway.[3]

Baron Zemo leads the team in his revenge on Captain America and the Avengers. The team had been joined by the Enchantress and the Executioner, whom Zemo found in their exile to Earth that was imposed on them by Odin for attacking Thor.[4] The Enchantress hypnotizes Thor into attacking the Avengers, but Iron Man breaks him out of the trance. Meanwhile, Captain America has been lured to South America to fight Zemo. After defeating Zemo, Captain America returns on Zemo's helicopter and stops Zemo from shooting the Avengers. However, the Enchantress casts a spell which gets the helicopter to the rooftop she and the Executioner are on. The Executioner knocks Captain America out by striking his shoulder, and takes him out of the helicopter, after which they all try to escape. The Masters are sent to another dimension in a space warp generated by Thor.[5]

Two issues later, the Enchantress returns them to Earth using a spell. Simon Williams is given superhuman strength with an ionic ray, though he is told he will die in a week unless given an antidote Zemo has. He captures the Wasp and lures the Avengers into a trap, but sacrifices himself to save the Avengers.[6] Immortus appears and offers to help the Masters by defeating the Avengers. He succeeds in sending Captain America to the Tower of London in 1760. The Masters attack the Avengers, but Captain America manages to return. The Enchantress, sensing defeat, sends the villains back in time to before they met Immortus.[7]

In a later issue, Zemo kidnaps Rick Jones with an attractor beam and has the Enchantress and the Executioner release the Black Knight and the Melter (the Radioactive Man having been deported back to China). They attack the other Avengers, forcing Captain America to go alone to Zemo's kingdom to rescue Rick. The Executioner tells the Avengers that a battle in the city would hurt many people, meaning they should surrender. Captain America blinds Zemo with his shield and Zemo dies when he accidentally triggers a rock slide.[8]The Black Knight and the Melter are then captured after Thor transports them to another dimension with different scientific laws, meaning their weapons rebound. The Enchantress and the Executioner escape by running away before the transportation happened.[9]

Ultron's Masters of Evil[edit]

The Masters of Evil, as featured in Avengers #54 (July 1968), art by John Buscema

The second version, organized by the robot Ultron (under the alias the Crimson Cowl), consisted of the second Black Knight (who joined the team with the intention of betraying them),[10] Klaw, the Melter, the Radioactive Man and Whirlwind. This incarnation made one more appearance. Ultron used this incarnation to blackmail New York.[11]

Egghead's Masters of Evil[edit]

Criminal scientist Egghead organized a third version, consisting of Moonstone, the original Scorpion, Tiger Shark and longtime member Whirlwind. After the team's defeat, Egghead kept only Moonstone and Tiger Shark; the Scorpion and Whirlwind were replaced with the original Beetle, the Shocker, and veteran member the Radioactive Man.[12] Egghead uses this incarnation to assist him in making technological breakthroughs.

Baron Helmut Zemo's Masters of Evil[edit]

First version[edit]

A fourth version was formed by Baron Helmut Zemo. This team uses over a dozen villains, consisting of the Absorbing Man, Blackout, Black Mamba, the Fixer, Goliath, the Grey Gargoyle, Mister Hyde, Moonstone, the Screaming Mimi, Tiger Shark, Titania, Whirlwind, the Wrecking Crew (Bulldozer, Piledriver, Thunderball and the Wrecker), and Yellowjacket, created with the goal of overwhelming the Avengers with sheer raw power, whereas others had attempted to match the current line-up.

The villains storm Avengers Mansion in a multi-issue storyline titled "Avengers Under Siege".[13]

A flashback later revealed that Augustus Roman's family had died during the fight between the Avengers and the Masters of Evil.[14]

Second version[edit]

The Masters of Evil: (from the top) the Screaming Mimi, Goliath, Baron Helmut Zemo, the Beetle, the Fixer, and Moonstone, art by Mark Bagley

The sixth incarnation was again assembled by Baron Helmut Zemo, and posed as superheroes known as the Thunderbolts.[15] In addition to Zemo, the team consisted of the Beetle, the Fixer, Goliath, Moonstone, and the Screaming Mimi. All eventually became heroes and renounced their criminal ways, though Zemo, the Fixer, and Moonstone all returned to villainy some time later.

Third version[edit]

Baron Helmut Zemo created an 11th incarnation consisting of Whiplash, the Man-Killer, Klaw, Tiger Shark, and the Wrecking Crew, all of whom had been members of previous incarnations of the Masters of Evil. Baron Zemo sent them out to persuade Atlas of the Thunderbolts, the former Goliath of Zemo's earlier incarnation of the Masters of Evil, to rejoin the team. Atlas resisted and only an unexpected reappearance of the Thunderbolt Jolt interrupted the Masters' plan. The Masters then went after the Winter Soldier, who was then leading the Thunderbolts, and captured him. Zemo and the Masters then assaulted the Thunderbolts in their base, capturing several of them.[16]

During the "Opening Salvo" part of the Secret Empire storyline, Baron Zemo has Kobik send Bucky back through time to World War II and another battle with the Thunderbolts, in which the Man-Killer was apparently killed by Kobik. Upon Atlas, the Fixer, and Moonstone joining the Masters of Evil, they worked to reassemble Kobik. As Erik Selvig hordes the fragments that he has, kisses them, and commits suicide, the Kobik-reprogrammed Captain America persuaded Baron Zemo to have the Masters of Evil join HYDRA's "Army of Evil."[17] Baron Zemo did just that.[18] The Masters of Evil assisted the Army of Evil in causing havoc in protest for what happened at Pleasant Hill.[19]

Doctor Octopus' Masters of Evil[edit]

The fifth incarnation was organized by Doctor Octopus, but bore little resemblance to previous incarnations. Its roster included the Absorbing Man, Gargantua, Jackhammer, Oddball, Powderkeg, Puff Adder, the Shocker, Titania, and Yellowjacket.

This incarnation initially fought the original Guardians of the Galaxy - a superhero group from an alternate future timeline - but then fought with the Guardians against an army of doppelgangers.[20]

The Crimson Cowl's Masters of Evil[edit]

First version[edit]

The seventh incarnation[21] was recruited by the Crimson Cowl (Justine Hammer). This version consisted first of the third Cyclone, the Flying Tiger, Klaw, the Man-Killer and Tiger Shark and later expanded to include the Aqueduct, the Bison, Blackwing, Boomerang, the Cardinal, the Constrictor, Dragonfly, the second Eel, the Icemaster, Joystick, Lodestone, the Man-Ape, Quicksand, Scorcher, Shatterfist, Shockwave, Slyde, Sunstroke, and Supercharger.

Second version[edit]

The eighth incarnation,[22] led by the Crimson Cowl, consisted of Black Mamba, the Cardinal, the Cyclone, the Gypsy Moth, Hydro-Man, the Machinesmith, and the Man-Killer.

Both versions of the Crimson Cowl's Masters of Evil sought to master and control Earth's superhuman mercenaries. They even tried to get the Thunderbolts to join them.

The Shadow Council's Masters of Evil[edit]

Max Fury of the Shadow Council forms a ninth incarnation of the Masters of Evil, consisting of Princess Python, Vengeance, and Whiplash. They were discovered by the Secret Avengers during a mission run by Captain America and Hawkeye.[23] Max Fury later recruits the Black Talon, the Brothers Grimm, Carrion, the Constrictor, Crossfire, Diablo, Firebrand, the Griffin, Killer Shrike, Lady Stilt-Man, the Pink Pearl, and the Squid to join the Shadow Council's Masters of Evil. Fury and the Masters of Evil capture John Steele after he attempts to escape Bagalia (a country that the Shadow Council established) with the Serpent Crown and the Crown of Thorns.[24] In order for the Masters of Evil to obtain the Crown of Wolves for the Shadow Council, Fury hired the Taskmaster to retrieve it. The Taskmaster demanded more money for the job and he hid in the Hole (a bar located in an underground city in Bagalia). Upon claiming the Crown of Wolves, Fury was unable to harness its power because he is a Life Model Decoy. When the Taskmaster donned the Crown of Wolves, he was unable to control the powers of the Abyss.[25] Under the control of the Abyss, the Masters of Evil and the other people in Bagalia make their move. The Secret Avengers fight to keep the people under control of the Abyss from leaving Bagalia and invading other countries to spread the possession to other people.[26] While possessed by the Abyss, the Taskmaster used its power to take control of the villains and have them board an airplane out of Bagalia to spread the campaign of the Abyss. While the others fight the possessed villains and other people, Venom uses his symbiote to break the Crowns and capture the Taskmaster.[27]

When the second incarnation of the Secret Avengers raid Bagalia to free the Taskmaster, they have to fight through the Masters of Evil. During this time, it is shown that a duplicate of the Bi-Beast, Madcap, the Ringer and a number of other supervillains have joined the Masters of Evil.[28]

The Masters of Evil are featured in "Avengers Undercover" as part of the second wave of comics that are part of the "Marvel NOW!" branding.[29] Following the death of Max Fury, Baron Helmut Zemo had been sworn in as the new leader of the Masters of Evil. He is shown to have Madame Masque as his right-hand woman, has the Constrictor as his bodyguard, and Daimon Hellstrom is in their company as their magic expert.[30]The Anachronism, Cammi, Chase Stein, Death Locket, Hazmat, and Nico Minoru teleport to Bagalia in disguise and locate Cullen Bloodstone at the Hole (a Bagalian bar that is owned by Arcade). After a fight with the villains there, Cullen reveals that he has become a member of the Masters of Evil, having been accepted by them. The Constrictor and Madam Masque arrange for Cullen to teleport the group to a nearby swanky party at Massacrer Casino hosted by Arcade so that they can get revenge on him once and for all.[31] Baron Zemo, Madame Masque, the Constrictor and Daimon Hellstrom watch as the young heroes try to avoid being killed, as Arcade has arranged the party at Massacrer Casino as the testing grounds for his newest version of "Murderworld": fancy parties at casinos where the rich and powerful can try and kill each other to prove their supremacy. After Arcade was killed, Baron Zemo, Madame Masque, the Constructor, and Daimon Hellstrom begin plotting their next move regarding the heroes.[32] After the young heroes are apprehended during a S.H.I.E.L.D. raid on Bagalia, Daimon Hellstrom later teleports the S.H.I.E.L.D. lair back to Bagalia, where Baron Zemo offers the group a chance to join the Masters of Evil.[33] Baron Zemo instructs the Constrictor, Daimon Hellstrom, and Madame Masque to take a portion of the Murderworld survivors and take them into Bagalia City. While the other young heroes take up Baron Zemo's offer to join the Masters of Evil (with a plan to take the group down from within), Cammi is the only one to decline. Baron Zemo hears that she is the only one not joining and says that they will respect her choice. Cammi flies away, only to be caught by the Constrictor and brutally slammed into a rock wall. Bleeding and semi-conscious from the surprise attack, Cammi lays under the Constrictor as he says "The man gave you a choice. You picked wrong."[34]

Lightmaster's Masters of Evil[edit]

While the Shadow Council had their version, Lightmaster assembles a more traditional lineup (10th incarnation) when he and his henchmen, the Wrecking Crew, run afoul of the Superior Spider-Man and his Superior Six while attacking Alchemax and attempting to steal its technology during a plot to blackmail New York City for money.[35] Besides the Wrecking Crew, this roster includes the Absorbing Man, Titania, Mister Hyde, Whirlwind and the original Blackout.[36]

The West Coast version[edit]

To combat the West Coast Avengers, Madame Masque formed a West Coast version of the Masters of Evil consisting of the Eel, Graviton, Lady Bullseye, MODOK Superior, Satana the Devil's Daughter, and Kate Bishop's parents Derek and Eleanor Bishop.[37]


Related teams[edit]

Young Masters[edit]

During the "Dark Reign" storyline, a young version of the team - controlled by criminal mastermind Norman Osborn - debuts in the miniseries Dark Reign: Young Avengers.[38]

Bastards of Evil[edit]

A group calling themselves the Bastards of Evil debuted in the 2010 "Heroic Age" storyline. All members claim to be the children of supervillains who were discarded and disavowed by their parents. They include Aftershock (the daughter of Electro), Warhead (the son of the Radioactive Man), Mortar (the daughter of the Grey Gargoyle), Singularity (the son of Graviton) and Ember (the son of Pyro).[39]

It was later revealed that the Bastards are led by a child genius known as Superior (who claims to be the son of the Leader). It was also revealed that the Bastards were actually normal teenagers who were mutated by exposure to radiation by Superior, as well as given false memory implants. The surviving Bastards are held in the Raft after their capture.[40]

Other versions[edit]

Heroes Reborn[edit]

In the Heroes Reborn reality, the Masters of Evil consisted of the Black Knight, Klaw, the Melter, the Radioactive Man, and Whirlwind[41] After Klaw left the team, the Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man joined the Masters of Evil. The Black Knight tries to gain an "audience" with Doctor Doom only for he, the Crimson Dynamo, and the Titanium Man to be killed by the Doombots. Whirlwind retires to start a new life.[42]

Marvel Adventures[edit]

In Marvel Adventures, the Masters of Evil appear and consists of Baron Helmut Zemo, the Abomination, the Leader, and Ultron.[43]

There is also a later team called the New Masters of Evil. The group consists of Egghead, the Man-Bull, the Melter, and Whirlwind.[44]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

In the Ultimate Marvel universe, there are two groups equivalent to the Masters of Evil that threaten the Ultimates:

The Liberators were introduced in Ultimates 2, formed by Loki (under the alias of Norwegian scientist "Gunnar Golman") and featured recruits of superpowered villains that invaded the United States of America. [45] They had support, at least tacitly, from the governments of China (the Abomination/Chang Lam and the Crimson Dynamo), France (the Schizoid Man), Iran (the Colonel), North Korea (Hurricane), Syria (the Swarm, later the Red Wasp), and Russia (Perun). Additional allies included Natasha Romanoff/the Black Widow, the former Ant-Man Hank Pym and his Ultron/Vision II sentries. [46] They were defeated by all of America's heroes, with only Perun surrendering to S.H.I.E.L.D. and being held in the Triskelion and Loki being held by Odin for inciting a world war. [47]

The Dark Ultimates were introduced in Ultimate Comics: Ultimates, as a group of superhumans gathered by a mysterious woman named Kang in order to retrieve the Infinity Gems, apparently to use it in order to prevent the destruction of the universe. [48] They consisted of the Hulk, the Maker, Quicksilver and a brainwashed Human Torch. After freeing the Ultimates from the Negative Zone, an influx of energy sent Kang back to her own time, abandoning the Maker to be imprisoned, and the Gems were shattered. [49]

In other media[edit]


  • Baron Heinrich Zemo's Masters of Evil appear in The Marvel Super Heroes animated series episode "Zemo and his Masters of Evil". Along with Heinrich, this version of the team consists of the Black Knight, Radioactive Man, and the Melter.
  • Baron Helmut Zemo's Masters of Evil appear in The Avengers: United They Stand animated series episode "Command Decision". Along with Helmut, this version of the team consists of the Absorbing Man, Boomerang, the Cardinal, Dragonfly, Moonstone, Tiger Shark, and Whirlwind. They targeted a shipment of dangerous government weapons, but were defeated by the Avengers and Captain America and later arrested by the authorities.
  • Baron Heinrich Zemo's Masters of Evil appear in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes animated series. This version is brought together by the Enchantress, the Executioner, and Heinrich, who recruit Arnim Zola, Wonder Man, Crimson Dynamo, and the Abomination over the course of the episodes "Living Legend", "Everything is Wonderful", and "Gamma World" Pt. 2. In their self-titled episode, the Masters of Evil take out the Avengers one by one, but Hawkeye, the Black Panther, and Ant-Man gather weapons to stop them and mount a rescue mission. Once they free their teammates, the Avengers fight and nearly defeat the Masters of Evil until the Enchantress transports her team to Zola's lab. In the episode "This Hostage Earth", Heinrich and the Enchantress recruit Chemistro, the Grey Gargoyle, and the Living Laser to help them steal Karnilla's Norn Stones. Once they do so, the Masters of Evil are positioned in different parts of the world to guard a Norn Stone so they can fuse Earth with Asgard. However, most of them were unaware that the Enchantress was secretly working with Loki to help him take over Asgard while Thor was away on Earth. Despite the villains' best efforts, the Avengers manage to foil their plans after Heinrich betrays the Enchantress, resulting in most of the Norn Stones being destroyed. In the episode "Acts of Vengeance", the Enchantress seeks vengeance on Heinrich by targeting Chemistro, Living Laser, and Zola while the surviving Masters of Evil ask for the Avengers' help in stopping her. During the Enchantress' subsequent attack, Black Panther builds a power dampener, which successfully negates her powers. Wonder Man prevents Heinrich from finishing her off, but when the Enchantress tries to take the last Norn Stone, Wonder Man grabs it simultaneously, causing both of them to disappear. In the aftermath, Heinrich, the Abomination, Crimson Dynamo, and the Executioner are incarcerated at Prison 42.
  • The Masters of Evil appear in the anime series Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers. This version of the team consists of MODOK, the Abomination, Baron Heinrich Zemo, Graviton, and Tiger Shark.
  • Baron Helmut Zemo's Masters of Evil appear in the Avengers Assemble: Ultron Revolution animated series.[50] Along with Helmut, this version of the team consists of the Beetle, the Fixer, Goliath, Moonstone, and Screaming Mimi. Debuting in the episode "Adapting to Change", the Beetle, Goliath, and Screaming Mimi fight and are defeated by the Avengers. In the episode "Under Siege", the Masters of Evil attack Stark Industries, only to be defeated by the Avengers. Before the heroes can have the villains incarcerated however, Helmut teleports them to his Brazilian base. They lure the Avengers away from Avengers Tower and attack it while only Hawkeye is left. Upon the Avengers' return however, Hawkeye and his allies manage to defeat the Masters of Evil, though Helmut escapes while the rest of the group is incarcerated. They reappear as the superhero team, the Thunderbolts in their self-titled episode and "Thunderbolts Revealed" via a shrouding device to mask their appearances. After Screaming Mimi convinces her teammates to turn on Helmut however, the reformed group and the Avengers expose Helmut to the world before the remaining Thunderbolts turn themselves in.
  • The Masters of Evil appear in the anime series Marvel Future Avengers.[51] This version of the team is led by Kang the Conqueror and consists of the Leader, the Enchantress, Ares, the Winter Soldier, Loki, and Bruno, a teenage HYDRA operative who underwent genetic manipulation as part of the "Emerald Rain" project, which Kang established to reverse-engineer Terrigen crystals and use them to mutate Earth's populace to become his new foot soldiers.

Video games[edit]


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