Purple Man

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Purple Man
A man with purple skin, wearing a suit
Purple Man as seen on the cover of New Thunderbolts #10 (September 2005).
Art by Tom Grummett.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceDaredevil #4 (November 1964)[1]
Created byStan Lee
Joe Orlando
In-story information
Alter egoZebediah Killgrave
  • Skilled manipulator
  • High-level intellect
  • Mind control
  • Regeneration

The Purple Man (Zebediah Killgrave) is a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Joe Orlando, he first appeared in Daredevil #4 (October 1964). His body produces pheromones which allow him to verbally control the actions of others, and occasionally break the fourth wall for sinister effect. His stories typically involve him brainwashing other characters. Initially a recurring enemy of Daredevil, he later became the archenemy of Jessica Jones.

A modified version of the character named Kevin Thompson/Kilgrave was portrayed by David Tennant in the Netflix television series Jessica Jones set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), for which Tennant received critical praise,[2][3] and for which the character was included in Rolling Stone's list of the "40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time"[4] while IGN ranked him #79 of the "Top 100 Villains".

Publication history[edit]

Purple Man first appeared in Daredevil #4 (November 1964) and was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Joe Orlando.[5]

Fictional character biography[edit]

Zebediah Killgrave is born in Rijeka, Croatia. A physician turned international spy, he is sent to infiltrate a chemical refinery and is accidentally doused with a chemical that turns his hair and skin purple. Despite being caught and questioned, he is released after offering a weak alibi. Several more incidents like this demonstrate that the nerve gas gave Killgrave the ability to command the wills of other people. Calling himself the Purple Man, Killgrave embarks on a criminal career,[6] where he is largely a Daredevil villain, fighting him early in his career[7] and being imprisoned in a cell designed to dampen his powers, until he escapes and moves to San Francisco, building a small criminal enterprise over two years, only for Daredevil to topple it when he and Black Widow move to the city.[8]

Early in his criminal career, he uses his mind-control powers to force a woman to become his wife. Before recovering and leaving him, she becomes pregnant with his daughter, Kara Killgrave.[9] Kara inherits his discoloration and powers and becomes the Alpha Flight-affiliated superhero called the Purple Girl,[10] and later Persuasion in Alpha Flight issue #41.

The character largely disappears from comic books during the 1980s although he does face Spider-Man, Moon Knight, Daredevil, Power Man, and Iron Fist in Marvel Team-Up Annual #4. He also appears in the graphic novel Emperor Doom in which Doctor Doom uses him to power the "psycho-prism", a machine that allows Doom to control the minds of everyone on Earth. During the process, Purple Man finds out that he cannot control Doctor Doom's mind even at close range, as Doom's mental fortitude is too great.

He reappears in the pages of X-Men, as the mastermind behind Nate Grey's rise to celebrity status as a miracle worker in New York.[volume & issue needed] He has been subtly manipulating both the population of Manhattan and Nate himself into accepting and embracing the young exile from the Age of Apocalypse storyline as a modern messianic figure, who would then become so psychologically empowered by hero worship that he could change reality, using the full potential of his mutant power. The plan fails when Nate learns the truth and loses his confidence, thus reducing his power.[volume & issue needed] Killgrave goes once more into hiding.[volume & issue needed]

As detailed in the series Alias,[11] during Jessica Jones's time as the superhero Jewel, Killgrave uses his mind-control powers to subdue her, forcing her to live with him while psychologically torturing her for several months. He ultimately sends her off to kill Daredevil. The incident with Purple Man leaves her so traumatized that she leaves her life as a superhero behind and becomes a private investigator.[12] Later, the Purple Man escapes again and tries controlling Jessica to kill the Avengers, but she manages to resist and knocks him out. Daredevil later has the Purple Man imprisoned in the Raft, a jail designed for super-powered criminals.[13]

He escapes briefly when Electro creates a riot at the Raft during the first issues of New Avengers. Purple Man attempts to use the opportunity to mind control Luke Cage into killing the then soon-to-be-Avengers and threatens Jones, who is pregnant with Cage's child. Unknown to the Purple Man, drugs had been put into his food to negate his powers during his imprisonment, so he is unable to control Cage, who beats him to a pulp in response to his demands.[14]

Later, the Purple Man returns shortly before (and during) the House of M storyline and manipulates the Thunderbolts, while being manipulated himself by Baron Zemo, who uses the moonstones he recently acquired to free Killgrave from prison, leaving an illusion in his place so that the authorities would not be aware of his escape. With his pheromones distributed through New York's water system and Zemo's moonstones used to project his voice wherever necessary, the Purple Man enslaves the entire city. Under Zemo's direction, he uses the city's superhumans as his personal army to attack the Thunderbolts, whom he worked to turn against each other. Eventually, he is defeated by the Thunderbolts member Genis-Vell, after which Zemo teleports the Purple Man back and tortures him for his failure before sending him back to prison once more.[15]

During the Scared Straight crossover between Thunderbolts and Avengers Academy, Purple Man is revealed to be incarcerated in the Raft Maximum Security Penitentiary, as Tigra warns her Academy students not to look at his face or read his lips.[16] During a subsequent power outage caused by Academy member Hazmat, Killgrave, at the head of a small gang of mind-controlled inmates, again crosses paths with Luke Cage, now supervisor of a Thunderbolts team composed of Raft prisoners. Cage makes short work of Killgrave and his "recruits", revealing that the nanites that maintain control over his Thunderbolts also shield him from Purple Man's influence.[17]

During the Fear Itself storyline, Purple Man and a majority of inmates are freed after the Raft is severely damaged by the transformation of the Juggernaut into Kuurth: Breaker of Stone and the subsequent damage caused by Kuurth's escape.[18] Before escaping the Raft, Purple Man attempts to kill a comatose Puppet Master in the prison infirmary, and makes statements indicating that he was behind the Puppet Master's manipulation of Misty Knight's Heroes for Hire organization, using them to establish a criminal organization by proxy while incarcerated. He is prevented from killing the Puppet Master by Heroes for Hire operatives Elektra and the Shroud, who Killgrave attacks with a mob of mind-controlled inmates driven into a frenzy. When the heroes hold their own against the assault, Purple Man changes tactics and turns them against each other.[19] He subsequently escapes the Raft via the Hudson River.[18]

Purple Man later begins to form a new criminal empire with the help of Avalanche, Headhunter, Shocker, a new Death-Stalker, and a new Scourge.[20]

During Daredevil's time in San Francisco after the exposure of his secret identity, he encounters Purple Man's children, who inherited their father's powers. After Matt saves the children from their father, they use a machine their father created to enhance his powers to boost their own and erase the world's knowledge of Matt's identity as Daredevil.[21]

Eventually, after tracking down Jessica Jones and taking control of Carol Danvers, Purple Man kills himself by force of will and Captain Marvel throws his body into the sun.[22] They later discover that Danvers was being mind controlled and threw no one into the sun; his son Benjamin, who has similar powers, rescued and revived his body.[23]

While Killgrave is killed by Fisk in his crusades on banning superheroes in attempt to expand his criminal empires during Devil's Reign, the Purple Children are on the run from Fisk to ensure he never forcefully use their mind powers, and eventually being saved by a passing by May Parker.[24]

Powers and abilities[edit]

The Purple Man's body produces chemical pheromones which, when inhaled or absorbed through the skin, allow Killgrave to control others' actions as long as he is physically present. These abilities can overwhelm most, but sufficiently strong-willed people, such as Doctor Doom and Kingpin, have been able to resist its influence, and Daredevil has been able to resist Killgrave as the powers rely on full sensory manipulation, Daredevil's blindness hindering the amount of input he receives and making it easier for him to resist what he picks up. Moon Knight defeated the Purple Man by wearing earplugs that prevented him from hearing the villain's commands; he, Daredevil, and other heroes gagged the Purple Man before giving him to the police to prevent him from commanding others.

Other versions[edit]

  • In the alternate future of the 2003 series Marvel 1602, Killgrave becomes president for Life of the United States. The story is touched off by him accidentally sending Captain America into the past when he intended for the hero to be killed, so that no one would be inspired to overthrow him.[25]
  • In the 2005 House of M storyline, Zebediah Killgrave (nicknamed "Zeb") is a powerless human who works as a lobbyist for the mutant-controlled government, but is secretly an agent of the human resistance.[26]

In other media[edit]


David Tennant as Kilgrave in the television series Jessica Jones.
  • Zebediah Killgrave appears in the X-Men: The Animated Series episode "No Mutant Is an Island", voiced by Cedric Smith.[citation needed] This version is a mutant telepath.[27]
  • Purple Man appears in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, voiced by Brent Spiner.[28] In the episode "Breakout", he is initially imprisoned in the Raft before he escapes alongside the other inmates. In the episode "Emperor Stark", Purple Man brainwashes most of the Avengers in an attempt to take over the world until the Vision frees them.
  • A modified Purple Man named Kilgrave appears in Jessica Jones, portrayed by David Tennant as an adult[29] and James Freedson-Jackson as a child. This version, also known as Kevin Thompson, gains his powers after experimentation from his scientist parents, Louise and Albert Thompson.[30] Prior to and during the first season, Kilgrave manipulates Jessica Jones into killing Reva Connors and becomes obsessed with the former. Jones spends months believing that Kilgrave was run over by a bus, but later learns he survived, having used his abilities to force another man to give him both of his kidneys. As part of his obsession with Jones, Kilgrave tries to prove his love to her by creating chaos for her to solve.[31] Jones eventually overcomes Kilgrave's abilities and kills him before Jeri Hogarth has her exonerated for the murder by convincing the jury that a guilt-ridden Kilgrave controlled her into doing it.[32] Following this, Kilgrave returns as hallucinations in the second and third seasons.[33][34][35]

Video games[edit]


  1. ^ Misiroglu, Gina Renée; Eury, Michael (2006). The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood. Visible Ink Press. ISBN 9780780809772.
  2. ^ Mueller, Matthew (February 24, 2016). "Saturn Awards 2016 Nominees Announced". ComicBook.com. Archived from the original on February 25, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  3. ^ Shepherd, Jack (November 12, 2015). "Marvel's Jessica Jones, first half review: 'David Tennant's Kilgrave could be the best on-screen comic book villain since Heath Ledger's Joker'". The Independent.
  4. ^ Collins, Sean T. (February 9, 2016). "40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 22, 2017. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  5. ^ DeFalco, Tom; Sanderson, Peter; Brevoort, Tom; Teitelbaum, Michael; Wallace, Daniel; Darling, Andrew; Forbeck, Matt; Cowsill, Alan; Bray, Adam (2019). The Marvel Encyclopedia. DK Publishing. p. 283. ISBN 978-1-4654-7890-0.
  6. ^ Rovin, Jeff (1987). The Encyclopedia of Super-Villains. New York: Facts on File. p. 282. ISBN 0-8160-1356-X.[1]
  7. ^ Daredevil #4. Marvel Comics.
  8. ^ Daredevil #88. Marvel Comics.
  9. ^ Alpha Flight #41. Marvel Comics
  10. ^ Alpha Flight #48. Marvel Comics.
  11. ^ Alias, no. 24-28 (2004).
  12. ^ Alias #26–28
  13. ^ Alias #28
  14. ^ New Avengers #1–3 (January–March 2005). Marvel Comics
  15. ^ New Thunderbolts, no. 10-12 (2005).
  16. ^ Avengers Academy #3. Marvel Comics
  17. ^ Thunderbolts #147. Marvel Comics
  18. ^ a b Fear Itself: The Home Front #1. Marvel Comics
  19. ^ Heroes for Hire (vol. 3) #9–10. Marvel Comics
  20. ^ Villains for Hire #1. Marvel Comics
  21. ^ Daredevil (vol. 5) #20
  22. ^ Jessica Jones #17. Marvel Comics.
  23. ^ Jessica Jones: Purple Daughter #1
  24. ^ Devil's Reign #1-3
  25. ^ Marvel 1602 #3
  26. ^ New Thunderbolts [volume & issue needed] Marvel Comics
  27. ^ Sims, Chris (September 8, 2014). "The X-Men Episode Guide 5x04: No Mutant Is An Island". ComicsAlliance. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  28. ^ "Purple Man / Zebediah Killgrave Voice - The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (TV Show)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved January 27, 2024. A green check mark indicates that a role has been confirmed using a screenshot (or collage of screenshots) of a title's list of voice actors and their respective characters found in its opening and/or closing credits and/or other reliable sources of information.
  29. ^ "David Tennant Joins Marvel's A.K.A. Jessica Jones for Netflix". Marvel.com. January 26, 2015. Archived from the original on January 28, 2015. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  30. ^ Dahl, John (director); Jamie King & Dana Baratta (writer) (November 20, 2015). "AKA Sin Bin". Marvel's Jessica Jones. Season 1. Episode 9. Netflix.
  31. ^ Petrarca, David (director); Liz Friedman and Scott Reynolds (writer) (November 20, 2015). "AKA It's Called Whiskey". Marvel's Jessica Jones. Season 1. Episode 3. Netflix.
  32. ^ Rymer, Michael (director); Scott Reynolds & Melissa Rosenberg (story); Jamie King & Scott Reynolds (writer) (November 20, 2015). "AKA Smile". Marvel's Jessica Jones. Season 1. Episode 13. Netflix.
  33. ^ Lynch, Jennifer (director); Jack Kenny & Lisa Randolph (writer) (March 8, 2018). "AKA Three Lives and Counting". Marvel's Jessica Jones. Season 2. Episode 25. Netflix.
  34. ^ "'Marvel's Jessica Jones': David Tennant to Appear in Season 2 - Exclusive". Entertainment Weekly.
  35. ^ "Did you spot David Tennant's cameo in season 3 of Jessica Jones?".

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