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And Dr. Strange & Clea...
It ended with a bang.
Or did it? Did the master of Illusion do the impossible? Did he pull the wool over the eyes of not only characters in the fictional world but the readers as well?
I’m a big fan of Mysterio. I think it takes an incredibly bad writer to tell just a good Mysterio story. I think he’s one of these characters that can’t help but be written well. He stands out from the majority of Spider-man’s villains because A) He doesn’t have any powers and B) he’s one of the few that isn’t linked to an animal.
In recent years ever since the printing of Daredevil 7 where Quentin Beck allegedly committed suicide there has been a certain amount of confusion regarding Mysterio. Most of this confusion has repeatedly tried to be corrected first in the excellent Mysterio Manifesto and more recently in the ‘I hate A Mystery’ arc that took place in Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-man 11-13. However some points are unclear and some questions remained unanswered. Being a sucker for plot holes I’m going to intend to fill them in using my fairly good knowledge of Spider-man continuity.
Oh and I’m a bit bored.
The Name’s Mad Jack
However what if this all didn’t start with Daredevil 7? What if it all started with Spectacular Spider-man 241? What if it started with a mysterious character named Mad Jack?
Mad Jack was brought in as a subplot by one of the greatest Spider-writers of all time J.M DeMatteis in his first story arc back on a monthly Spidey book. Not much was revealed about ol’ Jack just that he had some sort of mind control powers, liked hanging out with a cat and liked to dress up like a c-list villain.
Turns out Jack had a vendetta against J. Jonah Jameson and Spider-man that due to DeMatties leaving the book were unfortunately never revealed. However in his last appearance in the title Mad Jack appeared along with another mysterious character named ‘Conundrum’. And they both referred to a mentor figure. In this issue Spider-man finally got the better of Mad Jack and discovered that his various powers that he and used to torture both Jameson and the web slinger were merely illusions.
So who was Mad Jack and what the hell does he have to do with Daredevil 7? I suppose everything and nothing is the correct answer here.
Yeah so was I at the time. What made the entire thing even more puzzling is that Mad Jack took time off from his Jameson torture to spy on Mary Jane on one occasion. Why? Who was he?
Well we could list the people that have something against Spidey and JJJ but that’s a rather long list. Fans had this plot line dangling for quite a while before the Mysterio Manifesto tried to clear things up. However first came Beck’s suicide.
The Ultimate Illusion?
Beck had faked his death before. He had retuned in time for an excellent story arc that ran from Amazing 198-200. His plan centred around conning old folks out of their money by faking their death and cashing in the insurance. Unfortunately one of the people who tried to con was May Parker and this lead to the revelation that Beck had never died at all.
So why should we believe he’s dead now? It seems Beck being somewhat of a genius was smart enough to know the difference in the Peter Parker Spider-man and the Ben Reilly Spider-man. He encountered the Reilly Spider-man in the ‘media blizzard’ story line and seemed in the process of getting his ass kicked realised he was dealing with a fake. Good for him because not even Ben knew he was a fake at the time.
So with his foe of around 13 years (comic time) no where in sight he instead decided to pick on Daredevil. Due to a cancer that was eating at his body Beck’s date with death as inevitable and he wanted to go out with a bang by having Daredevil killing him.
This for Beck didn’t quite go to plan. He ended up killing himself in front of Daredevil admitting that he was indeed a cliché that time had passed by and taking his life in a similar fashion to Kraven The Hunter. Now had this been any other hero there would have been severe doubt about Beck’s status. However this is Daredevil and he’s not quite so easily fooled thanks to his hyper senses. It appears according to Daredevil that Beck is definitely dead. A sad end for a sad man.
A New Bubblehead
So wait a sec if Beck’s dead then who’s the Mysterio kidnapping Spider-man’s friends and loved ones for the ‘perfect world’ storyline in Amazing 7 and 8 (Vol. 2)?
Then presumingly the same Mysterio appears not too long after in amazing 12 (Vol. 2) in time for a return of the Sinister Six. However the writer at the time (Howard Mackie) beats us over the head with the fact that this is NOT Quentin Beck and nearly everyone takes a minute or two to pause and go ‘hey you’re acting weird.’
However the response I found the most curious was Doc Ock’s. Despite his mental illness and anger issues Ock is no dummy and whatever he says is worth credit. He says without a doubt that this is someone new.
With Daredevil at the scene saying he’s dead and Ock saying there’s someone new with a taste for fishbowls it’s safe to assume that Beck is really, really dead.
So who’s this new guy? Again the Mysterio Manifesto thankfully came to the rescue.
I really liked this mini but like you can probably tell I’m a sucker for Mysterio stories.
In this storyline Mad Jack returns along side a mostly silent Mysterio and they both decide to play a game with Spider-man, Daredevil, JJJ and Beck’s former girlfriend Betsy Schneider.
We last saw Betsy in the first 3 issues of the late ‘Web spinners Tales Of Spider-man’ title. The first arc was penned by the aforementioned Mr. DeMatteis and featured…you guessed it Mysterio. The arc was set following ‘Just a guy named Joe’ or Amazing 39 infamous for being Steve Ditko’s last issue on Spider-man. The storylines adds more to Beck’s character and allows a good look at a more innocent time in Spider-man’s life very highly recommended if you can find it.
So here was Betty with her husband Joe (yup that Joe) and it turns out she’s made quite a bit of money on Beck’s image. Hey if I died and someone made money off me I’d be pissed too.
All the players are here as some loose threads are finally tied up…sorta. Mad Jack is revealed to be Quentin Beck’s cousin Maguire (yup same name as the cat) and she wants revenge. Well that makes sense right?
Well no it doesn’t. Why would this seemingly very young girl want to torture JJJ as Mad Jack had done in earlier appearances?
My answer: There are 2 Mad Jack’s.
One that appeared during DeMatties run and Maguire Beck. So who was the first one? Well that’s seemingly answered at the end as the silent Mysterio walks off with Maguire (the cat) in his hands laughing as Spider-man questions what happened to Danny Berkhart.
Who’s Danny Berkhart? Well he was hired by Jameson to play Mysterio after Beck’s first death. He only appeared in one story arc and was soon cast away to be forgotten forever.
Or was he? I believe that Mr. Berkhart was the first Mad Jack. This would explain the hatred he had for JJJ and Spider-man along with the illusions he cast. It would also explain why his cat went off with him at the end of Manifesto instead of Beck’s cousin.
Presumingly after Beck died Berkhart went under the dome again to prove himself the ultimate illusionist. So why waste his time with the perfect world thing? I think this was actually Maguire Beck’s scheme to discover who she felt was responsible for her cousin’s death. After all if he’d gone after Spider-man instead of Daredevil would he still be alive?
Well no the cancer would have got to him but she’s crazy so bear with her. So Maguire probably put 2 and 2 together when a new Mysterio appeared and digging through her cousins files found Berkhart’s name (its mentioned that they worked on horror movies together when Beck was a sfx man in Mysterio Manifesto). Maguire approaches Berkhart with a revenge scheme but only ends up getting arrested as Berkhart remains free satisfied that Maguire will take the blame for everything.
So Berkhart was Mad Jack and then Mysterio and Maguire was Mysterio and then Mad Jack. Simple as.
One question remains though. Why would Berkhart be spying on MJ? I think this is no more than coincidence. After his first failed attempt at playing Mysterio and a release from prison Berkhart most likely went back to what he did before under a new identity, work in movies. He most likely saw MJ on a back lot and figured her to be a woman nowhere in his league. Needing to prove himself he adapted the Mad Jack personality to become someone and his hoping outside the Parker house probably came after the realisation that no matter what he did he’d always be a loser.
As far as why he chose the Mad Jack identity could probably be attributed to a lack of creativity. Its doubtful Berkhart was as creative as Beck so he probably paid a visit to the infamous ‘bar with no name’ and checked the list of ‘available names.’
Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd
So that mess is cleared up Kevin smith decides to return and create a whole new mess. At the end of Spider-man/Black Cat he introduces Francis Klum who purchases Beck’s old equipment from the Kingpin (who is apparently short on cash). Klum’s motive for doing this is because Spider-man and Black Cat killed his brother. Wait a sec, no they didn’t. In actuality Klum killed his jerk of a brother himself and he simply wants revenge on Spider-man for attacking him while he was having a heart to heart with Black Cat on the Brooklyn Bridge.
In an interesting twist unlike Beck and Berkhart Klum actually has powers. He demonstrates mind control abilities and teleportation. Well that makes it easier to be a master of illusion right? His motives for choosing the costume of Mysterio are explained in the story so I won’t go into that here.
Next time we see Klum Mysterio is in Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-man 11 where he’s suiting up. Spider-man unmasking made Klum’s job of finding him a lot easier and he heads off to exact his revenge. However it appears he’s being watched but by whom and why?
As Klum attacks the school a second Mysterio turns up and claims to be a very dead Quentin Beck. ‘Beck’ proves his deadness by taking off his helmet and revealing he only has half his face left as a result from the gun shot in Daredevil 7.
Meanwhile yet another Mysterio turns up whom the ‘Beck’ Mysterio identifies as Daniel Berkhart. Turns out Berkhart saw all this going down on TV put 2 and 2 together and thought to himself ‘hey ripping off someone else’s gimmick is my bit!’
So Klum and Berkhart fight and although it seems the latter gets the victory he gets punched out by Spider-man. Then Klum gets back to his feet and claims he was playing possum. As all this is going on the school nurse Ms. Arrow (who we all know now was the Other) is confronted by the ‘Beck’ Mysterio. ‘Beck’ seems to know a hell of a lot about Arrow including the fact that she isn’t what she appears to be. ‘Beck’ also makes several references to his ‘employers’ before vanishing from the storyline.
At the end of this one Berkhart is arrested and Klum is stabbed by the aforementioned Ms. Arrow and vanishes. It was later revealed in a later issue of Friendly that Arrow’s stings are lethal so presumingly we won’t be seeing Mr. Klum again and Berkhart is probably headed back to character limbo.
Appearances Can Be Deceiving
So this takes us up to now. However there are still a lot of unanswered questions. The ‘Beck’ Mysterio’s identity in my mind at least is questionable. Although it ties in nicely with Guardian Devil when Mephisto promises whoever’s behind Daredevil’s suffering gets to be his right hand man I have my doubts this is Beck back from the dead.
Firstly I want to go back to Friendly 11 where Klum was being watched. One would assume this was Berkhart but it was stated he merely knew what was happening because of the news. I also doubt Berkhart would be competent enough to find Beck’s old hideouts in order to use the surveillance footage in question. So this ‘Beck’ Mysterio is more than likely another pretender so the question is who and why?
The obvious answer is Maguire Beck but she’s more than likely still in prison. This means there’s a new villain with a taste for fishbowls in town. However if this person was a fraud how did they know about Ms. Arrow? Presumingly after Peter’s unmasking the character in question would have done some heavy digging into Peter’s life including where he teached. A half decent search into Arrow’s past probably would have revealed that there was something not quite right about her. If this is the case then we can safely assume that this new Mysterio is as intelligent or more than Beck was.
Of course with PAD off Friendly and the Amazing crew wanting to move on to new villains it may be a while until we know for sure.
Good thing I’ve got my Spider-man pitch already where Mysterio turns out to be Howard the Duck
For those of you that don’t want to read this whole confusing mess
Sensational 241-Amazing Spider-man 12 (Vol. 2): Daniel Berkhart
Mysterio Manifesto 1-3: Maguire Beck
Daredevil 7-Amazing Spider-man 9: Maguire Beck
Amazing Spider-man 12-Friendly 13: Daniel Berkhart
Friendly 13-?????: ?????????
Last edited by The Doctor; 09-21-2007 at 06:56 AM.
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Needs more Enchantress....
And Dr. Strange & Clea...
Originally Posted by Glixy:
I'm not sure if you're middle aged, but the only things I know about you are your avatar picture, and that you are a lawyer, so I picture you as some kind of cross between K. Richards, and L. Hutz.
I like how Mysterio "stole" his suicide from Kraven.
Or was it part 4?
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Images fixed (I hope)
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Why do you still have signatures turned on?