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Mister Mind and the Monster Society of Evil

Mister Mind is a fictional comic book supervillain created for Fawcett Comics, and now owned and published by DC Comics. Created by Otto Binder and C. C. Beck, Mister Mind first appeared as a voice only in Captain Marvel Adventures #22 , his first true appearance was in Captain Marvel Adventures #26 (August 1943).

One of Captain Marvel's primary villains, Mister Mind is a two-inch alien worm of high intelligence. Because of his small stature (or in spite of it) Mind usually carries out his villainous plans through an organization called the Monster Society of Evil, significant as the first supervillain team in comics to contain villains that a hero had fought previously; prior to this, supervillain teams were composed of villains created just for that storyline.The Monster Society made its debut in Captain Marvel Adventures #22, and the resulting "Monster Society of Evil" story arc continued for two years in Captain Marvel Adventures, ending with issue #46.

Publication history

The original Mister Mind depicted in Fawcett publications and pre-1985 DC Comics publications was a cartoonish worm possessing an intelligence beyond that of human beings. This Mister Mind possessed telepathy and the ability to spin nearly-indestructible silk at speeds faster than the human eye could follow, spoke through the use of a "talk box" which hung around his neck, and was depicted as being myopic and needing eyeglasses. Meanwhile, the membership and size of Mind's Monster Society has changed dramatically over the years, from thousands of members (including all of the Axis Powers) in the 1940s Captain Marvel Adventures comics to only a handful in DC's Shazam! stories.

The current version of Mister Mind, introduced by Jerry Ordway in his Power of Shazam! series, is a more realistically-depicted worm from the planet Venus, possessing powers which include mind control, telepathy, and mental image projection. This Mind is the only survivor of a race of mind-controlling Venusian worms, and irregularly appears in DC Universe stories attempting to find hosts and/or clone himself.

Fictional character biography (chronological)

Pre-Crisis

Earth-Two

The first appearance of the Monster Society, chronologically, was in All-Star Squadron #51-54 (November 1985 to February 1986). In the universe known as Earth-Two, Mr. Mind came to Earth during World War II, drawn by its radio broadcasts; he especially loved Charlie McCarthy. Upon learning his beloved Charlie was not real, he decided to conquer the world instead. To this end, he formed the first Monster Society Of Evil, which was merely a shadow of what was to come. Not long after its founding, the other villains tried to kill him, and Mr. Mind retreated to Earth-S. Without his leadership, the team was quickly defeated in battle by the All-Star Squadron.

Membership:

  • Mr. Mind, two-inch talking worm with telepathic powers and a genius intellect
  • Dummy, a living puppet
  • Mr. Who, superstrong and shape shifting criminal genius
  • Nyola, magic-wielding Aztec priestess
  • Oom, giant animate statue with magical powers
  • Ramulus, supervillain with the ability to control plants

Captain Marvel Adventures: "Nightmares From Now On"

As a side-effect of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Mr. Mind arrived in the universe of Earth-S sometime around 1846 (it was mentioned in this story that he had been working on a weapon for 97 years). His brilliant intellect, telepathic powers, and ruthlessness allowed him to conquer much of space, establishing bases on many different worlds as well as varied locations on Earth. He recruited supervillains, armies, and entire alien species to aid him in his attempt to conquer the Earth. At its height, the Monster Society is said to have had the greatest villains of eighty-seven worlds within its ranks. He began his reign of terror on Earth in 1943, boasting that he and the Monster Society Of Evil would give Captain Marvel "nightmares from now on." Easily the longest story of the Golden Age of Comics, his attempts to do so were featured in Captain Marvel Adventures #22-46 (March 1943 to May 1945).

He had many and varied plans: to steal magical, future-telling pearls; to lead the Allied army in Africa astray; to bomb Pearl Harbor a second time; to crush North America beneath a giant glacier; to make Captain Marvel his mental slave; to topple all the buildings in Captain Marvel's home city; to trap the United States in eternal darkness; to move the Great Wall Of China to crush the Chinese Army; to immobilize the air fleet of Australia; to use the ten-mile-long gun "Great Big Bertha" to literally blow holes in America and Russia; to invade Scotland from an artificial island; to cause a giant volcano to erupt in the middle of Britain; to literally blow the Earth in two; to make a movie about himself to intimidate the world; to destroy Earth's armies with a Black Death Ray; to publish a book about himself to try and convince everyone he should be their rightful leader; to create a vicious, multi-headed Hydra; to smash an asteroid into America; and to wreck the world's navies.

But Captain Marvel stopped them all, dismantled all of his resources, and arrested, frightened away, or accidentally killed all of his henchmen. Finally, a desperate Mr. Mind attacked Captain Marvel's alter ego, Billy Batson, with ether and left him unconscious. But he then realized that without his henchmen, he was practically helpless and unable to kill him. He tried frantically to push a live electrical wire onto Billy, who woke up just in time. Mr. Mind fled into the infrastructure of radio station WHIZ, Billy's place of work, but with a little help from an exterminator, Captain Marvel soon captured the world's wickedest worm and the Earth could sleep soundly again.

Membership:

  • Mr. Mind
  • Archibald, a satyr
  • An army of termites and worms
  • Artificial bodies Mr. Mind could mentally inhabit, consisting of:
    • A Goat-Man, half-man, half-goat
    • A robot, seemingly indestructible
    • An octopus with a human face, constantly grinning
    • A circus strongman, with strength rivalling that of Captain Marvel himself
  • Bonzo, fanged hunchback with large eyes
  • Captain Nazi, superstrong Aryan warrior
  • Crocodile-Men, a race of humanoids from the planetoid Punkus
  • Dobbin, Mr. Mind's seahorse steed
  • Dome attendants who tend to Mr. Mind's undersea base, consisting of:
    • A pig-man
    • A goblin
    • A werewolf
    • An ogre
    • A midget submarine captain, the last of Mr. Mind's minions to leave him
  • Dr. Smashi, short Japanese scientist and one of Mr. Mind's three lieutenants
  • Dr. Hashi, spiky-haired Japanese scientist
  • Dr. Peeyu, tall Japanese scientist
  • Dr. Sivana, the "world's wickedest scientist"
  • Evil Eye, monster with the ability to hypnotize
  • Herkimer, Crocodile-Man and Mr. Mind's second-in-command
  • Herr Phoul, bald Nazi scientist with a monocle and one of Mr. Mind's three lieutenants
  • Adolf Hitler and all the resources of Nazi Germany
  • Hydra, head-regenerating monster created by Mr. Mind
  • IBAC, criminal who sold his soul for superstrength and durability
  • Jeepers, last of a race of bat-monsters
  • Jorrk, greatest scientist of the Crocodile-Men and one of Mr. Mind's three lieutenants
  • Marmaduke, criminal with big ears and a fat face
  • Monster Brigade, undersea monsters under Mr. Mind's command, consisting of:
    • A sperm whale
    • A giant octopus
    • A hammerhead shark
    • A huge sea-serpent
  • Monster Professors, teachers at Mr. Mind's Monster School, consisting of:
    • A human,
    • A Crocodile-Man,
    • A fanged monster,
    • A humanoid with the head of a hippopotamus
  • Monster Students, pupils at the Monster School, consisting of:
    • Human tough guys
    • Crocodile-Men
    • A black, horned demon
  • Mr. Banjo, criminal and leaker of secrets via coded music from his banjo, played on a popular radio show
  • Benito Mussolini and all the resources of Fascist Italy
  • Nippo, master swordsman and spy for the Japanese
  • Sylvester, Crocodile-Man and one of Mr. Mind's preferred gunners
  • Synthetic animals created by Mr. Mind, consisting of:
    • Oscar, a giant lobster
    • Oliver, a giant octopus with human hands
    • Ophelius, a huge ram
    • Oliphant, a dragon
  • Hideki Tojo and all the resources of Imperial Japan
  • Tough guys, generic human enforcers of Mr. Mind's wishes, notable ones include:
    • A tommy-gun wielder
    • A cloaked swordsman
    • A beret-wearer
    • A stereotypical "Goomba"
    • A Gatsby cap-wearer

Return of the Society

Although sentenced to death in the electric chair for the murder of 186,744 people, Mr. Mind's alien physiology proved resistant to the high voltage, and he entered a state of suspended animation that was mistaken for death. Awakening when his body was on the verge of being stuffed for display in a museum, he hypnotized the taxidermist into creating a fake duplicate and escaped. Almost thirty years later, the Monster Society Of Evil was briefly reformed in Shazam! #14 (September-October 1974). An escaped Mr. Mind, hungry for revenge, assembled a new, smaller group. Although armed with a new and improved death ray that drew on their combined hatred, they were no match for Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel, Jr.

Membership:

  • Mr. Mind
  • Dr. Sivana
  • IBAC
  • Georgia Sivana, Dr. Sivana's youngest daughter
  • Sivana Jr., Dr. Sivana's youngest son

The Monster Society strikes back

Mr. Mind reformed his Monster Society Of Evil one last time, in World's Finest Comics 264-267 (August-September 1980 to February-March 1981). Arguably the strongest incarnation of the group ever formed, almost the entire Marvel Family had to unite in order to stop them--Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., and the three Lieutenant Marvels: Tall Marvel, Fat Marvel, and Hill Marvel (the only ones who didn't battle them were Black Adam, who was a member of the Monster Society Of Evil, Uncle Marvel, a powerless yet wily old man, and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, who had not yet been introduced into the DC Universe). Their wicked plans were wide-ranging, beginning with an assault on Egypt, expanding to a scheme to reverse the entire Earth's topography, and conquering hundreds of planets and using them to build an army of spaceships. Their plans culminated in a massive assault on the Rock of Eternity, the point where all time and space can be accessed and the home of the Marvels' benefactor, Shazam.

Membership:

  • Mr. Mind
  • Dr. Sivana
  • IBAC
  • Black Adam, traitorous first of the Marvels
  • King Kull, last of the Beastmen with enormous strength
  • Mister Atom, indestructible genocidal robot
  • Oggar, immortal sorcerer of great power
  • The inhabitants of 247 planets, forced by Sivana and Ibac to work for them

World's Funnest

In the Elseworlds story Superman & Batman: World's Funnest (November 2000), the two near omnipotent imps Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite engage in a tremendous duel that destroys many planes of reality. One of these appears to be a version of Earth-S. During their time there, they run into a version of the Monster Society Of Evil slightly different than any other; featuring many of Captain Marvel's enemies. Mxyzptlk easily destroys them (With a tentacled beast labeled Mr. Mxyzptlk's Anti-Social Monster) when they begin to annoy him, along with the rest of the universe; however, by the end of the book, all is returned as it was.

Membership:

  • Mr. Mind
  • Black Adam
  • Captain Nazi
  • Dr. Sivana
  • Evil Eye
  • Goat-Man
  • IBAC
  • Jeepers
  • Mr. Atom
  • Mr. Banjo
  • Several unidentified silhouettes
  • Unidentified Crocodile-Man

Post-Crisis

The Power of Shazam!

Mr. Mind was re-introduced into the DC Universe in Jerry Ordway's The Power of Shazam! series. Mind was one of a race of millions of mind-controlling worms from the planet Venus, who had plans to invade and take over the Earth. Appointed as the go-ahead agent, Mind arrived on Earth during World War II, by means of an indestructible green Venusian space suit, but was captured by Bulletman, Starman, and Green Lantern Abin Sur before enacting his plan. Mind eventually escaped, and decades later forced Dr. Sivana to join forces with him, needing Sivana's scientific prowess to facilitate the Venusian worms' plans.

The worms' plans to invade the Earth were thwarted by Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel, who succeeded in killing all of the worms save for Mr. Mind, whom they placed in the custody of Sergeant Steel and the Department of Meta-Human Affairs. Mind eventually escapes, takes over Steel's mind, and programs Mister Atom, another Marvel Family villain in Steel's custody, to destroy the town of Fairfield, where Billy Batson (Captain Marvel) and Mary Bromfield (Mary Marvel) lived with their adopted parents. After Mister Atom's nuclear blast destroys the city and kills nearly all of its residents, the Marvels arrive in Washington, DC seeking revenge. Mr. Mind's plot to set off a nuclear holocaust included using clones of himself to take over the minds of several regular American citizens, who were to make their ways to nuclear bomb facilities and initiate a nuclear holocaust. However, Mind's plan was foiled by the Marvel Family and several Green Lanterns.

Membership:

  • Mr. Mind
  • Mr. Atom
  • Several random citizens, mind-controlled by Mr. Mind's clones.

JSA and 52

Mister Mind was next seen in the JSA series, as a member of former Monster Society member Black Adam's vigilante team, organized to overthrow the oppressive government of Adam's home country, Khandaq. Mind inhabited the body of Brainwave and amplified his powers, until being discovered and captured by the Atom and the JSA.

The day following the end of Infinite Crisis, Dr. Sivana discovers Mister Mind lying in a crater in the desert and pockets him, sealing him in a specimen jar and taking it back to his laboratory (52#52:w01d1). Sivana bombards Mind with particles of Suspendium, a fictional element introduced in the 1970s Shazam! title. Although Sivana is then kidnapped by Intergang, the Suspendium induces Mister Mind's delayed metamorphosis. As Sivana is dragged off, Mind observes a televised memorial for the heroes lost in the Infinite Crisis, and takes particular note of Skeets, the robotic companion of the time-travelling superhero, Booster Gold (52#01:w01d6). With his metamorphosis beginning, Mind proceeds to weave a cocoon around himself, which doubles as a matter transporter that he uses to beam himself inside Skeets in Dr. Magnus Lab (this is seen in 52#52:w02d1; whilst we the readers first see the cocoon in 52#03:w03d6, and Magnus shows it empty to Dr. Morrow in 52#10:w10d6), intending to use the robot as a "cradle" where he can spend the following year gestating and completing his transformation.

Destroying Skeets from within, Mind adopts his identity and makes plans to consume the Multiverse, which had returned to existence as a result of Infinite Crisis. Discovering that Rip Hunter is aware of his plans, Mind, as Skeets, attempts to hunt him down and draw him out, to no avail. Eventually, he discovers Hunter hiding in the bottle city of Kandor, but when Hunter turns the Phantom Zone projector on him, Mind overpowers it and "eats" the Phantom Zone itself. At the end of the year, Mind tracks Hunter and Booster down to the lab of T.O. Morrow, intent on acquiring the head of the Red Tornado, whose computerized brain has mapped the Multiverse (52#50:w50d7). There, his gestation completes and he emerges from within Skeets in a monstrous imago form—now, instead of feeding on the brainwaves of individuals, he feeds on space/time itself and decides to devour the entire Multiverse (52#51:w51d7). Booster and Hunter flee back in time to the moment of the Multiverse's birth, with the now-gigantic Mind in pursuit, following them from universe to universe, where he consumes portions of each world's history, altering their timelines and creating new, distinct Earths (52#52:w00d0). Mind is lured back to Hunter's lab, where he shrinks in size and becomes trapped within Skeets' Suspendium-lined shell (52#52:w51d7?). Booster hurls Mind back through time, where the Suspendium reverts Mind back to his larval form, and lands on the day after the end of Infinite Crisis, where he is found by Dr. Sivana (52#52:w01d1).

Also during the series, unrelated to Mind's activities, a new incarnation of the Monster Society was formed, consisting of the Four Horsemen of Apokolips, creatures engineered by Intergang's Science Squad (including Sivana). Of particular note is Sobek, a humanoid crocodile not unlike the beings who were members of the pre-Crisis Monster Society. This Monster Society attacked the Black Marvel Family and killed Isis and Osiris, only to be destroyed by Black Adam, save for Death, who flees. In his hunt for Death, Black Adam destroys the nation of Bialya, before defeating the final Horseman and killing it.

Booster Gold

In the tenth issue of the second Booster Gold series, it is revealed that Mr. Mind has escaped from Dr. Sivana's captivity, and has taken control of Booster's father, and through him, leads a consortium of villains including the Ultra-Humanite, Per Degaton, Despero, and the Black Beetle. After revealing himself, he is forced out of his host body and seemingly killed when Ted Kord, one of the Blue Beetles, steps on him.

Justice

In Justice #9, it was revealed that the robots which are mind-controlling the Justice League were created by Dr. Sivana after he was inspired by Mr. Mind.

Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil (2007)

A new Captain Marvel prestige format 4-issue limited series from DC Comics, Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil, written and illustrated by Jeff Smith (creator of Bone) began publication on February 7th, 2007. Smith's Shazam! miniseries, in the works since 2003, is a more traditional take on the character, returning Captain Marvel to his roots with a story that updates the character's history for today's readers. It is set early on in the character's career however, as it is clearly not set in the modern day DCU. In this version, Mr. Mind resembles a small snake with a more threatening face with apparently perfect vision while wearing a modern style communicator headset.

Powers and abilities

Mister Mind is one of Earth’s most formidable telepaths. He is able to take control of an individual’s mind. He also has the ability to spin very strong silk as speeds faster than the eye can see.

Other versions

In Alex Ross's 1996 miniseries Kingdom Come, Dr. Sivana was credited by Lex Luthor for creating a breed of mind-controlling worms before his death. Also, in Superman's Gulag, many of the prisoners were members of the Golden-Age Monster Society, such as Jeepers, Mister Banjo, King Kull, the Crocodile Men, Ibac and Goat Man.

Mr. Mind appeared in the Filmation Kid Superpower Hour with Shazam! cartoon in 1981. In one episode, he is strangely stricken with an inferiority complex as bigger villains never take him seriously, despite his historical ability to organize and direct villains far more powerful than himself.

The Secret Code of the Monster Society

"The Secret Code of the Monster Society" was frequently referred to in the comic book. As early as the Fawcett comic, readers could mail away for a decoder key for the monster society, and read the secret messages in the book by translating the messages given the according to the substitution cipher. The cipher is very basic, in that the ciphertext alphabet is actually the regular English alphabet backwards.

During The Power of Shazam! ongoing series in the 1990s, when Mister Mind and the Monster Society of Evil were re-introduced in post-Crisis continuity, DC Comics had done a similar thing as readers could mail away for a decoder card for the monster society, and read the secret messages.

Jeff Smith used the original 1940s Monster Society code in his Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil miniseries, even titling the miniseries' four chapters with ciphered text. DC Comics' official website provides an on-line tool to cipher and uncipher the messages.

Cultural references

  • Mr. Mind was the inspiration for The Wicked Worm, a villain featured in the Image Comics series The Savage Dragon (correlating to the Wicked Worm's heroic adversary, Mighty Man, being a counterpart to Captain Marvel). The Wicked Worm began as a sentient leech-like creature that could control other living beings by attaching itself to a victim's neck and tapping into their nervous system. Discovering that it could self-duplicate by cutting itself in half and regenerating into a pair of identical beings (similar to the ability of flatworms), the Wicked Worm later became a veritable army of worms, and, enveloping a host body, formed a composite being called Horde, similar to the Spider-Man villain Swarm, who was comprised of bees. As Horde, the Wicked Worms made several bids to take command of the superhuman criminal element in the city of Chicago, often acting through mind-controlled proxies; it/they only fully emerged as Horde after their manipulations become so widely known that further subterfuge would have been pointless.

References

  • The Monster Society of Evil - Deluxe Limited Collector's Edition (1989). Compiled and designed by Mike Higgs. Reprints the entire The Monster Society of Evil story arc that ran for two years from Captain Marvel Adventures #22-46 (from 1943-1945) where Captain Marvel meets Mister Mind and his Monster Society of Evil. This oversized, slipcased hardcover book was strictly limited to 3,000 numbered copies. Published by American Nostalgia Library, an imprint of Hawk Books Limited. (ISBN 0-948248-07-6)

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