Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Strength Through Unity


Name This Marvel Villain??

Before he became the Controller, Basil Sandhurst was an inventor/scientist with obsessive aspirations to become better known than the likes of Reed Richards, Tony Stark, et al, by finding new ways to harness mental energy. But due to a lab accident which involved his brother, Vincent, Sandhurst's face was disfigured in a fire and his injuries left him bed-ridden. Eventually, he designed an exo-skeleton to enable him to move about, powered by a device he called the Absorbatron. But the Absorbatron had a gruesome power source of its own:

And to extend the range that the device could transmit power to him, Sandhurst invented devices worn on a victim's forehead which could remotely connect their wearers to the Absorbatron:

Also, Sandhurst found that the more people he thus "controlled," the more physically powerful he became. Naturally, with Sandhurst being a villain in progress, he decided to keep adding to his power by controlling more and more people. Though it's fair to point out that the name of "the Controller" was something of a misnomer during his first appearances in the pages of Iron Man. Before his alliance with Thanos gave him the ability to actually "control" and direct his victims, the Controller's sole use for them was as living batteries for providing energy to him.

By the time of his encounter with Iron Man, the Controller had enslaved a New England community with hundreds of people, and had set his sights on travelling to New York and thereby increasing his power exponentially. And in his first battle with the Controller, Iron Man found himself unable to match that kind of physical power:

It was only through trickery that separated the Controller from the Absorbatron that Iron Man was able to prevail that time. Though in their next encounter, the Controller was determined to cover his bases, thanks in part to a captive Tony Stark:

With the lives of hostages at stake, Stark of course cooperates and provides the Controller his modified helmet. But he designs a little surprise for the Controller in case he again proved too much for Iron Man (which was the case):

When the Controller next shows up, it's around the time when artist/writer Jim Starlin is cranking up Thanos' scheme with the Cosmic Cube. So it's no surprise who Starlin sends against this bruiser in a knock-down drag-out:

Things don't look good for Mar-vell, do they? In fact, you have to wonder how Mar-vell has a chance in hell, against a guy who's laid out Iron Man twice. Sandhurst certainly won't be cutting him any breaks--he has a pretty sweet deal with Thanos, in light of his setbacks in battling Iron Man:

But Sandhurst has shown himself to be arrogant and aggressive, so he's apt to enjoy the feeling of power just a bit too much. Leave it to Thanos to know when and how to draw taut the leash:

So when Mar-vell arrives--fresh from just been transformed by the alien entity, Eon, into the cosmically-aware protector of the universe--he tries diplomacy first. But come on, Sandhurst makes a pretty good case, from a villain's point of view:

But we know these two are going to duke it out, so let's see how things stack up. The Controller, complying with Thanos' plans of sabotage, now draws energy from thousands of people wearing his slave discs--which is a lot more people hooked up to him remotely than when he battled Iron Man. And this is how Iron Man ended up in their last meeting:

So Starlin gives us a realistic look at Mar-vell's odds:

Yet the main thrust of this story is to show us how Mar-vell has changed his perspective and, by extension, his fighting style. He doesn't nearly match the Controller in power, but he scores some solid blows:

And when Mar-vell proves an able opponent for the Controller, it falls to Thanos to referee and call this fight. A very terminal call for one of these men:

Fortunately, the Controller was eventually back in harness and giving various other characters trouble both directly and behind the scenes. The last I read of him was an encounter with Maria Hill, whom I wouldn't bet against no matter how many slave discs this guy had in his pockets.


Anonymous said...

This is great stuff. The Controller was a great supervillian,; in other words, a real nasty piece of work. Cool to see stuff from Starlin's classic run on Captain Marvel. Starlin really seemed to get the core of this character.

Anonymous said...

You gotta wonder, how did Thanos advertise for new employees? "Become an intergalactic us blow up stars, wipe out whole civilizations...good pay, 401, full health benefits, including dental...but don't fail me or I'll use the cosmic cube to disintegrate you."
Ya know, now that I think about it, I've probably had worse jobs.

Comicsfan said...

That's a good question! I suppose with the help of the Cosmic Cube, Thanos was able to locate and approach the type of lackey that would suit his needs (in this case, someone who could help him infiltrate and secure key strategic areas). Even so, as long as Thanos has been around, amassing mercenaries and armies, I'm sure word gets around.

Iain said...

This vainy face on the Controller seems to have stuck on him, I recall Iron Man fighting him in armor wars and he was all vainy there too, and Acts of Vengeance.

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