Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Will Power


Name This Marvel Villain??

Despite being featured in a number of Marvel stories, the character known as Mesmero remained an underrated villain, either getting swept up in the schemes of others or simply letting his ambition get the better of him. Had he kept a low profile and stayed out of costume, a man like Mesmero, whose gaze could sap the will of his victims, could have made a more than comfortable living for himself as well as pulling the strings of those in power behind the scenes, had he wished.

We first meet Mesmero when he sets himself up as the standard-bearer for Magneto (presumed deceased following a battle with the X-Men and the Avengers) and is determined to carry on his legacy. For that, he'll also need an army--and he decides the perfect way to acquire one quickly is to use Magneto's equipment in tandem with his own power to seek out and conscript those humans with latent mutant powers.

Naturally, these plans draw the attention of the X-Men--but one of the humans drawn in by Mesmero's scheme turns out to be Lorna Dane, herself a latent mutant, and Mesmero decides to award her with special status when he discovers her shocking ties to Magneto.

But when Magneto himself shows up, Lorna is quick to take the side of the X-Men, and helps to bring an end to his plans while also ensuring Mesmero's downfall (with the help of "Erik the Red," who turns out to be Cyclops in disguise). In the process, Iceman brings proof to her that she was only duped into believing she was Magneto's daughter.

Mesmero's introduction and the resulting story arc is handled by writer Arnold Drake, who had a distinguished career in comics but whose scripting during his run on X-Men is unfortunately far from his best. It would take Mesmero awhile to shake off the poor impression he made during this story (regrettably, the same can be said for the X-Men), with Mesmero lying dormant for about nine years until the new X-Men had revived the title.

In the interim, writer Roy Thomas gives Mesmero a brief appearance during the saga featuring the Sentinels' return, with Mesmero discovering that the Magneto he fought with was hardly the man he idolized--indeed, hardly a man at all.

Mesmero (along with other captives) is freed from the Sentinels by the X-Men--but he's anything but grateful when he later catches the newest team by surprise and forces them into becoming circus performers.

His revenge is cut short, however, when the real Magneto appears and takes the X-Men captive for himself, though showing no interest in Mesmero and unceremoniously depositing him into the South American jungle.

Mesmero goes on to make further appearances with various X-Men lineups as well as in other titles, before finally losing his abilities altogether on the so-called "M-Day," when the Scarlet Witch deprived the majority of mutants on the planet of their powers. To my knowledge, his last appearance was as "Vincent," a man who found unexpected love with a prostitute and, after a run-in with her pimp, decided to leave with her and start a new life for themselves.

(Uh, let's hope that part about ruling the world was spoken figuratively.)


Warren JB said...

From the last set of panels, I'd guess he's not actually green; but then that's him without his mutation, I suppose.

I get the feeling that this is another character with a lot of wasted power and potential (circus performers, strewth!) especially with the kind of use the similarly-powered Purple Man's been put to, lately, although in television. Purple and green - what a combination. Well, you can see that from Mesmero's costume. I guess that's to provide an initial distraction to let his powers through...

Anonymous said...

Your green and purple uniforms generally denote a villain (Kang, Green Goblin, Molecule Man), or somebody who's kind of morally neutral, and could be a threat (Hulk, Drax, Impossible Man).
So can tell right away this cat is probably up to no good!
Grey is also no good, but red and blue means you're a good guy. I think yellow can go either way.


Warren JB said...

Mysterio, the Mandarin, Fin Fang Foom, the Skrulls... blimey M. P., you're right! I wonder if this is why I never fully trusted the Prowler long after his heel-face turn.

Can we simplify it further? Primary colours good (red, blue, yellow; FF, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor etc.), secondary colours bad(/ambiguous)?

Secondary colours are made by mixing primary colours. It adulterates the primary colours; corrupts them. By adding even a little grey to white, you turn it completely... oh, wow. You guys, Steve Ditko was right all along!!!


(Ahem, back to Mesmero: was there any sign of him after mutants were restored? Any indication he might've been affected by this whole bizarre terrigen mist storyline?)

Comicsfan said...

With all the changes in the Marvel brand, Warren, I honestly wonder if under-the-radar characters such as Mesmero hold any interest for contemporary writers anymore; on the other hand, Mesmero is as off-beat as they come, so it's possible he might find his way into one of Marvel's quirky current-day titles at some point. As to his present status as a mutant, he might well have regained his power--he certainly seemed hopeful about it, didn't he?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Mesmero definitely killed on-panel by the Riders of the Storm, in X-Factor?
I'm guessing that was either retconned, or just ignored entirely...