On the day before Venom #20 is released, and the revelation from the issue of who the nefarious crook Crime-Master is approaching. Zechs takes a look at who could possibly be this dastardly fiend that is this new Crime-Master.
He's been making Flash Thompson aka Venom's life hell since the book started at #1, yet here we are still in the dark to the latest Crime-Master's identity. This week he'll finally be unmasked. Ironically, I'm reminded of a certain Roger Stern portion of the Hobgoblin Saga with this mystery. Venom writer Rick Remender has sprinkled vague hints to his identity throughout his Venom run. I'm sure that once the mask comes off and his identity revealed, we'll all be kicking ourselves for not figuring it out. Still, here's what we know so far:
? The Crime-Master is the second biggest crime boss in the world. This was talked about in the opening arc of Venom when Flash was chasing down the vibranium that the Crime-Master's agent Jack O'Lantern had stolen. So whoever is behind this is a seasoned pro at crime.
? When the Crime-Master had been blackmailing Flash to work for him and assisting the Jack O'Lantern on a mission, we learned from Jack that the Crime-Master had taught him all his skills. We also learned earlier in Venom #11 that Jack had murdered those who took the Jack O'Lantern name besides him, which really is only two other people who took the identity and were still alive (Levin's brother and Maguire Beck). The other two Jacks, Jason Macendale, the original (Hobgoblin Lives #1) and Steven Mark Levins (Civil War #5) had all perished way before this Jack showed up. This characteristic of wiping out others who held the title is reminiscent of the Hobgoblin identity. Still, this fact isn't fully confirmed and could be but hearsay.
? After Venom abandoned their "partnership", Crime-Master, caring little to all at his foe's career, instead striking out with his own agenda and furthering his criminal empire. It was only when Flash tried to assassinate him in Venom #14, did the Crime-Master take things to a personal level in retaliation for that attempt.
That's all really we know. So with this knowledge, who could the Crime-Master be? Well I've narrowed down the list to six suspects with the pros (+) and cons ( - ) of them being this new Crime-Master.
Nicholas Lewis Jr. - I know what you're saying: "Who?" To give you a short summary: he was the second person to ever call himself the Crime-Master. He was the son of the original and has only appeared in one story arc, Marvel Team-Up #39-40.
+ His fate is up in the air. After the story, he was caught by the police (unlike his pop who got shot dead by them in Amazing Spider-Man #27) and hasn't been seen since. It isn't the first time the successor has taken up his predecessor's identity again. Daniel Berkhart (the second Mysterio) had done this when the original committed suicide in Daredevil: Guardian Devil. Ironically, Phil Urich, the fourth Green Goblin was to do this as well, being revealed to have been the fifth Green Goblin before editorial had stepped in and stopped this plan.
- Lewis being the latest Crime-Master allows Remender to expand on his personality and really make the character his own. However the payoff would leave new fans scratching their head then gasping in horror. So the revelation is a double edged sword.
The Foreigner – Having not been seen in quite awhile, this master spy and criminal genius is known to employ a vast criminal network. He's had various other identities and aliases in the past. Why shouldn't this new Crime-Master be another?
+ Being the Foreigner, it would explain why the Crime-Master has such a vast organization almost rivaling the Kingpin's.
+ The Foreigner also was behind the murder of Ned Leeds, Flash Thompson's rival in the affections of Betty Brant. If it's revealed that he's also the Crime-Master it be a horrific shock to his current hostage to say the least.
- He's Peter David/Howard Mackie's toy character and unlike other Marvel comic book villains, he's been used sparingly. Even in the 90s, and when Betty was undergoing an EXTREME phase, the Foreigner retained his coolness and let his underlings be the morts (he employed a batch of villains called the New Enforcers during Web of Spider-Man #97-100 ... though the less said about the story-line the better).
- The fact that he's been used rarely. I doubt any new fan of comics since 2000 would know who this character is. The impact would be big for longtime fans, but for newbies again they'd be scratching their heads.
- Given light of the events of Spider-Man: To the Ends of the Earth (he's was formerly married to Silver Sable), he probably be better suited to appear in Amazing Spider-Man.
Roderick Kingsley - The original Hobgoblin. Need I say more than what I've already said?
+ The revelation would not just rock Venom's world, but the Spider-Man's as well.
+ He'd have the knowledge and resources to do this. It would also make better sense as to why his right hand man is the Jack O'Lantern. Kingsley would have intimate knowledge given he had fought the original in the past.
+ Kingsley has had an important hand in shaping both the lives of Flash Thompson and Betty Brant. For Flash, he once captured a former girlfriend of his (Sha Shan) and if not for Spider-Man would have murdered her. Then he framed Flash to take the fall for being the Hobgoblin after Flash berated the Hobgoblin on national television.
+ Betty lost her ex-husband, Ned Leeds, due to Kingsley's manipulations. She was mentally and physically scarred from not just that event but also due to Ned being abusive to her during his time under Kingsley's wing.
- He's kind of considered dead and that would open a huge can of worms to how the heck he survived being beheaded by current Hobgoblin Phil Urich. Plus it takes away the last bit of credibility Phil Urich has as a villain since that has been his only success.
- Due to the revelation of Marvel's Soliciations for October 2012 with the Amazing Spider-Man #695-696. I think it's safe to say you can take Roderick Kingsley out of the running as the new Crime-Master.
Ned Leeds – Betty's dead husband and long thought to been the original Hobgoblin. Could he be back from the dead to prey on the lives of Flash Thompson and his former wife Betty?
+ He would have the skill set to start of a criminal empire, given he had studied and reported on them for the Daily Bugle for years. Plus he be just another of a long line of Daily Bugle employees who've turned super criminal (Phil Urich aka the current Hobgoblin and Jacob Connover Rose III)
- He's at the moment kind of dead.
- It would open a bigger can of worms than if the Crime-Master would be revealed to be Kingsley. That's over twenty years of comic book history having to be re-explained.
- The Crime-Master hasn't made things too personal for Flash or Betty until Eugene tried to assassinate him. If he was Ned, he would probably have made the pair's lives a living hell the moment he was brought back into their lives.
- Ned was only a sociopath due to the drugs and sessions in the Winkler machine. Before all of that he was pretty much a nice guy. Even in the end, he was such and really nothing more than a tragic pawn of Roderick Kingsley.
The Hood – The deposed kingpin of all super-villains.
+ Most of the Savage Six (The Human Fly, Death Adder, and Megatak) were flunkies of the Hood's that he had resurrected to kill the Punisher.
+ The shock value would be massive and up the ante to the arc.
+ Would have the knowledge to start a criminal organization as vast as the one the Crime-Master employs.
+ Currently power-less and the new identity would make sense giving him more leeway since the Avengers think him safely tucked away in prison. Plus let's face it: the dude doesn't have his powers anymore. So why not take a new identity to strike up the same agenda he had before: rule the criminal underworld.
- The character really does need a rest after being used so much during the Marvel event: Dark Reign and appearing frequently in the New Avenger comic.
Red Herring - the nefarious bully from Coolsville.
+ He hasn't been seen in years!!
+ The boy at his time was a criminal mastermind that beguiled young protégée detective Freddie Jones.
+ Ginger = pure evil.
+ We already have Velma Dinkley reintroduced into Marvel Universe as Carlie Cooper and Daphne Blake as Norah Winters. Plus that Phil Urich fellow is getting a little Shaggy-like and that Venom symbiote has been looking rather cute and cuddly like Scooby Doo. It isn't long before that wicked fiend Red Herring will rear his nasty head.
+ He has to be the new Crime-Master there is just no other choice!
So there's my list of suspects. There's a strong possibility that the new Crime-Master could be none of them. However the evidence presented to me shows that one of these crooks could be the new Crime-Master. Whatever's the case come Venom #20, the Crime-Master will stand before Flash Thompson unmasked and whoever it is will change the tone of the book dramatically.
Written or Contributed by: Zechs