Hesperus Chadwick

Calvin ChadwickIt took me “only” an entire season to realize it, but there’s one more of Agent Carter regulars coming from the comics, and one who’s been introduced in the pilot, The Lady in the Lake, even. Well, we’re just in time for the season finale: here’s Calvin Chadwick, portrayed by Currie Graham. In the comics his name is not Calvin, but rather it’s Hesperus, but he has more or less the same role, as he is actually a member of the Council of Nine also in his original version. His counterpart is definitely younger, has no connection with Whitney Frost at all, and lives and works in contemporary times rather than in the 1950s, but he’s our guy. Let’s see together.

Hesperus Chadwick was the heir of a wealthy and once noble family in the United States. Raised with an old-fashioned sense of family honor, Hesperus paid attention to organize his life faithful to the principles of his once respected family, and married a woman from an equally wealthy and ancient family. From their union a daughter was born, Cheer, whom Hesperus raise following the same ancient values he’d been raised with. Around the same time, Hesperus’ sister married with another American socialite, rich and influent William Taurey, a man who Hesperus was in total assonance with. Chadwick and Taurey confronted their respective families and stories, and they found themselves both nostalgic about their lost glory, and the rightful privileges denied to them by the democratic modern America. Together, they decided to restore the old classist system through a secret organization aimed to overturn the actual government and to impose a new direction to the United States…the old one. Taurey and Chadwick founded The Elite, and both Hesperus and his daughter Cheer were among the first affiliated of it. Under Taurey’s lead, The Elite gathered new members, each one of them from an old and privileged family, and they even organised a private army, the Royalist Forces of America, chosen among hesperuschadwickcomics1the “commoners”, but blindly loyal to their rightful masters. The greatest source of entartainment for Hesperus and his daughter was the gladiatorial games The Elite organised to select the members of the Royalist Forces: during this duels, the applicants had to kill each other until only one man was left standing, and the survivor was rewarded with the privilege of being allowed into the Forces. When The Elite grew strong enough, it was time for them to come out of the shadows, and to declare war to the government. They kidnapped scientist Mason Harding, and forced him to develop a weapon that would have sent USA to chaos: the Mad-Bomb, able to trigger homicidal folly into its victims. The Elite would have emerged from the ashes of the old world, and ruled a new one.

For first, The Elite organised a test in New York City, but the Mad-Bomb there was destroyed by Captain America and The Falcon before it could explode. No problem, though, as the main bomb, Big Daddy, was ready to explode during the Bicentennial Celebration of the Declaration of Independence, a sweet irony Chadwick and Taury had planned in detail. Hesperus and Cheer personally managed to capture Captain America and Falcon thanks to the Royalist Forces, and they forced the two heroes to fight in the gladiatorial games (which were, this time, quite a disappointment, since the heroes refused to kill their opponents despite having their life threatened). When Captain America defeated all his enemies, Chadwick wanted to kill him anyway, but Taurey stopped him, wanting to humiliate the hero first; Hesperus realised that his brother-in-law had a personal vendetta against Cap too late, and his obsession brought their plan to failure. Cap and Falcon freed Mason Harding and his daughter, and deactivated all the Mad-Bombs hidden around the country, including Big Daddy, in Philadelphia. While Falcon took care of the bombs, Captain America led the US Army and S.H.I.E.L.D. to The Elite’s headquarters, leading the regular forces against the Royalists. While most of his army and of The Elite’s leaders were arrested, Hesperus took Cheer along and escaped in an underground hesperuschadwickcomics2pneumatic car. The Chadwicks avoided capture along with William Taurey and a few others, but despite their defeat they didn’t give up on their dream of restoring class privileges. First, they reformed the Royalist Forces, who were far too weak to face modern superheroes: they were replaced by the Imperial Forces, a private elite army composed by superhumans only. While reorganizing their forces, The Elite was contacted by the Secret Empire, another organization bent on world domination, and guided by similar principles to The Elite…but with much more experience and resources. Taury, Chadwick and the surviving members of The Elite accepted to enter the Secret Empire, obviously only if associated with its leadership, the Council of Nine: it was time to finally hit the United States with all the forces they had at disposal.

Hesperus Chadwick is a cunning and ambitious man, who follows the one and only goal of restoring the class system in the United States, in order to regain his family’s lost power and privileges. With money and influence at disposal, Chadwick is one of the pillars of The Elite, and he guides his group with resolution and determination: anything, to take away power from the filthy commmoners now ruling the so-called “free world”.

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Joseph Manfredi (Blackwing)

Joseph ManfrediIt looks like Whitney Frost has found new precious allies in her personal war with Peggy Carter and the SSR in the last Agent Carter episode. In The Atomic Job, in fact, the actress-scientist-criminal-superhuman seeks the help of The Maggia, a powerful Mafia-like organization, and the leader of the Los Angeles division is a secondary yet known villain in the comics: Joseph Manfredi, portrayed by in the show by Ken Marino. The leader of the L.A. branch of the Maggia will be a recurring character from here to the end of the second season, and it’s more than likely that his organization will be quite a pain in the back for Peggy and her friends…but it could have been worse: he could have had the same powers his comicbook counterpart has. Let’s see together.

Joseph Manfredi (sometimes called with his Italian analogue name, Giuseppe Manfredi) was born in OrlandoFlorida. He was the son of Silvio “Silvermane” Manfredi, the rightfully feared criminal boss leader of Maggia, one of the most powerful criminal organization in the United States, and of his wife, Caterina. For still unknown reasons, Joseph didn’t follow his father’s footsteps, at least not at first, and he preferred to go solo, starting a criminal career on his own rather than joining Maggia. Quite peculiar in his tastes, as a young man Manfredi developed the uncommon ability of training bats, surely a bizarre skill…that somebody, however, found interesting and useful: Joseph was approached by Maynard Tiboldt, better known as the Ringmaster, who offered him to join his Circus of Crime. Despite having at disposal such a remunerative family activity such as Maggia leadership, Manfredi accepted the offer, and became one of Ringmaster’s acrobatic criminals: he tailored for himself a black costume, and took the stage name of Blackwing. During the show, Blackwing blackwingcomics1hovered thanks to his costume from a side to the other of the big top, impressing the audience with his trained bats; for the Circus’ “secondary” activity, the same bats proved to be extremely useful in the heists the Ringmaster orchestrated. During that time, however, the Circus of Crime crossed paths with Daredevil: despite Blackwing’s bats managed to confuse the hero’s radar sense for a while with their ultrasounds, eventually Daredevil managed to defeat each and every member of the Circus. While the Ringmaster and the others got arrested, however, Blackwing managed to escape, avoiding capture. While he was traveling with the Circus of Crime, his father had become leader of Hydra: with nowhere else to go, Joseph came back to Silvio, and joined him in his new, larger organization, becoming Air Action Division Leader of the reformed Hydra.

Obviously, while working with Hydra Joseph Manfredi and his trained bats had to defend themselves and Silvio’s plans from S.H.I.E.L.D., the organization’s main enemy. When Silvermane ordered the abduction of a lawyer, Foggy Nelson, the man’s friend, Daredevil, joined Nick Fury and his strike team along with Black Widow to save him: in the following battle, Hydra was defeated, and Blackwing lost once again in a duel against Daredevil. Escaping capture once again, Blackwing joined forces with another villain, the second Jack O’Lantern, this time working for the new/old leader of Hydra, the Red Skull himself. Serving under the Skull, Blackwing and Jack O’Lantern fought Captain America, and lost, but their leader was nevertheless quite impressed by their abilities, so much that he ordered his underling Mother Night to recruit the duo in the new formation of the Skeleton Crew. Along with Cutthroat and Crossbones, the two criminals fought against Captain America again, but the hero was helped by Diamondback and The Falcon; being an “aviary hero”, Blackwing took on the Falcon himself, but he was eventually defeated. This time he couldn’t escape capture, and he blackwingcomics2was sent to the Vault, the maximum security prison for supervillains. He didn’t stay locked up for long, however, as the new Crimson CowlJustine Hammer, orchestrated his break-out in order to recruit him in her Masters of Evil; Hammer wanted to blackmail the world’s governments using a device that could alter weather, but her plan didn’t quite succeed, as the Masters of Evil were hunted down by the Thunderbolts, and defeated. Tired of his continuous defeats, and ashamed of his reputation as a loser, Joseph Manfredi eventually decided to quit with his costumed activity, and put down the Blackwing costume for good. He was a Manfredi, he had being a boss in his veins: he founded Heavy Mettle, a secret associations formed of armored supervillains he himself created, moving the strings from behind the curtains and coming back to the family tradition. Now, finally, the world would have known a new Joseph Manfredi…a winner, this time.

Joseph Manfredi is an ambitious and greedy man, determined to follow his father’s footsteps in criminality, but to do it his own way rather than to take advantage of his family connections. As Blackwing, he is a talented bat-trainer, able to control every single move of the animals thanks to sonic devices he uses to communicate with them; he moves with a hoovering glider similar to Green Goblin‘s one, and the wings of his costumes allow him to fly for short distances; he’s also a skilled acrobat and martial artist, able to make a stand also with proficient fighters such as Captain America or Daredevil. Quite brilliant despite his ill-fame and his appearance, Manfredi is a leader born, and the moment he decided to stop following other people’s orders is the moment he discovered his true self: the world will soon know what being a Manfredi means.

Harrison & Amanda Carter

amandaandmichaelcarterfilmLast episode of Agent Carter gave us a look at the origin story of both the protagonist and the main villain, Whitney Frost, and in the first one’s we met a couple of characters from the comics: Peggy‘s big brother Michael and her mother Amanda, portrayed by Max Brown (and Webb Baker Hayes as a child) and Carole Ruggier respectively. The brother who wants Peggy to be herself and the mother who’d like to see her more “feminine” come both from the comicbooks, albeit Michael’s original name was Harrison. Peggy’s conitnuity is a little bit messed up, since she originally had a mother, a father and a sister, but then, as Captain America was said to have been awakened in the 1980s rather than in the 1960s, mother and father became brother and sister-in-law, while the sister became her niece. In the show, they made Amanda the mother, according to the original continuity, and Michael/Harrison the brother, following the new one. Let’s see together.

In the first version of the story, Harrison Carter was born somewhere at the beginning of the XX century, from a wealthy family in Virginia. He most likely served during War World I, as most of his peers, but he managed to make it back home alive and well. He eventually married a woman named Amanda, and she gave him two daughters, Margaret and Sharon. When World War II started engulfing Europe, the couple’s eldest daughter decided to join the military forces to repel the Nazis, and she went to France, where she helped the partisans fight back the invaders. Sharon was still a baby, and she didn’t join her sister, and Harrison and Amanda stayed home to watch over their newborn child, hoping to see their firstborn come home safe. Not much is known about the years of the war back in the Carters’ mansion, but it’s safe to assume that they helped their country the best they could in the war effort, especially considering that their beloved daughter was fighting on the other side of the ocean. Eventually, the war ended, and Peggy came back home: she was amnesiac because of a bomb that had exploded near her amandacartercomicsimmediately before the end of the battles in Paris, and Harrison and Amanda did their best to help her recover, and remember. Finally, with time, she regained her memory, but her strong emotional stress made her relive the experiences she had had: stories about the war, of course, but also stories of heroism and selflessness; she told her family about the time she spent with the already legendary hero Captain America, time during which they had become closer than simple friends…unfortunately, when the Daily Bugle reported the hero’s death, Peggy suffered from a major breakdown, and she became nearly catatonic. Harrison and Amanda didn’t know what to do to help her, and eventually they hospitalized her; when Captain America resurfaced, after his ibernation, the doctors forbid the couple to tell anything of it to Peggy, since the slightest emotional shock, even a positive one, could have landed the finishing blow to her already frail mind. Believing the doctors, Harrison and Amanda kept the silence on the hero’s return, and watched helplessly as their daughter detached herself from the world.

A new hope for Peggy surfaced in the form of a leading edge, renowned psychiatrist, Doctor Faustus, who was said to be able to cure any wound of the mind. Harrison and Amanda asked him to treat their daughter, not knowing that Faustus was actually a criminal in the midst of a personal war against Captain America. While Peggy was under Faustus’ treatment, Captain America began dating Sharon: the Carters decided not to reveal to the hero that the girl he had fallen in love with was actually the sister of the one he loved during the war, in order to avoid him useless guilt, but the truth emerged thanks to Faustus himself. The psychiatrist, after learning of the bond between his patient Peggy and Captain America, abducted her along with Sharon and her parents, forcing the hero to a face off during which he tortured him with his memories. With Cap struggling with his own ghosts, and the figures of Peggy and Sharon confusing in his mind, Harrison and Amanda finally decided to reveal to him the kin between the two harrisoncartercomicsgirls, presenting themselves not only as Sharon’s parents, but as Peggy’s ones as well. Finally able to tell reality from allucination, Captain America defeated Doctor Faustus with the help of Falcon and freed the Carters. Harrison and Amanda came back to their house in Virginia along with Sharon, while Peggy joined S.H.I.E.L.D. and started a new friendship with Cap. The Carters helped the hero once again when he was fighting the Serpent Society, letting him use their own house as a shelter while he was hunted down, and helping him tailor a new costume to resume his crime-fighting. Later, with the change of continuity, Harrison was portrayed as Peggy Carter’s brother: after World War II, he married Amanda, and had a daughter, Sharon. When Peggy was hospitalized for her nervous breakdown, her parents died, but Harrison decided not to tell her anything about it, not to aggravate her condition. One day, when Harrison and Amanda were visiting Peggy, in her confusion she mistook Harrison for his father, and the man went along with that delusion, always to avoid her a stress (and that’s why Faustus kidnapped Peggy’s “parents”, even if they were dead for some years already). Apart from this, the story of the Carters is the same as in the first version.

Harrison and Amanda Carter are a normal, elderly couple: strong-willed and brave, they are deeply and truly proud of their daughter’s (or daughters’) choices, even if they have to accept them to risk their life on a daily basis, being it while fighting the Nazis in Europe or serving under S.H.I.E.L.D. in foiling threats against the entire world. Despite some obvious confusion in seeing Captain America dating their elder daughter first, and their second one years later (or, depending on the continuity, Harrison’s sister first, and his daughter later), they nevertheless accept and support this bonds, believing in the honesty and goodheart of the hero.

Thomas Gloucester

Thomas GloucesterWhen we first met the Circle of Nine in Agent Carter, it soon became clear that it was the show’s version of the comics’ notorious Secret Empire, but apparently none of the original members had made it to the small screen…until the last episode, Smoke & Mirrors, gave us the full name of Tom, one of the most prominent members of the Council, portrayed by Casey Sander. He’s the one who convinces Calvin Chadwick to renounce to his studies on the Zero Matter, and prompts him to focus on his campaign; he also claims to have orchestrated the Crash of 1929 to help his friend Hugh Jones increase his personal wealth…and his full name is finally revealed to be Thomas Gloucester, certainly not a famous villain in the comics, but an old acquaintance nevertheless. Let’s see together who this éminence grise is originally…but do not expect much, he’s quite a secondary character.

Actually, not much is known about Thomas Gloucester’s past. He was the heir of a once-noble family, and his ancestors, during the Revolutionary War, proudly served in the English Army, trying to stop George Washington and his rebels. Thomas grew up hearing stories about the family’s lost fortune and pride, and learnt to hate the United States of America in their modern form, firmly believing in a world divided in two kinds of people: the superior ones, born with sacred blood in their veins, and the inferior ones, most of the population, commoners who had no right whatsoever. Growing nostalgic over the lost power of the blue blood families, Gloucester lived in the regret of the past centuries’ glory…until he was contacted by a man, William Taurey, who offered him a much more practical and effective way to celebrate the old days: to make them live again. Taurey was one of the founding members of The Elite, a group that reunited rich and influent people who, just like Gloucester, thomasgloucestercomics1believed in a pre-democratical world, and wanted to bring the United States back to a class system able to ensure the blue bloods the respect and power they deserved by birthright. In order to accomplish their ambitious goal, The Elite needed an army, and they found it in what they called the Royalist Forces of America, a brigade of brainwashed “commoners” blindly loyal to their “superiors”, chosen through deadly gladiatorial games that also served to entertain the high-ranking members of The Elite. Together, Gloucester, Taurey and the others devised a plan to conquer the United States and to bring it back to its “perfect” social structure: they had in fact kidnapped Carol Harding, daughter of the famous scientist Mason Harding, and forced him to work for them, engineering the so-called Mad-Bombs, sonic devices that made people go completely insane, prey of a violent outburst. The States would have been engulfed in a bloody frenzy, the government would have collapsed, and The Elite would have stepped into the light to take the reins of the newborn country.

The first Mad-Bomb in New York City, however, was destroyed by Captain America; the bomb was just a test to see if Big Daddy, the true (and by far the biggest) one would have been effective, once activated during the Bicentennial Celebration of the Declaration of Independence. Just to be safe, however, the Royalist Forces were sent to kidnap Captain America and his partner, Falcon, and two members of The Elite, Hesperus and Cheer Chadwick, forced them to fight in the usual gladiatorial game. Cap obviously won, but he refused to kill his opponents as it was costume. It soon turned out, however, that the Captain hadn’t been captured for purely practical reasons, as Taurey had a personal feud with the hero’s family running back to the Revolutionary War; Gloucester and the others realised it too late, and William’s obsession to kill Captain America ended up ruining their entire plan. The two heroes freed Carol Harding, and her father helped S.H.I.E.L.D. locate and disarm the Mad-Bombs; while thomasgloucestercomics2Falcon deactivated Big Daddy in Philadelphia, Captain America led the US Army to The Elite’s lair, vanquishing the Royalist Forces. Thomas Gloucester, witnessing the defeat of his group, managed to escape before being arrested, as well as most of The Elite’s leaders. It took quite some years before The Elite could reorganise itself, and this time the Royalist Forces were replaced by the Imperial Forces, a new army of superhuman individuals, brainwashed and loyal as the previous one but much more powerful. The Imperial Forces, nicknamed Brute Force, proved to be a formidable asset for The Elite, so much that the organization gained the attention of other secret groups, such as the Secret Empire. Recognizing a certain affinity between The Elite’s goals and the Secret Empire’s ones, the two organizations affiliated, and Gloucester himself accepted to become part of the Secret Empire, albeit mantaining all the privileges he had earned (?) as one of the leaders of The Elite. Unfortunately, Brute Force didn’t survive their baptism of fire against Hawkeye‘s Thunderbolts…but The Elite and the Secret Empire were now together, and the world would have soon learnt to fear this new union.

Thomas Gloucester is a proud and spoiled man, who firmly believes to be the heir of a “superior kind of human” for being born in a once-noble family. His nostalgia is not limited to a pure intellectual level, as he is ready to impose with the strength of the weapons a new world order to restore the values of the old class system. Cunning and pitiless, with a considerable wealth to back him and his partners from The Elite up, Thomas Gloucester is a man who lives in the past…and who makes his worst to make that past come back to life.

Blaine Colt (Kid Colt)

Kid ColtThis week’s episode of Agent Carter had quite a tasty surprise for the comicbook readers, and a completely unexpected one. In Better Angels, when Peggy Carter seeks the help of Howard Stark, she finds him busy with his new work of movie director…and he’s directing a movie based on the adventures of the legendary gunman, Kid Colt, who’s also said to be an historical figure in the MCU. Kid Colt, being dead for a century at the very least, doesn’t physically appear in the episode, but there’s an actor portraying him in full, flashy costume, portrayed in turn by Walter Roach. Kid Colt is quite a legend in the Marvel Comics, born during the western era of what was known at the time as Timely Comics. Quite a tasty Easter egg of a character…who we’ll meet together, as usual.

The story of a man like Kid Colt, a legendary outlaw who lived for decades into people’s memory, is always fluctuating between myth and history, and there are several versions of his origins. In each account, he was once a man named Blaine Colt, who lived a peaceful life in the town of Salvation, where he grew up with his father. According to some, it was Blaine’s father who taught him how to shoot since his very childhood. Despite being pretty proficient with guns, Blaine refused to use them in constant duels like most of his peers, and never responded to the teasing of some of the town bullies, including the sheriff and his deputy, Lash Larribee. Larribee went as far as to whip Blaine to a pulp, without getting any reaction from him…a passive attitude that ended up enraging also the boy’s father. Blaine’s only friend was a boy named Gabby, who warned him that the sheriff was aiming to the Colts’ property…too late, as Blaine’s father was murdered, with the homicide pinned on Blaine. Knowing the truth, Blaine finally resolved to use his guns, and killed the sheriff in a regular duel; then, he proceeded to whip Lash Larribee to kidcoltcomics1death. According to other sources, it was Blaine’s older brother, Slim Colt, who taught him how to shoot; when Slim got killed in a duel, Blaine decided he would have never used a gun in his life. However, the local, crooked sheriff killed Blaine’s father, his friend Gabby and even his own deputy Larribee, trying to blame it all on Blaine. Trying to defend himself, Colt engaged the sheriff in a fist fight, and killed him by throwing him off a cliff. In a third and last account, Blaine’s father was killed by a notorious outlaw, Markson. Blaine Colt learnt how to use guns in order to exact his revenge on Markson, and when he was ready, he left the rest of his family behind, and he embarked in a lonely crusade against his enemy. When he found Markson, he challenged him to a duel, and he killed him; despite it being a rightful duel (well, as rightful as it could be for the Wild West laws…), he was deemed a murderer, and forced to live his life on the run. Whatever version is the right one, it’s a fact that, for a reason or another, Blaine Colt killed his enemy (or enemies) according to the law, but he was deemed an outlaw nevertheless; he started to live running from a place to another, and because of his young age he gained the nickname “Kid Colt”.

Kid Colt was an outlaw, but he wasn’t a criminal: wherever he went, he fought against injustice and prevarication, always putting his amazing skills as a gunslinger at the service of the defenseless. During one of his first adventures, when he gunned down a dangerous drunkard threatening the little town of Mojave City, he was even appointed sheriff by the local community, and he acted for a while the role of a law enforcer. That, until one of the city’s outlaws, named Johnstone, recognized him and started blackmailing him. Colt killed Johnstone as well, and he left Mojave City behind, resuming his life as a lonely outlaw. Despite being a loner, Kid Colt crossed paths with many other famous and infamous gunslingers from his era, such as the Two-Gun Kid, the heroic Rawhide Kid, the mysterious and creepy Phantom Rider and the half-Indian Ringo Kid. Some of these legendary outlaws even accompanied Kid Colt in his wandering for a while, and some got closer than others. The best female shooter in the kidcoltcomics2entire West, Arizona Annie, even shared a romantic story with him for, even if it lasted only for the few time they shared together between an adventure and another. Of course, along with friends and allies, Kid Colt met also a number of enemies: at first, he only faced murderers, thieves, bandits and “regular” outlaws, foes he disposed of after a single gun duel. When his fame rose, however, more and more formidable enemies started hunting him down, hoping to make a name for themselves, or simply to collect the bounty on his head: the first really dangerous enemy Colt ever faced was Cash Collins, a proficient gunman leader of the infamous Six-Gun Syndicate. Kid Colt crossed his path when Collins kidnapped Betty Baxter, daughter of a wealthy rancher, who enlisted Kid Colt to retrieve her. Collins even offered Colt a place in his Syndicate, something that Kid pretended to accept, until the right moment to take down the entire gang arrived: he killed Cash Collins, and the rest of the Syndicate disbanded. After the Syndicate, more and more picturesque villains crossed Kid Colt’s path: the sadistic Whip Savage, the quick Scarecrow, the mysterious Mad Monk, the one-handed Hook Creech, the wealthy businessman (and murderer) Brain, the bulletproof Iron Mask… Quite a colorful rogue gallery, for a young man who was becoming one of the most notorious guns in the entire West…

Blaine Colt is a man on the edge, constantly running from the law despite never being a criminal (at least, not for his era’s standards). As Kid Colt, he’s one of the most skilled gunslingers of his time: he’s an absolute master in the use of his twin Colt .45 pistols, and he’s nearly infallible with them; he’s also a proficient rider, and his loyal horse Steel is the one companion that never leaves his side in his adventures. Kid Colt’s young age, ill fame and outlaw life make him a daring adventurer, always on the verge of self-destruction, sometimes even brutal with his enemies; despite his violent methods, however, Colt is and remains a rightful man, always ready to defend who cannot protect himself from the many prevaricators and true criminals the Wild West is full of.

Jason Wilkes

The second (and last) character portrayed in the new posters from Agent Carter season 2 is one of the good guys (maybe…): Jason Wilkes, portrayed by Reggie Austin. In the show, Wilkes will be an American scientist who comes across Peggy Carter‘s investigations in Los Angeles…and apparently he’ll also be the new love interest of the war veteran, with all the problems that an interracial couple could cause in the 1950s. To the ones hoping to see in Wilkes the man who takes Peggy to the altar, don’t hold your breath: if the comics counterpart has any value in the character’s portrayal, Jason will not exactly be the knight in shining armor he seems to be. Let’s see together.

Not much is known about Jason Wilkes’ past: he lived in a small American town, and grew up along with his sister, who became the only companion of his life. Wilkes never got married, as he dedicated himself completely to science: he became a renowned physicist, specialised in optics, and despite never moving from his hometown, he gained an international reputation for his research on the visible spectrum. His sister never married either, and the two Wilkes lived together in their family house for all their life. In his work, Wilkes stated that, continuing his research, he would have been able to modify an object’s refraction in order to make it slip in and outside the visible spectrum, that is, to turn it visible and invisible. Of course, his bold announcement was met with skepticism by many experts in his sector, but it also attracted the attention of interested third parties. In 1961, Jason Wilkes received a letter from an anonymous sender, a note that told him to go to an abandoned mansion at 9:30 p.m. that same night if he wanted to become a rich man. Jason’s sister tried to peep, but the scientist angrily sent her away, telling her to jasonwilkescomics1mind her own business: if the offer was real, he didn’t want to share his wealth with her. Greedy and curious, the scientist went to the appointment, obviously without telling anything to his sister: in the mansion, he met a man who claimed to be a spy from an unspecified country from behind the Iron Curtain. The spy told him that his country knew about his work, and he offered him 1 milion dollars in exchange of a technology able to turn people invisible, thus granting the Communists the ultimate spies…and later, the ultimate army to conquer any nation. With no loyalty whatsoever, and smitten with the money, Wilkes accepted the spy’s offer. The very next day, he announced to his sister that he would have gone on vacation in South America, and immediately moved to the abandoned mansion, starting to work for the Communists.

After months of work, Jason Wilkes managed to build two projectors, an invisibility ray to make things disappear, and an antidote ray to make them visible again. He first experimented them both on a bowl, and it was a success. He then tested the rays on some living animals, such as canarys and goldfish, and the creatures went invisible and visible again with no apparent arm. Absolutely confident over his work, Wilkes decided to make the final test on himself, ready to sell his invention to his mysterious contractors. The scientist activated the first ray, and then stepped in front of it, letting himself being engulfed by his experimental laser: the test was a success, and Wilkes disappeared from sight, becoming completely invisible. It was time to rejoice, and the scientist already anticipated the enormous wealth the spy would have rewarded him with: he only had to activate the antidote ray and contact his benefactor…but, unfortunately, there was a side-effect of his machine that he hadn’t been able to examine while testing it on objects and animals. He was, indeed, invisible, but his body had lost substance, and he was now also immaterial, completely intangible. He tried to turn the antidote ray on, but he simply phased through the machine. Desperate, he tried to draw the attention of the jasonwilkescomics2people nearby, first the Commies, then his sister as well, but also his vocal cords were immaterial, and he couldn’t emit a single sound. The spies, finding two machines they didn’t understand the operating principles of, and not finding Wilkes anywhere, assumed that the scientist had failed his task, and had escaped in order to avoid punishment: his work was destroyed, along with all evidence of cooperation between Wilkes and the foreign power. Now, Jason Wilkes was doomed to live his entire life (and maybe even more: the absence of matter carried unforeseeable effects on his physiology) as an invisible and intangible ghost, unable to make contact with anybody, or to interact with the world in any way…a severe punishment for the traitor he was.

Jason Wilkes is a scientific genius, a brilliant man totally devoted to science…but he is also a greedy and miserable person, motivated by money only, with no other value than self-preservation. After his far-too-succesful experiment, he is both invisible and intangible, the parody of a presence, a body without substance wandering around desperately trying to be noticed, knowing far too well that nobody will ever be able to see him, to hear him or to feel him. Now Wilkes physically is what he has always been: an empty man.

Giuletta Kristina Nefaria/Whitney Frost (Madame Masque)

New production pics from the upcoming second season of Agent Carter provided us with a first look to the new recurring cast…that includes a couple of characters from the comics. Let’s start from this season’s villain(ess), Whitney Frost, portrayed by Wynn Everett. Frost will be an actress in Los Angeles, married to businessman and politician Calvin Chadwick: apparently vain and interested only in her acting career, Whitney will be actually the brain behind her husband’s rise to power, and a formidable threat to Peggy Carter and her allies. The comics readers know far too well that “Whitney Frost” is but an alias for Madame Masque, an iconic criminal from the Marvel Universe who infiltrated Stark Industries and seduced Tony Stark (not too hard a task, that one…) in order to spy on him. If Madame Masque is going to be a major character in the show, it’s obvious she won’t be an enemy of Iron Man as her original version, but the hero’s father is always at disposal… Anyway, let’s see together who this versatile actress is in the comics.

Giuletta Nefaria was born in RomeItaly, the daughter of Count Luchino Nefaria and of his wife Renata. Giuletta’s mother died in childbirth, while the Count, leader of an important branch of the Maggia (the most powerful international criminal association born in Italy), didn’t have will or time to take care of a daughter, especially considering that he wanted a male heir for his empire. Nefaria, under the pretext of wanting a respectable life for his daughter, gave her in adoption to Byron Frost, a rich American businessman who couldn’t have children from his wife Loretta. The Frosts renamed their adoptive daughter Whitney, and brought her to the United States with them, raising her without telling her anything of her true parentage. Whitney Frost had everything she wanted, as her rich parents gave her everything her heart desired, and she grew up pretty spoiled and arrogant. The Frosts died when Whitney was in her twenties, but she was a well known and connected socialite by that time. The girl met Roger Vane, a young and ambitious man with a bright political career in his future: the two fell in love, and soon madamemasquecomics1were engaged. It was in those days, however, that Whitney’s past came knocking to her door: Count Nefaria didn’t father any other possible heir (apart from Lloyd Bloch, a criminal whose true origins were unclear), so he tracked his daughter down and approached her, revealing himself to her as her true father. The Maggia was expanding in the States, and was now controlling a good part of the East Coast: Nefaria wanted his Giuletta to take her rightful place at his side as his heir. Whitney, understandably, refused, and went to her fiancé, telling him everything that had happened. Roger, worried that his future wife’s ties with organized criminality would have damaged his political career, immediately chose to dump her, and fled never to be seen again. Abandoned and distraught, Whitney reconsidered her father’s proposal, and eventually she accepted to join the Maggia. Count Nefaria personally trained her in strategy and combat, making her a criminal mastermind in a few years: a prodigious student, the girl impressed her own father, and she quickly rose in ranks within the organization, earning the title of Big M, the new leader of the Nefaria family.

As her first mission, Big M had to infiltrate Stark Industries to steal weapons’ projects, and to do it she seduced the liaison between Tony Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D. (the espionage agency Stark Industries had become the contractor of), agent Jasper Sitwell. Things became extremely more complicated the moment Whitney realised she had developed true feelings for Sitwell, to the point that her very mission was at stakes. Eventually she had to call for a sudden raid on Stark Industries in order to quit the task before she failed it, but the intervention of Stark’s bodyguard Iron Man made everything more difficult: the Maggia managed to steal what they wanted, but their escape was made harder by the Armored Avenger, and during the fight Whitney Frost’s plane crashed. The woman barely survived, but her face was horribly disfigured by the explosion: only the intervention of Greek criminal Mordecai Midas saved her life. Grateful, Frost started working for Midas, a man obsessed with madamemasquecomics2being the richest person in the world, and fascinated in particular by gold: in order to make his new minion the perfect right-hand-woman for him, Midas created a golden mask for her, allowing her to hide from the world her scarred face. From that moment, Whitney abandoned her “Big M” identity, and she became Madame Masque. Working for Midas, Madame Masque kidnapped a Tony Stark lookalike and trained him to replace the original, so that he would have given the company to Midas once the mission was over. Unfortunately, the Stark running the Industries was a rogue Life Model Decoy, and the “lookalike” was the real deal: Midas’ plan failed, but during the time spent together Madame Masque and Stark had developed strong feelings one for the other, and Tony accepted the woman even with her mask and burnt face. The two started a relationship, but when Stark realised Giulietta still had feelings for Sitwell he broke with her; soon after, he had another girlfriend, Marianne Rodgers. Madame Masque, still working for Midas, tried to get close to Stark once again, but during yet another mission involving Maggia as well, her father was apparently killed by S.H.I.E.L.D. and Iron Man: this was the final straw, and Masque started to hate both the men she had once loved. From that moment, she would have been a fierce and determined enemy, with no space for childish sentimentalities.

Giuletta Nefaria, aka Whitney Frost, is a woman who had her life completely turned upside down from a day to another, and who still dreams of having the chance of resuming her old dreams one day; right now, however, she’s a determined and pitiless criminal, lethal and uncompromising. As Madame Masque, she’s an accomplished tactician and a proficient hand-to-hand combatant, as well as an expert with nearly any kind of firearm; she’s also a mistress of disguise, able to fool even the world’s best spies in conceiling her identity. With a cracked personality, Masque can be extremely compassionate or unbelievably cruel, thorn between the woman she believed to be and the one life turned her into; paranoid and slightly neurotic, she’s both a damsel in distress and a fierce dragon, a bliss and a catastrophe for any man coming near her.