Basil Sandhurst was born in Kittery Point, Maine, and grew up a sickly child who would be bedridden for months at a time. Home-schooled due to his various medical problems, young Basil studied the sciences enthusiastically - he felt he could never have control of his own life, but science taught him that everything was controlled and ordered. As an adult, Sandhurst became a scientist himself, becoming increasingly obsessed with the power of the human mind. As mutants, Inhumans, and superhuman "mutates" with psionic powers began to become more prevalent in the world, Dr. Sandhurst became convinced that all human minds had the potential for psionic powers and became obsessed with proving this was true - often using unsafe and unethical methods in his experiments. His reputation eventually become such that few scientific research firms were willing to hire him. However, his brother Vincent, an attorney for CordCo, used his pull with the company to get Basil a position in the research department. Vincent had hoped that his brother would help him take over CordCo, but Basil found the work he was doing tedious. This led to an argument, and subsequently a fight, which resulted in Vincent pushing Basil into some volatile chemicals, leaving him crippled and disfigured. Out of guilt, Vincent embezzled money from CordCo to build a fully automated lab for his brother. Basil used it to build a cybernetic exoskeleton that allowed him freedom of movement and "control of his own destiny." He then began calling himself Controller. He soon created mind control discs that, once implanted on a human subject, turned them into his thralls. After his initial defeat by Iron Man, Controller was contacted by Thanos, who upgraded his weapons and exoskeleton in exchange for being his operating agent on Earth. After Thanos was defeated, Controller led the Mad Titan's surviving minions in a few campaigns against the Avengers, but was eventually captured and spent a considerable length of time imprisoned in "The Vault." Controller escaped the Vault and hired Justin Hammer to repair his equipment. He attempted to build up his operations in secret, moving to Southern California, posing as a self-help guru and attaching mind control discs to his customers. However, his repaired equipment contained stolen "S-Chip" technology from Stark Industries, and it wasn't long before Iron Man arrived to "repossess" his stolen technology. The ensuing battle resulting most of Controller's equipment getting fried, leaving him confined to life support equipment.
Controller plotted his revenge from the shadows, developing an undetectable variant of his control discs, along with an army of battle droids. Using powerful Japanese businessman Osamu Moroboshi as his proxy, he forged an alliance agents of HYDRA, the Hand, and Roxxon Energy (none of whom knew the identity of their mysterious "patron") as part of an elaborate plot to take control of Stark Industries and use its resources to repair his broken body. When Stark appeared to die from neurocellular degeneration, he attempted to have Morgan Stark planted as a figurehead CEO of Stark Industries. Once it was discovered that Stark was actually alive, simply placed in suspended animation while he underwent an experimental treatment to save him, he sends a squadron of battledroids after Iron Man and War Machine, not knowing that the new armor is a remote controlled "telepresence" suit. After the two Armored Avengers repel the droids, Controller decides that Moroboshi has outlived his usefulness and kills him by overloading his control disc, making it look like he died of a stroke. He has his cyborg enforcer, Berserker-7, bring Stark to his lair, where he intends on enslave him and gain control of the company. Stark is rescued by his Telepresence Armor, but he allows Controller to remain free, taking pity on his nemesis.
Controller was one of many villains recruited to serve the Hood, but he attempted to take leadership of the gang for himself. The Hood punished him by using one of his own control discs on him.
Controller resurfaced as an acolyte of Korvac alongside Unicorn, Blizzard, and Guardsman. He attempted to use his control disc to convert War Machine, but his will proved too strong.
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