Madame Masque is a character that appears in the Marvel comics. She is an enemy of Iron Man, and often appears as a bounty hunter who repeatedly tries to kill him.

Fictional Character BiographyEdit

Madame Masque was born as Giulietta Nefaria, the daughter of the master criminal Count Luchino Nefaria, in Rome, Italy. Her mother died when giving birth and Luchino wanted his daughter to lead a respectable life, so he gave the child to Byron Frost, a wealthy financier and an employee of Nefaria, and his wife Loretta to be raised. He called the child Whitney and raised her as his own.

As a young adult, Whitney was a debutante and socialite, and became engaged to politician Roger Vane. The Frosts died and Count Nefaria approached Whitney and revealed her true parentage. He told Whitney that he wanted her to take his place as leader of the Maggia, a Mafia-like organization running the East Coast of the United States. Whitney at first refused, but when she told Roger about her father, he left her, afraid that her connections to a known criminal would hamper his political career.

Whitney accepted her father's offer to become a professional criminal mastermind and was trained by him in strategy, criminal activities, and combat. She turned out to be a brilliant student and when her father was imprisoned, she became the new Big M, the leader of the Nefaria family of the Maggia. Her role as Big M brought her into conflict with Iron Man.[1] Whitney was forced to flee after a raid on his company, Stark Industries. The plane she escaped in crashed and Whitney's face was scarred, but she was saved by the criminal Mordecai Midas and started to work for him as his agent. Midas was obsessed with gold and Whitney hid her face behind a golden mask and used the alias "Madame Masque".[2]

Madame Masque met Tony Stark (Iron Man's alter ego) and he showed concern for her despite her scarred face. She turned on Midas to save Stark, but left Stark because of her criminal past. Unable to forget him, she returned as Krissy Longfellow, Stark's personal secretary. Both came to know each other's secret identity and started a romantic relationship. Their happiness was short-lived as Count Nefaria, her father, was dying as the result of an attempt to gain superhuman powers. Whitney hired the Ani-Men to bring her father to her and then asked Stark to find a cure for him. Nefaria tried to use violence to force Stark, and a battle started between the Ani-Men and Iron Man. During the battle Whitney was unable to choose between her father and her lover and when Nefaria's life-support was damaged in the fight, she went insane with guilt and grief.[3] Whitney returned to the Nefaria Maggia and as "The Director" became its leader. She often fought Iron Man and his friends.[volume & issue needed]

Masque and the Inner GuardEdit

At one point, Whitney became paranoid and started to create copies of herself, known as bio-duplicates. One of her bio-duplicates known as Masque, was an ally of the Avengers. She also created robotic servants known as the Inner Guard and named individually after notable historical traitors (including Benedict Arnold, Brutus, Guy Fawkes and Vidkun Quisling).[4]

One member of the Inner Guard, Benedict, eventually recaptured Masque for Whitney. Masque then tried to convince her the Avengers were benevolent and that she should reach out to Stark again, but Whitney was still too fearful to do so. She continued to be a criminal figure of importance, until her father returned from the dead once again and destroyed her base. She reluctantly assisted the Avengers and the Thunderbolts against Nefaria, but she secretly planned to betray and destroy both sides, her increased paranoia causing her to believe that both sides wanted only to kill her. Masque again tried unsuccessfully to convince her to side with the heroes, then joined the battle in Whitney's place and was promptly slain by Nefaria, who showed only glee at her apparent demise while Iron Man was clearly genuinely horrified at the loss of the woman he'd once loved. Madame Masque was shocked by her duplicate's nobility and sacrifice, with Iron Man's reaction forcing her to recognise that her duplicate had been right about the Avengers. Whitney joined the battle and played a key role in her father's defeat, causing him to begin leaking ionic energy until he finally collapsed. She then decided to renounce her criminal past, and MACH-II of the Thunderbolts offered her membership, but she politely declined, departing to parts unknown to consider her future. Before leaving, she asked MACH-II to thank everyone for her, especially Iron Man. Afterward, Jasper Sitwell, an old ally of Iron Man's and Whitney's who had been in contact with him over the course of the conflict asks if that was the real Whitney. Iron Man says that it was, but that she slipped away in the confusion. He says that she really came through when it mattered. He says that she is gone, but that if you look at it- she is really back.[5]

[edit] New AvengersEdit

Madame Masque has been hired by the Hood to take advantage of the split in the superhero community caused by the Superhuman Registration Act.[6] She is the Hood's second in command (and his lover) and helped them fight the New Avengers but was taken down by Doctor Strange and taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.[7]

[edit] Secret InvasionEdit

Madame Masque is one among many supervillains who rejoined the Hood's crime syndicate and attacked an invading Skrull force.[8]

In a flashback, it is revealed that when Madame Masque was taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, a group of Skrulls disguised as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were trying to learn her true face so they could switch her out. The Hood frees her and kills all the Skrulls except one. In an unknown location attended by most of the Hood's army, they learn from the Skrull agent that the Skrulls plan on taking over Earth, believing it to be rightfully theirs. The Skrull agent dies from the injuries received under torture. Another infiltrator, in the guise of the criminal Slug is found moments later and killed.[9]

Madame Masque is seen amongst the rest of the Hood's crime syndicate as they assist the heroes in their final battle against the Skrulls.[10]

Dark ReignEdit

Madame Masque is part of a surprise attack on the New Avengers, a trap set up by Norman Osborn.[11] Later, when The Hood attacks Doctor Strange in order to become the Sorcerer Supreme, she tries to help him deal with his possession by Dormammu, taking off her mask and confessing her feelings for him.[12]

Osborn had also put a bounty on Tony Stark's head and offered mountains of gold to the first person in the Hood's gang to get him. He personally called Madame Masque over to Stark Tower, offering the locations of multiple Iron Man armories to help her find Stark. She tracks Stark to Russia, which Pepper Potts had also done.[13] While Stark is away collecting firewood, Masque captures Pepper, torturing her, before demanding that Stark tell her his true feelings to her real face. Weakly, Tony admits that, though they have been fighting, he always loved her, to which Masque reciprocates.[14] However, when faced with a direct choice between Pepper or Masque, he actually chose Pepper. As he escapes to Afghanistan, Masque and Pepper go hand-to-hand with each other.[15]

After her fights, Masque later reports to Osborn that she killed Pepper in combat, and returns to the United States with the Rescue armor, which is placed in storage with other Stark armors that Osborn has acquired.[16] Later, it revealed the Madame Masque is Pepper in disguise, with the real Madame Masque imprisoned in Stark's discarded Crimson Dynamo suit.[17]

When Osborn called off the hunt for Stark, due to his being in a persistent vegetative state, Masque decided to take matters into her own hands, and hired the Ghost to eliminate Stark, but Ghost failed in his task.[18]

[edit] SiegeEdit

Masque, along with the rest of the Hood's gang, join in helping Osborn with the siege of Asgard.[19] However, Loki retook the Norn stones from the Hood to help the Avengers and Asgardians battle the Void. Masque helped the Hood slip away. The Hood was pessimistic, knowing that his gang would simply sell him out. However, Masque refused to let him go down.[20] Therefore, she seeks out her father Count Nefaria for help. The New Avengers track her and the Hood using John King. After a battle with Nefaria, the New Avengers capture all four and bring them to Maria Hill to place them under arrest.[21]

[edit] Heroic AgeEdit

When the Hood escapes from prison and makes a play to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet, the one ally he visits is Madame Masque. Using his reality gem, he heals her face.[22] The Hood is eventually bested by the Avengers, joined by the Red Hulk.[volume & issue needed]

Other versionsEdit

House of M: Masters of EvilEdit

In the House of M universe, Masque fulfils a similar role as her mainstream counterpart. In this, she is the second in command of The Hood's Criminal Syndicate, as well as being his mistress. She is with him during the uprising, and invades the foreign country with him. She is one of the few criminals who decides to stay with Robbins when the other criminals decide that the heat from Magneto is too much. She is killed in the final battle, and it is remarked that Robbins and Masque had a very powerful love, that kept Parker fighting.[23]

Marvel NoirEdit

In the Marvel Noir Universe, a version of Masque exists, first is one in Spider-Man Noir'. Unlike the mainstream version, however, this version is Felicia Hardy. She is powerless, and does not become Madame Masque until the end of Spider-Man Noir: Eyes without a Face. Previously, she had been slashed by the Crime Master in the face and various parts of the body. Eventually, she recovers, but in the final panel, her face is shown, wearing a mask similar to mainstream Madame Masque.[24]

In Iron Man Noir, another version of Madame Masque appears in as a explorer working with Tony Stark, not to mention a former flame as well.[25] Dr. Gialetta Nefaria, along with Tony, Virgil Munsey, an editor for a magazine called Marvels, and Rhodey are on a trip in British Honduras. After acquiring a rare Jade mask in a temple, she is later seen betraying Stark and his friends to Baron Zemo, his commander Baron Strucker. Though Rhodey and Tony escape, they set off a bomb and in the explosion, Gialetta is forever scarred.[26]

[edit] Powers and abilitiesEdit

Madame Masque has no superhuman powers, but is an athletic woman and a skilled hand-to-hand combatant in various martial arts and an expert markswoman. She is a master strategist and organizer, although she suffers from mental instability and is believed to be criminally insane. She has access to advanced technology like her bio-duplicates.

Madame Masque wears body armor of an unknown composition with a gold metal faceplate, underneath which her face was chemically scarred. The faceplate is hard enough to deflect bullets without causing her any permanent injury. She carries a .475 Wildey Magnum revolver or any various types of handguns, including guns firing concussive blasts of energy and guns firing sleeping-gas cartridges.

As leader of the Maggia family, Madame Masque commands unspecified numbers of Dreadnought robots modified from the original designs stolen from HYDRA.


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External Links & ReferencesEdit

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