CONUNDRUM

Real Name: Unidentified

Identity/Class: Human Illusionist (like Mysterio); possibly Sufind citizen

Occupation: Currently, jailbird, I presume. Formerly, student of the art of illusion, under his now deceased master Quentin Beck.

Group Membership: Leader of Army of Conundrum

Affiliations: Maguire Beck, Mysterio (Quentin Beck), Jack O'Lantern (Daniel Berkhart)

Enemies: Ambassador Hazram Chaliz, Tabriaz Chaliz, Jack O'Lantern (Daniel Berkhart), Norman Osborn, Secret Avengers (Black Widow, Phil Coulson, Nick Fury Jr., Hawkeye, Mockingbird), Spider-Man (under the guise of Prodigy), Taskmaster

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: Immortal Conundrum

Place of Birth: Unrevealed; possibly Sufind

Base of Operations: Bagalia;
formerly his shrine, "somewhere in the city"

First Appearance: Spectacular Spider-Man II#257 (May, 1998)

Powers/Abilities: His strength is that of a regular human, and he has no powers at all. He uses lots of illusionary gadgets, a la Mysterio and Jack O’Lantern.

Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 170 lbs.
Eyes: Unrevealed
Hair: Unrevealed

History: (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Spider-Man - Back in Black) - The man only known as "Conundrum" was found by Mysterio (Quentin Beck) and trained in parlor tricks alongside Beck's cousin Maguire Beck and Quentin's former cellmate Berkhart. Quentin's students Conundrum and Berkart became a professional rivals. He eventually became the leader of a loyal band of terrorists known as the Army of Conundrum.

(Spectacular Spider-Man II#257-258) - During the Identity Crisis, Peter took the guise of Prodigy. He saved the Ambassador of Sufind from terrorists, and fell under the eyes of Norman Osborn. When Conundrum kidnapped the Ambassador's daughter Tabriaz, asking for the mystical Hand of Mumthazi, a Sufindian national treasure in return, and in sequence, Jack O'Lantern steals the Hand from a museum, on the behalf on Norman Osborn, Prodigy goes to the Embassy of Sufind, to offer his services. There, the Ambassador's old friend, Norman Osborn is also promising his help. Osborn plans to manipulate Prodigy, and the Ambassador tells Prodigy where the exchange is to be made. The place is "Maguire's", an old abandoned Irish pub. There, we meet both Conundrum and Jack O'Lantern, who have a scuffle, even though they both have what the other wants. The talk between the 2 villains indicates that they shared the same mentor, that Jack is much older than Conundrum, that (s)he has a romantic vein, that (s)he taught Conundrum some of his tricks and that their mentor would be disappointed if he knew Mad Jack had become a mercenary. Prodigy arrives, and they both turn his attentions to him, growing to seem 30 feet tall.

Prodigy fights them both, and is being defeated, until he realizes they're just illusionists. Then, as he gains the upper hand (by using his Spider-Sense), Jack's cat buys enough time for Mad Jack escaping. Maguire (the cat) also flees, but Conundrum is captured. After he reveals the location of the girl, Prodigy turns him over to the police. He tries to run away again, but Peter KO's him with a powerful jab. That concludes his participation in the Spider-Books to date.

(Secret Avengers II#2) - Conundrum was among the villains of Bagalia who battled the Secret Avengers, who sought to free Taskmaster.

Comments: Created by J.M. DeMatteis, Luke Ross, Dan Green and Al Milgrom.

Two and-a-half years later, in the Mysterio Manifesto, Mad Jack was revealed to be Maguire Beck, female cousin to the original Mysterio, Quentin Beck. This story raised more questions than it was supposed to answer, and that will only be answered when and if J.M. DeMatteis returns to the Spider-Books, and only if he decides to pick up a somewhat convoluted story and shake it even further. The revelations completely left out Conundrum and his previous connection with Jack, as well as their master, and probably Conundrum is just a child, since Maguire (the gal) is quite young. Another possible scenario would be Danny Berkart (Mysterio) being Jack O'Lantern until the original Mysterio died, and then taking over the fishbowl while Maguire took over the pumpkin. That at least would make Conundrum younger than Berkhart, instead of younger than Maguire. Well, nevermind that. Chances are, we'll never see Conundrum again.

One little jab at our friends over at Spider-Fan. There's the big argument over who is "Jack O'Lantern II"--none of them caring that Mad Jack is the third Jack O'Lantern to show his face. The second guy showed up first as part of the Skeleton Crew in Captain America I#396 (and more recently, in The Hood limited series). Their (head-in-the-sand) argument: He never met Spider-Man, so he doesn't count! Ah, but he did meet Spider-Man, in Spider-Man Unlimited#12. Their retort:...mutter...mutter...Well...Mad Jack's more important...and better...mutter..mutter... Fight the power, kids! ;)
--for the record, the reason I put this here was because I had to go through the profile and delete all of the "II" 's next to Jack O'Lantern, etc.
--Snood.

The identity of Conundrum's deceased mentor stayed for a long time unrevealed because Byrne/Harras pushed J.M. DeMatteis off Spider-Man.

Conundrum received an entry in the Back in Black Handbook. In this entry Conundrum's deceased master was finally revealed as Quentin Beck, his band of terrorists got a name and it was revealed that Berkart was Jack O'Lantern in the story with Conundrum.
--Markus Raymond

Update by Markus Raymond: Secret Avengers.

By Henrique Ferreira courtesy of Spider-Fan

Clarifications: None comes to mind.


Appearances:
Spectacular Spider-Man II#257 (May, 1998) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Luke Ross (pencils), Dan Green & Al Milgrom (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Spectacular Spider-Man II#258 (June, 1998) - Glenn Greenberg & J.M. DeMatteis (writers), Luke Ross (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Secret Avengers II#2 (May, 2013) - Nick Spencer (writer), Luke Ross (artist), Tom Brevoort (editor)


Last updated: 01/13/15

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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