Real Name: Gustav Fiers
Identity/Class: Human, manipulator
Occupation: investor in chaos
Group Membership: the Machiavelli Club
Affiliations: Pity (former slave)
formerly used the Sinister Six (Chameleon, Dr. Octopus, Electro, Mysterio, Pity, Vulture) as pawns
formerly Al Capone, Henry Ford, Caspar Gutman, and both the Nazi (Johann Shmidt) and the communist Red Skull (Albert Malik);
Enemies: Chameleon, Dr. Octopus, Invaders, Richard and Mary Parker, S.A.F.E., Spider-Man, Dr. George Williams, Wolverine/Logan
Known Relatives: August (father, deceased), Elizabeth (mother, deceased), Karl (Finisher, younger brother, deceased); Isadora (sister, deceased);
Aliases: several, but none named
Base of Operations: formerly a townhouse on the upper east side of Manhattan, New York
First Appearance: Spider-Man: The Gathering of the Sinister Six novel (March, 1999)
Powers/Abilities: The Gentleman has no superhuman powers. However, he is extraordinarily wealthy and has connections to numerous organizations, granting him access to advanced technology and equipment, and to various paramilitary groups. He specializes in the manipulation of others, and his primarily goal is the accumulation of wealth via the sewing of chaos and manipulation of others. He enjoys lording his wealth and power of others: He once purchased the entire crop stock of a particular form of tobacco he enjoyed, so that none but he could partake of it. He has nothing but disdain for the vast bulk of humanity, seeing himself as of superior genetic stock, education, class, and intellect. He is especially appalled by the lower class and by non-Caucasian races, which he sees as less than human.
Despite his advanced age, Gustav, like his parents before him, remained physically and mentally fit. Though not frequently participating in physical combat, he could swiftly drop a man by swatting him in the throat with his cane, which he carried strictly for appearance sake (though he did keep a couple of failsafe weapons in it). He also carried a revolver in his pocket. He typically used Pity as his bodyguard and enforcer, remaining on the periphery of all conflicts. He maintained absolute control over Pity, such that her every thought was to follow his wishes, with her own desires and needs a distant second.
(Spider-Man: Revenge of the Sinister Six [fb]) - Born shortly after the start of the 20th Century, Gustav was the eldest son of a pair of very wealthy Americans, previous generations of which had achieved a fortune in the slave trade prior to the Civil War, moving into railroads, shipping, and construction by the turn of the century. There is some evidence that his father had profited from the fallout of casualties he had arranged. His father had also purchased noble titles for himself and his bride.
In 1912, the Fiers family crossed on the Titanic, and their wealth enabled them to obtain one of the first lifeboats and escape without casualty. His sister Isadora was a victim of the encephalitis epidemic and spent the remainder of her life in a nearly comatose state. His brother Karl rejected his family's wealth and became a committed anarchist, active in many violent terrorist groups of the years. Gustav inherited the family yen for money--as well as most of the pre-existing fortune--and spent the next twenty years quadrupling the Fiers coffers with investments in blackmail, bootlegging, and--sometimes using Karl--contract murder. (He participated in several notable murders himself.) He became a respected advisor and occasional money-lender to organized crime during the twenties and thirties, even attending one of Al Capone's notorious baseball bat parties. By the mid-thirties, he was a wanted figure in several countries.
On May 6th, 1937, George Williams, a young treasury agent working as part of an intra-agency task force, stumbled across information that Fiers was returning to the USA under an assumed name. However, Fiers expected their arrival and vanished in the panic caused by the explosion of the zeppelin Hindenberg--a disaster which Fiers was suspected of engineering, both to cover his escape and to put an end to that mode of air travel, as he had recently made substantial investments in airplane technology.
The Gentleman is said to have sold arms during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
(Spider-Man: Secret of the Sinister Six [fb]) - He also had some part in the Japanese attack on Nanking.
(Spider-Man: Revenge of the Sinister Six [fb]) - In 1942, Fiers was operating in Vichy Casablanca and earning a tidy living playing the Allies against the Axis, running arms, forging letters of transit, and financing phony airlines that collected large sums for travel to same havens and then turned the refugees back to the very people hunting them. He worked with Henry Ford (described as a fascist sympathizer) to set up a string of international subsidiaries that permitted Ford to continue doing business with the enemy even at the height of the war. That same year, George Williams advised the early team of the Invaders (Captain America, Bucky, the original Human Torch, Spitfire, the Sub-Mariner, Toro, and Union Jack) as they flew to Casablanca to apprehend Fiers. They nearly caught him, but he blew up a nightclub and slipped away while the local authorities were still sifting through the bodies.
(Spider-Man: Secret of the Sinister Six [fb]) <November 28, 1942> - The Gentleman survived the Cocoanut Grove Fire in Boston, Massachusetts.
During World War II, Fiers worked with the original Red Skull, Johann Shmidt, providing weaponry, intelligence, transportation, discreet medical services, and even elimination of human nuisances.
In 1956, the Gentleman survived the sinking of the Andrea Doria.
In 1959, the Gentleman invested in a spy ring but got out of it before it was busted by Thornhill.
In 1965, he saw the car that Professor Fate used to win the Great Race.
In 1967, his sister Isadora finally died.
The Gentleman kept Anna Anderson from claiming the Russian royal family's fortune (See Comments).
(Spider-Man: Revenge of the Sinister Six [fb]) - During the Viet Nam "war," in the City of Hue, Fiers set up an unscrupulous drug distribution network with certain elements in the US government. He was long gone and his network running on its own when Hue was turned to rubble by the Tet Offensive. He was reported to be in Cambodia, but an agent sent to apprehend or terminate him was sent back blinded, with his tongue cut out, and severely and forcibly addicted to heroin.
After this he was reported to have been
involved with AIM, Hydra, the Red Brigade, and other terrorist groups. About
twenty years before the modern era, he became involved with what would become
known as the Croesus incident. The Croesus was a Mediterranean casino cruise so
exclusive that even the rich and famous needed written invitations just to
board, with tickets being priced somewhere in the upper obscene. This not being
enough for Fiers, he supplemented his income by using hidden tightly-focused
microwave beams to give selected members of his clientele cancer and radiation
sickness, so he could later make a mint predicting the inevitable effect on
their respective currencies.
Unbeknownst to Fiers, representatives of several nations' intelligence agencies had infiltrated his organization, with George Williams acting in an advisory capacity. They got the goods on Fiers, but he found out what they were doing at the last minute. Fiers captured one of these agents, a Canadian named Logan and tortured him mercilessly. Despite the lack of any further information, Fiers realized that his operation was compromised and blew up his ship, getting away in a submarine. Logan was rescued by two American agents, Richard and Mary Parker.
(Spider-Man: Secret of the Sinister Six [fb]) - August and
Elizabeth Fiers were serving into their second centuries, though they were now
living under assumed names in a heavily armed compound in Thailand (due
endangerment over the activities of their sons). Extraordinarily wealthy and
still actively investing, they lived in luxury, unknowingly functioning as
living savings accounts, ripe for assassination the second Gustav or Karl
decided they needed to inherit.
Karl Fiers learned that the Parkers had infiltrated the organization of Albert Malik, the communist Red Skull, for whom his brother, Karl, now worked, under the alias the Finisher. Gustav Fiers traveled to the Casbah, in Tangiers, where he met with both his brother and Malik. After nearly provoking a conflict between himself and Malik, Gustav informed him that Richard and Mary Parker were American spies. For this information, he charged Malik one dollar, American. Fiers also made Malik promise not to go after the Parkers' infant son, Peter, as he wished to punish him when he was old enough to appreciate it.
Malik had the Finisher sabotage the Parkers' plane, as well as manufacture evidence that they were actually traitors to America.
(Spider-Man: Revenge of the Sinister Six [fb]) - Presumably during the 1980's, Fiers worked with Ferdinand Marcos, dictator of the Philippines.
(Spider-Man: Secret of the Sinister Six [fb]) - Fiers continued his practice of making obscene profits investing in chaos throughout the world. He contributed to wars, revolutions, biological and ecological catastrophes, and human suffering in dozens of countries. Continuing to remain free despite the efforts of various international agencies and the fact that he was no well into his eighties, it was at this time that he adopted the name, the Gentleman. He also acquired a young girl, whom he had obtained after killing her parents. Recognizing the mutant powers in the girl, he used the most advanced mind-control techniques in existence to bond the girl to his will, such that she had no will of her own. Forbidden to even speak, she was known by one name only: Pity.
As Fiers continued to monitor the life of Peter Parker, he was surprised to learn of the events that transformed him into Spider-Man. He made sure to kill those who told him so that the information would be his alone. He enjoyed watching the ironies that began to overtake young Parker's life. He did, that is, until he learned that Parker had learned of his parents and managed to clear their names, in a struggle which took the life of Karl Fiers, the Finisher. Both saddened and amused by the irony, the Gentleman began to plot the destruction of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, his family and friends, and the city he lived in. He wanted Parker to know who had done this to him, and he needed to make a profit in the process--because that was how he worked.
(Spider-Man: Gathering of the Sinister Six) - Years later, the Gentleman arrived in New York and set his plans into motion. He recruited his old ally, the Chameleon, to free and reform the Sinister Six--Dr. Octopus, Electro, Mysterio, and the Vulture, adding in the Chameleon and Pity as the final members.
(Spider-Man: Revenge of the Sinister Six) - The Gentleman met
with the Sinister Six, returning Dr. Octopus's missing robotic arms to him
(having recovered them for SAFE custody via his own agents), and promising them
untold millions of dollars if they followed his plan. He kept the details in
secrecy to maintain his own worth to the plan and to prevent them from killing
him, at the same time making his disdain for them all quite clear. He first paid
them to terrorize New York City in an effort to rack up a massive death toll and
force the guilt for their actions onto Spider-Man. At the onset, he introduced
himself to Spider-Man, making it clear he new his identity, and offering vague
clues to his past history.
Spider-Man, however, managed to stop all of the threats from the Sinister Six and then learned the Gentleman's origins from the group SAFE (Strategic Actions For Emergencies). The Six did succeed in their secret agenda, in which Electro and Pity stole an unknown compound from a secret government facility, while Mysterio covered their actions on the Brooklyn Bridge. The Gentleman also duped two would-be associates in the Machiavelli Club, Randolph and Mortimer, into wagering and losing (again) their lives' fortune over the number of victims of the above activities.
(Spider-Man: Secret of the Sinister Six) - The Gentleman directed the Sinister Six (despite a lot of tension from all of the egos chafing at his manipulation) to steal an Oltion Generator (designed in an effort to make a plastic-type adamantium). Using this without shielding and empowered by Electro, this would cause an Electro-Magnetic Pulse that would permanently destroy all computer records in New York city, possibly even throughout the entire state. What he kept to himself was that the compound stolen by Electro and Pity was actually a catalyst capable of destroying all ink. He planned to detonate this over New York, destroying all paperwork and paper money, plunging the city and much of the world into economic chaos, as well as betraying the Sinister Six, whom he had paid in cash. The Gentleman had spent the last several weeks converting all of his cash assets into gold, precious gems, expensive artwork, etc., all of which would be even more valuable after the destruction of the American's monetary system.
However, Spider-Man, aided by a weapon of his design and SAFE's construction, completely neutralized Electro, thus foiling the EMP plan. The Gentleman had long since headed out to fly his plane to both escape and dump the catalyst. Infuriated at the delays, he decided to execute his limousine driver, who shot him instead, leaving him to die a painful death on the tarmac during a blizzard. Assuming the Gentleman's form, the Chameleon prepared to take off in the plane, dump the catalyst, and escape with the loot, but he was attacked by Dr. Octopus who believed him to be the real deal. Ultimately, Spidey stopped them both, exposing the Chameleon's true self.
Near death, the Gentleman was found by his old enemy, Dr. George Williams, himself now very old and much weaker after having suffered a stroke. Williams, who had been called in by SAFE to consult on the Gentleman, tormented his old foe saying that as he had used up all of his money buying the valuables which had been stolen, he was now completely broke. The Gentleman screamed out that he refused to die penniless, and Williams tossed a penny out onto the tarmac. The Gentleman died while crawling after that penny. Without any money, any friends, or any family, he was buried in a nondescript burial plot--after SAFE and several other organizations confirmed that it was truly him who had died, and not a clone or some other duplicate.
The Gentleman's final vengeance was to have been a bomb he had Pity place in Peter and Mary Jane Parker's Forest Hills Home, intending to kill Mary Jane, and then pick off Peter while he was overcome with grief. This plan failed with the Gentleman's death and the loss of his cane aboard his plane, which crashed in the ocean. In addition, Wolverine--who had been notified both of the inquiries into the pasts of his old allies, Richard and Mary Parker, and the arrival of the Gentleman in New York--anticipated this action, and defused and destroyed the bomb.
Comments: Created by Adam-Troy Castro and Mike Zeck.
Also included in the Gentleman's allies
(page 390 of "Secret") was
a "lady opium smuggler in China." I'm not sure if that's meant to represent
Fah lo Suee,
or someone else entirely.
Per Degaton suggests the actor Jackie Chan's mother.
Given the list of worthies you've provided so far, I'd be more inclined to think the lady in question would be someone more like Lai Choi San, the infamous Dragon Lady of Terry and the Pirates--Joe Littrell.
I vote Yi Yang, because Night Raven (and Alan Moore) kick @$$!
Reading the Secret of the Sinister Six, I knew the Chameleon would show up again to get revenge on the Gentleman, but I didn't expect him to be the one to kill him. I was sure it would be Dr. Octopus.
Alas, novels are not considered definitive
canon. There are multiple examples of them becoming so, such as the "This Evil
Undying" short story written by Jim Shooter, which was adapted into Avengers
I #201+202. A Generation X novel was also adapted into comics form, and I'm sure
there are others. However, until such time as they are written in, they remain
at the fringe, in the same zone occupied by the Hostess Villains, only one of
whom has ever crossed the continuity barrier as of this writing. This trilogy,
like most of those of its genre, fits very well into continuity. It takes place
shortly after the death of Ben Reilly and before Norman Osborn's villainous
takeover of the Daily Bugle. The Author's note preceding the story in
Spider-Man: Secret of the Sinister Six discusses this in beautiful detail.
even got Mysterio extremely weak and sick, the first signs of his terminal
cancer, in the final battle.
For the record, these characters are welcome additions to the Appendix site. Maybe this will encourage fan and/or writer interest and get them across. I can dream, can't I?
The Gentleman also hinted at being involved with deaths of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Kurt Cobain (or another singer?).
Buy and read these. Lots of great little tidbits, including subtly including characters like FBI agent (Clarice) Starling (from Silence of the Lambs), the son of Off. Gunderson (from Fargo), Mortimer and Randolph (from Trading Places and Coming to America), Mr. Bumpo (from the Punisher series), Big Wheel, a Guy Named Joe, Machete, Rocket Racer, White Rabbit, and a couple of new lemon characters: Candyman and Disc Jockey, etc., as well as numerous history and other fiction tidbits, as detailed below.
Much thanks to Per Degaton for his extensive knowledge of real world history, as well as providing the details on various non-Marvel fictional characters. His comments follow:
On page 423 of Revenge of the Sinister Six, the Gentleman is said to have sold arms during the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Civil War happened when the Spanish military, the Falange (right-wing political group), and the Roman Catholic Church rebelled against a Popular Front government (government composed of a coalition of leftist groups). Wolverine and Puck both fought in the Spanish Civil War; see, for example, Wolverine II #35-37 and #79.
Also on that page, the Gentleman is revealed to have worked with Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos was a Philippine dictator and member of the World Anti-Communist League (which included Sun Myung Moon and Adolfo Calero of the Contras). He served as the president of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, fighting Maoist rebels frequently. Marcos was noted for graft.
Page 429 connects the Gentleman to the Red Brigade. The Red Brigade was a leftist Italian radical terrorist group started in 1969 by Renato Curcio. It may have had KGB connections. From the 1970's to the 1980's, it participated in kidnappings and murders.
On page 88-89
of Secret of the Sinister Six, it is noted that the Gentleman kept Anna
Anderson from claiming the Russian royal family's fortune. Anna Anderson was a
woman who claimed to be Anastasia (Romanov, not Newkirk), the daughter of
Russia's last tsar (emperor), Nicholas II. Nicholas II abdicated on March 17,
1917, and was months later killed by the Communists/Bolsheviks with his entire
family-although some claimed that little daughter Anastasia survived. Among
these was Anna Anderson, a woman who claimed to be Anastasia. (The Russian royal
family have achieved sainthood among some Eastern Orthodox.) See the Shadow
graphic novel Hitler's Astrologer for an interesting take on Tsar Nicholas II.
One can only wonder what the Gentleman had against Anderson; DNA testing a decade after her death would prove that she was not Anastasia Romanov, but likely a Polish factory worker named Franzisca Schanzkowska.
On page 89 of
Secret of the Sinister Six, the Gentleman remembers his part in the
Japanese attack on Nanking. This happened when Japanese Shinto imperialist
soldiers raped or killed thousands of Chinese people in December 1937-1938; I
think an issue of Semper Fi' may have depicted this, and I believe that John
Kowalski had an adventure connected to it in War Is Hell.
The firebombing of Dresden happened on February 13, 1945; it killed more people than Hiroshima. Kurt Vonnegut, the famous author, witnessed it. The
firebombing of Dresden was shown in Sgt. Fury #108.
The Tet Offensive was a devastating blow to the United States' effort in Vietnam, as the Communist Vietcong delivered a shattering blow; the Vietnam War was effectively lost with the Tet Offensive in January 1968. The 'Nam #79-83 depicts the Tet Offensive, as does The 'Nam #24-25, which show the attacks on Khe Sahn, Hue, and Da Nang that happened during the Tet Offensive.
On page 111 of Secret of the Sinister Six, Ben Urich mentions winning a typewriter from a science fiction writer who still uses one. This refers to William Gibson, the pioneer of cyberpunk.
On page 390 of Secret of the Sinister Six, the Gentleman remembers surviving the Cocoanut Grove Fire (the Cocoanut Grove was a Boston club in which 492 people died on November 28, 1942 due to inappropriate fire safety standards) and the Andrea Doria (an Italian passenger ship that crashed in 1956). The Gentleman remembers seeing the car that Professor Fate used to win a car race-per the Jack Lemmon/Tony Curtis movie The Great Race (1965). He also remembers a spy ring he had invested in but got out of that was defeated by an ad executive named Thornhill--straight out of the Cary Grant film North By Northwest (1959).
Henry Ford did indeed have strong ties to the Axis-or at least the non-Shinto members and fellow travelers of the Axis. Investigative author Charles Higham showed in the book Trading With the Enemy that Henry Ford maintained a motor plant in Vichy (Axis-held) France that turned out tanks and carriers for Nazi Germany during World War II.
Henry Ford also sent Hitler 50,000 Reich marks for his birthday each year, was praised in Hitler's digressive, silly book Mein Kampf, and received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, an honor few non-Germans ever achieved (Mussolini and Franciso Franco excepted). Ford also refused to build aircraft engines for England.
Henry Ford actually
had influenced the Third Reich through his newspaper The Dearborn
Independent, which published anti-Jewish propaganda from 1920 to 1927.
Most infamously the plagiarized Russian forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion - http://skepdic.com/protocols.html
Henry Ford was also mentioned and possibly seen in Avengers I Annual #21, in the Citizen Kang back-up.
Here are some more trivia tidbits from these Spider-Man novels courtesy of Adam-Troy Castro, the author of these tales:
During his visit to
the Jeweler in SECRET, the Gentleman uses an assumed name, belonging to a
past employee who once obtained antiquities for him:
the french archeologist from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. As stated, he also indicates his past association with the Nazi Christian Szell from MARATHON MAN.
The airport where he stashes his plane is named after a character in the old time adventure comic strip SMILIN' JACK.
The waiter at the Macchiavelli Club is Henry from Isaac Asimov's BLACK WIDOWER stories.
[T]he Gentleman's wartime business in Casablanca, selling forged letters of transit and turning the victimized refugees in to the Nazis, is a direct reference to the classic film CASABLANCA. The implication is that Paul Henreid and Ingrid Bergman obtained their documents from him, fly off at the end of that film only to fall into his trap. As another indication that he was involved in those events, we get to meet his servant, "Ugarte," in the Prologue to SECRET, who we're told the Gentleman rescued from wartime Casablanca. Ugarte was the Peter Lorre character in CASABLANCA, whose death at the hands of the nazis was reported off-screen. Apparently, he survived, at the cost of spending the rest of a very long life at the Gentleman's beck and call. Finally, when the Invaders flew to Casablanca to capture him, he escaped by blowing up a nightclub -- possibly Rick's, which by that time would have been under different ownership. Not a nice guy, the Gentleman.
[T]he Gentleman's old associate Szell is of course the Nazi Christian Szell from the William Goldman novel and later Dustin Hoffman film, MARATHON MAN.
The lady opium smuggler in China is an admittedly ham-handed reference to the Dragon Lady from TERRY AND THE PIRATES.
The science fiction author who still works on a typewriter is not Gibson, but Harlan Ellison.
One last note for now:
in one of the later two novels, Mary Jane gets sent a script for a movie
about a ballet dancer attempting to communicate with giant spiders on an
alien planet. Peter exclaims, "Who writes this stuff?"
The answer was me. It was a self-serving reference to my own hugo/nebula
nominee, "The Funeral March of the Marionettes."
Profile updated/edited by Kyle Sims
No known connection to:
MACCHIAVELLI CLUB (not pictured)
The Machiavelli Club, mentioned on pages 34-35 of Gathering of the Sinister Six, as well as pages 162-163 of Revenge of the Sinister Six, was founded by Professor James Moriarty, from the Sherlock Holmes stories "The Final Problem," "The Adventure of the Empty House," and the novel The Valley of Fear. Its members include various rogues from comic books, movies, prose fiction, and so forth.
The waiter at the Macchiavelli Club is Henry from Asimov's BLACK WIDOWER stories.
Although not mentioned as a member of the Machiavelli Club, Caspar Gutman worked with the Gentleman in the past, per page 166 of Secret of the Sinister Six. Casper Gutman comes from the Dashiell Hammett novel The Maltese Falcon, published in 1929.
-- Spider-Man: Gathering of the Sinister Six (Revenge of the Sinister Six)
Spider-Man: The Gathering of the Sinister Six novel (March, 1999) - Adam-Troy Castro (writer)
Spider-Man: Revenge of the Sinister Six novel (July, 2001) - Adam-Troy Castro (writer)
Spider-Man: Secret of the Sinister Six novel (March, 2002) - Adam-Troy Castro (writer)
Last updated: 06/28/05
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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