Real Name: Dr. Donald Birch

Identity/Class: Normal human technology user

Occupation: Recluse, world destroyer;
    formerly researcher with A.I.M., Hydra
    formerly saboteur;
    formerly research scientist employed by Stark Industries

Group Membership: None;
    formerly Stark Industries

Affiliations: Elsa (robot);
    formerly A.I.M., Hydra

Enemies: Iron Man (Tony Stark), Iron Man (Tony Stark) of Earth-81191, S.T.R.I.K.E. (Beetle troops, Vixen, others), effectively the people of Earth, past versions of Luke Cage, Captain Britain (Brian Braddock), Cyclops (Scott Summers), Dark Phoenix, Dazzler (Alison Blaire), Human Torch (Johnny Storm), Iron Fist (Daniel Rand), Yellowjacket (Henry Pym)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: The "Phantom Saboteur"

Base of Operations: A hidden (formerly Hydra) underwater base;
    formerly Stark Industries, Long Island facility, USA

First Appearance: Tales of Suspense I#63/1 (March, 1965)

Powers/Abilities: Birch was a technological genius, crafting new designs for robots across the years. He had training in electronics and weaponry. He was experienced with and had access to a variety of explosives. As the Phantom, he initially carried a blast gun, suction bombs, and other weapons. He later suffered ill health and was confined to a wheelchair, but his technical brilliance was undiminished.

Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 173 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Blond

(Iron Age: Omega (fb)) - As a child while playing with action figures, Birch briefly saw an old man in a wheelchair (actually a future version of himself), but was chided by his mother as just his imagination when he reported it to her.

(Tales of Suspense I#63/1) - As an adult, Birch was employed in some field of Research and Development at Stark Industries. He was always frustrated because Tony Stark never seemed to have the time to discuss his developments or problems; so naturally, Birch decided to destroy Stark Industries to get revenge. Adopting the identity of the Phantom, Birch began planting time bombs in Stark Industries, or sabotaging and destroying other projects. Iron Man figured out that it was an inside job, but always seemed to be a step behind the "phantom saboteur." As the attacks continued, unions threatened to pull out their workers due to the risks, and Congress considered awarding their defense contracts to another company. Staying on guard as Iron Man around the clock, Stark finally caught up with the Phantom and chased him into Stark Industries' prototype Moon Missile, then captured him within its capsule. The Phantom was unmasked as Birch, and then sent off with the police.

(Iron Age I#1/2 (fb) - BTS) - At some point Birch found the first part of Doom's time machine.

(Iron Age I#1/2) - Birch was captured in England by S.T.R.I.K.E. with the time machine part in his possession because he was believed to be superhuman and at the time superhumans were rounded up by the government due to Jim Jaspers' laws. He was tortured at S.T.R.I.K.E. Command, but lost consciousness. Vixen was disappointed when it turned out that he was a mere human.

   The time-travelling Iron Man from the doomed Earth-81191 infiltrated S.T.R.I.K.E. and took the part of Doom's time machine while Birch was unconscious. Though he had the chance, he decided against killing him right there because Birch had not committed his world-ending crime against humanity yet.

(Iron Age: Alpha (fb) - BTS) - Birch later worked for Hydra and A.I.M., building much of their technology but never agreed with their ideology. After years of therapy, he became a recluse, stealing money from the criminal organizations and his robot creations, establishing an underwater base and acquiring one of Dr. Doom's time machine platforms. He developed a plan to destroy Stark, traveling through time to get future technology and view the anticipated outcomes, but he was near death from terminal cancer.

(Iron Age: Omega (fb)) - Birch briefly traveled back in time to see his younger self as a child.

(Iron Age: Alpha) - Birch dispatched several powerful robots that disabled the Iron Man armor and took Stark back to Birch's underwater base, where, accompanied by his robot Elsa, he showed Stark the time machine and his plan for revenge by destroying the Earth. His robots arrived back on the time platform holding the inert Dark Phoenix, amplifying her powers until she awoke and unleashed a world-destroying conflagration that incinerated the base and the Earth; however, Stark was able to leap into the timestream and the past with a remote just before it happened.

(Iron Age: Omega) - Having reconstructed the time machine and gathered several heroes from the past, namely Luke Cage, Captain Britain, Cyclops, Dazzler, Human Torch, Iron Fist and Yellowjacket, Stark returned moments before Dark Phoenix unleashed her rage as the "original" Stark and Birch looked on. His team attacked, Birch happy to see the "second" time-traveling Iron Man killed in the fight. Birch then set a robot against the original Stark, but was saved by Yellowjacket. Birch was shocked at his own failure and died. Soon after, Stark returned his fellows using the time platform.

Comments: Created by Stan "The Man" Lee and Don Heck.

There is no known connection, but I think it would be cool if there was a link with Iron Man's foe "the Ghost" created by Michelinie and Layton. Both characters seem to have the same modus operandi. I don't remember the complete origin of the Ghost being told. Without his mask, I think the Ghost looks a bit like Dr. Birch.
That now seems unlikely with Birch at death's door in Iron Age while the Ghost is over in Thunderbolts.

--Grendel Prime

It would seem that the initial unleashing of Dark Phoenix on the world became an alternate timeline once Stark returned and stopped her rage.
--Grendel Prime

Iron Age I#1/2 from 2011 featured a time travelling adventure by an Iron Man from a divergent reality that tried to prevent Dr. Donald Birch, the former Phantom, from destroying Earth. This Iron Man met several heroes in the past during his search for parts of Doctor Doom's time machine. In the end he gathered those heroes and took them to the present to aid him and Earth-616's Iron Man to stop Birch. The heroes were returned to the past, but their present version met up with Tony Stark as planned because they still remembered the battle. IMHO this means that the alternate Tony Stark traveled through time on Earth-616.
--Markus Raymond

Phantom has an entry in Marvel Legacy: The 1960s Handbook. He received a first name in his OHOTMU A-Z HC#9 profile.

Profile by Snood. Updated by Grendel Prime & Markus Raymond.

The Phantom has no known connection to:

images: (without ads)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z HC#9, Phantom profile (main image, Tales of Suspense I#63, p10, pan1 & p9, pan6 combined)
Tales of Suspense I#63, p5, pan1 (headshot unmasked)
Tales of Suspense I#63, p9, pan6 (headshot, in mask)
Iron Age: Alpha, p8, pan4 (in wheelchair)

Tales of Suspense I#63 (March, 1965) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Don Heck (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks)
Iron Age: Alpha (August, 2011) - Rob Williams (writer), Rebekah Isaacs (art), Thomas Brennan (editor)
Iron Age I#1/2 (August, 2011) - Rob Williams (writer), Ben Oliver (art), Thomas Brennan (editor)
Iron Age: Omega (October, 2011) - Rob Williams (writer), Rebekah Isaacs (pencils), Livesay (inks), Thomas Brennan (editor)

First Posted: 12/31/2001
Last updated: 12/06/2023

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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