THE CHESS MASTER
Real Name: Jules Baxendale
Identity/Class: Human (World War II era)
Occupation: Criminal mastermind
Group Membership: His gang
Affiliations: Senator Berkley, Shady Deale, Markham, Ox, Sapper
Enemies: Night Raven
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Chessmaster, Grandmaster of Crime
Base of Operations: The City (probably New York); 1930s
First Appearance: Savage Action#3/2 (January, 1981)
Powers/Abilities: The Chess Master was a skilled plotter and schemer, with either the scientific ability to create a potent and undetectable neurotoxin or the means by which to obtain one. He was also exceptionally intelligent, and was one of very few people to locate Night Raven's secret headquarters. He was presumably also particularly good at chess.
History: (Savage Action#3/2 - BTS) - The Chess Master obtained evidence that Senator Berkley was misusing government funds for personal expenses. He used this in an attempt to blackmail Berkley into assisting him in some unspecified way. Berkley refused.
(Savage Action#3/2) - The Chess Master sent his henchmen from his highrise apartment to Berkley's home to give the senator one final chance to work with them. When he stood up to them, Chess Master's right-hand man, Markham, injected Berkley with a compound which rendered him effectively senile. The thugs reported to their boss and departed, leaving behind a happily babbling Berkley and a white pawn.
Night Raven read about the mysterious happenings in the paper and set out to find an underworld informant. Coincidentally, Night Raven encountered his chosen informant, small-time hood Shady Deale, at the same instant that Chess Master's thugs Ox and Sapper were attacking Deale in order to warn him not to talk to anyone about his dealings with their employer. Night Raven fought the hoods off, giving Deale a chance to escape. Fearing that Night Raven would force information out of him, and that he would subsequently be killed by the Chess Master, Deale hurled his knife at the vigilante and ran. When he finally reached a taxi, however, he found that Night Raven had overtaken him and was waiting inside. Standing on the corner, Night Raven threatened Deale with his own knife, but before things could proceed any further, the Chess Master's thugs returned in a car and opened fire with machine guns. Night Raven was able to use the unlucky Deale as a shield, but Ox and Sapper escaped.
(Savage Action#4/3) - Night Raven followed the thugs' car back to the Chess Master's warehouse base. Sneaking in through a window, he took Ox, Sapper, and the Chess Master himself by surprise. The Chess Master rallied quickly, however, and disappeared through a hidden door in the wall. Night Raven shot out the lights and began a deadly waiting game with the thugs. When Ox made a move, the Dark Avenger was able to shoot him down, but Sapper shot him in the arm in return. Though injured, Night Raven was able to kill Sapper and return to his lair.
Chess Master, however, had somehow discovered Night Raven's headquarters, and he was waiting along with Markham. Chess Master had Markham disarm Night Raven, but the henchman was instead overpowered and branded by the vigilante. In the thick mist of the headquarters, the Chess Master failed to recognize the Night Raven until it was too late. Though he did his best to escape, Night Raven stabbed the Chess Master with a syringe he took from Markham which contained the special neurotoxin.
Comments: Chess Master created by
Shady Deale created by Stockbridge and John Bolton.
Ox and Sapper created by Stockbridge, Bolton and Lloyd (see comments).
Chess Master's name is parsed "Chessmaster" in the titles and in the recap blurb in #4. He never actually calls himself the Grandmaster of Crime; only the narration does.
Speaking of the recap blurb, it seems to be written by someone else and also to be making things up. It says that the Chess Master is inducing senility "across the nation", but the text doesn't make it clear that anyone but Berkley is affected. There is also no mention made of any members of the Chess Master's gang outside of the three named, let alone the number that would be required to operate across the country (especially in the early '30s.) It is possible that the Chess Master poisoned numerous middle-aged, high-ranking politicians, but I am strongly inclined to believe that any other victims would also be from the immediate area of the City.
Given that this story presumably takes place in the same rough time period as the Death Master story, which is explicitly set in New York, the City of this story is probably also New York.
Chess Master is never shown or even described in any detail. He speaks in a decidedly cultured voice, so I imagine he's probably a dignified, well-groomed gentleman.
Sapper and Ox appear in both Lloyd's title picture and Bolton's illustrations. Accordingly, I've listed both of them as creators, though more probably one was using the other's models.
Chess Master received a real name in Night Raven's profile in OHotMU A-Z HC#8.
The Chess Master, enemy of the Night Raven, has no known connection to
Clarifications: The Chess Master, enemy of the Night Raven, has no known connection to
Shady Deale was a low-level thief, killer and drug runner who had some dealings with the Chess Master. He was known and disliked in the underworld for ratting on other criminals. He apparently had some dealings with the Chess Master, who sent thugs to beat him up as a warning not to tell anyone about the Chess Master's activities. The thugs were interrupted by Night Raven, but ended up killing Deale regardless.
Deale demonstrated no noteworthy abilities, though he presumably had at least basic criminal skills.
Markham, Ox and Sapper
The Chess Master had three underlings who carried out his plans. Markham was the leader, though his thuggish demeanor frequently exasperated the refined Chess Master. Ox and Sapper usually worked as a pair, with the powerful Ox working as the brawn of the team and the "ratty little" Sapper providing the cunning. Ox and Sapper were shot to death, and Markham was left catatonic, before the Night Raven finally confronted and defeated their boss.
Markham demonstrated no particularly noteworthy abilities, but as Chess Master's right-hand man he was presumably a competent fighter and gangleader. Ox was large and strong, though not superhumanly so. Sapper was (unsurprisingly) skilled with a blackjack and also showed some level of tactical knowledge in the shootout with Night Raven.
The image depicts, left to right, Markham, Ox and Sapper. (Doesn't Markham bear more than a slight resemblance to the Taxman, also created by Lloyd? I think so.)
--Savage Action#3/2 (Savage Action#4/3
--Savage Action#3/2 (Savage Action#4/3
Shady Deale - Savage Action#3/2, p28
Markham/Ox/Sapper - Savage Action#3/2, p24
Savage Action#3/2 (January, 1981)
Savage Action#4/3 (February, 1981)
Last updated: 01/08/05
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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