DEATH MASTER

Real Name: Randall Croft

Identity/Class: Human (World War II era)

Occupation: Criminal mastermind, candidate for district attorney

Group Membership: His gang

Affiliations: Armourer (George Clarendon), numerous underlings (Spats, Blackie, Frank, Pete, Spike, others)

Enemies: Night Raven, "Scoop" Daly, Schuyler G. Edsall, Rocko Gavinelli, Jamie, Big Jim Shotter

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: Deathmaster

Base of Operations: Beneath a funhouse at Coney Island, New York; 1930s

First Appearance:
    (unnamed, in costume) Savage Action#6/3 (April, 1981)
    (Randall Croft mentioned) Savage Action#8/4 (June, 1981)
    (Randall Croft appears) Savage Action#12/3 (October, 1981)
    (named as Death Master) Savage Action#13/2 (November, 1981)

Powers/Abilities: The Death Master is supremely skilled at stealth and concealment; he was able to pass unseen within a few feet of two of his thugs, and escaped even Night Raven's detection while remaining motionless (and appearing to be a coatrack) in the corner of the Armourer's office. He was also adept at planning extensive criminal operations and presumably possessed a thorough knowledge of criminal law. His costume consists of normal 1930s street clothes and a realistic full-head skull mask.

History: (Savage Action#6/3 - BTS) - In 1931, Randall Croft was the front-runner candidate for New York district attorney. However, once elected, Croft planned to control the city's underworld with his own gang, which could then act without fear of reprisal from the police or city courts. To this end, Croft adopted the guise of the Death Master and began providing criminals with a flood of extremely inexpensive weapons through an underling called the Armourer.

(Savage Action#6/3) - After the death of the Armourer at the hand of Night Raven, Death Master destroyed the Coney Island funhouse subway and funhouse tickets that might have provided the police with clues as to the whereabouts of his secret headquarters.

(Savage Action#8/4 - BTS) - Schuyler G. Edsall, a prominent cosmetic surgeon, was abducted by Death Master's men.

(Savage Action#8/4 - BTS) - The Death Master sent his hitman Spats and two other gunmen to kill members of Rocko Gavinelli's gang and pin the blame on Big Jim Shotter, a rival ganglord. The feud between the two gangs hovered on the brink of war.

(Savage Action#12/3 - BTS) - The Death Master and his men abducted the mayor.

(Savage Action#12/3) - On the orders of Night Raven, Daily Bugle reporters "Scoop" Daly and Jamie went to Croft's home to tell him that the Gavinelli and Shotter gangs were being set up by a third party. The two were suspicious when Croft was initially not home, despite it being the middle of the night. When he arrived, Croft told them there was nothing he could do without the help of the current DA and the chief of police. When the reporters had left, he ordered his men to take their "guest" to the Funhouse. Meanwhile, Night Raven told Scoop and Jamie to follow Croft's limousine. While they waited, they saw Croft leave in another car.

(Savage Action#13/2) - The Death Master arrived at his subterranean Coney Island lair, slipping past his guards and startling Spats and the others inside. Once there, he told Dr Schuyler, who was being held alongside the mayor, that he knew "too many secrets" and would not be allowed to live.

(Savage Action#14/2) - As Night Raven snuck into Death Master's secret lair, Death Master sprung from hiding and knocked the vigilante unconscious. When Night Raven awoke, he found he had been chained in a storm drain in which the water level was rising. The Death Master taunted Night Raven briefly. Night Raven revealed that he knew Death Master was Croft, prompting Croft to remove Night Raven's mask, which revealed "naked white bone"(!). Gasping in horror, Death Master fled, leaving his captive to drown.

(Savage Action#15/2) - The Death Master confronted Scoop and Jamie, who had been captured by his guards after following Croft's limo to the funhouse. He told his men to shoot the reporters and dump them in the storm drains, but before this order could be carried out, Rocko Gavinelli, Big Jim Shotter and two of their bodyguards arrived on the scene. Night Raven had told them where they could find the one who was setting them up. The gangsters had their men free the mayor and Dr Schuyler. When Night Raven, having escaped his deathtrap, appeared in the room, Death Master attempted to escape. Shotter and Gavinelli cut him down with their submachine guns. Night Raven then shot the mayor, to the astonishment of all present, before Night Raven revealed to them that the "mayor" was actually one of Death Master's men, surgically altered by Dr Schuyler into an exact duplicate of the real mayor. Croft planned to control the whole city through his impostor. Night Raven had intercepted the real mayor when Death Master's men arrived at Coney Island, and left him safely behind.

Comments: Created by "Maxwell Stockbridge" (aka Alan McKenzie) and Jerry Paris.

The Night Raven text stories are rather poorly proofread. Death Master's name is parsed "Deathmaster" in the titles, as well as once or twice in the text. His real name is also spelled "Randal" in one caption. The Death Master is notable as one of the few villains Night Raven has dealt with who actually had a classic comic-style secret identity. Most of the others (even those with aliases) are straightforward mob bosses, gangsters and other undisguised criminals.

Night Raven's face is inexplicably a fleshless skull in Savage Action#14, although by the next issue he has a nose again. This is just one of several oddities in the Stockbridge Night Raven stories.

For whatever reason, the surgeon is always referred to as "Dr Schuyler" rather than "Dr Edsall".

Randall Croft reminds me of Mark Trail.

Profile by LV!

Clarifications: Death Master, enemy of the Night Raven, has no known connection to

Spats, Death Master's henchman, has no known connection to


 

Spats

Spats was the head gunman for the Death Master. He led the massacre of Rocko Gavinelli's men and appeared to be left in charge at Death Master's secret headquarters when Croft was elsewhere. His fate is unclear; Death Master ordered him to be on the lookout for Night Raven, but it is the Death Master himself who ambushes Night Raven when he enters the funhouse. It is possible that Night Raven had already dealt with Spats, in which case he could be imprisoned, catatonic or dead.

Spats was capable with automatic weapons and was always dressed quite snappily.

--Savage Action#8/4 (Savage Action#13/2


Images:
Full shot (profile) - Savage Action#13/2, p28
Head shot (unmasked) - Savage Action#12/3, p42
Head shot (masked) - Savage Action#13/2, p29
Spats - Savage Action#8/4, p48


Savage Action#6/3 (April, 1981)
Savage Action#8/4 (June, 1981)
Savage Action#12/3 (October, 1981)
Savage Action#13/2 (November, 1981)
Savage Action#14/2 (December, 1981) - mislocated in table of contents as story 3
Savage Action#15/2 (January, 1982)


Last updated: 12/27/04

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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