Membership: Aqueduct, Bison, Black Mamba, Blackwing, Boomerang, Cardinal, Constrictor, Crimson Cowl (Justine Hammer), Cyclone, Dragonfly, Eel, Flying Tiger, Gypsy Moth, Hydro-Man, Icemaster, Joystick, Klaw, Lodestone, Machinesmith, Man-Ape, Man-Killer, Quicksand, Scorcher, Shatterfist, Shockwave, Slyde, Sunstroke, Supercharger, Tiger Shark

Purpose: To master and control Earth's superhuman mercenaries

Affiliations: Arms Merchant, Don Fortunato, HYDRA (possible employers)

Enemies: Black Widow, Cardinal/Harrier, Citizen V (Dallas Riordan), Cyclone, Gypsy Moth/Skein, Man-Killer/Amazon, Plantman, Thunderbolts (Atlas, Charcoal, Citizen V (Helmut Zemo), Hawkeye, Jolt, MACH-1, Songbird, Techno)

Base of Operations: Symkaria
    Mount Charteris, near Burton Canyon, Colorado

First Appearance: Thunderbolts I#3 (June, 1997)

History: (Thunderbolts I#3) - The Masters of Evil were sent by unknown employers (possibly HYDRA/Don Fortunato) to confiscate a warehouse of illegal goods from a mob boss who was opposing their goals. Tiger Shark, Cyclone, Man-Killer, Flying Tiger and Klaw were opposed by the Black Widow, who was soon joined by the Thunderbolts. The Crimson Cowl teleported the Masters away from the conflict, blinding the Thunderbolts with a bright flash of light. Later, the Masters of Evil served as bodyguards to the Arms Merchant as he conducted a sale of assault weapons. The Thunderbolts intervened again, forcing the Masters to depart once more.

(Cable#54 - BTS / Thunderbolts I#18 (fb) - BTS) - After Klaw was defeated by the Black Panther and Cable in Wakanda, the Masters of Evil retrieved him.

(Thunderbolts I#18) - The Crimson Cowl sent Cyclone to taunt the Thunderbolts and lead them to their base so that she could offer them a place in the Masters of Evil. She told them that if they turned down the offer, they would tell all of their enemies where to find them.

(Thunderbolts I#19) - When the Thunderbolts battled Charcoal and the Imperial Forces, Man-Killer, Klaw, Cyclone, Tiger Shark and Flying Tiger appeared and informed them that they wouldn't be allowed to "play hero" while they were making up their minds. The Thunderbolts were so incensed by the Masters' patronizing attitude, that they resolved to strike back against them.

(Thunderbolts I#20) - As the Masters set about robbing the Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas, the Thunderbolts appeared. Although they put up a good fight, they were all brought down by Klaw. The Crimson Cowl ordered Klaw to kill them, but they were saved by Hawkeye, disguised as the Dreadknight. The Masters prepared to fight them again, but the Thunderbolts had summoned the authorities before setting out to face them, and they had arrived outside. Klaw helped his fellow Masters escape.

(Thunderbolts I#0) - After Hawkeye was announced as the new leader of the Thunderbolts, the Crimson Cowl vowed that she would still bring the team down.

(Thunderbolts I#23) - The Masters kept an eye on the Thunderbolts' activities, and their failure to appeal to the public. The Cowl was pleased by this turn of events-- until Hawkeye declared on television that the Masters of Evil would be their next targets.

(Thunderbolts I#25 (fb)) - The Crimson Cowl recruited new members to the ranks of the Masters of Evil, including the Eel, Joystick and Sunstroke. She sent them out to set up her Weather Modulator machines across the globe, intending to ransom every nation on Earth with the machines' power.

(Thunderbolts I#33 (fb)) - The Crimson Cowl brought her newly-expanded team to Mount Charteris to use as their new base of operations.

(Thunderbolts I#24) - The Cowl sent Klaw, Tiger Shark, Cyclone, Flying Tiger and Man-Killer to Robinette, Nebraska, just to draw the Thunderbolts into a trap. Once they were there, the Crimson Cowl teleported her associates away, and activated a Weather Modulator to destroy the town. When Citizen V investigated the Weather Modulator she was knocked out by the Cowl. However, the Thunderbolts managed to save themselves and everyone in the town and followed the Masters back to their base thanks to Charcoal, who had placed one of his fingers on Man-Killer, enabling him to track her. They followed the Masters to Mount Charteris, only to find the full line-up of 25 Masters of Evil present.

(Thunderbolts I#25) - Moonstone confronted the Masters and pretended to defect to their side. The Crimson Cowl did not trust her, and had her manacled. Meanwhile, the other Thunderbolts knocked out the Man-Ape, Shatterfist, Constrictor, Lodestone and Joystick, then put on their costumes so that they could infiltrate the crowds. They managed to slip aboard the Cowl's craft as it launched, and the Cowl ransomed the United Nations for one trillion dollars. Moonstone pointed out the Thunderbolts hidden amongst the Masters and a battle erupted, while the Cowl took Sunstroke, Dragonfly and Moonstone with her in an escape craft, allowing the vessel the others were on to crash-land. The Thunderbolts and Masters of Evil continued their battle, but Cyclone and Man-Killer soon saw they had little chance of winning, and fled. The Crimson Cowl, Sunstroke and Dragonfly were all defeated by Moonstone, and the remaining Masters were all captured by the Thunderbolts and turned over to the authorities, scoring the Thunderbolts a major win in the eyes of the public. However, the "Crimson Cowl" they captured was actually Dallas Riordan, used by the real Cowl as a decoy.

(Thunderbolts I#63) - Cyclone was sent to retrieve a disc containing information on the legacy of Justin Hammer, a weapon which could provide the Crimson Cowl with the means to control most of Earth's villains. Cyclone was prevented from stealing the disc by Hawkeye, Songbird and the Plantman.

(Thunderbolts I#64) - The Crimson Cowl, Hydro-Man, Gypsy Moth, Cyclone, Man-Killer, Machinesmith and Black Mamba visited Cardinal in prison, and the Cowl informed him that Hawkeye was responsible for the death of his daughter, Meteorite. Cardinal agreed to rejoin the Masters.

(Thunderbolts I#65) - Hawkeye, Plantman and Songbird caught up to Cyclone in Paris, and forced him to lead them to the mansion where Justin Hammer's will was to be read. It turned out to be a trap staged by Man-Killer, Gypsy Moth and Cardinal, who captured the Plantman. However, Hawkeye and Songbird had anticipated their actions. The Masters brought Plantman to Machinesmith, who determined that they would need him in order to activate Hammer's weapon. However, Hawkeye and Songbird burst in and destroyed Machinesmith, then confronted the other Masters, showing them the information on the disc, which proved that Hammer's legacy was a biotoxin which could kill all of them. Hawkeye proposed that the Masters switch sides and prevent the weapon from being activated. Only Cyclone refused, but Hawkeye forced to join by threatening him with an arrow. He had the Masters (except Cyclone) adopt new costumes and identities for their mission.

(Thunderbolts I#67) - Hawkeye and his allies joined up with Silver Sable in Symkaria, and had her bring them to Justine Hammer's home, having learned she was the Crimson Cowl. The Cowl took Sable prisoner, and sent Machinesmith, Hydro-Man and Black Mamba to fight Hawkeye and his allies. They were quickly defeated, and Machinesmith took control of Harrier's armor, forcing him to drop Hawkeye into a river. Skein ran from the fight.

(Thunderbolts I#69) - The Crimson Cowl prepared Plantman so that she could access the weapon, and had Songbird and the turncoat Masters locked up. However, Plantman prevented the toxin from affecting any of the Masters, and Songbird led the the ex-Masters in defeating Black Mamba and Hydro-Man. Skein returned in time to take control of the Crimson Cowl's cape, and used it to destroy Machinesmith, then shredded her costume into pieces.

(Thunderbolts I#71) - Plantman used the watery body of the Hydro-Man to revive himself.

Comments: Created by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley and Vince Russell.

At the time Thunderbolts I#3 was published Don Fortunato was on the rise in the New Yorker underworld and he worked together with Hydra, like Black Widow surmised.
--Markus Raymond

Main image scan by MarvellousLuke.

Profile by Prime Eternal

The Crimson Cowl's Masters of Evil should not be confused with:

Images taken from:
Thunderbolts I#24, page 22 (not counting ads)

Thunderbolts I#3 (June, 1997) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Vince Russell (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Thunderbolts I#18-20 (September-November, 1998) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Mark Bagley (penciler), Scott Hanna (#18-19) & Jon Holdredge (#20) (inker), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Thunderbolts I#0 (1998) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Thunderbolts I#23-25 (February-April, 1999) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Scott Hanna (#23-24), Bob Wiacek (#25) & Al Vey (#25) (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Thunderbolts I#33 (December, 1999) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Thunderbolts I#63-65 (June-August, 2002) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Patrick Zircher (pencils), Al Vey & Nelson (#65) (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Thunderbolts I#67 (September, 2002) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Patrick Zircher (pencils), Sandu Florea (inks), Tom Brevoort & Andrew Lis (editors)
Thunderbolts I#69 (October, 2002) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Jean Jacques Dzialowski (pencils), Al Vey (inks), Tom Brevoort & Andrew Lis (editors)
Thunderbolts I#71 (November, 2002) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Manuel Garcia (pencils), Al Vey (inks), Tom Brevoort & Andrew Lis (editors)

First Posted: 03/09/2005
Last updated: 11/13/2013

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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