DEAD RINGER

Real Name: Louis Dexter

Identity/Class: Human mutant

Occupation: Professional criminal

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Formerly Super-Patriot (Mike Farrell)

Enemies: Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff), Captain America (Steve Rogers), Code: Blue ("Fireworks" Fielstein, "Mad Dog" Rassitanio, "Rigger" Ruiz, Lt. Marcus Stone), Diamondback (Rachel Leighton), Falcon (Sam Wilson), Quicksilver, Resistants (Crucible, Meteorite, Occult), Bernie Rosenthal, Super-Patriot

Known Relatives: Unidentified father (deceased)

Aliases: Basilisk, Blackout, Blue Streak, Cheetah, Death Adder, Death Stalker, Demelza, Mirage, Nighthawk, Night Flyer, Porcupine, Purple Man, Snapdragon, Solarr - all beings whose form he has taken

Base of Operations: Currently unrevealed;
    formerly an apartment in Parkway, Brooklyn;
    formerly an apartment in Bay Bridge, Brooklyn;
    formerly prison

First Appearance: Captain America I#425 (March, 1994)

 

 

Powers/Abilities: Dead Ringer possesses Necromimickry, enabling him to replicate the form (and abilities (including clothing and even exotic technology) of any corpse (or portion of a corpse) that he touches. Typically he can only take that being's form once, so he keeps a cigar box full of fingers of super-humans who he would want to be able to turn into more than once. He can duplicate superhuman powers, including inhuman characteristics (such as a tail or wings). He also replicates the technology of his targets; for example, when he turned into Porcupine, he had a fully functional Porcupine costume. There is no evidence that he gained the memories of his targets, though he did seem to be able to readily mimic powers upon first adaptation.

 

Eyes: Brown (variable)
Hair: Brown (variable)

 

 

 

History:
Captain America I#428 (fb) - BTS) - Lou Dexter is a mutant.

(Captain America I#426 (fb) - BTS) - Dexter's mutant powers first manifested when he mimicked the form of his dead cat, Demelza.

Captain America I#439 (fb)) - When he was 13, Dexter came home and found his father lying on the kitchen floor (dead, though he didn't realize it initially). Touching his father, Dexter was transformed into a duplicate of him, right down to his clothes. With effort, he turned back to normal.

Captain America I#439 (fb)) - As he aged, Dexter became obsessed with repeating what happened with his father. He became a regular funeral-goer, learning he could imitate any dead person he touched. With time he learned how to delay the transformation to a time of his choosing. Realizing he gained physical abilities in addition to the appearance of his target, he got the idea of using his power to mimic the powers of a super-human. He started to collect the obituaries of super-humans as they died. The first time he tired to exhume one of them, he was arrested for graverobbing.

Captain America I#439 (fb) - BTS) - In prison, Dexter was cellmates with Mike Farrell.

(Captain America I#425 (fb) - BTS) - Dexter teamed up with Mike Farrell who became the Super-Patriot, and the two planned Operation: Smear, to make Captain America (Steve Rogers) look bad.

(Captain America I#426 (fb) - BTS) - Dexter happened upon the cremains (ashes from cremation) of Night Flyer at a flea market.

Captain America I#428 (fb) - BTS) - Dexter adapted the powers of Snapdragon (Sheoke Sanada) from her corpse in New Orleans.

Captain America I#439 (fb)) - With Farrell's aid, Dexter adopted a large collection of template-bodies. As he could only use the power once after touching a dead body, he began stealing fingers of the dead to recharge his power.

(Captain America I#439 (fb) - BTS) - Dexter and Farrell decided that Death-Stalker was too dangerous to impersonate (or, at least Farrell pretended to agree).

(Captain America I#425) - In the form of the Porcupine (Alex Gentry), Dexter confronted the Super-Patriot (Mike Farrell, who was posing as Captain America as part of a plot to make Cap look bad) at a fund-raiser for mayoral candidate Rudy Bradley at Manhattan's Plaza hotel, proclaiming he would have his revenge. "Porcupine" launched a number of quills, which "Cap" blocked with his shield, but they were deflected into the civilians present, wounding several of them, including Bradley, his wife, Constance. Ignoring this, the two continue to fight, but both fled before the police arrived; as planned, Captain America received a lot of negative press.
    Cap arranged a press conference to clear his name, but Dexter attended in the form of Mirage (Desmond Charne), who cast an illusion of Heinrich Zemo and his Masters of Evil (Black Knight, Executioner, Melter) attacking. Falling for the illusion, which no one else but him could see, Captain America made a fool out of himself in front of the press, seemingly fighting empty air. Super-Patriot then appeared, announcing he had captured the real culprit, Mirage, and introducing himself to the press before departing.
    The Black Widow took "Mirage" into custody, but as soon as they were out of sight, Dexter took the form of Purple Man (Zebediah Killgrave) and commanded the Widow to let him go, which she did. Escaping (presumably reverting to his normal form), he met up with Farrell on the street. They decided to celebrate the complete success of Operation: Smear's first phase.

(Captain America I#426) <Nearly two months after Dead Ringer and Super-Patriot first teamed up) - At a cemetery near Pawling, New York, Dexter and Super-Patriot dug up the corpse of Death Adder (Roland Burroughs) and adopted his form, though he panicked a little when he found Death Adder's vocal cords were paralyzed and he couldn't speak. Returning to normal, they covered up the grave again and left.
    Later, at an apartment in Bay Bridge, Brooklyn, Dexter was a little annoyed that Farrell wouldn't tell him why he hated Captain America so much. Dexter subsequently took the form of Night Flyer and joined Super-Patriot (again posing as Captain America) in assaulting an armored car, beating up the guards, and stealing the money contained within. As they flew off, however, they were spotted and attacked by the Resistants (Crucible, Meteorite, Occult), who mistook Super-Patriot for the real Cap. Crucible incinerated Night Flyer's glider, and they landed, only retaining a couple bags of loot. The Resistants attacked anew and overpowered the pair, until Dexter took Death Adder's form and repeatedly slashed Meterorite and then dropped Crucible while "Cap" took out Occult. As Code: Blue arrived to take in the criminals, "Cap" told them that the Resistants had forced him to steal the money by threatening his friend (Dexter, who had slipped back to normal form as Code: Blue arrived). Though avoiding being captured, the two failed to obtain the money they needed, and they had also made Cap look good by taking out the Resistants.
    Captain America and the Falcon investigated reports of Cap robbing the armored car, but the culprits were long gone by the time they arrived.

(Captain America I#427 (fb)) - In the form of Solarr (Silas King), Dexter staged a fight with Super-Patriot (posing as Captain America).

(Captain America I#427) - In the form of Cheetah (Esteban Carracus), Dexter staged a fight with Super-Patriot (posing as Captain America) at a fast food restaurant in Pennsylvania, making sure to cause plenty of damage. Seeking to help "Cap," one of the employees dumped a vat of hot grease (or soup or something) on "Cheetah." Dexter fled in agony, later adopting the form of Blue Streak (Don Thomas) to heal from the burns. Deciding to abandon the smear campaign and confront Captain America directly, Super-Patriot had Dexter take the form of Blackout (Marcus Daniels) and abduct Rachel Leighton (Diamondback) and Bernie Rosenthal, then current and former girlfriends of Cap. "Blackout" contained the pair in a Darkforce block and brought them to their Brooklyn base, but Rachel tricked him into letting her go to the restroom, and she changed into Diamondback and nailed him with a gas-containing diamond.
    Having just called Captain America and told him of his captives and arranged a meeting, Super-Patriot heard the commotion, but couldn't help his partner or he'd risk revealing that he was partnered with "Blackout." Quicksilver -- who Captain America had put on standby to more quickly catch up with his imposter -- then arrived and punched Blackout several times within seconds, causing him to release Bernie. Recovering, Dexter changed into Blue Streak and blasted Quicksilver in the back, then led Quicksilver away so he wouldn't have to fight both him and Diamondback.
    Quicksilver captured "Blue Streak," and, after Captain America arrived, the Super-Patriot was lost when the building burnt down in the subsequent battle.

(Captain America I#428 (fb) - BTS) - Dexter was taken into police custody.

(Captain America I#428) - Interrogated by Code: Blue's Lt. Stone (who had allowed Captain America and Diamondback to secretly observe behind one of those one-way mirror-window deals), Dexter revealed himself to be a mutant and explained his powers, demonstrating them by taking the form of Snapdragon. Diamondback flipped out upon seeing Snapdragon, whom she had drowned, and she rushed through the door and grabbed "her," and demanded to know where he had found Snapdragon's body.

(Captain America I#439) - In the form of Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond), Dexter was pursued by the Falcon who tagged him with a talon-line, but Dexter fired a mini-rocket into a tenement house, forcing the Falcon to let him go to save those trapped in the burning building. Returning to his new apartment, he found Super-Patriot talking to Bernie Rosenthal (who had been his friend before all of his recent problems), and Dexter became irate, taking the form of the Basilisk (Basil Elks) and telling Farrell that Bernie would turn them in and they'd go to prison. Having lost his hunger for revenge, Farrell was revolted when Bernie found a cigar box full of fingers from dead super-beings that he collected to recharge his power. Dexter forced Bernie to call Captain America for help to lead him into a trap, then forced Farrell to tie Bernie up. Seeking to stall Dexter, Bernie asked him his origins, which he shared, figuring she'd never leave the room alive anyway.
    As he told his tale, Captain America (at the time suffering from degeneration of the Super-Soldier serum and forced to wear armor to survive) arrived, and Dexter turned into Death-Stalker (Phillip Sterling), intending to kill Captain America so he could become an A-list character. Death-Stalker's touch couldn't penetrate Cap's armor, so he threatened to use the power on Bernie. Trying to stop Dexter from killing, Super-Patriot grabbed his hand, unwittingly and intentionally receiving the death touch himself. Shocked by having killed his only friend, Dexter fell victim to Cap's armor's compressed air cannon, which slammed him against the wall and knocked him out.
    Dexter was presumably sent to prison.

Comments: Created by Mark Gruenwald, Dave Hoover, and Danny Bulanadi.

    The problem with using dead characters is that it has since been revealed that the Purple Man had never truly died, though he was close enough to being dead that he was buried. This appearance would be between when the Purple Man had revived as a seeming living corpse due to the manipulation of the Dreamqueen in Alpha Flight I#62 (1988) and when he was first seen completely back to life in X-Man#34 (1998). Perhaps he was close enough to death for Dead Ringer's powers to work, perhaps he found a truly dead piece of the Purple Man's tissue, or perhaps Dead Ringer's powers aren't as limited as he thinks.
    For instance, if he were to cut off someone's finger, that finger would become dead tissue that he might be able to use to access the subject's powers.

    Nighthawk apparently was thought dead at the time of his appearance, but it was never really the case. Maybe he was Nighthawk of the Squadron Supreme (Earth-712).

    There aren't really any good pictures of Lou Dexter in his own form, but every time he appears, he looks like he does in the main image...except in Captain America I#428. He presumably just got a haircut in prison (his eyes also looked blue to me), but one might speculate that he was mimicking another person at that time, too.

Wouldn't it make a fantastic limited series if Dead Ringer found the Freedom Ring, and used it to transform into a certain pterasaurian parasite? So, he could absorb other superhumans' powers via their life-forces? I even have the perfect title for it---"The Cosmic Ring of Sauron!"
--Carycomic

Profile by Snood.

CLARIFICATIONS:
No KNOWN connections to:


images: (without ads)
Captain America I#426, p6, panel 2-3 (normal form)


Appearances:
Captain America I#425-428 (March-June, 1994) - by Mark Gruenwald (writer), Dave Hoover (penciler), Danny Bulanadi (inker), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Captain America #439 (May, 1995) - by Mark Gruenwald (writer), Dave Hoover (penciler), Scott Koblish & Danny Bulanadi (inker), Ralph Macchio (editor)


Last updated: 10/14/13

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