Real Name: Mike Mathews
Identity/Class: Normal human
Servant of Fate;
Group Membership: None
Enemies: Hiram Cragmoor
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: An unidentified American city
First Appearance: Tales of Suspense I#33/1 (September, 1962)
Powers/Abilities: As a human, Mathews was an unscrupulous reporter whose specialty was digging up scandals, and he was more than willing to use blackmail on those whom he investigated. He was skilled in the use of a camera and a skeleton key. After he became imprisoned in a giant sacred ruby, Mathews was apparently endowed with undefined preternatural abilities (see comments).
(Tales of Suspense I#33/1 (fb)) - The past of Mike Mathews is unknown, but at some point he became a newspaper reporter who callously wrote gossip stories, and he never cared about the people who were hurt by the resultant scandals. Mathews exposed the love-affair between a respected millionaire businessman and a chorus girl half the man's age. He later did a story on ex-movie star Vera Vandeer, who had to work as a scrub woman after her film career faded--despite the pitiful old woman's pleas about the humiliation she'd suffer, the heartless Mathews still wrote the story. Then Mathews sneaked into the private residence of singer Chuck Dawson and snapped a photo of Dawson when he wasn't wearing his toupee--since Dawson's teenage fans wouldn't like to learn the their singing idol was bald, Mathews was willing to keep the story quiet for 25% of the singer's earnings.
(Tales of Suspense I#33/1) - One day, Mathews was dining in a restaurant when he overheard a conversation between two patrons. The men were discussing Hiram Cragmoor, an eccentric old man who hadn't been seen in years because he never left his mansion, nor did he ever allow anyone else to enter. Mathews figured that Cragmoor was hiding something (a liquor still, or maybe a counterfeiting or smuggling operation), so he drove out to Cragmoor's home that evening, determined to expose the old man's secrets ("...and I'll blackmail him till it hurts! Ha ha!"). Through the foggy darkness, Mathews walked up to the old house ("What a spooky-lookin' dump!") and used his skeleton key on a door to break in. But strangely, the fog seemed to be inside the house as well, and it seemed to get thicker the further in he walked. Then Mathews felt...different--as if nothing were real, as if he were dreaming. Suddenly, a stampede of monstrous creatures emerged from the mist and rushed toward the reporter. The terrified Mathews shone his flashlight at the monsters, and the creatures disappeared. The fog cleared and Mathews found himself in a large room within the house, and he wasn't alone--the chamber was filled with a crowd of people who all stood silent and motionless. Mathews recognized two faces in the group--Judge Carson and Helen Barton--yet he knew that they had both died recently! Mathews extended his arm and tried to touch one of the people, but he was shocked when his hand passed right through the individual! As he felt himself slipping into madness, Mathews heard a voice that reproached him for daring to cross the barrier of dreams and entering the forbidden chamber; he looked and saw and old man seated inside a giant ruby, and figured it to be Hiram Cragmoor. Cragmoor explained that he was a servant of Fate and the chamber was a way station that led to the "Beyond"; he went on to say that he was given instructions from the "Greater Realm," which told him how and where to dispatch the souls of those who had ended their mortal phase. Then Cragmoor lamented that he was old and weary and wanted to be relieved of his task, and because Mathews had trespassed, he would take his place! Before Mathews could run away, a scarlet beam of light shot from the ruby and hit him, and the giant ruby formed around the reporter, while Cragmoor was freed. Cragmoor said his farewell to the entrapped Mathews (who could only sob and beg to be released) and walked away from his home, leaving the reporter imprisoned within the giant gemstone, perhaps forever.
Comments: Created by an uncredited writer and Jack Kirby (art).
In regards to Mathews' undefined abilities: Considering Cragmoor's fade-away at the end of the story, I'd say that those who were confined within the giant ruby were first transformed into their basic spiritual essence (i.e., astral body) and were thus beyond the human concerns of eating, breathing and waste elimination (After all, one could hardly order out for a pizza when one is stuck inside a big ruby).
Cragmoor said that he served "Fate"--Fate was never actually shown in the story, but I guess we can assume that it's an abstract entity (like Death, Eternity, Infinity) which personifies destiny (perhaps the same entity that appeared to Walter Krugg?); at least Fate was courteous enough to provide a chair for those imprisoned in the ruby.
That big ruby reminded me of the mystic Ruby of Cyttorak that transformed Cain Marko into the Juggernaut (@ X-Men I#12)--maybe Cyttorak was somehow involved behind-the-scenes (...although that line about crossing "the barrier of dreams" implies that Nightmare could be involved, too).
Perhaps Helen Barton was related to socialite Lucy Barton--if she was a member of a famous, wealthy family, that would explain why Mathews recognized her.
Here's an idea for an "Untold Tales of Spider-Man" story, set in the early days of the modern Marvel Universe: Maybe it could be revealed that Mike Mathews was formerly employed by the Daily Bugle (back in the days of "Old Man" Jameson), and Spider-Man could investigate Mathews' disappearance--because of the supernatural aspects involved, Dr. Strange could go along, and Ulysses Bloodstone could even make an appearance (maybe there's a connection between the giant ruby and his Bloodgem).
And a BIG Thank You to James Sharpe for the scans!
Profile by John Kaminski.
Mike Mathews has no known connections to:
Under unknown circumstances, he was trapped inside a giant ruby to become a servant of Fate. He was charged with the task of dispatching the souls of the recently departed. When reporter Mike Mathews trespassed in his home, Cragmoor took the opportunity to make Mathews his replacement, so the ruby entrapped the reporter and Cragmoor was freed. Cragmoor later went to the offices of Marvel Comics, where he told Stan Lee the story of the villainous reporter, but Stan found it to be too unbelievable. After leaving the office, Cragmoor was satisfied that his secret was safe, so he faded away and left the mortal plane of existence.
--Tales of Suspense I#33/1
A pack of a least five beasts, the monstrous creatures included a huge five-headed serpent, a flying bat-like creature, and a lion-like creature (perhaps a chimera, or a manticore?). They were all encountered by reporter Mike Mathews after he broke into the home of the reclusive Hiram Cragmoor, but the monsters were all driven away by the beam from Mathews' flashlight..
--Tales of Suspense I#33/1
Numbering at least 12, the "recently departed" included Judge Carson and Helen Barton. They had all recently died and their souls went to a chamber in the home of Hiram Cragmoor; Cragmoor was given instructions from the "Greater Realm," which told him how and where to dispatch the souls.
--Tales of Suspense I#33/1
Tales of Suspense I#33/1, p6, pan7 (main image)
Other Appearances: None
Last updated: 05/03/10
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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