CRIME-MASTER

Real Name: Bennett Brant

Identity/Class: Human technology user

Occupation: Crimelord;
    former lawyer

Group Membership: Savage Six (Death Adder (Roland Burroughs), Fly (Rick Deacon), Jack O'Lantern (unrevealed), Megatak (Gregory Nettles), Toxin (Eddie Brock))

Affiliations: Gracie, Henchmen, Gordon Savinski

Enemies: Betty Brant, Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius), Ferid Ekmecic, Blackie Gaxton, Jessie Thompson, Rose Thompson, Venom (Flash Thompson)

Known Relatives: Eleonore Brant (mother, deceased), Elizabeth "Betty" Brant (sister), Edward "Ned" Leeds (brother-in-law, deceased)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: An abandoned shipyard on Staten Island;
    formerly an apartment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

First Appearance: (Bennett) Amazing Spider-Man I#11 (April, 1964);
    (Crime-Master, shadowed) Venom II#1 (May, 2011)
;
    (Crime-Master, full) Venom II#3 (July, 2011)

Powers/Abilities: As the Crime-Master, Bennett Brant carried a gas-pistol that could be loaded with a number of specialized cartridges, including tranquilizing "geek gas", sonic gas (vapors that produced an intense audio effect), vaporized napalm mist, and poison gas. Brant was a skilled criminal mastermind, assassin, and lawyer. His home base, an abandoned shipyard in Staten Island, contained a number of death traps, including a pit full of irradiated brown recluse spiders and a room of toxic chemical vats; he also owned two pet black panthers.

History: (Amazing Spider-Man I#11 (fb) ) - Bennett Brant was the top man in his class at law school.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#11 (fb)/Untold Tales of Spider-Man#12 (fb) ) - Bennett befriended his sister Betty's boyfriend, Gordon Savinski. Gordon introduced Bennett to gambling, and Bennett soon became addicted, borrowing money from mobster Blackie Gaxton to cover his losses. At Benett's graduation, Gordon told him that Gaxton demanded payment now, then abandoned him. Later, while Bennett was visiting his mother and sister, two of Gaxton's men came by, and backhanded Mrs. Brant into a coffee table, sending her into a coma. Afterwards, Gaxton told Bennett that he could work off his debt, by becoming his lawyer; Bennett did, but Gaxton kept all of the money he earned, leaving nothing to pay his mother's medical bills. Betty was forced to leave high school and take over her mother's old job as J. Jonah Jameson's secretary at the Daily Bugle.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#11 (fb) ) - Gaxton ordered Bennett to get Doctor Octopus to Philadelphia, so the supervillain could break him out of jail. Bennett sent Betty to pick Ock up from prison.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#11) - Bennett visited Gaxton in jail, where the mobster once again reiterated his plan. Bennett returned to his apartment to find Betty and Doc Ock there. Betty pleaded with Bennett to leave crime behind, but Bennett told her that he didn't have the courage to get out now. After Ock broke Gaxton out, Gaxton's gang came to Bennett's apartment and took Bennett and Betty to an old tramp steamer in the Philadelphia harbor. Gaxton intended to make his getaway on the ship, and when Bennett asked him to let them go, Gaxton just slugged him.  Soon, Ock turned on Gaxton, and Spider-Man (seeking Betty) arrived, starting a firefight.  Bennett pushed Betty out of the crossfire, but was shot in the chest for his trouble.  As he apparently died, he told Betty "It...it's better this way...I was...no good...to anyone!  Maybe now...you can wash your hands...of all this..." Betty blamed his death on Spider-Man.

(Venom II#21 (fb) ) - Bennett awoke in a secret morgue, healed of his wounds, and found a costume laid out for him - the Crime-Master's costume.  He learned that there had been a long line of Crime-Masters, and that it was his destiny to build a crime empire based on fear and horror - which he did.  Through all those years of murder and mayhem, however, he always longed to be reunited with his sister.

(Venom II#11 (fb) ) - One Halloween night, the Crime-Master abducted a troublemaking boy and tutored him in the meaningless of life and the power of evil.  He taught him how to kill and main (including a lesson on inserting a bomb into a cat), warping him until he saw the Crime-Master as his true father. To make sure, he sent the now teenage boy back to his real parents to murder them. The boy did so, killing them in a manner which inspired him to adopt the mantle of the Jack O'Lantern.

(Web of Spider-Man I#63) - Betty visited Bennett's (apparently empty) grave.

(Venom II#1 (fb) ) - The Crime-Master gave Nrosvekistani scientist Dr. Ferid Ekmecic a large quantity of Antarctic Vibranium to weaponize; while the doctor did so, instead of giving it back to the Crime-Master, he used it himself to commit genocide in his home country.

(Venom II#1) - Crime-Master sent the Jack O'Lantern to Nrosvekistan to find and retrieve Ekmecic.  Instead, US government operative Venom badly injured Jack O'Lantern and killed Ekmecic.main image

(Venom II#2) - The Crime-Master observed Venom destroying his Antarctic Vibranium mine in the Savage Land via spy satellite - and saw him without his symbiote, identifying him as Flash Thompson.  He assigned Jack O'Lantern to hunt him down.

(Venom II#3) - After Venom destroyed his Vibranium mine and stole a helicopter containing several tons of the metal, Crime-Master had Jack O'Lantern kidnap Betty (who was also Thompson's girlfriend) and strap her to a giant bomb.  Crime-Master then contacted Venom onboard the helicopter and demanded that he hand over the Vibranium in exchange for her safety.  Venom accepted, and landed the helicopter in Bushwick, New York, where the Crime-Master met him.  He told Venom where Betty was, but promised that he'd need another favor some day.

(Venom II#4) - The Crime-Master and Jack watched as the Henchmen unloaded the helicopter.  One of the Henchmen brought the Crime-Master's attention to something he'd found on board - the miniature bomb the Army had planted in Venom to kill him if he went rogue...which he just had.  Crime-Master pushed the hapless henchman away and off the roof just as the bomb exploded.  He left Jack to guard the Vibranium, but later, when Jack was occupied battling Venom, angrily contacted Jack to tell him that the Army had intercepted it.

(Venom II#10) - Crime-Master had Jack bring Flash to his lair, where, guarded by Death Adder, he ordered him to go to Las Vegas to accomplish a task that his symbiote would understand "when you get there" - unbeknownst to Thompson, the Crime-Master wanted him to acquire the Toxin symbiote.  If he succeeded in this, the Crime-Master promised to let Flash's friends and family live.

(Venom II#11 - BTS) - Not trusting Venom to work alone, the Crime-Master sent Jack to accompany him.

(Venom II#12) - Crime-Master came to Vegas to monitor the situation, and watched as the presence of the Toxin symbiote drove Thompson's symbiote insane.  When Jack acquired the symbiote, he contacted the Crime-Master, who advised him to flee.

(Venom II#17) - Crime-Master gathered his super-powered hirelings Jack O'Lantern, Death Adder, and Megatak, and greeted the arrival of his newest employee, the Human Fly.  He convinced the Fly to join him and his allies as the Savage Six, of whom there were only five as of yet. Unbeknowst to all, Venom was lurking in the rafters, preparing to kill them all, but just as he opened fire, his aim was disrupted by Eddie Brock, who had become a deranged symbiote hunter.  The Crime-Master ordered the villains to kill him, and before long Thompson was at his feet.  As Megatak began crushing him with giant Tetris blocks, the Crime-Master taunted Thompson, promising to kill his loved ones.  Venom summoned the strength to flee, but Jack noted that venom had left Brock webbed up in the rafters.  Crime-Master had him cut down and brought to his lab, where he bonded the Toxin symbiote to Brock.  He inducted the new Toxin into his Savage Six.

(Venom II#18 - BTS) - Crime-Master sent Jack, Megatak, and Toxin to abduct Betty, but Venom drove them off.

(Venom II#19 - BTS) - Crime-Master assigned Jack to kill Thompson's sister Jessie and her husband, but he only killed the latter; he also had the Human Fly abduct Thompson's mother, Rose, and then had Toxin snatch Betty from Venom.

(Venom II#20) - While Venom battled and killed Death Adder and rescued his mother from the Fly, the Crime-Master had Betty brought to his base, first putting her in a cell where he communicated with her via intercom, then having his Henchmen bring her to a shrine he'd constructed to Bennett and Betty Brant.  He met her there, with the remaining Savage Six members, and unmasked, revealing himself as Bennett!  He told her not to feel too badly for the family that had been stolen from him, because "crime is my family now".  He promised to spend their first new family night murdering Flash Thompson in front of her.

(Venom II#21) - The Crime-Master explained his origins to Betty until one of his Henchmen informed him that Venom had entered the building.  Venom defeated Megatak and Toxin, but Bennett and Jack took Betty to the chemical-processing wing of the base.  Betty pleaded with her brother to let Thompson go, promising to do whatever he wanted, but Bennett was dubious that his sister would become "my doting sister, the Crime-Mistress", and insisted on killing Venom for ruining his plans and Betty's life.  Venom caught up with them and knocked Jack into a vat of toxic chemicals, but the Crime-Master had his gas-pistol at the ready, first disabling Venom with sonic gas and napalm, then loading a poison gas canister to kill the now-helpless Thompson.  Before he could do so, however, Betty shot him in the back.  Lamenting that he was meant for "something special", the Crime-Master pitched over the enge of the catwalk and into a chemical vat, dead.

Comments: Bennett Brant created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  Crime-Master created by Rick Remender and Tom Fowler.

Bennett's "death" was the motivating factor behind Betty's hatred and fear of Spider-Man, which persisted for years.

We have yet to learn who's behind the resurrection of Bennett Brant and the creation of history's previous Crime-Masters - which presumably included both Nick Lewises, pere and fils.  

By the time he met her as the Crime-Master, Bennett's feelings for Betty had gotten all Flowers in the Attic-y.  Yeeg.

The Crime-Master's minions specifically introduce themselves as "the Henchmen", and they get a logo and everything, so I think it's supposed to be capitalized.

I'm not really good at identifying period costume, but one Crime-Master looks like he's from the French Revolution, another seems to be from a Chinese Triad in the 1800s, and yet another, I would guess, is an American Prohibition-era gangster.

Profile by Minor Irritant.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Bennett Brant, the Crime-Master, uses the same identity as, and is somehow connected to, but should not be confused with:


Crime-Master's Henchmen

(Venom II#11 (fb ) ) - Some of the Crime-Master's Henchmen were used to train the Crime-Master's new protege in the art of assassination; several were killed in the process.

(Venom II#3) - The Henchmen assigned to man the Crime-Master's Antarctic Vibranium mine attempted to defend it against Venom, but he killed them all, blew up the mine, and stole an outgoing Vibranium shipment.  When the Crime-Master extorted him into bringing it back to him, several of the Henchmen were present to guard their employer and to unload the Vibranium.  

(Venom II#4) - One of the Henchmen, a former member of Doctor Octopus' gang, found a miniature explosive Venom had planted in the shipment; not knowing what it was, he brought it to his boss, who did recognize it and knocked the Henchman off a rooftop moments before it, and he, exploded.

(Venom II#10) - Jack O'Lantern brought Venom to see the Crime-Master; during their meeting, they were guarded by the Death Adder and several of the Henchmen.

(Venom II#17) - Two Henchmen were present during the first meeting of the Crime-Master's Savage Six; both were gunned down by Venom.

(Venom II#20) - The captive Betty Brant was guarded by Henchmen, one of whom brought her to the Crime-Master's Betty Brant shrine.

(Venom II#21) - Disguising himself as a Henchman, Venom infiltrated the Crime-Master's base and slew a number of the actual Henchmen. One survived, and alerted the Crime-Master to the symbiote's presence.

(Venom II#30 (fb) )  - After the Crime-Master's defeat, Toxin hunted down and murdered several of the Crime-Master's surviving henchmen, storing their bodies in a building in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

(Venom II#30) - The bodies and Toxin were discovered by a SWAT team.

The Crime-Master's Henchmen were armed with conventional firearms; some were equipped with ghost-shaped gliders and flaming swords.

--Venom II#3 (11 (fb), 3, 4, 10, 17, 20, 21, 30 (fb), 30


Gracie

(Venom II#10) - An employee of the Crime-Master's, Gracies duties apparently involved being stuck in a tube all day - possibly because she appeared to be some kind of reanimated corpse. She and a smiliar friend greeted Jack O'Lantern and Flash Thompson in the Crime-Master's base.

Gracie's the one with the orange hair.

--Venom II#10











images: (without ads)
Venom II#3, p14, pan3 (main image)
Venom II#20, p20, pan1 (Bennett)

Venom II#17, p16, pan3 (hatless)

Venom II#21, p4, pan1 (prior Crime-Masters' costumes)
Venom II#3, p4, pan3 (Crime-Master's Henchmen)
Venom II#10, p 5, pane5 (Gracie and friend)


Appearances:
Amazing Spider-Man I#11 (April, 1964) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Steve Ditko (art)
Web of Spider-Man I#63 (April, 1990) - Gerry Conway (writer), Alex Saviuk (pencils), Keith Williams (inks), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Untold Tales of Spider-Man#12 (August, 1996) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Pat Olliffe (pencils), Al Vey & Pam Eklund (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Venom II#1 (May, 2011) - Rick Remender (writer), Tony Moore (pencils), Crimelab! Studios with Sandu Florea & Karl Kesel (inks), Stephen Wacker (editor)
Venom II#2 (June, 2011) - Rick Remender (writer), Tony Moore (pencils), Crimelab! Studios (inks), Stephen Wacker (editor)
Venom II#3 (July, 2011) - Rick Remender (writer), Tom Fowler (art), Stephen Wacker (editor)
Venom II#4 (August, 2011) - Rick Remender (writer), Tony Moore (pencils), Crimelab! Studios (inks), Stephen Wacker (editor)
Venom II#10-12 (February-March, 2012) - Rick Remender (writer), Lan Medina (pencils), Nelson DeCastro (inks), Tom Brennan (editor)

Venom II#17 (July, 2012) - Rick Remender & Cullen Bunn (writers), Kev Walker (pencils), Terry Pallot (inks), Tom Brennan (editor)
Venom II#18-19 (July-August, 2012) - Rick Remender & Cullen Bunn (writers), Lan Medina (pencils), Nelson DeCastro (inks), Tom Brennan (editor)
Venom II#20 (September, 2012) - Cullen Bunn & Rick Remender (writers), Lan Medina & Robert Atkins (pencils), Nelson DeCastro & Rick Ketcham (inks), Tom Brennan (editor)
Venom II#21 (September, 2012) - Cullen Bunn & Rick Remender (writers), Lan Medina (pencils), Terry Pallot, Chris Sotomayor, & Karl Kesel (inks), Tom Brennan (editor)
Venom II#30 (March, 2013) - Cullen Bunn (writer), Thony Silas & Roger Robinson (pencils), Nelson DeCastro, Jaime Mendoza, Bit, & Roger Robinson (inks), Tom Brennan (editor)


Last updated: 08/06/13

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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