Real Name: Unrevealed

Identity/Class: Human

Occupation: Subversive agent

Group Membership: Secret Empire (Number Eight, Number Five, Number Four, Number One, Number Seven, Number Three, Number Two, others)

Affiliations: Boomerang (Fred Myers);
    formerly Secret Empire

Enemies: Secret Empire, S.H.I.E.L.D. (Gabe Jones, others)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: The Secret Empire's headquarters, an unidentified location in the USA

First Appearance: (mentioned) Tales to Astonish I#82 (August, 1966);
    (full) Tales to Astonish I#83 (September, 1966)

Powers/Abilities: Number Nine had a devious mind and specialized in booby traps, such as rigging up poison gas inside a communication device. He also used a stun grenade which could knock an entire room of men unconscious. He wore steel body armor under his robes to defend himself from the effects of his grenade.

Height: Unrevealed (approximately 5'11")
Weight: Unrevealed (approximately 159 lbs.)
Eyes: Unrevealed
Hair: Unrevealed

(Tales to Astonish I#82/2 (fb) - BTS) - Number Nine was one of the high ranking members of the Secret Empire. He was extremely ambitious and determined to rise to the head of the council, warning the others that he would one day lead them.

(Tales to Astonish I#82/2 - BTS) - As Number Five, Number Seven and another member of the Secret Empire had sent the mercenary Boomerang into the field to coerce General "Thunderbolt" Ross into releasing the Orion Missile to them, Number Five was concerned about ensuring that Boomerang remained loyal to them. As he activated the scrambler frequency on their communication device to speak with Boomerang, he set off a booby trap, releasing a fatal dose of poison gas that killed him. The surviving members suspected Number Nine was behind Five's death. The two survivors felt sure that with seven of them still alive, Number Nine couldn't possibly kill them all.

(Tales to Astonish I#83/2) - With Number One away, Number Two convened a meeting of the remaining council members, including Three, Four, Six, Seven, Eight and Nine. Number Two declared that, as Boomerang had failed to obtain the Orion Missile, they should put him to death. Number Nine rose in objection, protesting that, as Boomerang had skills they did not possess, he could still be a useful ally to them. The other members angrily noted that since Number Five's death, Nine had been under suspicion and now that he was objecting to Boomerang's death, it would be the last straw. Number Two began to sentence Nine to death but Number Nine drew a stun grenade from his robes and threw it at the other members, noting that he could shorten his rise to the position of Number One more easily this way. Number Nine had worn protective body armor under his robes to ensure he wasn't stunned by his own weapon. Number Nine noted that now only Number One remained in his way.

(Captain America I#175 (fb)) - As Number Nine was gloating over his defeated comrades, Number Six rose up, also having donned protective armor. Number Six defeated Number Nine then revealed he was actually S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Gabe Jones, sent to infiltrate the Secret Empire.

(Strange Tales I#149 - BTS) - Gabe then donned Number Nine's robes in order to capture two agents of AIM, who believed Gabe was one of their allies through the conglomeration THEM.

Comments: Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Wild Bill Everett.

    I think Bill Everett meant for Number Nine to have killed the other council members in Tales to Astonish I#83 but the Comics Code Authority likely put the kibosh on it, causing Stan to cover it up through dialogue.

    The hooded robes with mask worn by the Secret Empire made them look a lot like another Bill Everett creation - the Council of Seven from his Amazing Man comics published at Centaur in the 1930s. For that matter, the Council of Seven's look inspired the visual of Yu-Ti. So if you want to tie the Secret Empire into K'un-Lun, there's your angle!

    The editorial notes in Strange Tales I#149 make it clear that Gabe was supposed to have always been Number Nine, as they refer to Gabe's "defeat" of the Secret Empire occurring in Tales to Astonish I#83. Yet in Captain America I#175, Englehart believed he was clearing up a piece of unresolved continuity and he knew Gabe was involved in the Secret Empire's defeat but seemed fuzzy on what exactly Strange Tales I#149 indicated. Truthfully, no part of this character's tale hangs together very well.

    In the Number Nine plot, you can see why the Secret Empire didn't take off (beyond the confused ending, that is). Hydra's first storyarc emphasized their high-tech gadgets and colorful catchphrases (Hail Hydra!); AIM's first storyarc builds them up as the ultimate mad scientists; and what sets the Secret Empire apart from any other criminal gang? Well, they're an ineffectual organization killing each other through in-fighting while barely encountering any heroes. Hydra and AIM were strong adversaries while the Secret Empire self-destructed and it's a pity 'cause Bill Everett made those robes look pretty good.

    The Secret Empire finally got a good story in Steve Englehart's Captain America, though some people think that story was CRAP.

Profile by Prime Eternal.

As one of several Number Nines of the Secret Empire he should not be confused with:

...and outside of the Secret Empire should not be confused with:

images: (without ads)
Tales to Astonish I#83, page 19, panel 2 (main)
Tales to Astonish I#83, page 19, panel 4 (action)
Tales to Astonish I#83, page 19, panel 6 (armor)

Tales to Astonish I#82/2-83/2 (August-September, 1966) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (layouts), Bill Everett (art)
Strange Tales I#149 (October, 1966) - Denny O'Neil (writer), Jack Kirby (layouts), Ogden Whitney (art), Stan Lee (editor)
Captain America I#175 (July, 1974) - Steve Englehart (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)

First posted: 12/20/2022
Last updated: 12/20/2022

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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