By Cuban Zod and Julius Marx
It’s tough to make a guy named “Mysterio” (cue the 1950s Ed Wood Sci Fi music) a really deadly menace, but God bless guys like Kevin Smith and Todd McFarlane for trying… In Todd’s case—he was one of the few villains Todd illustrated in his fairly short but memorable run as Spidey-artist (And who doesn’t dig Todd’s Lizard? Err—that doesn’t sound right…) You can see one of the Spawn creator’s memorable Mysterio covers in this article. In the case of Kevin Smith—he made Mysterio the secret creep behind a whole “Damien Omen”-esque conspiracy that Daredevil was drawn into, where DD had to rescue a baby that could have been either the antichrist or a holy child immaculately conceived.
So how does a guy with a name that evokes “bad stage magician” do so well for himself? Credit Mysterio’s PR-firm. After all, the guy has been an “upper mid-tier” Spidey villain since his first appearance in the late 1960s… A guy with a FISHBOWL for a head soars way ahead of guys like the Molten Man, The Prowler, The Shocker, the Tarantula, and even the Beetle in terms of Spidey comic book and cartoon appearances—he even got to be a founding member of the Sinister Six! Somehow, this guy who dabbles in flash paper, green screen, and card tricks—is like everybody’s 8th favorite Spidey Villain, sandwiched somewhere between that wily old coot the Vulture and The Chameleon. I mean, the guy’s name is friggin’ “Mysterio!” MYSTERIO, I tell you!
Well, Mysterio’s excellent PR-firm aside, I think one should also credit his funky costume… That same lame shiny bowl head that people mock is part of his appeal—as is his one-piece checkered green pajamas, and creepy purple cape with the two spooky eyes on the shoulders. It’s retro and memorable all at the same time.
And now he’s a part of the latest wave of SPIDER MAN CLASSICS from Toy Biz… "Magic Change Mysterio" is currently packed out with “Soak & Toss” Spider Man in blue water suit, and the Humberto Ramos-ish “Aqua Blast” Spider Man. (The “Flip & Stick” Spider-Man on the back of the card is not in the early cases.) He brings us one figure closer to a Marvel Legends classic style “Sinister-Six,” which will be complete once our fine-feathered friend Adrian Toomes shows up in the newest Spider-Man boxed set. And strange dude that he is, Mysterio’s got healthy articulation—but like Mysty himself, some of it’s downright weird…
I mean, he has wrist articulation, but they can’t swivel. They just move up and down. And his helmet’s not removable—but it comes with a button on Mysterio’s back so you can spin his head from mean old Quentin Beck, to a Roswell Alien, to an Angry Demon (Love the “tri-head,” I just wish the helmet would come off!) . Those quibbles aside— Mysterio comes with articulation in both feet, both ankles, double knee articulation in both legs, articulated hips, waist, ball-jointed shoulders, both elbows, limited wrist, and both sets of fingers are articulated. Throw in the fact that his head lights up when you press his back button for extra sci-fi spookiness, and all in all, he’s not too shabby!
For those not too familiar with Mysterio, he was the creation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man # 13. Basically he was special-effects guru Quentin Beck, sort of a disgruntled ILM worker who joined the dark side after seeing his miserly Lucasfilm paycheck… Beck was so squirrely that on an offhanded comment by a buddy—he decided to become a SUPERVILLAIN and take on SPIDER-MAN. Just imagine if his buddy had suggested Beck open a restaurant— instead of duking it out with the wall-crawler, Peter and MJ could be dining at “Mysterio’s Chicken and Waffles.”
Initially, Beck’s plan was to present Mysterio as the new “hero” on the block, as a cover to committing robberies. He was hoping to be the “new” Spider-Man, by discrediting him and acting on market research that kids found spiders “creepy” and that fishbowl helmets would be all the rage… So using his powers of Sci Fi illusions, Beck appeared on the New York scene as Mysterio (cue the 1950s sci music again!) and began to commit crimes while pretending to be a good guy. It lasted—oh—all of five minutes before Spidey exposed this Ray Harryhausen-wannabe as a phoney-baloney crook with some dry ice and a strobe light.
Thus began Mysterio’s life of crime and vendetta against Spider-Man… Give Beck some credit, he was able to use hallucinogenic drugs to convince Spidey of all sorts of crap, that he was being attacked by demons, that his close friends were dead, etc. Mysterio even hit the big time when he was a founding member of the original Sinister Six, joining Doc Ock, Kraven, the Sandman, the Vulture, and Electro in taking on Spidey. Apparently, their “loser-dom” increased to the sixth power—Spider-Man was able to fairly easily defeat the Six.
Eventually, after being beaten like a red-headed stepchild over the years by Spidey—Mysterio found out he was suffering from an inoperable brain tumor. And ripping off a page from the Kraven the Hunter handbook—he decided to kill his arch-nemesis and then kill himself. Only Mysterio suddenly decided his arch-nemesis was Daredevil (go figure—the guy wears a chrome mixing bowl for a hat and dabbles in psychotropic drugs) and tried his hardest to kill him, after buying DD’s secret identity of “Matt Murdock” from the Kingpin. Predictably, Mysterio was unable to kill Daredevil and took an ass-whipping from him, and the newborn infant he used as a pawn may have even given him a beatdown if memory serves. So Mysterio put phase 3 of his plan into action and managed to kill himself. THAT he did successfully.
Hard to know if the dude’s REALLY dead though… He is a master of illusion after all. After Beck’s reported death—his guise was assumed by some fellow named Danny Berkhart. And more recently, Beck’s female cousin, Maguire Beck, has been hanging out with what seems to be her very-much alive cousin… So in spite of Kevin Smith’s best efforts to whack Mysterio—the guy who lives to drive Spidey stark-raving mad through weak CGI effects MAY be alive after all…
In terms of articulated plastic, Mysterio was first adapted as a 5” figure in the Amazing Spider-Man line of figures based on the 1990s cartoon series… He came in two versions—light and dark green. He was also released in 10” form. You can see a comparison shot of the latest adaptation with those figures… This latest Toy Biz release seems to be the most comic accurate version yet of the villainous MYSTERIO (cue the bad 1950s sci fi music one last time)!
The History of Mystero in Plastic