Having already fought Doc Octopus, Sandman, Venom, Electro, Vulture, Lizard and two Green Goblins, the latest Spider-Man movie (Spider-Man: Far From Home) welcomes a new addition to the web-slinger’s movie rogues gallery – Mysterio!
But is he friend or foe? The trailers have not been clear on that part, so there is a remote possibility that this version of Mysterio might be a hero ... but his comic roots state otherwise.
Co-created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko as a villain in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #13 (1964), Quentin Beck aka Mysterio is a Hollywood special effects wizard-cum-stunt man. Fed up with his limited career progression, Beck tried his hand at acting but failed miserably and decided to put his talents to criminal use instead.
His early encounters with Spidey were mind boggling in every sense, as Mysterio was unlike any of the villains Spidey had faced. While Mysterio does know some kung fu, his forte is in creating illusions, hypnotism and playing mind games.
Apart from his trademark “fish bowl” helmet, his other traits include masquerading as other public figures, notably as a world-renowned psychiatrist named Dr Ludwig Rinehart.
Unlike most of Spidey’s villains, who tend to resort to physical altercations when going for the jugular, Mysterio gets inside his head, which makes him stand out from the other rogues. This modus operandi is consistent with the more notable incarnations of Mysterio.
To prepare you for the upcoming movie (which opens next week), we revisit some mind-boggling moments involving Mysterio.
Mysterio’s origin tale happens in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol.1) #13, in which he frames Spidey for a robbery (doing it so well that even Peter himself wonders if he did it in his sleep) and becomes the Daily Bugle’s new public hero, thanks to J. Jonah Jameson’s endorsement.
While JJJ’s bias towards the wall-crawler is nothing new, the real shocker in this issue is how easily Mysterio thrashes Spidey in their first encounter. Inevitably, they meet again, and Spidey manages to record Mysterio monologuing his entire origin story, and even succeeds in making JJJ eat humble pie.
While this issue is Mysterio’s “official” first appearance, it was ret-conned in Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol.1) #51, giving Beck an even earlier appearance as one of the Tinkerer’s henchmen, disguised as an alien.
Mysterio and the boys
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 brought six of Spidey’s most notorious foes – Mysterio, Sandman, The Vulture, Doctor Octopus, Electro and Kraven The Hunter – together as the Sinister Six for the first time.
The rogues kidnap Aunt May and Betty Brent, and Spidey has to defeat each of the rogues en route to rescuing them, with Mysterio displaying his expertise in robotics by building robotic replicas of the original X-Men.
Honey, I shrunk the Spider-Man!
Mysterio tried a different tactic in his second encounter with Spidey (Amazing Spider-Man, Vol.1, #24).
Assuming the role of psychiatrist Dr Rineheart, and using special effects and illusions, he succeeded in convincing Spidey that he was losing his mind and that he had to reveal his secret identity. The plan was mere seconds away from succeeding, but it was ultimately foiled by the untimely appearance of Jameson.
His mind games don’t stop there, as he goes from shrinks to shrinking in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #66 and #67 – Mysterio uses hypnotism to trick Spidey into thinking he has been shrunk to six inches tall!
In the 1999 three-part mini-series Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man by J.M. DeMatteis, John Romita Sr and Michael Zulli, we are given a deeper take of Mysterio’s origin, in which he tricks Jameson into believing that he had gone to Hell, and was surrounded by Spidey-demons.
It doesn’t take much to cook up an Aunt May-scare, but in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #196-200, Mysterio (as Dr Rineheart) went the extra mile by faking her death. For added impact, Mysterio teamed up with The Burglar – the same one who murdered Uncle Ben. All this drama ... just to retrieve some cash stashed at the Parkers’ old residence.
Beck from the dead
Amazing Spider-Man #618-620 features the mother of all the mind games that Mysterio has played with Spidey, and also the villain’s comeback after a long absence. In the story, Mysterio reinvents himself by using his expertise to cover up mob deaths for a high price. But covering up deaths wasn’t his main game plan as he had something bigger up his sleeves, and it wasn’t cards.
In the 2012 crossover miniseries Spider-Men, Mysterio opens a portal to the now defunct Ultimate Universe, and Peter is sucked into that other world. There, he meets Miles Morales for the first time, and discovers that the Peter Parker in that universe is dead.
Mysterio doesn’t really feature much in this story, but hey, he was the one who got the two Spider-Men to meet, so that counts for something.
Diagnosed with a brain tumor and lung cancer after years of being exposed to chemicals, Mysterio is given a year to live, and he intends to go out with a bang. Problem is, this happened when Spidey’s clone (Ben Reilly) was in the Spidey-suit and Peter Parker was on “sabbatical”. Hence, the next best superhero to oppose him was Daredevil.
In Daredevil (Vol. 2) #1-7, Mysterio spends US$1mil to learn everything about Daredevil via information sourced from the Kingpin. Mysterio embarked on his final and most devious plot – from setting up a child as the Antichrist, exposing Karen Page’s HIV status and sending Matt Murdock’s life on another downward spiral.
Not bad for a guy in a fish bowl helmet. Mysterio finally did what Apocalypse, Mr Sinister and every evil mutant couldn’t in 2003’s Wolverine #69 ... kill the X-Men.
Serving as the trigger point to the epic Old Man Logan storyline, Mysterio is revealed to be the antagonist who tricked Wolverine into thinking his teammates were his worst enemies, killing them all as a result.