Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

We all dig that Nick Fury makes an appearance in every comic sooner or later. And that of all the women in the Marvel Universe, Storm is the only one that Doom actually takes a few minutes of his time to speak to as an equal (and, occasionally, proposition). Rogue’s got personality problems; namely that on and off again Avenger Carol Danvers has a way of popping up in her mind and taking over. Stuff like that.

Ben Grimm’s long time love-interest in Alicia Masters. And Alicia’s abusive step-father is this guy Phillip Masters, A.K.A. The Puppet Master. And the Puppet Master uses ‘radioactive clay’ he got from Wundagore Mountain, strongly suggesting close ties between the substances he uses and the High Evolutionary (don’t get me started on that guy). It’s just WEIRD.

Or Betsey Braddock. British psionic mutant who’s been mind-switched into the body of an Asian assassin trained by long-time Daredevil and Elektra enemies The Hand. She happens to be the sister of Brian Braddock, an otherwise normal guy who has been imbued by the ancient wizard Merlin to become the latest Captain Britain. See what I mean? There’s no cleaning that up.

We love the intricate ties between comics in the Marvel Universe. They’re so well crafted and interesting. Occasionally though there’s a character. A villain. Not just any villain, but the kind of villain that you just don’t know what to do with. The villain goes a little haywire with all their connections and intricacies. It’s either too much or just not enough direction went into creating said connections so they just seem arbitrary and all over the place. Count Nefaria is such a villain.

It’s like the writers could never quite figure out where he fit in. He’s not exactly anyone’s specific arch-nemesis, you know? He’s kind of just a guy. And yet, this guy had had some of the weirdest run-ins you could possibly imagine I think. Here’s a few things about him, just to drive a point home of how weird this can get.

An extremely wealthy and eccentric philanthropist, Nefaria has, at least in the past, been in deep with the Maggia. The Maggia are the huge-international crime syndicate that pretty much every criminal in the Marvel U. works for in one form or another. So guys like Kingpin, Hammerhead, Tombstone, etc., all either work through the Maggia or have to go up against it if they want to break out on their own (Fisk in the only guy who could even THINK about doing this. It’d be suicide for anybody else).

But yeah the Maggia. It's not ‘Mafia’? Because Mafia is small and local while the Maggia is huge? It’s like the mega-Mafia I guess. Nefaria invited the Avengers to an opening of his New Jersey based recreation of his Italian family’s castle (that’s right- New Jersey. They should have seen THAT one was a trap, right??). After capturing them all, he projected holograms in front of the U.S., attempting to frame the Avengers as megalomaniacs. After the Avengers bust that up Nefaria was DEPORTED. To Italy.

Flash forward a few years later and Nefaria actually goes up against the X-Men. Long story short, after a big run around involving the X-Men stopping him from launching a huge array of nuclear missles and essentially starting World War III, rookie team member John Proudstar (A.K.A. Thunderbird) actually dies stopping Nefaria’s plot. This virtually unknown death to the American public kind of sets up the tragic tone of X-Men for the next few years under Chris Claremont’s run.

Rallying together a strange band of Avenger’s villains-including Iron Man foe ‘Living Laser’ among others-Nefaria actually enslisted Captain America bad-guy Baron Zemo’s former assistant, Klaus Sturdy, to imbue him with a whole lot of superpowers. Nefaria wasted Sturdy, in order to make sure he never duplicated the process. Oh, by the way, Nefaria’s daughter, Giuletta Nefaria, A.K.A. Whitney Frost? That’s Madame Masque, a particularly brutal and no-nonsense Iron Man villain who’s managed to elude capture for YEARS. She’s recently been seen in the pages of New Avengers, shacking up with the Hood, believe it or not.

Nefaria’s NEW thing is that he’s now an Ionic Being, like Wonder Man. Don’t ask me exactly about all the ins and outs of this, but long story short, he’s actually more energy than solid these days. This means he can pull all sorts of mean and nasty tricks. This is just a cursory overview of his exploits too. Other run-ins include going up against Ka-Zar in the Savage Land and the creation of a team of half-animal/half-men called the ‘Ani-Men’.

Now: I didn't make ANY of this up. This is REAL. This guy is a REAL CHARACTER. And it just goes ON like this, you know!? It’s like they just don’t know what to do with this guy. But they haven’t exactly gotten rid of him, either. So over the years and mileage we've just ended up with…this really…WEIRD…character. So I don’t expect to see Nefaria on the big screen or anything like this. His disowned daughter, Masque, is one of the most compelling villains in all of the Marvel Universe. But her dad isn’t exactly epic material, is he?