Madame Masque – Needless Character Analysis
This week’s Needless Character Analysis is for Madame Masque. Currently getting a higher profile due to her inclusion in the television series Agent Carter, Whitney Frost has been a regular, if infrequent foe for Iron Man for many, many years. Her history can be a little hard to follow, but we’re going to try to tackle it.
Madame Masque was born into the Nefaria crime family, but when her mother died in childbirth, she was given to financier Byron Frost to be raised. When she was an adult, Whitney became a socialite, but was approached by Count Nefaria after the Frosts died. He revealed her true parentage, wanting her to take over the Nefaria crime family one day. After her fiancee leaves her, she accepts his offer, and immediately begins training in criminal strategy, combat and espionage. When Count Nefaria is imprisoned, she takes over, using the alias of the “Big M.”
Her activities brings her into conflict with Iron Man, but while escaping in a plane, she is injured in a crash, finding her face badly scarred. She is saved by the criminal Mordecai Midas. She takes his obsession with gold as inspiration and fashions a gold mask to cover her scarred face and takes the new alias of Madame Masque. While maintaining her criminal identity, she does develop a romantic relationship with Tony Stark, both learning the other’s secret identity. When forced to choose between her dying father and Stark, she cannot decide, and after his death, she is wrought with guilt, and resumes her position as head of the crime family.
Paranoid, Madame Masque creates a bio-duplicate of herself that reforms and becomes an ally of the Avengers. She takes the name Masque. When her father returns from the dead, Masque sacrifices herself to try to stop him, inspiring Madame Masque to turn against her father. She renounces her criminal past, but it is short-lived. She becomes ally and lover to the Hood, and is in position to assist Norman Osborne when he takes command of SHIELD following the failed Skrull invasion. She finds herself captured by Iron Man and impersonated by Pepper Potts. After Norman Osborne’s failed siege of Asgard, Masque helps the Hood slip away and enlists her father’s help only to find herself imprisoned.
While collecting the Infinty Gems, The Hood uses one to heal Madame Masque’s face. Eventually, she allies herself with Baron Zemo. Most recently, she began to gather magical artifacts to gain power for herself, but found herself possessed by a demonic entity. Doctor Doom and Iron Man exorcise the demon from her and she is taken by Doctor Strange to metaphysically fix her before turning her over to SHIELD.
Her golden mask is a striking trademark and makes it hard to believe that she has not been used more often over the years. Since coming to prominence again in recent years, her potential and deadliness has been firmly demonstrated.