Characters Appearing: Battleaxe (Grappler), D-Man, Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura), Poundcakes, Puppet Master, Sphinx, Thing
Issue(s): Thing #34
In searching the earth for the scattered pieces of his Ka Stone, the Sphinx accidentally picks up the Puppet Master's clay body instead, and he restores him.
When the Sphinx hears that the Puppet Master also has a gripe against the Thing, he's nonetheless wholly uninterested in an alliance, and unceremoniously dumps the Puppet Master from his flying pyramid.
So the Puppet Master goes after the Thing alone, possessing Demolition Dunphy and forcing him to use lethal force during a wrestling practice bout.
The Thing figures out what's going on, subdues Dunphy, and convinces the Puppet Master that he no longer has any interest in the Puppet Master's daughter Alicia.
Speaking of tone shifts, here's the Puppet Mister literally thinking "Curses!".
Later, the Sphinx arrives to fight the Thing while he's in a cage match against a wrestler called Little John...
...and i was totally ready for the fight with the Sphinx to take place in the wrestling ring. But instead the Sphinx floats the Thing out to fight him on the roof. Sphinx still hasn't restored his stone, so he's not at full power, but he's decided to kill the Thing.
However, the Puppet Master hears about the fight...
...and decides that he's going to stop it.
The Puppet Master seemed to be in the process of designing a puppet of an olde timey train conductor, perhaps to get free passage on his trip back to Alicia in New York.
As he often is, the Puppet Master looks inhuman in this issue.
But it occurs to me that now that he's literally made of radioactive clay, that's not really a problem. In fact, maybe he's been made of clay all along, having transferred his mind into a clay body early on, and that explains his sudden changes in appearance.
Puppet Master uses his powers to force the Sphinx to crush his Ka Stone, which kills him. According to his own dialogue, the Puppet Master isn't quite a murderer for doing that, since the Sphinx would have died anyway due to the damage already done to the stone.
It's also worth pointing out that the Sphinx used to want to die, although i've sort of lost track of that motivation with this appearance and his last one.
It's announced in the lettercol for this issue that the series is cancelled. Marvel will remain coy about where the Thing will eventually land ("a certain very popular team book") due to the fact that they are still teasing his membership in the West Coast Avengers. It's also said that Barry Windsor-Smith is working on a Thing limited series to be released next year (looks like it was later turned into a graphic novel and then cancelled). For this issue and the next, final, two, Paul Neary is on art while Ron Wilson works on
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
This seems like an awful way to get rid of the Sphinx, although as you've been pointing out, the character is really too powerful-but-not-quite-a threat in most of his appearances. I remember reading about this story in the Handbook and thinking it made no sense (and also the handbook doesn't make it clear that there's a FOUR YEAR gap publishing wise in between Sphinx's stone getting damaged and him dying).
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | December 5, 2013 10:11 AM
Just a side note, Wolf Pack was in Marvel continuity, though they (almost?) never interacted with other Marvel characters. Apparently, there was even a House of M version of them.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | December 5, 2013 2:31 PM
Sphinx was later brought back to life in a story told in New Warriors. His last appearance, so far, was in the pages of the last Richard Rider Nova series.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | December 5, 2013 2:46 PM
@Erik - interesting. I thought the House of M appearance was more homage than anything, but i will at a minimum have to add Marvel Graphic Novel #31 to my What's Missing page when i get to 1987. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 5, 2013 3:18 PM
Rereading this story, it appears perhaps that the Ka stone turned the Puppet Master back into a flesh-and-blood person when it reintegrated him. Come to think of it, did we ever hear what happened to his original body way back in FF #236?
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 14, 2015 6:50 PM
I found this story odd as my rants about Johnny/Alicia continue. The Thing brushes off Masters by convincing him he's not involved with Alicia anymore. He shows he's still steaming over it by considering whether or not to rat out Johnny to him. While he ultimately doesn't do it, just thinking about it seems a bit callous.
Really quite thoughtless.
Posted by: KevinA | May 30, 2018 9:33 AM
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