The first version of Master Menace was a sort of Doctor Doom/Lex Luthor figure opposing the Squadron Supreme in Mark Gruenwald’s landmark series. Mostly Luthor, really.

But here we’re going to discuss a version from a different reality.

*This* take on Master Menace appears in Straczynski’s Supreme Power, a more modern tale, in 2005. There were further appearances, but this profile was done early in the career of this version of Emil Burbank.

But in any case, sociopathic geniuses are always needed ! In stories, at least.



  • Real Name: Emil Zebediah Burbank.
  • Other Aliases: Master Menace, several unrevealed.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Unnamed sister and parents.
  • Group Affiliation: The Squadron Supreme.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 160 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown

Powers and Abilities

Emil Burbank is a member of the Squadron Supreme with the superpower of an incredible intellect. Through his superhuman intelligence he has mastered a number of very useful skills, including:

  • Technology.
  • Philosophy.
  • Languages.
  • Economics.
  • Literature.
  • Metallurgy.
  • Chemistry.
  • Biology.
  • Lip-reading.
  • Psychology.


He is a master of logistics and planning. Burbank is also smart enough to quickly find solutions to problems in the field on the fly. In DC Heroes RPG terms, he could be given the Leadership Advantage to highlight these aspects.

Although Emil possesses no physical super powers, he can defend himself in combat situations. This is done using certain types of technology of his own design. Burbank carries the tech needed for many odd situations and designed against many powerful targets. That includes the other Squadron members.


Emil Burbank is a man with many aliases. He is possibly the greatest intellect on the planet. He has Doctoral Degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Metallurgy, Psychology, Economics and literature from three different universities and under three different aliases. Apparently he has also won a Nobel Prize.

As a child, he raped his older sister by drugging her unconscious with chemical compounds. That eventually left her in a permanent catatonic state. At 18, his parents died in a car accident, which he arranged. Burbank boasts about it, even while trying to say it was an accident.

Emil is noted for malicious and homicidal retribution against those he feels have wronged him. A school bully and a professor who accused him of cheating were both caught in fires started by Emil.

We were working secretly for the military

Emil Burbank was recruited to the Squadron Supreme. He had been tested by the military and found to have been exposed to the retrovirus that had been released from Hyperion’s spacecraft. This bestowed superhuman abilities on numerous people around the world.

Even though Emil’s enhanced intellect is a direct result of the retro-virus, Emil denies it. He insists that his genius is his own doing.

General Alexander eventually sent Emil, Nuke, Arcanna, and Shape to apprehend or destroy Hyperion. While fighting Hyperion, Arcanna’s quantum powers, Nuke’s radioactive blast, and Hyperion’s flash vision accidentally combined.

This sent them all to an alternate reality. There, Hyperion and most other heroes waged war against Earth’s governments, to “save” humanity.

You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

However, the “alternate” reality is actually the same reality, only years in the future. Emil and Hyperion are the only two members of Squadron Supreme aware of this after the five were returned to the correct time stream.

Emil Burbank explains he's the smartest man on the planet

Emil was to be on the covert operations team after Hyperion’s return to America. But after Mark informs Jason Scott of the project and gives him a list of the super-humans working for the government, the U.S. President gives a press conference. He announces the formation of the Squadron Supreme.

The team is sent to Uganda to apprehend one John M’Butu, a fast-rising tribal leader gifted with a powerful verbal suggestion ability. M’Butu calls himself the Voice.

Burbank reveals that he has developed counter measures to defend himself from everyone on his team, except for Hyperion and Doctor Spectrum. Before Amphibian attacks him, he attempts to defeat her with a powder he designed to kill her by suffocation.

Ways and means

The team is sent on a mission codenamed “Long Walk”, to take down insurgents of the Ilam Province  in Iran. Emil develops technology that disrupts the functioning of the inner ear. He uses it to incapacitate the soldiers, then shoot them all dead whilst they are helpless.

Edith Freiberg finds a little girl, with Emil Burbank translating from the Persian. This allows Edith to find the kid’s relatives, who had the girl’s mother and sisters stoned to death for being raped. She buries the relatives up to their necks and then gives the girl a steel bar with which to kill them.

After “Long Walk”, Emil Burbank is at the conference to act as a bodyguard.

Have brain, will travel

Burbank’s covert actions get exposed when Hyperion and Nighthawk, after an initial skirmish, join forces to try and alleviate the Darfur conflict in war-torn Sudan. Hyperion discovers that Nighthawk has a prototype weapon built from stolen plans of Emil Burbank’s journal. It cannot actually injure him, but can convince him that he is being injured.

Emil Burbank with a psychotic grin

A bit later, courtesy of a deception engineered by Ultimate Nick Fury and the Ultimate Doctor Doom, the Squadron travel to the Ultimate universe. They have been led to think that the Ultimate Reed Richards is responsible for releasing an organism that has destroyed much of the United States.

A series of misunderstandings ensue. After a series of battles between the Squadron, the Ultimate Fantastic Four, the Ultimates and the Earth-712 Squadron Supreme (whose world was also effected by the organism), Burbank is exposed as the third culprit.

Emil had been asked by the government to develop a weapon to kill Hyperion. And the world-destroying organism he developed indeed produced a radiation that could severely weaken Hyperion.

Nick Fury is detained in custody on the Supreme Power Earth (the Earth-31916 universe). Meanwhile Squadron member Power Princess remains in the Ultimate universe to ensure that Doom (who escaped custody by using a Doombot) is captured.


Later, five years after the initial battle with Redstone, most of the Squadron have disappeared. Ultimate Nick Fury, Burbank (whose involvement was not made public) and Arcanna are now a team of intelligence officers.

Working for the government, they investigate a group of returning astronauts that exhibit strange abilities. The astronauts infect many people they come into contact with, also giving them superhuman abilities.

Fury eventually leads a new version of the Squadron that features several new powered characters. This group comes into conflict with many of the original members of the Squadron who have been gathered by Hyperion. The heroes unite to stop a group of superhuman terrorists from the Middle East but then, via a government device, all apparently lose their abilities.

Arcanna secretly reveals to Fury that she, and likely many others, still possesses superhuman abilities. Burbank took the apparent loss of abilities very hard, although his actual power state was left uncertain. If he kept his powers, he probably remained working for the government.


Burbank is a pretty average-looking man usually clad in a fine suit or a military uniform. For a while he also wore a black mask and black gloves for protection and to cover some imaginary damage and scarring.


Burbank’s main personality traits are his arrogance, solipsism and self-centred nature. While he clearly is a very intelligent man, it also has to be acknowledged by the people around him. When not praised enough for his intellect he will promptly point out that he is the smartest man on Earth, in an overbearing manner.

He might always have been this way. Or perhaps it is his way of coping with being the sole seemingly non-powered member of the Squadron Supreme (though he’s actually a superhuman). He doesn’t seem to realize that he is jealous and envious of the other superhumans.

Emil’s thoughts are his own and his thinking is hard to follow. Only the most intelligent can converse one to one with him and hold their own. He often makes obscure references and tells people of odd facts that are both relevant to the case at hand and that aim to impress.


Throughout his life, Emil has been guided by vicious, unforgiving instincts and morals. He will always find a way to get on top of things. He adeptly hides his old sins and his psychopathic tendencies – and there are numerous ones – although he sometimes underestimates others and his actions become questionable, which he will have to explain away later (for example to the U.S. Military).

Should his past be revealed he faces a long prison sentence or a death sentence.

He is a very dangerous man who is not beyond killing millions for the sake of his agenda. Vengeance is a common agenda for him.

Even as he thinks he already knows it all, he is subconsciously willing to learn more things and adapts to situations very quickly. He always plans well ahead and will carry gadgets of his own making for many different possible scenarios. These include gadgets usable against every single member of the Squadron Supreme, except Hyperion and Dr. Spectrum, should the need to incapacitate or kill appear.


He is closest with the members of his original group.

He often converses with Arcanna Jones, who is a capable scientist. There’s also the intellectually disabled Raleigh Lund aka “Shape”, whom he likes to taunt and ridicule to get his ego boosts. Al Gaines aka “Nuke” is seen as a powerful and useful ally and follower. The rest of the Squadroners are seen as wild cards to be watched and handled individually.

He clicked pretty well with Ultimate Nick Fury due to all the scheming even if they would banter at times. His current employers, the U.S. Military, are just bricks to be played to further his own insane goals. Given his intellect, Emil clearly is one of the most dangerous men on the planet, and he knows it.


“If you wanted to conquer the world, why didn’t you come to me ?”

“I’m sure it will prove to be an interesting experiment. But I think you’ll find that my unique abilities have everything to do with my own efforts and very little to do with anyone else’s. In fact, I intend to make sure of it.”

“The smartest man in the universe. That’s what Time Magazine  called me three years running. And for my admittedly genius contributions to various fields of science I was awarded the Nobel Prize . Smartest man in the universe. Only one problem with that statement. Despite what we all believed, the universe was bigger than we thought. I might as well have grown horns and a tail before I was going to get the kind of recognition those ‘supers’ were getting.”

Intelligence Agent [On Emil Burbank’s claim that he knows how to defeat almost anyone in the Squadron]: “How did you manage to come up with these solutions when we, with all our resources, failed ?” (Burbank writes on a notepad in front of him for a few seconds, then holds it up. It now reads ’Smartest Man on the Planet‘ with an arrow pointed at him.)

“Sigh… you tell them and you tell them that you’re the smartest man on the planet, but they just never seem to get it.”

“—That it worked ? My good fellow, obviously you haven’t read my file. What I design, always works.” [the enemies lie incapacitated] “Yes, quite effective. But it only lasts as long as the frequency is being broadcast. Which is why the follow-up is so important. Like a fish in a barrel…” [guns down helpless foes and starts to sing] “Oh, I’m looking over a fallen soldier that I overlooked before—” [later also kills his fellow soldiers in a ’friendly fire‘ incident]

[Seeing Nighthawk without his mask] “Of course he isn’t worried. Average height. Average weight. African-American. Brown hair and eyes. Wearing black. Why, I bet there’s only one man in the country who matches that description. Yes… wholly unremarkable and patently unrecognizable.”

“I’ve always wondered what it must feel like to kill millions of people all at once. Since I’m never going to have the chance to meet a Hitler or a Stalin, I was wondering if you could tell me what it’s like to…”

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Dr. Emil Burbank of Earth 31916

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Psychopath
Int: 12 Wil: 12 Min: 10 Occupation: Government Operative, Tactician
Inf: 05 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 08
Init: 020 HP: 030

Charisma: 06, Gadgetry: 10, Medicine (Medical Treatment, First Aid): 08, Military Science (Electronic Countermeasures, Tactics): 08, Scientist: 12, Thief (Security Systems): 08, Weaponry (Firearms): 03

Credentials (Squadron Supreme member, High), Genius, Languages (Farsi and very likely several others), Scholar (Biology, Chemistry, Metallurgy, Psychology, Economics and literature).

The exact disciplines of his doctoral degrees are unrevealed, and are given as general categories through his Scholar advantage. However, Emil is a versatile enough character to likely benefit from the bonuses of most subfields within these categories (such as for example Organic Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry as part of his Chemistry Scholar).

The Squadron Supreme (High), Ultimate Nick Fury (Low), U.S. Military (Low).

Dark Secret (The murder of his parents, classmates and many others), Secret Identity (Burbank identity is unknown to the general public).


  • Choking Powder [BODY 01, Chemical Attack: 07, Bonus: This is particularly effective against merpeople on land that breathe through gills as it also closes the gills resulting in suffocation (i.e. +1 CS AV/EV and dying as per the Fatal Vulnerability rules)].
  • Morph Gas [BODY 01, Sleep: 07, Note: Whenever he releases the gas, which is colorless, odorless and lighter than air, he himself will wear small nose filters [Systemic Antidote: 08], which protect against the effect of the gas. The gas is, of course, only effective indoors or in isolated spaces.].
  • C-Omnigadgets (x3) [BODY 01, C Omni-Ability 08 APs].
  • C-Omnigadgets (x2) [BODY 01, C Omni-Ability 12 APs].
  • C-Omnigadget (x1) [BODY 01, C Omni-Ability 16 APs, Notes: Given his penchant for planning well ahead, he would likely bring a very powerful gadget, such as this one, in case he expected extreme trouble. Most of his gadgets will be liquids or powders that he’s synthesized in a chemistry lab.].

By Dr. Peter S Piispanen.

Source of Character: Supreme Power, Supreme Power: Hyperion, Squadron Supreme v2 & v3, Ultimate Power.

Helper(s):, Darci.

Writeup completed on the 16 of December, 2010.