21 min read


Context

Master Man aka Übermensch was one of the recurrent and most powerful foes of Captain America and the Invaders during World War Two in the Marvel Universe.

However, he was a retconMaking changes to a character or story after the fact. Master Man was actually created during the 1970s, like many comic book WWII tales.

If you were looking for a different super-strong-World-War-Two-thug-with-a-swastika-on-his-chest, see our guide to Captains Nazi.

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Background

  • Real Name: Wilhelm “Willie” Lohmer (in one version, William Lohmer).
  • Other Aliases: Übermensch.
  • Known Relatives: Julia Frieda Koenig Lohmer (aka Warrior Woman, wife), Max Lohmer (aka Master Man, great-nephew).
  • Group Affiliation: Super-Axis, Überkommando, Third Reich.
  • Base Of Operations: During WWII : Third Reich (usually Germany), then in suspended animation under Berlin, then a castle in Switzerland.
  • Height: 5’10” (1.78m) (6’6” (1.98m) as Master Man).
  • Weight: 145 lbs. (65 Kg.) (350 lbs. (158 Kg.) as Master Man).
  • Eyes: Blue. Hair: Blond (later White).

Powers & Abilities

At his peak, Lohmer could single-handedly engage the Invaders in combat.

  • He possesses enhanced prowess, speed and physique like Captain America (Steve Rogers).
  • He is strong and durable enough to fight Namor the Submariner. In practice he’s usually stronger, unless Namor recently immersed in water.
  • He is essentially immune to fire, even the flame of the Human Torch (Jim Hammond).

He has proven able to flatten the entire team by himself, especially with the advantage of surprise.

Master Man can jump so far as to practically fly. He is faster in the air than any WWII fighter airplane. It wasn’t uncommon for him to spot a flying plane and jump onto it — or through it ! — all the way from the ground.

At some points, Master Man could actually fly.

Murkier aspects

One flashback showed Master Man being severely wounded and disfigured. Yet these wounds had completely vanished by his next appearance. We therefore assumed that Master Man could regenerate.

This hypothesis is weakly reinforced by a scene where he swiftly recovers from being beaten up by Namor.

He might even be able to recover from seeming death. See the “Eternal return” section.

Lohmer’s strength, fighting prowess and whether he could fly have varied over the years. Presumably due to imperfections in the chemical treatment empowering him.

Master Man (Marvel Comics)

The Bund

Before he received his powers Master Man was a member of the German American Bund, a 1930s pro-Nazi American organisation. It promoted goodwill between the US and the Reich. These shared significant common ground, particularly on the subject of eugenics  .

The Bund went after the usual Nazi targets. Jews, restraints on large companies’ power, Communists, workers’ unions, etc..

The Bund had some influence. They put together a few major rallies and holiday camps.

Of note were its protests about Timely Comics’ Captain America. The first issue’s cover depicted Cap punching Hitler – and was drawn and written by Jews. The death threats of the Bund led Mayor La Guardia to send cops to protect Stanley Lieber (who would become Stan Lee), Jacob Kurtzberg (Jack Kirby), Joseph Simon and their colleagues.

The Bund’s reputation took a sharp turn once the war was declared. It was frequently called a “fifth column” – meaning a segment of the population sympathising with an incoming invader, and willing to sabotage defence efforts.

However, between the inept “leadership” of Fritz Kuhn, the patriotism of many Bundists, and simple geographic realities, these accusations were excessive. Yet they were a genuine menace for some Jewish Americans – particularly small businesses.

The Bund in super-hero comics

The real-world Bund had less than 10,000 active members. In comic books — Marvel and DC alike — the German American Bund is far larger, ferocious and sinister. It’s what the most ambitious and traitorous leaders of the historical Bund wished it could have been.

The wildest 1940s claims — that there were nearly half-a-million Bundists in the US — might even be true in comics ! And they are running around shouting “Heil Hitler !” with a Pennsylvanian accent.

In the comics, the Nazis routinely ferry assets to America – often in U-Boats. They have an extensive spy network in the US. Thousands of traitors, spies and saboteurs take their orders straight from Berlin.

This gave Golden AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1930s to the early 1950s super-heroes somebody to fight on the “home front”.

Comic book Bundists are often depicted as speaking a mix of German and English. While this may seem outré, it’s fairly accurate. German-Americans back then routinely lived in German-speaking communities. Frex, in much of Pennsylvania education was in German.

This strongly receded with the nationalist backlash during the two World Wars.

Neo-Nazis in Berlin

During the 1990s, Master Man went on to work with Neo-Nazis in Berlin in the 1990s. These also a comic book version of the real thing.

In real-world Germany, such gangs are but small bands of malcontents. They’re not well-armed, well-organised and well-connected criminals as depicted in the story.

This is presumably an effect of organisations and villains that do not exist in the real world (the Red Skull, Hydra, etc.) arming and training useful idiots.

Master Man (Wilhelm Lohmer) (Marvel Comics) flying fist first on white background

Soundtrack

Tracking best-selling music had *just* started in 1940. This tune seems to have been #1.

History (part 1)

Born during the 1920s, “Willie” Lohmer grew up in the Yorkville area of New York City – nicknamed “Kleindeutschland”.

He was not well-educated, and fascinated by the events in Germany. He joined the German-American Bund – and possibly the Friends of New Germany  before that.

Wilhelm was also noted for being a physically frail man, much like his contemporary Steve Rogers.

(Another version depicts Lohmer as a German man sent to the US, presumably during the 1930s, to start a Nazi Bund. This failed. This version is only mentioned during a feverish recollection by Namor.)

(Both could be true. Lohmer might have been born in the US, emigrated to Germany during the Great Depression, then sent back as a faithful agent familiar with the US.)

Perhaps because he was too sickly to serve as a saboteur or fighter, Lohmer was used as an experimental subject. He was part of a project meant to create a Master Man.

Das Übermensch Projekt

The project was hidden under an abandoned farm in Virginia. It was directed by one Colonel Kriegshund (presumably a code name), and featured Nazi scientific genius Brain Drain (Werner Schmidt).

Even Brain Drain couldn’t make the ambitious Master Man concept work. But once Captain America (either Steve Rogers or Isaiah Bradley) was active, Dr. Schmidt realised that the Americans — and their lead researcher Dr. Erskine — had the solution to his main problem.

In late December, 1941, Nazi agents captured the closest colleague of the late Dr. Erskine, Dr. Anderson. They used one of Brain Drain’s devices to probe his memories. This allowed for brewing the last chemical they needed – and Lohmer was fully empowered.

Master Man is go

Minutes later, the Human Torch (Jim Hammond) and Toro (Thomas Raymond) attacked the lab. Master Man beat back the flaming Americans, but was ordered to leave on the double. The Torches narrowly saved the gravely wounded Anderson.

Master Man’s urgent orders were to sink the HMS Duke of York  . Nazi intelligence had established that this battleship was ferrying Winston Churchill. But Captain America (Steve Rogers), Bucky (James Barnes), the Submariner (Prince Namor), the Torch and Toro stalled Lohmer, whose powers started to fade.

Master Man’s arrogance saved Churchill’s life. Lohmer had forbidden a U-boat commander from torpedoing the British vessel, to claim the glory of the kill.

As he tried to flee, the weakening Lohmer was captured. Kriegshund, the only man who knew how Master Man had been created, was killed in the fray.

War ! What is it good for ?

Nazi spies freed Lohmer from his high-security cell and shipped him to Germany. Lohmer was exposed to more, better doses of the chemical so his powers wouldn’t run out again. He was allegedly made stronger by this treatment.

For the remainder of the war he served as an elite Nazi agent. He frequently clashed with Allied super-heroes and was often found at Hitler’s side. Being American and bilingual, he also sometimes operated in the US.

Master Man once captured the Allied saboteur the Mighty Destroyer in Germany. He then used the Destroyer’s costume to trick other Allied heroes.

Master Man fought at least one time traveller – the Thing (Benjamin Jacob Grimm). And once spearheaded operations in Wakanda, though these were a disaster.

Master Man (Wilhelm Lohmer) and Warrior Woman rush in (Marvel Comics)

History (part 2)

One person managed to duplicate the Master Man treatment – Nazi super-spy Fräulein Rätsel (Julia Koenig), who became Warrior Woman.

Now having a superman and a superwoman, Hitler declared them to be husband and wife so they would have children.

This declaration was met with anguish by Koenig. Lohmer was furious and distraught at being rejected. Though she had to obey the Führer and go through the marriage ceremony, Warrior Woman always held Master Man in contempt and at arm’s length.

Dirty deeds

Lohmer also hastened the death of famous genius Nikola Tesla. He stole recent work from the Serbian inventor and set his hotel room on fire. The severely sick Tesla died of cardiac arrest minutes later.

Tesla’s designs were then used by Baron Zemo to construct the Medusa Cannon, but that was destroyed by Captain America and Bucky.

Master Man also nearly killed Steve Trevor and Diana Prince. (Some Marvel books set during the 1940s had discreet, deniable appearances of the Golden Age version of these DC Comics characters. But on Earth-616The main Marvel Comics version of Earth, Diana and Steve were normal persons).

Master Man served — against his will — in Lady Lotus’ “Super-Axis” cadre of German and Atlantean enforcers.

He was also part of the Überkommando, a rarely-assembled fighting force including all superhumans available to the Führer.

Master Man (Marvel Comics) from the TSR gamer's handbook

Le ventre est encore fécond…

Senior Nazi officer Baron Wolfgang Strucker had information from the future. Using this data, he planned to fight on once the Reich would have fallen.

Strucker’s main assets would become Hydra. But he had side projects, including two suspended animation capsules hidden in Berlin. These were meant to keep Master Man and Warrior Woman hidden and asleep until the Reich would return.

A young Nazi doctor, Herr Doktor Kraus, kept the suspended animation equipment running. In 1945, while Berlin was burning, Master Man and Warrior Woman entered the capsules.

… d’où a surgi la bête immonde

However, during the Berlin Crisis of 1961  , the Nazis lost access to the site hosting Koenig. It was in the now-closed Soviet Sector. They also nearly lost Kraus, though he was narrowly evacuated to West Berlin.

The funding to maintain the site hosting Lohmer ran low. But a wealthy Nazi sympathiser, Herr Nacht, bankrolled Kraus’s work.

His son Axl built up the Nacht fortune into a financial empire. This made it easy to keep Lohmer’s suspended animation capsule in working order.

The younger Nacht also had Kraus duplicate the Übermensch chemicals, and became the second Master Man.

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Cold War’s over

As a boy, Axl Nacht had fallen in love with Julia Koenig-Lohmer upon seeing a picture of her. He was fascinated by the notion that she was laying Snow White-style somewhere in East Berlin.

When Germany was reunited in 1990, Kraus revived Lohmer and they went to check on Koenig.

As Kraus had feared, the 1940s equipment had not held well after three decades without a technician. Reviving Warrior Woman would be difficult.

The Axl shuffle

By that point the original Human Torch (Jim Hammond) was active again. Dr. Kraus remembered reports about how the android’s “blood” had revived and empowered the British super-heroine Spitfire (Jacqueline Falsworth).

With a team of German Neo-Nazis, Master Man kidnapped the Torch in the US. This approach worked, and Ms. Koenig was revived.

Prince Namor attempted to intervene, but was thrashed by Master Man and the just-revived Warrior Woman. This left Kraus and the Lohmers free to meet with their benefactor, Axl Nacht.

Master Man must die !

Steeped in Nazi resentment since childhood, Nacht wanted to take over Germany. He saw the two wartime superhumans as his key asset for this.

He also intended to send Master Man to his death at some point, then woo his widow.

The opportunity for murder came earlier than planned – the captive Namor broke free. Nacht :

  1. Sent Wilhelm Lohmer to fight him.
  2. Put the moves on his wife.
  3. Made Master Man’s powers vanish in the middle of the fight.

Seeing her husband back to his frailer form, Warrior Woman haughtily rejected him in favour of Axl Nacht.

Distraught, Willie Lohmer activated the bunker’s self-destruction system. He seemingly perished in the explosion.

Master Man (Marvel Comics) and Warrior Woman in brown leather trench coats

History (part 3)

Wilhelm Lohmer survived, thanks to the super-soldier serum derivative in his veins. Blown into a sewer under the bunker, he fled Germany.

Somehow, ageing caught up with him. When he was seen again seven years later, he had aged by several decades and looked in his 60s. This may have been another result of Nacht’s sabotage.

Reflecting upon his past, Lohmer rejected his Nazi beliefs. For years, he suffered from depression over his past crimes.

Lohmer lived in a well-equipped Swiss castle. Presumably this place was a sleeper Hydra base, and Hydra agents helped him flee to Switzerland and forge a new identity.

That Lohmer was now unrecognisable helped.

Now I’m a believer

Lohmer met one of the “believers”. These were a small community supporting time-traveller Cable (Nathan Summers)’s mission. The ex-Nazi joined, hoping to save the world from a terrible future.

In 1998, Cable came to Switzerland. Suspicious of Lohmer, he and his companion Irene Merryweather uncovered his past. They did not believe that he sought atonement.

However, they had to work together. Only the former Master Man could quickly get a vehicle to chase the time traveller’s enemies. Cable and Lohmer soon left to cross part of the Alps in a snowcatA tracked vehicle to travel over snow, in the middle of a blizzard.

Lohmer was still trying to explain his mindset to Cable when they were attacked by agents of the Hellfire Club. In the fray, Lohmer sacrificed himself to save Cable. After whispering the name of his wife, the ex-Nazi died.

The conflicted Cable decided to give him a field military burial.

Master Man (Marvel Comics) as an old man

As an old man.

The eternal return

Marvel has killed Master Man (Wilhelm Lohmer) four times as of this writing, with continuity errors.

  1. Übermensch and Warrior Woman were killed in Wakanda near the end of the war by the Black Panther (T’Challa’s grandfather) using a special toxin. They were back in full form weeks later.
  2. Master Man then appeared to be killed in one of the Berlin suspended animation sites by an explosion he triggered. But that he survived was later explained.
  3. A short story depicted his death in a Berlin hospital as a consequence of the aforementioned explosion.
  4. He then was shot dead to save Cable.

A reasonable No-Prize HypothesisA made-up explanation to plug a plot hole is that he’s regenerative, and can fully heal severe tissue damage.

Subsequent appearances by an identical-looking Master Man are actually his great-nephew Max Lohmer – the modern-day Master Man.

Description

Master Man is a model Aryan, with thick blond hair and a handsome face. Yet his hateful rictus kinda ruins said handsomeness.

He’s eloquent, perhaps even long-winded. He can cram long and intricate sentences in very little time. Since he admitted that he wasn’t well-educated, it is possible that he’s drawing inspiration from the speeches of others. Hitler would be his obvious model.

His costume is made of leather. Most are blue, but some are feldgrau like common WW2 German uniforms.

Curiously, Master Man fights more like a martial artist than a Sturmabteilung beer hall brawler. This includes jumping kicks taking advantage of his leaping power. Who trained him is unrevealed.

A much later story in the Marvel Universe introduced Herr Samurai and his Ninja SS stormtroopers. These improbable characters might have taught Lohmer.

Master Man (Marvel Comics) with a leather jacket and brown shirt

This outfit, worn during the early 1990s, used some 1940s brownshirt aesthetics.

Personality

Once a frail man, Lohmer became an impulsive, physically violent bully. He maintains that his power and superhuman nature mean he can whatever he wants – which usually involves wrecking things. However he’s scared of Adolf Hitler.

Even by bully standards he’s a petty, vindictive man. He apparently accumulated an awful lot of frustration back when he was just Willie Lohmer – a tiny, stupid-looking guy mocked by men and rejected by women. Now he’s on a revenge trip and power fantasy.

This regularly results in episodes of bloodthirst. If Master Man is insulted or frustrated, he may feel a need to let off steam in a murderous fashion. And not necessarily on an enemy.

Master Man will routinely threaten and manhandle weaker persons to obtain what he needs. Or just on general principle. He’s cruel, the sort who would rather keep a hated enemy alive to torture them than finish them off here and now.

That does sound kinda familiar, really…

Master Man is a bit of a coward, but not against physical threats. He will rarely hesitate to enter a physical fight, but he might become very cautious or even frightened by threats of a more social or psychic nature. Examples include :

  • Being berated by the Führer himself.
  • Being rejected by Warrior Woman.
  • Psychic attacks.
  • Lady Lotus’ mesmerism.

He hates being called a coward, though. He will likely become violent if he’s accused of being chicken.

Master Man is particularly attached to his wife. He clumsily wants to protect her (which annoys her), and is occasionally pathetic in his attempts to be chivalrous and helpful toward her.

Apparently, it never occurred to him that Warrior Woman was simply asexual or a lesbian. He blamed himself for her rejection since he was all too used to being rebuffed by women back when he was just Klein-Willie aus dem Wohnblock.

Master Man (Marvel Comics) and Adolf Hitler

Quotes

“NO ! The honour of destroying that battleship and all aboard, must go to me and me alone — not to some idiot U-Boat commander ! To ME, do you hear ?” (wap !)

“And I welcome the chance to show you, once and for all, that I am the supreme product of Nazi science !”

“Verdammt Manfische ! Decadent hybrid swine !”

(Attacking the Thing) “The only flag that shall wave over these decks, monster, is the svastika ! And it shall wave proudly, over the bodies of such grotesqueries as yourself ! In fact, I suspect you are not, nor have you ever been, an Aryan !”

“No one interferes when Master Man is out for blood !” (kills a hapless German soldier)

“You would do well to curb your tongue, Herr Doktor. Master Man is not accustomed to being addressed in such a manner.”

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DC Universe Adaptation

(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).

Nazis — especially comic book Nazis — liked experimenting on twins. So he might be the brother of Captain Nazi, or of Übermensch.

DC Heroes RPG

Übermensch (at his peak, in 1942)

Dex: 09 Str: 12 Bod: 10
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 05
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 05
Init: 021 HP: 060

Powers:

Density Increase: 01, Flame immunity*: 09, Flight: 09, Jumping: 12, Regeneration: 05, Running: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Density Increase is Always On and Already Factored In.
  • Flight is not always present, see below – but he can always use it as his movement speed while in the air.

Skills:

None demonstrated.

Advantages:

Credentials (Nazi party, Medium), Credentials (Third Reich military, Medium), Language (German), Lightning Reflexes, Misc.: when fully powered Lohmer is the very model of the Aryan superman – which suspends his Socially Inept Drawback when interacting with people impressed by this (chiefly Nazis and other pre-1945 types).

Connections:

Adolf Hitler (Low), Nazi intelligence (Low), Baron Wolfgang Strucker (Low).

Drawbacks:

SIA toward Impulsiveness and violence, Serious Rage, Socially Inept, CIA toward Bigotry.

Motivation:

Power.

Occupation:

Warrior.

Wealth:

006

Master Man (Marvel Comics) defeats the Invaders

Triumph des Willie… gelegentlich

Master Man’s strength and aerial mobility have varied. Explicitly so in the case of his strength, less clearly so in the case of Flight vs. Jumping.

The compound based on Dr. Anderson’s recollections wasn’t the perfect solution to finish the treatment Brain Drain designed. Thus, Master Man’s powers would occasionally degrade and have to be fixed through further experimentation with variant chemicals. The observed variations were :

  • During the first activation of his powers, his STR and Jumping were one AP less than noted in the stats block, and his powers would run out without injections every few hours.
  • In early 1943, his power waned for a while, leaving him with STR 08 BODY 07 Jumping: 06 and 15 fewer HPs than in the stats block. In this state he can be defeated by Captain America, provided that the Sentinel of Liberty spends enough Hero Points.
  • One gets the impression that he never quite recovered his 1942 level of STR, and he may have two less APs of STR, and one less AP of Jumping and BODY, than in the stats block during most of 1943 and 1944. His HPs were also lower, by about 10 points than in the stats block.
  • During one appearance in 1944 (month unrevealed), he’s back at his early 1943 diminished power level.
  • In 1990/1991, he’s back at full strength.

Flight seems to be an all-or-nothing affair. Either he has it or he doesn’t. It is possible that it depends on subtle limitation (for instance, he can only fly for 12 Phases per day), or it may just be even more unstable than his strength level and vanish between treatments.

Flight was fully back during his 1991 appearance.

Master Man (Wilhelm Lohmer) rebels (Marvel Comics)

DC Adventures RPG

Übermensch (in 1942) — Averaged PL 11.6

STR STA AGL DEX
-1 (12) -1 (09) 00 -1 (03)
FGT INT AWE PRE
00 (08) 00 01 -1 (02)

Powers:

Super-Aryan strength ● 141 points
– Super-strength — Enhanced Strength 13, Speed 5, Leaping 12, Athletics 1 (+13).
– Enhanced alacrity — Enhanced Agility 4, Enhanced Dexterity 4, Enhanced Fighting 8, Chokehold, Close Attack 6, Improved Initiative, Move-by-Action.
– Invulnerability — Enhanced Stamina 10, Impervious Fortitude 6, Defensive roll 2.
– Fireproof — Protection 8, Enhanced Fortitude 8, Impervious Toughness 19, Impervious Fortitude 14 (all Limited 3 – to Fire).
– Perfect Aryan presence — Persuasion 4 (+6) (Limited 2 – to persons who admire the Nazi Aryan ideal), Enhanced Presence 3.
– Power of flight — Flight 8.

Healing factor ● 5 points (this Power is hypothetical)
– Persistent Regeneration 2.
– Enhanced Advantage (Diehard).

Combat Advantages:

Chokehold, Close Attack 6, Defensive roll 2, Improved Initiative, Move-by-Action.

Other Advantages:

Benefit 1 (Senior member of the Nazi party), Benefit 3 (Senior operative of the Reich with access to Hitler), Diehard, Language (German).

Skills:

Athletics 1 (+13), Deception 2 (+4), Perception 2 (+3), Persuasion 4 (+6) (Limited 2 – to persons who admire the Aryan ideal).

Offence:

Initiative +8
Unarmed +14, Close, Damage 12

Defense

Dodge 12
Fortitude 12
Parry 13
Toughness 11/9*
Will 6

* Without Defensive Roll
Against Fire Descriptors Toughness is 19 and Fortitude 20, both fully Impervious

Complications:

  • Motivation Pride, power, domination.
  • Obsession Nazi, racist.
  • Temper Violent, murderous, impulsive, casual killer.
  • Power Loss Strength often wanes, see below.

Powers Levels:

  • Trade-off areas Attack/Effect PL 13, Dodge/Toughness PL 12, Parry/Toughness PL 12, Fort/Will PL 9.
  • Point total 168. Abilities -6, Defences 21, Skills 2, Powers 146, Devices 0, Advantages 5. Equiv. PL 12.

Master Man (Wilhelm Lohmer) punches through a stone wall (Marvel Comics)

Triumph des Willie… gelegentlich

Master Man’s strength and aerial mobility have varied – explicitly so in the case of his strength, less clearly so in the case of Flight vs. Jumping.

The compound based on Dr. Anderson’s recollections wasn’t the perfect solution to finish the treatment Brain Drain designed, and Master Man’s powers would occasionally degrade and have to be fixed through further experimentation with variant chemicals. The observed variations were :

  • During the first activation of his powers, he had one less Rank in Strength and Leaping, and his powers would run out without injections every few hours.
  • In early 1943, his power waned for a while – his Strength is down to 8, his Toughness to 9 (w/Defensive Roll), his Fortitude to 10 and his Leaping to 6. In this state he can be defeated by Captain America, provided that the Sentinel of Liberty spends enough HPs.
  • One gets the impression that he never quite recovered his 1942 level of Strength. During 1943/1944 he may have operated with two fewer Ranks in Strength and with his Fortitude, Toughness and Leaping lowered by one.
  • During one appearance in 1944 (month unrevealed), he’s back at his early 1943 diminished power level.
  • In 1990/1991, he’s back at full strength.

Flight seems to be an all-or-nothing affair. Either he has it or he doesn’t. It is possible that it depends on subtle limitation (for instance, he can only fly for twelve rounds per day), or it may just be even more unstable than his strength level and vanish between treatments.

Flight was fully back during his 1991 appearance.

Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Universe.

Helper(s): Loki (Stuart Vandal), Barbarossa Rotbart, Darci, VBTusky, JKCarrier.

Writeup completed on the 8th of July, 2011.