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Supervillain Origins: The Tinkerer

VO: Dan Paradis
Peter Parker first encountered this eccentric but seemingly harmless old man when he needed a radio repaired. However, as it turned out this old man, who dubbed himself "the Tinkerer", was in league with creatures from outer space bent on conquering Earth. After foiling their plans, the Tinkerer laid low for many years, before re-emerging to use his talents as an inventor to help other super-villains. Join as we will explore the comic book origin of The Tinkerer. Special thanks to our user Jonathan Hughett for submitting the idea on our WatchMojo.comsuggest page!

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*Script written by Craig Butler

Supervillain Origins: The Tinkerer

Some villains operate more effectively behind the scenes than as the front man. Welcome to and today we will explore the comic book origin of The Tinkerer.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1963’s Amazing Spider-Man #2 and which was expanded upon in 1976’s Amazing Spider-Man #159-160.

The Tinkerer is one of Spider-Man's oldest, albeit not best recognized, foes. Having debuted in 1963, his first appearance raised as many questions as it answered.

In this story, Peter Parker was given the opportunity to assist a famous professor with his experiments. As a favor to the professor, Peter agreed to pick up a radio, which he had taken to a strange little shop to get repaired. This shop was run by an old man, who seemed eccentric but harmless. However, unbeknownst to Peter, the old man, who called himself the Tinkerer, was in league with creatures from outer space that were bent on conquering the world.

Peter's spidey sense went crazy after he picked up the radio. Although he told himself he was just imagining things, he eventually found that the professor's radio had been bugged. Switching to his Spider-Man persona, he returned to the old man’s shop to find out just what was going on. There he learned that the tinkerer was helping the space aliens to gather important scientific and military secrets.

Naturally, Spider-Man couldn't allow this to happen. When he intervened, he was captured. Fortunately, Spider-Man escaped the trap, before succeeding in driving away the alien menace.

In the ensuing struggle, the Tinkerer escaped - but not before Spider-Man discovered the old man had been wearing a mask to make him appear human. Spider-Man deduced that the Tinkerer must have been an alien in disguise.

Or was he? The Tinkerer laid low for many years, not reappearing until 1976. In this story arc, the Tinkerer revealed that he was indeed a human, rather than an invader from space. The mask he had left behind had been a red herring, meant to throw Spider-Man off his trail. The villain also revealed that his real career goal was not to be a super-villain per se but to use his incredible talents as an inventor to help other super-villains.

Over the years, he had become the go-to guy for unique and special weaponry - such as the souped-up spider-mobile which had lately been chasing Spider-Man and nullifying his powers. Needless to say, the web-slinger made short work of both the Tinkerer and the spider-mobile.

Over the years, The Tinkerer remained a behind-the-scenes weapons maker for various villains from the Rocket Racer to the Kingpin. While in the employ of the latter, an interesting fact was revealed about The Tinkerer - namely that he was the father of Rick Mason, a former SHIELD operative who had become a freelance secret agent.

The Tinkerer may have decided that his career path lay as a behind the scenes force behind villainy, but he has still managed to make appearances in media beyond the printed page. He has sometimes had a different appearance than the one comic book readers were familiar with, but this didn't affect his ability to create obstacles to frustrate the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.

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