By Jim Beard
With a degree in engineering, an eye for weapons design and way too much time on his hands Mark Scarlotti fashioned himself into a living whip and a crackerjack criminal. As Whiplash, he challenged one of the most powerful of Avengers, Iron Man, and vexed the hero until his own death.
The Whiplash name and modus operandi continues in the Marvel Universe and soon will appear on movie screens everywhere in 2010's "Iron Man 2" as well as December 23's IRON MAN VS WHIPLASH #2, but we thought for the present we'd take a little walk through the original assassin's hellacious history.
Delivered to the Maggia crime cartel by his debt-ridden cousin, Iron Man found himself trapped aboard the organization's sea-going headquarters. With the Avenger's armor almost drained of power, the Maggia unleashed their newest operative on Iron Man: a bored Whiplash, itching for action. The whip cracked and the battle began...
Scarlotti wormed his way into a job at Stark International and waited for an opportunity to strike for the Maggia. Tony Stark arrived with a new micro-power cell and Whiplash arrived to take it off his hands. The crafty assassin then managed to gravely damage Iron Man's armor but in the end high-tailed it when his whip became prey for Shellhead's powerful magnetic discs.
What's in a name? Financed by Stark rival Justin Hammer, Whiplash transformed himself into Blacklash and gained an assignment to assassinate a Stark security officer. Despite the new upgrades and moniker, Scarlotti bit the dust after taking a beating from Iron Man along with a helping of embarrassment. Ouch!
Failing to go straight, Scarlotti soon fell into the orbit of his old bosses, the Maggia, and attended a convention to assassinate a computer expert. Spider-Man and Iron Man squared off against Blacklash, with IM spotting a way to overload his power source. Later, in jail, Scarlotti's completely deserted by everyone he knows-employers, friends and family.
Iron Man and friend Jim Rhodes tangled unsuccessfully with the Ghost but the tide turned with timely-and surprising-help from Hammer employees Blizzard, Boomerang and Blacklash. Scarlotti then turned against Iron Man when the Ghost appeared to be defeated, but still faced another crash-and-burn himself.
Wife and child murdered and a sound win against Iron Man under his belt, Scarlotti re-adopted the name Whiplash and a bevy of upgrades to his costume and weapons. Too bad he then stumbled into the path of a suit of sentient Iron Man armor that proceeded to crush his skull.
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