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Have you ever looked into a mirror and wondered about the world on the other side of that glass? What if every mirror, every reflective surface was connected through a dimension that humanity was never meant to get involved with? What if some moron accidentally stumbled on a way to access that dimension? What would you call that guy? Mirror Moron? Well, he calls himself Mirror Master.
Sam Scudder was your run of the mill criminal who made the mistake of getting caught in the middle of a robbery. During his stay in the big house, he was assigned to the mirror factory where prisoners set about making mirrors for all the nice people on the outside to look into while they brushed their teeth. On a not very special day, Sam made a goof and mixed the wrong chemicals in the silvering process of mirror making. What he found was that the mirror he made with the screwed up chemical mixture didn’t just show a reflection, it held a reflection. Sam could point the mirror at someone and for a little while, that person’s reflection would stay on the mirror, kind of like Snapchat (is that still how Snapchat works?).
Once out of prison, Sam perfected his accidental find and somehow figured out a way to take the saved mirror images and turn them into three-dimensional light structures. Then, and keep in mind, this guy is not a scientist - just a common criminal - Sam invented a machine that let him control his 3D light structures like a character in a video game. Sam started going out and getting mirror shots of various bank clerks and managers. He would then use the images to create the 3D model, and have his light structure walk into the bank, go to the vault all nonchalant like, and grab a load of loot.
Poor Sam ran into one problem, he decided to use one of his light structures to rob a bank at the same time Barry Allen was waiting in line. Now, you need to remember that we’re talking about Barry Allen in the comics. More to it, this is Barry Allen circa 1959. This is a Barry Allen who, like all the other DC heroes at the time, was infallible. So infallible was Barry that, as the 3D light structure of the teller walked by, he noticed that the guy’s hair was parted on the wrong side.
His curiosity aroused by the bank teller’s new hairstyle, Barry followed the guy. As Barry followed, the teller started walking faster and faster, getting to the point that Barry had to get his Flash suit on and use his powers to keep up.
Long story short, Barry followed the teller back to Sam Scudder’s hideout where he battled a giant mosquito and a minotaur before finally catching Sam who, at this point, is called the Master of Mirrors.
As with the other members of the Rogues, Sam, who changed his supervillain name to Mirror Master (and either by editorial mistake or “because criminals have many aliases” was sometimes called Joe Scudder) turned his focus to defeating Flash. Sometimes he worked alone, but mostly he worked with the rest of the Rogues. While Captain Cold was the leader of the Rogues, there was no doubt that Sam was the most respected.
Sam would improve his mirror gadgets. He figured out how to use mirrors to hypnotize people, or trap them within mirrors. For a guy who probably never finished high school, Sammy was one smart cookie.
And a dead cookie. Sam would end up dying during Crisis on Infinite Earths, the same series that Barry Allen died in. He was the second Rogue to die, and the first of the core team. His friends mourned him in the way the Rogues mourned every loss - by going to the bar.
For a while Captain Cold took on the Mirror Master identity so that no one, specially Amanda Waller and the rest of the Suicide Squad, would know that he was robbing banks. Then came the Scottish asshole Evan McCulloch.
Sam Scudder and Evan McCulloch serve as a pretty good idea of what changed in comics in the mid-'80s. Where Sam’s whole origin was robber who finds a new way to rob stuff, Evan’s is a story filled with grim and gritty.
Evan grew up in an orphanage, never knowing his parents; all he had of them was a single photograph. When he was eight, Evan was sexually assaulted by an older boy in the orphanage. In an act of self-defense, Evan drowned his abuser and hid the body. Seeing how easy it was to get away with murder, Evan left the orphanage at sixteen, looking to make a life out of murder. One thing we can’t hold against Evan is his work ethic - within a few years he becomes one of the best assassins in the United Kingdom.
It was on a job that required two kills that Evan injured his eye. The injury didn’t stop Evan from completing the job, but it did keep him from realizing that one of the targets was his father. Filled with grief, Evan attends his father’s funeral where he sees his mother. It took Evan a few days to muster up the courage to finally go and speak to his mom. When he did the nerve, he learned that she gave up the ghost - Evan’s ma, filled with sorrow by the death of her hubby, took her own life.
Is this shit gritty enough for you yet? No? Good! Cause it’s about to get even grittier!
Evan, unable to deal with causing the deaths of the parents he never knew, decided to turn himself into Scotland Yard, but before he could, he got picked up by some US government guys. These American peeps weren’t interested in making Evan spend time behind bars for his crime - what they wanted was for Evan to help them out with a problem.
See, there’s this hero called Animal Man who, as his name suggests, has a connection to animals. As such, Animal Man is really into animal rights, and a lot of big businesses have a problem with a superhero standing up for a cause that messes with their ability to make loads of money. These US government guys hand Evan Sam Scudder’s Mirror Master equipment and tell him to go stop Animal Man by murdering his family. At the last minute, Evan has himself a moment of goodness and decides he won’t kill an innocent woman and her kids, so the US government fires him and kills Animal Man’s family themselves*.
Evan decided to stick with the Mirror Master shtick, and he was welcomed into the Rogues as long as he followed their first rule - no killing. In truth, Evan had been turned off the whole killing thing, so it was easy for him to make the deal. He also learned how to use mirrors and other reflective surfaces to open portals to a mirror dimension, allowing him to travel great distances in seconds, or enter locked rooms and bank vaults easily. This was a big win for the Rogues.
Then came Neron.
When the Flash baddie and occasional Rogue Abra Kadabra (who I REALLY want to see on the show!) came around and offered the Rogues a chance to go down in history as “the most infamous villains of their age” they jumped at it. Sadly for them, Kadabra left out a bit of the deal - they would be remembered like that because their deaths would unleash the demon Neron onto Earth.
Neron brought the dead Rogues back to life, sans souls, to help him trick Flash into making a deal. Flash, not being an idiot, turned the tables on the demon, making Neron return the souls of the Rogues. As the re-souled Rogues would learn, before Neron returned them to their former glory, they had killed thousands of people. For Evan, the return to killing, even though he was not in control of himself, was too much. He turned to heroin to dull the pain.
Then, as these peice often go, came the New 52. Evan was wiped out of history, and Sam Scudder was back, but forever trapped within the mirror dimension (and he’s real bummed about it). Since DC started Rebirth, their attempt to fix all the stupid stuff they did with New 52, Mirror Master hasn’t shown up, but an upcoming storyline in Flash is called Rogues Reloaded suggests we’ll be seeing him real soon. Hopefully he won’t be so mopey. Personally, I like the Rogues better when they aren’t grim. The thing that makes them (arguably) the best baddies in comics is that they have a code they stick to, and their main goal is to beat the hero without killing anyone. They just want to show the world that they’re awesome. I like awesome.
*That whole murder of Animal Man’s family was done by Grant Morrison, who ended his run on Animal Man by having himself show up and apologize to Animal Man before bringing the family back to life. Morrison would show up in a few other DC books before dying himself in an issue of Suicide Squad.
Ethan Van Sciver