Madame Masque was born Giulietta Nefaria, to Count Nefaria. At the time, the Count was the leader of an important family in the Maggia crime syndicate. After Giulietta's mother died, Count Nefaria asked Byron Frost, a wealthy industrialist, to raise his daughter in a respectable family. Byron agreed, renaming the girl Whitney Frost and raising her as his own. After the Frost's passed away, Count Nefaria approached Whitney while she was engaged to a politician named Roger Vane and revealed her true heritage. Later, her fiance left her, afraid that her connection to a known criminal would destroy his political career.
Whitney then accepted her father's invitation to join him in running the Maggia's US operations. She was exceptionally well trained in criminal activities, and in both armed and unarmed combat. When her father was imprisoned, Frost became the new "Big M", leader of the Nefaria family of the Maggia. She was brilliantly successful as a leader, but her role in the Maggia brought her into conflict with Iron Man. While trying to flee from Iron Man her plane crashed and her face was horribly scarred. She was saved however by Mordecai Midas. Midas was obsessed with gold and gave Whitney a golden mask to hide her disfigurement, thus she became known by the name "Madame Masque".
Madame Masque was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan and first appeared in Tales of Suspense #98 in February 1968 where she was introduced as Whitney Frost. Her first appearance as Madame Masque was in Iron Man #17 by writer Archie Goodwin and artist George Tuska in September 1969.
Masque would later betray Midas in order to save Tony Stark after he showed compassion towards her despite her disfigurement. Her connection to Tony was strong enough that she returned to him later, working as his personal assistant under the name Krissy Longfelllow. The two eventually found out each other's secret identity and fell in love, but her past caught up to her in the end and spoiled the relationship. Her real father Count Nefaria was dying and on life support - when she threatened Tony to force him to cure her father a battle started. Filled with guilt and grief when her father's life-support machine was damaged and he was thought dead, she would resume control of the Nefaria family and her place in the Maggia.
Major Story Arcs
Following their break-up, Tony Stark turned to alcohol with the dissolution of his relationship with Masque being one of the key factors. The two crossed paths some months later, when Stark was sober and investigating the maggia. Masque was devastated to learn that Stark was now romantically involved with Bethany Cabe, although couldn't bring herself to hurt the man she loved.
When Obadiah Stane took over Stark International and Tony Stark had fallen off the wagon, Masque returned and formed a partnership with Stane. Masque sought to murder both Stark and Cabe and was using Stane and his desire's to see Stark continually fail to her advantage. Her plans were hindered when she hired a hitman known as the Enforcer who was subsquently killed by Scourge before he could make any progress on Masque's request. A few weeks later after Stane committed suicide, Masque had Cabe framed for her own crimes and then sought to kill Stark. The plan was foiled by Cabe who escaped from custody and exposed Masque's intention to Tony.
When Iron Man went insane following the manipulations of Kang the Conqueror and began killing several of his friends and allies, Madame Masque (now simply calling herself Masque) arrived at Avengers Mansion and offered her help in stopping Tony Stark. Weary of their new ally, the Avengers never-the-less accepted the assistance of Masque and she instantly developed a friendship with Hawkeye. Masque devised a plan to defeat Stark once and for all which involved time travelling to the past to recruit a younger Iron Man in order to defeat the current one.
Later, Masque, Hawkeye and Iron Boy launched an ill-fated attack on the crazed Iron Man to no avail. After tearing Iron Boy's heart out, the real Iron Man realised what he had done and sacrificed himself. After surgery similar to the original Iron Man's, Iron Boy lived although while he was recovering Masque visited him and psychologically tortured him in hopes that it would persuade him to take his life down a different path to that of the original Iron Man.
Masque stayed alongside the Avengers afterwards, although the team were mostly entirely sceptical about the nature of her presence. Black Widow, the leader, showed great animosity towards Masque believing she was only pretending to want to help. Although Masque remained close with Hawkeye who sincerely believed she was seeking redemption, she was never exactly welcomed onto the team with open arms. Masque helped the Avengers battling against an army of Hulks but much later when Avengers Mansion was apparently infiltrated, Black Widow instantly turned her attentions to Masque believing she was responsible. Sick of the constant accusations, Masque stormed off and quit the Avengers. Hawkeye remained behind and protested Black Widow's treatment of Masque while the Widow remained adamant that Masque was just playing the team.
Later, Hank Pym's lab at Avengers Mansion was attacked and destroyed. Widow arrived believing it was the work of Masque who also happened to be at the scene of the crime investigating. Before Widow could again yell at her, the duo were attacked by the real culprit a cyborg of the Inner Guard. Masque sacrificed herself to save Widow from her would-be attacker.
It was later revealed in a retcon several years later that Madame Masque had became paranoid running her father's criminal organization and created copies of herself known as bio-duplicates, having them killed and replaced over and over. One of these bio-duplicates was apparently the member of the Avengers following The Crossing (and almost every Madame Masque appearance between 1977-2000 was attributed to bio-duplicates).
When Count Nefaria returned from the dead and destroyed Whitney's base, she attempted to play the Avengers and Thunderbolts off against Nefaria, paranoid of both sides and wanting to destroy them all. Whitney ultimately decided to help defeat Nefaria as a result. Offered membership with the Thunderbolts afterwards, Whitney declines and secretly escapes the scene.
Madame Masque reappears when she joins The Hood's Masters of Evil to take advantage of the split in the superhero community caused by the Super-Human Registration Act. Whitney rises to be a major lieutenant in his organization as well as his lover. Madame Masque took part in the Syndicate's many battles against the Avengers, including their attack against the Sanctum Sanctorum but is put into SHIELD custody when Doctor Strange defeats her. The Hood breaks her out when Skrulls posing as agents of SHIELD attempt to find out her true face so they can replicate her. At the end of the Skrull Secret Invasion, Whitney joins the rest of the Masters of Evil as they aided Earth's defenders in the Battle of Central Park.
While she does care for the Hood and greatly respects him, Whitney has challenged his judgment and secretive nature on occasion, acting as a check and balance to his growing mental divide after he swore secret allegiance to the Dread Dormammu. Madame Masque acts as Robbin's second-in-command, and assists him in both directing the Masters of Evil and fighting alongside him, going as far as to pose as a prostitute to find the destination of a fortune filled truck targeted by the Hood.
Norman Osborn shoots the Skrull Queen dead in the final battle and is appointed chief of national security. Secretly he assembles a Cabal of powerful figures including the Hood to assist him behind the scenes. The Hood, possessed by Dormammu, goes after Dr Strange hoping to become the next Sorcerer Supreme. Whitney tries to help the Hood deal with his possession and reveals her true face to him. The Hood and Dormammu are defeated in New Orleans by the New Avengers. Whitney tries to help Parker in the aftermath and the two escape together.
Osborn then assigns Madame Masque the mission of finding Iron Man who had gone into hiding. She tracks down Pepper Potts and Tony and tortures Pepper to force Tony to confess his love for her. Pepper and Tony turn the tables on Madame Masque with the help of the Rescue armor and escape with Pepper disguised as Whitney. Madame Masque is left behind trapped in a Crimson Dynamo suit.
Tony Stark ends up in a vegetative state after deleting the contents of his mind to protect the identities of the superheroes of the world, and Osborn stops the hunt for him. Whitney is not in agreement and sends Ghost to kill Tony, although he fails in this mission.
Madame Masque, like most of the Masters of Evil, were called upon to assist Osborn's attempted siege of Asgard. Upon the climax of the battle, Masque tried to help the Hood escape both the Avengers and the Masters whom he didn't believe were trustworthy anymore. Taking the Hood to her father, Masque believed the pair were safe, however the Avengers and Maria Hill arrived, and after a fight, arrested both the Hood and Madame Masque as well as Count Nefaria.
When The Hood breaks out of the Raft after finding out about the existence of the Infinity Gems, he catches up with Whitney who had likewise managed to escape due to her "damn good lawyer". Using the Reality gem that he stole from Attilan (belonging to Black Bolt), the Hood then proceeds to use it to heal Whitney's scarred face. Whitney is shocked and appears unsatisfied at this occurrence and Parker's desire for her face to be undamaged.
Count Nefaria became the main crimelord in Los Angeles not long afterwards and began a long-standing feud with the schizophrenic superhero and former Avenger Moon Knight. After Nefaria killed his girlfriend Echo, Moon Knight went beserk and brutalised Nefaria. Madame Masque arrived shortly afterwards to inspect and seize control of her father's work, most notably a model of Ultron he possessed, as well as seeking revenge on whomever is responsible for what happened to her father.
Despite her beauty being restored, she has returned to wearing her trademark gold mask. Following an intense fight with Moon Knight, Madame Masque was tackled by the hero and thumped her head off a fire hydrant.
Despite Moon Knight's claims that he had killed Masque, it turns out she is alive and well. After a brief return to the Masters of Evil, Madame Masque again took over as leader to the Maggia. This has brought her into conflict with her former friend and love Hawkeye, as she and the other crimelords of New York possess a videotape which incriminates Hawkeye in a murder. To infiltrate the meeting of criminal masterminds, Masque's identity is stolen by Kate Bishop. The real Madame Masque is left taped up and gagged in a hotel suite while Bishop dons her costume and mask.
Masque later tracks Kate Bishop down in Los Angeles, where she approaches the younger Hawkeye in disguise and convinces Kate to spend the night as a guest in her mansion. She intends to take her revenge for her humiliation at Kate's hands in Madripoor, but Kate is able to see through her ruse and escape, blowing up Masque's mansion in the process.
Powers & Abilities
Madame Masque has no superhuman powers, but is an athletic woman and is skilled in hand-to-hand combat in various martial arts and an expert markswoman. She is a master strategist and organizer, although she suffers from mental instability and is believed to be criminally insane. She has access to advanced technology like her bio-duplicates. Madame Masque wears body of armor of an unknown composition with a gold metal faceplate, underneath which her face was chemically scarred. The faceplate is hard enough to deflect bullets without causing her any permanent injury. She carries a .475 Wildey Magnum revolver or any various types of handguns, including guns firing concussive blasts of energy and guns firing sleeping-gas cartridges. As leader of the Maggia family, Madame Masque commands unspecified numbers of Dreadnought robots modified from the original designs stolen from HYDRA.
Madame Masque briefly appears as one of the main infected superhumans in the universe where a virus had infected most of the world.
Earth-20051 (Marvel Adventures)
Madame Masque appears in Marvel Adventures titles, sharing many aspects with her mainstream version. Leading the Maggia, she has battled Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four and dated Johnny Storm.
In the House of M reality created by the Scarlet Witch, she is a member of Masters of Evil and, much like in the true reality, she is the Hood's lover.
Earth-90214 ( Noir)
In the Noir Universe, Gialette Nefaria is an explorer and former lover of Tony Stark. She discovers a relic called the Jade Mask, and betrays Tony to Baron Zemo. She is later caught in a bomb blast resulting in her face being scarred meaning she resorts to wearing the Jade Mask.
Iron Man (1994)
Additional information on Screened.
Madame Masque appeared in the Iron Man 1994 series, she appeared in the episode Beauty Knows No Pain. Her story was somewhat the same as the comics being a former girlfriend of Tony obsessed with her own beauty. She became bitter when she lost her beloved looks and Tony. She then became involved with the Maggia and took on the identity of Madame Masque. Upon her discovery of the Golden Sepulcher of Isis which could return her beauty to her, she and her Maggia henchmen kidnapped many workers and Julia Carpenter. Tony Stark arrived at the scene and fought some of the Maggia henchmen until they overwhelmed him upon Madame Masque's arrival. Madame Masque then threatened to kill Julia unless Iron Man retrieved the gem for her. After surviving the deadliest of traps, Iron Man gave Madame Masque the Golden Sepulcher of Isis, and restored her beauty. After becoming Isis due to the artifact's effects, she learned that all she really wanted was Tony. After Madame Masque/Isis' fight with Iron Man, War Machine, and Spider-Woman, the Golden Sepulcher of Isis is destroyed by Iron Man, regressing Isis back to a disfigured Madame Masque. Iron Man then told her the love he once felt for her was inside, and it died years ago.
Iron Man: Armored Adventures
Additional information on Screened.
Madame Masque appeared in the Iron Man: Armored Adventures series. Her story was heavily changed, in the series her name was Whitney Stane and was the daughter of Obadiah Stane. She was good friends with Tony since they were young. She became angry with her father for what he did to Tony's life, and mostly for not spending time with her. She helped Tony out of tough situations like when he snuck into Stark Industries to reclaim some of his fathers inventions only to be caught by Stane. She also helped him escape again when he returned to reclaim the Iron Man armor he left by turning off the main power switch to Stark Industries. She then decided to get back at her father for what he has done by stealing some of Stark Industries weapons and a mask that gives the user to disguise themselves as anybody she then became Madame Masque. She framed her father at one of his art shows by turning into him and shooting up the place to cause some panic. Iron Man then went into looking on what was happening and found her one night in a warehouse. She then used the mask to scan him and turn into him. She then attacked him with the weapons she stole from Stark Industries only to be hit by him and revealing her true form. She then told him her name and disappeared. The next day she was going around town disguised as Iron Man committing crimes, and making Iron Man a fugitive. Iron Man then confronted her again only to get his butt kicked by her, until the police arrived and tried to arrest them both. She then disguised herself as one of the officers to activate a bomb for a getaway only to be knocked out by Iron Man. Her mask then shorted out revealing to the Police that she committed the crimes. She then tried to get away again by jumping across a building but had trouble holding herself up and losing her mask. Tony then came to help her up but was shocked to see that is was her. He then saved her and decided to let her go mostly for saving him from her father but he gave her a warning saying if she does that again he will turn her in. The next day at school Tony saw her depressed and siting alone in class and decided to sit with her to cheer her up. She ends using the Madame Masque identity a few times to help Tony out, until "Best Served Cold", where the metal alloy from her mask began to poison her, driving her insane, and causing her to attack her father again. This time, Whitney ends up gaining amnesia, forgetting of her time as Madame Masque, as well as her resentment of her father and Tony's secret identity, and allowing her to resume a normal life.
In the second season, she mostly appears as a regular, supporting character. In "Heavy Mettle", she finds out again that her father is a criminal when he dons the Iron Monger suit, and begs him to stop. Stane ends his vendetta against Tony by saving Whitney from the destruction he created, but is put in a coma in the process. Whitney swears revenge against Tony, blaming him for him losing his company, and regains her memories of Madame Masque. She uses the mask and a stolen Iron Monger suit to play mindgames with Tony and get his revenge, but is ultimately defeated. Tony believes that the real Whitney is still hidden beneath Masque, and has her taken by SHIELD to a mental institution. However, Whitney escapes from SHIELD custody by using her mask to pose as Abigail Brand, continuing her revenge against Iron Man and his friends.
Iron Man (2008)
Madame Masque appears in the Iron Man game based on the film of the same name. She is voiced by Courtenay Taylor and appears as a character in one level where she leads the Maggia whom the player must attack. Tony refers to his relationship with her as "old friends".