Oscar Hampel was a troubled child that was sent from foster parents to reform schools. In 1955, Oscar went to Gotham where he worked for the Rossis, an Italian couple that specialized in puppeteering. The Rossis taught Hampel their trade but Hampel only learned that the Rossis were small timers who didn't think big. Hampel took it upon himself to expand his franchise by planting sleeping pills in the Rossis' vino, then setting their theatre/ home on fire in order to collect the insurance money as well as Rossis famous puppets.
Hampel was a popular puppeteer on tv, who would entertain kids with his marionettes until kids wanted more. Soon enough, superheroes became widely known thanks to the JSA and the United States became the first nation to reach the moon. Kids now looked up to superheros and astronauts which left Hampel without a job. Soon after, Hampel got a chance to work with John Zatara at the Colonial Theatre in Boston but as Hampel tells it, the theatre manager only hired Hampel so that he could take kickbacks (cuts in Hampel's profits) to line his own pockets.
Hampel supposedly refused and the theatre manager pulled a knife on Oscar. Hampel claims he defended himself but what actually happened was, the manager caught Hampel trying to pry open the theatre cashbox with a knife. After Hampel slit the manager's throat, Zatanna screams for help after witnessing the murder. Hampel grabs Zatanna and tries to silence her but John Zatara arrived just in time. Zatara casted a spell that transformed Hampel into a lifeless dummy that resembled Hampel's most famous marionette, Stringleshanks. However, the spell binded Hampel's wooden existence to Zatara's bloodline.
For such a longtime, Hampel was reduced to being an exhibit at Antonia Stefanacci's Magic Museum in Hollywood until he saw Zatanna. When Zatanna glanced at him, Hampel was reawakened. Hampel follows Zatanna back to her Hollywood apartment and waits for Zatanna to fall asleep. Hampel manages to tie up Zatanna with marionette string and holds his knife at Zatanna's throat but that wasn't enough to stop the Sorceress Supreme. Zatanna subdues him and Hampel explains his so called sad story. Zatanna takes pity on Hampel so she escorts him through her magic mirror to her family mansion Shadowcrest in order to find a spell that will reverse Zatara's curse on Hampel.
Unfortunately, Hampel has other plans in store for Zatara's daughter. Zatanna forces Hampel to touch the Soul Crystal which is a magical gem that causes the holder to reveal the truth in their souls whenever the holder is asked a question. After Zatanna learns of Hampel's deceit, Hampel springs into action by stealing rare artifacts in the Zatara library. Oscar pleads with the artifacts to grant him his desires which is to be human again, to become a returning success story and that Zatanna would suffer the same fate he did for nearly fifty years.
Zatanna became Oscar's leading marionette until Mikey, Zatanna's prop master, saw Hampel as guest star on late night show with a Zatanna looking puppet. Mikey arrives at Stefanacci's Magic Museum in Hollywood and begins to flirt with Oscar as a makeup artist in order to gain access to his dressing room. Mikey distracts Oscar long enough to knock him out with chloroform. Mikey finds Zatanna and tries to help her in finding a spell that will reverse the damage that Oscar has caused.
Unfortunately, Oscar regains his consciousness and sees Mikey helping Zatanna. Oscar reaches for the mystical artifacts that he stole from Zatanna and tries to put a curse on Mikey. Fortunately, Mikey had a magical aura placed around her by Zatanna sometime ago. Mikey's magical aura ricochets Oscar's spell back at Oscar and he is transformed into a dummy once again. Zatanna returns to her human form and entraps Oscar in a metal milk canister which was originally used by Houdini long ago. Only time will tell if Oscar will ever get out of his latest prison.