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Quote1 We have met before -- many times! We have met since the beginning of time! We have met in former lives! Don't you remember? Quote2
-- Emil Natas src
 
Phao Na Tash (Earth-616)

Phao Na Tash

By his own account Emil Natas claims to have been reincarnated multiple times and in at least two of these occasions was a foe of Captain America and Bucky in their past lives as well.

Ancient Egypt

The first of these supposed past lives was in Ancient Egypt, during the time the pyramids were being built and the world was still young. Natas claims that he was a slave-driver named Phao Na Tash. He served an unnamed Pharaoh and took part in the building of a pyramid. His job was to discipline the slaves. He mercilessly whipped the "stubborn" slaves. He took delight in lashing small children. [1]

One day while whipping a young boy named Bucka (the supposed previous incarnation of Bucky), Na Tash heard the boy claim that Hercules (the supposed previous incarnation of Captain America) would come to his rescue. Na Tash had heard of the hero in question, but was certain that he would never dare to come to this place of torment. He was wrong about this. Hercules turned up a moment later and challenged the "foul fiend" to a duel. Na Tash turned around to face his foe, and received a powerful blow from the bare fists of the hero. [1]

Na Tash was able to counter-attack with his whip. However, Hercules turned out to be invulnerable to the pain and laughed at the futile efforts of Na Tash. Hercules started releasing the slaves, while Na Tash left to gather the men under his command. Na Tash led a small army in attacking the hero with deadly weapons. Hercules was only armed with a shield, but started taking out the villains with his own attacks. An encouraged Bucka used his own bare fists to take down foes. With all his men down for the count, Na Tash run away from the battle. [1]

Na Tash took refuge in his own, unfinished pyramid. Hercules and Bucka tracked him there and were eager to finish him. Na Tash decided to set a trap for them. He moved an unbalanced stone of the pyramid in an attempt to crush his pursuers underneath it. The attack failed and had an unwelcome effect. It caused another unbalanced stone to fall on Na Tash, mortally wounding him. [1]

The dying man had a last surprise for the two heroes. In his life, Na Tash had studied the "hidden secrets of the soul". He cursed Hercules, promising that Na Tash will be born again and have a rematch with the hero. And the next time, victory would be his. He then died from his wounds. The heroes did not believe him and soon left the area, planning their next mission. According to Natas, Hercules and Bucka had many adventures, "before they too met the grave". [1]

Middle Ages

Diablo Natas (Earth-616)

Diablo Natas circa 1313 AD

The second apparent life of Emil Natas was during the Middle Ages, when he was apparently known as the sorcerer Diablo Natas. He studied the secrets of black magic. Early in his career, Natas was driven out of a small town, with the people attempting to stone him. He had grown to hate the people of this town and wanted revenge. [1]

In the year 1313 AD, Natas used his magical powers to put the small town to sleep and cursed its people to never wake again. Everyone fell asleep where they stood, their bodies left in the streets of the town. Natas walked satisfied through this town of "living dead", where the people still lived but could not defend themselves anymore. Natas gloated that the wolves and buzzards would eventually arrive to devour the unmoving bodies. He decided to steal the wealth of these people, since they no longer needed it. [1]

By coincidence, the knight Captain Amerigo and his squire Bucky, the era's apparent versions of Captain America and Bucky, entered the town while seeking a room for the night. The Captain soon realized that he could not wake the townspeople and found it strange. Bucky initially suspected that the people were simply drunk. Discovering Natas counting his stolen gold, the Captain drew his sword and attacked the apparent thief. [1]

Natas was able to use a spell to paralyze the Captain. Studying his foe, Natas realized that he was the reincarnation of his old foe Hercules. He quickly explained their shared history to the helpless Captain. He took over the Captain's sword and prepared to pierce the man's throat with it. He claimed that once the Captain died, their paths would never cross again in future ages. He was soon attacked by Bucky, who was eager to save his employer. [1]

Natas and Bucky faced each other in combat. Natas was armed with the sword, while Bucky relied on his bare fists. Bucky turned out to be a more skilled fighter. He disarmed Natas and beat him up. A buttered and bruised Natas was forced to release the knight, in order to escape a further beating by the enraged Bucky. Once Bucky let go of him, Natas tried to cast another spell. A punch from the Captain took him down again. [1]

An enraged Captain forced Natas to reverse his spell on the town, even though Natas claimed that the price for the counter-spell would be the sorcerer's own life. With the counter-spell performed, the people awoke while Natas was suddenly on death's door. He had reportedly sold his soul for the original spell and undoing it cost him dearly. With his dying words, Natas once more sword vengeance against the two heroes in a future incarnation. He predicted that the next incarnation of Hercules would be called Captain America. [1]

The Captain was left wondering if this "evil soul" can be reborn. Bucky shuddered at the thought. [1]

Golden Age

Whatever the truth may be, the man known as Emil Natas was a criminal who was active in the 1940s and led the Black Gang. According to Captain America, the Black Gang was responsible for mayhem, murdering, and sabotage for "the war enemy" of World War II. Which likely means that Natas was working for the Axis Powers. [1]

Natas legitimately practiced medicine from his office in Rhode Island as a front for his operations. When Captain America and Bucky were called in to break the Black Gang's operation, they captured most of the gang. But the captured criminals refused to reveal the name of their leader. But Bucky discovered that a gang member had dropped a business card for Dr. Natas' office. He suspected that Natas was the secret leader of the gang. [1]

Suspecting that Natas is the leader of the gang, Captain America and Bucky headed to his office to learn the truth. Captain America decided to pose as a patient, and pretended to have a strained shoulder that needed treatment. Natas led him to an examination table and instructed him to lie down. Cap obeyed the instruction and Natas moved swiftly to shackle him to the table. Bucky attempted to free Cap, but Natas knocked out the "brat" (as he called him) with a chloroform-soaked rag. He shackled Bucky to another examination table.[1]

Natas asked his captured foes if they recognized him. Cap was surprised and claimed they have never met before. Natas answered by claiming that they had met many times before. They had met "since the beginning of time", in former lives. Bucky had no idea what Natas was talking about and figured the villain was a "madman". Cap realized that Natas was talking about reincarnation, the concept of returning to life on Earth "century after century". [1] Natas attempted to prove his claims to the two heroes by using a device that apparently probed their minds and showed them their past life memories. [1]

After showing the two heroes their last two apparent encounters, Natas proclaimed that he had been born again and again. Cap was skeptical about his claims. Natas answered that displaying the past for his foe was "a foolish waste of time". He pulled out a dagger and attempted to stab Captain America through the heart. He gloated that this was their third encounter and now victory was finally his. However, Cap had been working on his shackles throughout his captivity and waited for an opportunity. Cap broke free and punched Natas. [1]

Natas pulled out a handgun and shot at Cap at almost point-blank range. Cap used his shield to defend himself and his fist to knock down Natas. Natas fell against a medical cabinet and tipped over an open bottle. The bottle contained cyanide and the liquid contents fell on Natas' open mouth. Fatally poisoned, Natas was still able to speak. He prophesied that he will be born for a fourth time in the far future. He would face the heroes again and win. He then died. [1]

The heroes were left wondering about the implications of this adventures. Bucky wondered whether Natas will return in a few centuries. Cap wondered whether there would be a next incarnation of Cap and Bucky, to face Natas in another round of this "age-long battle". He also wondered whether they would win or lose the next round. Bucky suddenly realized that "Natas" is "Satan" spelled backwards. [1]

Powers

  • The villain supposedly has the power to constantly reincarnate and to remember experiences from his previous lives. However he can not apparently choose the moment of his next incarnation. There are centuries and millennia between each incarnation of the character.
  • The Phao Na Tash incarnation of the villain had no known superpowers, though his dying moments suggest that he had studied mystical texts.
  • The Diablo Natas incarnation of the villain had magical powers and knowledge of black magic. He used a spell that could cause an entire town to fall asleep and never wake up. He used another spell to cause paralysis to an armed opponent. He also knew counter-spells. He demonstrated precognition in his dying words. In the early 14th century, he was able to predict the career of Captain America in the 20th century.
  • The Emil Natas incarnation of the villain had no known superhuman powers.

Abilities

  • The Phao Na Tash incarnation of the villain was experienced in the use of the whip as a weapon. He controlled a small army of Egyptian men and a group of slaves. He was apparently trusted by a Pharaoh with the duty of constructing a pyramid, suggesting some management or architectural skills.
  • The Diablo Natas incarnation of the villain briefly used a sword in combat, though he displayed no particular skill with it. He seems to have had experience as a thief.
  • The Emil Natas incarnation of the villain was both a medical doctor and a gang leader. He apparently had some experience in using chloroform, daggers, and handguns as weapons. The device he used to display images of the past suggests engineering skills, though it is not stated if he built the device himself.

Strength level

Probably average human strength. None of the incarnations of the character displayed any feat of strength. The Diablo Natas incarnation of the character was apparently physically weaker than an underage Bucky.

Weaknesses

  • While he can constantly reincarnate, this typically translates to Natas dying again and again. He is a mortal and has all the limitations that come with mortality.
  • The Phao Na Tash incarnation of the villain had a cowardly streak. He appeared tough and merciless with unarmed opponents, but run away from danger.
  • The Diablo Natas incarnation of the villain had no way to defend himself against the fists of Bucky and Captain Amerigo. He was intimidated into committing suicide.
  • The Emil Natas incarnation of the villain had a tendency to talk too much. He had Captain America and Bucky depending on his mercy for survival, and wasted time demonstrating his past to them. He could have just killed them.


Equipment

  • Natas had a device that supposedly could probe the mind of individuals and show them images of past life memories. However, the validity of this claim is dubious at best.
  • He had his examining tables serve as traps with shackles.

Weapons

  • The Phao Na Tash incarnation of the villain used a whip as his main weapon.
  • The Diablo Natas incarnation of the villain used a stolen sword as a weapon.
  • The Emil Natas incarnation of the villain used chloroform, a dagger, and a handgun as weapons.
  • The story featuring the villain left it uncertain if his claims of past lives were true or not. It ends with many open questions. Natas' tales are suspect at best and Bucky suspected that Natas was insane. Even if true, it is unlikely that the Hercules in this story is the same person as Hercules, the Olympian demigod. They lived in different time periods, and the Golden Age Hercules was reportedly mortal. So Steven Rogers may be the reincarnation of a Hercules, but not the demigod and fellow Avenger.
  • Bucky noticed the "Natas"' last name was "Satan" spelled backwards, however any demonic origins of the villain are conjecture at best.
  • Emil Natas wore a monocle. He had a mustache and a beard in a goatee-style. His ears were pointed.
  • There is an inconsistency with the art depicting Emil Natas' teeth. The first image of his open mouth reveals only three teeth. A later image of his mouth depicts him with a full set of teeth.
  • It is uncertain when the flashback to ancient Egypt takes place. Bucky estimated that it took place 5000 years prior to AD 1944. [1] That would be in 3056 BC (31st century BC), a time that predates the building of the pyramids. In Earth-1218, the Egyptian pyramids were an innovation of the 27th century BC. The Great Pyramid of Giza, the largest of the Egyptian pyramids, was built in the 26th century BC. Pyramid building continued until the 18th century BC, was revived in the 8th century BC, and ended permanently in the 7th century BC.
  • The Pharaoh which Natas served is mentioned in the story, but he is never seen or identified.
  • There is brief mention that Diablo Natas sold his soul to gain a powerful spell. Whether he sold his sole to a deity or demon of some kind was never clarified.
  • "Diablo", the alias used by Natas in the Middle Ages, is a Spanish term for "devil". It derives from the Latin term "diabolus" and the Greek term "διάβολος" ‎(diábolos). The Greek term originally meant "slanderer", but has come to be used as another name for the Christian Satan.
  • The encounter in AD 1313 seems to be based on an unlikely coincidence. Captain Amerigo and Bucky happen to enter the same town where Natas has performed his spell. None of three were initially aware of their ancient rival's presence in the area.
  • While Captain America and Bucky suspect Emil Natas of being the secret leader of the Black Gang, this is not actually confirmed in the original story. The otherwise talkative Natas never even mentions the Gang and his attack on Cap has a more personal motive.
  • While Natas predicted a fourth encounter between himself and his ancient foes, this has yet to take place. Natas has remained a one-shot character.
  • Natas' role as a constantly reincarnated man somewhat resembles the Forever Man, another Captain America foe. The Forever Man can not even escape his cycle of death of rebirth, as his suicide attempts have failed to produce any result.
  • The story of Natas, Hercules, and Bucka as three souls who met in ancient Egypt and are destined to face each other in every reincarnation resembles the origin story of Hawkman from the DC Universe. In his origin story, archaeologist Carter Hall discovers that he is a reincarnation of the ancient Prince Khufu. His love interest Shiera Sanders is the reincarnation of Chay-Ara, Khufu's love interest. And their ancient enemy Hath-Set is reincarnated again and again in an attempt to kill them both. This origin story was originally told in Flash Comics Vol. 1 #1 (January, 1940) and is quite famous. Many incarnations of Khufu and Chay-Ara have been depicted in a tale that spans the ages.
  • Emil Natas has no known connection to Mr. Natas, the Venus villain from the 1950s.

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