- —The Phantom Eagle[src]
Karl Kaufman was an expert pilot who had been born in America to German parents who had since returned to their hometown of Hamburg, Germany. After high school, Kaufman became an expert stunt-pilot and co-owner of a flying circus. Later, to protect his parents from reprisals, Kaufman devised a stylized aviator uniform with darkened goggles and a cape and adopted the masked identity of the Phantom Eagle. The Phantom Eagle engaged in many aerial baffles, downed a remarkable number of German planes, and thus became known as perhaps the greatest aerial warrior of the first World War.
In his first mission as Phantom Eagle, he successfully led a U.S. fighter squadron against an experimental dirigible aircraft carrier with which German forces attempted to invade New York; however, he witnessed the death of his best friend, Rex Griffin, as a result.
At one point the time-traveling dictator Kang the Conqueror sent the simple-minded brute, the Hulk, back to 1917 in an effort to prevent the Phantom Eagle from destroying a key German super-weapon; this would cause the untimely death of several people, including Hulk's grandfather - but, after doing this, the Hulk ended destroying the super-weapon himself and then disappeared, leaving behind a confused Phantom Eagle who never knew even the name of his ally.
The Phantom Eagle joined the Freedom's Five, a team of costumed operatives who were instrumental in bringing about a number of significant victories for the Allies during World War I. The Phantom Eagle was the sole American member of Freedom's Five. One of the greatest adversaries that the Eagle battled as a member of the group was the vampire Baron Blood.
One night shortly before the war's end, the Phantom Eagle flew to his parents' home in Germany so he could fight the Germans under his own name. He was discovered by a German pilot. Hermann von Reitberger, who slaughtered Kaufman and his parents with machine gun fire while they were still on the ground. Determined to gain his vengeance on von Reitberger the Phantom Eagle's spirit remained on Earth. Only a week after his corporeal death, the Phantom Eagle, flying a ghostly plane, shot von Reitberger's plane out of the sky. Von Reitberger survived, but was too frightened to fly again. For decades the Phantom Eagle's ghost haunted von Reitberger. Sometimes von Reitberger somehow managed to escape from the ghost for years at a time, but inevitably the Eagle caught up with him.
Finally, in recent years. Johnny Blaze, who was then the vigilante known as Ghost Rider, encountered both the aged von Reitberger and the Phantom Eagle's pursuing ghost. Driven to desperation von Reitberger challenged the Eagle to aerial combat. Von Reitberger piloted a World War I plane in order to baffle the Eagle in his spectral one. During the combat, the Eagle maneuvered von Reitberger into crashing his plane into a hangar. Von Reitberger died in the crash. Karl Kaufman's spirit, finally freed from his mission of vengeance, passed from the mortal plane.
In modern day, Phantom Eagle was found in a pit in the Savage Land, unstuck from time, along with numerous travelers, adventurers, and soldiers from all across history, including famous western outlaw Kid Colt. Kaufman and the many other residents of this domain were freed by Skaar where they helped defend the Savage Land from the Designer's army.
When the Empirikul set out to destroy all magic, they traveled to the Savage Land and captured Kaufman. What happened to Kaufman after his being taken is unknown but his Bristol F.2B Fighter Biplane was found and used as a magical artifact by Doctor Strange.
Powers and Abilities
Kaufman was an extraordinary pilot, exceptionally skillful in aerial combat. He was also a good hand-to-hand combatant.
The Phantom Eagle flew a customized World War I vintage biplane.
- 11 appearance(s) of Karl Kaufman (Earth-616)
- 1 minor appearance(s) of Karl Kaufman (Earth-616)
- 6 mentions of Karl Kaufman (Earth-616)
- 9 image(s) of Karl Kaufman (Earth-616)
- 2 quotation(s) by or about Karl Kaufman (Earth-616)
- 1 item(s) used/owned by Karl Kaufman (Earth-616)