- I needed an edge, and maybe the mask those party girls gave me was the answer. Those costumed heroes cover their faces to keep their names a secret, but I thought maybe it was for other reasons too. Maybe fighting a man in a mask is distracting...frightening even. Maybe the mask was the only chance I had to get out of there alive. And maybe it was my chance to change things -- really change them.
- -- Phantom Reporter src
Growing up, Dick learned a number of skills, and by the time he was an adult he was already an ex-All American fullback and ex-collegiate boxing, wrestling, and fencing champ. As a civilian reporter he got to know where all the corruption and crime was. He became frustrated by the criminals immunity of the law and developed the identity of the Phantom Reporter to fight organized crime. To further assist his crime fighting he developed a third alias, that of Van Engen, a wealthy socialite.
In his only recorded adventure before involving himself in World War II, the Phantom Reporter uncovered a plot by the police chief, parks commissioner, and the owners of rival newspapers the News Telegram and the Record in scaring people out of a slum neighborhood through a series of home invasions. This would reduce the property value allowing the media barons to purchase up all the land and sell it to the parks commissioner, who would then have the land converted into parks for a hefty profit. The Phantom Reporter would violently force all involved to reveal their involvement, ending the plot.
He was involved in one other case of note, allegedly dealing with the elixir of life.
World War II
When World War II broke out, the Phantom Reporter spent the early years of the war combating Nazi spies at home. However, by 1945 he had joined countless other heroes in fighting Nazi forces in Europe, using his reporting skills as a war correspondent to cover the super-hero angle of the war, but to also fight in it. There he found himself among other costumed crime-fighters, including those with super-human abilities. Phantom Reporter was lumped as a "tourist" by the super-powered heroes, who considered him a thrill seeker with no powers seeking fame and fortune, an assessment he wanted to prove wrong. Out on the field he witnessed the Dynamic Man fight though Nazis, learned of the Black Widow's slaughter of a Nazi bunker, and was rescued from a Nazi ambush by Electro (a robot which deeply disturbed Dick) and the Howling Commandos. At a military camp, he learned that the military was using Mastermind Excello to track down the Spear of Destiny which was in the Nazis possession. He also met Mister E and learned of the atrocities found at Auschwitz from the Witness.
Before retiring that night, the Phantom Reporter spotted a group of heroes being gathered for a meeting. Wondering why he was not chosen he decided to sign up. Dick made his presence known after Captain America finished briefing the Invaders and other super-powered heroes on a planned invasion of the Nazi rocket factory where the Spear of Destiny was being taken place. Captain America almost had Phantom Reporter tossed into the stockade until Mastermind Excello informed the Captain that the Phantom Reporter would be key to their missions success. He joined the group in recovering the Spear and when Captain America was buried under rubble battling the Red Skull, Phantom Reporter went back with him and with the assistance of Rockman helped save Cap's life. Later, Cap sent Phantom Reporter a note congratulating him for work well done. The Reporter crumpled it up, having his notions of true heroes -- that of soldiers going into battle and risking their lives -- were the ones that deserved congratulating.
On April 25, 1945, the Phantom Reporter was among the members of the superhero community woh invaded Berlin. He joined Blue Blade, the Witness, Fiery Mask, Laughing Mask, Mister E, Rockman, Mastermind Excello, Black Widow, Dynamic Man Captain Wonder and the Electro robot in storming the headquarters of the S.S. to search for snipers. They walked into a trap set by Nazi agents and were gassed and placed into suspended animation to be experimented on later. However, the Soviets soon help beat back the Nazis and all those involved in the heroes captures were killed in action. Phantom Reporter and the other heroes were then forgotten for many years....
... Until they were uncovered during a construction project in the 21st Century. Their bodies were recovered by the United States government who decided to revive the heroes in the hopes that they would represent the government. At first Dick and the others were quarantined in a government medical facility fashioned to look like the 1940's. However, Dick's keen detective mind picked up on finer points: Such as a radio that did not play commercials, the lack of garters on his nurses stockings and her multiple ear piercing. Suspecting something being up, and the likelihood they were captured by the Nazis, Dick convinced Captain Wonder to fly to the roof and see for himself. While the nursing staff was distracted, Dick managed to grab some of their coins from a poker game and was shocked to find that some of the coins were minted in the year 2008. With the truth revealed, the government had a debriefing with the super-heroes and offered them the opportunity to continue working with the government. Dick and the others agreed, and became a group loosely referred to as the Twelve.
Taken to a government owned mansion, the Twelve were told that they were going to be given an entire year to get used to the 21st century and decide if they wanted to work for the government. Dick found himself in a world where all his connections were over 60 years out of date and like many other members of the Twelve, struggled to find his place in it. With no family or connections in this modern world, Dick was left to observe his fellows: Captain Wonder's loss of family, Dynamic Man's embracing of the 21st century and entry into crime fighting, the tortured life of the Black Widow (to whom he was growing attracted to), Excello's inability to filter out the background noise of the modern world, Electro an inert relic that he could relate to, and lastly the most tortured of them all the Rockman who relocated to the basement and began pounding on the ground hoping to contact his people.
The following morning, Dick attempted to make friends with the Black Widow by inviting her down to breakfast -- learning that she did not sleep -- and trying to warm her over with jokes. Their meal was interrupted by the arrival of Samuel Kingston, who offered Dick a job to work as a syndicated columnist for the Daily Bugle giving his unique perspective on both the past and present. Dick accepted the job upon hearing Kingston's proposal. Later that night he witnessed the Black Widow leaving the mansion unaware that she went to murder Simon Dexter, a man marked for death by her master. The next morning after seeing Excello make preparations for more isolated accommodations to acclimatize himself with, Dick witnessed the Black Widow sleeping in her bed and found this suspicious. He then was on hand when the police came to collect Laughing Mask's guns for examination after he foiled a liquor store robbery the night before. The offers questioned Dick about what any of the Twelve might know about the murder of Simon Dexter, Dick couldn't find any however he noted that the Black Widow was awake and watching their conversation. Later that night the Twelve threw a going away party for Excello. When Dynamic Man came to mock them all and profess his superiority over them, Dick -- having a bit too much to drink -- began mocking Dynamic Man, accusing him of being no better than Hitler. Dynamic Man almost attacked Dick when Captain Wonder stepped in and broke up the fight, prompting Dynamic Man to mockingly place Electro among them and flying away. After, Dick attempted to convince Black Widow to let them get to know each other better, but she flatly rejected him warning him against doing so. Dick then returned to his room and wrote his first article for the Daily Bugle in which he stated that the only true heroes were soldiers who died in combat like his father.
The next morning, Dick and Fiery Mask were congratulating Captain Wonder on his new job as a youth motivational speaker when their celebrations were interrupted by the continued mocking of the Dynamic Man. Dynamic Man and Captain Wonder exchanged blows until Fiery Mask broke up the fight. That evening, Laughing Mask approached Dick and offered to make him his new partner suggesting he take on a new identity of Frowning Mask. Dick politely declined, when the police suddenly arrived to arrest Laughing Mask as his guns were connected to the murder of a gang leader in the 1940's. With Captain Wonder and Dynamic Man making the press and the other members of the Twelve struggling to find their places in the world, Dick soon found he was struck with writers block for the first time in his career. He then got a phone call from Excello who warned him that some impending danger was coming but he could not tell what just yet. This made Dick realize that he was missing excitement in his life and decided to take the Phantom Reporter out of retirement. That very night a number of homosexual patrons of the Ball and Rack bar were slaughtered and the police called Phantom Reporter to the scene. There he examined that all the victims were ripped apart and that whoever the killer had left scorch marks in the back alley. When the police suspected Dynamic Man, Phantom Reporter turned over security video that showed he was at the mansion at the time of the murders. He left the police with their investigations, but secretly suspected that the Black Widow was involved somehow. Dick then went to visit Excello, who warned him that one of their number was going to die, but he did not know who and cautioned Dick to upgrade his costume so that he would be better protected. That night Dick paid a visit to the Black Widow to get some answers.
The Black Widow explained her origins to him, and then told him that had she chosen to she could have killed him with a touch. Caressing his face, she then told him she need not to, and asks him to leave. Later that day, Dick received a package from Excello containing a new kevlar costume and instructions that he was gathering the Twelve back together to face this new threat. The following morning Dick was surprised when the Black Widow came and brought him coffee. They were then joined by most of the other members of the Twelve to discuss the impending danger. Dick later got a call from the police to inform him that the Blue Blade had been murdered and that Electro was used to kill him. At the crime scene he was shown footage of Blue Blade's death and was introduced to Elizabeth Zogolowski daughter of Philo Zog, Electro's creator. When left alone with the equipment that controls Electro, the Phantom Reporter learned how Blue Blade accidentally activated the memory recall, and decided to do the same thing in order to learn who the killer was. Before he could learn the whole truth the police pulled off the control helmet, the sudden feedback causing Dick to black out.
Coming around in the hospital, Dick realized who the killer was and after Blue Blade's funeral began looking into the background of Dynamic Man. He then called a meeting with the other members of the Twelve and began pressing Dynamic Man about his "father" Professor Simon Goettler. Dick revealed that Goettler was a overly religious man who was vehemently against sex and created Dynamic Man to be his "perfect" man of tomorrow, a man without sex organs that was free of "sin" and that he was a synthetic man who used a remote link with Electro to murder those who he thought were impure. When Dynamic Man denied this, Dick had Fiery Mask burn off the Dynamic Man's costume revealing the truth. A brief fight broke out ending with the collapse of their mansion, which the members of the Twelve survived thanks to Rockman, but the Dynamic Man managed to escape. Dick joined Excello, Fiery Mask and Captain Wonder in tracking Dynamic Man back to Goettler's estate. There, Captain Wonder was incapacitated with the device that gave Dynamic Man his powers. When Excello incapacitated Dynamic Man with a mental bolt, Dick tried to shoot him in the head point-blank but it had no effect and destroyed his gun. Fiery Mask destroyed the device as Dynamic Man snapped out of Excello's trance. Dynamic Man then crushed Fiery Mask's windpipe. Dying Fiery Mask then passed his powers onto Dick. Dick then used these powers to destroy Dynamic Man, even though it left Captain Wonder horribly burned. Dick then used his powers to destroy Goettler's estate to insure nobody duplicated his creation. After returning to the ruined mansion to recover the survivors, Dick and the other surviving members of the Twelve attended Fiery Mask's funeral. There Dick used his powers to insure that Jack's grave was eternally on fire, believing that Jack had died a hero.
The surviving members of the Twelve were then relocated to a military base to finish off their year together. Dick was convinced to take a walk by Excello, running into Black Widow. The two professed their love for one another, but Black Widow couldn't stay as she had to carry out her masters bidding and Dick couldn't go because he did not want to abandon the others. The two shared a kiss and Black Widow left into the night. Later that night, Dick met with Excello who confided in Dick the nature of his powers and how every time he used them it brought him closer to death. Soon the other members of the Twelve went their separate ways: Excello simply walked off the base, Laughing Mask agreed to use Electro in covert military operations, and the Witness was hired by SHIELD, Dick decided to leave the government and was released. He soon found his new home was being paid for by Exc Enterprises, a private detective agency purchased and owned by Excello who also arranged for Dick and Black Widow to be reunited. After a romantic interlude, the two met with Excello at Exc Enterprises head officer where they accepted his offer for a job, the two working with the agency to make the world a better place.
Sometime later he found himself at the Miguel's coffee shop recounting an early case to a fellow reporter.
Originally none, later he inherited the powers of his teammate the Fiery Mask.
- Superhuman Strength
- Super Leaping: Could leap for miles in a single bound.
- Super Breath
- Pyrokinesis: Could generate flames capable of killing the likes of Dynamic Man and permanently scarring Captain Wonder. His body gives off intense heat which he can use to erect a heat force-field and he can transmit his protective powers via his touch, granting his force-field to someone else.
The Phantom Reporter was an ex-All American fullback and an ex-collegiate boxing, wrestling and fencing champ.
- Jones' father was part of his inspiration for fighting crime and getting involved in World War II, but he also describes as being drunk most of the time and rarely having said anything useful.
- 18 Appearances of Richard Jones (Phantom Reporter) (Earth-616)
- 2 Minor Appearances of Richard Jones (Phantom Reporter) (Earth-616)
- Media Richard Jones (Phantom Reporter) (Earth-616) was Mentioned in
- 13 Images featuring Richard Jones (Phantom Reporter) (Earth-616)
- 9 Quotations by or about Richard Jones (Phantom Reporter) (Earth-616)
- Character Gallery: Richard Jones (Phantom Reporter) (Earth-616)
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