WANTED: Earth-Two's Most Dangerous Super-Villains
Name: "Crusher" Crock
Residence: Gotham City
Occupation: Former Professional Athlete, Professional Criminal
First Appearance (Golden Age): All-American #85 as Crock (May 1947). Green Lantern #28 as the Sportsmaster (October 1947)
First Appearance (Post-Golden Age): Brave and the Bold #62 (October 1965)
The criminal who became known as the Sportsmaster began his career as a highly regarded professional athlete. He was a master at multiple sports, playing hockey for the Hartley Hockey club and baseball for Banktown Bruins before being recruited to the Gotham Knights football team. A well known characteristic of "Crusher" Crockwas his lack of regard for the safety of other players frequently resulting in injury on the field. When he left a player unlikely to walk, the Knights dismissed him and he was subsequently banned from all professional sports as too high at risk. He left his dismissal in a rage and after a night of drinking, decided to form his own team of criminal to reclaim his reputation. He formed a "mystery polo team", invited all comers to a match for charity. In reality, the team was composed of athletic criminals and Crock had a hidden ball filled with gas to sedate the attendees and subsequently rob them. Unbeknownst to Crock, Alan Scott (alias Green Lantern) and Doiby Dickles were in attendance and sprung quickly into action. Although his minions had no luck subduing the hero with gunfire, Crock easily subdued him with a wooden polo mallet. Before he could finish Green Lantern off, Doiby Dickles intervened and broke the mallet. Realizing the effects of the gas were wearing off, the team of criminals fled.
Days later, the Crock gang robbed a bank, using explosive sports puppets as a distraction. Unwittingly, Doiby Dickles arrives and is caught in the explosion. Recognizing him from the polo match, the take him hostage and when Green Lantern arrives to thwart the robbery, he is taken prisoner to spare Doiby's life. As Crock takes the two back to his mansion home, he enlightens them on his plans to take over all sports in America, killing players who don't bias outcomes to favor his gambling racket. He tosses Green Lantern into a tank of water and offers him a pin knife and a wooden toy duck as a token to help him escape. Crock overestimate the hero however, who use the knife to cut a hole in the duck and while letting appear to hover over his head, used it as air source and while appearing drowned. Crock's crew fished the "dead" hero out and he quickly turned and defeated them. Crock engaged quickly but realizing he was outmatched, retreated so as to launch as sneak attack and stab the hero in the back. Unfortunately the railing on which he leaned to attack gave way, dropping Crock several feet and apparently breaking his neck. Green Lantern left him for dead when the authorities arrived and Crock was seemingly buried in a local cemetery (All-American Comics #85).
Months later, Green Lantern is baffled
when a sports themed criminal calling himself the Sportsmaster uses a boomerang
to steal a set of priceless pearls, covering his escape with explosive tennis
balls and a killer serve. Shortly thereafter, during a trophy ceremony at
a local sports arena, Green Lantern is serving as emcee when the Sportsmaster
again appears, this time on aerial skis, snatching Leslie the trophy girl and
trophy alike. Green Lantern immediately gives pursuit and too distract
him, the Sportsmaster drops Leslie but loses the trophy at the same time.
Cursing himself, he flees to let Green Lantern save Leslie and they alight in a
local cemetary. Realizing where they are and that the Sportsmaster's M.O.
so matched Crock's, he found the criminal's grave and after summoning the
police, exhumed the casket. To their surprise, Doiby Dickles was
unconscious in the casket confirming to Green Lantern that the Sportsmaster was
in fact "Crusher" Crock.
Not content to escape freely, Crock
kidnaps Leslie again and luring Green Lantern to a meet-up, offers a deal -
Leslie's freedom and his arrest if the Lantern can defeat him, the Lantern as
prisoner and the trophy if Crock wins. They arrange to meet at a sports
monument at nearby Victory Lake where unknown to the Lantern, Crock has staged
an ambush of criminal underlings on surfboards. Dodging gunfire, the Green
Lantern defeats the minions before the Sportsmaster himself appears with Leslie
in tow. The two engage with Crock quickly braining the hero with a sports hammer
and climbing the sports monument to retrieve the trophy. Only temporarily
dazed, Green Lantern flies to intercept the villain and the two struggle.
In the melee, Sportsmaster against throw the hammer but it bounces off the
statue and hits him, knocking him into the waters below. Not finding a
body, Green Lantern presumes him dead and flies Leslie back to Gotham City (Green
Lantern Vol. 1 #28).
Almost a year later, a new sports bettor came to Gotham known as Mr. Corck. Making an audacious entry, Corck bets that the upcoming hockey match between the Ice Kings and the Streaks will end with victory for neither side. When the game is played, the score remains tied until the last opportunity for a goal but when the puck nears the net it explodes, injurying many of the players. The game ends with no winner as Corck predicted. After dropping the players off at Gotham Hospital, Green Lantern returns to the club to learn that the Sportsmaster has kidnapped Corck and left a note that all sports are ending. Turning on a new television, The Lantern watched in horror as a basketball game ends when the basketball explodes as it hits the rim. Racing to the scene, he sees sky-writing from a new syndicate indicating that a protection racket will be enforced and all games that don't pay their fees will end in suffering. To emphasize his point, they executed acts of terrorism at bowling alleys, soccer games and race tracks later that week.
To end this reign of terror, Green Lantern challenges the protection racket to a sports match with their champion. They accept and their champion is the Sportsmaster, who has rigged the arena with a variety of cheats and traps to help him win. His pole vault has a spring in it whereas Green Lantern's explodes when it reaches the bar. The Green Lantern's hammer is electrically charged so he can't release it. His hurdles catch on fire during foot race and when they enter the final event in the pool, the Sportsmaster as coated his fists with rock powder that hardens in the pool so he can club Green Lantern. Lantern is injured but reacts, crashing his rings against Crock's jaw. Defeated the villain slipped into a grate and escaped as Green Lantern claimed victory. Arriving shortly thereafter is the newly freed Corck but Green Lantern notices the impression of his ring on Corck's jaw and with a flourish of his power ring, revealed the Sportsmaster uniform beneath Corck's jacket. Revealed as the Sportsmaster, Crock is carted off to jail (All-American Comics #98).
Crock's time in jail was remarkably
short as he was freed from jail by the Wizard to be a member of a new
incarnation of the Injustice Society. The group assembled in an old mine
and sought their final member - The Harlequin - who agreed to join. As
they send her on first missions, she dropped some notes she made that she
intended to share with the Justice Society, leading to the arrest of her new
comrades. Seeing it, the Injustice Society, had Sportsmaster follow her
and lob an explosive lacrosse ball filled with knockout gas, which allowed him
to capture the entire JSA en masse. The villains decided to launch a
contest for grandest theft and Sportsmaster chose to steal the USS Constitution,
otherwise known as "Old Ironsides". While the villains staged their
thefts, Harlequin and the Black Canary freed the JSA not knowing that a
post-hypnotic suggestion had been planted in each of them causing their
immediate obedience with a snap of the fingers. When Hawkman intercepted
the Sportsmaster, he quickly overwhelmed the criminal but with a snap, Hawkman
switched side and the two made off with the old clipper ship. The criminal then
hijacked an entire stadium full of sports fans with the intention of having them
judge whose theft had been the grandest. As they bickered with the fans,
the JSA was again restored to its senses and this time, the Injustice Society
went to jail. This case was notably not only as it defined the
Sportsmaster as a national figure in organized super-crime, but also was his
first meeting with Wildcat's nemesis, the Huntress (All-Star Comics #41).
The next reported appearance of the Sportsmaster was in
Metropolis in the 1950's, when he was part of a theft ring of stolen track meet
medals. While the racket was supposedly run by the Harlequin, the reality
was that the Sportsmaster had created the racket to ensnare the Harlequin who
was known to use her criminal identity as a double agent for law enforcement.
The plot was interrupted by reporter Lois Kent and the Sportsmaster was defeated
by the arrival of Green Lantern and Superman (Superman Family #206) and
returned to prison.
The criminal activities of Crock over the next decade are
largely unknown. Most importantly, it is known that he developed a
romantic relationship with and ultimately married his Injustice Society
colleague, the Huntress. The two re-emerged in 1965 in Federal City
where the Huntress was in pursuit of Wildcat, in town to serve as emcee for the
Parker Sports Awards Ceremony. While she stalked the hero, The
Sportsmaster entertained himself with stealing the Parker Trophy, his recurring
penchant for theft. The two were intercepted by the visiting Black Canary
and Starman, who maintained an estate in the city. They surprised the
heroes and captured Wildcat but the appearance of two JSAers excited them and
the decided to up the ante by planting clues of their next case at a large golf
tournament to lure all three into a trap. For the Sportsmaster, it
satisfied his itch to steal a trophy - a golf bag with $100,000. For the
Huntress, it was the change to cage three member of the Justice Society.
Neither got what they wanted as a swift and coordinated strike snared the two
criminals in their own trap from which they were summarily carted off to prison
(Brave and the Bold #62).
"Mr. and Mrs. Menace" were also members of the Injustice Society and criminals for hire. They participated in a case against the Justice League and Justice Society organized by an infiltrator from Earth-Prime nearly a decade later (Justice League of America #123-124). They were recruited by the Thorn in a scheme of vengeance against a series of official in Keystone City, ultimately to include the Flash and his wife Joan Garrick. While the Sportsmaster provided "muscle" for the Thorn, the Huntress entertained herself with pursuit of the new Huntress (Helena Wayne) who had become a member of the Injustice Society. Ultimately the Sportsmaster and the Thorn were defeat by Power Girl and the Flash while the Huntress was captured by her namesake (All-Star Comics #72-73).
While the Sportsmaster was not seen during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, his wife was and he was likely not far behind. The ultimate fate of the Earth-Two Sportsmaster is unrevealed.
Powers and Abilities
The Sportsmaster was a superb athlete, the height of physical performance in speed, strength, agility, endurance and flexibility. He had peak human reflexes and an encyclopedic knowledge of sports techniques. His repertoire of skills included skiing, baseball, football, gold, fishing, cards and hockey to name a handful. From either his criminal operations or his professional sports career, he had amassed considerable wealth, resulting his lavish homes and an arsenal of specialized sports equipment used in crimes.
Weaknesses and Limitations
The Sportsmaster was mortal, aging at a similar rate of most humans, albeit at a very high level of fitness. He could be captured if sufficiently over-powered and separated from his armaments. He also had character flaws that were arguably his greatest limitations, including a pathological desire to win, regardless of cost and obsession with perceived entitlements, especially to sports trophies, his most recurrent target of theft
The Sportsmaster existed on Earth-1 and his identity, modus operandi and relationship with the Huntress were largely similar. In the 1970's, he had notable encounters with Robin and Batgirl (Batman Family #7) and staged an elaborate baseball game between members of the Justice League and several Earth-1 super-villains (DC Super-Stars #10).
The Sportsmaster of the post-Crisis Earth had a largely similar career as his Earth-2 counterpart minus his interactions with heroes like Superman that did not exist in this timeline. The first name of Crock in this timeline is known to be Lawrence. Some casework has been reported beyond what is known of the Earth-2 history, including a case in which he destroyed the shop of Seamus Sullivan and led to the rise of the family of "Made of Wood" killers using a baseball bat he discarded (Detective #785-786 ) and his capture by the emergent Task Force X after the JSA disbanded in 1951 (Suicide Squad Annual #1, Secret Origins Vol. 2 #14). It is not clear if the history of the Earth-One Sportsmaster was also merged into this timeline. It is known that on the post-Crisis Earth, the Sportsmaster and the Huntress had a daughter, Artemis, who followed in the family business (Infinity Inc #34-36). How much of this is mirrored on Earth-Two is unclear.
As his career wound down, he remained a member of the community of super-human criminals, working for Amos Fortune against the JSA (JSA Classified #16). In his advanced years, the Sportsmaster was part of a group of criminals organized by General Immortus. Considered a series of expendable lesser lights, all of these villains, including the Sportsmaster were ultimately killed by the Human Flame (Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! #1-4). The Council, a shadowy terrorist group characterized with expertise in metahuman technology, generated a collection of clones based on the Sportsmaster's DNA which were deployed against the most recent iteration of the Justice Society (JSA #53, JSA Annual #1).
The Sportsmaster of Earth-22 is thought to have a similar career as an adversary of Green Lantern as his Earth-2 counterpart. It is known by the 1950's that he was attempting to go more straight but burdened with a sick child who had expensive medical bills that drove him back to theft. He attempted to capitalize on the effort of Senator Tex Thompson (secretly the Ultra-Humanite) at his metahuman gather in Washington DC but was killed in the melee with Dyna-Man that ensued (The Golden Age LS).
1st appearance, as Crusher Crock, vs. Green Lantern
Green Lantern #28
1st appearance as Sportsmaster, vs. Green Lantern
vs. Green Lantern
All-Star Comics #41
joins the Injustice Society, vs. the JSA
Justice League of America #113, Justice League of America Super-Spectacular #1 (1999), All-Star Archives #9
Superman Family #206
vs. Superman and Green Lantern, flashback story
Brave and the Bold #62
w/ the Huntress, vs. Starman and Black Canary
Best of DC Digest #21, Justice Society of America 100-Page Super-Spectacular #1, Black Canary Archives #1, Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups Vol. 2
Joins the Injustice Society, vs. the JLA and JSA
DC Retroactive: Justice League of America - The '70s #1 (JLA #123 only), Showcase Presents: The Justice League of America #6, Justice League of America: The Bronze Age Omnibus #2, Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. #4
W/the Huntress and the Thorn vs. Justice Society
Justice Society TPB Vol. 2, Showcase Presents All-Star Comics Vol. 1, All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever