History: According to Zebediah Killgrave's own
account, he was a spy working for the Soviet bloc who
was assigned to invade an American army ordnance depot
and steal a sample of an experimental nerve gas. A military
guard came upon Killgrave and fired a shot at him, which
accidentally hit a canister of the nerve gas, which was
stored in liquid form along with a stabilizing fluid.
The contents of the canister poured out, thoroughly drenching
Killgrave, impregnating his skin and indelibly dying him
purple. Caught outright and questioned, Killgrave offered
a weak, inadequate alibi to his captors. Much to his surprise,
he was believed and released. Several more incidents of
this nature demonstrated that being doused by the nerve
gas had given Killgrave the superhuman ability to command
the wills of other people. Calling himself the Purple
Man, Killgrave embarked on a criminal career.
According to Killgrave, the accident that endowed him
with his superhuman power occurred "some months"
before his initial clash with the costumed crimefighter
Daredevil. That clash took place within the last ten years.
However, according to a woman named Melanie, she met Killgrave,
who, she claims, had already become the Purple Man by
that point, nearly a decade and a half ago in a bar in
Buffalo, New York. Taken with Melanie's beauty, on a whim
Killgrave used his superhuman power to induce her to marry
him. Eventually, Killgrave truly fell in love with Melanie
and decided to free her from his mental control in the
hope that she would genuinely love him as well. But instead
she was horrified at what he had done to her and fled
to Toronto, Canada. Killgrave never went after her, and
months after leaving him, Melanie gave birth to his daughter
Kara. When Kara turned thirteen, her skin turned purple
and she developed superhuman powers similar to the Purple
Man's. Melanie then told her that her father was the Purple
Man, and Kara, calling herself the Purple Girl, became
associated with Alpha Flight, the Canadian team of superhuman
If Melanie's account is correct and the Purple Girl is
indeed the Purple Man's daughter, then Killgrave became
the Purple Man years before his first meeting with Daredevil.
Presumably Killgrave spent those years learning how to
develop and master his newfound abilities. On the other
hand, it is possible that Melanie lied to Kara about the
Purple Man and that there is another explanation for Kara's
powers. As yet there has been no resolution to these contradictory
accounts of Killgrave's past.
Having come to New York City, the Purple Man used his
superhuman ability to force people to do whatever he wished,
and even robbed a bank by this means. The Purple Man now
intended to use his power to become master of the world.
However, he was instead defeated by the crimefighter Daredevil,
whose will power was strong enough to enable him to resist
Killgrave's power. Killgrave was sent to prison, but he
finally escaped and made San Francisco, California his
base of operations. There he built himself a criminal
empire, but he was again opposed and defeated by Daredevil.
This time, though, Killgrave was not sent to prison. His
criminal empire in San Francisco apparently collapsed,
and Killgrave turned up in New York City once more. There
he used his power to coerce Maxwell Glenn, head of Glenn
Industries, into committing various crimes on his behalf,
as the first major step in the Purple Man's plan to create
a financial empire for himself. Put on trial for these
crimes, Glenn committed suicide. Daredevil had learned
that Killgrave had forced Glenn to become a criminal,
and the crimefighter had a confrontation with the Purple
Man at Ryker's Island Prison. Killgrave realized that
Daredevil was blind and correctly guessed that he was
Matt Murdock. Their confrontation ended when Killgrave
plunged into the sea and seemingly drowned.
Killgrave survived, but the experience of this latest
defeat radically altered his outlook on life. He realized
that there was no need for him to engage in criminal conspiracies
and battles with costumed crimefighters since he could
get anything he wanted by using his power. Therefore,
Killgrave retired from crime and became a gentleman of
One day a car being used by two underlings of the Kingpin
of Crime to make a major delivery of illegal narcotics
accidentally collided with Killgrave's purple Rolls Royce
on a New York City street. Angered, Killgrave used his
power to compel the two criminals to fight each other;
the police arrived and confiscated the heroin. The Kingpin
had Killgrave brought to him, and the Kingpin too proved
to have the strength of will necessary to resist the Purple
Man's power. The Kingpin forced the Purple Man to aid
him in setting a death trap for various New York-based
costumed crimefighters; Daredevil, Iron Fist, Moon Knight,
Power Man, and Spider-Man. Due to the increase in Killgrave's
power over time, plus the use of a sound system that amplified
the Purple Man's voice, not even Daredevil could resist
the Purple Man's power this time. However, wearing earplugs
so he could not hear the Purple Man's voice, the Moon
Knight knocked the Purple Man unconscious. Killgrave had
already used his power to induce a mob to try to kill
the other costumed crimefighters, but the latter succeeded
in freeing the mob from the Purple Man's control. Once
again, the Purple Man was taken into police custody.
But Killgrave somehow regained his freedom, and continued
to lead a life of leisure. But while Killgrave was relaxing
on an island in Polynesia, he was captured by yet another
individual who was capable of resisting his power, Doctor
Doom. Doom imprisoned Killgrave within a gigantic "psycho-prism"
he had constructed on Doom Island, an island Doom owned
in the Caribbean. Doom magnified the Purple Man's will-sapping
power through the psycho-prism. Doom manipulated this
power through his technological devices to make himself
the master of Earth. Virtually everyone on Earth was compelled
by the Purple Man's power to obey Doom. Due to his unusual
physiology, the Avenger Wonder Man was unaffected by Killgrave's
power; Wonder Man succeeded in freeing Captain America
from Doom's mental control, and together they likewise
freed their fellow Avengers Iron Man and the Wasp from
his mental domination. By causing a wave of water to strike
and submerge the Sub-Mariner, whom Doom had made his personal
servant, the Wasp freed him too from the Purple Man's
power. Infuriated at having been enslaved by Doom, the
Sub-Mariner smashed the psycho-prism, thereby both killing
Killgrave and freeing the world from Doom's control.
Height: 5 ft. 11 in.
Weight: 165 lbs.
Strength Level: The Purple Man possessed the normal
human strength of a man of his age, height, and build
who engaged in no regular exercise.
Known Superhuman Powers: The Purple Man possessed
the superhuman power to sap people's wills, making him
able to command people by simple verbal suggestion. His
power originated in his skin cells, which had been mutagenically
altered by impregnation by an unknown, experimental form
of nerve gas. The nerve gas was abnormally active due
to its great concentration in liquid form. The sites of
pheromone production and other secretions in the Purple
Man's deep dermis produced nervous psychoactive chemicals
which, when inhaled or absorbed through the skin, induced
in his victims an overwhelming monomania that rendered
him or her completely without a will of his or her own.
Only a very few individuals proved capable of resisting
the Purple Man's will-sapping power.
The Purple Man could simultaneously subjugate as many
people as were present within the range of the psychoactive
chemicals he exuded. He was known to enthrall crowds of
over 100 people. Ordinarily, the effects lasted only as
long as the Purple Man was physically present. When he
departed, the level of psychoactive chemicals within his
victims were reduced at various rates (dependent upon
their metabolisms), and thus the victims regained command
of their own wills.
The Purple Man was a charismatic individual, with an
entrancing lilt to his speech that he cultivated over
his adult life and that he used in exercising his superhuman
power. While using his power he often engagingly asked
strangers to do incongruous or even foolhardy activities,
which they performed without question.
Weapons: The Purple Man's underlings in his criminal
organization employed a purple will-deadening gas to overcome
victims in their employer's absence. The gas was a derivative
of the same chemicals that gave Killgrave his superhuman