The Purple Man (Zebediah Killgrave) is a recurring Marvel Comics supervillain. Most closely associated with Daredevil, he was introduced in Daredevil vol. 1 #4 (October 1964).

Fictional character biography

Zebediah Killgrave was born in Rijeka, in what was at the time Yugoslavia and is now in Croatia. As an international spy, he was sent to infiltrate a chemical refinery. During the mission, he was accidentally doused with a chemical that altered his pheromones, giving him the ability to control the will power of others, as well as turning his hair and skin purple.

The Purple Man has vacillated between an actively criminal life and easeful retirement. Morally, however, he has never reformed. He can most commonly be seen in expensive purple street clothes.

He used his mind control powers early in his criminal career to force a woman to become his wife; before she recovered and left him, she was made pregnant with his daughter, Kara Killgrave. Kara would inherit his discoloration and powers and would become the Alpha Flight-affiliated superhero called the Purple Girl, and later Persuasion.

The character largely disappeared from Daredevil's adventures in the 1980s. He did make a few more appearances in the Marvel Universe, most notably in the graphic novel Emperor Doom (1987). Doom was controlling the world with an augmentation machine called 'psycho-prism' he had placed Killgrave into. However, Wonder Man escaped the mind-control effect, and he managed to break Doom's hold over several selected Avenger colleagues. An enraged Sub-Mariner smashed the device, which resulted in Killgrave's apparent death, although he somehow survived.

He later reappeared in the pages of X-Man, where it was revealed that he was the mastermind behind Nate Grey's dramatically sudden rise to super-celebrity status as a miracle worker in New York City. He had been subtly manipulating both the population of Manhattan and Nate himself into accepting and embracing the exiles from the AOA as a modern messianic figure, who would become so psychologically empowered by hero-worship that he could and would literally change the reality of the world. The plan ultimatey failed and Killgrave went once more into hiding.

Jessica Jones

The Purple Man has since been revealed to be linked to the history of Jessica Jones. When she was the superhero Jewel, he used his mind control powers to subdue her, forcing her to live with him while mentally torturing her for several months. He ultimately sent her off to kill Daredevil. Mistaking the Scarlet Witch for Daredevil, Jones attacked her instead. Jones was beaten into a coma by the Avengers before they discovered that she had been brainwashed.

Before helping her out of her coma, the mutant telepath Jean Grey was able to give Jones a psychic switch that would prevent the Purple Man from controlling her again. When Jones recovered, the incident with Purple Man left her so traumatized that she left her life as a superhero behind and became an unsocial private investigator. Later, the Purple Man escaped again and tried controlling Jessica to kill the Avengers, but she was able to resist and knocked him out. Daredevil later had the Purple Man imprisoned in the Raft, a jail designed for superpowered criminals.

However he escaped briefly, when Electro created a riot at the Raft. Purple Man then attempted to use the opportunity to mind control Luke Cage into killing the then soon-to-be-Avengers, and threatened Jones and the unborn child she was carrying for Cage. Unknown to the Purple Man, drugs had been put into his food to negate his powers during his imprisonment, so he was unable to control Cage, who subsequently beat him to a pulp in response to his demands - however, Zemo saved him from this beating using the moonstones, so Cage only believed himself to be beating him.


Later, the Purple Man returned shortly before (and during) the House of M crisis and manipulated the Thunderbolts, while being manipulated himself by Baron Zemo, who used the moonstones he had recently acquired to leave an image of Purple Man behind in prison so that the authorities would not be aware of his escape. When Zemo, who was only using the Purple Man to "test" the Thunderbolts, learned of his torture (implied to have included rape) [1] of the Swordsman, however, he temporarily sent him back to prison as punishment.

His power enhanced by Zemo's use of the moonstones to allow him to be heard all over New York City simultaneously, he then enslaved the whole city, using the superhumans as his personal army and sex slaves - except the Thunderbolts, whom he had worked to turn against each other. Eventually, he was defeated by the Thunderbolts member Genis-Vell. Zemo teleported the Purple Man back to him and tortured him for his failure before sending him back to prison once more. Template:Spoiler During the Civil War, Purple Man was able to use the confusion to hijack a S.H.I.E.L.D. squad and flying platform to escape to Canada. He was chased by U.S. Agent, but managed to push him off the platform, severely injuring him. This story is likely to be continued in Omega Flight.

Purple Man believes he lives within a comic book, and breaks the fourth wall, particularly during his run in with Jessica Jones.

Mutant Status

The Purple Man's origin of his powers similar to that of the X-man Mimic in that both of them acquired their abilities through post-natal exposure to experimental gases. Since Mimic was claimed to be a natural genetic mutant by writer Scott Lobdell, it is then possible that the Purple Man is as well. He introduced himself to X-man as a mutant, a particular point which he had no real reason to lie about and which was not disputed by Nate Grey when he read Zebediah Killgrave's mind. In addition, his daughter Purple Girl, who inherited the same exact powers from him, is a confirmed genetic mutant. Their portrayal as a father-and-daughter team of pheromone manipulators is virtually identical similar to that of the New Mutant Wallflower and her own father.

Alternate Versions

  • In an alternate future, Kilgrave (or a man similar to him) becomes President for Life of the United States, using his powers to remain in office for decades. Captain America, Daredevil and Spiderman fight against the government and are defeated. While Daredevil and Spiderman are executed, Captain America is shot in the head and sent back in time. He ends up in 1587, though his presence in that time causes an alteration of reality that creates the Marvel 1602 timeline. It's worth noting that his facial features are quite similar to those of George W. Bush.

Appearance in other media

  • The Purple Man appeared in the season five fourth episode, "No Mutant Is an Island", of the X-Men animated series as a telepathic mutant terrorist who plans on taking over the government using a group of young mutants under his mental control. In the end, the X-Man Cyclops gets in his way and eventually defeats him.


  1. New Thunderbolts #17

External links

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