Beck, Quentin (aka, Mysterio)

Introduction

Lots of super criminals want to rob you, kill you, experiment with your DNA or rule you like a king but not Quentin Beck. Sure, he may rob you or kill you but what he really wants is to hear your applause.

He grew up with his widowed father in an apartment on 34th Street in Manhattan. Quentin enjoyed building toy monsters and creating stop motion films with them and hoped one day to be a special effects creator in Hollywood. Elmore Beck didn't approve of his son's hobby and rarely spoke directly to him. Instead, Elmore would speak to his dead wife as if she were still there, usually to deride their son as a loser. Being ignored made Quentin feel just as dead as his mother, and just as invisible. Eventually he and his father moved away and he lost his only friend, Betsy Schneider. (Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #1)

Beck went on to fulfill his childhood ambition to become a Hollywood special effects man but there was an accident on set of a movie that he was involved in. While filming, an actor accidentally stepped into one of Beck's pyrotechnic charges and suffered burns covering 80% of his body. Beck was fired and barred from any more movie productions. Now an arrogant man, he decided that the super powered individuals in New York were nothing but fakes and frauds fooling people into believing that they had super abilities. He was sure that his mastery of special effects were greater than theirs and he set out to prove it and make some cash at the same time. His plan was to frame Spider-Man for some robberies, drive up the reward money offered by the Daily Bugle and defeat him as Mysterio. (Web of Spider-Man vol 2 #4)

In New York, Mysterio framed the webhead, making the nervous teen think he may be committing crimes in his sleep. Mysterio went to the Bugle office and issued a challenge to Spider-Man to meet him to learn the truth of his strange behavior. They met at the top of the Brooklyn Bridge and Spidey was briefly defeated. The next day Mysterio was given a parade on Fifth Avenue and met with the staff of the Daily Bugle. There, Peter Parker hid a spider tracer on Beck's costume and later tracked him down and defeated him. (Amazing Spider-Man #13)

In a subsequent revenge scheme, Beck took over the airwaves to broadcast a message to Spider-Man. He threatened to destroy the city unless his enemy came to face him. He used an illusion to make it seem that the Brooklyn Bridge collapsed on live TV and then said "And now--before the eyes of millions--I challenge the doomed Spider-Man to meet me." At the studio where Spider-Man first beat him, Mysterio shrank his enemy down to six inches and placed him in a model amusement park filled with traps to kill him. In the end, it was another illusion meant to fool Spidey into thinking he was miniature and to give up hope of defeating Beck. (Amazing Spider-Man #66 and Amazing Spider-Man #67)

Some of Beck's most successful schemes have involved faking his own death. While attempting to escape from jail, he was seemingly shot and killed by prison guards. He then set out to mastermind a quiet, long term scam. As he put it, "Big money is not to be made in splashy crimes. They provide the glamor and the romance but in the end they are more trouble than they are worth." Instead, he set up shop as the owner of a retirement home and conned the residents out of their possessions. In that crime, he accumulated "almost eight million more or less legal dollars with little or no effort." (Amazing Spider-Man #198)

Years later, Beck was seemingly dying of a brain tumor and lung cancer, created by years of exposure to his hallucinogenic gases. At this time, Peter Parker had been replaced by Ben Reilly as Spider-Man and Beck had no desire to defeat a copy of his old enemy. He instead focused on the vigilante known as Daredevil. Mysterio tried to fool Daredevil into killing an innocent newborn (by making Daredevil think it was the Anti-Christ) and also attacked Matt Murdock's loved ones. (His girlfriend, Karen Page, was murdered by Bullseye and Franklin Nelson was accused of murder.) After Daredevil eventually discovered the truth about what was happening, Beck committed suicide. (Daredevil vol 2 #7)

As you cant trust anything you see when you deal with Quentin Beck, he returned to crime years after his staged suicide. He was working for the Maggia (an organization similar to the mafia) as they were involved in a gang war with Mister Negative. Beck double crossed them, killing many of the Maggia in an explosion and framing Negative for the murders. Mysterio almost escaped with $3.5 billion of Maggia money, before his plan was ruined by Spider-Man. During the fight with the escaping Mysterio, Spider-Man told him "Like this was about the money? No. It was about the thrill. Planning the perfect stunt and pulling it off. That's how you're wired. You're the one who'll never stop." Beck instantly agreed. (Amazing Spider-Man #620)

Psychopathology: Narcissistic personality disorder (and possibly Histrionic personality disorder)

Beck's crimes are strongly characterized with a highly dramatic, flamboyant flair. Keep in mind his statement of threatening Spider-Man "before the eyes of millions." Two "deaths" are also a perfect way to get attention. This demand for attention is a key characteristic of histrionic personality disorder, even with the lack of the other key criteria for the disorder: excessive emotional states, an unstable mood and excessive concern with his physical appearance.

In fact, his emotions tend to be very calm, even after he is defeated by his enemy. This is called a blunted affect and is a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder. (A lack of emotional reactivity in a situation where emotion would be natural is called flat affect. Blunt affect is a similar symptom of a personality, but it is a less serve symptom. Emotions are shown but deeply reduced.) While it may seem to be a conflict to have some overlap in the criteria of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder, many people with one diagnosed personality disorder also have signs and symptoms of at least one additional personality disorder. Narcissism is characterized by

  • failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings,
  • exaggerating your achievements or talents
  • fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  • expecting constant praise and admiration

These personality disorders are often caused by both genes and environment. A family history of mental illness is a sign, as is abuse in childhood, and unstable family life and the death of a parent in childhood. Quentin did have a verbally abusive father and his mother did die when he was young.

Treating the Master of Illusions

There are many different ways to treat a patient with a personality disorder, but there is no cure. These treatments can include psychotherapy, medications and, in extreme cases, hospitalization. There are no drugs currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat a personality disorder but some anti-depressants, mood stabilizers and such can help with the symptoms of these illnesses. Psychotherapy is the most common and most useful form of treatment. Talk therapy involves learning about the illness and helping the patient recognize when they are experiencing negative emotions, thoughts or other harmful symptoms.

Conclusion

While Quentin Beck never went into great detail regarding his mother's death, but it is likely that he was more effected by his father's rejection of him than by his mother's passing. Quentin found solace in his monster movies, despite Elmore's disapproval of them. The young Beck went on to become a successful (if arrogant and cold blooded) special effects specialist, until he was banned from making movies after an accident. Deciding to prove that 'super heroes" were frauds and fakes, he took the name of Mysterio and started a life of crime. Robots, hallucinogenic gas and tricks of light became his hallmark. He may well benefit from psychotherapy, but is unlikely to take the treatments seriously. The thrill of crime is what drives him, and he likely sees no reason to become just another sheep in the flock.

Diagnosis

  • Axis I: No diagnosis.
  • Axis II: Narcissistic Personality Disorder, with Histrionic Traits.
  • Axis III: No diagnosis.
  • Axis IV: Conflicts with father; dangerous criminal life style.
  • Axis V: 51-- Moderate symptoms. Few friends, conflicts with peers or co-workers. (Mysterio betrayed both Dr. Octopus (Amazing Spider-Man #686) and the Sandman. (Spider-Man #23))