BIOGRAPHY - page 1
The early life of Carl Burbank is largely unknown. He spent time as a soldier for the United States and joined the Central Intelligence Agency. Following a mission on foreign soil, his right arm was replaced with a cybernetic prosthetic that could reconfigure into different kinds of guns. The way Burbank describes the process, he may not have been a willing volunteer for the procedure. Over time, however, Burbank’s conscience could not accept the horrors he was asked to perform for his country and he left the service.
A devout man to begin with, Burbank sought benediction in seminary school and trained to become a priest. He succeeded in his studies and spent time tending to his parishioners in New York City. Father Burbank struggled with his new life of peace, however. He knew that Nick Lambert’s organization was selling drugs to the children of his neighborhood. Carl barely restrained his instincts to use the force of a soldier rather than the forgiveness of a priest to address the issue. Confession was also trying, for the violent urges and impure thoughts did not go away when he took his oath as a priest, and the memories of his past actions continued to haunt him. Eventually, Burbank could not reconcile his inner nature with his religious calling, and he abandoned the church.
Burbank reinvented himself again, this time becoming a hired killer and mercenary under the name Bushwacker. He met a woman named Marilyn Rogers, although he kept her emotionally distant about his past and never confided in her about his work. Even after they were married, they lived seperate lives with her totally uninformed about what he did for a living. Bushwacker entered the public spotlight after accepting an ongoing contract from the Marauders to hunt and kill mutants for profit.
[Note: Curiously, details about this contract have never been shown from the perspective of Mister Sinister and the Marauders. At the time, the Mutant Massacre seemed like the Marauders had declared open season on mutants, and so the idea that they wanted more mutants dead may have made sense. However, the eventual revelations about why Mister Sinister wanted the Morlocks dead, specifically, makes the reason behind this contract less clear. Frankly, there is a non-zero possibility that Bushwacker imagined this contract entirely, or distorted it in his psychosis.]
The Marauders’ contract seemingly would have been fulfilled with proof of murdering any mutants, but Bushwacker’s eccentricities and growing psychosis led him to go after a specific kind of targets. His murders evolved to have the signature of a serial killer rather than a cold and clinical hitman. Bushwacker considered himself an artist, although in reality it was self-delusional jealousy over the talents of others. Unable to find fulfillment in anything except killing, he became vindictive towards others who did. He once shot up a homeless man’s alcohol so that it spilled all over him, leaving the man smelling of booze for days yet unable to taste it. Bushwacker thought he was making his kills “artistic” by murdering his victims in an ironic way or destroying the things they loved most before ending their lives. To satisfy this need, Bushwacker focused on killing mutants who possessed cognitive or intuitive abilities that led them to excel in things like art, music or dance. He burned the last concerto of the musician Gerhard before killing him, and treated the prophetic artist Vanna Herald to the sight of a spectacular car crash and explosion before blowing her head off.
Wolverine of the X-Men caught wind of Bushwacker’s murders and swore to avenge the mutant geniuses being killed. Independently, Marilyn Burbank had discovered a box of bullets under Bushwacker’s bed and was afraid for her husband. She knew he had a tormented past and feared he needed mental health counseling. When Wolverine tracked Bushwacker’s scent to their apartment, she knew he was in trouble. Marilyn went to a legal aid clinic in Hell’s Kitchen and met with Matt Murdock about legal options for having her husband committed. Marilyn’s story led Matt to seek out Bushwacker as Daredevil, and his hunt collided with Wolverine’s. Murdock had promised Marilyn he would try to get her husband help, but Wolverine only wanted him dead.
Bushwacker fought the conflicting heroes until a gas tanker spilled its contents around him. Preferring to go out in a blaze of glory, Bushwacker fired his gun arm despite the threat of ignition and set himself on fire in the explosion. [Daredevil (1st series) #248-249]
Weeks later, Bushwacker was visited by Typhoid Mary at a prison hospital. She forced a doctor to reattach his cybernetic arm so Bushwacker could join Bullet, Ammo and the Wildboys as her hit squad against Daredevil. Bushwacker had been severely injured in the explosion and scarred on the right side of his face. His pride rewrote history and led him to blame Daredevil for his injuries, making him eager to take Mary’s commission. He struck Daredevil second in the gauntlet, carrying a flamethrower in addition to his gun arm for good measure. Bushwacker dealt Daredevil a serious blow by driving him onto a parade balloon and then blowing it up. The explosion left Daredevil’s senses severely disoriented for the next round of attacks. [Daredevil (1st series) #259-260]
Bushwacker was hired by a criminal named Reynolds to assassinate a snitch in their organization talking to the Daily Bugle reporter, Ben Urich. Bushwacker caught them at a hand-off where Patrick Nidetz was giving Urich dirt on his boss. Nidetz saw Bushwacker coming and pushed Urich out of the line of fire, dying in his place. Bushwacker stopped short when he saw the evidence folder pertained to an exposé on Nick Lambert. He remembered how Nick’s drugs were corrupting his parish back when he was a priest and would never have taken Reynolds’ contract if he knew he worked for Lambert. Bushwacker let Ben Urich go free with the evidence to write his story, leading to Nick’s arrest. As he expected, Nick’s high-priced lawyers got him released on a technicality. Bushwacker then administered justice his way and murdered Nick, letting Urich see at the same time how the system had failed him. [Daredevil Annual #5]
Bushwacker’s marriage to Marilyn had survived the revelations about his work as an assassin and subsequent incarceration… technically. Marilyn was deeply unfulfilled by their relationship and the idea of serving as a housewife for a hired killer. She harangued Bushwacker constantly when he came home to their house in Cresskill, New Jersey. He continued his contract assassinations of mutant artists with the murder of a sculptor named Gretchen Carrenna. Meanwhile, the Acts of Vengeance campaign had led to a wager between Doctor Doom and Kingpin to eliminate the Punisher. Fisk used his influence in the media to arrange for a reporter to make an unflattering comparison between Bushwacker’s killings and the Punisher’s, provoking Burbank into accepting a contract on Castle when it was offered.
Ever the “artist,” Bushwacker sought to make his assassination of the Punisher as poetic as possible. He learned the Punisher visited the graves of his family every year on the anniversary of their death, riding a motorcycle. He positioned himself near the cemetery on his own motorcycle and wanted to set up a spectacular firearm jousting demonstration to kill Punisher like the knights of old to the awe of spectators. A cautious Punisher arrived late that evening and left without getting into position, spoiling Bushwacker’s plans. The assassin trailed Punisher back to his warehouse and got the joust he wanted before chasing an injured Punisher into his abode. Knowing Castle had once been in seminary school like him, Bushwacker starting calling out for Punisher to confess before he was killed. Bushwacker became fixated on the idea, however, and ultimately refused to kill Castle when he wouldn’t confess like in Bushwacker’s vision of the kill. Bushwacker left Punisher bleeding out to come after him again when he could think of another “artistic” way to kill him.
Once he recovered, Punisher tracked Bushwacker to his home in Cresskill. After the Battle Van forced entry on autopilot, Punisher flanked Bushwacker and drove him out of his house. Marilyn got in Punisher’s face about the violence he loved so much, and Bushwacker returned to separate Castle from his wife. He was prepared to drown Punisher in their fish tank, but Marilyn was just as furious at Carl. Seeing the violence of his life in person shook her, and Marilyn declared their marriage was over. Bushwacker got distracted trying to stop Marilyn from leaving, and the Punisher caught up with him on a nearby bridge. Castle outdrew the man with the bionic arm, and Bushwacker fell over the side of the bridge. As Bushwacker hung by one arm, Punisher turned the tables and forced Carl to make his confessions. Bushwacker seemingly fell to his death while saying his “Hail Marys.” [Punisher War Journal (1st series) #12-13]
As a cybernetic organism, Bushwacker was kidnapped alongside several other human cyborgs and living robots by Mechadoom, a creation of Doctor Doom trying to ensure his freedom from his creator. Bushwacker was freed by Deathlok, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. He wanted to kill Mechadoom for assaulting him but backed down when the mood of the room was against his drive for vengeance. [Deathlok (2nd series) #2-5]
Burbank was interested in reuniting with his ex-wife, and thought he found an opportunity. Marilyn’s sister had lost custody of her daughter to her ex-husband, Troy Donahue, due to her own drug use. She had gotten clean, but Troy was keeping her from the baby anyway. Apparently on his own initiative, Bushwacker decided to threaten Troy and force him to give Marilyn’s sister her baby back, hoping this would get him back in Marilyn’s good graces. Troy was in Las Vegas representing his crimeboss Lotus Newmark at a summit when Bushwacker caught up with him. He crossed paths with the crimefighter Nomad and a misunderstanding left Bushwacker convinced that Nomad’s own baby Bucky was Troy’s daughter. He kidnapped Bucky from Nomad’s babysitter but lost her to another group of criminals, the Praetorians. Nomad attacked Bushwacker on the strip when the assassin was going wild as his “plan” fell apart around him. The Punisher was also in town for the summit and rescued Bucky from the Praetorians before spotting Bushwacker and Nomad. Castle shot Bushwacker full of holes and even Burbank’s upgraded self-healing cybernetics couldn’t keep him fighting. Bushwacker slunk away after that, having accomplished nothing. [Dead Man’s Hand crossover]
[Note: The facial scars Bushwacker received fighting Wolverine and Daredevil would appear and disappear repeatedly over the following years. This may be connected to his cybernetic arm being upgraded into a more advanced malleable liquid polymer that presents as flesh, seen clearly for the first time in Dead Man’s Hand. Intermittent application of this regenerative pseudo-flesh may explain that his scars are only being covered from time to time, instead of repaired. Bushwacker also began using both hands as transforming guns after this upgrade.]
Back in New York, Bushwacker was hired by Mazzilli at Ampersand Communications. Mazzilli had commissioned a computer virus named Ultra-Max to disable rival corporations’ systems, and he wanted Bushwacker to assassinate the virus’ programmer before his conscience made him a nuisance. Bushwacker’s psychosis was leaning heavily on his priest training at this point, calling his targets “sinners” and demanding they “confess” before he killed them. Daredevil interceded to protect the programmer, Max. E. Mumm, before turning Bushwacker over to the police. The assassin killed his police escorts and went after Max again. He ran into both Daredevil and Deathlok, and this time his fellow cyborg blew off his gun arm rather than allowing him to leave unscathed. [Daredevil Annual #8]
Bushwacker escaped and remained in circulation as a hired assassin. Walter Jenkins was using bombings to stake out the Kingpin’s old territory, and paid Bushwacker to kill Daredevil when he started looking into these matters. After encountering the Mayan Devourer, another Deathlok and a community of Manhattan tunnel dwellers, though, Bushwacker bailed when Jenkins failed to up his price. [Daredevil (1st series) #334-336] The ancient alien consciousness called the Architect arranged a tournament of hired killers in New York to fight each other before earning the right to kill his current host body. Bushwacker ran the gauntlet, vainly hoping if his target was evil enough, killing them might make Marilyn forgive him. Instead, he fell like many others as Elektra became involved in the bloodbath. [Elektra (1st series) #4-7] At one point, he was also hired by the Kingpin to help frame a man for a terrorist attack, alongside Bullseye and the Hand. [Daredevil (1st series) #380]
Bushwacker was incarcerated at the Raft, a new addition to Ryker’s Island intended as a special holding facility for superhuman criminals. [Alias #26] Electro was hired to arrange a jailbreak for Sauron from the Raft and opted to do so in the most spectacular way possible. Electro disabled the security for the entire Raft, creating chaos and allowing Bushwacker and the other criminals to go free. A new team of Avengers was formed that night specifically to deal with the Raft breakout, but Bushwacker was among the forty-two super-criminals who succeeded in escaping. [New Avengers (1st series) #1-3]
Back on the job, Bushwacker was hired by Hammerhead and the Jackal to eliminate a stool pigeon in their organization, while also targeting Punisher and Daredevil. Despite some enhancements, Bushwacker was unable to overcome his old sparring partners. [Daredevil vs. Punisher #2-3] He tried to bail on his court date but was brought back in after he was outdrawn by the Two-Gun Kid and detained by the Guardsmen. [She-Hulk (2nd series) #5] Next, Bushwacker was hired by G.W. Bridge of S.H.I.E.L.D. to loudly take a hostage in Times Square, hoping to draw out S.H.I.E.L.D.’s top fugitive, the Punisher. Their show failed in part due to the earnestness of an NYPD auxiliary volunteer. [Punisher War Journal (2nd series) #5]
[Note: In Dv.P #3, Bushwacker claimed he had recently discovered he was a mutant, and the CIA only activated his mutation instead of building him a bionic arm. This idea clashes extensively with past and future continuity. Bushwacker’s cybernetic arm has been removed in the past, its inner mechanisms shown, and it has been identified by Doctor Doom’s tech, Deathlok’s computer and any number of other scans as prosthetic. More likely is that Bushwacker’s ongoing psychosis only led him to convince himself he was a mutant, for some reason.]
Bushwacker was among the several dozen super-criminals who responded to a summit by Parker Robbins, a low-level but ambitious criminal called the Hood. Parker intended to build an organized network of super-criminals in the void left by the Kingpin’s fall, drawing heavily from the remaining Raft escapees at large. [New Avengers (1st series) #35] Bushwacker and the syndicate grew over the course of a year as the Avengers and other super-heroes turned on each other following the Superhuman Registration Act. They clashed repeatedly with Luke Cage’s unregistered group of underground Avengers. When Norman Osborn ousted Tony Stark as head of the Initiative, the Hood made a side deal with Osborn to protect his guys. All good things come to an end, however, and Osborn and the Hood went down together after the ill-fated siege of Asgard. [New Avengers (1st series) #64] The Hood’s army fell with them and Bushwacker soon found himself right back in the Raft, evaluating the security upgrades that had been added since his famous escape. [Enter the Heroic Age #1]
Bushwacker moved in and out of circulation after that. He was one of the many prisoners brought by S.H.I.E.L.D. to Pleasant Hill. A sentient Cosmic Cube named Kobik rewrote reality around the inmates to give them new identities while living peacefully in suburban seclusion. Baron Zemo awakened and led an uprising by Bushwacker and the others against S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. [Standoff crossover] Bushwacker was recruited into the ranks of the Assassins Guild, serving on call for assignments by Belladonna Boudreaux. He would confront the duo of Wolverine and Domino and later Deadpool and Threnody. [X-Force: Sex & Violence #2, Deadpool: Assassin #4] The Hood’s old gang also made an effort to reform after Doctor Doom changed his ways and started hunting super-villains. [Infamous Iron Man #7] After a disastrous encounter with the Defenders and another with Doctor Doom and the Iron Men, though, the Hood’s syndicate did not stay together as it had in the past. [Defenders (5th series) #10, Invincible Iron Man (1st series) #600]
When the Kingpin came back from San Francisco to consolidate power in New York again, Bushwacker took a contract hit on Fisk from one of his rivals to prevent it. Rather predictably, he was unsuccessful. [Civil War II: Kingpin #1] In time, Fisk not only regained power in New York, he even emerged as a hero from the Hydra takeover of America and got elected as Mayor of New York City. Fisk temporarily lost control of the city to his deputy mayor, Matt Murdock, and so Bushwacker thought to get back in the Kingpin’s good graces by executing Murdock when he saw a chance. He and his new girlfriend Glory tried to run down Murdock’s cab in Manhattan, guzzling gasoline to fuel his arm’s flamethrower at the same time. However, his target was actually the newly reconstituted Mike Murdock, Matt’s fictional twin made flesh, who proved a surprisingly more brutal opponent for Bushwacker than a “blind lawyer.” Mike Murdock beat him senseless and left Bushwacker in the street with bullet holes in his legs to slow him down. [Daredevil (1st series) #608]
Back in prison, Burbank’s attorney Kenneth Krask arranged for him to be released under care of Shadow Base. Led by Major-General Reginald Fortean, Shadow Base was a black book government program hunting the Hulk and other gamma mutates. Happy for the paycheck and steady work, Bushwacker became a “man in black” for Shadow Base, tracking reports about the Hulk and eliminating civilian witnesses as “casualties of war” under Fortean’s rigid protocols for maintaining order.
Burbank tracked the Hulk to Los Diablos, New Mexico, the site of the gamma bomb explosion that first transformed Banner. He acted as a spotter with his rifle arm while Shadow Base deployed the Absorbing Man to defeat the Hulk. When Alpha Flight’s new Hulk investigation team Gamma Flight arrived, Bushwacker shot the Hulk through the eye to provoke him into attacking. However, the Hulk had become host to an entity beyond the Green Door known as the One Below All, and it passed into Absorbing Man as he and the Hulk absorbed each other’s gamma radiation. This opened a portal into a Hell-like dimension that drew all the combatants in and, unbeknownst to them, Bushwacker as well. Burbank was terrified but laid low during the conflicts that followed until Hulk bested the One Below All and returned them all to their original reality. [Immortal Hulk #9-13]
Bushwacker was still rattled by the experience when General Fortean had him stake out the home of Banner’s wife Betty Ross after her father’s funeral. Bruce did make contact with Betty and they moved their talk indoors. Burbank tracked them using a thermal scope on his rifle arm and, despite Fortean’s orders, was itching to shoot the man who took him to Hell. With thermal imaging it was a 50 – 50 choice of targets, and Bushwacker accidentally shot Betty through the head instead. This drove Banner into a fury and unleashed the Hulk on Bushwacker. Burbank barely survived the unkillable and hyper-regenerative Hulk, who continued fighting even after Bushwacker’s arm blasted a hole through his head. The enraged Hulk was acting on instinct alone at this point, though, and was distracted by the arrival of Doc Samson, allowing Bushwacker to flee the scene. [Immortal Hulk #14-15]
Hulk and Doc Samson teamed up and discovered Shadow Base had exhumed the body of their friend, Rick Jones. They returned to an old Shadow Base facility Hulk had escaped from, thinking it would be abandoned. Instead, Agent Burbank and Shadow Base had set up an ambush inside. Solar emitters forced the nocturnal Hulk to revert back to Bruce Banner’s body. Bushwacker still blamed Banner for taking him to Hell and so, after headshot-ing Samson, he took his leisurely time shooting after Banner to torment him. The stress of situation brought out Joe Fixit, the gray Hulk’s personality inhabiting Banner’s body. Joe was a cannier opponent than Banner, and he got the drop on Burbank. He accessed the Base’s computer and turned up the power on the solar emitters, compressing the wavelength from UV light to gamma rays, soaking up a massive dose of power that brought out the Hulk again. What actually happened to Agent Burbank after that wasn’t recorded, but it wasn’t pretty. Bushwacker was no longer a viable agent for Shadow Base after the Hulk’s new gamma charge erupted out of the underground base and destroyed the entire mountain it rested beneath. [Immortal Hulk #16-17]
Despite presumably suffering major injuries, Bushwacker eventually recovered. He was last seen in Texas, back in action as a mercenary sending a message to an oil company. He was beaten by Ben Reilly in oe of his first outings as the new and returning Spider-Man. [Spider-Man/Venom FCBD 2021]