An anti-nationalist terrorist, Flag-Smasher seeks to destroy nations across the world and employs violent methods to carry out his cause.
A Radicalized Origin
Karl Morgenthau is the man who would become known as the Flag-Smasher. He is the son of an ambassador from Switzerland, and travels with his father throughout his childhood. As a child, he revels in experiencing different cultures, and learns the languages of nearly every country he visits. He also encounters prejudice from other children, which sours him on nationalism, making him feel like an outcast. While living in Tokyo at the age of 12, he begins training in Martial arts to protect himself against bullies. By the time he turns 19, his father had become a delegate to the United Nations, and the young man enrolls in political science at Columbia University in New York City, hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, his father attends a demonstration at the Latverian embassy that turned into a riot, and was trampled to death in the chaos. His father’s death shatters him—his father having devoted his life to finding peaceful solutions to the Earth’s problems only to die violently.
The young man decides that his father was too passive, and that it would take violence to make people see the world the way he did. Believing that nationalism was the cause of most of the planet’s problems because of borders dividing people into factions, he uses his inheritance to fund the extremist group Underground Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army To Unite Mankind (U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.), and adopts the guise of Flag-Smasher to act as leader.
Flag-Smasher is a gifted hand-to-hand combatant trained in the martial art of Shotokan Karate-do. He is fluent in English, French, German, Russian, Italian, Japanese and Esperanto.
His weapon of choice is a spiked mace, but he has also employed a flame-throwing pistol, automatic firearms and a tear-gas gun. He usually employs U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.’s jet-propelled skis or one-man hovercrafts for transportation. He sometimes wears an exo-skeleton that allows him to drain his foes’ strength.
While serving as a Roxxon operative, he is regularly injected with chemicals that enhance his strength while altering his moods and intellect (often reducing him to a zombie-like fanatic). These chemicals also turn his skin gray and eyes red. He has since regained a more normal human personality and appearance.
Rivals and Ruthless Enemies
Flag-Smasher’s most frequent enemy is Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, who represents everything about nationalism that he despises. In following through with his ideals, Flag-Smasher faces off many different foes from Frank Castle, AKA Punisher, and Daniel Ketch, AKA Ghost Rider to X-Men members Sarah Knuckey, AKA Marrow, and Kitty Pryde.
After suffering a head injury, Karl is drugged by the corrupt Calvin Halderman, president of the Roxxon Oil Corporation, AKA Roxxon and used against his will.
While ruling his own country Rumekistan, Karl suffers an assassination at the hands of the mutant Neena Thurman, AKA Domino which leads to his death.
Allies to the Cause
Karl funds and leads the extremist organization U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. Although not all of U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. shares his ideologies, he is able to fill out his roster with mercenaries and out-of-work Hydra agents. After S.H.I.E.L.D. led a raid on U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.’s base, and Karl broke his leg in a fight against Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, funding for the organization came from the Nazi Johann Shmidt, AKA Red Skull and fought to regain control. Once he does, he struggles with internal disunity.
He also allies with the ancient Sumerian god turned mortal Marduk, John Watkins III, AKA Citizen V, and the psychotic Zebediah Killgrave, AKA the Purple Man to achieve his ends.
A History of Violence
In Karl’s earliest known public action, he destroyed the flags outside the United Nations building as a symbolic act, and then destroyed flag manufacturing factories in New York. When he learned Captain America was going to make a public address to announce the launch of his Stars & Stripes national hotline, he attacked the Captain at the event in order to present his beliefs to a wide audience. Temporarily holding onlookers at gunpoint, he televised his message, but the public rejected him. Captain America defeated him in the end, though U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. had him released soon after.
Karl led U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. in hijacking an airliner from London and taking the passengers hostage at an abandoned Hydra base in Switzerland. Using his alter ego, Flag-Smasher broadcast his sole demand to the world: that Captain America surrender himself to U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. for public execution so that Flag-Smasher could claim moral superiority over the Captain. Captain America responded to the demands, but instead stole into U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.’s base dressed as an U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. agent. The Captain found the hostages, but as he came to their rescue U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. agent Vladimir Korda fired into the crowd, killing at least one man. Captain America reluctantly killed Korda to save the hostages, becoming more determined than ever to bring Flag-Smasher to justice in order to justify his actions. S.H.I.E.L.D. led a raid on U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.’s base, and Captain America tracked down Flag-Smasher personally. Fighting amidst the Swiss Alps, Flag-Smasher fell from a cliff and broke his leg. Captain America saved his life to bring him to the authorities to face charges. When the Captain had to fight more U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. agents, Flag-Smasher had an opportunity to shoot him, but decided against it. As S.H.I.E.L.D. took him into custody, he promised to kill the Captain when they next met.
In his next operation, Flag-Smasher set up an U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. base at the North Pole and constructed an electromagnetic pulse generator that was powerful enough to disable all technology on Earth. Flag-Smasher hoped to plunge the globe back into a pre-industrial society so that when faced with a common predicament, people would learn to band together. However, he was shocked to discover that U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. was now being financed by the Nazi Red Skull. Disturbed that Red Skull had perverted his goals, he turned to the one man he knew he could trust: Captain America. Flag-Smasher again demanded that the Captain meet with him to save hostages, but this time the Captain America who confronted him was John Walker, who had been hired as the Captain’s replacement by the Commission on Superhuman Activities. Insulted by the substitution, Flag-Smasher bested Walker, then demanded that Walker’s sidekick Lemar Hoskins, AKA Battlestar, bring him the “real” Captain America. Battlestar returned with Steve Rogers (now called simply the Captain) and his sidekick Dennis Dunphy, AKA Demolition Man (D-Man). After being assured of the Captain’s identity, he helped direct him to the location of the pulse generator so that it could be destroyed. As U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. agents who were loyal to the Red Skull attacked Flag-Smasher, the Captain ordered D-Man to crash his Avengers Quinjet into the generator. The generator was destroyed, but D-Man was believed killed in the crash.
After regaining control over U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M., Flag-Smasher entered into an arms-dealing operation in an attempt to start a grassroots overthrow of the United States, taking advantage of the “Acts of Vengeance” crisis, which was occupying the attention of most of New York’s Super Heroes. However, his plan was halted by the Punisher and Moon Knight, and his warehouse of weapons was destroyed. He next tried to crash the computers of the Federal Reserve Bank in order to create an international financial crisis that would topple governments, but was stopped by the Punisher and Ghost Rider. Retreating back to his North Pole base, Flag-Smasher attempted to repair the electromagnetic pulse generator when his men discovered D-Man, still alive but amnesiac. He attempted another bargain with Captain America for D-Man’s life, but this time it was the U.S.Agent who responded as Captain America was unavailable (Flag-Smasher was unaware that the U.S.Agent was John Walker). While battling the Agent, Flag-Smasher fell into the Arctic waters, suffering long-term brain damage from his submersion.
Flag-Smasher attempted another strike against the United States, taking a member of Captain America’s computer-hacking network hostage, but this time Captain America wore a suit of advanced armor, which he needed to support his failing health, and with the armor’s capabilities, he easily outmatched Flag-Smasher.
Flag-Smasher faced disunity within U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. again when a faction decided to assault the European Union against his orders. Believing that he and the European Union shared common goals to unite the planet, Flag-Smasher wound up aiding Spider-Man and William Baker, AKA Sandman, in saving the English Chunnel (Channel Tunnel) from an U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. bomb, and then prevented his errant men from killing EU representatives at Buckingham Palace. However, once his disloyal men were defeated, Flag-Smasher attempted to destroy Buckingham Palace because of its national importance, but Spider-Man and Sandman removed his bomb.
Flag-Smasher allied himself with Zebediah Killgrave, AKA the Purple Man, in his attempts to build up the young mutant psychic Nate Grey, AKA X-Man, and provided a cadre of U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. agents called “Destabilizers” for Grey to best in order to increase the public’s trust in Grey. However, when Flag-Smasher set off bombs he had implanted within his captured men, destroying a police station, the Purple Man was annoyed that Flag-Smasher had violated his trust, and ordered him to leap off a cliff.
Flag-Smasher survived, and went on to lead U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. in another plot to destabilize the economy by setting off bombs under the New York Stock Exchange, using the United Nations building as a decoy target. However, Marrow and Kitty Pryde of the X-Men guessed his plan, and Marrow forced Flag-Smasher to disarm his bomb by pinning him to the ground near the bomb, forcing him to compromise his mission in order to save his own life.
Flag-Smasher then fell into the clutches of Calvin Halderman, president of the Roxxon Oil Corporation, AKA Roxxon. Taking advantage of the mental problems Flag-Smasher had suffered from since his Arctic mishap, Halderman had him drugged to serve his interests while he attempted to take control of oil operations in Trebekistan. The drugs increased Flag-Smasher’s strength and ferocity, but rendered him barely cognizant of his environment. When Daily Bugle reporters Sid Franken and Dan Davis began to unravel Roxxon’s operations, Halderman sent Flag-Smasher to murder them, but Captain America saved them.
Regaining his sanity, Flag-Smasher returned to U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M., now funded by the corporation Oracle, Inc. through Marduk, the ancient Sumerian god rendered mortal. In order to regain his immortality, Marduk provided Flag-Smasher with all the armaments he would need to conquer the globe, using each life-force U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. took to replenish his godly energies. Flag-Smasher led U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.’s forces in Rumekistan while others assaulted Greenland, Cuba and Novosibirsk, facing the Avengers, Alpha Flight, Winter Guard, and V-Battalion in battle. Flag-Smasher ultimately cut a deal with Citizen V, who arranged to use the powers of the Collective Man to render the entire population of Rumekistan comatose so that Flag-Smasher could conquer the country with no further bloodshed. Having been granted his own country to rule, Flag-Smasher was appeased, and called off his forces. However, Citizen V vowed to bring him down should he abuse his newfound power. Although Flag-Smasher’s rule of Rumekistan was largely peaceful, it proved unpopular with the public, and he was finally assassinated by the mutant operative Domino.