Real Name: Can't say for sure, since both names are, shall we say, devilish pseudonyms.
AKA: The Most High (his former formal title)
First Appearance: Fantastic Four 185
Stripped of His Powers In: Fantastic Four 223
What's His Problem? Born and raised in New Salem, a hidden colony of witches and warlocks, Scratch had it in for non-mystical humans who had persecuted his kind centuries ago. After becoming the secret city's leader, Scratch sought revenge on his mother Agatha Harkness for abandoning the town (or just him, more likely) for the outside world. In two escapes from his resulting exile, he decided to conquer the world with sorcery and either kill or enslave humanity in doing so.
Abilities: Nicholas Scratch was a rather powerful warlock; while he could never beat his mother in a fair fight, he was still dangerous enough even when not enhancing his powers by stealing those of the New Salemites, Franklin Richards or the Dark Realm he was banished to. He could control statues, fire, mystical energies, the weather and even the minds of others, not to mention casting mental projections, teleporting others and sometimes opening dimensional gateways.
Weapons: Scratch originally channeled his power through his "Satan Staff" which he lost all interest in it once it was taken away. It's unknown exactly what he had to do with the Eliminator, a powerful red robot sent to wipe out all signs of his mother's existence in the outside world.
Favorite Quote: "By the Seven-Sided Circle!! What manner of madness is this?!?" (Fantastic Four 186. Once fire erupts from the ground, an un-saintly ol' Nick finds it difficult to pull off a simple, unjust execution with a ticked-off cosmic quartet in the neighborhood.)
Heroes He Keeps Running Into: Whether Scratch intended to kidnap Franklin Richards along with Agatha Harkness is still a bit foggy; he was well aware who the Fantastic Four were but kept the boy as insurance anyway. Rather than realize his mistakes and call it a day, he twice sought revenge against the FF and Harkness while trying to escape and conquer. The last time they were aided by Gabriel, an exorcist called Devil Hunter. (I found less than a dozen words on him in the first Official Marvel Handbook's Appendix, for the three of you who were interested.)
People Who Think He's Not So Bad: All of New Salem was behind the so-called trial of Harkness until the FF told their side of the story and Scratch rashly attacked a citizen for questioning him. It was downhill from there as the Salemites chanted the Spell of Eternal Banishment and tried to wash their hands of him. Only his children in Salem's Seven remained loyal (the weird thing about them is, we know nothing about their seven mothers). Despite the enmity and a lack of Mother's Day cards, Scratch still cared for Agatha and she still loved and pitied him. She cried when Nicholas was first banished, they both cried after removing all his powers -- we can only presume that he's still crying.
Most Despicable Act: Problems with mother aside, Nicholas Scratch is a sadist who loves irony. Apparently as an encore to trying to make the FF to kill Agatha and young Franklin, he later possessed the boy from afar and planned to use him to flood Earth with the Dark Realm itself. Scratch enjoyed sending Sue Richards into "someone-slap-me" hysterics; "Hit her again, Daddy. I like it when you hit Mommy." Trust me, it was creepy at the time...
by Ray Schaff
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