Number 16
Mr. Black

Religion: not determined yet

Name: Number 16

Alter Ego: Mr. Black

Other Names: Agent 16

Classification: villain villain  

Publisher(s): Marvel

First Appearance: Captain America (vol. 1) #173 (May 1974): "The Sins of the Secret Empire!"

Creators: Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema, Vince Colletta

Number of Appearances: 2

Teams/Affiliations: Secret Empire

Enemy of: Captain America, Falcon

Employer: factory

Occupation: business owner

Gender: male

Number 13 and Number 16 were two operatives of the Secret Empire who appeared in the same story arc. Although secondary sources seem to differ regarding which of these was also known as "Mr. Black," our own careful reading of these stories leads us to conclude that it was Number Sixteen who was really Mr. Black.

Mr. Black first appeared in panels 4 through 6 on page 17 in Captain America (vol. 1) #173. When Captain America and the Falcon break into a Brand Corporation factory in Dallas, Texas on behalf of the Secret Empire (an organization they are trying to infiltrate) guards pursue the heroes. Mr. Black, the factory boss, tells them to stop.

The guards are about to shoot Cap and Falcon when Mr. Black shouts: "No! Don't shoot!"

One of the guards says: "Cool it, Chuck! It's Mr. Black --the factory boss!"

Mr. Black, standing in a doorway, explains further: "Yes--and I'm ordering you to let those men go! I've found a note in the Gyro Room! It's from Captain America-- saying he needs the Gyro desperately and will return it unharmed. I believe him."

The guard named Chuck protests, saying: "But that could simply be a stall-- a blind! I hear he's a killer, so why not a thief?"

Mr. Black replies: "I'll here no more about this, Mister--and neither will the police or the newspapers! In MY book, Cap's no criminal! Period!"

At this point, Mr. Black merely seems like a reasonable man who believes in Captain America and has refused to buy into the anti-Captain America advertising campaign that has been waged recently by agents of the Secret Empire.

But in the next issue, we learn that Mr. Black (which might not even be the man's real name) is actually an agent for the Secret Empire.

In Captain America (vol. 1) #174, in panel 3 on page 6, the hooded Number 68 of the Secret Empire is seen with fellow agents Linda Donaldson and Number Sixteen, neither of whom cover their faces with hoods. These three agents look into a room where Captain America and Falcon had been taken in order to incinerate them with lasers. But nobody is there.

Number 68 says: "That should have finished them, Number Sixteen! They -- Hey! No bodies!"

Number Sixteen exclaims: "But that's impossible! We flew here solely to watch them die, after they tipped their hand to me by leaving a note-- --not knowing that I'm part of the Secret Empire!"

A footnote accompanying this statement states: "Recognize Mr. Black, the man who 'believed in Cap's innocence' last ish?"

The simplest interpretation of this scene is that Number 68 was talking to the man in front of him when he spoke to "Number Sixteen." It was this man who is explicitly identified as "Mr. Black" in the next panel.

Number 13 is the Secret Empire agent who made contact with Captain America and Falcon (who were disguised as homeless drifters looking for work) in issue #173. Number 13 gave Cap and Falcon the details they needed to steal the Electro-Gyro from the Dallas factory. It is possible that either the writer or artist at one time intended for Number 13 and Mr. Black to be one in the same, but the scene on page 6 in issue #174 seems to negate this.

This character is in the following 2 stories which have been indexed by this website:
Captain America

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