Colonel Johann Schmidt (aka the Red Skull)
Johann Schmidt was born in a village in Germany to Hermann and Martha Schmidt. His mother died in childbirth, and his father blamed Johann for her death. Johann's father tried to drown the baby, only to be stopped by the attending doctor; he later committed suicide, leaving Johann an orphan. The doctor took Johann to an orphanage, where the child led a lonely existence. Johann ran away from the orphanage when he was seven years old and lived on the streets as a beggar and thief. As he grew older, he worked at various menial jobs but spent most of his time in prison for crimes ranging from vagrancy to theft.
As a young man, Schmidt was from time to time employed by a Jewish shopkeeper, whose daughter Esther was the only person who had treated Schmidt kindly up to that point. His fixation upon her kindness turned deranged, and Schmidt tried to force himself upon her. She resisted, and in unthinking fury, Schmidt murdered her. Schmidt fled the scene in terror but also felt ecstatic joy in committing his first murder. In killing Esther, he had given vent to the rage at the world that had been building up in him throughout his young life. In 1924, he was doing menial work as a bellhop when he had a chance to ingratiate himself with Hitler. Sensing Schmidt's dark nature, Hitler mentored the young man, who became an early and ardent support of the Nazi Party.
Under Hitler's auspices, Schmidt would uncover a late-blooming talent for science. Particularly fascinated by the concept of the Ubermensch, he would recruit various scientists and researchers into the Nazi's science division (the Schutzstaffel) and the advanced weapons department: HYDRA. Frighteningly loyal to Hitler, his ambition led to him being recruited to Hitler's inner circle in 1934 as the final member of the [[[Harbingers]]]. In an attempt to prove his worth to that group, Schmidt forced Abraham Erskine to administer the experimental serum. Derived from [[[Terrigen Mists]]], the serum pushed him to the peak of human physical ability and sharpened his already razor intellect. However, it magnified his glaring personality disorders into megalomania and paranoia, and the subcutaneous fat disappeared from sanguine-colored skin. Calling himself the Red Skull, Schmidt would be a persistent adversary of Captain Steve Rogers in particular, the only other beneficiary of Erskine's efforts.
In 1945, Schmidt would launch a last-ditch effort to gain control of the lost [[[Kree]]] weapon called The [[[Cosmic Cube]]]. The tumultuous battle with the Defenders over the Arctic Sea would result in Schmidt and Rogers both lost and presumed dead.